PHS primed for strong playoff run

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH — The Plymouth girls basketball team is ready and capable of making a deep run in the Division 2 playoffs.

The Panthers, a No. 3 seed, begin regional play Friday at home against No. 6-seeded Ashwaubenon in a semifinal game at 7 p.m.

PHS, 18-4, is riding a nine-game winning streak, fueled by outstanding defense and good team play. The Jaguars are only 4-18 but play in the tough Fox River Classic Conference.

“If we play our best, we can hang with anyone. I feel we are poised to make a nice run,” said Panther head coach Brad Shutter.

“We match up well. We are bigger than them which will cause them some matchup problems.”

PHS has two players at 6 feet and one at 5-11 while Ashwaubenon’s tallest player is 5-10.

“Their record is not the greatest but they play in a really good conference and see good competition every game. They have a nice guard in Hailey Edlebeck. She needs to be contained,” Shutter said.

Edlebeck, a 5-8 senior guard, is the Jaguars’ top scorer with a 10.9 points-per-game average.

Shutter pointed out the keys to the outcome: “Can we handle their pressure and can we take advantage of our size.”

The Panthers’ leading scorers are Rachael Cecka, a 6-0 senior forward, and Kaily Moegenburg, a 5-11 junior guard-forward, at 11.4 and 10.5 per game, respectively.

Cecka also leads the Panthers in rebounding with an 8.4 average, assists at 2.2 per game and steals, 2.6 average. Senior guard Marissa Grapentine has hit a team-high 22 three-point goals, followed by Moegenburg with 21.

The PHS defense, which depends on a combination of halfcourt traps, man-to-man pressure and full-court presses, is allowing an average of only 43.0 points per game. The Panthers rely on their defense to force a lot of the turnovers by their opponents which lead to several baskets in transition. PHS has an impressive five players who average from 2.0-2.6 steals per contest.

“Defense and just playing as a team,” said Shutter when asked what the keys have been to the team’s strong season.

The Panthers feature a balanced attack with five players averaging 7.3 or more points per game.

PHS advanced to the regional finals last season and Shutter thinks that experience will benefit this year’s squad and help motivate it to advance farther in the playoffs than in 2012.

“We have been in this situation before. We know what the atmosphere will be like. We are ready,” he said.

PHS has most of its players back from last year’s squad.

The PHS-Ashwaubenon winner advances to the regional finals Saturday at 7 p.m. against the Pulaski-Kaukauna victor. Pulaski is the No. 2 seed and Kaukauna, No. 7.

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