Sullivan girls fall in state playoffs.

By: Chuck Souders | Towanda Daily Review | March 15, 2018


DANVILLE — It wasn't quite as easy as the final score looked, but Lourdes Regional will make its fourth trip to the PIAA Class A quarterfinals after the Red Raiders defeated Sullivan County for the third time, 63-47, Wednesday at Danville High School in a second round game.

The Red Raiders (18-9), who have won 11 of their last 12 games, will play Jenkintown, the team which eliminated them last season, in the round of eight Saturday at a site and time to be determined. Jenkintown defeated Linden Hall, 47-21.

Lourdes defeated Sullivan twice previously, once in the regular season and then in the district semifinals and although the Red Raiders were never in serious trouble this time after opening the game with a 16-4 lead, the Griffins (22-5) made their presence felt. Sullivan pumped up its defense, forced 16 turnovers and ended the first half with a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 32-20.

But the Red Raiders got their high-low game going in the second half. Frances Czeponis, though she only scored two points, went to the high post and started feeding assists to teammates breaking for the basket, especially Lily Bickel. Bickel also made two big threes in the second half and the Red Raiders never let the Griffins cut the lead into single digits.

Bickel scored 19 points and had six assists, Czeponis had five assists, and Selina Albert also scored 19 points, with eight rebounds. Mary Komara added 11 points.

"We didn't practice against a 1-2-2 zone but that's no excuse," Lourdes head coach Mike Klembara said. "We were a little too anxious at times. But our passing was real good. A ball moves faster than a zone."

Sullivan had a second straight rugged shooting game against the Red Raiders and may have been even tougher to put away. The Griffins were 18-for-65 from the floor (28 percent) after going 10-for-41 in their 46-29 district loss. That's 26 percent for two games.

"We missed some easy baskets," said Sullivan head coach Kurt Parrish. "Turnovers hurt us early in the game. Defensively, we played a good game but we started to have to overplay to try to force turnovers and once you do that, you're going to be playing five on four."

One thing the Griffins did do much better was hit the boards. Lourdes controlled rebounding the last game, but this time Sullivan had a 36-27 edge. Jessica King, who had a double-double with 13 points and 16 rebounds, actually had 10 of those rebounds in the opening quarter.

"We stressed that," Parrish said. "I told the girls when you have three six-footers, you shouldn't be out-rebounded."

Klembara credited Jessica Milewski, who had seven rebounds, three assists and a couple steals, with countering some of that advantage.

"Jessica is someone who's not going to have a lot of statistics but she hustles all over the place, and we got some quality play off the bench from Anna Shimko (six points on 3-for-4 shooting), too," Klembara said.

Alexis Randall had nine points and seven rebounds for the Griffins, and Stefanie Kramer and Mykenzie Malacusky each scored eight points.

"We have a perfect opportunity," Klembara said. "We lost to Jenkintown and we knew we were a better team than that and we have a chance to prove it."

As for Sullivan County, Parrish is already looking forward to next season.

"Overall we've had a great past two years," Parrish said. "We've made the state playoffs and we hope to continue that. We have a good amount of girls coming back. I told the girls I can't thank them enough for their efforts."