Destined for Durham

Milford earns spot in Division II semifinals

Editor’s note: Milford was scheduled to play Coe-Brown Northwood in the NHIAA Division II boys basketball semifinals on Wednesday night at the University of New Hampshire, but results were not available by Cabinet press time. For updated brackets, see www.NHIAA.org. With a victory, Milford squares off with the winner of No. 1 Lebanon and No. 4 Hollis Brookline for the D-II title at UNH on Saturday at noon.

MILFORD – The Milford Spartans advanced to the Division II boys basketball semifinals following a convincing 60-41 quarterfinal win over the John Stark Generals on Saturday night.

No. 7 John Stark kept the No. 2 Spartans in check until midway through the second quarter where key 3-pointers from Ryan Banuskevich, Weston Pare and Nick Gutterson catalyzed a drive that gave Milford a 10-point lead at halftime.

For Milford head coach Dan Murray, though, the key to Milford’s momentum swing before halftime came from the other side of the court.

“Our defense began fuel us, I knew the offense would come along eventually,” Murray said.

John Stark engineered another small comeback in the second half, bringing the game back within four, but that would be as close as the contest would get, with Banuskevich and Gutterson draining another pair of 3s in an offensive approach that alternated between aggressive transition buckets built from tenacious defense and patient perimeter passing that began to break down a Generals’ defense that could no longer keep up man-to-man with the Spartans’ attack.

“The idea was we needed to play as hard as we can on defense and then be patient on offense,” Murray said. “I’m really proud of our fast-break play tonight.”

The win came despite losing co-captain Shane Winnett late Friday in practice. He was considered questionable for Wednesday’s semifinal.

“The air went out of the building last night, but the boys said to themselves, ‘We can do this.'” Murray said. “They worked really hard.”

Evan Ryan led the Spartans with 21 points on the night, followed by 19 for Banuskevich. Ryan also contributed 10 rebounds.

Cooper Gorski led the Generals with 12 points.

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