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The Milan Wildcats were host to the Princeton Tigers on Thursday, February 4, 2021 in an important GRC contest. This was perhaps the final varsity contest in the old gymnasium this season. This send off may have been one of the strangest games in some time. The ebbs and flow of a basketball game was demonstrated this evening. Momentum changes, streaks, lapses, and collapses. An experienced Princeton team, all 5 starters seniors, against a young group from the Wildcats. A milestone reached by Dominic Dabney, 1000th career points. In the end, another tough conference loss, but down to the very end. Princeton 55, Milan 52.
The Wildcats won the opening tip, but that was their high light of the quarter. Milan could not buy a bucket, while the disciplined Tigers converted high percentage shots. Princeton took advantage of some defensive breakdowns by the Wildcats for some easy buckets. Milan trailed 12-0 after the first quarter. That could have been all she wrote for many, many squads. Not the Wildcats. Even they have hit a rough stretch, they weren’t giving up.
Some serious adjustments were made, and the Wildcats responded with a 17-0 run to begin the second quarter taking a 17-12 lead before Princeton could put out the fire. What a comeback with well-balanced scoring. Dominic took it to the bucket for the first Wildcat points, then he assisted on a driving shot by Chekh. Axel put a shot in, was fouled, and converted the 3-point opportunity. Next possession, Axel made 1 of 2 charity tosses. With 5:47 in the second quarter, Brady Sayre spotted Dominic on the right wing and Dominic splashed home a three-pointer, drawing Milan within 1 point, 11-12.
That was not the only significance, the game was stopped, and Dominic was rewarded with a ball for his 1000th point milestone.
The delay did not shake the Wildcats. Chekh made 1 of 2 free throws to tie the score 12-12. Jeremy Bennett took the ball and slashed to the bucket for two and gave the Wildcats their first lead 14-12 with 4:20 before halftime. Michael Pipes with an assist from Dominic drilled a long 3-pointer and Milan fought all the way back from that dismal first quarter to take their largest lead 17-12. After Princeton stopped the long Wildcat rally, Michael connected on a deuce, 19-14, Milan. The Tigers ran off 5 straight shots to regain the lead, 20-19. Chekh answered with a deuce, but Princeton hit the final shot of the quarter, and a 22-21 halftime lead.
The Wildcat comeback put a new light on the second half, anyone’s ballgame. Princeton regained their composure, outscoring Milan in the third quarter, 17-7, taking a 39-28 lead heading into the final stanza.
Princeton scored first and took their largest lead of the contest, 41-28. Milan ignited an 8-0 spurt to cut the deficit to 5 points, 41-36, with 4:43 left in the game. Both squads exchanged buckets, but Milan was chipping away. With two minutes left, Princeton led 50-45, then Dominic hit a deuce, Jeremy another quick slash to the rim for 2 points, and Milan trailed 50-49. With time running out, the Wildcats had to foul, and Princeton converted enough charity tosses to eke out the 55-52 GRC victory.
The Wildcats showed they had heart, played tough when they could have folded. The game came down to the wire against a very tough experienced top GRC squad. Hopefully the Wildcat will continue to put this hiccup behind them going down to the final games of the regular season.
Axel had a double-double 14 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, and 8 of 12 free throws; Dominic also collected a double-double for 13 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block; Michael chipped in with double figures with 11 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, and 1 block; Chekh added 8 points, 1 rebound, and 2 steals; Jeremy had 6 points and 3 steals; Mallan had 4 steals; Brady with 1 assist; and Jerrett Courtney with 1 blocked shot.