Comeback falls short as Pilgrims fall to Warsaw

Thomas Dolan takes the jumper from short range over Warsaw’s Trevor Rumple and Jaylen Reese.
By: 
Rusty Nixon
Sports Writer

It was a game that had all sorts of implications for the NLC title - as it always seems to - and Warsaw’s Tigers were able to put themselves in the driver’s seat for the championship with a 54-41 win over Plymouth.

For the Tigers it keeps them unbeaten in NLC play at 6-0 with only Elkhart Memorial remaining on the schedule. For Plymouth it drops them out of contention at 4-2 and surely practice and film sessions will focus on one thing for the Pilgrims - boxing out the free throw shooter.

With a four point gap at the break, 23-19 Warsaw came out of the locker room at halftime with a renewed energy and a full court defense that got the Pilgrims totally out of sync.

“That’s not the way you want to start the third quarter obviously,” said Plymouth coach Ryan Bales. “We talked about getting to the right spots when they went into the press. It was little things but it’s just a matter of us losing poise and composure and we have to be better in those moments.”

Warsaw used three quick Plymouth turnovers, to run the lead to nine, and almost as quickly ran it as high as 19. Through the four minute mark in the third quarter Warsaw’s defense held the Pilgrims scoreless.

Then things changed.

The Pilgrims righted the ship and slowly chipped away at the Warsaw lead through the remainder of the third and beginning of the fourth quarters until they finally had themselves in striking distance down by five with close to four minutes to play.

After Warsaw’s Nolan Groninger uncharacteristically missed a pair of free throws things looked even brighter. But somehow, the Warsaw senior leader made a big play in a big situation.

“We’re in a five point game and we give up a free throw block out,” said Bales. “Their best kid misses two free throws and again that didn’t cost us the game but it’s a two possession game at that point with three or four minutes to go in the game. We have to come up with that ball somehow.”

Groninger was somehow able to secure his own rebound and from their the Tigers were simply able to ride the clock to the win.

“He stayed composed and did a great job,” said Bales of Groninger’s effort as he ended the night with 21 points. “He demanded the ball inside at the right spots. He’s a smart player. He forced us to lose our composure. You have to give him credit, he did it on both ends of the floor. He expended a lot of energy guarding Hilliard and other guys. He’s a solid player for them.”

For the Pilgrims it was an uncharacteristic night as well as they seemed to lose sight of the game plan at times in the second half and the Tiger defensive pressure was just too much.

“They were better in those situations. They capitalized,” said Bales. “They took advantage of it and put their foot on the throat and kept going.”

“The bottom line we have to be better,” he said. “We weren’t real good tonight.”

Warsaw held Plymouth’s Clay Hilliard to just 11 points and so he remains four shy of the 1000 point milestone for the Pilgrims. Cole Filson ended the night with nine in spite of early foul trouble. Jake Reichard had five assists and eight points. Thomas Dolan came on to get some key defensive stops at key moments and also ended the night with six points.

Plymouth is now 13-5 (4-2) and things don’t get any easier with Penn coming to PHS on Tuesday. Warsaw is now 12-4 (6-0) with Merrillville at home this afternoon.

•WARSAW 54, PLYMOUTH 41
at Plymouth
Warsaw 9 14 20 11 - 54
Plymouth 10 9 7 15 - 41
Plymouth (41) - Hilliard 3 2-2 11, Carmichael 0 0-0 0, Filson 3 2-4 9, Reichard 3 2-2 8, Tremaine 1 2-2 5, Dolan 3 0-0 6, Barron 0 2-4 2, Winkle 0 0-0 0, Styers 0 0-0 0, Himes 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 10-17 54.
Warsaw (54) - Groninger 7 6-9 21, Marsh 1 0-0 3, Amiss 3 0-1 9, Adamiec 1 0-0 9, Rumple 4 2-2 11, Coon 0 0-0 0, Metzinger 3 1-2 7, Reese 0 1-3 1. Totals 19 10-17 54.
Rebounds - Warsaw 28 (Groninger 6), Plymouth 23 (Filson, Reichard 4).
Assists - Warsaw 13 (Marsh 5), Plymouth 12 (Reichard 5).
Steals - Warsaw 8 (Groninger 3), Plymouth 2 (Hilliard, Reichard).
Turnovers - Warsaw 6, Plymouth 10.
Fouls (Fouled out) - Warsaw 15, Plymouth 19.

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