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Plymouth’s last second Lady Pilgrims ready to battle again

February 6, 2019

51421286_10161458186880241_8033503793343627264_nPLYMOUTH – Much has been made of Plymouth’s Lady Pilgrims winning three sectional games by a grand total of five points, let alone two last second three point shots.
The bottom line – Plymouth has simply found a way to win against a very tough sectional field. If the sectional was tough, the regional is even tougher. Plymouth will face undefeated Penn (24-0) in game one at LaPorte Saturday starting at 11 a.m. and if they are able to get to the final they will play against either Kankakee Valley with a record of 20-4, or Crown Point who is unbeaten at 26-0.
Penn is ranked #2 in class 4A and Crown Point #4 but the Lady Pilgrims found a way to get by #10 Elkhart Central a week ago in the sectional final at Northridge.
“We know that it’s going to be a battle,” said Plymouth coach Dave Duncan. “We are happy to have the opporunity to battle one more time.”
Battle is the key word for a team that has no stars, only a group of players that know their roles, play them well and play them hard. With a schedule laden with tough opponents, nothing has come easy for this team.
“Every game we had this year when you walked on the floor there was no certainty we were going to win the game,” said Duncan. “You had to play your best game to win. I’m just proud of our kids and the effort they are putting out there.”
“Our defensive intensity has improved and our mental preparation has gotten a lot better,” said Duncan. “We are more in tune with what’s going on on the floor right now. Everybody is bought into what we need to do right now. It shows on the floor.”
A quirk of the schedule may have been a factor as well. For a stretch from Nov. 29 to Jan. 12 the Lady Pilgrims played a string of 10 straight road games. In that stretch were perrenial powers and NLC foes Warsaw and NorthWood, along with Norwell and LaPorte.
“We joked about the 10 game road stretch we had earlier in the year and that may have been the preparation for us right now,” said Duncan. “We’re used to getting on the bus, traveling to the game. We had some tough games in there. We felt that prepared us for right now.”
What the difficult schedule has brought about is a quiet composure over the course of the year.
“If you look at our kids you don’t know whether you’re up 10 or you’re down 10,” said Duncan. “They just keep battling and playing at the same pace and I think that’s important for a team to not get too excited either way.”
The Lady Pilgrims are also doing the exact thing that every coach talks about – playing their best ball of the year during the tournament.
“I think the things that have changed with us is our defensive intensity, our rebounding and getting the 50/50 balls,” said Duncan. “Early in the year we didn’t have those kids in the piles after the ball. We’re not winning all of them but we’re getting the majority of them. That’s just effort. You don’t have to have a lot of basketball skills to jump in a pile and get the ball.”
The team also has depth with senior starters Halle Reichard, Cassidy Holiday, CeCe Robinson, Kacee Peters and junior point guard Claire Tanner being frequently spelled by Mary Kate Flynn, Alaina Clady and sectional championship hero Sydney Weir and many times during the year sophomore Lindsay Janus who hit a game winning buzzer beater against Glenn earlier in the year.
That depth was instrumental in the sectional.
“Our kids could have laid over and they didn’t,” said Duncan. “They just kept bringing more energy, and more energy, We’d keep whittling away and we finally got what we wanted. It’s one of those things where you have confidence in kids and you just run them in there and they just play basketball.”
The fact is it will take the “all hands on deck” approach one more time for the Lady Pilgrims on Saturday. Game one of the regional will start at 11 a.m. with Plymouth vs. LaPorte. Season tickets for the Girls Basketball Regional held at LaPorte on are sale in the PHS athletic office until Friday at 4 p.m. for $10. Single session tickets can be purchased at the door for $7. The championship game will be played at 8 p.m.