PLYMOUTH — Plymouth fell by the 3 in a disappointing double overtime loss at Goshen Friday, but it was a 3-pointer that gave the Pilgrims new life against New Prairie Saturday.
Ryan McNeil’s buzzer-beating triple from the wing forced overtime, and Plymouth bounced back from its Northern Lakes Conference loss Friday with a 48-45 OT win over visiting New Prairie at The Rock Saturday.
McNeil scored 12 points to pace Plymouth’s scorers, including seven in the final two frames to help lift the Pilgrims to a win over their Sectional 19 adversary.
“Ryan, he was in five seconds to start the game, he got beat on defense, and I pulled him back out,” said Plymouth head coach Ryan Bales. “To his credit, he kept his composure, he got another opportunity, and it shows the importance of sticking with things. You never know when your name’s going to be called, you’ve got to be ready. I’ve seen him hit that shot a million times in practice. When the shot left his hands I expected it to go in, I’m confident in him, and I expect him to do that.”
It was a gutsy performance by Plymouth’s players, who logged an exhausting practice Saturday morning after Friday night’s disappointing loss at Goshen.
“They should be tired. After last night, I look back as a coach I did a very poor job. There were times where I had too long of a leash with certain guys, and it had nothing to do with whatever it was on the court, it was an effort issue. When we’re not competing on the defensive end, when we’re not ripping the ball through on offense, when we’re not crashing the boards on offense or defense, that’s an issue,” Bales said.
“The expectation for this program is we’re going to compete hard, we’re going to play hard, and it doesn’t matter who you are; you might be the biggest superstar on our team, you might be the 12th guy on the team, the expectation is you’re going to compete and you’re going to play hard.”
To that end, Plymouth went with a completely new starting lineup against the Cougars.
Hayden Skirvin, Connor Flynn, Kyser McCrammer and Kyle Kaser all got the start along with Joe Knapp, who ran the point and finished with a strong all-around game of 10 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Plymouth’s revamped starting lineup opened the game 6-3, and the Pilgrims retained the lead until New Prairie jumped ahead on a Zach Rehlander 3-pointer with 54 seconds remaining in regulation.
“Joe continues to play well. I like his aggressiveness; I like what he’s bringing to our team. He’s doing some things off the dribble. Last night, he played with a lot of toughness and made some great plays,” Bales said.
“Skirvin, Connor Flynn starting the game I thought brought a lot of energy. I thought they were just bringing a different mentality to our team. Kyser McCrammer coming out, Kyle Kaser’s playing well; those other four that were around Joe I thought just did a tremendous job of setting the tone for the rest of the evening.”
Saturday’s win marked the fourth time this season the Pilgrims have played back-to-back nights, a schedule that should help prepare them for sectional play as the home stretch of the regular season approaches.
“It’s something that we definitely address with our players that you’ve got to show up both nights in order to win sectional. We give them a lot of different opportunities where we face some pretty good teams on back to back nights,” said Bales. “That’s the way it’s going to be in the sectional… We can go into a double overtime game at Goshen and we can come out two hours this morning and work as hard as we did diving on the floor drills, competing drills, guys that were pushing each other on the bleachers — I don’t know how many stair laps they ran — and they can come out against a very tough New Prairie team and get it done. It just shows me that if they want to do it, they can do it, if they want to play a certain way they can play a certain way. It’s their choice, and if they choose not to play that way then they’re going to be held accountable.”
• PLYMOUTH 48, NEW PRAIRIE 45 (OT)
Score by quarters
New Prairie: 5 16 24 40 45
Plymouth: 9 22 31 40 48
NEW PRAIRIE (45): Zach Rehlander 5 1-1 13, Mitchell Mrozenski 2 0-0 5, Austin Ginter 4 0-0 9, Matt Winter 4 4-4 13, C.J. Kowalski 1 3-4 5; Totals: 16 8-9 45.
PLYMOUTH (48): Ryan McNeil 4 1-2 12, Joe Knapp 5 0-0 10, Mack Mercer 0 3-4 3, Ike Kastner 3 1-1 7, John Ruff 1 2-4 4, Kyle Kaser 1 3-4 5, Tom Felke 1 2-2 5, Hayden Skirvin 1 0-2 2; Totals: 16 12-19 48.
3-pointers: New Prairie 5 (Rehlander 2, Mrozenski, Ginter, Winter), Plymouth 4 (McNeil 3, Felke); Turnovers: New Prairie 20, Plymouth 14; Rebounds: New Prairie 21 (Winter 8), Plymouth 25 (Knapp 5, Mercer 5); Steals: New Prairie 9 (Kowalski 3), Plymouth 11 (Knapp 3, Skirvin 3); Assists: New Prairie 7 (Ginter 2, Winter 2, Kowalski 2), Plymouth 12 (Knapp 3); Fouls (fouled out): New Prairie 19 (Brammer), Plymouth (none) 17.
Records: New Prairie 12-6, Plymouth 11-5.
JV score: New Prairie 34, Plymouth 21.