Griffin girls improve to 4-0

MONTGOMERY — As the shot bounced off the rim, Sullivan County forward Alexis Randall hustled past two Montgomery players, grabbed a rebound and scored off a putback.

It was one of many plays in which Griffin athletes went all-out and created something positive. That is appropriate because Sullivan’s season is all about turning a potential negative into a huge positive.

A season after losing four starters from the best team in program history, Sullivan is back for more. Yes, the Griffins look different this year, but they still appear mighty dangerous. Rather than look at last year’s season as an ending, the returning players are using it as a launching pad. And they kept soaring Saturday.

Three players scored in double figures and Sullivan dominated all facets as it thumped Montgomery, 70-20 and improved to 4-0. The Griffins never trailed, scored at least 15 points in all four quarters and won their fourth straight double-digit game.

“We can definitely match up, if not do better than what we did last year,” Mykenzie Malacusky said after scoring a game-high 15 points and adding four steals. “They had some pretty good seniors last year, but we stepped up our games and we should be able to accomplish a lot.”

“We’re trying to get them into the mindset that we didn’t lose anything, we’re just replacing,” Sullivan coach Kurt Parrish said. “They just hustle all the time and they are tenacious.”

Sullivan has an excellent mix of size, featuring three near 6-footers, shooters and speed. Eight players produced at least eight points yesterday and Sullivan runs the court as well as it defends it.

Equally important, Sullivan does not take plays off. The Griffins know only one speed and that is one that would make Usain Bolt envious. Whatever they are doing, these players are doing it hard and that is a big reason it looks like a serious District 4 Class A title contender a season after reaching its first final.

“We’re together and it’s like a family and everyone is helping each other out,” Randall said. “A lot of people were saying that because we lost the four seniors that we might not be as good, but I think us winning today by the gap we did sends a message that we’re just as strong, if not stronger than last year.”

Randall was one of many Sullivan players who delivered strong all-around performances against Montgomery. The junior forward scored a season-high 11 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, made five steals and blocked two shots. Jessica King and Stef Kramer were a point and rebound, respectively, from recording double-doubles and freshman Bethany Beinlich scored 10 points off the bench.

King set the tone early and had six points and five rebounds during the first quarter when Sullivan took a 15-4 lead. The sophomore blossomed as last season progressed and is a potential force inside, scoring nine points, grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds, dishing four assists and adding three blocks. Kramer took over in the second half, scoring 10 of her 13 points, hitting two 3-pointers and adding nine rebounds. Throw in Leah Beinlich scoring eight points, pulling down five rebounds, dealing four assists and stealing four passes and Sullivan overwhelmed Montgomery with its speed, size and balance.

That is the dilemma for opponents playing Sullivan. Collapse down low to try and slow King or Randall and Kramer or Malacusky can make 3-pointers. Malacusky is a good creator as or the Beinlich’s and even the post players can push the ball up the court so it really is a case of picking one’s poison.

“If somebody is off somebody else will be having the best day of their life. It all balances out,” Randall said. “It’s good. We’re all together and I’m excited.”

Sullivan pushed its lead to 32-10 by halftime, but Montgomery went on a little spurt starting the third. Riley Fry scored six points and grabbed four rebounds for Montgomery while Jessica Umpstead had three steals and Nita Imeri had four points, three rebounds and two assists.

Any hopes of a big comeback, though, were quickly dashed as Malacusky and Kramer heated up. Bethany Beinlich scored eight of her 10 points in the second half and was one of many players who helped Sullivan turn defense into offense. The Griffins forced 29 turnovers and allowed just six field goals.

Earlier in the week, Sullivan had let Wyalusing creep back into the game after opening a big league, but this time it quickly dropped the hammer. Eight players combined to make 23 steals and the Griffins surrendered just six points over the game’s final 14 minutes. They have not allowed a team to reach 40 points this season.

Some names have changed, but the results have not. Sullivan is back and, with only one senior on the roster, the good times may just be getting started.

SULLIVAN (70)

Jessica King 4 1-2 9, Mykenzie Malacusky 5 4-6 15, Stef Kramer 4 3-4 13, Alexis Randall 5 1-2 11, Leah Beinlich 3 2-4 8, Bethany Beinlich 5 0-3 10, Sophia Springman 1 0-0 2, Angel Fitzgerald 1 0-0 2. Totals 28 11-21 70.

MONTGOMERY (20)

Riley Fry 2 2-4 6, Jessica Umpstead 1 2-2 4, Brynna McHenry 0 0-0 0, Abby Styrker 1 1-2 3, Nita Imeri 1 2-2 4, Kara Hahn 1 0-1 3, Morgan Tupper 0 0-0 0, Megan Moser 0 0-0 0. Totals 6 7-11 20.

Sullivan 15 17 20 18–70

Montgomery 4 6 7 3–20

3-pointers: Sullivan 3 (Kramer 2, Malacusky). Montgomery 1 (Hahn).

Records: Sullivan County 4-0, 1-0 Mid-Penn. Montgomery 0-3, 0-2.

JV Score: Sullivan, 43-10

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