ARGOS – It took 21 years but the Argos Dragons were able to come away with back-to-back wins over Plymouth, taking a 53-41 win at home.
It was 1999 when the two teams matched up last, on the same floor with the Dragons grabbing a last-second win, and Friday night’s contest was a similar kind of game.
Plymouth came out and dialed up the full-court pressure pushing out to an 11-3 lead by the end of the first quarter.
The Dragons didn’t go away weathering the early storm and taking advantage of the absence of Plymouth’s Easton Strain with early foul trouble. By halftime, the Dragons were within three.
“Right before we came out for warm-up I told the guys that the game isn’t won in the first three or four minutes,” said Argos coach Gordon Mosson. “We didn’t panic. We just stayed the course and I emphasized to them that sometimes you have to win ugly and you do that by getting to loose balls, rebounds, and defensive stops and making free throws, which we didn’t, but we did enough of the other things to win.”
“We are doing some good things but the bottom line is that we have to make some plays,” said Plymouth head coach Ryan Bales. “They did. They made big shots when they needed it and we didn’t. Same situation as the other night. Fought back to make it a one-possession game and gave ourselves a chance to win.”
It was a tough third quarter that, like opening night, proved to be the Pilgrims undoing. A bucket by Strain would be the only offense as Argos was able to nearly double their entire first-half output with 13 and take an eight-point lead to the quarter break.
“The final five or ten seconds isn’t what’s costing us games right now,” said Bales. “It’s things that are happening in the second and third quarter. We got in some major foul trouble and that changed some of our aggressiveness in the way we were playing.”
“Give them the credit,” he said. “They became the more aggressive team and they stepped up and made plays. We have to keep working on them with being tough. Teams are going to make runs. They are going to make plays and we have to have an answer.”
The answer for Argos was pushing the ball into the post with J.J. Morris in the third quarter sprinkled with a few key plays by Jake Stults. The Dragons found an answer to the Pilgrim’s pressure and took early control of the half pushing their lead as high as 11.
“They are young but they play defense,” said Mosson. “Ryan (Bales) had a very good game plan tonight, doubling and tripling the low post, he trapped us some, run and jump on us some.”
“This early in the season we had not practiced against that,” said Mosson. “We’d practiced against the trap but not some of the stuff they did there.”
“We had some good looks we missed some layups, we missed some breakaways,” said Bales. “We had some guys missing open three’s that we trust to hit them. We have to go back and keep working. That’s all we can do at this point.”
“We play hard. We have to be a little bit smarter,” said Bales. “As we gain game experience hopefully we start to learn. We can’t let things impact our confidence. Sometimes you lose a couple and all three have been in striking distance. The effort is there. We have to get the execution part down.”
Strain had a good night despite limited floor time because of foul trouble posting 11 points and seven rebounds. Nolan Bales led Plymouth with 13 points and Tanner Feece had five rebounds.
Argos was led by Morris with 11 points and five rebounds, Stults had 10, Kindig had nine and four boards. Ted Redinger came off the bench for five rebounds and Michael Richard led the floor game with three assists and steals.
“They do like to win,” said Mosson of his squad. “They are unselfish. We hope we can get better at handling pressure and double teams. If we can I think we have a pretty nice team.”
Argos is 2-1 with a game at Jimtown next Saturday. Plymouth is 0-3 and hits the road next week at Winamac on Tuesday and Mishawaka Marian on Friday.
•ARGOS 41, PLYMOUTH 38
Plymouth 11 17 19 38
Argos 3 14 27 41
Plymouth (38) — Cam Weidner 2 0-0 5, Bales 4 2-2 13, Owen Yoder 1 0-0 2, Wray 2 0-0 5, Strain 4 3-4 11, Feece 1 0-0 2, Aker 0 0-0 0, Mills 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 5-6 38.
Argos (41) — M. Richard 1 3-4 6, Morris 4 3-8 11, Nifong 1 0-0 2, Stults 4 0-1 10, Brady 0 0-0 0, Redinger 0 0-0 0, S. Richard 1 1-1 3, Kindig 3 3-4 9, Heiman 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 10-19 41.
3Pt. FG — Plymouth 4 (Bales 3), Argos 3 (Stults).
Rebounds — Plymouth 19 (Strain 7), Argos 18 (Morris, Redinger 5).
Assists — Plymouth 4 (Bales, Wray, Feece, Aker) Argos 6 (M. Richard 3).
Steals — Plymouth 4 (Wray 2), Argos 4 (M. Richard 3).
Turnovers — Plymouth 10, Argos 9.
Fouls (Fouled out) — Plymouth 20 (Feece), Argos 18.