The Palmyra boys basketball team took control in the second half to defeat Mark Twain 58-49 on Tuesday night.
Peyton Plunkett needed just 40 seconds Tuesday night to make his mark for the Palmyra boys basketball team during a 58-49 home win over Mark Twain.
Plunkett slammed home the first two points of the season, attacking the basket and using both hands to down the ball with authority.
“That's my first one in a high school game, so that's pretty exciting,” Plunkett said of the dunk. “It'd be really nice to do something like that every game. We'll hope for it.”
Plunkett, who finished with 20 points to lead both teams, made it look easy at times in the opener.
The Panthers first victory was not.
Mark Twain took an eight-point lead in the first quarter with an 11-0 run that included a 3-pointer from guard Devin Neff and was capped with a bucket by Grant Peters, the Tigers 6-foot-7 center.
Mark Twain's biggest lead was 17-9 with 1 minute, 35 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
“We were executing on the offensive end,” Tigers coach Cody McCann said. “We were taking care of the ball, getting up the floor, running our offense, and a lot of it was based on our solid defense the first quarter and a half.”
Landon Lucas scored on a fast break for Palmyra to tie it 19-all with 6:04 remaining in the second quarter, but a nifty post move by Peters and subsequent steal-and-score by Neff put Mark Twain ahead 27-21 and had the visitors primed to enter halftime with a lead.
A pair of Panther sharpshooters prevented that.
Lucas drained a 3-pointer with 1:30 remaining in the first half to pull Palmyra within one before Laithan Sublette knocked down another trey with 33 seconds left to give the hosts a 29-27 edge at the break.
“It was big for our confidence because nothing was really falling in the first half and our offense was stagnant,” Sublette said of the late rally.
Palmyra coach Ryan Wood mentioned the halftime cushion was a welcome development after the Panthers played less than their best the first two periods.
“After getting down eight points and for us to come back and hit a couple shots there at the end to take the lead into half, I felt pretty comfortable because we didn't play our best defense or hit a lot of shots in the first half and we were still up by two points,” he said.
Wood felt even more comfortable as his team took control in the third quarter.
Palmyra went on an 11-2 run to start the second half. Plunkett converted an old-fashioned 3-point play to grow the Panthers lead to nine before Ragar McKinney recorded a steal and turned it into an easy layup.
Preston Eckler, who led the visitors with 15 points, scored to pull Mark Twain within five points late in the third quarter, but the Tigers never got any closer.
Mark Twain junior Kaden Elliott scored six of his eight points in the final period to no avail.
“Those first three minutes of the second half were rough,” McCann said. “We just couldn't overcome that. We would chip away, but every time we'd chip away, we'd give up something and we just couldn't get it back.”
While the Panthers never provided a knockout blow, their tempo wore down the Tigers, who failed to score from the floor the first five minutes of the second half.
“We play fast so we know we're going to give up easy buckets but we know we're going to eventually out-run people and get people pretty tired,” Sublette said. “In the second half I think that really started to show.”
Three Panthers joined Plunkett in the double-digit scoring column, including Lucas off the bench with 10. Sublette (12) and McKinney (10) rounded out the top contributors.
Palmyra shot 12-of-15 from the free throw line, while Mark Twain struggled to 1-for-8.
A year after falling to Mark Twain 45-44 in the season opener, Palmyra took care of business on its home floor.
Plunkett ensured the crowd was into the game from the start.
"That's exciting for the fans, of course, and I like it too," Wood said of Plunkett's jam to get things started. "I'm not going to take anything away from it. It's fun for the kids. For the season to start like that, that's kind of making a statement right off the bat."
Palmyra (1-0) hosts Canton on Friday, the same night Mark Twain (1-1) plays host to Marion County.