NAPPANEE — After a gut-wrenching loss on their home floor a week ago it would have been easy for Plymouth's Pilgrims to be overwhelmed with the task of playing NorthWood in "the Pit". They were anything but that, taking a big upset NLC win on the road 52-47.
From the start — and except for a three minute stretch of the second quarter — the Pilgrims asserted themselves and forced the issue on the defensive end in taking the win.
"We showed a lot of guts tonight," said Plymouth head coach Ryan Bales. "That's the bottom line. There wasn't much talk at half time about anything other than toughening up. There's a right way to play this game and a wrong way."
"We can run any offense we want, we can run any defense we want, if you don't have toughness, you don't take pride in what you do it doesn't matter what you run," he said. "We had some guys step up at both ends of the court and focus in on Plymouth basketball. That was fun to watch."
"Plymouth basketball" it was as the Pilgrims showed a renewed vigor against an outstanding NorthWood team. Hitting a quick basket out of the opening tip and then stealing the inbounds pass for another bucket set the tone for the night. It was a lead that Plymouth would keep until late in the second quarter.
NorthWood's Jamarr Jackson was a one-man wrecking crew for a three-minute span in the frame scoring 12 points and taking the Panthers from two back to a 10 point lead, with NorthWood headed to the locker room in control — it seemed.
Plymouth had an answer for the 1-3-1 halfcourt zone out of the locker room, taking the lead back and forcing a change in tactics.
"It helps when the ball goes in but we got so many key defensive stops, so many clutch rebounds where guys just wanted it, guys diving for the ball in the middle of the court," said Bales. "That's the way we have to play."
Plymouth was able to force the Panthers into some quick shots and empty possessions taking a big win on the way.
"We were fortunate tonight they weren't hitting from three," said Bales. "If they are hitting their shots we might be looking at a different result. We had to take something away. We were fortunate they were off tonight."
Brady Hissong had an outstanding night with 15 points but even bigger had seven rebounds. Jake Reichard had 18 to lead the scoring but more importantly found Hissong with three key assists in the final two minutes and had three of his four rebounds in the same span. Adam Hunter came off the bench to get 11 and had three assists of his own.
Plymouth gets their opening night NLC win to move to 3-4 on the year and will play South Bend Riley at home next Friday. NorthWood is now 6-2 with a game at Columbia City next Friday.
•PLYMOUTH 52, NORTHWOOD 47
Plymouth 11 20 34 52
NorthWood 8 27 37 47
Plymouth (52) — Hunter 4 1-1 11, Weidner 0 0-0 0, Styers 0 0-0 0, Yoder 0 0-0 0, Reichard 8 0-1 18, Hissong 6 1-2 15, Houin 0 0-0 0, Barron 0 0-0 0, Strain 1 2-2 5. Totals 20 4-7 52.
NorthWood (47) — Flickinger 1 0-0 2, Vincent 1 0-2 5, Edwards 7 4-5 18, Jackson 4 6-8 14, Wiens 1 0-0 2, Burkholder 1 4-4 6, Stratford 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 14-19 47.
3 Pt. FG — Plymouth 7 (Hunter, Reichard, Hissong 2), NorthWood 1 (Vincent).
Rebounds — Plymouth 26 (Hissong 7), NorthWood 19 (Edwards 6).
Assists — Plymouth 12 (Reichard 4), NorthWood 6 (Flickinger 3).
Steals — Plymouth 5, NorthWood 6 (Burkholder, Jackson 2).
Turnovers — Plymouth 9, NorthWood 7.
Fouls (Fouled out) — Plymouth 13, NorthWood 6.