SOUTH WHITLEY — Plymouth got a slow start on the evening but finished strong to get a road win at Whitko Wednesday night.
The Pilgrims used a 20-point third quarter to build a lead on the host Wildcats en route to a 62-36 victory.
The turning point came about three minutes into the second half. Whitko’s Dylan Cumberland sank two free throws after a technical foul on coach Ryan Bales to cut the Plymouth lead to nine. The spark came on the ensuing possession when David Lee stole the ball at the top of the key and went coast-to-coast for the lay-up to return the double-digit Plymouth lead. Whitko’s next possession ended the exact same way — a Lee steal and run out for two points, and Plymouth scored the next seven points after the tech and never looked back.
It wasn’t so easy in the first half.
Plymouth struggled against the Wildcat man-to-man defense on its way to 10 turnovers. After hitting the first four shots to start the game the Plymouth offense went cold, going 4 for its next 14 shots to finish the half.
“We struggled with our recognition in the first half,” said Bales. “We need to work harder on getting the ball to the right guys in the right positions offensively. One thing that hurt us tonight was foul trouble. We had to play that first half with some guys in positions they may not be familiar with.”
That foul trouble forced the Pilgrims into some unusual lineups in the first half. Plymouth had five guards in the game for most of the second quarter, and they were able to hold their own against some taller competition.
“I was proud of the way those guys played,” Bales said. “Ike worked hard defensively and was able to get some rebounds and shots against some bigger guys. David Lee was great defensively and hustled all over the floor tonight. It was a group effort when those five guys were on the floor, and it helped us.”
Whitko used poor Plymouth shooting to work its way back in the game.
The Wildcat defense didn’t allow a point for 7:15 over the end of the first and start of the second quarters and used that defense to go on an 11-point run to take its first — and only — lead early in the second quarter. The Pilgrims bounced back to end the quarter on a 10-0 run and took an eight-point lead into the half.
Plymouth came out of halftime with a different attitude defensively.
The Pilgrim defenders were able to tip passes and get steals and were able to turn them into some quick offensive points early in the half. Transition points were key as the Pilgrims got 10 points off of Whitko turnovers in the third quarter.
“One of our goals is to get points off of our defense,” said Bales. “We didn’t get that in the first half. We talked about increasing the defensive pressure during halftime and we were able to get steals and turn them into points in the second half.”
Mack Mercer led the Plymouth offense with 20 points in limited minutes due to foul trouble. Kastner had eight rebounds to go along with eight points. Lee turned in an impressive all-around game with nine points, five steals, five rebounds and four assists.
Plymouth returns to the court tonight when it hosts the Penn Kingsmen at The Rock. Tip off is scheduled for 7:45 p.m.
• PLYMOUTH 62, WHITKO 36
Score by quarters
Plymouth: 9 21 41 62
Whitko: 8 13 25 36
PLYMOUTH (62): Reis Yoder 0 0-0 0, Jack Barron 1 0-0 2, Joe Knapp 3 4-4 10, David Lee 4 1-2 9, Nick Bayley 0 0-0 0, Mack Mercer 9 1-2 20, Ike Kastner 3 1-1 8, Kyser McCrammer 0 0-0 0, Trent Briles 1 0-0 2, Josh Anders 0 0-0 0, Tom Felke 5 0-0 11, Michael Kaser 0 0-0 0, Tyler England 0 0-0 0; Totals: 26 7-9 62.
WHITKO (36): Seth Patrick 0 0-0 0, Dylan Cumberland 1 2-2 4, Alex Stoddard 3 1-3 7, Trey Weber 4 3-4 12, Danny Zawlocki 0 0-0 0, Gabe Powell 1 0-0 2, Stephen Bennett 4 3-8 11; Totals: 13 9-17 36.
3-point goals: Plymouth 3 (Mercer, Kastner, Felke), Whitko 1 (Weber); Turnovers: Plymouth 16 (Barron 4), Whitko 21 (Stoddard 4); Rebounds: Plymouth 28 (Kastner 8), Whitko 16 (Bennett 5); Assists: Plymouth 10 (Lee 4), Whitko 6 (Cumberland 3); Steals: Plymouth 17 (Knapp, Lee 5), Whitko 11 (Powell 3); Fouls (fouled out): Plymouth 18 (None), Whitko 14 (None).
Records: Plymouth 6-1, Whitko 1-7
JV Score: Plymouth 50, Whitko 16