Effort equals win in Plymouth overtime victory versus Penn

PLYMOUTH — “People show up at the games here they expect Plymouth to play a certain way,” said Plymouth head basketball coach Ryan Bales. “Our crowd brought a little sixth man for us tonight. Hopefully they walk away tonight proud of our guys and proud of their effort.”
Effort was the word for the week for Plymouth basketball as a disheartening loss last Friday turned into back-to-back wins — Wednesday night at Whitko and a big overtime win over Penn at home Thursday night, 66-62.
The Pilgrims battled adversity for much of the night with Joe Knapp, Kyser McCrammer and David Lee in quick early foul trouble. They then fought through missing three looks at the basket in the final :09 to end the game in regulation but were the last team left standing for the win.
“He (Penn Coach Al Rhodes) is a Hall of Famer, he runs a great program. They competed hard, they played hard. It was a great win for us,” said Bales. “I loved the way our guys fought tonight so much better than last Friday. I hope they’ve learned something. That’s all we talked about, you have to want it more.”
The Pilgrims were led by another stellar night by Mack Mercer, who ended the night with a double-double of 31 points — including 18-of-21 from the free throw line — and 15 rebounds.
“Those were similar numbers to last Friday, but I thought tonight he was defending,” said Bales. “He was getting out on some shooters, helping in the post. Fighting with (Austin) Torres. He hardly ever came out. We challenged him. He had a different look in his eye tonight, and that started on the defensive end.”
With Mercer’s help, Plymouth’s McCrammer and Ike Kastner spent most of the night fighting with the 6’9” Torres, who had a strong night of his own with 15 points and eight rebounds but disappeared for long stretches of the night and eventually fouled out with 2:45 to go in the overtime.
“They were gutty,” said Bales of Kas. We knew he (Torres) liked to go right a lot on the perimeter, and McCrammer took a charge right off the bat on him trying to go to his right, so that’s knowing your scouting report.”
Lights out shooting from Penn’s Conner Sowders early in the game and outstanding play from Jordan Geist in the final quarter and overtime kept the Kingsman in striking range all night. Penn took its first lead of the game just seconds into the fourth quarter and held it for much of the final eight minutes, but Plymouth would not be turned away at the end.
“There was a diffferent energy to us. A different focus that we were going to get it done, and we did,” said Bales. “One thing that our coaches brought up today in the locker room — our practices this week were the best they’ve been all year. Most importantly we were looking for a response. I think we got it Monday at practice. Tuesday there was still the same focus. It has to be an all-the-time thing.”
Penn is now 3-3 on the year with a game tonight at South Bend St. Joe. Plymouth moves to 7-1 and plays Jan. 4 at home with Elkhart Memorial.
At Plymouth
Score by quarters
Plymouth: 16 29 38 54 66
Penn: 13 24 38 54 62
PLYMOUTH (66): Reis Yoder 0 0-0 0, Jack Barron 0 0-0 0, Joe Knapp 3 3-5 9, David Lee 7 0-3 14, Nick Bayley 0 0-0 0, Mack Mercer 6 18-21 31, Ike Kastner 0 8-8 8, Kyser McCrammer 0 0-0 0, Trent Briles 1 0-0 3, Josh Anders 0 0-0 0, Tom Felke 0 1-2 1, Michael Kaser 0 0-0 0, Tyler England 0 0-0 0; Totals 17 30-39 66.
PENN (62): Nathan Miller 0 0-0 0, Jordan Geist 6 3-5 15, Cory Kreiger 0 0-0 0, William Doslak 2 2-2 7, Conner Sowders 5 0-0 15, Ryan Lutz 2 1-2 6, Christian Wittendorf 0 0-0 0, Austin Torres 5 5-12 15, Isaiah Cook 0 0-0 0, Mikey Szrom 2 0-0 4, Andrew Kimm 0 0-0 0; Totals 22 11-21 62.
3-pointers: Penn 7 (Sowders 5), Plymouth 2 (Mercer, Briles); Rebounds: Penn 24 (Torres 8), Plymouth 28 (Mercer 15); Turnovers: Penn 13, Plymouth 12; Assists: Penn 12 (Torres 4, Geist 3), Plymouth 9 (Knapp 3); Steals: Penn 7 (Cook 2, Geist 2), Plymouth 5 (Lee 2, Felke 2); Fouls (fouled out): Penn 26 (Torres, Lutz), Plymouth 19.
Records: Plymouth 7-1, Penn 3-3