PLYMOUTH — Sometimes in defeat all you can do is take your lumps and chalk it up to a learning experience.
Such was the case for Plymouth Saturday as the Lady Pilgrims took a rough 55-24 Northern Lakes Conference loss to a skilled NorthWood squad at home at The Rock.
“I thought coming in they were the best team in the conference,” said Plymouth head coach Dave Cox. “I looked at the numbers today from these players. The starting scorers, (De’Yahnna Styles) averages 40 percent from the field, and the rest of them are 45 or greater. (Hillary) Lechlitner’s 52. I told all the kids before the game — we put all the stats on the board — and all that is is the right player finding the right shot at the right time of the game. Boy, that’s a concept we don’t have mastered yet. Maybe we got a step closer today. I think you learn more by playing games like this than you do blowing somebody out. It’s a tough thing to do in the locker room maybe after the game, but I like the way Coach (Steve) Neff coaches. I always have.”
The Lady Panthers (6-1, 2-0 NLC) jumped out to a double-digit, 17-6 lead in the first quarter and coasted to the win with near 50-percent efficiency from the field, finishing 22 of 45 from the floor.
Styles put up 10 points with a game-high six assists and four steals, while Lechlitner also put up 10 for NorthWood. Sophomore leading scorer Morgan Olson tallied a game-best 15 points after putting up just five in the first half in a balanced scoring effort.
“We played pretty unselfishly tonight and tried to get the ball in to our big girls — we had a couple more big girls than Plymouth — but they’re pretty unselfish. That’s one good thing about this team; they work hard and they don’t care who scores,” said Neff.
“(Olson) was forcing it a little in the first half,” the NorthWood skipper said. “The ball just didn’t come to her. Good players realize that. She’s only a sophomore so it’s tough sometimes, but I thought she forced a couple early. The second half the ball came to her. The last three or four games we’ve had three or four kids in double figures, so it’s not surprising that it was that way tonight.”
NorthWood’s zone held Plymouth (2-7, 0-2 NLC) to a mere 24 percent (9-of-37) clip from the field, and leading scorers Lauren Tanner and Amber Redinger recorded just four and five points, respectively. The Pilgrims were led by Hunter Stevens’ eight points, including six in the third quarter by the freshman forward.
“I think Hunter Stevens is a kid that has a lot to offer,” said Cox. “Right now, she gets in too much of a hurry, playing too high, and I think if you get enough reps with her and kind of get her to lower her body in power position, she can become a better ball player and more effective.”
Savannah Mae continued to make solid contributions as well with three points and three rebounds in 16 minutes of varsity playing time.
“The problem is we just don’t have enough of her,” said Cox of Mae. “We share her with the JV so they’re successful. We probably could’ve used her another quarter or two tonight. She’s doing all the right things.”
While Plymouth slides to 2-7 with an 0-2 conference start, NorthWood moves to 6-1 overall and 2-0 in NLC play. The Panthers play Fairfield Tuesday and Gary 21st Century Thursday before entering Northridge Tournament play Dec. 27.
“It’s our second win in the conference, so we keep our conference slate clean,” said Neff. “We’ve got a lot of games yet. It’s not Christmas for us yet. We’ve got two games next week and then we’ve got four games that following Tuesday and Wednesday in the tournament we’re playing, so by the time we get to New Year’s we’ll know where we’re at because we play some good teams from some different areas of the state. We’re looking forward to that.”
Plymouth travels next to the Brebeuf Jesuit Shootout Dec. 30. The Pilgrims will play host Brebeuf at noon with a game against Norwell at 6 p.m.
“We’ll kind of take a day off or two here, and we’ll come back and regroup for the Brebeuf tourney,” Cox said. “That’ll be a tough tourney for us, but we’re hoping to maybe iron out some of the situations where we have trouble getting the ball to where we should get it. I think the second half of the season, hopefully you’ll see us be a lot more focused on the inside.”
• NORTHWOOD 55,
Score by quarters
NorthWood: 17 27 40 55
Plymouth: 6 12 20 24
NORTHWOOD (55): De’Yahnna Styles 2 6-7 10, Maddie Schwartz 0 0-0 0, Jordyn Frantz 4 0-0 9, Hillary Lechlitner 5 0-0 10, Savannah Bley 3 3-4 9, Inger Yoder 0 0-0 0, Taylor Fielstra 0 0-0 0, Taylor Stutzman 0 0-0 0, Tif Alexander 1 0-0 2, Morgan Olson 7 1-1 15; Totals: 22 10-12 55.
PLYMOUTH (24): Lauren Tanner 2 0-0 4, Kayden Fosler 0 0-0 0, Marissa German 0 0-0 0, Carly Baker 0 0-0 0, Haley Harrell 1 0-0 3, Brittany Himes 0 1-2 1, Savannah Mae 1 0-0 3, Amber Redinger 2 1-2 5, Hunter Stevens 3 2-4 8, Allie Wright 0 0-0 0; Totals: 9 4-8 24.
3-point goals: NorthWood 1 (Frantz), Plymouth 2 (Harrell, Mae); Turnovers: NorthWood 14, Plymouth 20; Rebounds: NorthWood 35 (Olson 11), Plymouth 19 (Redinger 3, Mae 3); Assists: NorthWood 13 (Styles 6), Plymouth 6 (Harrell 3); Steals: NorthWood 8 (Styles 4), Plymouth 8 (Harrell 2, Redinger 2); Fouls (fouled out): NorthWood 10 (none), Plymouth 15 (none).
Records: NorthWood 6-1 (2-0 NLC), Plymouth 2-7 (0-2 NLC).
JV score: NorthWood 27 (Taylor Fielstra 8), Plymouth 18 (Savannah Mae 6)