Palmyra girls overcome first half to squeeze by Paris

Palmyra sophomore Maura Gottman blocks a second-quarter shot by Paris senior Nicole Skinner in the opening round of the 97th Monroe City Tournament.

MONROE CITY, Mo. — Palmyra’s Lady Panthers roared back from a 13-point halftime deficit to squeeze past the Paris Lady Coyotes, 48-46, during the opening round of the 97th Annual Monroe City Tournament.

Senior Rylie McKinney grabbed a Paris turnover at midcourt with about 30 seconds left in the game and drove for what turned into the winning layup, putting Palmyra into a 47-46 lead.

Freshman Taytum White helped ice the win with the front end of a 1-and-1 with 10 seconds left. Paris missed a three-point shot as time expired.

“I thought I have to do this for my team, then I just thought we have to get back because the game is not over yet,” McKinney said of her winning layup, her only bucket in the second half during an eight-point performance.

It was the opening game of the year for the Lady Panthers and the first game for new Palmyra head coach Alex Brandenburg, the former Mark Twain girls coach who returned to the sideline after a one-year break from teaching.

Brandenburg could be heard at halftime telling his team to play more confidence and believe in themselves.

“That is the thing we talk to these girls a lot is to believe. Many of these girls have no varsity experience, and we did not get our normal summer play, and I am new to these girls, so we are all learning as we go,” he said. “The one thing we can control is effort. In the first half, we had some first-game jitters – you do not usually wait until the middle of December to play your first game. I am proud of the way these girls fought back.”

Palmyra held off Paris in the third quarter, nailing the first two baskets of the second half, outscoring the Lady Coyotes 11-9 in the quarter, setting up a furious fourth quarter.

After Paris junior Kendall Mason hit on one-of-two shots after being fouled it he first seconds of the second half, reeled off two quick baskets to close the gap.

Then, Paris senior Nicole Skinner, the team’s leader and one of only two seniors, fouled out with 7:05 left in the game.

The Lady Panthers took advantage and continued to chip way at the Paris lead, going ahead with 3:30 left in the game when sophomore Abbey Redd made a long three-pointer to give Palmyra a 40-39 lead.

With the game tied at 43-43, Palmyra took the lead with 1:08 left when McKinney nailed two foul shots with both teams in the bonus. Palmyra led, 45-43.

With 58 seconds left in the game, Paris junior Kendall Mason took a pass in the corner and drilled a three-point shot to give the Lady Coyotes at 46-45 lead.

Paris could not hold on to the lead.

Paris coach Garrett Thomas said that he was pleased with the play of his young team, particularly after the Lady Coyotes were dominated last week in the season opener by South Shelby in a 61-20 loss.

“I knew we were better team than the way we played. We were much more patient tonight. We did not have as many butterflies, though we had a few in the third quarter because I do not think we expected to be up by that many points. We played a little tight,” Thomas said. “A few more games under our belts and we might have handled that a bit better. We just got nervous.”

Skinner, who effectively played only three quarters because of fouling out in the beginning of the fourth quarter, led Paris scoring with 17 points, while sophomore Carlee Long was in double digits with 10 points.

Palmyra scoring was led by Redd with 14 points and Jansen Juette had 10 points.

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