The Palmyra boys’ basketball team used a 13-0 run to open the second quarter of the Monroe City Tournament Saturday to take a lead as the Panthers went on to beat top seeded Marion County 81-62.
“At any time with our pressure defense we can hit that run,” Palmyra coach Brian Meny said. “Maybe not any time, but we have been living on that. We hit a 13-0 run on them and got things going so we know that our pressure defense can turn people over. I think our physicality and our speed kind of wore Marion County out tonight.”
After Palmyra (4-1) opened the game with a 6-0 lead, Marion County got within 6-5 before Palmyra extended its lead to 8-5. After that though, the rest of the first quarter belonged to Marion County. The Mustangs closed out the first quarter of play on a 11-0 run that gave Marion County a 16-8 lead.
“Turnovers killed us,” Butler said. “So did our press and that they got behind us early. The turnovers really hurt us bad.”
Even though the Panthers were trailing, they weren’t fazed.
“We have been down in three of our four games this year,” Butler said. “We knew we could come back and we have the ability to come back.”
Butler was right. Marion County’s lead didn’t last long.
In the second quarter, Palmyra scored six straight times on four layups and two treys to take a 21-16 lead with 5:14 left in the half. After Marion County tied the game at 21-21 with 4:45 remaining, Palmyra responded with another long run. The Panthers’ 9-0 run gave Palmyra a 30-21 lead with 1:13 left in the half.
“Coach (Meny) told us to attack the middle of the zone,” Butler said. “We got some easy shots and that made (Marion County) go in the middle more and we got some outside shots open.”
Over the final 73 seconds of the second half, Palmyra scored 8 more points while Marion County scored six times. In all, the Panthers scored 30 points in the second quarter, 11 of which came from Butler, while holding Marion County to just 11 points.
“We don’t make a whole lot of changes,” Meny said. “We made a little bit of a change to get Bazil (Keller) the ball more and Jordan (Nutt) on the high post. We normally run our break and do a four-out, but I went to a three-out with a high post look coming down the floor and we got some easy buckets.”
Palmyra’s 30 points in the second quarter wasn’t the first time the Panthers have scored 30 or more in a quarter this season. In the Panthers’ first win of the season (Nov. 30), Palmyra scored 31 in the fourth quarter to beat Canton.
Page 2 of 2 - “It’s good that we didn’t wait until the fourth quarter,” Meny said. We put up 31 in the fourth quarter the other night. We have that scoring capability, but I would really like to distribute that a little better and get 20 in each quarter rather than waiting on that big 30 point quarter, but that is the way it goes.”
Palmyra led 38-27 at the break with just over one-third (13) of the Panthers’ points coming from Butler.
“We never start out too good,” Butler said. “The second third and fourth quarters are our best quarters. We knew going into halftime with the lead that we play our best basketball in the second half. We knew we could hold onto the lead and keep going with it in the second half.”
The Panthers’ scoring surge slowed up a bit in the second half, but not by much. Marion County outscored Palmyra 22-20 in the third quarter to cut the Panthers’ lead to 9 points.
Kason Spratt scored 14 of his team-high 22 points for Marion County (5-1) in the third quarter.
“We knew Spratt was a good player,” Meny said. “He likes to go to the hole with his right and spin back. We didn’t get him trapped the way we needed to or doubled up, but he did a nice job there and did some nice things for Marion County.”
When the game’s final eight minutes began, Palmyra again went on a run. The Panthers scored 9 straight points to increase their lead to 67-49 within the first two minutes of the fourth quarter. Palmyra went on to outscore Marion County 23-13 during the fourth quarter to secure the Panthers’ first Monroe City Tournament championship since 2008. The championship was the Panthers’ 24th overall in the 88-year history of the tournament.
Once again, it was Butler leading the charge for Palmyra in the fourth quarter. Butler put up 11 more points in the game’s final eight minutes to finish the night with a game-high 33 points.
“They were all big for us,” Meny said. “It was a good night out of all those kids. Each night it has been Brock (Butler) and Trevor (Meny) leading us in scoring. It is nice to get Bazil (Keller) in there with 16 points and doing some things.”
In addition to Butler, Meny, a sophomore, finished the night with 15 points while Keller, a junior, contributed 16 points. Coming in off the bench, Palmyra’s Caleb Kizer finished with 7 points.