Heading into the fourth quarter with a one point lead over the host school of the Highland Tournament, the Palmyra boys’ basketball team was unable to hold its lead as the Panthers lost 69-66 to Highland in the semifinal round of the tournament.

“It was kind of back and fourth all night,” Palmyra coach Brian Meny said. “We had a one point lead at the end one, we were tied at halftime and had a one point lead going into the fourth.”

Palmyra opened up the game with one of its better first quarters of the season, taking a 15-14 lead after the first eight minutes of play. Brock Butler was responsible for more than half the Panthers’ first quarter scoring as he scored eight of his team-high 19 points in the opening quarter.

Highland battled back in the second quarter and outscored Palmyra 14-13 as the two teams finished the first half even at 28-28. Highland’s Derick Smith accounted for virtually all of Highland’s second quarter scoring as he scored 10 of the Cougars’ points. Smith would go on to finish the night with a game-high 22 points.

Palmyra retook the lead in the third quarter, outscoring Highland by one point 21-20. Trevor Meny scored half of his 16 points during the third quarter to help lead the Panthers.

But a bad spell in the fourth quarter cost the Panthers the lead and they were never able to regain it. The Cougars had their second straight 20-plus point (21) quarter in the fourth to beat the Panthers.

“We had a two minute bad stretch in the fourth where they got up eight points on us,” Meny said. “We clawed our way back and had a good looking three point shot at the end to put it to overtime, but we just missed it.”

After scoring just four combined points in the second and third quarters, Butler added another 7 points for the Panthers in the final eight minutes, but it wasn’t enough to catch Highland.

Bazil Keller joined Trevor Meny and Butler with double figure scoring as he turned in 11 points on the night.

“All three had good moments throughout the game,” Meny said. “All three put together good quarters, but just need more consistency.”

With the win, Highland advances to the tournament championship game on Saturday, 7:30 p.m., while Palmyra will play Clark County for third place tonight at 9 p.m.

“(The boys) took it pretty hard,” Meny said. “We have to bounce back and play a tough team tomorrow night.”