PLYMOUTH — Kill the head, and the body will die. Cut off the point, and running an offense becomes pretty difficult.
Such was Plymouth’s plan coming into Saturday’s home opener versus Valparaiso, and the Lady Pilgrims executed to a T.
Sophomore Allie Wright relentlessly shadowed Valpo point guard Grace Withrow, effectively marooning her from the rest of the Vikings’ offense, the Pilgrims created havoc in the passing lanes, and Plymouth rode a strong defensive effort to a 50-32 win at The Rock.
Wright and the Lady Pilgrims held Withrow to less than half her average with eight points for the night while flustering her into eight turnovers, and the Vikings never got their offense rolling. All total, Plymouth forced 28 turnovers in the contest as Valpo scuffled to a 12-of-32, 37 percent clip from the field.
“I think it all started with Allie up top. She took their point guard out of what they wanted to do. If you take their point guard away, it makes it easier for everybody else to do their stuff,” said Plymouth girls basketball coach Dave Duncan.
Wright finished with four steals and a deflection, sophomore forward Hunter Stevens also notched four steals, and sophomore sixth man Kaydon Fosler gave the Plymouth defense a big boost off the bench with five steals and a deflection for the evening.
Meanwhile on the offensive end, Plymouth used unselfish play to convert at a 14-of-31, 45 percent clip en route to the Lady Pilgrims’ highest points total of the year thus far.
Stevens put up 11 points, and senior swing player Lauren Tanner collected 10 to lead the Pilgrims, but six players saw meaningful points production in the win as senior forwards Amber Redinger and Andria Shook scored eight and seven points, respectively, Fosler put up six points, and point guard Haley Harrell finished with five.
Plymouth grabbed the lead with its first basket of the night at the 4:51 stop of the first frame — a triple by Tanner from the corner on a Wright swing pass — and the Pilgrims never trailed after, using an 11-2 second quarter-opening run to stretch the gap to double digits early.
“I was happy about the balance of our team tonight,” said Duncan. “I think back to some of our teams that we’ve had that move the ball and share the ball; they’re some of our better teams. So we’re excited about getting a little better on the offensive end.”
Foul shooting played a big role in Plymouth’s offensive success as the Pilgrims capitalized on 15 trips to the foul line with an efficient 20-of-28 freebies against Valpo.
“We’ve talked about that all year long. That has to be part of our offense,” said Duncan. “I think towards the end there we got fouled a little bit, and our kids were able to step up and hit free throws, and I think good teams hit free throws.”
Vikings sophomore two guard Nicole Chiabai finished with a team-high nine points, while junior forward Yasmin Carillo dished out three assists with two steals and five rebounds as Valpo slipped to 1-4 with its fourth straight loss after opening the year with a 39-37 win at Kankakee Valley.
Wright finished the game with four assists to go with three points and her defensive leadership, and Redinger pulled down a team-leading six rebounds in the win, which pushed Plymouth to a 3-0 start two days after the Pilgrims’ overtime win at Class A No. 6 Triton.
“I think we’re a team that’s getting better. We’ve got a long ways to go,” Duncan said, adding “I’m just tickled to death about the kids right now. Fun group.”
The Lady Pilgrims will try to remain unbeaten when they host Bremen Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
• PLYMOUTH 50,
Score by quarters
Valpo: 4 20 25 32
Plymouth: 7 28 38 50
VALPARAISO (32): Grace Withrow 3 0-0 8, Nicole Chiabai 3 2-3 9, Kayla Gates 0 0-0 0, Andi Sarkisian 1 0-0 2, Karli Thorn 2 0-0 5, Cassie Feczko 1 0-0 2, Yasmin Carillo 1 1-2 3, Stephanie Parker 1 0-2 2, Kristina Veljovic 0 1-2 1; Alyssa Gates 0 0-0 0; Totals: 12 4-9 32.
PLYMOUTH (50): Lauren Tanner 2 5-6 10, Andria Shook 1 5-6 7, Hunter Stevens 3 5-8 11, Kaydon Fosler 2 2-2 6, Haley Harrell 2 0-1 5, Allie Wright 1 1-2 3, Amber Redinger 3 2-4 8; Totals: 14 20-28 50.
3-pointers: Valparaiso 4 (Withrow 2, Chiabai, Thorn), Plymouth 2 (Tanner, Harrell); Rebounds: Valparaiso 23 (Carillo 5), Plymouth 20 (Redinger 6); Turnovers: Valparaiso 28, Plymouth 19; Assists: Valparaiso 7 (Carillo 3), Plymouth 9 (Wright 4); Steals: Valparaiso 7 (Thorn 2, Carillo 2), Plymouth 18 (Fosler 5, Stevens 4, Wright 4); Fouls: Valparaiso 22, Plymouth 14
Records: Plymouth 3-0, Valpo 1-4
JV score: Plymouth 24 (Bailey Brown 9), Valpo 22 (Maggie Meyer 11)