PHS girls team has reasons to be proud

While the Plymouth girls basketball team had a disappointing finish to their season Saturday night, the Panthers have much to be proud of.

PHS lost to a very good Cedarburg squad, 62-44, in a Division 2 regional final but the Panthers battled to the end. On this particular night the Bulldogs were clicking on all cylinders and the Panthers weren’t.

The Panthers and their fans should not let the loss to Cedarburg spoil what was an outstanding season. PHS rolled to its first conference title since 2011 – posting a 14-0 record in the East Central. The Panthers finished 21-3 overall which is one of the best records in school history for girls basketball.

“We had about as good of a season as any Plymouth girls team. It’s one of the best teams I’ve had in 12 years [11 seasons] at Plymouth. This was one of the best senior classes I’ve had,” said Panther head coach Brad Shutter.

“The majority of these seniors played for me since they were sophomores. I’ll miss the seniors.

“I told the girls after the game [versus Cedarburg] that we have to focus on the 21 wins, going 14-0 in the conference and the conference championship, and focus on the fact that only one team will be happy at the end of the season [when it wins the state championship],” said Shutter.

Shutter said he hoped his team would’ve played Cedarburg when the Panthers were in the Bulldogs’ tournament last December but PHS didn’t.

“If we would’ve played them before it would’ve given us a better idea of their physicality. They kind of caught us off guard [in Saturday’s game]. In the first half they outhustled us on the boards and got the loose balls which set the tone early,” he pointed out.

“They’re one of the more physical teams we’ve played this season.”

Bulldog head coach Dave Ross said there’s a lot of mutual respect between his program and Plymouth’s. The Bulldogs have faced the Panthers several times in the Cedarburg tourney over the past 10 years.

“Plymouth is well-coached and we know they are a really good team this year,” said Ross after the regional title game.

Cedarburg has won an impressive 10 regional crowns in the past 11 years.

The Panthers were probably not as battle-tested going into the playoffs as Cedarburg which was a factor in Saturday’s game. PHS played a good nonconference schedule but the ECC isn’t as strong as the Bulldogs’ North Shore Conference which was won by Division 1 power Germantown (Cedarburg tied for second).

Shutter said it’s hard to schedule games against good nonconference teams because of the distance and expense involved if PHS is on the road. The Panthers already have several long-distance road games in the ECC and it gets expensive with the gas needed and having to play some of them on school nights.

I was impressed with the Panthers’ teamwork, tenaciousness on defense, balanced scoring and chemistry. With a good nucleus returning and getting a boost from this past season’s strong junior varsity team, the Panthers’ outlook for next season is bright.

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