“I give our assistant coaches a lot of credit,” said Plymouth head coach Ryan Bales. “They made the recommendation that we press and get after it a little more and our kids executed that game plan.”
Plymouth normally employs the full court press in their defensive scheme but the swarming pressure of the third quarter was another thing entirely.
“The first half they were able to dribble it down, we still had ball pressure, we were still getting after them but they seemed to be able to go one on one with our point guard,” said Bales. “We talked about just leaving your guy and be ready to jump and look for that next guy and run to the next guy – just scramble a little more – get them in a little more of an up tempo game and I thought that would be to our benefit.
“Goshen executes really well in the half court. We felt like we had to get into a more up tempo game. That was our assistant coaches and our players stepping up and making plays.”
The Pilgrims jumped out of the opening tip red hot and got to a quick 18-8 lead but Goshen came back to tie at 19 in the second quarter and by half Plymouth was clinging to a 23-19 margin.
“I thought our kids really stepped up tonight a lot of great intensity and that helped us get out to a quick lead,” said Bales. “Goshen responded as we expected they would. They made some good adjustments and we did not play very good defense in the second quarter.”
After halftime the Plymouth intensity returned with a vengeance and carried the Pilgrims to the win.
“Hustle plays are contagious,” said Bales. “That creates enthusiasm. When we play that up tempo style – defensively especially – David (Lee) is out pressuring the ball, Kyser’s (McCrammer) out pressuring the ball, Ike’s (Kastner) down there grinding – when everybody’s doing their job it’s fun to watch.”
The Plymouth defense was particularly on in holding one of the conferences top players – Sam Stegelmann – to just 10 points.
“Kyser and Ike are our defensive stoppers they love the challenge they did a good job on (Stegelmann). He’s one of the great players in the conference,” said Bales. “Some of the credit goes to our guards who didn’t let him get the touches in the places he wants them.”
Mack Mercer returned to the Plymouth lineup with a double/double game high 22 points and 10 rebounds. Joe Knapp had 11 and David Lee put up 10 points with four steals and assists.
Plymouth is now 13-3 with a game tomorrow night at New Prairie. Goshen falls to 9-6.