By DAVID VANTRESS
THE GOSHEN NEWS
In basketball, as in many other sports, it’s not how you start — it’s how you finish.
For the Goshen High School girls basketball team Thursday night, a strong start, sluggish middle, and strong finish was enough for the Redskins to escape with a 49-41 win over visiting Plymouth in an NLC contest and the 2012-13 regular season finale.
With the victory, Goshen finishes 13-7 overall (3-4 NLC). Plymouth dropped to 14-6 (4-3).
On Senior Night, the Redskins were honoring just one senior: guard Aimee Swihart, who was playing her final home game.
Swihart did not disappoint as she scored 20 points, going 10-for-12 from the free-throw line.
She also dished out 8 assists to her teammates.
Sophomore forward Kayci Troyer also stepped up against the Lady Pilgrims by scoring 11 points, ripping down 7 rebounds blocking a pair of shots.
Goshen jumped out to a quick 11-2 advantage, but the Pilgrims whittled that Redskin lead down to five at 13-8 at the first stop.
A foul and old-fashioned 3-point play by Plymouth to start the second stanza trimmed the Redskins’ lead to a bucket at 13-11.
The Pilgrims took advantage of ice-cold Goshen shooting in the period to outscore the Redskins 11-3 in the quarter and lead 19-16 at halftime.
Plymouth surged out to a 23-16 lead early in the third, but Goshen was able to weather the Pilgrim push and close the quarter with a 10-3 run to tie the game at 26 entering the decisive final period.
Then, it was time to batten down the hatches for a good-old-fashioned Indiana barnburner, as the Redskins pushed out to a 38-30 lead midway through he quarter only to have to hold on down the stretch as Plymouth cut the Goshen edge to 44-41 with just under 30 seconds remaining.
The Redskins made 5-of-6 free throws in the final 24 seconds — four of those by Swihart — to preserve the win.
Swihart, who this season became the Redskins’ all-time leading scorer and charter member of the 1,000-point club, exited the game with about five seconds remaining to a hug from coach Lenny Krebs and high-fives and hugs from her teammates.
Swihart said she wasn’t focused on Thursday night’s contest being her final home game.
“I still have a lot of basketball left to play,” Swihart said. “I wanted to win this game, just like I want to win all our games.”
Swihart recently signed to continue her career at Bethel College in Mishawaka.
“This was my last game at this gym, but there’s going to be more basketball for me at other gyms,” a smiling Swihart said.
Krebs said his team has some work to do before next week’s sectional tournament.
“I’m proud of the way our girls battled,” Krebs said. “This was a typical NLC game, hard-fought and physical.”
Hunter Stevens led Plymouth with 23 points.
The J.V. Redskins were a 41-35 winner in the J.V. contest, The J.V. Redskins improved to 13-7 overall (4-3 NLC).
The JV Lady Redskins finished their season off strong Thursday night by defeating Plymouth 41-35. Leading the way offensively for the Redskin jayvees against Plymouth was Brooke Miller with 14 points, Macie Miller added eight and Sheyenne Rangel had seven.
Goshen opens Class 4A Sectional 4 play against Elkhart Central Tuesday night at Concord.
Tipoff is slated for approximately 7:30 p.m.