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Last second play costly to Pilgrims


Photo by Zephan Nixon

MENTONE — It was a bit of “live by the sword, die by the sword” as Plymouth’s Pilgrims, coming off a huge last-second win in Elkhart on Friday, fell on a last-second play at Tippecanoe Valley on Saturday by a final of 45-43. It was a very contested end with the game tied at 43 and three seconds on the clock Valley’s Paul Leasure got a little space and launched a three from well beyond the volleyball line near center court. Plymouth’s Jake Reichard contested the shot and appeared to block it, setting up at least overtime. After a pause, the whistle blew and a foul was called on Reichard. Leasure hit two of three free throws leaving a chance for the Pilgrims but just 3.3 seconds to work in. Getting the ball to midcourt Plymouth called a quick time out, setting up a play for Reichard to repeat his heroics from Friday. Reichard was able to get the ball on the right-wing and with bodies hitting the floor from contact he released a shot that would fall short. No foul was called and the Pilgrims left the floor with a bitter two-point loss. “It’s disappointing to finish the game that way,” said Plymouth head coach Ryan Bales. “It was a big-time call, but it was about the plays that led up to that. It’s something that we’ve talked about all year. We feel very good one night and tonight there is a lack of engagement on the defensive end. That’s the bottom line.” It was again a game of runs with both the Vikings and Plymouth taking charge of different parts of the game. The Pilgrims were able to get some separation in the third quarter, but at the end it was Valley that would make a decisive run. “We let them just drive it,” said Bales. “We played a team (Friday) night that was more athletic than us and we were more engaged and they didn’t split us. Tonight we had four splits to start the first quarter. They got the ball to the paint whenever they wanted to. It’s disappointing.” “We need to find a group that will step up on a back to back night like this,” he said. “It’s a frustrating night and that falls on me as well. We flat out were not ready to play and that is frustrating.” Reichard ended the night with 22 points and four rebounds for the Pilgrims. Easton Strain had seven. Leasure had a big night with 21 for Valley and Nolan Cumberland led with seven rebounds. The shooting of Leasure — who hit a very long three in a key stretch of the fourth quarter — seemed to energize the Vikings down the stretch. “Before the game, our message was that if we allowed them to stay with us that they would just gain confidence,” said Bales “You could just watch their confidence grow.” An adjustment of the defense gave Valley some difficulty but they would make adjustments of their own. “We went to a 1-3-1 that helped us get a lead and get some separation and get some momentum,” said Bales. “The bottom line is that we need to be able to finish plays on both ends. We lost this game on the defensive end and they won it on the offensive end.” Plymouth is now 5-8 and has an NLC match up with Concord on Friday night at Plymouth. •TIPPECANOE VALLEY 45, PLYMOUTH 43 At Tippecanoe Valley Plymouth 6 21 38 43 Valley 7 22 31 45 Plymouth (43) — Hunter 1 0-0 3, Weidner 1 0-0 3, Styers 1 0-0 2, Yoder 0 0-0 0, Reichard 9 2-2 22, Hissong 2 0-0 6, Houin 0 0-0 0, Strain 3 0-0 7. Totals 17 2-2 43. Valley (45) — Trippiedi 3 0-0 8, Cumberland 1 2-2 4, Leasuer 7 4-5 21, Shepherd 0 0-0 0, Perkins 3 0-1 6, Kiser 1 0-0 3. Totals 15 6-9 45.