In the third quarter of Friday night’s Firelands Conference contest between Plymouth and Monroeville, Mitchell Chaffins was making it rain.
Despite not scoring in the first two periods, Chaffins came out of halftime on fire, drilling a trio of three-pointers to help get the Big Red (2-8 overall, 1-5 FC) back in front.
Plymouth started out the game scoring the first eight points, but stalled shortly after that. The Eagles (2-8, 0-6) took advantage of the Big Red’s struggles and started to rally. Nick Newell hit a three to get Monroeville on the board, as the the Black and Gold closed out the first one a 7-0 stint. The Eagles continued that streak into the second, as they outscored Plymouth 14-2 in the opening minutes of the quarter.
Big Red senior Harley Richman, though, hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer before halftime that ultimately turn the tides.
Chaffins and the Big Red, who were trailing 23-21, came out of the locker room and dominated the second half, outscoring the Eagles 40-16. Chaffins opened the quarter with a three-ball for Plymouth to take back the lead and the rest was history.
Chaffins was only able to find the basket in the third period, but he really didn’t need to find it much more than that.
“He started knocking down shots,” Plymouth coach Derrick Schelenberger said. “He was ice-cold in the first half, but then he warmed up. Once one goes in for him, it’s usually a waterfall after that. Him knocking the ball down and the rest of the team knocking their shots down was huge. It opened up some of our teammates; he made everybody else better on the court. It was a huge third quarter for him.”
He finished with 13 points, which was second behind sophomore Jacob Adams who had 14. Austin Nester chipped in with 10 points.
“There were a lot of assists, there wasn’t a lot of 1-on-1 iso ball, and we’ve been preaching to them 20 assists per game. We’re probably in the lower half of the area for assists. When we don’t pound the ball into the floor and move it around the outside, guys are open. Tonight we were able to find them.”
But it wasn’t just the offense that figured things out at halftime. The Big Red defense, after allowing 16 points in the second quarter, limited Monroeville to just 16 points in the whole second half.
“We haven’t done that all year,” Schelenberger said. “We preached defense all week this week. It was the best week of practice we’ve had all season and I think it showed tonight, in the second half especially. We need a lot more games like that. It’s a huge win. We’ve been on a bad streak.”
Monroeville coach Al Mielcarek was baffled.
“It was a total collapse in the second half,” he said. “You’ve got to give credit to (Plymouth). It was nothing that we didn’t talk about in the locker room, we just couldn’t make the adjustments on the court tonight. We were aware of that back door, we were aware of their shooters. We either didn’t get out or take one away. It just wasn’t our night tonight. I think that the second half was our worst half of basketball all season.”
Newell and Reece Kendall were the only Eagles to score in the double-digits, as Newell had 12 and Kendall 10. Chayce Schaub added eight. Newell hit three three-pointers in the game.
“They were helpful in the beginning, but they don’t feel as good and they don’t mean as much when you get down by that much.”
The Eagles, despite this setback are starting to find a groove, as they have won two of their last four games after starting the season 0-6. Mielcarek would like to see a short memory from his team, as they have to prepare for the Chargers tonight.
“I thought we played a strong first quarter and a half to end the first half. That’s what we needed to carry into the third quarter. The good thing about basketball is that we have get to play tomorrow, the bad part is we have Edison. It’s good that we’re able to play another game tomorrow night. We’ve got to be ready to go. It’s the crunch time of the season — we have eight games in and 18 day stretch,” Mielcarek said.
Plymouth will have a tough game today, as they will be hosted by Mansfield St. Pete’s — the No. 7-ranked team in Division IV.
“They’re not going to be an easy game at all, so it’s good because tonight was a huge confidence-booster for us going into that,” Schelenberger added.
Newell 3-4-12; Schaub 2-4-8; Burns 0-1-1; Clouse 2-0-4; Miller 1-0-2; Anderson 1-0-2; Kendall 4-2-10. Totals 13-10-39.
Reed 4-0-8; Osbourne 3-0-6; Adams 6-0-14; Nester 5-0-10; Richman 1-2-5; Collins 1-0-2; Chaffins 4-2-13; Montgomery 1-0-3. Totals 25-4-61.
Monroeville 7 16 6 10 — 39
Plymouth 10 11 23 17 — 61