By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
VANDALIA — Milton-Union boys basketball coach Rusty Berner spent most of the 2018-19 season discussing the realities surrounding what the Bulldogs were up against this season.
And though that season came to an end Tuesday night, the reality is that it was a massive step forward.
The 18th-seeded Bulldogs were eliminated in the second round of the Division III sectional tournament Tuesday at Butler High School in a 70-32 loss to division rival and No. 3 seed Madison, but Milton-Union finished the season with an 8-15 record — matching the win total of the previous three seasons combined.
“I’m proud of the guys. They had a fantastic season,” Berner said. “We’re getting the program going back the right way. Tonight, we just ran into a buzzsaw.
“Madison is the team that won our league, and they’re a No. 3 seed for a reason. Their inside game hurt us tonight, our kids were physically outmuscled throughout, and we didn’t shoot particularly well either.”
The Mohawks (20-4) — who swept the season series from the Bulldogs this year, defeating them by 40 in their last meeting on Jan. 25 — took a 10-point lead after the first quarter, built a 30-12 halftime lead and never looked back. Grant Whisman had 18 points and Levi McMonigle added 17 to lead the way.
Caleb Wintrow led the Bulldogs with 11 points, Aaran Stone added seven points and four rebounds, and A.J. Lovin had seven assists and six rebounds as the Bulldogs went 11 for 55 (20 percent) from the field.
And even though the finish wasn’t what the team wanted, the regular season that preceded it was a big step forward.
“We won as many games this year as the last three combined, and this senior class did a lot of things from a leadership standpoint to get the program back on the right path,” Berner said. “And we’ve got a lot of guys coming back that got a lot of valuable experience. Still, I’m going to miss being in the gym with those guys on a daily basis. They were all hard workers and a great group to coach.”
Josh Brown is the Sports Editor of the Troy Daily News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.