BenjiELKHART – It was the proverbial, walking up hill both ways kind of night as Plymouth’s Pilgrims ended their season in round one of sectional play falling to Elkhart Memorial by a 66-52 final.

The Chargers beat Plymouth on the same floor earlier in the year and in one way it was nearly the same game as Elkhart’s Tre Gallope picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter and was forced to sit out most of the first half. Once again the Pilgrims were unable to take advantage, as once again other players stepped up for the Chargers. In particular the red hot first half shooting of Hank Smith.
“It was almost a copy of the last time we played them in terms of Gallope,” said Plymouth coach Ryan Bales. “The last time he played a few minutes in the first half and (Jose) Soto enters the game and goes nuts. The tough part is that our fans probably don’t realize that Gallope is their best player. You have to give them credit, (Hank) Smith and Soto in key situations and obviously a couple of their other kids really stepped up. When Gallope went out that was our time to make a run. When you go in at the half down five and he played maybe two minutes it doesn’t bode well for your second half.”
Gallope came on in the third and scored 10 second half points to help Elkhart maintain and finally stretch their lead out forcing the Pilgrims to begin to foul with 3 minutes left to try and regain possession.
“All night we felt like we were right there clawing our way back and then they do something like Soto hitting the half court runner at the end of the half, or Smith hitting a fade away (from the volleyball line),” said Bales. “The tough part was when they did miss they seemed to come up with an offensive board and that was a huge part of the game tonight.”
Out of their 31 rebounds, 12 were offensive boards for Memorial giving them second chance points.
Plymouth struggled handling the ball with the Chargers spending most of their night in a tenacious trapping defense that forced 11 Pilgrim turnovers.
“We had too many empty possessions,” said Bales. “You have to make layups and you have to finish plays. It wasn’t our night but it was because they sped us up a little bit.”
“More than our turnovers or lack of hitting shots, it was their ability to get second and third opportunities that they capitalized on and that’s why they’re moving on.”
It was the final game for four members of the class of 2018. Garrett Tharp and Kadin McCrammer were three year varsity members and Benji Nixon and Payton Skirvin played big roles in this season.
“All four of them laid it on the line each and every day,” said Bales. “They’ve been very trustworthy over the years and you don’t get that everywhere. Unfortunately the team we played had it all come together for them tonight. They were a little bit better than us it wasn’t from a lack of heart. They just beat us.”
Plymouth was led by Clay Hilliard’s 15 points, McCrammer had 14 and Tharp 11. Tharp added eight rebounds.
Plymouth ends the year at 13-10.
At North Side Gym, Elkhart
EM 15 30 43 66
Plymouth 8 25 41 52
EM (66) – Qayim 4 2-4 10, Gallope 4 5-10 13, Jennings 0 1-2 1, Soto 5 6-6 19, Smith 5 2-2 15, Forester 2 0-2 4, Crawford 2 1-2 4. Totals 22 16-27 66.
Plymouth (52) – Nixon 1 0-0 2, Hilliard 6 0-0 15, Filson 2 4-4 8, McCrammer 6 0-0 14, Skirvin 0 2-2 2, Tharp 4 3-4 11. Totals 19 9-10 52.
3 Pt. FG – EM 6-16 (Soto, Smith 3), Plymouth 5-16 (Hilliard 3).
Rebounds – EM 31 (Forester 9), Plymouth 23 (Tharp 8).
Assists – EM 9 (Soto, Smith, Crawford 2), Plymouth 8 (McCrammer 3).
Steals – EM 6 (Qaiyim 3), Plymouth 5 (Hilliard 2).
Turnovers – EM 9, Plymouth 11.
Fouls (Fouled out) – EM 15, Plymouth 20.