By Gary Larson
Mille Lacs County Times
The Granite Ridge Conference boasts several rugged boys basketball teams this season.
Milaca can attest to that.
The Wolves are 0-2 in GRC play after falling at home to St. Cloud Cathedral 63-35 and losing at Little Falls 82-54.
Little Falls, 6-1 overall, is tied for the early GRC lead with Princeton as both sport 2-0 records. Princeton is 8-2 overall.
Milaca will face another GRC toughie Friday night when it travels to Zimmerman at 7:30.
The Thunder is 1-1 in conference games and 6-2 overall. Zimmerman lost to Little Falls 105-85 and defeated Cathedral 60-59. Cathedral is also 1-1 in GRC games and 4-3 overall.
Milaca Coach Dustin Naumann know his team, 1-5 overall, faces a big challenge Friday.
“Zimmerman is a strong team that likes to dictate the pace of the game,” said Naumann. “They are well-coached and were a state participant last year. Their rotation goes 9-10 deep.
“But, we’re looking forward to the game. We feel we’re improving”
After Zimmerman, the Wolves travel to Rockford for a non-conference game Monday, Jan. 3.
“Rockford is a team that seems to be in the same boat as us – some youth mixed in with upperclassmen,” said Naumann. “They have played some quality opponents and have had some close games.
“Going into the new year we are hoping to build off the game experience and confidence we have gained from the first month of games. Rotations are starting to come in place and other players are stepping up and looking for expanded roles. We had a long enough holiday break and are ready to get back into the swing of games.”
The Wolves topped Pine City 65-62 Tuesday at Pine City..
Senior guard Brandon Kiel went into this week’s games with 1,325 career points, 55 points behind Milaca career scoring leader Jason Johnson (1992) who totaled 1,380 points. He scored 33 points Tuesday against Pine City to put his career total at 1,358.
Kiel is averaging 23 points per game this season.