Pilgrims win on back-to-back nights with victory over Mishawaka

PLYMOUTH — The Pilgrims went deep on their bench again, and Plymouth won on back-to-back nights for the first time this season with a 52-45 victory over visiting Mishawaka at The Rock Saturday night.
Plymouth led from the 7:40 mark of the first quarter on and held off MIshawaka at the line down the stretch, following up a 60-53 win over Northern Lakes Conference foe Northridge Friday night in the third time this season the Pilgrims have played on back-to-back nights.
“It makes it even more rewarding when we’re challenged like that, and both times I think our guys responded in crunch time,” said Plymouth Head Coach Ryan Bales. “It feels a lot better when you have to work a little harder. It was a great effort; we got great performances from about everyone again. They’re going out, they’re doing their thing, they’re playing their roles. Guys on the bench really gave a lot of energy. I think our time outs were great, a lot of energy throughout the night. For that to be a back-to-back game, it’s just a tribute to our guys. They stepped up, and it was great to see.”
With Mack Mercer logging just 14 and a half minutes in and out of foul trouble Saturday after putting up a career-high 31 points Friday night, the Pilgrims were forced to score by committee.
Ryan McNeil knocked down three triples on his way to a team-high 14, while John Ruff finished with nine points in a strong all-around performance, and Ike Kastner put up seven points along with Mercer.
“Practices are extremely competitive. There are times when our second group is very competitive with our first group, and there are times when they’re beating them,” said Bales. “We feel like we have confidence in anybody we go to. It was unfortunate that we had some foul trouble, but that’s part of the game and we’re interested in what’s our response going to be. McCrammer comes in, and I thought he was everywhere defensively tonight… Kyle Kaser again did a great job of the bench. And I thought again Joe Knapp played great, and Ike obviously hit free throws down the stretch. It was just a great team win.”
Kastner earned all of his points at the stripe with a 7-for-8 finish in free throws, including 5 of 6 as Mishawaka challenged in the fourth quarter.
“I try to not really think about it. I just try to shoot them the exact same way every time,” he said.
Mishawaka was led by a game-high 20 points from Chris Mitchell in the loss, which drops the Cavemen to 8-5.
Plymouth moves to 10-4 on the season and returns to Northern Lakes Conference play Friday at Goshen.
“I think we were very efficient offensively,” said Bales. “We had some very good looks, very unselfish play again, and I think that’s starting to lead to a higher field goal percentage.”
At Plymouth
Score by quarters
Mishawaka: 9 21 32 45
Plymouth: 18 30 37 52
MISHAWAKA (45): Mike Buchanan 1 1-2 3, Danny Eggleston 2 0-0 5, Don Mitchell 0 0-0 0, T.J. Benner 2 2-4 6, Chris Mitchell 7 6-6 20, Brandon Vanderhegghen 2 3-3 7, Cody Childress 1 0-0 2, Mike Louderback 1 0-1 2; Totals: 16 12-16 45.
PLYMOUTH (52): Ryan McNeil 5 1-2 14, Gabe Vervynckt 2 0-0 6, Joe Knapp 1 2-2 4, Mack Mercer 2 3-8 7, Ike Kastner 0 7-8 7, Kyser McCrammer 0 0-0 0, John Ruff 3 3-5 9, Kyle Kaser 1 1-3 3, Tom Felke 1 0-0 2; Totals: 15 17-28 52.
3-pointers: Mishawaka 1 (Eggleston), Plymouth 5 (McNeil 3, Vervynckt 2); Turnovers: Mishawaka 14, Plymouth 17; Rebounds: Mishawaka 34 (Mitchell 7), Plymouth 26 (Ruff 5, Mercer 5); Steals: Mishawaka 10 (Mitchell 2, Eggleston 2, Vanderhegghen 2), Plymouth 8 (Ruff 3); Assists: Mishawaka 3 (Benner 2), Plymouth 10 (Ruff 2, Knapp 2, Kastner 2); Fouls (fouled out): Mishawaka 23 (Eggleston, Benner, Vanderhegghen), Plymouth 18 (none).
Records: Plymouth 10-4, Mishawaka 8-5
JV score: Plymouth 36 (Zach Stone 12), Mishawka 35 (Jacob Schmatz 10)