PLYMOUTH — Friday night may have been the tune up, Saturday night was showtime as two of the area’s top squads squared off at The Rock with Plymouth (9-1) beating Tippy Valley (now 9-2) by a 63-46 final.
The Pilgrims looked sluggish in an NLC win on Friday night over Elkhart Memorial but were anything but taking on the Vikings for area regular season bragging rights.
Valley came in with a number of impressive wins, but with Plymouth’s Mack Mercer on the bench with foul trouble for much of the second half, the Pilgrims were able to post an impressive win of their own.
“They are a scary team. We feel fortunate to come out with a win against these guys,” said Plymouth coach Ryan Bales. “They are an experienced team, they are well-coached. You can see it. We got up at the half, but look at (Nick) Kindig. He steps up, he’s a great player, their go-to guy, and he’s got a lot of great players around him.”
“We let the game get away from us for a little bit there in the second half. We got our big guy in foul trouble,” Bales added. “I was proud of our response. Our experienced guys — Joe Knapp stepped up and made a couple big shots, and I think the bank was open late in Plymouth tonight for Tom Felke on a couple of shots. It was a great team effort and a great win.”
With Mercer on the bench early in the second half, it was the rest of the Plymouth lineup that made the difference with Knapp hitting several key shots and Felke banking in a pair of 3s at crucial moments to hold off Kindig and the determined Vikings, who were able to actually take the lead briefly after trailing by 10.
“We knew he (Kindig) was going to try to take over, and you expect that from a player like him and from a team like them,” said Bales. “At the right time we started getting some stops. We made some big shots, started attacking the rim — David Lee got to the rim there a few times. We had some unselfish play that gave some open shots to a lot of our players.”
“We came out in third quarter and played with more confidence, played harder,” said Valley boss Bill Patrick. “We just didn’t play with much confidence in the first half. We played almost like we were tired. We did play last night but so did Plymouth so there shouldn’t have been any difference there.
“Our 1-3-1 at times was effective. At other times we just didn’t move as well. We had too many turnovers. The first half we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be. We just can’t commit the number of turnovers we have the last two nights and expect to beat good teams.”
Valley turned the ball over eight times in the first quarter alone, 11 times in the first half.
For a second night Kyser McCrammer drew the defensive stopper’s role on Valley’s Nick Kindig and for the second night held the opponent’s best offensive player under his normal output.
“David (Lee) and Ike (Kastner) and Kyser have to do the little things for us to win and find a way to score some points now and then,” said Bales. “David got some points tonight, but give McCrammer and Kastner credit there too. They’re gutty players. They made a lot of hustle plays.”
“They are a good basketball team, they move the ball well,” said Patrick. “You can’t drive the way you normally do with (Mack Mercer) in the middle. Maybe this game will be a little bit of a wake up call that we have to improve and get better. This is a game we should have been in for the whole game. We were in it in the third quarter, but not for four quarters.”
Bales wouldn’t mind his own team learning the lessons the win provides as well.
“I’d like to see our defense improve,” he said. “We’re still seeing too many breakdowns on dribble penetration keeping our guy in front. When we get in foul trouble we have to play smarter as well. But we finished strong in both games this weekend against two quality teams and gained some momentum even with our best player on the bench in foul trouble.”
Plymouth will be on the road at Concord next Friday. Valley will be on the road at Rochester.
• PLYMOUTH 62,
TIPPECANOE VALLEY 46
Score by quarters
Plymouth: 12 25 46 63
Valley: 6 16 39 46
TIPPECANOE VALLEY (46): Alex Thacker 0 0-0 0, Bobby Groom 2 1-2 7, Jared Littlejohn 0 0-0 0, Tanner Andrews 2 0-0 4, Jacob Ritchey 1 0-0 2, Chainey Zolman 1 1-1 3, Nick Kindig 8 3-3 19, Aaron Hoffman 0 0-0 0, Logan Britton 4 3-5 11, Derrick Cunningham 0 0-0 0, Ben Shriver 0 0-0 0, Chandler O’Connor 0 0-0 0; Totals: 18 8-11 46.
Plymouth (63): Reid Yoder 0 0-0 0, Jack Barron 0 0-0 0, Joe Knapp 6 3-6 18, David Lee 5 2-5 13, Nick Bayley 0 0-0 0, Mack Mercer 9 0-0 19, Ike Kastner 1 0-0 2, ( McCrammer 0 0-0 0, Trent Briles 0 0-0 0, Josh Anders 0 0-0 0, Tom Felke 3 3-5 11, Michael Kaser 0 0-0 0, Tyler England 0 0-0 0; Totals: 24 8-16 63.
3-pointers: Plymouth 7 (Knapp 3), Valley 2 (Groom 2); Rebounds: Plymouth 22 (Mercer 8), Valley 17 (Britton 6, Andrews 5); Assists: Plymouth 16 (Knapp 6, McCrammer 4), Valley 8 (Thacker, Ritchey, Kindig 2); Steals: Plymouth 10 (Knapp, Lee 3), Valley 3 (Andrews, Zolman, Shriver); Turnovers: Plymouth 12, Valley 14; Fouls (fouled out): Plymouth 12, Valley 18
Records: Plymouth 9-1, Valley 9-2
JV score: Tippecanoe Valley 26, Plymouth 23