PLYMOUTH – The margin of error is slim when you play a team like Warsaw’s Tigers and it was proved again as Plymouth’s Pilgrims had four tough possessions at the end and it was enough for Warsaw to clinch an NLC title 51-40.
After weathering an 8-0 opening run by the Tigers, Plymouth fought back to lead for much of the game and with around two minutes to play had the basketball with a chance to take back the lead. It was not to be as four bad possessions led to a lead that would be insurmountable against a battle tested Tiger squad.
“One of our keys was take our shot,” said Plymouth Coach Ryan Bales. “We had a bad stretch there and they took advantage of it. Bottom line those are killers and they take advantage of it. They’ve done it all year. You lose focus for a little bit. They beat you up mentally to the point where you settle. Compound it with not getting a defensive stop and missing free throws. You have to give them credit. They executed down the stretch we did not.”
Get their shot was the name of the first half as the Pilgrims were a “lights out” seven of ten from three point range to take that one point lead – 21-20 – to the locker room at half enabling them to counter a 13-6 deficit on the boards seven of those for Warsaw on the offensive glass. In fact the Pilgrims had every one of their points from beyond the three point arc in the first half.
“Those were the shots they were giving us and we have the players to do that,” said Bales. “Still the difference I think was that we were getting the ball into the paint and kicking it out in the first half and not so much in the second. That was the big difference.”
A solid defensive game plan kept Indiana All Star candidate Kyle Mangas in check for much of the game but the Warsaw star found a way to make his presence known even without scoring the ball.
“Obviously Mangas is a player and you can’t relax on him even a little bit,” said Bales “We missed some rotations. We talked about really taking away the paint and we continued to chase kids outside the paint. They had some kids really step up there. The rebounding hurt, the offensive put backs and a couple of dump off passes underneath but it’s their execution at the end.”
The Pilgrims had a senior of their own step up to the challenge as senior Captain Nick Felke continued to show up big in big games. Felke matched Mangas 21 points and added 3 assists and rebounds to lead the Pilgrims in both categories.
“He played all 32 minutes,” said Bales. “I was proud of him, he asserted himself early and that’s what we need him to do. I thought our team overall – we had a few missed box outs early, a couple of bad turnovers in the press – I thought we weathered the storm to go up one at half. We were doing some good things just not enough.”
Plymouth is 11-8 on the season Warsaw finishes a perfect 7-0 in the conference and is 14-8.
Score by Quarters
Warsaw 14 20 30 51
Plymouth 6 21 31 40
Warsaw (51) – Kyle Mangas 8 4-4 21, Nolan Groninger 0 3-5 3, Jeremy David 4 0-1 8, Jack Rhoades 1 0-0 3, Zach Riley 1 0-0 2, Jaceb Burish 3 1-2 8, Braxton Minix 1 0-0 2, Asher Blum 2 0-0 4. Totals 20 8-13 51
Plymouth (40) – Clay Hilliard 3 1-1 9, Cam Dennie 2 0-0 6, Ryan Carmichael 1 0-2 6, Nick Felke 7 2-4 21, Nathan Patterson 0 0-0 0, Travis Owen 0 0-0 0, Kadin McCrammer 0 0-0 0, Dyllon Pavey 0 0-0 0, Cole Filson 0 1-2 1, Tyler Games 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 4-9 40.
3 Pt. FG – Warsaw 3-9 (Mangas, Rhoades, Burish), Plymouth 10-23 (Felke 5).
Rebounds – Warsaw 29 (David 9), Plymouth 14 (Felke, McCrammer 3).
Assists – Warsaw 13 (Mangas 4), Plymouth 9 (Felke 3).
Steals – Warsaw 9 (Mangas, David 3), Plymouth 8 (Carmichael, Patterson 2).
Turnovers – Warsaw 10, Plymouth 12.
Fouls (Fouled Out) – Warsaw 10, Plymouth 17.