Pilgrim defense stifles Trojans, 63-43

PLYMOUTH — After Plymouth’s Tuesday night 63-43 win over Triton it was a tale of two coaches — one upset, one pleased — pretty much for the same reason.
“The frustrating part is that we worked on it for quite awhile not dribbling right away, using pass fakes, simple things like that that I thought we didn’t do,” said Triton boss Jason Groves. “I knew we would have some (turnovers), and I wanted to keep it to a minimum. It was frustrating the way we were turning it over. We didn’t execute.”
Triton committed 20 on the night, but the tough part was that nine of those were in the game’s crucial first quarter. On the other side of the coin, Plymouth head coach Ryan Bales was pleased with how those turnovers came about.
“It’s about team defense,” he said.
“I was really pleased with our team defense. We forced them into some bad choices off the dribble. Our guys played defense and stuck to our game plan. We knew they were going to come out and compete to the final buzzer.”
And the Trojans did do that battling to the conclusion — but the first quarter hole was just too deep to dig out of. It was a sight that Groves was afraid he might see.
“The first quarter and first half I don’t know how many uncontested layups we gave them because we turned it over and they went the other way,” he said. “All week we talked about how we’d rather have a five-second call or a 10-second call rather than to throw the ball and let them get out into transition. That’s how they get their buckets.”
“The game plan we put in, I didn’t see it. That’s the frustrating thing as a coach is when you work on that and don’t execute. But they are a good team, and they are going to win a lot of ballgames.”
Another sight Bales is glad to see is Triton standout Clay Yeo in the rearview mirror.
Plymouth’s smothering defense ganged up on Yeo, forcing him into an uncharacteristic shooting night. The Pilgrims traded the task of defending Yeo, leaving a fresh defender on him nearly every time down the floor. It was by design.
“Usually we had five guys on him really to be honest,” said Bales. “We have to find him in transition; he had stretches where he got to the rim, and if you don’t have anybody in front of him he’s awfully good. He explodes to the basket and finds ways to make plays. Our guys did a great job finding him as a team.
“I know they are a little short-handed, but Clay is one of the best players we are going to see this year and they have a lot of players that are going to make some plays around him and some young guys getting some experience. We hope some of it at least is that we have a great home court advantage, and that it’s tough to come in here and win games.”
Plymouth’s Division I recruit took another step forward in his game Tuesday night too.
Mack Mercer had 19 points, but more impressively had four blocked shots, nine rebounds and a pair of assists. Mercer was upstaged by fellow senior Joe Knapp who had 21 points with four assists and rebounds of his own.
Yeo scored 15 to lead Triton, which got a shot in the arm with solid play from Tanner Shepherd with 10 points and Darren Harrell off the bench with eight.
“We’re two games in, and we have some great opponents coming up,” said Bales. “We haven’t been on the road yet and we do that on Friday at Rochester and we know that’s not going to be easy.”
Plymouth is now 2-0 with that date at Rochester on Friday. Triton (1-1) plays at NorthWood.
At Plymouth
Score by quarters
PLYMOUTH 20 38 53 63
TRITON 8 17 30 43
PLYMOUTH (63): Matt Flynn 0 0-0 0, Gabe Vervynckt 0 0-0 0, Joe Knapp 7 4-7 21, David Lee 4 0-0 8, Zach Stone 0 0-0 0, Mack Mercer 7 4-5 19, Ike Kastner 0 0-0 0, Kyser McCrammer 1 0-0 2, Trent Briles 2 0-0 5, Josh Anders 0 0-0 0, Tom Felke 2 0-0 6, Evan Parkhurst 0 0-0 0; Totals 24 10-16 83.
TRITON (43): Mason Yeo 0 0-0 0, Clay Yeo 6 3-4 15, Darren Harrell 1 5-5 8, Bryson Mosier 0 0-0 0, Bryce Wanemacher 0 0-0 0, Trenton Cooper 0 0-0 0, Tanner Shepherd 4 2-2 10, Seth Glingle 1 0-0 2, Seth Flenar 0 0-0 0, Cody Shively 0 0-0 0, Drew Mosson 0 0-0 0, Dillon Meadway 1 0-0 2, Skyler Riechert 3 0-0 6; Totals 16 10-11 43.
3-pointers: Plymouth 5 (Knapp 3), Triton 1 (Harrell); Rebounds: Plymouth 23(Mercer 9), Triton 15 (Yeo 6); Assists: Plymouth 13 (Knapp 4) , Triton 8 (Yeo, Mosier 2); Steals: Plymouth 14 (Lee 6), Triton 7 (Meadway 3); Turnovers: Plymouth 16, Triton 20.
Records: Plymouth 2-0, Triton 1-1
JV score: Plymouth 35, Triton 32 OT