The win also puts a log jam at the top of the NLC standings with four teams (Warsaw, Plymouth, Northridge, Elkhart Memorial) at 4-2 in conference play and sets up the match up that the Pilgrims have with Warsaw – at Warsaw – next week, a game that now has very big implications in the chase for the title.
“It’s been a long road for us, we had a very tough start to the conference season, but this is what you hope for this is what you play for,” said Plymouth coach Ryan Bales. “We needed some help to get here but we fought back and now we’re in a position to have a shot and you have to love that challenge.”
Thursday night it was a familiar theme. Plymouth used a clamp down defense in the second half to stifle Goshen. It was a good thing as the Red Hawks defense had the Pilgrims out of sync for much of the game as well.
“That’s really been the story for us the entire second half of the season during this stretch,” said Bales. “Our ability to get stops helps us stay in games.”
“It wasn’t our best offensive output tonight and a lot of credit goes to Goshen,” said Bales. “They play very hard, they have some great athletes on the defensive end. They block shots, they get deflections, they get in the passing lanes. They played extremely hard and definitely rattled us on the offensive end but we stayed very composed and stuck to our game plan. Tonight was a night we didn’t have to do anything fancy just guard your man one on one seemed to be working.”
Plymouth was able to neutralize the offensive firepower of Will Line, Bryan Robinson and Porter Revoir. Line was coming off a game where he hit eight threes in a win over Penn. He managed 12 points but was 4-14 shooting and didn’t have a shot behind the arc. After a nine point first half, Robinson ended with 13. Goshen managed just 11 points in the second half.
“Similar to what we’ve seen with Northridge and Westview they are just a great motion team,” said Bales. “They’ve got guys that can drive it and score it. I think overall we did a great job with their big three. Benji (Nixon) and Cole (Filson) were on Line and Robinson most of the night and Garret (Tharp), (Brayson) Leazenby and (Payton) Skirvin were on the post guys doing another good job.”
“They missed some shots they’ve been hitting,” said Bales. “Some of that I think is our grit on defense. We talk a lot about the little things like the chest in, the block outs, the low blocks. We had a few of those key plays tonight that I think over the course of the game may have gotten into their head a little bit. Instead of them getting a shoulder in and going to the basket they were shooting a fade away and I think a lot of that credit goes to our players.”
While the Pilgrims had difficulty getting shots most of the night, they got enough and in the final quarter rose up for 17 to seal the win.
“When you’re getting stops on the defensive end you kind of want to see pride take it over and get it done on the offensive end too,” said Bales. “I think as we got into things we got into a little bit of rhythm but I was really happy to see us step up in that fourth quarter and hit some shots and make some plays. That’s the time you put it in the players hands, it’s their time to step up and collectively and for the most part they did that.”
Clay Hilliard had 23 points to lead the way, added five rebounds and a pair of assists. Kadin McCrammer had five points, all in the fourth quarter, and added five rebounds and steals. Tharp led Plymouth with eight rebounds.
Plymouth is now 12-6 and plays Warsaw on the road in one week.
•PLYMOUTH 44, GOSHEN 32
Plymouth 9 23 27 44
Goshen 11 21 23 32
Plymouth (44) – Nixon 1 0-1 2, Hilliard 8 3-4 23, Filson 1 1-2 4, McCrammer 1 2-2 5, Reichard 1 1-3 4, Tharp 1 2-2 4. Totals 13 11-16 44
Goshen (32) – Line 4 4-6 12, Yoder 1 0-0 2, Good 2 0-0 5, Robinson 6 0-3 13. Totals 13 4-9 32.
3 Pt. FG – Plymouth 7-20 (Hilliard 4), Goshen 2-14 (Good, Robinson).
Rebounds – Plymouth 29 (Tharp 8), Goshen 27 (Robinson 12).
Assists – Plymouth 7 (Hilliard, Wilson Tharp 2), Goshen 6 (Line 2).
Steals – Plymouth 9 (McCrammer 3), Goshen 5 (Line, Robinson 2).
Turnovers – Plymouth 9, Goshen 14.
Fouls (Fouled out) – Plymouth 17, Goshen 16 (Good).