NAPPANEE — It was a step in the right direction as Plymouth fell to unbeaten NorthWood in the opening night of NLC action for both teams by a final of 55-38.
The Pilgrims played their best basketball of the year against one of the better teams in the conference and the area and stayed within single digits for much of the first half before being worn down by the talent and depth of the Panthers.
“That’s what has been their M.O. and we are a call here or there, a bucket here or there a stop here or there from making this a very interesting ball game,” said Plymouth coach Joel Grindle. “I have to credit our kids they never put their heads down they just moved on to the next play, they did some really good things.”
“Tonight we competed and that’s what we are looking for,” he said. “We had kids out there getting after it. It wasn’t perfect by any means but this is a step in the right direction and not backing down from a really, really good basketball team.”
A big difference was in the turnover column where the Pilgrims had just eight in the first half, and kept the game total under 20.
It was a big night for several players especially Easton Strain who so far this season has struggled with an injury. He made a case for his health as he ended the night with 14 points and six rebounds to lead the Pilgrims in both categories.
“That’s what we need from Easton. He competed tonight,” said Grindle. “That’s the Easton we know, that’s the Easton we kind of expect. That’s the Easton that hopefully, we continue to get.”
Michael Sheely showed flashes of his ability on the night along with Coby Walters.
“Michael battles all the time,” said Grindle. “We’ve needed him to step up some.”
“The other guy that played really well tonight was Coby Walters,” said Grindle. “We changed his role tonight and had him coming off the bench and I thought he really responded. He hit some shots and made some defensive plays and that’s what we were looking for from him.”
Sheely ended the night with four points and four rebounds with a couple of key assists early in the game.
Walters came off the bench to hit three threes and ended with 10 points.
Plymouth is now 0-6 with a game at home against South Bend Riley on Tuesday night. NorthWood is in action at the Richmond tournament on Dec. 28.
at NorthWood
Plymouth 12 22 28 38
NorthWood 20 34 43 55
Plymouth (38) — Hall 0 0-0 0, Lark 0 0-0 0, Creighbaum 0 0-0 0, Walters 3 1-2 10, Wray 2 0-0 5, Strain 6 2-4 14, Feece 2 0-0 5, Sheely 2 0-0 4, DeLee 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 3-6 38.
NorthWood (55) — Wolfe 1 0-0 3, Raasch 1 0-0 2, Brenner 8 3-3 22, Yoder 1 0-0 3, Tuggle 1 1-1 3, Wiens 7 2-3 19, Bontrager 0 2-2 4. Totals 19 8-9 55.
3 Pt. FG — Plymouth 5 (Walters 3), NorthWood 8 (Brenner, Wiens 3).
Rebounds — Plymouth 11 (Strain 6), NorthWood 13 (Bontrager 4).
Assists — Plymouth 8 (Hall, Walters, Wray, Strain, Sheely 2), NorthWood 2 (Wolfe, Raasch)
Steals — Plymouth 3 (Sheely 2), NorthWood 8 (Wolfe, Payne 2).
Turnovers — Plymouth 17, NorthWood 6.