Moving on from a last-second loss can be difficult for any prep basketball team. Getting over three last-second defeats?
It’s something the Plymouth girls basketball team has had to do, and it’s the Panthers’ short memory that has allowed them to quickly move on from a trio of deflating losses and maintain control of their own destiny.
With back-to-back one point losses earlier this month to Kiel (43-42) and at Grafton (44-43), and a 45-42 loss at Two Rivers nearly two weeks ago, Plymouth (8-7, 7-2 Eastern Wisconsin Conference) is just a half game behind Two Rivers (11-2, 7-1 EWC) for a share of the conference’s top spot with a favorable schedule lying ahead.
“We’re just staying as positive as we can,” Plymouth coach Brad Shutter said. “Every time (a last-second loss) would happen I would say ‘Ladies, there’s a reason why this is happening — it is getting us ready for games that are going to happen in the future and we’re going to be ready for those games.’ As bad as we felt about it, it’s only going to help us.
“There’s a reason for everything and eventually we’ll be in a similar situation again and we’ll have been there before.”
On Friday the Panthers will look to win back-to-back games for the first time since a late December stretch saw them win five in a row as they host Campbellsport (5-4, 4-3 EWC), a team they already defeated earlier this season 55-39.
From there, Plymouth will be at Kewaskum (1-11, 0-8 EWC) before hosting non-conference opponent Port Washington (3-10).
Then comes a road game at New Holstein (4-8, 2-6 EWC) and a home game against Howards Grove (6-6, 5-3 EWC) before the Panthers’ home rematch with Two Rivers on Feb. 21 — their second to last EWC game.
The Panthers have already earned home wins over Kewaskum (64-27) and New Holstein (49-45) this season.
“The group of girls I have, with our senior leaders, they are very good at blowing (close losses) off and moving on,” Shutter said. “We talk about each game the next day and after that we’re moving on to the next thing.
“We’ve had some bad luck but that’s the way it goes and we’re just going to move on and we’re very good about that.”
A prime example came in Plymouth’s last game.
Following the loss at the buzzer to Two Rivers, the Panthers got down by 16 points in the third quarter, but eventually rallied to earn a 49-45 home win over Waupun (7-6, 5-3 EWC) to put some distance between the two teams in the conference standings.
“(The close games) certainly helped us in the Waupun game,” Shutter said. “Once we came back from being down 16 and tied things up, I just told the girls ‘We’ve been here before, no one should be freaking out.
“I could see it the other night in the Waupun game, just that there wasn’t a sense of panic but a sense of ‘Here we are again, and we know what to do and we know how to handle it.'”