The Palmyra boys basketball team came up with arguably its biggest win of the year Tuesday, knocking off Class 3 No. 3-ranked Clark County, 74-66.
The Palmyra boys basketball team came ready to play Tuesday night.
Panthers coach Ryan Wood mentioned last week his team hadn’t experienced a signature win since defeating Monroe City in the championship game of the Monroe City Invitational in early December.
The Panthers came up with arguably their biggest win of the year Tuesday night, knocking off Class 3 No. 3-ranked Clark County, 74-66.
The victory moves the Panthers into a three-way tie atop the Clarence Cannon Conference standings with the Indians and Monroe City.
“Definitely our biggest win since (the Monroe City Tournament),” Wood said. “We have had some chances to win some big games, but we have shot ourselves in the foot a couple times.”
There would be no letdown Tuesday night, but Clark County’s Zeb Riney fired plenty of shots in the second half and nearly pulled the Indians out of a 20-point deficit.
The Clark County senior, who was honored before the game for surpassing 1,000 career points earlier in the season, drained eight 3-pointers in the second half.
His first came after the Panthers went ahead 41-19 with 6 minutes, 29 seconds left in the third period.
Riney’s trey with 30 seconds left in the third stanza started a string of four straight possessions with a three. The fourth pulled the Indians to within 55-47 with 6:27 left in the game.
Wood then took a timeout.
“Zeb got hot,” the Panthers coach said of Riney. “The main thing was I told them we needed to contest and close out better. I thought our close-outs were a little weak and gave them too much space.”
As hot as Riney was, it was a Panther guard who came up with the biggest shot of the game.
Ragar McKinney all but sealed the win with a corner three with 2:07 left. The shot was part of a five-point possession as Clark County coach Adam Rung was assessed a technical foul. Ragar Plunkett sank both free throws before McKinney’s shot gave the Panthers a 66-54 lead.
“That was a huge shot and probably the dagger,” Wood said of McKinney's three. “I have no problem with him taking that shot. If he’s comfortable taking it, I am OK with it. And when if goes in, it’s awesome.”
McKinney, who finished with 21 points, echoed the same thought.
“That was a momentum changer,” the junior guard said. “I felt like once that shot went in, we had the win. It was just a great win. A great team win. Everyone was scoring.”
Peyton Plunkett paced the Panthers with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Plunkett registered 11 of his points in the first quarter, as the Panthers jumped out to a 21-12 lead after the first eight minutes of play.
“Against this team, we needed to come out with a strong start,” Wood said. “If Clark gets a lead on you, they do such a great job of controlling the game and not allowing you back in the game because they just don’t make many mistakes. And with the way they shot the ball in the second half, we needed the big lead.”
Aside from McKinney’s crucial 3-pointer, the Panthers also shut the door with their free-throw shooting.
Palmyra connected on 14 of 16 shots from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter and 18-for-23 for the game.
Ragar Plunkett was a perfect 9-for-9 at the line, including hitting all eight of his attempts in the fourth.
“Ragar is not the best shooter, but he is always in the gym shooting free throws,” the Panthers coach said. “He has shot a great percentage from the line this season, and we will keep on putting the ball in his hands in those situations.”
Chandler Bevans and Riney paced the Indians (16-3) with 27 and 24 points, respectively.
Ragar Plunkett finished with 13 points in the win, while Peyton Abbott added seven points — all in the second period.
Palmyra (14-6) returns to the court Friday night as it plays host to South Shelby.