An uninspired third quarter Plymouth start gave the Culver Girls Academy Eagles enough charge to win on a buzzer beating bucket by Brenna Newell to knock off the defending Sectional Champions Plymouth Lady Pilgrims, 49-48 in the first game of the Rochester Sectionals.
“I don’t know why we played the way we did in that third quarter, but to these kids credit, we fought back and got an unfortunate break with 1.7 seconds on a in-bounds deflection.”, said Plymouth Head Coach Dave Cox.
That unfortunate break started with Plymouth having the basketball with 7 seconds left in the ballgame and CGA up by a point, 47-46. Senior Megan Barron hit both free throws to give Plymouth the lead with 1.7 seconds, 48-47. CGA’s 6’1 sophmore, Andrijana Cvitkovic threw a long in-bound pass along the far sideline which was deflected and rolled few feet out of bounds. The controversy was the clock never started on the deflection and what amount of “real” time should have been taken off the clock involving the roll out of bounds as well. The officials conferred and concluded only four-tenths of a second should be taken off the clock. And since the basketball rolled out of bounded along the baseline and not the sideline…the CGA in-bounds came to the right of the Plymouth basket. That’s when CGA Coach Gary Cristlieb called a timeout to set up the eventual game winning shot with 1.4 seconds left. The in-bounds didn’t go to CGA’s 1-2 offensive threat (Kylee Shipley & Andrijana Cvitkovic)…it went to the girl who made the big shots all game long for the Lady Eagles, Brenna Newell. She didn’t disappoint her team, floating a one-handed jumper at the buzzer for the Lady Eagles win.
“We struggled finding her all night long. She got a lot of shots off on us tonight (13). She only hit 5 of them but they just seemed to be timely buckets to her credit.”, said Cox.
Plymouth did well to get back into the ballgame trailing by as many as 13 points with 1:30 left in the third quarter thanks to a Haley Smart three pointer, cutting the CGA lead down to 10 points and eventually 40-35 at the end of the three.
“We finally started hitting some big shots down the stretch. But so did they (CGA). I felt our Seniors played well. Megan Barron came on at the end with clutch free throws to keep us in it. Haley Smart played one of her better games this season. Her and Erin Kinney played a consistent four quarters and left it on the court and kept us in the ballgame in the first half. Chelsea Thoden struggled early but had a good second half which was crucial for us.”, said Cox.
Barron scored 7 of her 9 points in the second half, 4/4 from the FT line in the fourth quarter including back-to-back hits to give the Lady Pilgrims a 48-47 lead with 1.7 seconds left in the ballgame.
“Megan has always been in middle of something happening, because she usually causes it. She has been a varsity player for me for all four years. I’ll take a whole team of Megan Barron’s. Kinney has been amazing down the stretch. She’s been a target for our opponents because of her play. Erin has just played like a Senior should. I loved her effort.”, added a dejected Cox.
Plymouth simply struggled shooting the ball in the first half going 6/26 (23%) and a little better in the second half 9/23 (39%). 7 missed free throws…hitting 2/9 from outside all contributed to the struggles for Plymouth offensively. Numbers that Plymouth won included rebounds, 31-30 in Plymouth’s favor. Plymouth 7 more offensive boards than CGA, getting 3 more points than CGA did off the Plymouth offensive rebounds. Plymouth scored three more points than CGA off turnovers.
Plymouth finishes the season 14-7 . Hopes of a strong returning sophomore class will be a bright spot for next year.
“I told the underclassmen to remember this game. Your off-season commitment will determine whether or not we win games like this again next year. I’m proud of this group as well. But right now, it just doesn’t feel good losing at the buzzer like we did tonight. This will sting for little while.”, added Cox.