Spartans thrived with camaraderie

While Milford didn’t celebrate a Division II boys basketball title on Saturday, both had their best seasons in several years as they at least made it to the semifinals.

“Oh definitely, we had a great year,” Milford coach Dan Murray said, his team finishing up at 18-2, the two losses to Saturday’s finalists, Lebanon and Coe-Brown. “There were only two kids coming back (from the 2016 varsity).”

And those were Ryan Banuskevich and Shane Winnett.

But Murray had a cohesive group of JV players.

“They played together before,” he said. “Last year I put three of the starters on JVs as juniors. They probably wouldn’t have played (varsity) because I had seniors. So I told them, you can play as JVs or sit on the end of the bench and not play at all. So they did.

“But you can tell in the summer. When you see a team play in the summer, you can tell whether you’re going to be good or not. They just connected with each other.”

And Murray saw more of a good cohesive group during the season.

“No complaints, not really, no nights off in practice,” he said. “A good group. That’s why I thought we had such a great season.”

The Spartans’ games got closer late in the season. At the start, though, they were winning by a lot, beginning with a 74-33 win over rival Souhegan. But once February arrived, things tightened up.

“Yeah, we had so many close games,” Milford coach Dan Murray said. “It wasn’t like we were knocking people off their feet, winning by 20 a game, or 15 a game.”

What made the Spartans so good?

“Just a desire not to lose, I guess,” Murray said. “They had good camaraderie, so they executed at the end of a game pretty well.”