Palmyra High School sophomore Trae Meny (1) glides past Canton's Logan Brown for a layup during the two team's Highland Tour- nament semifinal game Thursday in Lewistown. Canton led by 14 points three different times after the midway point of the third quarter, but PHS reeled off a 16-1 run to end the game, capped by Meny's contested mid-range jumper with 12 seconds left to play. Palmyra won 54-53. JOE ALBERICO/COURIER-POST
Trae Meny knew he didn't do all of the work Thursday. But he was certainly happy to be the one to finish it. The Palmyra High School boys basketball team faced a 14-point deficit three times after the midway point of the third quarter, but posted a miraculous 16-1 run with just under five minutes to play, going ahead for good on a Meny jump shot with 12 seconds left to shock Canton 54-53. The victory pushed the Panthers into the championship game of the Highland Tournament at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, where they will take on Mexico. The game-winner was Meny's second in eight days after the sophomore drained a last-second 3-pointer to defeat Hallsville on Dec. 30. Meny, who led Palmyra (7-5) with 12 points, got his chance just seconds after Canton's LaVion Wilson made the back end of a pair of free throws to give the Tigers a 53-52 lead with 31.2 ticks remaining. The Panthers charged down the court, and Meny was found open near the free throw line. He was suddenly crowded by Tiger defenders, but elevated just high enough to let loose a perfect jumper that found the net with 12 seconds to go. “(When my shot went in) I was thinking 'We've got this,'” Meny said. “But we wouldn't have been to that point if we didn't have Ragar (McKinney) hit a few threes and Casch (Doyle) rebounding and hitting some putbacks.” After Meny's make, Canton moved downcourt and quickly got a shot off. It missed, and the Tigers attempted several putbacks that were also off the mark. A Panther finally got a hand on a missed shot and batted it into the open court as the buzzer sounded. PHS outscored Canton 18-8 in the fourth quarter, and 14-0 during a run that erased a 52-38 Canton advantage. Before their massive move, the Panthers were struggling to hit shots and get to the free-throw line, and weren't converting their free throws when they did. That trend began changing after Doyle, a junior, was fouled on a layup and sank the ensuing free throw. He hit two more free throws with 3:47 to go to get Palmyra within 52-43. After a McKinney 3-pointer, Doyle hit a putback and a free throw for another 3-point play, and senior Will Obert tied the game with a 3-pointer with 58 seconds left. “That's why this isn't track … it's not an individual sport – it's a team sport,” PHS head coach Brian Meny said. “It's about picking each other up and things like that. It's kind of weird, because the kids know who needs to take the shots and what we need to do, and we had some kids step up big tonight.” After Meny hit a 3-pointer to give PHS a 3-2 lead in the opening minute of the first quarter, Palmyra played from behind until its decisive run. Canton built its first 10-point cushion at 16-6 in the first, and enjoyed five double-digit leads throughout the game. Even after Obert and junior Noah Wilson assisted on McKinney's back-to-back 3-pointers that made it a 42-36 game late in the third, Canton responded with a trey to end the period and another top open the fourth quarter to push its lead back to 48-36. After missing a string of free throws, however, Doyle began to heat up in between two straight buckets from LaVion Wilson. Doyle finished with 10 points in the fourth. He finished 5 of 8 from the line, but made all four of his fourth-period charity shots. Like his teammate Meny, Doyle acknowledge the team-effort it took to rally for the win. “The last five minutes of the game, it was all about teamwork and executing and getting the job done,” Doyle said. “Not one person could've done it by their self. It was all five guys on the court communicating the entire time, playing hard, getting stops on defense and executing on offense.” Doyle followed Meny with 11 points and Obert and McKinney each had nine (all on 3-pointers). Canton sophomore Lance Logsdon scored a game-high 16 points, and fellow sophomore Koy Smith added 15.