WALKERTON — Plymouth’s reserves have been a team strength all season long.
On Tuesday, they were the difference.
Plymouth went seven deep off the bench, the Pilgrim reserves put up 38 points with two players in double figures, and the visitors wore down John Glenn in the second half for a 74-60 regular-season-closing victory over their Sectional 19 foes on the road at The Aerie.
“I give our guys a lot of credit. When their name’s called they’ve been ready to play for the most part I think all season long,” said Plymouth head coach Ryan Bales. “I think the last couple games we’ve seen a different confidence level out of this group whether they start or come in off the bench. They’re coming in ready to make plays and looking to be aggressive. Our game plan going in is we want to work hard and wear the other team down.”
The two teams were locked in a 29-all tie at the half, but Plymouth subbed early and often, using intermittent full court pressure to tire out the Falcons, who also went 12 deep but gave only a handful meaningful minutes in the loss.
The Pilgrims used a 24-13 third quarter highlighted by a pair of 3s from reserve junior guard Ike Kastner — who finished with 14 points at the contest — to take a 53-42 lead into the final frame. Trailing by double digits, Glenn was forced to foul early to stretch the clock, and Plymouth held off the Falcons at the line with 13-of-16 foul shooting in the final frame led by substitute David Lee’s 8-of-8 charity tosses as the junior guard finished with 10 points in the win.
“What changes (in the third quarter) is their role players stepped up and made plays,” said Glenn head coach Travis Hannah of the second half. “We held (Ryan) McNeil and (Mack) Mercer right at their combined average, which is what we thought we had to do. It was those other guys. Kastner hit a couple 3s there in that second half, and they got some offensive rebounds that they didn’t get in that first half. I think they just wore us down, quite honestly. We’re just not to that point right now. We’re playing well right now, I like the way we’re playing… but the second half I think we were tired and it showed a little bit in our defensive effort.”
“I think our guys just made a commitment to go out and execute the game plan, and I thought we got re-focused in on some of the little things that we needed to do,” said Bales.
“The halftime speech was just ‘Let’s go out and let’s stick with things and try to build the first three or four minutes and see if we can get off to a great start.’”
While Kastner put up 14 and Lee had 10, Plymouth was led by 17 points from McNeil, who poured in 5 of 7 from deep, including consecutive 3-pointers at the end of the second quarter to give the Pilgrims a 29-27 lead before a one and one by Glenn senior guard Josh Anderson with 30 seconds remaining in the half tied the game up 29-all at the intermission.
Plymouth center Mercer put up 11 points and passed out four assists from off the elbow and inside the lane as the Pilgrims closed out their regular season at 15-5 with a fifth straight win.
Glenn was led by Anderson’s game-high 26 points and eight rebounds, and the senior did a creditable job denying Mercer in the paint despite giving up 10 inches to the 6-9 sophomore.
Freshman Jake Strong put up 12 points, while junior guard Nathan Stegemiller added another 12 after a 28-point outing at New Prairie Saturday.
“I thought we played well. Give their kids credit,” said Hannah. “You can’t take away everything on the floor, and I thought we took away the things that we felt like coming in we had to take away, but their kids just stepped up and made plays when they had to.”
It was Senior Night for the Falcons, and the team paid tribute to Anderson, Pat Wolff, Charlie Dreesen and Tom Knape, who dished out a game-high six assists in the loss as Glenn slid to 9-10 with one regular-season game remaining at Penn Friday.
“Obviously you’re going to start with Josh Anderson and not only what he’s meant to our basketball team but to our high school and what he’s meant athletically the last four years and just being out there in the community the way that he is,” Hannah said. “He’s had a tremendous career for a kid that’s — I don’t want to say he’s not a basketball player — he’s an athlete and football is his first love, and he’s probably going to end up with over 700 career points, which is a pretty good career to have.
“Tom Knape and Charlie Dreesen, those guys don’t get much recognition. Tom Knape’s probably one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around, just what he brings to practice every night; Charlie Dreesen, same thing, just works his tail off every night. And Pat Wolff’s a kid that played B team as a junior high kid and didn’t see a lot of playing time this year, but he comes to practice every day and gives everything he has, and he’s just a kid that you need in a program. We’re going to miss those guys, but as I just told them it’s going to make this night a little easier if we can come out on top next week.”
• PLYMOUTH 74, JOHN GLENN 60
Score by quarters
Plymouth: 16 29 53 74
Glenn: 17 29 42 60
PLYMOUTH (74): Ryan McNeil 17, Gabe Vervynckt 0, Joe Knapp 8, David Lee 10, Connor Flynn 0, Mack Mercer 11, Ike Kastner 14, Kyser McCrammer 0, John Ruff 0, Kyle Kaser 7, Tom Felke 5, Hayden Skirvin 2; Totals: 24 16-21 74.
GLENN (60): Nathan Stegemiller 12, Pat Wolff 0, Josh Anderson 26, Tom Knape 1, Tyler Prentkowski 0, Adam Stull 0, Austen Hayes 7, Jake Strong 12, Michael Schmeltz 0, Hunter Maynard 0, Charlie Dreesen 2, Levi Schleg 0; Totals: 20 14-17 60.
3-pointers: Plymouth 10 (McNeil 5, Kastner 2, Knapp, Kaser, Felke), Glenn 6 (Stegemiller 4, Andersno, Hayes); Turnovers: Plymouth 8, Glenn 14; Rebounds: Plymouth 23 (Mercer 6), Glenn 23 (Anderson 8); Steals: Plymouth 7 (Kastner 2, Skirvin 2), Glenn 3 (Stegemiller, Anderson, Knape); Assists: Plymouth 17 (Mercer 4), Glenn 12 (Knape 6); Fouls (fouled out): Plymouth 19 (Ruff), Glenn 21 (Strong).
Records: Plymouth 15-5, Glenn 9-10
JV score: John Glenn 31 (Levi Schleg 8), Plymouth 29 (Tyler England 8)