Last season was a stepping stone for the Milton boys basketball team.
After collecting three wins the pervious three seasons combined, the Red Hawks picked up four wins in the 2018-2019 season.
This year looks to be another step froward.
“I feel like we’re finally on par as far as the athletes we have,” said third-year head coach Alex Olson. “The players have always been committed, super committed in the offseason since I’ve been here, but now just as far as the type of athlete we have, we’re not only on par but we have an edge in that sense.”
And look no further for athletes on the Red Hawk roster than sophomore point guard Jack Campion.
Campion scored 12.9 points per game last season and dished out a conference-high 6.5 assists.
“Anybody that saw him last year definitely saw a jump in Jack’s play with about 10 games to go. He really got comfortable,” Olson said. “Everything wasn’t moving so quick anymore. This summer he improved tremendously, just as far as his physicality. He’s always been able to defend, but now he’s starting to develop as a leader and a floor general.”
Along with Campion, junior guard Samuel Burdette looks to be another sound scoring option for Milton. Burdette produced just 3.3 points per game last season, but Olson expects an uptick this year.
“If you saw him (Burdette) during fall league or in the summer, it would be like, who is that kid,” Olson said. “He’s improved his outside shot and play making so much. I think he’ll turn some heads early on with his scoring.”
Although maybe not as gifted in the play-making department as Campion and Burdette, senior forward Cole Kudrna is slotted in as another key offensive contributor for Milton.
“I think he (Kudra) is one of the best offensive rebounders in the area,” Olson said. “He’s just a workhorse on the glass. He’s undersized, but has quick feet.”
Senior guard Jack Weberpal is set to get impactful minutes for the Red Hawks, with Olson describing him a “shutdown defender.” Senior forward Bennett Buswell also is set to receive significant minutes for Milton.
Olson is hoping the success of last season’s JV and JV2 teams will help this year. Milton’s JV team won 16 games last season, while the JV2 team earned 21 victories.
Notable JV players from last season expected to be in the rotation for Milton this season include juniors Ethan Burrows, Evan Jordahl, Nolan Larson and Eli Hammer.
Despite a 4-19 record last season, the Red Hawks held second-half advantages in a handful of games.
“It all starts with the coaching staff and the point guards,” Olson said. “We need to handle those situations better.
“We hope to have that not be a problem going forward. Not only do we want to maintain those leads, but we want to build on it.”
Of Milton’s 19 losses, 12 were by 11 points or less.
Monona Grove won the Badger South last season with an 11-3 mark. Oregon and Stoughton tied for second with 10-4 records.
Milton finished eighth in the conference standings last season with a 1-13 mark, but a bump up this season seems inevitable.
“We’re just really excited for the season,” Olson said.