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Plainfield too much for young Wolverines

Griswold — It's perhaps a good thing for Griswold boys' basketball coach Rob Mileski that teams must wear masks this season.

The Wolverines are young this season. Ridiculously young. Nine of their 10 players who dressed for Monday's game against rival Plainfield were sophomores.

All that youth is going to lead to a whole lot of growing pains. It should also lead to some extra muttering and teeth-grinding from Mileski in an abbreviated Eastern Connecticut Conference basketball season being played in empty gyms.

"I have to be patient, which is hard for me," Mileski quipped after a 66-40 loss to the Panthers in an ECC North Division game.

"The radio guys said, "Now we can hear you" (in an empty gym). I'm like, 'Oh, cripes.'"

Plainfield was an unfavorable matchup this early in the year for Griswold, even if it was playing its first game a full two weeks after the abbreviated winter season began.

Senior guard Jalen Arriaga scored 16 of his game-high 22 in the second half and added six steals for the Panthers. Sophomore guard Tyler Nordstrom added 15 points and three steals and senior guard Elijah Brady scored 15.

"It was kind of rough at the beginning of the first half," Arriaga said. "The second half, I think we kind of put our foot down. ... For the first game, I think we played really well, but we've got a lot to work on."

Mileski said, "I tried to come at (Plainfield) with all 10 guys. It was like a hockey game for a couple of minutes (with) five in and five out. I was just trying to wear them down and they're a little too talented for us at this point."

Center Tyler Green (eight points, two blocks) is the Wolverines' lone senior. Classmate Anthony Franklin, a guard, would've been one of their best players, but tore his ACL this past fall playing 7-on-7 one-hand touch football for Griswold.

Sophomore guard Jacob Strain (10 points) was the only player to score in double figures for the Wolverines (1-2, 1-2). Guard Lucas Strain, one of his triplet brothers, added five rebounds, two steals and two blocks and sophomore forward Kyle Roode had seven rebounds.

"These guys scrapped, but they're still young," Mileski said. "I love playing against Plainfield. Bobby (Arremony, the Panthers' head coach) is great. ... His kids are always well disciplined and tough.

Nordstrom scored seven straight points during a 12-2 run that helped the Panthers break the game open. Brady concluded the run with a 3-pointer to give Plainfield a 33-19 lead with 3 minutes, 9 seconds left in the first half.

Arriaga scored the Panthers first nine points of the fourth quarter on 3-pointers to push them ahead, 60-36, with 4:23 left in the game.

"I said (to my team), 'You guys got better," Mileski said. "You may not think it right now, but you got better. (Plainfield's) guards, at our level, are as good as any guards in the state.

"I said in a couple of year from now, I think other people are going to be saying, 'Hey, wow, Griswold, they're pretty good.' And that's the plan."

n.griffen@theday.com

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