The Milton boys basketball team has come a long way since Elkhorn.
Fifth-seeded Milton was defeated by fourth-seeded Westosha Central, 70-57, in a WIAA Division 2 regional semifinal Friday, March 6, at Westosha Central High School.
The Red Hawks led by eight points early in the second half, but Westosha Central went on to outscore Milton, 36-19, in the final 18 minutes.
“We battled extremely hard,” Milton head coach Alex Olson said. “I think we saw for moments in that game — especially for how young we are — how far this group has come since Elkhorn.”
Milton was beaten by Elkhorn — a team that Westosha Central shared the Southern Lakes Conference title with — by 26 points in the season opener.
“Not that we’re about moral victories here, but the improvement we’ve made throughout the year is really a testament to our senior group and how coachable they were,” Olson added.
Milton (12-11) didn’t grab its first lead of the game until 31-28, when there was 4 minutes, 16 seconds left in the first half.
Sophomore Jack Campion made a 3-pointer with a minute left in the first to help give the Red Hawks a 38-34 halftime lead.
Campion finished with 13 points in the half.
Junior Sam Burdette made his fourth and fifth 3-pointers of the game the first two minutes of the second half to give Milton its biggest lead of the game at 44-36 with 16:35 to play.
The Red Hawks led 51-46 with 11:48 left in the game, but the Falcons (15-8) used a 14-0 run to earn a 60-51 advantage with 6:56 to go.
“It’s something we’ve struggled with all year, and that’s being sound defensively and finishing plays,” Olson said. “We got exposed a little bit in that sense. I think offensively we became a little stagnant.”
Milton got it down to 60-54 with 4:33 to play, but it was as close as it got.
Burdette scored a team-high 20 points for Milton, including six 3-pointers.
Campion made two 3-pointers and added 17 points. Milton finished with more 3-pointers (11) than two-pointers (10).
“We weren’t able to finish over height and be creative, which will definitely be an emphasis in the off-season for us. The kick-out 3s happen to be there a ton,” Olson said.
Westosha Central made it difficult to find points in the paint with its height. Of its 12 rostered players, 10 are over 5 feet 11 inches — including 6-foot, 7-inch Bradley Bell.
Westosha Central sophomore Jack Rose finished with a game-high 24 points.
“Rose is as good as it gets as far as combo guards in the area, and frankly the state,” Olson said. “He’s going to get his either way, they run plays for him constantly. He can shoot over small defenders and go by taller players. He’s a match-up nightmare.”
Westosha Central went on to lose to Elkhorn, 61-52, in the regional final on Saturday.
Milton’s 12 wins is the most since the 2007-2008 season.