Pilgrims advance; Falcons fall

PLYMOUTH — One local team’s defensive struggles are sending them home for the offseason, another’s defensive prowess will give them a shot at a sectional title as Glenn fell to South Bend St. Joe by a 63-49 final and Plymouth won a classic with Marian 59-57 at the Plymouth Sectional on Friday.
Plymouth 59, Marian 57
It was a classic but not for the reason many thought it would be.
Plymouth squaring off with Marian featured two of the state’s top players in Mack Mercer of Plymouth and Marian guard Demetrius Jackson and many waited to see how the two would battle each other with a sectional title on the line.
While Mercer watched with foul trouble for much of the game his teammates matched Jackson and the Knights move for move and came away with a big win.
“They are explosive; they won the championship last year and we knew they weren’t going to go out without a fight,” said Plymouth coach Ryan Bales. “They showed that. We got up a few times and extended the lead and put ourselves in good positions but they battled back. Our kids showed a lot of grit and got the job done.”
That they did. Joe Knapp had the game of his life with 24 points and Kyser McCrammer scored the eight biggest points of his defensive-minded career in Plymouth basketball. His tip-in basket late in the game could very well be considered a game winner.
“A lot of (their) attention was on Mack,” said Bales. “Kyser cut without the ball he got an offensive rebound and he got the ball off a screen and on top of that he’s guarding the best player in the state and expending all that effort. He didn’t quite match Demetrius’ point total but that’s fine it was enough to get it done.”
Jackson ended the night with 19 points, eight rebounds and three assists and steals in his attempt to carry his team on his back late in the game, but McCrammer and fellow defensive specialist Ike Kastner were able to force turnovers from the future Notre Dame point guard at crucial moments that would be key to a Plymouth win.
While Mercer didn’t spend a bulk of the game on the floor, the time he was there he was definitely a force to be reckoned with. He ended the night with 11 points, 12 rebounds — six of those in a key stretch late in the fourth quarter — four assists and five blocked shots.
Mercer spent time on the sideline due to an injury earlier in the year and Bales felt it might have been that time when other players needed to take up the slack, that could have been crucial in the win.
“Sometimes things happen for a reason,” said Bales. “I always hate to see kids get injured; we don’t want them off the court but our kids made plays to get the job done tonight and it might have had something to do with the confidence they gained earlier in the year.
“It was a team effort. That group of upperclassmen in at the end when Mack went out — they stepped up, they showed some toughness, we got some key stops, some timely buckets off hustle plays, maybe a rebound, maybe a dive on the floor, we found a way.”
Plymouth (19-3) will have to find a way again Saturday night against St. Joe to win a sectional title. Marian ends the year at 11-10.
At Plymouth Sectional
Score by Quarters
Plymouth: 16 24 44 59
Marian: 11 24 39 57
PLYMOUTH (59): Matt Flynn 0, Gabe Vervynckt 0, Joe Knapp 24, David Lee 8, Nick Bayley 0, Mack Mercer 11, Ike Kastner 4, Kyser McCrammer 8, Trent Briles 0, Josh Anders 0, Tom Felke 4, Scott Carmichael 0, Jack Barron 0, Reis Yoder 0; Totals: 26 6-13 59.
MARIAN (57): Devin Cannady 17, Jacob Whitfield 2, Quron Marks 0, Demetrius Jackson 19, Michael Whitfield 13, Tyran Ottbridge 0, Matthew Royeca 0, Jai Wood 0, William Whitten 0, Nicholas Harris 0, Dylan Hensley 0, Christopher Stager 6; Totals: 20 14-22 57.
3-pointers: Marian 3 (Cannady 2), Plymouth 1 (Knapp); Rebounds: Marian 23 (Jackson 7), Plymouth 23 (Mercer 12); Assists: Marian 6 (Jackson 3), Plymouth 9 (Mercer 4); Steals: Marian 7 (Jackson 3), Plymouth 7 (Knapp 3); Turnovers: Marian 13, Plymouth 13; Fouls (Fouled Out): Marian 16, Plymouth 15 (Mercer).
Records: Plymouth 1903, Marian 11-10
St. Joe 63, Glenn 49
“We weren’t very good defensively. They were quicker than we were — we tried to go zone and they started knocking down shots from the perimeter. We had a hard time guarding them and that was the bottom line.”
A short but poignant bottom line from Glenn head coach Travis Hannah as he watched his team expend a lot of effort but was never quite able to lock down the Indians enough to make it hurt.
“I think we might have seen it coming,” said Hannah. “We hadn’t practiced very well the last couple of days. I was hoping we’d come out with more energy than we did.”
While Glenn piled up first-half turnovers — 10 to be exact — St. Joe still struggled to break away. Early in the third quarter the Falcons were able to cut the deficit to five points. That’s when St. Joe found its range and for the fourth quarter it was a matter of shooting free throws.
Tyler Prentkowski carried the offensive effort early with four three’s ending the night with 15 points, Austen Hayes had 14 and Jake Strong was a force inside with 13 rebounds but it wouldn’t be enough.
“We played OK in spurts but in a game like this you have to have everybody step up and play and I never felt like we came up with the right combination,” said Hannah. “I was digging, subbing guys to find that right combination to get us going but I don’t think we ever found the right group. We struggled offensively and when you struggle defensively too it’s going to go like that.”
“We played a tough schedule and I think our kids grew up a lot. It bodes well for us but we have to get a lot of work done in the off season,” said Hannah. “We never really got over that hump. I don’t know what the sectional record for three-point plays is but it seemed like every time they made a shot we had somebody with a body on them.”
Glenn ends its year at 8-14, St. Joe (13-9) plays Plymouth for the sectional title Saturday night.
At Plymouth Sectional
Score by Quarters
Glenn: 9 22 33 49
St. Joe: 16 30 49 63
GLENN (49): Joel Hadden 0, Tyler Prentkowski 15, Alec Runyan 6, Austen Hayes 14, Isaac Keldson 0, Drew McDonald 2, Jake Strong 7, Calvin Kretchmer 2, Nathan Stegemiller 0, Levi Schleg 0, Chase Baitz 0, Sam Weiss 0, Jon Troyer 2; Totals 18 7-15 49.
ST. JOE (63): Greenan Sullivan 17, Wesley Short 0, Mark Madden 3, Matthew Gergely 3, Keaton Wieschaus 2, Matt Takach 0, Connor Edmonds 9, Matthew Monserez 5, Anthony Smiley 0, Ryan Wobbe 6, Ryan Brown 18; Totals 23 11-24 63.
3-pointers: Glenn 5 (Prentkowski 4), St. Joe 7 (Brown 3); Rebounds: Glenn 28 (Strong 13), St. Joe 16 (Sullivan, Gergely, Monserez, Brown 3); Assists: Glenn 3 (Prentkowski, McDonald, Strong), St. Joe 6 (Sullivan, Monserez 2); Turnovers: Glenn 14, St. Joe 6; Fouls (Fouled out): Glenn 13, St. Joe 11.
Records: Glenn 8-14, St. Joe 13-9