NEW CARLISLE — Friday’s New Prairie Sectional semifinals were both tales of two halves as Plymouth got off to a strong start but couldn’t hold off St. Joseph’s in the opener, and Culver Girls Academy fell behind by 10 at the half and was never quite able to get over the hump against Marian in the nightcap.
The Pilgrims closed their season with a 51-33 loss, while the defending champion Eagles were unseated by the Knights 46-37, setting the stage for a championship match-up between Marian and the Indians tonight at 7:30 p.m.
SOUTH BEND ST. JOE 51, PLYMOUTH 33
Plymouth jumped out to an 19-10 lead, but a 19-4 St. Joe run spanning from the 3:58 mark of the second frame to the 4:44 stop of the third gave the Indians a 23-20 edge. With over four minutes remaining in the third quarter and a one-possession lead, St. Joe opted to pull the ball out, and the Pilgrims laid off of them as the clock wound down for over 3:40.
St. Joe finished off Plymouth with a 22-7 fourth quarter to advance to the championship.
“We were struggling going into that, and we decided to let it run down,” said Plymouth head coach Dave Cox. “Hunter Stevens had three fouls at that point, and we were a little bit gassed. I think we played really, really hard in the first half. I thought we came out and we were struggling to stay ahead. We were already slipping off the pole at that point, and we were hoping that that would bring us back. In the huddle at the end of the quarter we said ‘Look, you’ve got eight minutes. You’re pretty fresh. They’re fresh too, but you’re pretty fresh. You’re in great shape.’ And then we started having kids do things that they’ve never done. The wrong kids taking the ball out, nobody coming to the ball. I’ll tell you what, it’s a mental maturity thing, and I’m not going to cover for the kids. I told them in the locker room, you’ve done a lot of good things this year, but when you get to the tourney, tough-minded kids win, and right now we just weren’t tough-minded.”
After surrendering just seven turnovers against the St. Joe press in the first half, Plymouth gave up 14 turnovers in the second half, which the opportunistic Indians capitalized on with 20 points, and the Pilgrims hit just one field goal after the break as they fell apart for a season-ending margin of defeat 14 points worse than the one they sustained in the two teams’ regular season meeting less than two weeks ago.
“We were up and then they hit a couple shots, and we were down like two or three, and we had a couple really decent opportunities to score and we didn’t score. We got down five when I called timeout, and by that time you could already see it in their eyes. They had decided,” said Cox. “We are a 6-15 team, and we’re a 6-15 team for a reason, and it’s probably that reason. I’ll tell you, as long as I’ve been doing this, there are two things involved in that. Number one, it only takes one kid to be a trooper and refuse to allow that to affect them. And on the other side of the coin, if a couple of the kids that are perceived as maybe your most mature kids do it, boy, it’s tough. That’s what happened to us, and we just kind of slipped right off the pole and right into the bottom. It’s a shame because it really didn’t need to be. I don’t know that we could have won the game, don’t know that we couldn’t, but we certainly could’ve been right there at the end.”
Plymouth was led by junior forward Amber Redinger’s 16 points and eight rebounds, while freshman forward Stevens finished with seven points before fouling out with 4:03 to go, and junior guard Lauren Tanner put up six points in the loss.
St. Joe was led by Alex Kubsh’s game-high 21 points, all but three points of which were earned in the decisive second half after the senior sat out much of the first half in foul trouble.
The Pilgrims close out their season at 6-15 and will bid good-bye to seniors Victoria Dewar and Brittany Himes, who was sidelined Friday after receiving a concussion in Plymouth’s regular season game at St. Joe Jan. 31.
“They’re program kids. Brittany injured herself the last St. Joe game with a concussion, and it ended her season, ended her career. Dew, a trooper this year, she’s never walked on the best set of legs, which makes mobility a problem. I have to really appreciate those kids. They came into practice every day and worked really hard,” said Cox.
“We surely have a high percentage of our points coming back. What they do with it is whatever they want to do with it. I kind of challenged them in the locker room, and we’ll see where that goes.”
MISHAWAKA MARIAN 46, CULVER GIRLS ACADEMY 37
Mishawaka Marian closed out the first half on a 10-0 run highlighted by a pair of 3s from senior guard Kathleen Kavanagh to take a 21-11 halftime lead, and Culver Girls Academy never got closer than six points the rest of the way as Marian converted11 of 17 free throws in the second half.
CGA converted 4 of 6 3-pointers in the fourth quarter but still couldn’t get over the hump against Marian.
“They got a nice run on us to start, we got back in the lead, and they got un a run and got us down 10 at half. Every time we cut into it, they answered,” said CGA head coach Gary Christlieb. “Then late, we were aggressive and we knew that the downfall would be getting them to the free throw line, which is their strength, but we had to try; we had to do something. Give them credit, they answered every run we threw at them.”
CGA could find no answer for Kavanagh, who finished with a game-high 22 points earned at a perfect 8-for-8 clip from the field with a 3-for-4 finish from the stripe.
“Kavanagh’s a heck of a player,” said Christlieb. “We knew what she was capable of. She’s been a thorn in our side for quite some time.”
The Eagles were led by 11 points from senior guard Lindsay Haller, who played through illness to finish with 11 points, while junior combo player Andrijana Cvitkovic finished with eight points, nine rebounds and four blocks.
CGA closes the year at 13-8 and loses three seniors in Haller, point guard Andrea Lin and Monique Novoa.
“We’re optimistic. We’ve got to do some things. Andrea Lin was playing great at the end of the season handling the ball; we’ve got to replace that,” Christlieb said. “Lindsay was shooting the ball well and really starting to stretch the defense out for us, which really opened things up for Andi and Victoria. Monique was just kind of the all-around player. She rebounded, she got some tough buckets, she would set a screen when you needed one.
“We’ll have to replace those kids, but we’ve got some experience with some of the other kids. Hopefully we’ve got some kids that can step up and get working at it.”
• NEW PRAIRIE SECTIONAL
At New Carlisle
SOUTH BEND ST. JOSEPH’S 51, PLYMOUTH 33
Score by quarters
Plymouth: 14 23 26 33
St. Joe: 8 20 29 51
ST. JOE (51): Nicole Przybyslawski 2 1-6 5, Mary Freeby 0 0-0 0, Jordan Wawrzyniak 0 0-0 0, Zoe Morgan 0 0-0 0, Kelsey Majcher 0 0-0 0, Nicole Francoeur 0 1-2 1, Madeline Raster 3 2-4 10, Emily Ferro 0 0-0 0, Michelle Weaver 4 6-8 14, Alex Kubsh 5 7-8 21, Sid Corrigan 0 0-0 0, Brittany Rozanski 0 0-0 0; Totals: 14 17-28 51.
PLYMOUTH (33): Lauren Tanner 1 4-4 6, Marissa German 0 0-0 0, Carly Baker 0 1-2 1, Meagan Fisher 0 0-0 0, Haley Harrell 0 3-4 3, Savannah Mae 0 0-0 0, Amber Redinger 7 2-4 16, Victoria Dewar 0 0-0 0, Hunter Stevens 2 3-3 7, Allie Wright 0 0-0 0, Kaydon Fosler 0 0-0 0; Totals: 10 13-17 33.
3-pointers: Plymouth 0, St. Joe 6 (Kubsh 4, Raster 2); Turnovers: Plymouth 21, St. Joe 7; Rebounds: Plymouth 30 (Redinger 8), St. Joe 11 (Weaver 5); Steals: Plymouth 5 (Wright 2), St. Joe 13 (Weaver 5); Assists: Plymouth 6 (Tanner 3), St. Joe 8 (Weaver 3); Fouls (fouled out): Plymouth 21 (Stevens), St. Joe 15 (none).
Records: Plymouth 6-15 (final), St. Joe 16-6
MISHAWAKA MARIAN 46, CULVER GIRLS ACADEMY 37
Score by quarters
CGA: 8 11 17 37
Marian: 9 21 28 46
MARIAN (46): Christine Mai 0 0-0 0, Erin Guzicki 1 2-2 4, Sarah Hansen 0 0-0 0, Kaitlin Barnard 3 5-8 11, Kiersten Reed 0 0-0 0, Holly Glon 0 0-0 0, Ashlee Taylor 3 0-1 6, Kathleen Kavanagh 8 3-4 22, Jordan Stoler 0 0-0 0, Allyson Schmidt 0 0-0 0, Sydny Burkhart 0 0-0 0, Nicolette DelPrete 1 1-2 3; Totals: 15 11-17 46.
CGA (37): Victoria Christlieb 3 0-0 6, Kendahl Ungar 0 0-0 0, Andrijana Cvitkovic 3 1-3 8, Andrea Lin 0 3-4 3, Elizabeth Goreki 0 0-0 0, Myriam Navarro 0 0-0 0, Allison Baker 0 0-0 0, Lindsay Haller 4 0-0 11, Helen Weinberg 0 0-0 0, Saralena Barry 2 0-0 5, Monique Novoa 2 0-0 4, Rita Zambon 0 0-0 0; Totals: 14 4-7 37.
3-pointers: Marian 3 (Kavanaugh 3), CGA 5 (Haller 3, Cvitkovic, Barry); Turnovers: Marian 13, CGA 21; Rebounds: Marian 25 (Kavanagh 7), CGA 26 (Cvitkovic 9); Steals: Marian 12 (DelPrete 5), CGA 8 (Christlieb 2, Cvitkovic 2, Lin 2); Assists: Marian 7 (Kavanagh 3), CGA 8 (Christlieb 3); Fouls (fouled out): Marian 13 (none), CGA 12 (Cvitkovic).
Records: Marian 13-11, CGA 13-8 (final)