“I thought we competed well in the first quarter,” said Plymouth coach Ryan Bales. “We missed some opportunities early. We didn’t not shoot the ball well, but I really like the way we defended early. I thought we were very physical and we were really focused in.
“They got loose a few times. We didn’t want to give up anything easy but at the same time it seems like we were fouling them quite a bit at moments and it allowed them to get some points on the board and get some separation there.”
It was a slugfest early with the Pilgrims holding the high-powered Riley offense to just eight first quarter points and holding a lead early in the second quarter. But a few minutes into the second frame, the Wildcats were able to jump ahead by four and then began to stretch that lead scoring 22 points to give themselves a nice cushion at half.
“We got sped up a little on offense, there’s no doubt about that, and it took away from us doing the little things on the defensive end,” said Bales. “We got caught up in their ball pressure and then we come down to the other end and maybe instead of a charge we’re doing a swipe; maybe instead of a chest in, we’re getting a foul… just little things where we allowed the previous play to affect the next play but that’s what makes them really good. They speed you up. They want you to lose your composure and your poise and they take advantage of it.”
Add that they shoot free throws particularly well.
Riley was 12 of 12 from the line in the second quarter which made up for an 8-21 first half shooting. Meanwhile the full-court pressure defense applied by the Wildcats was taking its toll on Plymouth.
“I thought we were catching the ball in the right spots in the first quarter. As the game wore on, I don’t know if it was mentally or physically, but I think we got fatigued and we started to cut out further and further away from the basket and that’s what they want,” said Bales. “You saw some of those turnovers weren’t always on the passer they belong to the cutter as much. We have to get tougher on the offensive end and the same thing could be said about the defense.”
From there Riley was able to take command in the second half and run away with the game. Of the 14 players Riley put on the floor, 11 got in the scoring column and three were in double figures.
“When we did our pull backs correctly, good things happened. When we didn’t get our separation, when we kind of went one speed, they made us pay for it,” said Bales. “They wear on you. Our guards had a 32-minute night of feeling pressure and I felt like we saw some good things out of our guards. You never know how it’s going to turn out. I would have liked it to stay closer to see how they handled it, how we handled it but it wasn’t meant to be.”
Plymouth falls to 5-3 on the year losing its second in a row before taking a short break for Christmas and returning to action at the DeKalb Shootout on Dec. 28. Riley stays unbeaten at 9-0.
•RILEY 72, PLYMOUTH 38
Riley 8 30 57 72
Plymouth 8 17 32 38
Riley (72) Fortune 1 2-4 4, Jennings 2 1-2 6, Dorsey 2 4-4 8, Dillard 5 0-4 11, Anderson 4 5-6 13, Greer 2 4-4 8, Johnson 3 0-0 6, Grundy 1 0-0 2, Taylor 2 6-8 10, Reid 0 2-2 2, Spicer 1 0-0 2. Totals 23 24-34 72
Plymouth (38) – Nixon 1 2-3 4, Hilliard 2 0-0 6, Carmichael 0 1-2 1, Filson 1 1-3 4, Zeigler 0 0-0 0, McCrammer 5 2-4 13, Tremaine 0 0-0 0, Dolan 0 0-0 0, Reichard 1 0-0 3, Leazenby 0 0-0 0, Skirvin 0 0-0 0, Tharp 3 0-1 7. Totals 13 6-15 38.
3 Pt. FG – Riley 2-8 (Jennings, Dillard), Plymouth 6-20 (Hilliard 2).
Rebounds – Riley 36 (Anderson, Taylor 8), Plymouth 23 (Carmichael 4).
Assists – Riley 9 (Anderson 3), Plymouth 6 (Hilliard 3).
Steals – Riley 15 (Fortune 4), Plymouth 4 (Hilliard, Zeigler, Skirvin, Tharp).
Turnovers – Riley 12, Plymouth 21.
Fouls (Fouled out) – Riley 21, Plymouth 24 (Tharp).