Plymouth’s players celebrated Fat Tuesday’s 47-21 KLAA girls basketball playoff win over host Novi by partaking in a few postgame paczkis.
“One thing that is very important for you to see is that the coach didn’t take a paczki,” said Plymouth coach Nick Brandon, whose team improved to 15-2 overall. “But I suppose it’s a little easier for the players to have one when we win.”
The win puts Plymouth in Thursday’s KLAA Kensington Conference semifinal at home against Livonia Churchill, which upended Northville, 44-38.
“We were looking forward to getting a win here,” Brandon said. “It’s been a long time since our program got a win at Novi, so it was a good victory for us.”
The KLAA South Division champions took control of the quarterfinal game from the start by opening up a 16-6 first-quarter advantage while shooting 7-of-12 from the floor.
“I really liked that we were active in our press,” Brandon said. “It showed me that we had energy tonight. My biggest concern coming into this game was that we weren’t going play with maximum effort because I knew Novi would. What I identified on tape is that Novi plays extremely hard, especially in the first quarter. I really wanted us to match their intensity and was really glad we did.”
Plymouth fattened its lead at halftime to 30-10 by outscoring the host Wildcats 14-4 in the second quarter.
“We didn’t anticipate Novi going to a zone,” Brandon said. “I know they’ve been trying some different things based on what they’ve done in the past. I like the way we identified it and I liked the way that we were patient against it. I thought we waited for the great shot instead of settling for the good shot, which is important when you’re playing against the zone.”
Novi, which slipped to 10-6 overall, was plagued by turnovers (12) and made only 2-of-14 field goal attempts during the first 16 minutes of action.
“Well, we were fouling too much and we had the young kids in, so we switched it to a zone (defense) and people weren’t moving,” Novi coach Bill Kelp said. “That was our whole problem. We didn’t move at all tonight.”
Plymouth was able to keep Novi off balance with good ball movement.
“It’s how they can put the ball on the ground and attack the basket – all of them,” Novi coach Bill Kelp said. “They kick it in, and if you don’t get a stop, they finish. And if not, they kick out and find those shooters. They were just way more aggressive, stronger and physical than we are.”
Novi was unable to make a second-half charge and finished the game hitting just 5-of-34 field goal tries (14.7 percent) and only 9-of-20 free throws (45 percent).
“It’s the same old thing,” Kelp said. “We don’t look at our posts enough and we take one shot and done, a lot of them outside when a lot of balls should go inside, score or kick it back out. We want to play fast, but you don’t want to play in a hurry, and we play in a hurry too much.”
Kendall Rose came off the bench to lead Plymouth in scoring with 12 points, while Paige Slominski and Courtney LaValle each added 11. Cassidy Lewis chipped in with seven.
“All year we’ve had balance,” Brandon said. “This is a team in every true sense of the word. Offensively we share the ball extremely well and we play the game with our eyes up. And we trust each other. I think I’ve used the word trust more this season than I have my in four coaching seasons combined because that’s just really what this team does. It results in balanced scoring and it results in a team that’s hard to defend.”
Freshman guard Allie Mackay scored a team-high eight for Novi, while junior Allie Lipson added six.