LEWISTOWN - What do you get when you combine a high pressure defense and an offense that can score from just about anywhere?
You get the Mifflin County girls basketball team, which opened its season with an 87-16 win over Southern Huntingdon Friday night at the Mifflin County Tip-Off Challenge.
Right after the first buzzer, the Huskies came out shooting, and within minutes had a substantial lead. Mifflin County scored 15 unanswered buckets, for a score of 32-0, before Southern Huntingdon could put one through the hoop.
Sentinel photo by BUFFIE?BOYER
Southern Huntingdon’s Kaley Booher (53) attempts to block a shot attempt by Mifflin County’s Ashleigh Williams Friday at the Mifflin County Tip-Off Challenge.
Mifflin County guard Rebeka Knable was an important start to the Huskies' run. Knable hit two 3-pointers to make two of Mifflin County's first three buckets, and for the rest of the quarter it was the Mifflin County show, as the girls ended the first eight minutes with a score of 35-2.
"When you hit teams with threes early on, it really puts an extra bounce in your step and gives your team energy," Mifflin County coach Kevin Kodish said.
And the Huskies certainly did have some bounce in their step. Although Knable was instrumental in getting the Huskies' first-quarter scoring started, her teammates were right behind her in that department. Whether it was from beyond the 3-point line, a short jump shot or a breakaway layup, Mifflin County was scoring just about every way it could. In fact, in addition to Knable, Ashleigh Williams, Olivia Halfpenny and Molly Dunmire all had strong first-quarter scoring. Halfpenny ended the game as lead scorer with 19.
IF YOU GO
Mifflin County plays Milton today at 7 p.m. in the Tip-Off Challenge
But if the Huskies were lighting up the scoreboard in the first quarter, it was largely because of their high-pressure defensive performance.
"What's really impressive is after the turnovers we converted," Kodish said, explaining how his team's strong defensive effort was directly related to the end score.
The Huskies were making steals, intercepting passes and overall causing Southern Huntingdon to make poor choices with the ball, resulting in many Southern Huntingdon turnovers. From there, Mifflin Country would push the ball down the court and make the easy layups.
Throughout the first quarter, and for most of the rest of the game, Mifflin County's high-pressure defense made it very tough for Southern Huntingdon to penetrate into the paint. In fact, during the first few minutes of the game, Southern Huntingdon not only couldn't buy a bucket, it couldn't even buy a shot. Southern Huntingdon didn't take its first attempt from the floor until late into the first quarter, and it wasn't until even later that forward Kara Leonard scored Southern Huntingdon's only field goal for the opening stanza.
"We mixed up our defense there just to have some different looks and practice some different things, and I thought no matter which one we did we were doing a nice job," Kodish said.
Throughout the rest of the game, Southern Huntingdon began to take more shots, but without much affect. Mifflin County's strong defense prevailed and Southern Huntingdon was kept under 10 points for each of the remaining quarters.
During the pre-season, Kodish had mentioned his team's defense as a potential weakness, but Saturday night's performance might indicate the opposite. Kodish pointed out, however, that although he was very pleased with Saturday's defense, the real test will be on Tuesday when the Huskies begin play in the Mid-Penn Conference.
"We're going to be jumping into the deep end of the swimming pool come Tuesday," he said. "We're taking on Cumberland Valley, so we have to work on things tomorrow night to make sure we're moving things properly and we're in the proper positions."
In the end, Kodish was very pleased with the win as his team's start to the season.
"All the girls played hard, and I think they played well for the opening game," he said.
Today, Mifflin County looks to extend its win streak to two when it takes on Milton at 7 p.m.