Pilgrims done, Falcons win

PLYMOUTH — Friday’s Class 3A Sectional semifinals were both decided at the outset.
John Glenn jumped out to a 31-19 halftime lead and coasted to an eventual 54-40 win over Northern State Conference foe Jimtown in the early game, while Marian knocked down its first five shots — including 4 of 4 from deep — and rode a 36-12 start to a 71-54 victory over the host Pilgrims in the nightcap.
The Knights came out shooting the lights out, and after a 23-12 first quarter, they opened the second frame 13-0 to put the Pilgrims down by 24 at 36-12 at the 4:21 stop of the second frame. Plymouth responded with a little 11-7 run of its own to close the half, including a last second Mack Mercer jumper from the free-throw line on a John Ruff three-quarter court inbound pass, but facing a 20-point deficit in the second half, the Pilgrims could never get over the hump, suffering their first — and last – home court loss this season.
“A lot of it was them; they hit some shots early, obviously rattled us a little bit, especially on the offensive end,” said Plymouth head coach Ryan Bales. “I thought we had some good looks, but when they were hitting shots in the first quarter it put a lot of pressure on our offense — you’d better keep up or they’re going to run you out of the gym.”
“That was key for us, getting off to a good start,” said Marian head coach Robb Berger. “We didn’t expect a start like that, but things kept going, we kind of got confident, got some momentum going, and I thought we just kind of fed off of that for at least most of the first half.”
The Pilgrims did a creditable job limiting Marian point guard and DI prospect Demetrius Jackson, as he finished 5 for 12 on his way to a game co-leading 16 points with three steals, but the Knights had too many role players to contain them all. Freshman guard Devin Cannady went 4 for 4 in the second quarter en route to 15 points, while Robert Mischler opened the game with two straight 3s on his way to 12 points, and 6-6 senior forward Andrew Hasler worked inside the paint to finish with 13 points.
“I thought we did a great job on (Jackson),” said Bales. “He’s a heck of a player, and he makes other guys better. Watching film on him I thought we did as good a job on him as we did against anyone this season. We took some charges on him, we got some deflections on him. I thought we made him play defense at times, we were screening him, we were hitting him, making him work on the defensive end, but when Mischler’s out hitting 3s, Cannady, the freshman kid, hits a few shots, those are killers. A couple years ago at Judson we ran into Fort Wayne Luers and a guy named Deshaun Thomas, and the game plan was around trying to contain him, and lo and behold they have a couple other guys step up and make plays ,and that’s how it went tonight.”
The Pilgrims opened the second half on a 13-5 run keyed by a Mercer layup and ending with an in-out assist from the sophomore center to Joe Knapp for a triple from the top of the key that cut Marian’s lead to 13 at 48-35 with 3:46 remaining. But the Knights closed out the quarter 8-1 to stretch their lead back to 20 and keep the game out of reach heading into the final period.
“They have a lot of great players over there, and our kids, even though they had a very poor first quarter, we still had a chance. At one point they were up about 24 and we got it down to 13, had a couple looks, we just couldn’t get it to go,” Bales said. “We kept saying at halftime if we can get down to 10 going into the fourth quarter we’d have a chance. In about five minutes we took care of it, got it down to about 13 and from there it went back up to 20. They’re an explosive team.”
Plymouth was led by Knapp’s 16 points, while Mercer finished with 14 and John Ruff finished with six points and five assists.
The Pilgrims bid good-bye to seniors Ruff, Ryan McNeil, Connor Flynn, Kyle Kaser and Hayden Skirvin and close the year at 16-6, an impressive turnaround from last season’s 7-15 finish in Bales’ first year at the helm of the program.
“With what we had returning you hear a lot of numbers coming in, and I never heard the number 16,” said Bales. “There were a lot of people coming in that thought this group was maybe going to be single digit wins, hopefully get to .500. A lot of it was from day one, those five seniors, they bought in. I never felt any questioning; they were hungry, they wanted to learn, they wanted to compete, they wanted to prove themselves, and I think the younger guys kind of followed suit.”
“Not that Plymouth basketball ever went anywhere, but I’ll tell you what, there was a lot of fire this year, there was a lot of energy, a lot of excitement,” he added. “Look at the crowd tonight. It was unbelievable walking out out of that tunnel and seeing the crowd on both sides tonight and a lot of red. Hopefully, this can be a year where these guys can look back and say you know what? These guys brought Plymouth basketball back, brought the excitement back, and hopefully we’ll be able to build off of it for next year.”
At Class 3A Sectional 19 at Bremen
Score by quarters
Marian: 23 43 56 71
Plymouth: 12 23 36 54
MARIAN (71): Devin Cannady 5 3-4 15, Brian Florin 0 0-0 0, Nicholas Johnson 0 2-2 2, Demetrius Jackson 5 4-4 16, MIchael Whitfield 3 1-1 7, Coley Schultheis 1 0-0 3, Alexander Disberry 0 0-0 0, Robert Mischler 3 3-4 12, Zachary Zehendner 0 0-0 0, MIchael Henry 1 1-2 3, Andrew Hasler 2 9-9 13; Totals: 20 23-26 71.
PLYMOUTH (54): Ryan McNeil 1 0-0 3, Gabe Vervynckt 0 0-0 0, Joe Knapp 7 0-0 16, David Lee 0 0-0 0, Connor Flynn 1 0-0 3, Mack Mercer 5 4-6 14, Ike Kastner 2 0-0 6, Kyser McCrammer 0 2-2 2, John Ruff 2 1-3 6, Kyle Kasser 1 0-0 2, Tom Felke 1 0-0 2, Hayden Skirvin 0 0-0 0; Totals: 20 7-11 54.
3-pointers: Marian 8 (Mischler 3, Cannady 2, Jackson 2, Schulteis), Plymouth 7 (Knapp 2, Kastner 2, McNeil, Flynn, Ruff); Turnovers: Marian 13, Plymouth 15; Rebounds: Marian 33 (Whitfield 5, Mischler 5), Plymouth 25 (Mercer 6); Steals: Marian 11 (Jackson 3), Plymouth 6 (McNeil, Knapp, Mercer, Ruff, Kaser); Assists: Marian 9 (Whitfield 3), Plymouth 11 (Ruff 5); Fouls (fouled out): Marian 16 (none), Plymouth 19 (Mercer).
Records: Marian 19-3, Plymouth 16-6 (final)
After a 51-29 rout of the Jimmies in regular season NSC play and with all the hype surrounding the Plymouth-Marian match-up, it would have been easy for Glenn to have a letdown against Jimtown Friday.
But the Falcons took care of business, building a 31-19 lead in the first half and stretching that advantage to 15 points headed into the final frame to advance to the championship with a convincing 54-40 defeat of Jimtown.
“This is a tough team to play. We beat them by 20 in our regular season game, and our starters didn’t play much against them the first time,” said Glenn head coach Travis Hannah. “But (Jimtown head coach) Derrick (Deshone) is in rebuilding mode there right now. When you come into this game and you’ve already beaten a team the way that we beat them the first time and then this next game is supposed to be for the sectional championship and it was a little bit of a dead crowd, it’s tough for kids to respond to that type of atmosphere. But we did just enough tonight.”
Glenn was led by a game-best 17 points from Josh Anderson and five assists from fellow senior Tom Knape, but the Falcons got some nice production from their subs with 28 points off the bench. Austen Hayes put up eight points, while Adam Stull and Hunter Maynard each finished with five to lead the Glenn reserves, who saw plenty of floor time as the Falcons built early leads and subbed liberally in preparation for tonight’s championship game.
“I’m sure people are going to look at the score and say ‘Well, they only beat Jimtown by 14’, but the bottom line, our thought process coming into this thing was win by a point, I don’t care, but we’ve got to get certain things done,” Hannah said. “If we want to win sectional Josh Anderson can’t see 32 minutes tonight, Tom Knape can’t see 32 minutes tonight. That was kind of our thinking coming in. We respected Jimtown because obviously they can shoot the basketball and they proved it in the first half. You want to keep a comfortable distance, and I thought we were able to do that… Important for us, we got to move on to tomorrow night, and we got our bench players valuable playing time and we were also able to rest our starters.”
Jimtown was led by 13 points from Justin Brown and 10 points from Chas Hoeflinger as the Jimmies closed the year at 4-17.
Glenn advances to play Marian in tonight’s Class 3A Sectional 19 championship at 7:30 p.m.
“Nobody’s going to pick us to win so we don’t have any pressure on us at all,” said Hannah. “We’re going to come out and play tomorrow night and play as hard as we can and let the chips fall.”
At Class 3A Sectional 19 at Bremen
Score by quarters
Glenn: 12 31 40 54
Jimtown: 5  19  25 40
GLENN (54): Josh Anderson 6 5-7 17, Jake Strong 2 2-4 7, Nathan Stegemiller 0 0-0 0, Tom Knape, 0 0-0 0, Chales Dreesen  1 0-0 2, Tyler Prentkowski 3 0-1 7, Michael Schmeltz 1 0-1 2, Austen Hayes 3 0-0 8, Adam Stull 1 2-2 5, Hunter Maynard 12-2 5, Pat Wolff 0 1-2 1, Levi Schleg 0 0-0 0; Totals: 17 12-19 54.
JIMTOWN (40): Justin Brown 4 2-2 13, Corleone Desimone 2 0-0 0, Mason Brown 0 2-2 2, Evan Oblinger 2 0-0 5, Augie Farwig 0 0-2 0, Chas Hoeflinger 3 3-4 10, Michael Hobbs 0 3-4 3, Alec Brown 1 0-0 3; Totals: 12 10-14 40.
3-pointers: Glenn 6 (Hayes 2, Strong, Maynard, Prentkowski, Stull), Jimtown 6 (J. Brown 3, Hoeflinger, A. Brown, Oblinger); Turnovers: Glenn 16, Jimtown 12; Rebounds: Glenn 21 (Anderson 6), Jimtown 15 (Hobbs 5); Steals: Glenn 6 (Anderson 3), Jimtown  4 (J. Brown 2); Assists: Glenn 13 (Knape 5), Jimtown 3 (Crocker 2); Fouls (fouled out): Glenn 12 (none), Jimtown 17 (J. Brown)
Records: Glenn 11-11, Jimtown 4-17 (final).