New year has Timberwolves on a roll

It has been quite the 2014 for the Exeter-Milligan boys basketball team.

Since the new year began, the Timberwolves are 9-1 and riding a four-game win streak.

In the fall, the Exeter-Milligan football team won the Class D-1 state championship. While a state title is never a bad thing, it did cause a delay to the start of the basketball season.

"It gave us a little bit of a late start, but the guys have rebounded from that," said the Timberwolves head coach Dean Filipi, whose team is 12-3 on the season. "It was a good thing for the guys who were out on the football field. This group is just a very competitive group, and they play hard and work hard at whatever they're doing."

Filipi has seen that work ethic carry over to the hardwood. He believes the key to his team's success has been the effort his kids give in practice.

"They really work hard in practice. They're working hard to get better," Filipi said. "They're a good, hard-working bunch of players."

During the 10-game stretch in 2014, Exeter-Milligan is getting the job done on both sides of the ball. On offense, E-M is putting up 57.9 points per game, but Filipi is more impressed with his team giving up just 38.2 points per game since the start of January.

"The guys have been working hard at their defense," Filipi said. "I think that's helped us in some of our games this year."

The Timberwolves kicked off the Crossroads Conference tournament on Monday after earning a first-round bye as the No. 2 seed. Exeter-Milligan made quick work of Shelby-Rising City on Monday, winning 70-33. Filipi said before Monday's game that you have to be ready for anything in the CRC tourney.

"This is a tough conference. There are a lot of good teams in it, and it's always competitive. It always seems like there's an upset or two in this tournament," he said. "There's always a good atmosphere in York. It's just a very good, competitive tournament."

The Timberwolves played Bruning-Davenport/Shickley (12-4) on Friday before the tournament began. E-M came away with a 55-47 victory, which Filipi said gave his team an extra boost of confidence going into the tournament.

Exeter-Milligan won't play again until Thursday, when it takes on the winner of Tuesday game between McCool Junction (7-7) and BDS, meaning we could see another matchup between the Eagles and the Timberwolves.

"It's always a tough game playing BDS," Filipi said. "They're a good team, and they always play hard."

Filipi said his Timberwolves are an unselfish on the court. Part of that attitude comes from the senior leadership on the team. Filipi also said even then juniors aren't afraid to chime in and give their two cents to help the team.

"It's more collective because they all have their moments on the floor," Filipi said. "It just goes back to their competitive nature. It's just something they like to do and they give a lot of effort when they're out there."

After the CRC tournament, Exeter-Milligan will have just six games remaining in the regular season. Those final six opponents have a combined record of 29-50, but the Timberwolves won't be overlooking anyone. He knows his team has to stay sharp and finish the season strong if it wants a successful showing in the postseason.

"The defense is the big thing. We try to play aggressive defense and then hit the boards as hard as we can. I think those are going to be things that help us down the road," Filipi said. "I think the unselfishness on the offensive side has been really good. We hope that keeps going and they're not too worried about who's doing it as long as someone's getting the points."


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