BY TRAVIS DAVID
PALMYRA — Both Palmyra basketball teams entered Tuesday night with a sour taste in their mouths, coming off a loss in their own tournament over the weekend.
That did not bode well for visiting Brookfield.
Both Panther teams jumped out to double-digit leads over their Clarence Cannon Conference counterparts and both picked up wins.
The Lady Panthers (6-8, 1-1) scored the first 11 points of the game and staved off a late rally for a 36-32 win in a defensive battle, while the Palmyra boys scored the first 21 points and cruised to a 61-20 romp.
In the girl’s game, the contest came down to defense and free throws.
Trailing 33-32 with just under 90 seconds left in the game, Brookfield passed the ball to Kaley Smith down in the low post. As Smith was quickly guarded by Palmyra freshman Candra King, Smith passed the ball to an open teammate on the opposite block. As the shot went up, King pivoted towards the player and swatted the shot away to preserve the Panthers’ lead.
Taytum White sealed the win with three free throws in the final minute.
“I was on help defense and I knew there was another girl on the other side of me so I knew I had to be careful,” King explained. “I went straight up when she (Smith) got the ball and when she passed it to the other side I just saw an opportunity to get a block when the shot went up.”
— Travis David (@TDavid_21) January 27, 2021
King also lauded her classmate for hitting the free throws at the end to prevent the Bulldogs’ comeback.
“At the end, we really just came together as a team and figured out how to step up,” King said. “And Taytum did a good job of coming up clutch by making those free throws.”
King finished the game with just two points but added two steals and five rebounds in addition to the game-changing swat. White netted a game-high 12 points in the win.
Defense was the name of the game for the Panthers from the start. Palmyra forced the Bulldogs into seven turnovers to aid in the 11-0 start.
Despite turning over the ball 10 times in the first eight minutes of play, the visitors managed to creep back to within 13-7 heading into the second.
Senior Grace Krigbaum came up with four steals in the first period to go along with four points.
A drive by Mallory Sublette with just over six minutes remaining in the first half gave the Panthers a 19-15 lead.
It would be the only made field goal of the second for Palmyra but four more free throws kept the Panthers in the lead, 19-17, at the break.
A blocked shot followed by a driving layup at the other end of the court — both by senior Rylie McKinney — extended Palmyra’s lead to 28-21 with 2:21 left in the third.
But again, Brookfield chipped away as it trimmed the deficit to 28-26 heading into the final eight minutes of play.
After the Bulldogs pulled even for the first time in the game at 30-all, Maura Gottman broke the tie with a long jumper along the baseline. White assisted on the play.
Moments later, the Bulldogs had an opportunity for its first lead of the game but could not convert an old-fashioned three-point play with 1:51 left in the game.
Krigbaum gave the Panthers (6-8, 1-1) their final lead of the game, 10 seconds later, as she split a pair of free throws ahead of the heroics of the Panthers’ freshmen.
Krigbaum finished the game with nine points, five steals and three rebounds.
McKinney added seven points, four rebounds and three blocked shots, while Sublette scored just two points but added three rebounds and three steals.
Lady Panthers’ coach Alex Brandenburg gave praise for Sublette’s effort.
“It may not show up in the scorebook, but I thought she was the difference-maker for us defensively,” the coach said of his sophomore ballhawk. “She made some big plays defensively for us and did a great job on their leading scorer. I think she (Ella Daugherity) hit a couple of shots early, but Mallory shut her down the rest of the game.”
Daugherity hit two 3-pointers in the first half but was limited to just two free throws in the second half with Sublette close by in her shadow.
The boy’s game was never close. Freshman Bear Bock scored all eight of his points in the first period as the Panthers led 18-0 heading into the second.
Zane Meyers converted an old-fashioned 3-point play on Palmyra’s first possession of the second to cap the 21-0 start.
After Brookfield scored the next six points, the Panthers slammed shut the door by finishing the first half on a 21-4 run.
Leading 56-17 after three quarters, the final period was played with a running clock.
Palmyra (9-6, 2-0) did not play any of its starters for the final 13 minutes of the game.
Laydin Lochman came off the bench to tally a game-high 11 points in the win. Lochman also pulled down a game-best nine rebounds and came up with two steals.
Meyers added 10 points, handed out six assists and had four steals.
Bock added seven rebounds and three helpers in addition to his eight points.
Quade Plunkett finished the game a perfect 4-for-4 shooting for nine points as 10 different Panthers scored in the win.
“Quade’s shot looked good and finished his shot high,” Panthers’ coach Ryan Wood said of his senior. “We are just happy to get the win to move to 2-0 in the conference. Everyone got to play and most of them scored so we are happy.”
Palmyra travels to CCC foe Macon on Friday for another girls and boys doubleheader.