The Palmyra girls basketball team opened the conference portion of its schedule Friday night with a 60-42 win over Centralia.

“(This win) is very important,” Palmyra coach Chris Parsons said. “In this tough conference you have to protect your home court. We did a good job of that tonight and we got the conference start we needed.”

Looking at the final score, Lady Panthers may seem to have handled Centralia with ease, but it was far from that.

“They came out fast,” Parsons said. “I kind of underestimated their speed.”

Before the Palmyra knew what hit them, the Lady Panthers trailed 7-0. But Palmyra rallied with a run of its own.

“They knocked down some early shots for a 7-0 lead before we went on a 9-0 run,” Parsons said.

At the end of the first quarter, Palmyra trailed 16-12.

The Lady Panthers continued to trail for most of the second quarter. With about two minutes left in the half, Palmyra still trailed Centralia 21-17. But, during those final two minutes of the first half, Palmyra got its offense rolling with another big run. The Lady Panthers closed out the first half with an 11-0 run to take a 28-21 lead into the intermission.

“Our girls battled all night,” Parsons said. “Our transition was really the difference in the second half.”

When play resumed in the third quarter, both teams were scoring points, but it was Palmyra outscoring Centralia 21-12 that put the game out of reach.

“(The third quarter) was huge,” Parsons said. “We ran our breaks well and our defensive intensity really turned up.”

Palmyra had three players finish the night with double-figures in scoring. Katee Hinkle led Palmyra with 15 points while Alexis Losson turned in 14 points. Evie Miles was the big surprise as she turned in 13 points for the Lady Panthers.

“She had been in a small offensive slump and was frustrated,” Parsons said. “But we had preached to her that the other end was just as important and she was still playing well everywhere else. She did a great job of keeping her head in the game and tonight the shots fell. Great leadership from a senior.”

Palmyra will take a break from conference play with the its 70th Annual Tony Lenzini Tournament tipping off on Monday. As the No. 3 seed, Palmyra will play Highland on Monday night at 7:30 p.m.