Instead, New London scored the first 16 points of the game and never looked back, thrashing the Big Red, 44-22, in a Division III sectional semifinal at Lexington High School.
"I think with jumping on Plymouth early, it forced them to take some quicker shots or tougher shots," New London coach Eric Mitchell said. "The girls seemed confident coming in and you want them to be. Us jumping up 16-0 took a lot of pressure off of us and let the girls just play. We do not play well under pressure."
The No. 7 seed Wildcats improved to 8-14 overall and advance to Saturday's 8 p.m. sectional final against No. 2 seed Seneca East (20-2). Plymouth ended its season at 6-17.
New London picked up a 32-22 win at Plymouth on Jan. 3 while the Big Red won, 41-29 at New London on Feb. 9.
"I think the motivation honestly was the train wreck of the last time we played them," Mitchell said. "We were up 21-8 at halftime and then we were outscored 33-8 in the second half, including 20-1 in the fourth quarter. I thought last time we played them, we got comfortable defensively."
Kiaya Thierry hit a 3 to open the game's scoring. Korah Schmidt scored and Gabby Ledbetter scored on a turn-around jumper for a 8-0 lead. Marisa Molnar added a pair of 3-pointers around a Ledbetter score for a 16-0 lead after one quarter. The Big Red committed eight turnovers in the first quarter.
"I think the girls really used the motivation of the second game," Mitchell said. "We really gave that game away to Plymouth. That is not a knock on them. We just gave that game away. They wanted redemption."
Tristen Wiley connected on a 3 for Plymouth's first points after missing its first 11 shots. Kelsey Blankenship added a bucket to get the Big Red within 16-5 and a little life, but New London was there to swat it away. Back-to-back triples from Thierry and Lili Bartow extended the lead to 17 points.
Thierry scored again after one of the Big Red's 22 turnovers. Lexi Duggar split two free throws and Molnar scored again for a 27-10 lead at halftime.
"At halftime, I told them that we needed to remember what happened the last time," Mitchell said. "It was the same scenario. Tonight, they were not going to let it happen."
Bartow opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer. Later, Blankenship split two free throws before consecutive buckets from Thierry helped push the margin to 36-11.
Maycie Creveling and Mallory Miller scored for Plymouth, but Ledbetter scored down low to give New London a 38-16 lead after three quarters.
Mitchell emphasized the need for defense on Wiley — the Firelands Conference's fourth leading scorer — and Emily Blanton. The two were held to six points and made just 2 of 22 shots including 0 of 11 on two-pointers.
"I know how good Emily Blanton is. Tristen Wiley has really come on for them this year;" Mitchell said. "We knew we had to slow them down. Blanton is a tremendous player. I told the girls all week that we had to stop Blanton."
Thierry paced the Wildcats with 12 points while Ledbetter added 10 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. Molnar tallied eight points and five rebounds.
"Marissa Molnar just stepped up," Mitchell said. "She played the way we have wanted her to play all year. That is what we needed. She was aggressive offensively and defensively."
Plymouth committed 22 turnovers in the loss and made just 9 of 47 shots as a team.
"The fun thing is now when you win, you send teams home," Mitchell said. "We were not ready to go home. I was really proud of the effort they gave tonight."
Maycie Creveling 2-0—4, Emily Akers 1-1—3, Mallory Miller 1-0—2, Kelsey Blankenship 3-1—7, Tristen Wiley 1-0—3, Emily Blanton 1-0—3. TOTALS 9-2—22.
NEW LONDON (8-14)
Korah Schmidt 1-1—3, Lili Bartow 2-1—7, Lexi Duggar 0-1—1, Kiaya Thierry 5-0—12, Marisa Molnar 3-0—8, Megan Conrad 1-0—3, Gabby Ledbetter 4-2—10. TOTALS 16-5—44.
Plymouth 0 10 6 6 — 22
N. London 16 11 11 6 — 44
3-point FGs: (P) Wiley, Blanton; (NL) Bartow 2, Thierry 2, Molnar 2, Conrad