Plymouth beats Glenn, ends skid

PLYMOUTH — In a game between two young teams struggling to find wins, it was the Lady Pilgrims who finally found one.
Plymouth outlasted John Glenn with a 10-5 fourth quarter at the tail end of a game that featured four lead changes and two ties to snap a six-game skid and earn a much-needed 36-32 victory over the visiting Falcons at The Rock Tuesday.
“It was a game where I think both of us are struggling for wins and so it was kind of who can pull it off, and we’re certainly happy to pull it off; we’re not going to give it back,” said Plymouth head coach Dave Cox. “There’s a pressure on you. I don’t think it comes from me, but it’s on me, it’s on the kids, and I think that they possibly can play a little bit more relaxed maybe, at least for a little while. I think it means a huge amount to getting into practice, running in practice a little bit more, identifying the things we need to work on. I think they’re going to be more coachable. I thought we had an urgency tonight at times, and that was good.”
Glenn (2-6) jumped off to an initial 9-3 lead in the contest and, after a pair of free throws by Plymouth junior Lauren Tanner, still held onto a 9-5 lead at the first quarter break. But the Pilgrims (2-6) went on a 7-2 second quarter-ending tear — featuring all five of freshman forward Hunter Stevens’ points at the game in her first contest back since sitting out Saturday’s Northern Lakes Conference loss against Warsaw — to grab a tentative 18-17 lead at the half.
Glenn retook an equally tenuous 27-26 lead at the tail end of a back-and-forth third quarter as junior forward Katie Dreesen grabbed a steal and split a pair of free throws on a foul on the ensuing breakaway with just 4.9 seconds remaining in the stanza.
The Falcons stretched the lead to 29-26 on a short jumper from the wing by freshman guard Natalie Shetler, but Tanner knocked down a pair of freebies, then assisted junior forward Amber Redinger on an uncontested layup following a Glenn turnover to give the Pilgrims a 30-29 edge. Tanner’s transition triple from the corner with 2:27 to go gave Plymouth a little breathing room, 35-31, and the Pilgrims held off Glenn for their first win since a 31-29 season-opening win over Peru Nov. 10.
“I asked her in the locker room if she shot that 3 without any hesitation, and don’t tell me if there was any hesitation because I don’t want to know,” said Cox of Tanner’s big bucket. “Because that was a good shot if she didn’t hesitate. She did it in the flow; she turned up and hit it, and that’s what she’s got to do.”
Tanner finished with a team-high 10 points after a quiet outing Saturday, including seven points in the decisive fourth quarter. Most of her production came from the line, where she finished 5 for 6 for the night.
“I think she’s taken on too much of the load dribbling out far, so we’re trying to get her to catch more in position to drive to the basket because she’s in practice constantly a 90 percent free throw shooter,” said Cox. “We’ve got to get her to the line. Tonight we got her there enough that it helped us out a little bit.”
Plymouth continued to struggle with high turnover numbers, surrendering 26 at the game, including nine turnovers in the first quarter as the team got off to a slow start. But the Falcons turned the ball over 32 times, including nine times under pressure in the final frame and 10 times in the second frame as the Pilgrims took their first lead of the game.
“They got out of their three-quarter court pressure,” said first-year Glenn head coach Kyle Amor of the second frame. “The problem is we are having trouble taking it to teams in their desperation and closing games. I know it’s the first half, but they kind of take their foot off the pedal and start to relax. Coming off of a 3-18 season, it’s a team that doesn’t have a lot of confidence right now, and no one’s willing to step up. That’s major.”
Glenn was led by freshman guards Kyler Columbia and Natalie Shetler, who tallied a game-high 11 and nine points, respectively. Columbia put up seven of Glenn’ s 10 points in the third quarter as the Falcons took a 27-26 lead on the Pilgrims.
“She’s got a nose for finding baskets,” said Amor. “I told her if you’re not shooting the ball well or if you’re not getting shots — Plymouth’s pretty good at taking away shots — you’ve got to find ways to get to the rim, and she did that. She and Natalie Shetler I thought did very well for us taking care of the basketball against a very high pressure defense. The problem is 32 turnovers.”
In addition to Tanner’s first double-digit outing since a narrow loss to Triton Nov. 17, the Pilgrims continued to find solid contributions from several players. Redinger finished with nine, while Stevens and Harrell had five — the 5-5 Harrell also grabbed a game co-leading six rebounds to go with a game-best six steals — and senior Brittany Himes put up six points. Four of Himes’ points came in the second period, and she notched a steal and a pair of rebounds in the frame as well as Plymouth rallied back from an 11-5 deficit.
“I thought Himes played probably the best game I’ve seen from her at the varsity level,” said Cox. “I checked her numbers; she was 3 out of 5, two rebounds, no turnovers. I just saw her in the hallway, and that’s where she needs to be, that’s the type of player she needs to be for us: Go in, play solid basketball, don’t cough it up. There you start talking about leadership. That’s what you do; it’s not necessarily about having 30 or 40 points, it’s about doing what you do perfectly, and she really did that. She was huge tonight, I thought. We got down quite a ways early in the game and came back, and Brittany was a lot of that.”
Plymouth improves to 2-6 while Glenn slips to 2-6. The Pilgrims are back in action Saturday in a Northern Lakes Conference home game versus NorthWood, while the Falcons travel to Northern State Conference and Bi-County foe LaVille, also on Saturday.
“I definitely highlight the positives,” Amor said. “Defensively, I thought we were still a pretty tough team. We caused 26 turnovers, limit them to 36 points. Defensively, we’re doing a pretty good job. Offensively, we’re finally shooting the ball well. I highlight the positives. We’ve got LaVille Saturday, and that’s who we’ve got in the Bi-County. Obviously a conference game, we’ve got to come into that with a full head of steam, play with confidence, and that way our heads will be right before Bi-County.”
At Plymouth
Score by quarters
John Glenn: 9 17 27 32
Plymouth: 5 18 26 36
GLENN (32): Carah Ochs 0 1-2 1, Kyler Columbia 2 6-6 11, Natalie Shetler 4 0-2 9, Katie Dreessen 1 3-4 5, Hannah Strange 0 0-0 0, Loren Vukovits 1 0-0 2, Sarah Traversa 0 0-0 0, Erin Patterson 1 2-2 4; Totals: 9 12-16 32.
PLYMOUTH (36): Lauren Tanner 2 5-6 10, Marissa German 0 0-0 0, Carly Baker 0 0-0 0, Haley Harrell 2 1-5 5, Brittany Himes 3 0-0 6, Savannah Mae 1 0-0 2, Amber Redinger 4 0-0 8, Hunter Stevens 2 1-5 5, Allie Wright 0 0-0 0; Totals: 14 7-16 36.
3-point goals: Glenn 2 (Columbia 1, Shetler 1), Plymouth 1 (Tanner 1); Turnovers: Glenn 32, Plymouth 26; Rebounds: Glenn 26 (Strange 6), Plymouth 27 (Harrell 6); Assists: Glenn 5 (Shetler 2), Plymouth 10 (Tanner 3); Steals: Glenn 9 (Columbia 2, Traversa 2, Strange 2), Plymouth 18 (Harrell 6); Fouls (fouled out): Glenn 16 (none), Plymouth 15 (none).
Records: Plymouth 2-6, Glenn 2-6
JV score: Plymouth 34 (Dylan Holiday 17), John Glenn 10 (Koral Mendenhall 4)