Slow start dooms Plymouth at Warsaw

WARSAW — After mustering just nine points in the first half of a Northern Lakes Conference tussle with rival Warsaw, the Plymouth girls basketball team came back and played the final 16 minutes like a different team.
But it wasn’t enough as Warsaw held off the ICGSA Class 3A No. 10-ranked Pilgrims 51-41 Saturday night in the conference opener for both teams.
The Pilgrims couldn’t buy a basket in the first half. They managed just three field golas en route to a 22-9 deficit after two quarters.
“We’re trying to be more aggressive with the ball,” said Plymouth head coach Dave Duncan. “I didn’t like the way we came out in that first half.”
The Pilgrims’ struggles on offense were combined with an inability to contain the post players for Warsaw. Nikkie Grose and Jennifer Walker Crawford paced Warsaw on the inside, while Toledo-bound Lindsay Baker created offense inside and out for Warsaw.
Plymouth came out firing to start the second half.
Duncan’s squad took the coach’s advice and got more aggressive. The Pilgrims started the second half with an 11-3 run to cut Warsaw’s lead to four. Warsaw answered right back with an 8-0 run of its own to close out the quarter and return the lead to 13. Sophomore Kaydon Fosler got things going in the fourth quarter for Plymouth. The sophomore hit a three to open the quarter.
After scoring just nine points in the first half, the Pilgrims hit six 3-pointers in the second half. Fosler hit one later in the quarter as Plymouth went on a 10-4 run to cut Warsaw’s lead to five with two minutes left in the game. But that’s as close as Plymouth could get the rest of the night. Haley Harrell hit two 3-pointers back to back for Plymouth late but Warsaw went 7 of 8 from the charity stripe down the stretch to ensure the victory.
With two straight losses after an undefeated start, Duncan said he hopes his team learns from the setbacks and gets better as the season goes along.
“We’re into conference play and our schedule is brutal,” said Duncan. “You talk to the girls about staying mentally tough.”
“The seniors are trying to tell our underclassmen how tough things are going to get in conference,” he added.
Duncan felt like his team started out playing a little timid and got pushed around by Warsaw’s bigs.
That changed in the second half.
Harrell, a sophomore, was one player who stepped up in the second half for Duncan.
“If I’m going into a battle, I want a girl like Haley with me,” said Duncan.
Harrell led the Pilgrims with 12 points. Hunter Stevens finished with 11 for Plymouth. Lauren Tanner recorded six points and team-high tallies of four rebounds, four steals and four assists.
Baker and Grose scored 17 and 16 points respectively, and Grose finished with nine rebounds for Warsaw to lead the way for the undefeated Tigers.
Warsaw jumped out to a 14-4 lead after the first quarter and never trailed in the game.
The Tigers went to the line 23 times as opposed to eight for Plymouth. But Warsaw went to the line 10 times in the final 1:23 of the game as Plymouth was forced to foul to extend the game.
Plymouth fell to 6-2 overall with the loss and 0-1 in the NLC. The Pilgrims travel to John Glenn for an out-of-conference tilt Tuesday night.
At Warsaw
Score by quarters
Plymouth: 4 9 20 41
Warsaw: 14 22 33 51
PLYMOUTH (41):  Lauren Tanner 6, Andria Shook 2, Hunter Stevens 11, Kaydon
Fosler 6, Haley Harrell 12, Allie Wright 0, Dylan Holiday 0, Amber
Redinger 4, Shannon Stephenson 0; Totals: 14 7-8 41.
WARSAW (51): Sarah Ray 1, Melanie Holladay 5, Eryn Leek 3, Jennifer
Walker-Crawford 5, Lindsay Baker 17, Brooklyn Harrison 2, Pam Miller
2, Nicki Grose 16; Totals: 14 19-23 51.
3-pointers: Plymouth 6 (Tanner 2, Fosler 2, Harrell 2), Warsaw 4
(Baker 3, Holladay); Rebounds: Plymouth 18 (Stevens 4, Tanner 4), Warsaw 17 (Grose 9); Turnovers: Plymouth 18, Warsaw 10; Steals: Plymouth 11 (Tanner 4), Warsaw 9 (Leek 2, Walker-Crawford 2, Baker 2); Assists: Plymouth 7 (Tanner 4); Warsaw 4; Fouls (fouled out): Plymouth 17 (Redinger), Warsaw 14 (none).
Records: Plymouth 6-2, Warsaw 6-0
JV score: Warsaw 35, Plymouth 14 (Shannon Stephenson 6)