Milford stymies HB

Staff photo by TOM KING Hollis Brookline's Matt Simco is defended closely along the baseline by Milford's Shane Winnett during the Spartans' 55-41 win in Milford on Thursday night.

MILFORD – They have a fiery player in senior forward Shane Winnett, a determined scorer in Ryan Banuskevich, and a surprising 3-point shooter in senior center Evan Ryan.

That’s a lot for any Division II team to handle, so you can almost understand how a usually solid Hollis Brookline squad could fall to the Milford High School Spartans to the tune of 55-41, as they did in Thursday night’s regular- season finale for both.

“Listen, they did a good job executing what they wanted to do, and they’re a very good team,” Cavaliers coach Mike Soucy said. “And they make shots. We missed four layups in the third quarter. You make those and you get a defensive stop and it’s a game again.”

It wasn’t a game because Spartans, who were trailing 19-16 in the second quarter, went on a 15-2 run fueled by 10 of Winnett’s game-high 18 points.

“It was fueled by the defense,” Milford coach Dan Murray said, his team finishing second behind Lebanon (both 17-1), with a first-round bye when the tourney starts next week. “Offensively we just weren’t relaxed.”

That changed, though, as that run gave the Spartans a 41-31 lead, and Winnett channeled their energy in the right direction.

“Winnett’s an animal, he’s a great player,” Murray said. “He and Ryan Banuskevich, he gets sneaky points (15).”

And don’t forget Ryan (nine points), who made perhaps the biggest shot of the game in the fourth quarter. The 13-5 Cavaliers, who will host a first round game next week (and likely a quarterfinal if they advance), were hanging around, trailing 45-33 entering the final quarter.

They cut the lead to 47-41 with 4:34 left on Patrick Close’s jumper but then Ryan, who looks like he could dominate inside but loves to roam outside, hit a 3-pointer that gave Milford breathing room at 50-41. It was the start of a game-closing 8-0 run.

“It was big,” Murray said. “He’s probably our best 3-point shooter.”

The Cavs couldn’t get consistent scoring, as they were without one of their starters, senior guard Steve Giaconia, out with a foot injury. They hope to have him back for the tournament. In the meantime, Scott VanCoughnett had 11 and Matt Simco eight. Milford’s third double figure scorer was steady junior guard Jamie Pare with 10.

Again, the Cavs, who led 12-11 after one, were close to getting back into it but just fell short.

“It’s a game of inches,” Soucy said. “We weren’t quite there yet.”

“It’s not like we’re dominant,” Murray said. “We’ve got to work for every win.”

Thursday night was a great example.