PLYMOUTH — Plymouth got a big lift from a freshman on Senior Night, and the Pilgrims earned a much-needed win over John Glenn 43-30 at The Rock Tuesday.
Plymouth freshman Mack Mercer scored at will on perfect 8-for-8 finishing from the floor on his way to a game- and season-high 20 points to help his team snap a four-game losing streak and finish the season strong against the Pilgrims’ Sectional 19 opponents.
“They exploited our weakness — post play,” said Glenn head basketball coach Travis Hannah. “We’re just not strong enough inside, and when they’ve got 6-8, 6-7 on the floor, it’s tough when you’re guarding with 6-3 and 6-4, but our kids just didn’t show up tonight, to be honest with you. That’s partially my fault. Our scouting report did not have the fact that Mercer could score like that because we haven’t seen it. I don’t know if anybody has. He just had a night tonight.”
“I think it’s extremely important for our kids to realize that some of the steps we’ve taken since the Warsaw game haven’t necessarily shown through in the win column, but now it has,” said Plymouth head coach Kevin Stuckmeyer. “Hopefully they can take that with them and realize that OK, that will help us to be successful and that will get us to the point that we need to get to.”
Plymouth opened the game 7-0 as the Falcons scuffled to an 0-for-6 start from the field and maintained a narrow 11-10 lead at the quarter break with a Mercer baseline jumper off the glass at the 59-second mark. The second quarter was nip-tuck with four lead changes, and the two teams entered halftime tied 22-all after Glenn guard Brock Solmos knocked down a wing 3 on a Josh Anderson assist with 47 seconds to go in the half.
Solmos returned the favor to Anderson on a backdoor feed for a layup to put the Falcons up 24-22 just 12 seconds into the second half, but Mercer converted on a pair of charity tosses 42 seconds later, then grabbed a steal for a layup at the 5:45 mark to put the Pilgrims up for good.
Plymouth held the visitors to 4-of-16 shooting and only eight points in the second half to seal the victory.
“We knew Glenn likes to get out in transition. They’re very, very good at getting to the basket one-on-one,” Stuckmeyer said. “We took care of that transition, especially that third quarter so they couldn’t score over the top of us, and we knew if we could get it to a game like that our chances of winning would be a lot greater. Credit our kids, they did a nice job of that in that third quarter and then you add in the one-on-one defense and not letting them get in the lane off the dribble, and that really helped out.”
“We went, what, 15 and a half minutes scoring six points,” said Hannah. “I don’t know what changed. We didn’t get looks and then when we got looks we weren’t able to knock our shots down. Credit their defense; they played well tonight, but again, we just didn’t show up.”
The Pilgrims close out a bumpy regular season with a record of 6-14 and will be back in action at their home sectional next Wednesday against New Prairie at 6 p.m., while Glenn slips to 10-9 with the loss at The Rock following a 37-28 win over the Cougars at Glenn Saturday.
The Falcons close out their season with Penn Friday at 8 p.m. before entering Sectional 19 Tuesday against Mishawaka Marian at 7 p.m.
Also Tuesday, Plymouth’s JV team finished out its regular season with a 44-30 win over its Falcons counterparts. The JV Pilgrims close out the Northern Lakes Conference-co-championship season at 18-2.
“I want to thank the kids for their effort,” said Plymouth JV coach Tony Plothow. “It’s sort of been a strange season not having our own practice, but these kids responded real well on game nights and what they took from varsity practices into games was a big, significant help for us.”
• PLYMOUTH 43, JOHN GLENN 30
Score by quarters
John Glenn: 10 22 26 30
Plymouth: 11 22 35 43
GLENN (30): Josh Anderson 11, Carsen Heim 0, Jordan Hesters 0, Tom Knape 0, Trey Rhodes 5, Brock Solmos 8 Aaron Stegemiller 6, Jon Stewart 0. TOTALS:13 0-1 30
PLYMOUTH (43): Houston Hodges 2, Mitch Holloway 2, Kyle Kaser 3, I Kyser McCrammer 0, Ryan McNeil 2, John Ruff 7, Mack Mercer 20, Gabe Vervynckt 5, Sean Smith 0, Brock Smith 2, Connor Flynn 0. TOTALS: 17 7-9 43.
3-point goals: Glenn 4 (Solmos 2, Rhodes, Anderson), Plymouth 2 (Kaser, Vervynckt); Turnovers: glenn 7, Plymouth 15; Rebounds: Glenn 16 (Anderson 2, Knape 2, Stewart 2), Plymouth 30 (Ruff 5); Assists: Glenn 7 (Rhodes 2, Solmos 2), Plymouth 10 (Hodges 7); Steals: Glenn 10 (Solmos 4), Plymouth 5 (Mercer 2); Fouls: Glenn 12, Plymouth 8; Records: Plymouth 6-14, John Glenn 10-9.
JV score: Plymouth 44 (Ike Kastner 11, Hayden Skirvin 11), John glenn 30 (Adam Stull 11).