PLYMOUTH — Given all the distractions leading into Thursday’s NLC contest with Northridge, Plymouth got off to a pretty strong start.
It was the first few minutes of the second half that wound up tripping the Lady Pilgrims up.
Following a 17-17 first half, the Raiders took a 27-19 lead with 10 unanswered points during a run spanning from the 6:49 mark to the 4:05 stop of the third. Plymouth battled back to knot the game at 36-all on an Amber Redinger bank-in off a Haley Harrell low entry pass with just 33 seconds to go, but Northridge senior Haley Schrock’s short pull-up bounced home after rattling around the rim for what seemed like forever on the ensuing possession, giving the home team just 2.4 ticks to get the ball up the court and get off a shot. Hunter Stevens’ desperation fling under pressure around midcourt sailed high and wide, and the buzzer sounded on a 38-36 Senior Night spoiler by the Raiders at The Rock.
“I thought we played a really good first half. The second half we might have been a little complacent on the defensive end,” said Plymouth girls basketball coach Dave Duncan. “In a game like this where it’s a possession game, a couple, three quick scores changes the game quickly, and I think that’s what happened early in that third quarter. Then when you’re playing from behind, you have to play with so much energy, and I thought we played with an extreme amount of energy late in the game.”
After earning their most lopsided victory of the season, 83-25, on the road at South Bend Clay Wednesday, the ICGSA Class 3A No. 9 Lady Pilgrims found themselves in a different kind of contest Thursday.
Plymouth scored at an efficient 15-of-39 clip from the floor, but the Raiders went an even more precise 13 of 22 from the field in what shaped up to be a deliberate possession game. More importantly, the visitors converted on 9 of 13 free throws compared to 4-of-8 foul shooting by the home team.
Key to Northridge’s offensive efficiency was junior forward Morgan Miller, who connected at a perfect 8 for 8 from the field on her way to a game-high 22 points at Plymouth. It was an all too familiar performance for Duncan.
“She did the same thing last year; in the second quarter she went off and had 15 or 17 against us,” said the Lady Pilgrims boss. “She just has that ability to calm her team down. She’s a great leader on the floor, and she makes things happen.”
If the Lady Pilgrims were thrown off by any of the distractions heading into Thursday night’s Northern Lakes contest they didn’t show it, but there was certainly plenty to preoccupy them.
In addition to all the usual hubbub surrounding any Senior Night affair, there was the tumult of a morning delay following the discovery of a bomb threat scrawled on a bathroom wall at PHS.
Plymouth was also playing in a rare back-to-back game after Tuesday’s contest at Clay was postponed to Wednesday, although Duncan said he tried to use the quick turnaround as a rehearsal for the upcoming state tournament.
“I told the kids that we wanted to make a positive out of this because that’s the way that the tournament is — you come to play on a Friday and if you win the game you come back on Saturday night,” he said. “That was our focus coming in tonight; We played last night and won the game and we had to play another game tonight.”
After the game, the Pilgrims paid tribute to a trio of senior players in Lauren Tanner, Amber Redinger and Andria Shook. Redinger led her team with 13 points and seven rebounds, while Tanner finished with four points, two assists, two steals and five rebounds, and Shook chipped in three points with three rebounds in a steady performance for Plymouth.
“Our seniors have just been the backbone of the team this year. I have all kinds of positivist say about them,” Duncan said. “Amber’s been rebounding the ball, she’s been scoring for us all year long. Andria, she started tonight, comes in and she’s just been steady all year long, too. Lauren, the last few games has just caught on fire, and she’s doing all the things that you want a player to do — she’s scoring, she plays defense, she wants to guard their best player; a great kid to lead your team.”
The loss, which was the first for Plymouth in eight games, takes the Lady Pilgrims out of contention for a top NLC finish as they drop to 4-2 in conference play alongside Northridge. A victory would have left Plymouth with an outside shot at co-championship honors in the league as unbeaten Warsaw closes out its NLC slate on the road at NorthWood Saturday against a surging Lady Panthers squad on a 12-game win streak.
The Pilgrims will finish up both conference and regular season play at Goshen next Thursday.
“That was kind of important for us, but I think there’s something bigger coming up about a week from now,” said Duncan. “We’re going to start focusing on that. We’ve got Goshen coming up next Thursday, and the sectional draw is this Sunday, and we’re going to start preparing for the sectional after Goshen here. The second season will start pretty soon, and we’ll be ready.”
• NORTHRIDGE 38,
Score by quarters
Northridge: 13 17 24 38
Plymouth: 10 17 25 36
NORTHRIDGE (38): Molly Bontrager 0, Morgan Miller 22, Taylor Miller 6, Brianne O’Dell 3, Haley Schrock 2, Madison Schrock 5, Mikaela Zook 0; Totals: 13 9-13 38.
PLYMOUTH (36): Kaydon Fosler 2, Haley Harrell 6, Amber Redinger 13, Andria Shook 3, Hunter Stevens 8, Lauren Tanner 4, Allie Wright 0; Totals: 15 4-8 36.
3-pointers: Northridge 3 (T. Miller, M. Schrock, O’Dell), Plymouth 2 (Harrell 2); Rebounds: Northridge 16 (H. Schrock 5), Plymouth 20 (Redinger 7); Turnovers: Northridge 13, Plymouth 11; Steals: Northridge 4 (M. Schrock 3), Plymouth 9 (Harrell 3); Assists: Northridge 8 (Zook 2, M. Schrock 2, H. Schrock 2), Plymouth 8 (Tanner 2, Stevens 2); Fouls (fouled out): Northridge 8 (none), Plymouth 15 (none).
Records: Plymouth 14-5 (4-2 NLC), Northridge 16-4 (4-2 NLC)
JV score: Northridge 22 (Kelly Miller 8), Plymouth 17 (Dylan Holiday 4, Shannon Stephenson 4).