The Plymouth Pilgrim Basketball team has called “The Rock” its home since the fall of 1976. 201 seniors have played for the Pilgrims during that time. These seniors have been coached by four different head coaches during those 43 years. 31 of those years, the Pilgrims were lead by Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Coach Jack Edison.
The previous four seasons before calling The Rock their home, the Pilgrims played most of their “home games” at Triton High School. The decision to abandon Centennial Gym was made by the Plymouth Administration. Centennial Gym, which had been the Home of the Pilgrims since 1936, was outdated. The Pilgrims needed a new varsity gym. The Class of 1976 played all four of their high school years traveling to reach their home court destination. The 1976 Pilgrim seniors included Jerry Cook, Mike Crawford, Brent Dipert, Dave Faulstich, Tom Jung, Steve Kring, and Greg Renz.
An addition to the existing Plymouth High School was finally completed in the summer of 1976. A new auditorium along with a new varsity gym were the main components of this addition.
Over the last 43 years, the Pilgrims have played a total of 518 home games at The Rock. They have won 391 of those games. That is a winning percentage of just over 75%. They have also hosted 39 IHSAA Sectionals during that time. The Pilgrims have had a record of 73-22 in IHSAA tournament games played at The Rock, a winning percentage of 77%.
The very first scheduled varsity boy’s basketball game was played against the Goshen Redskins on Friday, 11/26/76. The Pilgrims defeated the Redskins that night 57-54 in front of over 3000 fans according to the 11/27/76 edition of the Plymouth Pilot-News and writer Kevin Woodward.
Pete Buchanan scored the very first basket of the game as the Pilgrims built an early 6-0 lead on Goshen. The Pilgrims lead the Redskins 12-10 at the end of the first eight minutes of play. The lead changed hands four times during a back-and-forth second quarter and ended in a tie at 22.
Even though the score was tied at halftime, the Pilgrims had been whistled for several more fouls than what had been whistled against Goshen. In fact, the Pilgrims did not shoot their first free throw of the game until there were only 26 seconds left in the third quarter. By that time, Goshen had hit 20-24 free throws, and lead the Pilgrims 41-40 heading into the final quarter.
Steve Keiser, John Wendel, and Bob Albertson all had limited minutes during the first three quarters because of foul problems. All three ended up fouling out of the contest before the final horn had sounded.
The Pilgrims came out strong in the fourth quarter. John Beeker hit a pair of free tosses, and then scored on a hook shot. John Wendel hit a jumper, and the Pilgrims lead 46-41.
Goshen hit a bucket narrowing the Pilgrim lead to 46-43 with under five minutes remaining in the contest. Albertson re-entered the contest at the four minute mark and made an immediate impact. He hit a turn around jumper at 3:06, and the Pilgrims built their lead back up to 48-43.
At the 2:40 mark of the final quarter, Keiser was called for a charging foul, his 5th. A moment later, Wendel also picked up his 5th foul, also on a charge call.Goshen then went on a 5-0 run to knot the score at 48-48. A pair of buckets by both teams brought the score to 52-52 with one minute remaining. The Pilgrims called a time out to set up a final play. They worked the ball inside to Albertson who scored and was fouled. He hit the free throw and completed the three point play, and the Pilgrims lead 55-52.
On the ensuing possession, Albertson was whistled for his fifth and final foul. Goshen missed on the front end of the one-and-one. Buchanan was fouled on the rebound and hit one of two free throws pushing the Pilgrim lead to 56-52 with 22 seconds remaining. Beeker also added a late free throw pushing their lead to 57-52. Goshen hit a shot at the buzzer to make the final 57-54.
Next up on the 2018-2019 schedule for the Pilgrims is the 1st Source Bank Holiday tourney. The tourney is scheduled for Friday, 12/28/18. The Pilgrims will play Whitko at 10:30 AM followed by the Jimtown/Knox game. The consolation game is scheduled for 6:15 followed by the championship contest.