Panthers fall to top-ranked Ripon in ECC battle


CODY KUHN of Plymouth (above) steals the ball from Ripon’s Bennett Vander Plas in Friday’s ECC basketball game. The Panthers’ David Hasel helps trap Vander Plas. DEREK SCHWEIGER, Plymouth forward (below), attempts to score inside against an unidentified Ripon player during Friday’s basketball game. Also shown is Ripon’s Hunter Merrill. - Photos by Jason Hassel CODY KUHN of Plymouth (above) steals the ball from Ripon’s Bennett Vander Plas in Friday’s ECC basketball game. The Panthers’ David Hasel helps trap Vander Plas. DEREK SCHWEIGER, Plymouth forward (below), attempts to score inside against an unidentified Ripon player during Friday’s basketball game. Also shown is Ripon’s Hunter Merrill. - Photos by Jason Hassel RIPON – The Plymouth Panthers gave powerhouse Ripon all it could handle before falling, 64-54, in an East Central Conference boys basketball game here Friday night.

The Tigers, ranked No. 1 in the wissports.net Division 3 poll last week, raised their ECC record to 2-0 (5-0 overall. The loss was the Panthers’ first of the season and dropped their league mark to 1-1 (3-1 overall).

Junior forward Bennett Vander Plas poured in 33 points to spark the Tigers’ attack. Vander Plas, who drained six three-pointers, exploded for 23 points in the first half.

Despite foul trouble, the Panthers managed a 36-33 halftime lead. Junior guard Cody Kuhn erupted for 16 of his team-high 22 points in the opening half to fuel the PHS offense. Kuhn drained three treys in the first half.

“When we played aggressive, we did well. We shared the ball well in the first half. It wasn’t the cleanest of games but it was a very good high school game and a very competitive game,” said PHS head coach Tim Schultz.

The Tigers outscored PHS 18-9 at the free-throw line. Ripon, which had only 15 fouls, attempted 31 free throws. The Panthers, whistled for 27 fouls, had two players foul out and had just 12 free-throw attempts.

In the second half Ripon outscored PHS 15-2 at the charity stripe. The Panthers also dealt with foul trouble in the final half.

“We had a lot of fouls called on us in the first half and we had to battle that. I really had to budget the minutes [for players due to foul problems],” said Schultz.

PHS hung tough in the first half after getting down as many as nine points.

“We showed resiliency. This team is coming together. We’re ahead of my expectations as far as coming together but we have things to improve on,” said Schultz.

“We settled too much for shots when we could’ve attacked [the basket].”

Kuhn led PHS in rebounds with six and steals, three. Alex Shutter and Matt Richards had a team-high three assists each.

Schultz thought senior guard Layton Albright played well off the bench and contributed six points on a pair of three-balls.

“Ripon has very talented players and plays very well as a team. Vander Plas is one of the top juniors in the state,” said Schultz.

The Tigers’ head coach is former Oostburg basketball standout Dean Vander Plas (Bennett’s father) who also played at UW-Green Bay.

JV, FRESHMAN GAMES

Brandon Keller’s basket on a follow up shot gave the Panthers a 46- 44 overtime win in the junior varsity play. PHS upped its ECC record to 2-0 (3-1 overall).

Keller led PHS scorers with 17 points and also had a team-high rebounds. Mason Guell added nine points.

The Panthers’ freshmen won, 51- 34, to improve to 2-0 in the league (3-1 overall). Mike Troka and Noah Baratka paced PHS in scoring with 10 each, followed by Nick Falls with eight.

Baratka led the team in assists with four. Troka was the high rebounder with five.


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