Posted On: 10/31/18 9:22 AM
One foot in front of the other.
Head Coach David Gilbert has guided Milford’s program in the right direction in each of his five seasons at the helm. But it was his 2017-18 campaign that topped them all, leading the Mavericks to a 13-3 record in the Lakes Valley Conference (17-5 overall), good for second place in the league.
Last year’s squad ran through 2018 seniors Aiden Warzecha, Kyle Soderberg and JT Sarafa, who have left voids to fill on both ends of the floor for Gilbert. Warzecha, now playing at Trine University, earned All-State and All-Conference honors while taking home a share of the team’s MVP award. Soderberg’s 11.4 PPG helped earn him a roster spot at Heidelberg University. He was also named the team’s offensive player of the year. The team utility player, Sarafa, will also be missed this season. Sarafa netted a team-high 30 three-pointers while swiping 34 steals, the fifth most of any Milford player in program history, earning him defensive player of the year honors.
But Gilbert and the Mavs still have plenty to look forward to this winter, especially with the return of big-man Gunnar Gustafson (2019).
Gustafson, who shared team MVP honors with Warzecha a year ago, was named to the PrepHoops Class of 2019 All-State Team at the conclusion of his junior season thanks to his 15 points and 11 rebounds per game.
Gustafson got an added opportunity to put his talents on display when he landed an invite to the BCAM and MHSAA’s Reaching Higher Showcase Camp this past summer. There, he was one of just 11 players from Oakland County who got to perform for college coaches of all levels.
With Gustafson being the focal point of this years roster, Gilbert believes his squad might have what it takes to bring home the Lakes Valley Conference crown.
“We return who I believe to be the best player in the league and a strong core group of players who have a chance to make some great strides throughout the season,” Gilbert said. “Our league lost a strong senior class across the board. So many teams are going to have players in new roles, including ourselves. But if we can focus on improving daily, we could make some real noise in the LVC.”
One of those players looking to take on an added workload will be Nolan Rand (2019), who contributed significantly to the Mavericks success a year ago. Gilbert also hopes to see forward Andrew Minton (2019), as well as guards Ryan Cullen (2019), Jon Porter (2019) and Eric Elizondo (2021), make significant strides on the hardwood this winter.
“As cliche as it sounds, we need to break our focus down to one day at a time,” Gilbert said. “Our success in the recent years has given these guys confidence, and I’m happy about that. But they also have to realize that success comes with hard work and by building connections with one another – both on and off the floor. If we can focus on those things, I do think we could be a dangerous team come February, and maybe even sooner.”
TEAM: Milford Mavericks
CONFERENCE: Lakes Valley Conference
COACH: David Gilbert (6th season)
CAREER RECORD: 55-54
2017-18 Record: 13-3 LVC, 17-5 Overall
2017-18 Postseason Finish: District semifinal loss to Walled Lake Western, 50-48.