PLYMOUTH — It was a great day to be a Pilgrim as Plymouth started the day without a win and ended it with a championship in the First Source Bank Holiday Tournament.
In a day that started with the ejection of an entire fan section and ended with a loose ball scrum on the floor, Plymouth took wins over Jimtown 45-30 and a thriller over Whitko 37-35 to take the title.
Plymouth 37, Whitko 35
Offensively it was the culmination of a great day for two Pilgrims as Easton Strain followed up a 17 point, seven-rebound performance in game one with a 17 point, six-rebound game in the championship.
Guard Nolan Bales hit for 15 in game one and followed it with 16 in game two.
The play of the game however may have occurred in the waning seconds as trailing by two Whitko’s Drake Lewis worked his way to the lane, missed his shot and Strain came out of a multi-player scrum under the basket with the rebound, flipping it to Tanner Feece in the chaos who tossed it ahead to towards the Plymouth basket, allowing the final seconds to run out.
“Our personnel is finding him for sure,” said Plymouth coach Ryan Bales of Strain’s big day. “He’s getting some screens, he knows the ball is coming to him and at the same time, he’s becoming more assertive.”
“We’ve seen it in practice here as we’ve come into the break,” he said. “He realizes he needs to have a certain role for us. I think he’s starting to see the benefit of that. Being aggressive, taking charges, coming up with the loose ball at the end. Those are big plays that we are getting out of him, and other guys as well.”
Just as big as Strain’s rebound was Owen Yoder hitting what would be the game-winner just second’s before. It was only Yoder’s second shot of the game after hitting his first in the first quarter.
“I can’t say enough about our response,” said Bales. “Clearly, things have not gone the way we want to start the year as far as wins and losses but these guys continue to come in and fight hard. We are working our tails off right now and it is great to see them enjoy some success and I think that we showed some guts today. We saw some energy that we haven’t seen all season.”
“There should be a sense of pride with being a Plymouth basketball player,” said Bales. “We harp on that a lot. We talk about that a lot. I think today we took some strides. There are times we see it in practice but in games, it hasn’t been consistent enough. Today was a new level of growth for these guys.”
Whitko didn’t get their first lead in the game until the 4:20 mark in the second quarter and the Pilgrims never trailed more than two.
“Whitko made a couple of great runs, they went up a basket or two and we had an answer,” said Bales. “It makes it easier when the ball goes in the basket but I was proud of our guts and we had some kids willing to step up and make a great basketball play for us.”
Plymouth is now 2-7 with a game at home Tuesday with Michigan City. Whitko moves to 4-2.
Plymouth 45, Jimtown 30
It was a game with its fair share of unique occurrences as Plymouth got their first win of the season in a bizarre opening game of the First Source Bank Holiday Tournament.
Along with some interesting plays along the way it was a game that also saw the entire Jimtown fan section cleared by the officials in the third quarter for inappropriate comments after several warnings made over the course of the game.
“It can’t surprise you that with all the struggles we’ve been through this year that we are finally playing basketball the right way and we have a stoppage of play,” said Plymouth head coach Ryan Bales. “A lot of the frustration was at the officials but a lot of it was with us and our passion to play the game.”
The stoppage of play came late in the third quarter and after over a half-hour of discussion between fans and school administrators from both Jimtown and Plymouth, the entire fan section finally made their way out to allow play to continue.
Plymouth forced 23 turnovers and kept the Jimmies on their heels for much of the game.
“We’ve had our struggles in the third quarter all season, but we saw some passion and some fight and to me that’s encouraging,” said Bales. “We just need to show some enthusiasm about playing the game. Come out and just play and have fun. I think we had more fun in that third quarter than I’ve seen in the seven games so far.”
Easton Strain had a huge game with 17 points and seven rebounds. Nolan Bales had 15 and Owen Yoder caused a lot of the Jimtown frustration taking four charging calls and grabbing five rebounds.
•PLYMOUTH 37, WHITKO 35
Plymouth 11 18 27 37
Whitko 7 18 25 35
Plymouth (37) — Weidner 0 0-0 0, Bales 5 2-2 16, Yoder 2 0-0 4, Wray 0 0-0 0, Strain 8 0-1 17, Feece 0 0-0 0, Aker 0 0-0 0, Mills 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 2-3 37
Whitko (35) — Sickafoose 5 1-3 11, Lewis 5 0-0 12, Bryant 1 2-2 5, Reiff 1 0-0 3, Hoffman 1 0-0 2, Streby 0 0-0 0, Swartz 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 3-5 35.
3 Pt. FG — Plymouth 5 (Bales 4), Whitko 4 (Lewis 2).
Rebounds — Plymouth 13 (Strain 6), Whitko 16 (Sickafoose 6).
Assists — Plymouth 13 (Feece 6), Whitko 9 (Sickafoose 3).
Turnovers — Plymouth 7, Whitko 8.
Fouls (Fouled out) — Plymouth 10, Whitko 9.
•PLYMOUTH 45, JIMTOWN 30
Plymouth 11 22 36 45
Jimtown 11 20 25 30
Jimtown (30) — Barhams 3 0-0 9, Konrath 2 1-2 7, Carithers 2 0-0 4, Reed 2 0-4 4, Bottom 1 0-0 2, Gillespie 1 0-0 2, House 0 2-2 2, Rice 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 3-14 30.
Plymouth (45) — Strain 7 2-4 17, Bales 5 2-4 15, Weidner 3 0-0 7, Yoder 1 0-0 2, Feece 0 2-2 2, Aker 1 0-0 2, Wray 0 0-0 0, Mills 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 6-10 45.