In the last minute of the game with the score 44-41, there was a fan ejection, three technical fouls and a player ejection – Peru’s Gavin Gysin – that led to the Pilgrims shooting seven free throws with 16 seconds on the clock that would ice the win. But even that wasn’t without it’s share of drama as Plymouth missed four of the seven shots.
“Isn’t that what they call Peru? Circus City? The end was that,” said Plymouth head coach Ryan Bales. “You’re in shock, you’re battling hard for that long and I’ve got to give our kids credit, coming off the Knox game we challenged them. You’ve got to believe in yourself but you’ve also got to believe in one another. We had some guys that normally play a lot of minutes that didn’t play a lot tonight and we had other guys step up and perform tonight and you can feel the guys on the bench pulling for each other. I’m proud of our kids.”
It was a game where no lead seemed safe as a seven point Plymouth first quarter lead evaporated into an 18-18 halftime tie. Peru jumped out to a seven point third quarter lead that disappeared to be tied once again at the quarter break, and before the final free throws the Pilgrims had watched an eight point advantage whittled down to just two.
Bales credited his teams dedication on the defensive end to weathering the storms.
“We let some guys play through some things tonight,” he said. “I thought we battled the heck out of them on the defensive end, especially in our man to man. I think we got them out of rythym, did a great job one on one, battled them on the boards, when you take pride in your defense like that the offense will come and that’s what happened.”
That is what happened as Clay Hilliard and Kadin McCrammer stepped up to provide key three point shots down the stretch and senior Captain Nick Felke recovered from a sub par Tuesday night performance to post a key effort.
“Obviously we made some key shots but we also had some key stops and rebounds,” said Bales. “He (Felke) set the tone tonight. He hit some big shots but what might be overlooked sometimes is he made some great passes. He had five assists, he could have had eight or nine if we finish some shots. We”ve been on him about finding the next guy. He’s our number one option and teams are going to try to take him away and he’s still going to have to step up and make plays and that’s what he’s been doing.”
Battling illness all week with their post players, Bales got key minutes from Garrett Tharp and Travis Owen.
“Garrett has been battling illness and Nate (Patterson) missed the last two days of practice,” said Bales. “I really wasn’t sure what we’d get from either of them and Garrett was able to still give us some key minutes. Travis is one of those kids that you know exactly what you’re going to get. He’s a great team mate and I’m really proud of him.”
Plymouth heads into the NLC season with a 5-1 record.
Score by Quarters
Plymouth 11 18 32 47
Peru 8 20 32 41
Plymouth (47) – Clay Hilliard 3 5-8 14, Cam Dennie 1 0-0 2, Ryan Carmichael 1 0-0 3, Nick Felke 5 0-1 13, Travis Owen 1 0-0 2, Kadin McCrammer 3 0-0 9, Cole Filson 0 0-0 0, Garrett Tharp 2 0-0 4. Totals 16 5-9 47
Peru (41) – Jeremiah Johnson 4 0-0 8, Gavin Gysin 4 0-1 8, Josh Adejokun 0 0-0 0,Trevon Crowe 1 0-0 3, Christian Howell 5 0-1 10, Bailey Gardner 2 0-0 4, Jonah Lester 4 0-3 8, Taylor Gardner 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 0-5 41.
3Pt. FG – Plymouth 10-29 (Hilliard, Felke, McCrammer 3), Peru 1-8 (Crowe).
Rebounds – Plymouth 27 (Tharp 7), Peru 25 (Johnson 5).
Assists – Plymouth 17 (Felke 5), Peru 8 (Howell 3).
Steals – Plymouth 8 (Hilliard 4), Peru 5 (Lester 2).
Turnovers – Plymouth 12, Peru 12.
Fouls (Fouled Out) – Plymouth 12, Peru 15 (Lester).