ELKHART – It sure didn’t seem like it was going to be a tough night, but a nearly perfect first quarter ended in a fifth defeat in a row for Plymouth as they fell to Elkhart Memorial 53-47.
The Pilgrims held the Chargers scoreless for the first eight minutes leaving the floor with a 14-0 lead.
But then Elkhart’s Jose Soto took the floor.
Soto had not played in the past three games due to a shoulder injury and sat out the first quarter Friday night, but made the most of his minutes after that. The Pilgrims had no answer for him in the second quarter as he scored 16 points and led the Chargers to a 21-20 halftime lead.
“Its not about the losses sometimes it’s how you’re losing,” said Plymouth head coach Ryan Bales. “We couldn’t have had a better start tonight. We were very focused, we were doing the little things, we took an early charge, we were winning the rebounding battle. You could see fight.”
“Once they started scoring we seemed content to let them do what they were doing,” said Bales. “You have to give Soto a lot of credit for stepping up the way he did. I’m very disappointed in our lack of execution and decision making and obviously that falls back on me and on what we are doing in practice and what we are emphasizing and talking about.”
Soto seemed to take the Pilgrims out of their game plan as his energy picked up the pace of the game and the Pilgrims got away from the formula of feeding Garrett Tharp in the post that had paid great dividends early.
“We get away from what we’re doing. Good things were happening in the first half when we went to the post,” said Bales. “Maybe its that they go down and start scoring and we get in our head we have to go down and match them shot for shot and that’s not our game. We have some guys that need to wake up to the team basketball aspect of things and that’s something that we have to keep emphasizing because that’s not a fun way to come up here and lose.”
Tharp still ended the night with 15 points and six rebounds for the Pilgrims.
“I thought Benji (Nixon) was incredible tonight with an outstanding effort,” said Bales. “I thought Garrett (Tharp) was great in the post and very aggressive. Did an outstanding job of demanding the ball in the paint. Couldn’t have asked for more out of those two guys. We just need five guys all at once playing together on the same page. We make it very difficult on ourselves sometimes instead of making a simple play in certain situations.”
“Overall I thought the defense was a little bit better tonight,” said Bales. “There were times in the second half – one on one – we let guys get to the basket that were obviously on the scouting report and our attention to detail just wasn’t very good.”
The Pilgrims move to 5-6 on the season and have another road game Saturday night at Tippecanoe Valley.
“It’s not easy to get on a bus and go home knowing again we left some plays out there,” said Bales. “We’ve got to get a lot better here really quickly.”
•ELKHART MEMORIAL 53, PLYMOUTH 47
Plymouth 14 20 31 47
Elk. Mem. 0 21 36 53
Plymouth (47) – Nixon 1 0-0 2, Hilliard 7 0-0 18, Carmichael 0 0-0 0, Filson 0 0-0 0, Zeigler 0 0-0 0, McCrammer 4 0-2 10, Reichard 1 0-0 2, Leazenby 0 0-0 0, Skirvin 0 0-0 0, Tharp 4 6-8 15. Totals 17 6-10 47.
Elk. Mem. (53) – Qaiyim 2 3-7 7, Gallope 3 2-3 7, Jennings 2 2-3 7, Soto 6 5-5 21, Smith 3 0-0 7, Forester 0 0-2 0, Roby 0 0-0 0, Bailey 0 0-0 0, Randell 1 0-0 3, Mills 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 12-24 53.
3 Pt. FG – Plymouth 7-17 (Hilliard 4), Elk. Mem. 7-17 (Soto 4).
Rebounds – Plymouth 29 (Tharp 6), Elk. Mem. 26 (Soto 7).
Assists – Plymouth 10 (Nixon 3), Elk. Mem. 5 (Jennings, Soto 2).
Steals – Plymouth 3 (Nixon, McCrammer, Reichard), Elk. Mem. 5 (Soto).
Turnovers – Plymouth 9, Elk. Mem. 7.
Fouls (Fouled out) – Plymouth 20 (Tharp), Elk. Mem. 15.