PLYMOUTH — With so many new faces, Plymouth showed its inexperience early.
Once the shots started falling for the Pilgrims, however, they didn’t stop.
Plymouth got off to a shaky start, falling behind 5-4 at the first quarter break, but its defense clamped down on Bremen in the second frame, and the home team started knocking down some shots from deep — including two by versatile big man Sean Smith and another pair from newcomer Ryan McNeil — for a 15-2 run and eventual 46-27 season-opening win over the Lions at The Rock Saturday.
“It was somewhat to be expected coming out in that first quarter a little slow,” said Plymouth basketball coach Kevin Stuckmeyer. “Bremen had already played a game — and give them credit, they came out and matched or exceeded our intensity to start the first quarter — but we did a nice job of staying within ourselves and sticking with it. We regrouped at the start of that second quarter and we were a little bit sharper offensively. Sean hit a couple shots, and McNeil obviously came in and gave us a spark there offensively. That was nice to see because coming in we weren’t sure what to expect with a lot of new faces, a lot of new guys. Again, that showed the first quarter, but we settled in that second quarter and we hit some shots, and it’s always a much easier game when you hit some buckets there and stretch it out a little bit.”
Junior guard McNeil was a perfect 6-for-6 from the field, including his smoldering 4-for-4 effort from beyond the arc en route to a game-high 16 points.
Smith also finished in double digits with 11 points for Plymouth — highlighted by his second-quarter treys and a two-handed stuff midway through the final period — while fellow senior starter and Pilgrims point guard Houston Hodges dished out seven assists off the dribble.
“Give our kids credit for understanding their roles so early,” said Stuckemeyer. “Guys realized that Ryan had the hot hand, but they also realized that he’s going to have to be a shooter for us so they looked for him. Give him credit for having his feet set, ready to go and understanding his role, but you had guys like Kyser McCrammer, John Ruff, Mitch Holloway that really stepped up and did some things to get some guys open. Houston did a really nice job of finding Sean and Ryan for some open looks.”