SOUTH BEND — It was the classic “good news, bad news” scenario for Plymouth’s Pilgrims in South Bend on Tuesday.
The bad news is the Pilgrims took their sixth loss without a win on the season 59-47 to South Bend Riley.
The good news is that with just one practice session with an upgraded offense the Pilgrims already showed a drastic improvement, staying within 10 points of the 6-1 Wildcats.
“I feel like we gained a little more improvement tonight in some key areas,” said Plymouth coach Ryan Bales. “Composure on some of our possessions in the second half but the bottom line is we have to hit some shots.”
As the third quarter once again proved troublesome for Plymouth the problem on this night was beyond their control.
“Some of our third quarters have been poor execution,” said Bales. “We had better execution we just have to hit shots. That is a huge part of the game and we just aren’t getting those timely shots.”
Drastically cutting down turnovers from their game Friday, the Pilgrims kept pace with Riley for much of the first half. While the third quarter was an offensive dry spot again, it was not from lack of good opportunities to cut into the Riley lead, but the inability to finish those opportunities with points.
Once again the Pilgrims could manage just three points in the eight-minute frame.
“Watching our team play we had some of our best possessions that we’ve seen, getting it reversed coming off screens, putting in the tweaks that we did yesterday,” said Bales. “I don’t know that we ran a set the entire night everything was out of our motion.”
“We had some good looks,” he said. “We just have to be able to finish. We had some looks inside some outside.”
Another welcome sight was the more assertive play from guards Davis Wray and Nolan Bales and another night of solid minutes off the bench from Cam Weidner.
“I think our guards played outstanding tonight, one of the best floor games we’ve seen out of them overall,” said Bales. “We had some turnovers that led to easy buckets for them but I think that our guards took a step in the right direction. Playing with some poise and some composure. I think that was huge for our offensive execution too.”
Wray ended the night with 12 points and even more importantly five of six from the free-throw line. Bales had 11 and Weidner came off the bench for 10. Easton Strain’s 10 points gave the Pilgrims four players in double figures in scoring.
“That’ comes through playing with better execution,” said Bales. “I think there was a relaxed state on offense to trust that the ball is going to come back to you. To trust that it’s going to get reversed. There was a lot of trust that allows you to play more free and more aggressive and more assertive. When you play antsy you play nervous, you play scared sometimes it’s tough to get those fouls.”
Plymouth was a welcome 13 of 19 from the free-throw line as a team.
“Tonight we ripped the ball through and got some fouls called,” said Bales. “Sometimes you have to make the officials make the call and I thought tonight we did a better job being stronger.”
Plymouth will be in action again next Wednesday taking on Jimtown in round one of the First Source Bank Holiday Tournament.
*RILEY 59, PLYMOUTH 47
at South Bend
Plymouth 11 23 26 47
Riley 20 35 48 59
Plymouth (47) – Weidner 4 0-2 10, Bales 3 2-2 11, Yoder 0 0-0 0, Wray 3 5-6 12, Strain 4 2-2 10, Feece 0 4-7 4, Aker 0 0-0 0, Mills 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 13-19 47.
Riley (59) – Wesley 11 5-6 30, Span 0 1-2 1, Robles 2 0-0 4, Koleman 1 0-0 2, Mott 1 1-1 3, Lee 0 1-2 1, Anderson 2 0-0 4, Copely 5 2-2 14. Totals 22 11-13 59.