SOUTH BEND - Buckle up Plymouth basketball fans because if the rest of the season goes like the girls opening game did, it’s going to be a wild ride.
Claire Tanner made two clutch free throws with 5.8 seconds left and Mary Kate Flynn’s defensive stop in the final second led the Lady Pilgrims to a thrilling 47-46 victory over South Bend Washington Tuesday night in the season opener for both squads.
“I think that is what you are going to see from this team this year,” said Plymouth head coach Dave Duncan. “We’re going to gut things out. It feels like a new season, trying to work out some things. I was proud of our effort.”
After a Tanner reverse layup to start the final period, Plymouth led by five only to see Washington’s Mila Reynolds score seven of her nine fourth-quarter points during a 10-2 Lady Panthers run to take a three-point lead with 3:50 remaining in the game. Still down one with 1:42 to play, Plymouth’s Sydni Weir found Clare Sheedy underneath and the Lady Pilgrims regained the lead, 43-42, with 1:42 left.
The lead changed three times over the next 1:09 and after Washington rebounded its own missed free throw with :33 on the clock, missed the front end of a one-and-one with 19.8 to play, giving PHS the ball - and some life.
With fouls to give, the Lady Panthers did so and called timeout with 8.8 showing on the clock to set up their defense. Plymouth inbounded and got the ball to Alaina Clady at the free throw line. The senior post player found a cutting Tanner, who was fouled in the act of shooting, then calmly sank both foul shots for the one-point lead with 5.8 seconds remaining.
“We tried to isolate (Tanner) on the sideline, but they sent two players out there,” said Duncan of the key sequence. “(Clady) made that nice high-low pass to her and she made a couple of big free throws for us. It’s nice to have seniors step up and make big plays for you.”
The Panthers pushed the ball up court and found Mila Reynolds in close, but Flynn played solid defense and partially blocked Reynolds’ shot attempt as the clock ran out.
“(Flynn) had her hands straight up and made a great defensive play,” added Duncan. “We were fortunate. She didn’t move into (Reynolds). I thought she made a great play.”
Tanner scored eight of her team-high 13 points in the fourth quarter. Weir had five of her 11 points in the first minutes when Plymouth jumped out to an 8-0 lead to start the game, only to see Washington score the next 15. Clady and Sheedy had eight apiece and Emma Cook chipped in six.
Mila Reynolds, a 6-2 sophomore, finished with 17 points to lead the Panthers. Freshman Rashunda Jones added 16.
“They are very good players and have good careers ahead of them,” said Duncan of Washington’s top scorers. “They are a good team. Washington is going to win a lot of games.”
After its 8-0 start, the Lady Pilgrims found themselves down 15-8, but pulled even at 16, led at halftime, 19-18, and after three quarters, 33-30, setting the stage for the exciting fourth frame.
“This was a game of runs,” Duncan said. “Luckily we got the opportunity to have Claire at the line.”
Plymouth travels to New Prairie Thursday. The first four games for the Lady Pilgrims are on the road.
PLYMOUTH 47, SB WASHINGTON 46
At South Bend
PLYMOUTH: Claire Tanner 5 2-2 13, Emma Cook 3 0-0 6, Mary Kate Flynn 0 1-2 1, Tallulah Gault 0 0-0 0, Kenzie Dejarnatt 0 0-0 0, Clare Sheedy 4 0-0 8, Alaina Clady 3 2-4 8, Sydni Weir 5 0-1 11. TOTALS: 20 5-9 47.
SB WASHINGTON: Asia Phillips 0 0-1 0, Rashunda Jones 5 4-9 16, Camiya Robinson 1 0-2 3, Nyah Porter 0 1-2 1, Amiyah Reynolds 4 1-2 9, Mila Reynolds 7 3-5 17, Francisca Galicia 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 17 9-21 46.
Score by quarters
Plymouth 8 19 33 47
SB Wash. 11 18 30 46
3-pointers: Plymouth 2 (Tanner, Weir), SB Washington 3 (Jones 2, Robinson). Fouls (fouled out): Plymouth 18 (none), SB Washington 12 (none)
Records: Plymouth 1-0, SB Washington 0-1