Pilgrims dethrone CMA, 51-29

PLYMOUTH — It wasn’t that long ago that the Pilgrims took a lopsided regular-season win over Culver Military.
While that Valentine’s Day victory must have still been fresh in Plymouth’s mind in its sectional opener Wednesday, the Pilgrims certainly didn’t seem to be looking past CMA as they handed the Eagles another lopsided loss in much the same fashion, 51-29 in a Sectional 19 quarterfinal at The Rock.
Plymouth advances to the late semifinal Friday against Mishawaka Marian — which handed area rival St. Joseph’s a 62-39 defeat early Wednesday — following a 6 p.m. game between John Glenn and Jimtown.
The Pilgrims set the tone on the defensive end early against CMA, forcing the Eagles into eight turnovers and recording four deflections in the first frame en route to an 11-4 lead at the quarter break. All total, Plymouth created 21 Culver turnovers for 28 points as the hosts built steadily towards the win.
“I thought we came out, especially on the defensive end, and I was proud of our effort down there,” said Plymouth head coach Ryan Bales. “We obviously held them down, I thought we were in their face from the start. It was a great team effort. I told them in the locker room I thought we executed the game plan, especially on the defensive end pretty well tonight.”
“We had a lot of turnovers, and they didn’t,” said CMA head coach Mark Galloway. “You can’t turn the ball over. That’s been the Achilles Heel for us all season. Last time we played them we had more turnovers than shots.”
Plymouth did its scoring by committee led by Ike Kastner’s 12 points and nine points from Joe Knapp as 10 different Pilgrims found their way into the scoring column and the Big Red finished at a better than 51 percent clip from the field.
“We’re running guys in and out, and I’m not saying we’ve done that every game, but it’s worked pretty well for us,” said Bales. “It’s nice when we can get a lead and throw some fresh bodies in there and build on the lead. I thought tonight our second group came in and brought an energy level and really took it at the other team. That’s the goal, to try and wear the other team down.”
The Pilgrims held CMA to worse than 32 percent from the floor, meanwhile. Promising freshman guard Dante Scott put up 10 points but scuffled to a 4-for-13 field conversion rate in the season-ending loss.
“Not to take anything away from their defense because they did a good job on defense, but we’ve had a hard time scoring all year,” said Galloway. “That’s tough. We’ve got a team that they sit and help and they skip it, and you don’t have anyone who can make a shot. That’s frustrating. We had a lot of open looks, we just didn’t knock them down. We had layups we missed.”
Wednesday’s elimination concluded a winless season for the Eagles, who finished 0-23 after going 19-7 last season on their way to a state runner-up finish in Galloway’s first year at the helm. The team bids goodbye to seniors Will Strong, Alex Dodane, Kenneth Tse and Charlie Kennedy.
“I feel for our seniors, but I love our seniors because they never gave up,” Galloway said. “And I’m not just talking about in games. You get to see them in games, but we see them every day in practice.
“First and foremost they’re not going to be remembered for just being basketball players. They’re going to be remembered as good people and good leaders.”
Plymouth moves to 11-0 on its home court this season and at 16-5 overall advances to face Marian Friday in a semifinal set for 7:30 p.m.
“Every game you see them it’s like they have a new guy step up; they find a different way to win,” said Bales of Marian. “They’re a nice team, they’ve got a lot of nice weapons, and they play unselfishly. Obviously Demetrius Jackson is their main guy, and he does a great job of making their other guys better. We’ll have our hands full, but I’m confident in our team that we’re going to come out and fight hard and hopefully come out with a great performance.”
“I said this last year: Plymouth is the favorite. Plymouth is the favorite in this sectional,” said Galloway. “I think they’re the favorite because they’re playing on their home floor. When you’re playing on your home floor, you’re a lot more comfortable. They get to host the regional. There are a lot of advantages to that. Plymouth is always going to be the favorite at this sectional in my opinion. So we’ve got a lot of work to do to be able to compete, and we’re not at that level right now.”
At Plymouth
Score by quarters
CMA: 4 13 16 29
Plymouth: 11 26 41 51
CULVER MILITARY (29): Dante Scott 4 1-2 10, Hayes Barnes 2 0-0 4, David Dilts 0 0-0 0, Kenneth Tse 0 0-0 0, Charlie Kennedy 0 0-0 0, Eljay Murray 1 0-0 3, Aramonti Phillips 0 0-0 0, Alex Dodane 0 0-0 0, Willie Strong 3 0-0 6, Lorenzo Ricks 0 0-0 0, Rayford Dexter 1 0-0 2, Nick Zalduendo 1 2-2 4; Totals: 12 3-4 29.
PLYMOUTH (51): Ryan McNeil 2 1-1 6, Gabe Vervynckt 0 0-0 0, Joe Knapp 4 1-2 9, David Lee 2 0-0 4, Connor Flynn 0 0-0 0, Mack Mercer 2 1-2 5, Ike Kastner 2 7-7 12, Kyser McCrammer 1 1-2 3, John Ruff 1 2-4 4, Kyle Kaser 1 1-2 3, Tom Felke 1 0-0 3, Hayden Skirvin 1 0-0 2; Totals: 17 14-20 51.
3-pointers: CMA 2 (Scott 1, Murray 1), Plymouth 3 (McNeil 1, Kastner 1, Felke 1); Turnovers: CMA 21, Plymouth 11; Rebounds: CMA 19 (Strong 5), Plymouth 25 (Kastner 5); Steals: CMA 4 (Dilts, Phillips, Strong, Dexter), Plymouth 9 (Mercer 3); Assists: CMA 4 (Barnes, Kennedy, Zalduendo, Dexter), Plymouth 6 (Knapp 2); Fouls (fouled out): CMA 17 (none), Plymouth 10 (none).
Records: CMA 0-23 (final), Plymouth 16-5