BY ED WRIGHT
Jan. 22, 2010, 1:55 a.m.
Friday night's game against Livonia Churchill was No. 10 for Plymouth, meaning mid-term grades were hinging on how well the Wildcats competed against the Chargers.
When it was over, professor, er, coach Mike Soukup was in no mood to give out any A's.
"We're an average basketball team -- I'd give us a C," Soukup replied, when asked what mark he'd give his squad at the half-way mark. "We're as average as you can get right now."
Soukup's less-than-jovial mood was sparked by a rough first half that saw the Wildcats fall into an 18-7 hole at the intermission in a game they would go on to lose, 43-40.
The Wildcats connected on just 3 of 13 field goals in the first 16 minutes.
"It's sad," said Soukup, whose team slipped to 5-5 overall and 2-3 in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association's South Division. "That's definitely one we should have had.
"But, hey, when you decide not to come out of the locker room in the first half, you deserve to get beat."
Why the slow start, coach?
"Your guess is as good as mine," he said. "I can't tell you why we came out flat. I wish I could tell you, but I don't know."
Thankfully for Plymouth, its defense was in full-effort mode, holding the Chargers to just two second-quarter points on 1-of-8 shooting.
Brennen Beyer paced the Wildcats' offense with 11 points, six coming on his patented spin move that starts near the free throw line.
Pat Salo and Mike Nadratowski both contributed nine points while Aaron Thompson tossed in five.
Churchill's 6-foot-6 junior Adam Bedell led all scorers with 14. D'Juan Cooks added 12 on 6-of-9 shooting from the field.
A spirited second half by the Wildcats nearly overcame the horrific first two quarters. After falling behind 22-10 on Bedell's fast-break basket 1:50 into the third quarter, Plymouth came to life, finding some offensive rhythm that cut its deficit to 30-21 with eight minutes to play. Salo, Beyer and Nadratowski also contributed six points in the third quarter run.
The 'Cats made things even more interesting in the fourth when they knotted the game up at 34-all on Aaron Thompson's deep-corner triple with 3:20 to play.
However, after Bedell converted an old-fashioned and-one, the Wildcats were never tied again.
Beyer's offensive-rebound put-back got them to within 41-40 with 13.9 seconds left, but Frizzell, who came into the game with a 60-percent free throw shooting accuracy, calmly drained a pair of freebies to extend the Chargers advantage to 43-40.
Nadratowski got a decent look at a potential overtime-forcing triple, but his shot hit the front iron and bounced high as the final seconds ticked off.
Soukup had a good idea as to why his team played with more fire in the second half.
"At one point, I sat all five guys that were out there and brought five new ones in," he said. "If you're not going to give 100 percent energy, you're going to sit. When they went back out there, they played like they should have been playing."