After trailing Inman by double digits for most of the way, Plainville had the momentum and the pro-Cardinal crowd in their corner as they looked to complete a comeback late in Wednesday night's Class 2A state tournament opener.
But thanks to a furious start by Inman in the first quarter, the Cardinals were still just outside of striking distance.
After falling behind 19-3 in the first quarter, Plainville rallied to get within eight in the fourth quarter, but Inman pulled away late, handing the Cardinals a 73-56 loss at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
Three-point shooting from Tanner Copeland and Jared Casey helped get the Plainville deficit within nine a couple minutes into the fourth quarter but Plainville came up empty on its next four possessions, failing to capitalize on an Inman drought.
"It was a teeter-totter right there," Plainville coach Chris Drees said. "I felt like if we could have got a bucket of any kind .... The big kid (Mason Thiessen) blocked a shot and we missed a couple open threes. We were right there from being there with a snap of a finger. If we could have got one of those to go, who knows?"
Inman (21-2) was on the verge of running away with it early, hurting the Cardinals inside to build a 24-8 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Teutons still led 41-28 at halftime.
"I knew they'd be excited to come out. Energy was really good," Inman coach Brett Froese said. "Great start for us. Good thing, because after that, wow. Man, they made a lot of shots."
Froese credited his team for buckling down late and being able to pull away after Plainville's rally.
"We've got six seniors and five of them play a lot," Froese said. "They've played a lot of games together and you could kind of see it on their face. I was saving my timeouts for just in case, but every time I looked at them, they were still good to go."
The Teutons will advance to Friday's 8:15 p.m semifinal to face Ness City.
Inman was led by the trio of Mason Thiessen, Jaxon Eddy and Payton Froese. Thiessen, a 6-foot-8 forward who is headed to Emporia State, recorded 21 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks while Eddy also scored 21 and Froese chipped in 15.
Plainville only got to the foul line once while Inman went 19 of 24 from the stripe. The Cardinals stayed in the game thanks to their shooting behind the arc, hitting 13 of 30 3-point attempts.
"The foul-shooting discrepancy was huge," Drees said. "We knew we were going to have a hard time attacking the paint. We didn't start well, but we battled. I think we were one moving screen away from getting it to a five-point game. I loved the fight in our kids. We never quit."
Copeland, a senior, scored a game-high 23 points, going 8 of 13 from the field and 6 of 10 from 3-point range. Casey joined him in double figures with 12.
The Cardinals ended the year 17-7.
"Season-wise, I'm thrilled," Drees said. "If you would have told me before this season, we'd make a return trip (to state), I'd take it in a heartbeat. I lost six seniors a year ago that played a ton of minutes. I started one senior and I've got a freshman playing and a kid who's 5-6 that's playing. We're just like patch-worked together, and it seems to work. It's a credit to my kids because they make it work."