Peyton Plunkett reached 1,000 points in his Palmyra career Friday night in a 71-61 Clarence Cannon Conference victory over Macon.
It will be remembered as the Peyton Plunkett game.
The Palmyra senior joined the 1,000-point club Friday night when he converted an old-fashioned 3-point play with 5 minutes, 21 seconds left in the third period.
The milestone gave the Panthers a 41-32 lead over visiting Macon.
But the game was far from over.
Macon stormed back with a 14-0 run to take its first lead.
But Plunkett scored eight of his game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter to help the Panthers improve to 13-6 on the season with a 71-61 win over their Clarence Cannon Conference foes.
“We had the momentum and never should have let them go on that 14-0 run,” Plunkett said. “They made some nice plays, but we have to have a better defensive effort to prevent things like that from happening.”
Palmyra missed 10 straight shots after Plunkett’s bucket in the third. Peyton Abbott ended the drought with a rebound basket with 1:11 left in the period, before Ragar McKinney scored 10 seconds later to pull the Panthers back to within one heading into the fourth quarter.
“That was big,” Panthers coach Ryan Wood said of the Panthers scoring the final four points of the third. “When it got bad, it went really bad there for a while. It could have went even more south. It was big going into the fourth quarter because our heads were down and our body language was not very good.”
Plunkett opened the fourth with a bucket on an assist from Ragar Plunkett.
After Bradley Butner answered with a go-ahead basket for the Tigers, Peyton Plunkett again stepped up for the Panthers.
Plunkett converted another 3-point play to put the Panthers ahead 50-48 with 5:55 left in the game.
“There have been times this year where someone will get the hot hand and we will go away from them,” Wood explained. “We kind of did that again tonight. I thought we could have ran more stuff through Peyton with the way he was controlling the middle. But at least we figured that out again in the fourth and were able to close it out.”
After Macon tied the game at 50, Laithan Sublette started a 7-0 run as he carved up the Tigers defense on his way to the rim.
Palmyra would not relinquish the lead.
The Panthers preserved the win by connecting on 14 of 17 free throws in the final quarter. They sank 20-for-25 for the game.
“It’s something we have really been working hard on in practices,” Peyton Plunkett said. “We shoot 100 a day and most of us shoot an additional 50 before we go home. We know in those close game situations, free throws are important.”
Macon missed six of 10 shots from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter.
In addition to his game-high point total, Peyton Plunkett added a game-high 11 boards.
Sublette added 13 points, while McKinney (10) and Ragar Plunkett (8) combined for 18 points in the win.
Wood mentioned Peyton Plunkett’s milestone could not have happened to a more deserving player.
“I am extremely happy for Peyton,” the Panthers coach said. “He had a great all-around game tonight, and I could not be more proud of him. He does so much for this team.”
Plunkett mentioned it was nice to do it in front of his home crowd.
“Just awesome,” he said. “Some of the guys (in the student section) had signs made for me. I had no idea. They hid it from me all week.”
The Panthers return to the court on Tuesday against Class 3 No. 3 Clark County.