Like most teams on campus, the Milton High boys basketball team was against the wall entering this season, having been scheduled against two tough opponents to open the campaign and then having to navigate through the difficult conference-only schedule.

Though the Wildcats have dropped their first three contests, coach Bill Donovan and his team came out swinging as soon as the ball tipped off to open a season like no other, showing grit, fight and some early promise.

“All of our student-athletes are making the coaching staff proud every day,” Donovan said. “While we are always working to improve individually and collectively, these young men have dealt with the challenges of this year and never make excuses.”

Milton opened up its season with a home date against Walpole on Jan. 8. While the effort on both sides of the ball was present, the team struggled mightily against a rock-solid Walpole defense, mustering only 18 first half points en route to a 49-33 defeat.

Four nights later, the Wildcats hosted Natick. While it was an improved offensive output, Milton this time struggled on the defensive side of the ball, falling 65-54.

On the 19th, the Red and White traveled to Braintree to take on the rival Wamps. In a back-and-forth affair, it would be Braintree that prevailed, 56-52.

In all three contests, though, the Wildcats competed and, at times, had opportunities to take control of the game.

There’s been plenty more upside to go along with the team’s day-in and day-out effort.

One of the brightest spots has been the play of junior Lateef Patrick. Named to both Patriot Ledger and Boston Herald Division 2 Players To Watch lists, the 6-foot guard, who also stars for the Middlesbrough Magic, has averaged 20.7 points per game in his first three contests of the year, including a 29-point performance against Natick.

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