PLYMOUTH — When your hard work doesn’t seem to be paying off, it can be tough to keep the faith. Fortunately for the Lady Pilgrims, their efforts are finally yielding some results.
Plymouth put four players in double figures for the second time in two weeks en route to a season-high points total, and the Pilgrims rallied past visiting South Bend Clay 53-43 for their third straight win at home at The Rock Tuesday.
“We needed this win, and we needed this three-game stretch here,” said Plymouth Head Coach Dave Cox. “I’ve been kind of looking forward to it since early January. I really thought that we might have picked off LaPorte coming into this, so we might have been on four, but that didn’t happen. You go back and you keep working. That’s what we told them in the locker room at the half, and that’s what we told them in the locker room after the game: ‘Look, not everything works out right away, and you just keep working.’”
Plymouth was led by Lauren Tanner’s season-high 16 points in the win, including 13 in the second half as the Pilgrims rallied back from a 32-24 deficit.
The junior guard scored five straight points to spark a 16-3 run spanning 6:36 of the third quarter that gave Plymouth a 40-35 advantage going into the final frame, and the Pilgrims held off the Colonials for their first home win since Dec. 13.
“Lauren played a heck of a game. Two games in a row now she has gone really, really hard to the basket from that baseline spot,” said Cox. “Boy, she likes it down there and is comfortable and does a really good job, so we’ve got to commend the job she did down there tonight.
“This may have been as good a game as she’s played for us. Getting 16 for us and the way she got them. She had one 3, and then the rest were inside and at the free throw line, so you’ve got a good combination. She’s 7 out of 9 from the line, 4 out of 9 from the field, and that’s what you’ve got to have out of a junior.”
Freshman point guard Haley Harrell finished with a career-best 14 points, meanwhile, and fellow freshman Hunter Stevens tallied 10 points with nine rebounds, while junior forward Amber Redinger also flirted with a double-double of 11 points and nine rebounds in her third straight outing with double-digit points production following a 20-point game at Wawasee Saturday.
It was Plymouth’s second game in the last two weeks with four players in double figures after Tanner, Harrell, Redinger and Stevens each put up double digits in a 47-38 win at Concord Jan. 14, the victory that sparked their current three-game run.
The win also represented the team’s first game with more than 50 points after a previous season-high of 48 in a win at New Prairie Jan. 4, a victory that marked the Pilgrims’ first game with three players scoring 10 points or more and just the second time this season that more than one had done so in a single game.
“We had four in double digits, and we had four the other day in double digits, and those four kids are the four that have to share the bulk of the scoring,” said Cox. “I think when Lauren’s scoring it helps Amber; when Amber’s scoring I think it helps Hunter, and I think Haley very much feeds off them. It doesn’t matter who does it, but you get them going and now they’re beginning to believe a little bit that they can hang with teams. I think that the scoring is going to be by committee on this team, and I think it should be. Good teams all have four or five players that can score, and that’s what we need to have and right now that’s what we’re getting.”
While the Pilgrims’ offense gave the them plenty of reason to smile, team defense also had much to do with the win over Clay.
Plymouth actually trailed 28-24 at the half after a nip-tuck first half that featured five lead changes and six ties.
Damyra Belcher and Michelle Adeniyi each put up 11 for the Colonials in the first half as Clay converted at a 13-for-24 (54 percent) clip, but the Pilgrims switched to a 1-3-1 in the second half to stop the visitors’ penetration and hold Belcher and Adeniyi to only two points apiece as the Colonials scuffled to 6 for 23 (26 percent) shots from the floor after the intermission.
“We went to a 1-3-1 in the second half. We don’t play a lot of that, but we practice it pretty regular as our trap,” said Cox. “I don’t think that their MO was a really great outside shooting team. Although they can shoot it, you’ve got to take your chances. So we felt like we kind of shut down that dribble penetration.”
The Pilgrims put their streak on the line in a Northern Lakes Conference game at Northridge Thursday. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m.
• PLYMOUTH 53, SOUTH BEND CLAY 43
Score by quarters
Clay: 12 28 35 43
Plymouth: 12 24 40 53
CLAY (43): Damyra Belcher 5 3-5 13, Caderia Strickland 0 0-0 0, Valerie Chavers 0 0-0 0, Sam Burrows 2 0-0 4, Michelle Adeniyi 6 1-3 13, Shawniece Watson 3 0-0 7, Sasha Gabrich 1 0-0 2, Dalis Benson 1 0-0 2, Kenzie Miller 0 0-0 0; Totals: 19 4-8 43.
PLYMOUTH (53): Lauren Tanner 4 7-9 16, Marissa Berman 0 0-0 0, Carly Baker 0 0-0 0, Amber Redinger 4 3-7 11, Haley Harrell 3 7-9 14, Brittany Himes 0 0-0 0, Savannah Mae 0 0-0 0, Hunter Stevens 3 4-6 10, Allie Wright 0 2-2 2; Totals: 14 23-33 53.
3-pointers: Clay 1 (Watson), Plymouth 2 (Tanner, Harrell); Turnovers: Clay 24, Plymouth 19; Rebounds: Clay 28 (Adeniyi 10), Plymouth 34 (Redinger 9, Stevens 9); Steals: Clay 9 (Adeniyi 4), Plymouth 10 (Stevens 3); Assists: Clay 9 (Belcher 4), Plymouth 9 (Tanner 2, Harrell 2, Stevens 2); Blocked shots: Clay 5 (Adeniyi 4), Plymouth 1 (Redinger); Fouls (fouled out): Clay 24 (Belcher), Plymouth 14 (none).
Records: Plymouth 6-11, Clay 4-15
JV score: Plymouth 43 (Kaydon Fosler 12), Clay 3 (Kenzie Miller 2)