Big second half sparks Panthers to ECC win

by Matt Kraus Review Co respondent

WILL HUNTER of Plymouth attacks the basket against Kettle Moraine Lutheran in Tuesday’s ECC basketball game. Plymouth’s Alex Shutter looks on. – Photo by Jason Hassel WILL HUNTER of Plymouth attacks the basket against Kettle Moraine Lutheran in Tuesday’s ECC basketball game. Plymouth’s Alex Shutter looks on. – Photo by Jason Hassel PLYMOUTH – Leaving the halftime locker room on Tuesday night, the host Plymouth Panthers boys basketball team had two goals: focus on getting the ball inside before settling for an outside shot and make Kettle Moraine Lutheran work for shots.

The offensive and defensive changes allowed the Panthers to turn a 10-point halftime deficit into a tie four minutes into the second half, and ultimately a 71-62 victory in East Central Conference play.

“We know their post game is a weak point for them, so we needed to take advantage of it by getting inside first. Going inside allowed us easier outside shots,” said Panther head coach Tim Schultz.

The Panthers came out of the locker room and went right to work. Cody Kuhn drove to the hoop to open the second-half scoring.

Will Hunter followed with a free throw after getting fouled inside, and on the next Panthers possession received a pass from Alex Shutter as he slashed to the hoop for a layup. The Panthers were down by five just 1:13 into the second half.

Senior guard Mack Knueppel drove to the hoop to give the Chargers a 38-31 lead. Shutter responded with a reverse layup following an offensive rebound but Colin Biesterfeld answered with a threepointer after Adam Niemann’s offensive rebound for the Chargers.

Trailing 41-33, Hunter grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a reverse lay-in. A defensive stop led to Shutter hitting a three pointer to bring the Panthers within three points at 41-38.

A Chargers’ timeout wouldn’t stop the Panthers. TJ Moegenburg grabbed a defensive rebound and Adam Smith followed a threepointer to tie the game 41-41.

The Chargers gained a fourpoint lead following a Knueppel basket but Moegenburg scored on a 12-foot jumper and a three pointer to give the Panthers a 49-48 lead.

Trailing 52-51 with 6:20 remaining, Hunter made two free throws to give the Panthers a lead they would not relinquish, although the Knueppel made a three pointer to trim the Panthers’ lead to 62-60.

Following a Panthers’ timeout with 2:20 remaining, Derek Schweiger found Hunter cutting to the hoop and delivered a perfect pass for the layup and a four-point Panthers lead.

“I saw him out of the corner eye and got him the ball,” said Schweiger.

From there the Panthers were able to beat the Chargers’ press and convert 7 of 10 free-throw attempts to seal the 71-62 victory.

Knueffel led the Chargers with 26 points, including five threepointers but the Panthers’ defense only allowed him eight second-half points and one three.

“Cody and Adam defended Knueppel well. We made him work for his shots and did not allow him uncontested shots in the second half,” said Schultz.

The Panthers improved to 7-5 in ECC play (12-8 overall), while the Chargers fell to 9-3 in the conference (14-6 overall).

“This is an important win for us. We need the confidence for Friday when we play Waupun,” said Schweiger.

Waupun leads the ECC with a 12-0 record.

Shutter led the Panthers’ offense with 22 points and shared high assist honors with Schweiger – each dishing out four. Schweiger added a team-high two steals.

Hunter had a double-double for the Panthers – scoring 12 points and a grabbing a team-high 10 rebounds.

“We reduced our turnovers in the second half. We had nine in the first half and only four in the second,” said Schultz.

“The win was a solid team effort.”


The Panthers fell in the junior varsity contest, 61-38, to slip to 8-4 in the ECC (13-7 overall).

Mason Guell paced PHS scorers with 11 and Alex Kelly tallied 10. Mack Mella led in steals with four.

Noah Baratka hit 21 points to spark the Panthers to a 61-52 freshman win. Nick Falls added 14 for PHS which improved to 10-2 in the ECC (16-3 overall). Falls had a team-high 10 boards.

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