HUNTINGTON — A slow start ended with a classic finish as Plymouth’s Pilgrims dug themselves a 17-point hole in the first quarter — only to claw back to within one basket of a win — falling on a buzzer beater to Huntington by a 51-48 final.
Trailing in the second period by a 22-5 margin the Pilgrims found a way to get it back to seven points at half on a Clay Hilliard three at the buzzer and eventually to persevere and take their first lead on a Jake Reichard three at the five-minute mark at 44-41. Reichard’s heroics were part of three straight three pointers on consecutive trips down the floor. He ended the night with 12 points.
With both teams trading the lead, Benji Nixon’s acrobatic layup with four seconds on the clock tied the game at 48. It took the heroics of the Vikings Zach Daugherty hitting a three from the top of the key to get the win for Huntington as time expired.
“The way the game started, that could have gotten ugly,” said Plymouth coach Ryan Bales. “I’m not so sure it was us playing that bad but they hit some shots and executed some things. It wasn’t like they scored on one pass. They had to reverse it several times. They have a nice team.”
“I thought in that first quarter when we ran our offense, we were getting some good shots that just weren’t falling,” said Bales. “But there were also times in that first quarter where we took some shots that were ill advised. I think you saw in the second half if we run our offense, we had some great screens by some guys; we had our cutters cutting. We put ourselves in position.”
The Pilgrims were able to cut it to five at the third quarter break and three minutes later had their first lead. It was a different game out of the locker room at half time.
“In the first half I thought we were letting some outside things impact us,” said Bales. “You have to stay positive and if you get mad you can’t let it affect how you perform for our team. In the second half we stayed within ourselves we stayed composed. We made some big time plays. It was one of those games where you were one play away.”
Plymouth held the much bigger Vikings out of the paint and limited them to just three offensive rebounds in the game. The big difference in the game was the Vikings red-hot shooting behind the arc with eight of 13 from three points.
“I thought we did a good job defending them,” said Bales. “I think we had them rattled for a good part of that second half. The kid hit a heck of a shot there at the end. You have to give credit to our other guys. Clay (Hilliard) is hounded for most of the game and you got to have other guys make plays. We made some great team plays to put ourselves in position. It’s unfortunate.”
Plymouth is now 12-8 with another road game Saturday night at Penn. Huntington is 16-6.
•HUNTINGTON 51, PLYMOUTH 48
Plymouth 2 16 30 48
Huntington 13 23 35 51
Plymouth (48) – Nixon 1 1-2 3, Hilliard 4 0-0 11, Filson 1 0-0 2, McCrammer 4 2-2 12, Reichard 4 0-0 12, Skirvin 1 0-0 2, Tharp 3 0-0 6. Totals 18 3-4 48
Huntington (51) – Bartrom 1 0-0 3, Stoffel 1 0-0 3, Pulver 4 1-2 11, Geller 4 1-6 9, Stoltz 1 3-4 5, Williams 1 0-0 3, Daugherty 5 3-4 17. Totals 17 9-18 51.
3 Pt. FG – Plymouth 9-18 (Reichard 4), Huntington 8-13 (Daugherty 4).
Rebounds – Plymouth 22 (Tharp, Nixon 6), Huntington 18 (Geller 9).
Assists – Plymouth 12 (Hilliard 4), Huntington 11 (Stoffel 3).
Steals – Plymouth 2 (Nixon, McCrammer), Huntington 5 (Culver, Daugherty 2).
Turnovers – Plymouth 8, Huntington 6.
Fouls (Fouled out) – Plymouth 18 (McCrammer), Huntington 8.