Statement win

PELHAM – Milford High sharpshooter Ryan Banuskevich knows the history of Pelham High boys hoop.

He also knows that the road to a state title would likely include a March win over the Pythons, who’ve stepped back up to Division II after dominating D-III.

Still, a road victory over Pelham in January tastes pretty good right now.

Banuskevich, a senior, found the “Snake Pit” to his liking, tossing in a team-high 22 points as the Spartans slayed their hosts 66-58 in a battle of 4-0 undefeateds.

“This was a milestone for us, a huge win,” said the Spartans’ captain. “We’ve been preparing hard for this one and we won it on the defensive end, along with some great ball movement.”

A southpaw, Banuskevich came out firing with a pair of quick 3s, but things were knotted, 14-14, after one quarter. He added eight more in the second when Milford built a 29-24 advantage.

The lead moved to 50-37 through three as Banuskevich’s supporting cast kicked into gear, and despite a late minor Pelham flurry, this one never really was in doubt.

Jamie Pare, a junior, was a thorn in Pelham’s side all night.

“We needed (Jamie’s) energy,” Banuskevich said. “He comes out of nowhere, hits his shots and runs the break for us. It was huge.”

Pare had 15 points, as did bruising senior Shane Winnett.

The senior tandem of Evan Ryan and Nick Gutterson chipped in seven points apiece.

The latter was immense in his defense on Pelham freshman phenom Drew Brown, holding “Keith’s younger brother” to 13 points on 5 of 14 shooting.

Talk about a tough assignment in a brutal environment.

“It was just a good all-around win for us, and now we’re on to Windham Friday,” Banuskevich said. “We knew it would be a tough crowd. I like playing in here with the rowdy crowd. I could hear them cracking jokes.”

They weren’t the only ones. And on this night, Banuskevich and the visitors from Milford were the ones who got the last laugh.