CGA unseats Plymouth, 49-48
ROCHESTER — It was an outcome determined by inches, individual plays, by fractions of seconds.
One moment Meagan Barron’s go-ahead free throw with 1.7 seconds on the clock set the Plymouth crowd on its feet, and the next Brenna Newell’s buzzer-beating jumper off the elbow left the Lady Pilgrims stunned as the Culver Girls Academy crowd rushed the floor in a 49-48 Class 3A Rochester Sectional opener with a championship feel Tuesday.
The Eagles play New Prairie in a semifinal Friday at 6 p.m. EST.
“Our kids played gritty. They battled, they played through adversity from start to finish,” said CGA head basketball coach Gary Christlieb. “The credit goes to them. They understood what we had to do to win, and they executed the game plan very, very well.
“We told the kids believe in yourself, and they believed in themselves. Like I said, the basketball gods shined down on us tonight. I coudn’t be more proud of our coaches and our kids. I told the kids ‘Welcome to Indiana high school basketball.’ We move on to the next round.”
Newell’s game-winning bucket was actually a redemption play as it was actually her foul that sent Barron to the line in the bonus with 1.7 to go, and the Pilgrims point guard iced the one-and-one to give Plymouth its first lead of the night, 48-47. CGA forward Andrijiana Cvitkovic hurled a baseball pass from under the Plymouth basket to the CGA foul line on the ensuing out of bounds play, and the ball was tipped up and ruled the Eagles’ ball as it sailed out of bounds at the Culver baseline in a controversial call that left 1.4 seconds on the clock. With the Pilgrims keying in on 6-foot-3 Cvitkovic in the lane, Eagles senior Kylee Shipley inbounded the ball to Newell coming off a double screen off the elbow for the game-winner.
“When I fouled the girl I pretty much thought I ruined the game, but then when I made the shot I pretty much thought I was in a dream” said a smiling Newell. “It was the most amazing feeling of my life.
“My coach came up to me during the time out with 1.4 seconds and she told me it’s not over until the buzzer goes off, and I guess she was right.”
“I don’t know. A couple years ago we lost one down at Norwell,” said Plymouth head coach Dave Cox. “It was two and six-tenths (seconds) and they threw it down to the free throw line so we were pretty sure that’s what they were going to do, and we told them we’ve got to make a play on the ball and they swiped it. You’ve got to go get the ball. That ball’s in flight 62 feet; it’s like a football. At least get down and send it back this way, but we didn’t. I’ll have to watch it. There are so many scenarios in basketball you try to teach kids, but you always miss one and that’s the one that gets you.”
Newell finished with a team-high 16 points for CGA, while Shipley put up 12 points with eight rebounds, eight assists and two steals. The Pilgrims held Cvitkovic seven points below her average with seven points Tuesday.
Plymouth struggled to find offensive production as the Pilgrims stumbled to a 6-of-26 shooting performance from the field in the first half, and CGA took a 26-21 lead into the locker room. The Eagles opened the second half 12-4 to stretch their lead to its biggest margin of the night around the two-minute mark of the third frame, 38-25, but a 10-2 quarter-ending run by Plymouth brought the three-time defending champs back within five at 40-35 headed into the final frame.
A 6-0 mini run capped off by a Barron jumper at the 1:15 mark of the fourth tied the game at 46-all and set the stage for the late drama.
“They’re a great team, they’re well-coached, and I told the kids at halftime they’re not going to give it to us,” said Christlieb. “We knew they wee going to make a run. The irony of it is we were up 15, and we were over here against Rochester on Friday in the same situation and the lead just didn’t feel comfortable and I didn’t feel comfortable tonight either.”
Barron scored 13 of her team-leading 15 — including a third-quarter-ending 3 to cap off Plymouth’s biggest run of the night — and racked up two steals and two assists fueling Plymouth’s comeback in the second half . Fellow senior Erin Kinney tallied 14, meanwhile, scoring 11 in the first half to keep the Pilgrims from falling too deep in the hole.
(Kinney) kept us in the game early,” Cox said. “We probably didn’t get her the ball enough. We told them at halftime we need to find her. She was rolling, get her the dang ball. Then late in the game, Meagan was involved either directly or indirectly in every play.”
Plymouth bids good-bye to five seniors in Barron, a four-year varsity member, Kinney, Haley Smart, Chelsea Thoden and Marissa Green, who was unable to finish out the year after suffering an MCL tear before the tournament. The Pilgrims close at 14-7.
“I’m proud of our kids,” said Cox. “We struggled early in the game and finally got going. We took a lead, and I thought we were OK, but it probably wasn’t meant to be.”
• CGA 49, PLYMOUTH 48
At Class 3A Rochester Sectional
Score by quarters
Plymouth: 10 21 35 48
CGA: 12 26 40 49
PLYMOUTH (48): Lauren Tanner 0 0-1 0, Andria Shook 0 4-4 4, Chelsea Thoden 0 0-2 0, Alex Schaffer 0 0-0 0, Haley Smart 1 1-2 4, Meagan Barron 5 4-4 15, Amber Redinger 4 3-4 11, Erin Kinney 5 4-6 14; Totals: 15 16-23 48.
CGA (49): Alexis Christlieb 0 0-0 0, Kenzie Ungar 0 2-2 2, Kylee Shipley 4 3-5 12, Brenna Newell 5 6-6 16, Cassandra Hall 0 0-0 0, Lindsay Haller 2 0-0 4, Andrijana Cvitkovic 3 1-3 7; Totals: 18 12-16 49.
3-point goals: Plymouth 2 (Smart, Barron), CGA 1 (Shipley); Turnovers: Plymouth 15, CGA 17; Rebounds: Plymouth 31 (Redinger 8), CGA 30 (Shipley 8); Assists: Plymouth 9 (Kinney 3), CGA 16 (Shipley 8); Steals: Plymouth 8 (Redinger 3), CGA 7 (Ungar 2, Shipley 2, Newell 2); Blocked shots: Plymouth 1 (Thoden), CGA 4 (Cvitkovic 3, Shipley); Total fouls (fouled out): Plymouth 13 (none), CGA 19 (Ungar); Records: Plymouth 14-7 (final), CGA (14-6).