Peyton Plunkett and Ragar McKinney combined for 19 points in the third quarter of a 64-53 home win over Louisiana on Friday night.

Coming off an emotional loss Tuesday night, the Palmyra boys basketball team started a little sluggish Friday night against Clarence Cannon Conference foe Louisiana.

The host Panthers led 16-12 after the first quarter and 28-22 at the break.

But the Panthers found a second gear in the third quarter.

Peyton Plunkett and Ragar McKinney combined for 19 of Palmyra’s 23 third-quarter points, as the Panthers extended their lead to 15 points en route to a 64-53 win. 

“We had a tough game Tuesday night, a game we felt like we should have won, and I personally thought we looked a little bit mentally tired tonight,” Panthers coach Ryan Wood admitted. “But we started to do some good things in the second half...picked up on both ends of the floor.” 

One of the things the Panthers did a much better job of in the second half, according to Wood, was moving on offense. 

“I thought we did a much better job of moving the ball in the second half, which created better possessions,” the Panthers coach said. “We got the ball in the middle a few times and Peyton (Plunkett) had a really nice night for us offensively. He did a god job of finishing at the basket tonight.”

Plunkett scored 10 of his team-high 22 points in the first eight minutes of the second half. The Panthers post player also pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.

Laithan Sublette scored the only other points for Palmyra in the pivotal third period on a pair of drives to the rim. 

Sublette also helped start the second-half scoring by tossing a perfect pass underneath the basket to McKinney on a backdoor cut.

Louisiana crept back into the game as it connected on three straight 3-pointers midway through the final stanza. 

Michael Francis hit the first two, while Zach Ellsworth’s shot pulled the Bulldogs to within 56-47 with 3 minutes, 1 second left in the game. 

“Louisiana is a team who can fill it up in a hurry,” Wood said. “Being able to build the lead up to 15 points (in the third) was really big for us.” 

Palmyra sealed the win by sinking six free throws in the final two minutes. 

“We are starting to do a lot of the little things better, like doing a better job on free throws,” Wood noted. “Things like that and getting the ball in the middle of the court and taking care of the basketball, they all add up.” 

Palmyra finished 14-for-19 at the charity stripe for the game.

Derek Richards scored a game-high 23 points to pace the Bulldogs, while Francis added 10 points. 

“Holding a good offensive team like Louisiana to 53 points is a good night,” the Panthers coach said. “We were really disappointed Tuesday and Wednesday (after loss to Monroe City), but the kids did a nice job rebounding and getting a good win.”

McKinney finished with 16 points, while Ragar Plunkett (13) and Sublette (6) combined for 19 points in the win.

Palmyra improved to 16-7 on the season and travels to Hannibal for a non-conference game on Tuesday.