MILFORD – During the Thursday practice before his team’s game against Walnut Hills, Eagles head coach Joe Cambron was wearing a shirt with the word “We” in a much bolder, larger font than the word “Me” on the back.
The imagery there is obvious, but it’s been a cornerstone of the way his Milford team has played this season. His players are buying into making the extra pass and playing tough, relentless defense.
“When you combine those two qualities, you have a chance to be in every game,” Cambron said. “These guys are fun to coach and they are competitive as heck. I don’t think I would have predicted the season would go this well so far, but like most coaches, I’ll take it.”
The Eagles’ style of play has done more than give them a chance in every game. Entering the Jan. 9 win over Eastern Cincinnati Conference rival Walnut Hills, the Eagles were defeating their opponents by an average of almost 23 points per game.
Senior forward Will Hannah has led the team in scoring in five games this season, but he is far from being the only threat in the Eagles’ arsenal. Brad Hall has led the team in scoring twice and Ben Greenwell has done so once.
Grant Riesenberg and Ryan Gallimore, whom Cambron described as “glue guys,” have also had good games.
“I wasn’t sure it was going to go this well, but I thought we had good chemistry and that we played as a team,” Riesenberg said. “This team is very unselfish and it’s fun to play with a whole bunch of guys that pass to get the best shot.”
The Milford student section was in full force. Milford and Walnut Hills battled for the top spot in the ECC Friday, jan 9, 2015.
Milford is in the midst of perhaps the toughest part of its schedule right now. The Eagles handed Kings its first conference loss Jan. 6, beat Walnut Hills Friday to keep ECC lead and play a feisty Turpin team Tuesday.
Players said they are ready to continue to what they’ve started.
“If we end up on the short end, we are going to come back and get them,” Gallimore said.
Riesenberg voiced a similar mindset should the Eagles lose in any of its upcoming games.
“We’re going to continue to play well,” he said. “We’re not going to let a loss define us.”
First-place ECC showdown goes to Milford
Twice this week, the Milford High School boys basketball team had to battle one of the Eastern Cincinnati Conference heavyweights and twice the Eagles have proved up to the task, as MHS stayed unbeaten with a 56-55 home win over Walnut Hills on Friday night.
Both teams entered the night with identical 4-0 records in conference play, but when the final whistle blew, it was Milford improving to 9-0 overall and 5-0 in league play.
Milford, which led by 11 at halftime, was outscored in the second half as Walnut (7-2, 4-1 ECC) nearly stole one on the road after shooting nearly 58 percent from the floor in the second half.
The visiting Eagles used a tough trapping defense to try and force the hosts into turnovers and contested shots and had a chance to win in the waning seconds. Walnut’s top player, senior MaCio Teague, had the ball in his hands for the final shot but his contested jumper came up short sending the packed house in the MHS gym into an uproar.
All nine players who took the floor for Milford contributed to the win, with Will Hannah once again topping the scoring chart with 15 points. Four players, Jack Engeleman, Ryan Gallimore, Justin Arnold and Ben Greenwell each scored nine for the winners. Engleman (8) and Arnold (7) also both came up big on the boards as each player registered career-highs in rebounds.
The night started with Walnut’s Omari Peek hitting a three, but Milford scored the next 11 points of the game to open an early eight point lead. By the end of the first quarter, Arnold’s first of three triples had pushed the home team to a 19-10 lead.
After two free throws by Teague early in the second quarter, Milford went long to spark an 8-0 run, with triples by Arnold and Hannah leading the way. The spurt pushed the home team’s lead to 14.
Midway through the third quarter, Milford again saw its lead grow to 14 when Arnold once against connected from downtown to make the score 42-28. Down the stretch in the third, Walnut outscored the home team 9-3 to cut the deficit to eight with one quarter to go.
As the fourth quarter passed its midway point, Greenwell split a pair of free throws to give the hosts a comfortable 10-point lead with 3:48 on the clock. Teague and Caleb Tregre scored five quick points for WHHS, but Gallimore answered with a three that pushed Milford back up eight. A big three-point play by Teague kept Walnut alive and after a Milford miss, Tregre hit a jumper that made it 56-53. From there, Gallimore missed the front end of a one and one and Teague scored again with 43 seconds to play to make it 56-55. Greenwell missed a chance to give Milford some breathing room when he missed the front end of another one and one, setting the stage for Teague’s off-balance last second jumper.
Teague, the ECC’s leading scorer at 25 points per game, scored 27 in the defeat and was joined in double figures by Tregre who totaled 17.
The road won’t get much easier next week for the Eagles who open on the road against a hot Turpin squad that has won five straight on Tuesday night. Next Friday, Milford is back home, hosting Glen Este. Both games tip at 7:30 p.m.