Panthers’ improvement, teamwork pay off

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff


ADAM SMITH, shown shooting over a Waupun defender this past season, was named the Most Valuable Player on the Plymouth boys basketball team. – Photo by Tyler Luedtke ADAM SMITH, shown shooting over a Waupun defender this past season, was named the Most Valuable Player on the Plymouth boys basketball team. – Photo by Tyler Luedtke PLYMOUTH – The Plymouth Panthers’ improvement and teamwork paid off as they enjoyed a successful 2017-18 boys basketball season.

PHS finished the season 16-9 overall and earned the program’s first regional title since 2014. The Panthers upset No. 1-seeded Cedarburg, 73-65, in a Division 2 regional final. Cedarburg was ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press D-2 poll coming into the game.

PHS advanced to the sectional semifinals where they lost to Nicolet, 67-60. The Panthers placed third in a very competitive East Central Conference with a 9-5 mark.

“We played a very challenging schedule with six of our nine losses coming from teams that either played in the state tournament or played in the sectional finals [which decided a state berth],” said Panther head coach Tim Schultz.


THE PLYMOUTH PANTHERS celebrate with their D-2 regional basketball championship plaque after upsetting Cedarburg, 73-65. – Photo by Tyler Luedtke THE PLYMOUTH PANTHERS celebrate with their D-2 regional basketball championship plaque after upsetting Cedarburg, 73-65. – Photo by Tyler Luedtke “I thought we came together and developed as a team as the season progressed. We played our best basketball from mid-January to the end of the season which is exactly what we were hoping to do.”

Schultz pointed out the highlights of the season.

“As a team, advancing to sectional play for the first time in four years is obviously a highlight. However, the daily effort and enthusiasm they showed as a team was impressive and something the players took pride in,” he said.

From a coaching perspective, the leadership of Cade Knaus, Brandon Keller, Mason Guell, Adam Smith and Johno Aschenbach, along with the team spirit shown by Sawyer Hering, Michael Troka, Sam Shutter, Max Hassel and Ben Olsen, combined with the growth of Cole Booth, Cooper Gosse, Aiden Reilly, Joe Steinhardt and Nick Falls were highlights for me.”

Schultz noted the keys for the team’s success.

“To the credit of the players, we played unselfish basketball throughout the season. We moved the ball well and played team defense, and the guys truly cared more about playing and winning as a team over individual stats,” he said.

Schultz commended the seniors for their leadership and dedication.

“Our six seniors, Johno Aschenbach, Cade Knaus, Brandon Keller, Adam Smith, Mason Guell and manager Luke Schneider were leaders and great examples of dedication and how hard work pays dividends for our younger players,” he said.

Schultz expressed thanks to many people for their support of the team this past season.

“I would like to thank the coaching staff for all of their hard work during the season, the parents and fans for their continued support, and the PHS administration for their support,” he said.

Luke Schneider, our manager, deserves an extra thank you for all of his time and efforts over the past four years as well.”

Looking ahead to next season, Schultz emphasized that the players need to work hard and improve in the off-season.

“In between now and the start of next season we need to maintain and continue to embrace the concept of hard work, daily improvements and doing everything with a proper attitude, solid effort and enthusiasm,” said the coach.

“The players also need to commit to becoming members of the 15,000, 20,000 or 25,000 Shot Club in the offseason.

“Similar to this year, next season it will be very competitive for roster spots and playing time as we only graduate five players from this year’s team. Due to the competition for varsity roster spots and playing time, I fully expect the players to be motivated to improve,” said Schultz.

AWARDS, FINAL STATS

Smith, a guard/forward, was voted the Panthers’ Most Valuable Player by his teammates. Smith, one of the top defenders for PHS, was second on the team in steals with a 1.3 average per game. He was third in assists at 2.4 per contest.

Smith also earned the Panther Pride award, voted on by the coaches. The other award winners, voted on by the teammates, included: Guell, Best Defender and Hustle Award; and Gosse, Most Improved.

Booth, a sophomore point guard, led the Panthers in scoring with a 15.2 points per game average; assists, 3.9 average; and steals at 1.8 per game. Booth was an All-ECC first-team pick.

Knaus, a guard who was named to the All-ECC second team, paced PHS in threepoint goals with 68 (44.4-percent accuracy) and free-throw shooting with an outstanding 91.4 percent (53-for-58). He was second in scoring with a 14.3 average.

Keller, a forward who was all-league honorable mention, led the Panthers in overall field-goal shooting with 52.9 percent (90 of 170).

Guell, a guard/forward, was the Panthers’ top rebounder with a 6.2 average. Aschenbach, a guard, hit a team-best 45.5 percent (5 of 11) from three-point range.

The Panthers’ letter winners included: seniors – Aschenbach, Knaus, Keller, Smith, Guell and Schneider; juniors – Steinhardt, Hering, Hassel, Troka and Falls; and sophomores – Booth, Gosse, Reilly, Shutter and Olsen.


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