PLYMOUTH — Plymouth didn’t get off to its best start Wednesday.
Luckily for the Lady Pilgrims, they didn’t need to against a struggling New Prairie squad.
Plymouth put the visiting Lady Cougars away with a 16-5 third quarter for a 52-28 victory over winless Sectional 19 foe New Prairie at home at The Rock.
“My biggest concern going into the game was not being mentally ready to go,” said Plymouth girls basketball coach Dave Duncan. “I thought maybe we had a couple kids that weren’t mentally ready to go when the game started for some reason. We’ve talked about it quite often; I don’t know what to do to change that, but we’re going to figure it out.”
The Pilgrims jumped out to a 15-7 lead at the first quarter break largely on the strength of nine New Prairie turnovers in the period and Hunter Stevens’ 10 points and two assists in the frame as the sophomore forward finished with a game-high 20 points for the night.
But New Prairie recovered in the second frame, closing the half on an 8-0 run to keep the Cougars’ halftime deficit at a manageable eight points, 23-15.
Turnover troubles plagued New Prairie once again in the third period, however, as Plymouth’s swarming man-to-man accounted for nine more steals for 10 points, and the Pilgrims took a commanding 39-20 lead into the final quarter.
“We lost people on defense in the first half,” said Duncan. “We got back cut a lot. We stood when they shot the ball. Nobody got a body on somebody. We talk about getting a hip on somebody. That’s just something we just constantly do in practice all the time, and for some reason tonight — I can’t explain it — we just didn’t get a hip on somebody.”
“I addressed one girl that she wasn’t ready to go when the game started. I think it’s a carry-over team,” he added. “When one kid’s not ready to play and four are, that one kid will definitely slow the momentum down for the rest of the team. I just don’t think we had everybody on the same page when we started the game.”
Behind Stevens’ 20 — which she earned at an efficient 8-of-14 clip — senior forward Amber Redinger scored 12 points, including 10 in the second half, and sophomore guard Haley Harrell finished with eight.
Senior Lauren Tanner struggled shooting but notched team-highs of five assists and five steals — a tally equalled by sophomore Allie Wright — as well as three rebounds behind Kaydon Fosler’s five.
“I thought Lauren Tanner did a nice job in the second half kind of holding us together,” Duncan said. “We were kind of making some bad decisions from time to time, and she just might have been the glue… She got some big deflections on the ball, she had some big rebounds, and I just thought she played really well in the second half.”
New Prairie was led by Madison Cody’s nine points and five rebounds. Mackenzie Behm-Staveley finished with six points, and Brooke Kresca notched five rebounds, four steals and two assists to go with two points as the Lady Cougars remained winless at 0-12.
Plymouth moved to 9-4 meanwhile with its first consecutive wins since a 6-0 start to the season following the Pilgrims’ 47-39 win over Brebeuf Jesuit at the Norwell Shootout Saturday.
Plymouth will look to move to 3-0 in Northern Lakes Conference play when the team travels to fellow NLC unbeaten Elkhart Memorial Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. tipoff.
“We played really well over the weekend. We kind of let one get away against Norwell and we bounced back against Brebeuf. This was a nice win for us tonight. It was a team that is trying to get better. They play hard, and we probably just didn’t step up to the challenge at the beginning of the game,” said Duncan.
“I think our kids will be a lot more focused on Saturday against Memorial. They’re just a very well-coached team and a very talented team. Yeah, I think it’s good momentum going into that game.”
• PLYMOUTH 52,
NEW PRAIRIE 28
Score by quarters
New Prairie: 7 15 20 28
Plymouth: 15 23 39 52
NEW PRAIRIE (28): Faythe Bashaw 0, Mackenzie Behm-Staveley 6, Ashley Campos 1, Jessica Cinal 4, Madison Cody 9, Brooke Kresca 2, Olivia Kuczmanski 6, Rachel Saylor 0; Totals: 11 4-10 28.
PLYMOUTH (52): Bailey Brown 0, Kaydon Fosler 2, Haley Harrell 8, Dylan Holiday 2, Amber Redinger 12, Kirsten Riise 0, Shannon Stephenson 2, Hunter Stevens 20, Lauren Tanner 2, Allie Wright 4; Totals: 21 8-8 52.
3-pointers: New Prairie 2 (Behm Staveley 2), Plymouth 2 (Harrell 2); Rebounds: New Prairie 28 (Cody 5, Kresca 5), Plymouth 25 (Fosler 5); Turnovers: New Prairie 27, Plymouth 16; Steals: New Prairie 7 (Kresca 4), Plymouth 16 (Tanner 5, Wright 5); Assists: New Prairie 4 (Kresca 2), Plymouth 12 (Tanner 5); Fouls (fouled out): New Prairie 8 (none), Plymouth 14 (none).
Records: Plymouth 9-4, New Prairie 0-12
JV score: Plymouth 25 (Stephenson 9, Brown 8), New Prairie 13 (Campos 6)