In Play with Tom Markowski

Davis scores 20 points, Plymouth plays defense and defeats Glenn 51-48 to advance to KLAA conference final

Basketball   | Tom Markowski

Davis scores 20 points, Plymouth plays defense and defeats Glenn 51-48 to advance to KLAA conference final

Westland – Twelve days ago Plymouth went to Westland John Glenn for an important divisional game and played one of its worst games of the season as the Wildcats lost 69-55.

Before Wednesday’s Kensington Lakes Activities Association Kensington Conference semifinal Plymouth coach Mike Soukup was at a loss when asked how his team could play so poorly after they had defeated Glenn earlier in the season.

“They’re 18-year-olds,” he said. “Sometimes you can’t explain it.”

High school basketball games are, more often than not, unpredictable. Glenn’s offense, in particular its 6-10 senior center Mike Edwards, had its way with Plymouth on Feb. 13. This time it struggled. Glenn shot poorly from the free throw line and provided Edwards little help as Plymouth got down and dirty, and dug out a 51-48 victory at Glenn.

The game was tied 22-22 at halftime and it looked like neither team would reach 50.

Plymouth (13-5) will play at Livonia Churchill (13-5) on Friday for the Kensington Conference title at 7 p.m.

Regardless of what happens in that game, this season represents a step forward for Soukup and his program. This is the first time the Wildcats will play for a conference title in Soukup’s six seasons as head coach. In 2010, led by Brennan Beyer, who would later start on defense at Michigan, they won the KLAA South Division title. That’s the only title Plymouth has won in Soukup’s tenure.

“We banged and battled, pushed and shoved,” Soukup said. “It wasn’t pretty. That’s all right. We asked ourselves all season can we get to this game? We always believed we could. But we didn’t always do it.”

It didn’t look good for Plymouth when Edwards took a no-look pass from Titus Mundy and slam dunked a second before the third quarter horn sounded to give Glenn (9-9) a 36-33 lead.

Plymouth was fortunate it trailed by just three. Glenn missed all but one of its nine free throw attempts in the quarter and was 6-for-17 for the game.

Brent Davis opened the fourth with consecutive baskets to give Plymouth a 37-36 lead. Glenn regained the lead on an Edwards basket before Plymouth scored seven straight, the last two on a Josh Reynolds basket.

Plymouth’s last three points came on Deji Adebiyi free throws, his only points of the game, in the final 1:11 and Wildcats survived a desperation 3-point attempt by Mychael Bradley to take home the victory.

Edwards did his part as he had 25 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks but it wasn’t enough. He had 16 in the second half and scored 13 of his team’s final 14 points.

Davis had 20 points and Armani Tate added 11 for Plymouth.

Plymouth’s tallest player is Adebiyi at 6-4 but the Wildcats, despite Edwards’ output, defended the interior well and tried to force Glenn’s other players to take perimeter shots.

Plymouth rebounded by committee and held a 40-32 edge. Davis and Reynolds each had eight.

Davis said the difference this time was that he and his teammates played as a unit, not as individuals.

“When we played them earlier here we played 'me' ball,” Davis said. “We had to play 'we' basketball to win.

“Adebiyi is my guy. When he says he’s going to do something, he delivers. He fronted Edwards and we helped out on the weak side behind him. We definitely had to use our quickness. We have the best guards in the division. We just rip and go. It’s all about defense.”

On Friday it’ll be all about a championship.