PALMYRA, Mo. | The Palmyra boys basketball team will get another shot at Monroe City after winning the district semifinal game against Centralia on Thursday night.
Centralia gave everything they had and had an opportunity to tie it up, but senior guard Guy Moran's 3-point attempt hit the rim and bounced out. Palmyra junior guard Aaron Stamper was fouled after grabbing the rebound and drained to free throws to secure a 53-48 victory.
“We've been in that position a few times this year and it's been against Monroe City and it's went in every time,” said Palmyra head coach Ryan Wood. “So, I had the worst thoughts going through my head, but I'm glad it rimmed off and we got the board and was able to secure the win.”
Wood added that there were times he thought the game would slip away from Palmyra.
“We have been talking the past couple of weeks on who is going to be the most mentally tough team this week and I thought we were tonight,” Wood said. “Centralia is a good team. They beat us last year in the semifinals and had most of their guys back, so I'm extremely proud of what this team is doing and we get one more crack at Monroe City.”
Centralia started the game strong and had a 16-14 lead at the end of the first quarter. Palmyra would get the lead early in the second quarter, but Centralia was able to stay in the game throughout.
Palmyra senior guard Spencer Locke said his team played with a lot of energy and was motivated to defend their home court.
“Instead of nervous, we were motivated because we realized we weren't playing up to our potential in the first half,” Locke said. “We had a 10-point lead, so we knew we could get to it, we just had to trust each other a little bit more when times got tough.”
Centralia focused on stopping Palmyra senior guard Jayden Durst, and he was limited to nine points, which opened opportunities for other players.
Palmyra junior guard Zane Meyers led the team in scoring with 14 points, including four 3-pointers. Junior forward Abe Haerr was second on the team with 12 points.
“They did a good job of taking away our strenghts and containing Jayden, but the other guys stepped up,” Wood said. “I thought Abe Haerr stepped up early in the game with a couple of buckets underneath and Zane hit a couple of big shots in the second half with three 3's. Those were big shots, he had two coming out of the break and one in the fourth quarter that gave us a six-point cushion. Big time players make big time shots and I'm proud of this team.”
Centralia senior guard John Durant led his team in scoring with 16 points. Moran added 12 points and senior guard Nicholas Brooks added 10 points.
Waiting for Palmyra is another matchup against Monroe City, who they played three times previous this season, losing narrowly in each game. Three out of the four Palmyra losses this season has came against Monroe City.
“We've seen each other so many times and we know what each other runs,” Wood said. “I think a lot of it is saving some legs. Tomorrow's practice, we are going to go through some X's and O's, but as far as getting down the floor, we are probably going to try to save our legs a little bit. (We will) have some fun at practice, enjoy the moment, but at the same time be ready to compete on Saturday.”
Up next – Palmyra will play Monroe City in the district finals at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at Palmyra High School.
“Everybody loves the Monroe-Palmyra (matchup), so we are just as exicted as everybody else is to hopefully get our time,” Locke said.
Scoring by quarter
PAL – 14 | 15 | 11 | 13 – 53
CEN – 16 | 5 | 18 | 9 – 48