The Palmyra girls’ basketball team will get a third shot at Bowling Green this season after beating Clark County 67-44 Friday night.
The Lady Panthers used a 22-0 run that lasted from 2:45 left in the second quarter to the 4:09 mark in the third quarter to put the game out of reach. During the run, all the scoring came three players.
“The last two minutes of the second quarter was that 11-0 run,” Palmyra coach Chris Parsons said. “To get that going into halftime was major major importance. In the third quarter we came out and continued to click hit some big shots. We hit a bit shot to start the third and kind of just rolled from there.”
Katee Hinkle and Alexis VanNostrand account for most of the run. Hinkle hit two treys, a jump shot and a pair of free throws while VanNostrand nailed four straight free throws and added two layups, one coming off a steal. Alexis Losson started and ended the run with a pair of layups.
By the end of the run, Palmyra led Clark County 43-22.
“It was crazy,” Hinkle said of the Lady Panthers 22-0 run. “We finally got to play our game and we put it together. It was awesome.”
The game wasn’t always a blowout though. In the first quarter the game was tied up at 9-9 and there were six total lead changes. Even with Palmyra closing out the opening quarter on a 7-0 run, the Lady Indians were not out of it.
“We gave them hope,” Parsons said. “We preached that going into this game. They beat a really good Monroe City team the other night. They were coming into this game with nothing to lose. If we didn’t come out prepared, they were going to hang in it and we let them hang around for quite a while.”
Palmyra increased its lead to 18-9 almost as soon as the second quarter began. But Clark County fought back. The Lady Indians hit a three-pointer that started a 13-3 run for Clark County.
By the time the second quarter had 3:31 left, Clark County and erased Palmyra’s nine-point lead and taken a 22-21 lead of its own.
“We came out a little rusty in the first half,” Hinkle said. “But we finally got into a groove and started really working together. We played great when we played together.”
But that was the last time Clark County would lead or be even remotely close to the Lady Panthers.
“Great second half,” Parsons said. “We kind of got off to a slow start and were allowing penetration of the lane which is a No. 1 don’t do in our defensive book. We allowed them to get to the lane and allowed their bigs to get some offensive rebounds. We just weren’t moving our feet early. Offensive never really was a concern for us. Anytime you put up 30-something points in a half, you know you are on the right track offensively. But defensively we knew we were better than that and proved that in the third quarter.”
Palmyra outscored Clark County at a five to one (15-3) rate in the third quarter. When the fourth quarter began, the Lady Panthers led 47-25.
“We knew if we took away the driving force outside shots, that we were going to get the agme we wanted,” Parsons said. “Early we didn’t do that, but at the end of the second quarter and pretty much all of the third quarter, you seen what we wanted to do, which was take away drive and force them to shoot outside shots.”
During the final eight minutes of play, the two teams battled it out. Clark County came within one point of matching the Lady Panthers point for point. But, in the end, it was Palmyra outscoring Clark County 20-19 in the fourth quarter.
All but one player on the Palmyra varsity squad scored in the game.
“It is awesome when everybody can score,” Hinkle said. “Everybody contributing makes it easier for everybody and we are coming together as a team.”
The Lady Panthers had three players finish in double-figures. Hinkle hit five treys and finished with a game-high 24 points. VanNostrand finished with 10 points while Losson turned in 11 points coming in off the bench.
“I have awesome teammates who can pass the ball to me,” Hinkle said. “They just know how to get the ball and set amazing screens. They are a great team.”
Parsons was pleased with how his whole team contributed to the win over Clark County.
“This was a big team win,” Parsons said. “We expect that out of our team. From top to bottom, we expect people to be able to step in and score and put points on the board and take care of the basketball, play defense and make free throws. We expect that out of No. 1 down to No. 14 that we have right now.”
With the win, Palmyra has now won 11 straight and 19 of its last 20 games. The Lady Panthers improve to 22-5 on the season and will face Bowling Green tonight at 7:30 for the Class 3, District 7 championship.
“We have got to play well,” Parsons said. “I told the girls after (Friday night’s) ball game that if they can’t walk in this gym tomorrow morning at the walk through thinking that they can beat this team (Bowling Green), then they don’t even need to show up. This is a team that we can beat. Nothing against Bowling Green, they are a great basketball team and they are a big physical basketball team, but we are playing pretty good basketball and we will be ready.”
Hinkle is ready for one more shot at Bowling Green.
“We need to play like we are not going to lose,” Hinkle said. “We are not scared and we just need to come out and play our game.”