The final Varsity Boy’s Basketball game ever played in Centennial Auditorium took place on Friday, 2/28/72. The Pilgrims hosted and upset the highly ranked Rochester Zebras 82-78.
The account shared here is the Plymouth Pilot-News story written by Sports Editor Harold Lowe:
PILGRIMS ZONK ZEBRAS 82-78
Plymouths’ Pilgrims, down and seemingly on the way out, suddenly caught fire late in the third quarter and rallied to knock off the highly regarded Rochester Zebras 82-78 and reclaim the treasured Cowbell in roaring, jam-packed Centennial Gym Friday night.
The Pilgrims were sparked by Roger Haeck who came off the bench in a reserve role to score 15 second half points with 10 of them coming in the torrid fourth quarter. Haeck’s baseline 15-footer with 1:20 left in the game broke a 73-73 tie and the Pilgrims lead the rest of the way.
Haeck had to share the hero’s role with six of his teammates though, as the Pilgrims put together their finest team effort of the season to score their third straight win and finish with a 10-10 record and a 4-3 Northern Lakes Conference mark. Rochester closed out with a 16-4 overall mark and an identical 4-3 NLC slate which leaves the two teams tied for third place.
Kevin Weidner notched 20 points to lead the Pilgrims in scoring with Marc Hayden adding 14 and Dennis Wade 12. Mike Delp came off the bench in the third period and hit three buckets before leaving late in the fourth quarter.
Weidner, 6-2, Larry Greenlee, 6-4, Haeck, 6-2, and Delp, 6-2, were strong on the boards for the Pilgrims who were hurt by the loss of Dan Dittrick because of illness. Plymouth wound up with a 45-43 rebounding edge over the taller Zebras and hauled down 22 rebounds in the second half to 16 for Rochester.
The Pilgrims found themselves down by 13 points late in the third quarter as Bruce Grimm and Bill Parker, who wound up with 31 and 21 points respectively, provided the Zebras the a near perfect balance of inside and outside shooting.
Plymouth Coach Steve Yoder wanted to keep Grimm about 20 feet from the basket and the Pilgrims were successful in not letting the Rochester junior penetrate through their zone defense but he bombed away from the perimeter for 18 first half points.
Parker scored 13 points in the first half with nearly all his shots coming directly under the basket. Parker, 6-5, and Mike Wisley, also 6-5, and Mark Grube, 6-2, had an edge over the Pilgrims who lost three inches when Wade, 6-0, got the starting call in place of the ailing Dittrick. While those three players were on the floor the Zebras controlled the boards but when Coach Jim Powers shuffled Jum Werner, 6-0, and son Jim Powers, 6-2, into the lineup the Pilgrims were able to take the rebounding edge.
Both teams took turns making errors in bunches and both teams took advantage of the other’s mistakes. The Pilgrims made most of their seven third quarter turnovers in the first four minutes and Rochester built its lead to 13 points. Finally Plymouth’s full court press started to work and the Zebras contributed heavily to the Plymouth comeback with seven errors, most of them in the final two and a half minutes as the Pilgrims reeled off 14 straight points.
The Pilgrims wound up making 18 errors while Rochester had 16 turnovers.
The Zebras jumped off to a quick lead as Grimm started blazing away from outside and Rochester built its lead to 15-6 with 4:01 left on the first quarter clock before the Pilgrims could get untracked. Plymouth then reeled off nine straight points to tie it at 15-15 with Wade’s three-point play capping the spree. Grimm, who wound up with 12 points in the quarter hit three staright from the outside and the Zebras were on top 23-17 at the end of the period.
Weidner scored eight points in the second period as the Pilgrims were able to pull within three of the Zebras on several occasions but could get no closer. Parker scored eight and Grimm six to pace the Rochester to a 41-32 lead shortly before halftime. As the buzzer sounded to end the quarter, Gary Myers cut loose with a 60-foot shot that looked like it was halfway through the hoop before it bounced out.
The Zebras continued to pull away from the Pilgrims in the third quarter and Parker’s layup with 2:35 left made it 57-44. It was at that point that the Rochester express was suddenly derailed. The Pilgrims, with Weidner scoring six points, Haeck four, and Delp four, scrambled back to take the lead 58-57 with 21 seconds remaining but Grimm zipped in a 20-footer at the buzzer to put the Zebras back in front 59-58.
Grimm hit a 20-footer and Parker added a pair of free throws to up Rochester’s lead to five points, 63-58 in the early minutes of the fourth quarter.
With the Zebras in front 64-60, the Pilgrims netted seven straight points on a pair of baskets by Haeck, one by Hayden, and a Greenlee free throw to grab a 67-64 lead with 4:21 left to play.
After Powers and Hayden traded baskets, Weidner went crashing to the floor, the victim of a flagrant foul by Grube who was also given a technical foul. Grube was ordered out of the game and Weidner was given three free throws, two for the flagrant foul and one for the technical, and converted two of them to give the Pilgrims a 71-66 lead with 3:29 showing on the clock.
The Zebras bounced back to outscore the Pilgrims 7-2 in the next two minutes with Wisley hitting to tie the score 73-73 with 1:30 left to play. Just 10 seconds later Haeck hit the 15-footer along the baseline and the Pilgrims lead 75-73 and never trailed again.
Hayden stole the ball seconds later and scored to up the Plymouth lead to four points and the Zebras could never get any closer than three points after that. Haeck’s layup with 15 seconds left made it 81-76 and clinched the victory for the Pilgrims. Plymouth hit 10 of 17 shots during the fourth quarter rally.
The Pilgrims committed nine fouls in the fourth quarter and the Zebras had 14 attempts at the free throw line but hit only seven and missed the front half of three one-and-ones. Rochester made 14-25 free throws in the game and the Pilgrims hit 16-26 after making only three of seven in the first half.
The Pilgrims connected on 33 of 67 shots from the field for 49 per cent shooting while Rochester made 32 of 69 for 46 per cent.
PLYMOUTH (82) FG FT TP PF
Weidner 6 8 20 2
Wade 5 2 12 2
Greenlee 3 1 7 4
Myers 4 0 8 3
Hayden 6 2 14 1
Haeck 6 3 15 3
Delp 3 0 6 4
TOTAL 33 16 82 19
ROCHESTER (78) FG FT TP PF
Wisley 2 3 7 3
Grube 2 0 4 4
Parker 8 5 21 3
Betz 3 1 7 1
Grimm 13 5 31 2
Werner 1 0 2 1
Powers 3 0 6 2
TOTAL 32 14 78 16
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Plymouth 17 33 58 82
Rochester 21 41 59 78
OFFICIALS: Josh Bush, Gene Marks