Kyle Reisert drives hard to the hoop for two points in playoff action against Windham. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
March 10, 2014PLYMOUTH — When the Plymouth boys' hoop team made the trip to Windham in January, the Bobcats and Jaguars needed to play extra time in order for a winner to emerge.
When the Jaguars made the trip to Plymouth on Wednesday, March 5, for the first round of the Division II tournament, no extra time was needed. But the result was the same.
The Bobcats got a monster third quarter from senior Jared Kuehl and went on to a 53-44 win over the Jaguars in their first home playoff game since 2007.
"We haven't had it easy for the last few weeks," coach Mike Sullivan said, pointing to his team's games with Merrimack Valley, Brady, Kennett and Pelham in the final weeks of the season. "And we've responded.
"But we still haven't peaked," the coach continued. "When it happens, it's going to be scary. Though I thought we came pretty close tonight."
The Bobcat coach noted that his team played a solid 28 minutes in the win, but noted there was room for improvement in the other four minutes.
The Bobcat crowd was electric and coach Mike Sullivan pointed out that his team seemed to feed off the energy of the fans.
"We tried to feed off of that a bit," Sullivan said. "We haven't been getting off to great starts and we wanted to get off to a better start tonight."
While the start wasn't stellar, the Bobcats did what they had to do in the first quarter, keeping things close through the frame.
After the visitors hit the first bucket of the game, a hoop from Kuehl and two free throws from Kyle Reisert had Plymouth up 4-2. The Jaguars responded with a three to take the lead back, but Sam Dimick put back a rebound for a 6-5 lead for the Bobcats. The Jaguars followed with a three-point play, but hoops from Gavin Brickley and Collin Sullivan put the Bobcats back on top by a 10-8 score and gave all five of the Plymouth starters points in the first few minutes.
The Jaguars hit another three to go up by one and the two teams went back and forth, with Reisert hitting a hoop and Kuehl answering another Jaguar bucket to put the Bobcats up 14-13. Kuehl then buried a three in the final seconds of the quarter to send the Bobcats to the second quarter with a 17-13 lead.
Windham cut the lead to 17-15 to open the second, but Reisert answered with a bucket. After another hoop from the Jaguars, Kuehl and Reisert hit back-to-back hoops for a 23-17 lead and Brickley hit two free throws to push the lead to eight.
The visitors bounced back, hitting three shots in a row to cut the lead to 25-23 before Reisert hit the final shot of the half, sending Plymouth to the break with a 27-23 lead.
Kuehl added seven points to that lead to start the third quarter, as he hit back-to-back buckets and then sunk a three-pointer for a 34-23 lead for the Bobcats. After Windham got on the board, Sullivan hit a free throw for a 35-25 lead. Windham responded with a free throw and two hoops to cut the lead to 35-31 with less than four minutes to go in the quarter.
Kuehl came back with another hoop and Sullivan drilled a three-pointer to push the lead to nine at 40-31, only to see the Jaguars hit a hoop of their own.
However, just as he did in the first quarter, Kuehl closed out the third with a big three-pointer in the final seconds to send the Bobcats to the fourth quarter with a 43-33 lead. All told, Kuehl had 12 points in the quarter.
Windham scored the first two buckets of the fourth to cut the lead to six before a Sullivan jumper pushed it back to eight. Windham got a three and a conventional field goal to cut the lead to 45-42 with 4:10 to go.
Reisert answered with a rebound and hoop to put Plymouth back up by five and a Dimick block started a Plymouth 6-0 run, with Reisert hitting a hoop and Brickley hitting a pair. A Windham basket in the final seconds wasn't enough, as the Bobcats closed out the 53-44 win.
Sullivan knew exactly where his team's strength was against Windham and praised his kids for taking advantage.
"Our strength was inside with Jared and Kyle," the Bobcat coach said. "When those two guys play with that fire and that type of energy, everyone else on the team picks up their energy as well."
He also praised Brickley and Sullivan for realizing that the game was inside and getting Kuehl and Reisert the good shots. He noted that Sullivan called many of the out of bounds plays and had one of his best outings as a Bobcat.
"Tonight he had complete control of that game," coach Sullivan said. "There were times I just turned it over to him."
And the Bobcat defense was strong as well.
"Defense has been our bread and butter all year long," the Bobcat coach said. "Defenise is hard and you have to be willing to work for it."
However, Sullivan was also well aware that the Jaguars were more than capable of going on a good run at any time and getting a lead was important.
"It's coming down to us getting stops, that's something we're good at," he said. "It's certainly one of our strengths."
Kuehl led the way with 21 points, while Reisert added 14 and both Sullivan and Brickley chipped in with eight.
The win sent the Bobcats to the quarterfinals, where they were matched up with second-seeded Portsmouth. The Bobcats fell by a 44-29 decision to the Clippers.
Plymouth Regional 53
Brickley 3-2-8, Sullivan 3-1-8, Dimick 1-0-2, Kuehl 9-0-21, Reisert 6-2-14: Totals 22-5-53
Masone 3-1-9, Potter 1-0-2, Carbonello 2-0-4, Lowman 7-1-15, Lippold 4-0-10, McInnis 1-0-2, Gill 1-0-2: Totals 19-2-44
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or email@example.com