Monticello Lady Panthers Force A Spate Of Turnovers And Run Away With A Non-League Win Over Sullivan West
Monticello 43, Sullivan West 13
By RICHARD A. ROSS
Photos at: www.sportsinsights.smugmug.com
LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY—“Mama said there’d be days like this.”
Mama was right.
The Sullivan West girls and their coach Pat Donovan knew it was coming, the awesome defensive pressure evinced by the Monticello Lady Panthers. For that has always been a hallmark of Monticello girls basketball over the decades that Coach Karen Atack has been at the helm.
This may be Atack’s last season but the rigors, the teaching and the demands for commitment and deportment from her players has not diminished one iota.
But knowing about Monticello’s defensive ardor is one thing; dealing with it is quite another. Truth be told the kind of fierce defense Monticello brings to bear on its opponents is virtually impossible to simulate in practice unless teams can marshal it with their own defensive skills and energy.
Some can; some can’t.
Sullivan West is a blend of experienced players and newbies, so for the six veterans on the team, Monticello’s style is not something they haven’t’ seen before. They just haven’t mastered what to do with it. For the newcomers, playing against the Monties is a wakeup call to the fast and furious tenor of varsity basketball.
Over the years both teams have had their share of star players and successful runs. Monticello reached the Section Nine finals seven times under Atack’s watch winning the title four times before losing in regional play. Having a player like Katina Mack, who went on to star at Penn State helped fuel much of Monticello’s success during her tenure there.
Sullivan West has had its share of years with Sectional runs but has never won a title. The last couple of years have been particularly tough.
Monticello made it to sectionals last year but fell to Goshen in the opening round.
One year to the next, one thing is always true: You go to war with what you’ve got, stars or no. Monticello returns four veterans in Seniors Quasia Walker and Latise Sanders, along with juniors Lena Episalla and Yamilersy Reyes. The rest of the Monties are newcomers, many of them sophomores.
Sullivan West veterans include seniors Sydney Sipple, Krysten Herbert . Kelsey Brockner and junior Carly Grishaber. Monticello’s ways are nothing new to them. Last year they had to sustain a 67-28 defeat to the Monties on the Lady Panthers’ senior night in the Pit.
Reyes and Sipple got set for the tip and Monticello wasted no time in establishing the upper hand as they controlled the tip and quickly unveiled its defensive pressure forcing turnovers along the way. Isabella Kent nailed the game’s first point to give the Westies the lead but moments later Reyes wended her way through the Westies’ defense to tie it. From there it was a 14-2 run by Monticello to evince a 16-4 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Grishaber had the only other bucket for the Lady Bulldogs in that opening stanza while Walker and Sanders netted five apiece to go along with four from Reyes and two from Episalla.
The second quarter was a nightmare for Sullivan West as they failed to score while Monticello piled on 14 more points for the 30-4 halftime lead. Walker had eight and Reyes had six in that second frame.
Sullivan West marshaled good defense for the first six minutes of the third quarter. They held Monticello to a mere five points in the period while scoring seven of their own to close the gap to 35-11. A trey from Elaine Durkin went along with buckets from Heather Maxwell and Kelsey Brockner.
But that one-period advantage over Monticello was obviated by Monticello’s 8-6 advantage in the fourth quarter leading to the eventual 43-13 victory. The Lady Panthers improved to 2-0 adding this win to their season opening eight point victory over Eldred. Sullivan West fell to 0-2.
Walker had a game-high 16 points, while Reyes posted 12. Sanders added six to the ledger. Brockner led Sullivan West with four points. The Lady Bulldogs were two-for-seven from the stripe (28%), while Monticello was five-for-16 for a nearly equally poor 31%
Atack accentuated the positives. “Our press was very successful. I was very happy with the passing around the perimeter and the outlet passes. We’re keeping this in perspective. We know we’re going to see Cornwall and Goshen before Christmas and that will be a different story in terms of what we’ll be facing. There’s a lot we have to work on, but we’ll take it. Everybody got to play tonight,” she added.
“I think we have better chemistry than last year,” she noted referencing her team’s unselfish style of play. Walker had five steals and seven rebounds. Shandell Jones had ten rebounds. Monticello will play Liberty twice next week. Liberty and Fallsburg both were scouting the game.
Sullivan West Coach Pat Donovan put it succinctly: “Pressure killed us.”
That kind of pressure will be forthcoming in games to come and the Lady Bulldogs will have to go back to the drawing board to figure out a way to better neutralize it. To date overlapping Jayvee players in practice and playing seven on five as a way to simulate the pressure has thus far not been enough to mime live play against the likes of opponents the team saw on this night. But things are bound to improve as the team gels and the youngsters learn their roles.
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