The Palmyra girls basketball team beat Highland 80-74 in the Class 3 District 8 quarterfinals three nights removed from a home loss to the same opponent.
Allowing 74 points in a game does not equate to a very high success rate in the high school ranks.
Lauding the performance of your defense after allowing 74 points is not often heard of either.
The Palmyra girls basketball team did just that Monday night.
The No. 5 seed Lady Panthers erupted for a season-best 80 points and their defense came up with crucial stops in an 80-74 Class 3 District 8 quarterfinal win over No. 4 seed Highland.
“Our defense is what helped us win this game tonight,” sophomore guard Raegan Barnett stated. “We came up with some really big stops in the fourth quarter and then our offense was able to score on those stops. But it started with our defense.”
An offensive rebound basket by Amy Bryan gave the Lady Panthers a 68-58 lead with 5 minutes, 20 seconds remaining.
But Highland started to chip away.
The host Lady Cougars eventually pulled to within 73-71 after a bucket from Kennedy Flanagan.
On the Lady Cougars next possession, Palmyra center Audrey Fohey came up with a steal near midcourt and converted it into a layup for a four-point lead with 2:26 left.
Highland would come no closer.
The offense for Palmyra came in waves from a trio of players.
Megan Stone jump-started the attack with 11 first-quarter points.
Barnett added 10 points in the second and third quarters, while Fohey scored eight points in the final frame.
Stone led the way with a game-high 24 points, Barnett finished with 18 and Fohey tallied 14.
“A lot of people stepped up for us tonight,” Stone said. “Then in the fourth quarter, one person would make a play, then someone else would. We just kept having people step up and that is what kept giving us momentum.”
Palmyra connected on 8 of 10 free throws in the first quarter for a 23-18 lead.
The two teams traded buckets through the second quarter as the Lady Panthers led 42-37 at halftime.
Six straight points from Flanagan gave Highland a 50-48 lead with 2:12 left in the third.
A steal by Stone led to a layup by Robby Meyers to tie the game at 52 before Barnett buried her only 3-pointer of the game for a 55-52 lead in the final seconds of the third.
A trey from Meyers, followed by drives by Barnett and Fohey, gave Palmyra a 7-0 start to the fourth.
“Coach said the first couple minutes of the fourth quarter would be the key at the end of the game,” Barnett said. “And we were able to make some plays to keep the momentum.”
Lady Panthers coach Chris Parsons mentioned numerous close games throughout the regular season helped his team withstand the Highland run in the fourth quarter.
“We have been here before,” the Panthers coach said. “We have played in close games all season, we knew how to handle it. It wasn’t fun (seeing them come back), but the girls stepped up and handled the pressure well.”
The win avenged a two-point loss to Highland just three nights prior.
“We really wanted this one,” Stone said. “We wanted Friday night too but knew this game mattered more. We were upset about Friday but we just wanted to come out with a lot more intensity tonight and that is what we did.”
Bryan added eight points and a game-high 14 rebounds in the win.
Highland was paced by Flanagan’s 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Palmyra (16-10) will face top-seeded Clark County in the semifinals Wednesday night.
“We are ready for them,” Barnett said. “We are their only loss this season. We have the right mindset. We just have to come out and play with the intensity and effort we did tonight.”