Panthers boys basketball team has winning formula heading into post-season

SPORTS BEAT
Greg Ceilley  Review Sports Editor

The Plymouth boys basketball team has enjoyed an outstanding season thus far but isn’t about to rest on its laurels.

Head coach Jason Duff’s Panthers are always trying to improve and take their game to a higher level. You can bank on this team not being complacent.

It’s impressive how focused and determined the Panthers have been all season. It’s as if they’re on a mission and won’t be denied.

“We are playing well right now. The thing that encourages me is that we are still getting better,” said Duff.

“There are plays being made in games and in practice that weren’t being made two weeks ago.”

They accomplished one of their top goals which was winning the Eastern Wisconsin Conference title and now they want to go undefeated in the EWC and then make a strong run in the postseason and hopefully make it to state. The Panthers have played very well in the playoffs each of the past two seasons but didn’t make it to the state tournament.

“I’m not treating this year any different than any other year. We want to play for as long as we possibly can this year. We can’t spend a ton of time talking about goals like championships and forget to take care of the things right it front of us that would enable such a thing to happen,” said Duff.

This year’s team has the right formula to earn a trip to state and it all starts with defense. The Panthers’ swarming, trapping defense wreaks havoc on opposing offenses – pressuring the ball, getting in the shooter’s face, forcing turnovers and covering the court like a blanket.

The Panthers can run the opposition into the ground with their fast break which is fueled by turnovers caused by the defense and pushing the ball down the court quickly after grabbing defensive rebounds. Plymouth’s up-tempo style on offense and relentless defensive pressure wears down many opponents as the Panthers take advantage of good depth and being wellconditioned.

While the Panthers can beat you in the transition game, they also are very effective in their half-court offense. They are very adept with movement on offense, proper spacing and sharp, crisp passing which leads to open shots inside and from the perimeter.

This team is very unselfish on offense, with everyone sharing the ball very well. Senior guard Kollin Neils and senior forward Tom Jankowski lead the team in scoring at 18.6 and 15.2 points per game, respectively, but are also ranked 1-2 in assists with 4.0 and 2.6 averages per contest, respectively.

The Panthers exhibit outstanding teamwork on offense and defense, and get key contributions from many players. Plymouth’s bench has played a key role in the team’s success.

Other keys to the team’s success, according to Duff, are having a positive attitude, being a good teammate, attention to detail and giving one’s best effort.

The coach pointed out the key areas which the team needs to improve.

“To beat the best teams we will have to find ways to consistently attack inside-out,” he said.

“Most teams we will face in the playoffs have some good size. We need to keep improving at finding ways to post up and attack the basket through the drive.

“On defense, we still need to improve our half-court team defense. Winning games in the playoffs comes down to scoring and getting stops in the half-court,” said Duff.

Rest assured, the Panthers will do everything in their power to be the best team they can possibly be.


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