Panthers upset Bulldogs in regional finals

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff


THE PLYMOUTH PANTHERS celebrate with their regional basketball championship plaque after defeating Cedarburg, 73-65, Saturday night. – Photo by Tyler Luedtke THE PLYMOUTH PANTHERS celebrate with their regional basketball championship plaque after defeating Cedarburg, 73-65, Saturday night. – Photo by Tyler Luedtke CEDARBURG – The Plymouth Panthers showed outstanding energy and hustle to fuel a 73- 65 upset win over No. 1-seeded Cedarburg in the Division 2 boys regional basketball championship game here Saturday night.

PHS, seeded No. 4, earned the program’s first regional title since 2014. The Panthers, 16-8, advance to the sectional semifinals Thursday night against No. 3-seeded Nicolet (15-9). The game will be played at Sheboygan South at 7 p.m.

Cedarburg, ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press D-2 poll, finished 19-5.

“It feels amazing. All of the hard work you do is finally paying off,” said Panther senior guard/ forward Mason Guell about his team winning a regional crown.

“We started out with that energy and kept it on them and they couldn’t match it,” said Guell.


COLE BOOTH, Plymouth guard, surveys the Cedarburg defense during Saturday’s regional title game. – Photo by Tyler Luedtke COLE BOOTH, Plymouth guard, surveys the Cedarburg defense during Saturday’s regional title game. – Photo by Tyler Luedtke “We talk about three things – attitude, effort and enthusiasm. We’ve seen it all year-long and we saw it tonight,” said PHS head coach Tim Schultz.

“It’s very solid team basketball [by the Panthers]. I’m really proud of the guys. It was an excellent team effort.”

The Panthers came out on fire from three-point range. PHS scored its first 21 points with seven treys en route to taking a 21-13 lead with 4:50 left in the first half. Cole Booth buried the first three triples for PHS and Cade Knaus and Cooper Gosse hit two each.

PHS used a 10-4 run in the final 3:22 of the opening half to build a 31-19 halftime lead. Brandon Keller scored four points on inside baskets to lead the spurt. Plymouth’s tenacious man-tman defense held the Bulldogs to only 5-for-17 field-goal shooting in the first half.


MASON GUELL of Plymouth attempts to score as Cedarburg’s John Diener defends in Saturday’s regional basketball championship game. – Photo by Tyler Luedtke MASON GUELL of Plymouth attempts to score as Cedarburg’s John Diener defends in Saturday’s regional basketball championship game. – Photo by Tyler Luedtke The Panthers’ defense allowed few uncontested shots and only two second-chance opportunities by Cedarburg in the first half. Plymouth had good ball movement which led to many open looks.

The Bulldogs’ standout senior guard John Diener exploded for 35 points in the second half but the Panthers were able to stay ahead the entire half. Diener, who finished the night with a gamhigh 41 points, came into the game averaging 22.4 points per game.

Knaus, a senior guard, also had a big second half – scoring 16 points to spark the PHS attack. He ended the game with a team-high 24, including four treys which paced the team, and was 8-for-8 at the foul line.

Booth, a sophomore guard, chipped in with 19 points and was 8-for-10 at the charity stripe, with all of his free-throw attempts in the final half.

The Bulldogs pulled to within 51-47 with about five minutes remaining after Diener hit a short jumper. Cedarburg was unable to come closer than four the rest of the game.

The Panthers made 16 straight free throws to seal the win, led by Booth and Knaus with eight and six, respectfully.

Diener’s three-pointer shaved Plymouth’s lead to 65-61 with 56 seconds left but PHS answered with an 8-4 run to close out the contest. Keller’s dunk shot capped off the game’s scoring.

PHS was an excellent 10 of 22 (45 percent) from three-point range. Booth and Gosse hit three three-point goals each. Plymouth’s three-point barrage in the first half forced Cedarburg to switch from a zone to a man-to-man defense.

“We thought we could go over the top of their zone or man-to-man which we did. They’re not as comfortable playing man-to-man as they are zone,” said Schultz.

The Panthers were strong on the boards against a much taller Bulldog team. PHS led 25-24 in rebounds. Knaus had a team-best six rebounds and Guell had five.

Booth and Aiden Reilly led PHS in assists with five apiece. Gosse and Guell had three each.

“The win last night [56-54 over Slinger in the semifinals] carried over a lot of momentum. I definitely feel we wanted it more than they [Bulldogs] did,” said Keller, a senior forward.

“It was a real good team effort by everyone,” he said.

PHS held senior forward Matt Barber, who had a 15.6 scoring average coming in, to only five points.



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