Spartans hoping to turn hard work into wins

The season hasn’t started and the injury bug has already bitten the Milford High School boys basketball team.

When Dan Murray’s Spartans open the regular season Tuesday by hosting Pelham, they’ll be down four players, including two seniors, who were expected to contribute varsity minutes. Two of those players are lost for the season, while the other two won’t return until February, if at all.

Despite that, Murray is still hopeful for the season, largely because of the senior class – or what’s left of it.

“We have four seniors who are anxious to play and happy doing it,”
Murray said. “They’re not all basketball players. They play three sports, but they like the game and they’re good kids.”

Two of those seniors, Ross Briggs and Evan Perron, have started since they were sophomores, and the other two – Mitchell Banuskevich and Seth Hopkins – should provide Milford with plenty of leadership and a physical presence.

“Hopkins plays hard and he’s huge,” Murray said. “(Briggs and Perron) have leadership and with the other two its been tremendous.”

But because of the injuries, the Spartans will be short on depth. That, combined with some youth, means Murray will be forced at times to have his team play more of a halfcourt offense, something he doesn’t often like to do.

“We have to run more sets,” he said. “But with this crew, the thing that makes them run, it’s their enthusiasm. We have to take care of the ball. Quality shots is what we’ve been preaching and we feel we have kids who can it shots off a pass.”

A lot of the favorites in Division II remain the same and Milford gets to play most of them twice, starting with Tuesday against Pelham. The Spartans face the Pythons, Windham and Hollis Brookline twice and Lebanon and Portsmouth once each.

After missing the postseason the last two years, the Spartans are hopeful to get back in the mix.

“It comes down to the seniors,” Murray said. “Our top seven or eight should be tough. We’ll be competitive just because of our attitude.”