Palmyra pushing for district championship

The 2021-22 Palmyra girls basketball team. Front row left to right: Madison Fessenden, Jaeda Parker, Jansen Juette, Abbey Redd, Alaina Loman, Jaelyn Chandler, Bella McBride and Avery Compton. Back row: Clare Williams, Sydney Compton, Jaynee Durst, Ashley Bode, Chloe Chamberlain, Taytum White and Ava Weiman. Not pictured: Candra King.

PALMYRA, Mo . — Palmyra is hoping to contend for a district championship after an up-and-down season last year that saw the Lady Panthers come one win away from that goal.

Palmyra finished second in their district bracket for the third straight season last year after falling to Clark County in the Class 3 District 6 title game.

“The game last year with Clark County, we were right there but it kind of slipped away there right at the end,” said Palmyra head coach Alex Brandenburg. “We feel like with the girls we have, we can put together a good season. We feel like we can be in a spot where we can overcome that this year.”

The Lady Panthers will return senior guard Jansen Juette, who missed all of last season due to injury.

“I am very excited,” Juette said of the upcoming season. “I’ve been looking forward to it ever since I got (back) from my injury.”

Juette is one of two seniors on this year’s team, along with forward Jaynee Durst.

These two seniors, along with junior guard Abbey Redd, will be looked to as leaders this season after the graduation of Drew Billups, Grace Krigbaum, Megan Lake and Rylie McKinney from last year’s team.

“I try to be a leader,” Durst said. “I do my best to try to set a good example and just play to the best of my ability. Keep a good attitude and hopefully they will look up to that and do the same.”

Two of those young teammates that stepped up last season as freshmen were Taytum White and Candra King. Both players earned starts last season and had extended playing time in the varsity rotation.

“They were kind of thrown in faster than expected because of some injuries,” Brandenburg said. “They progressed through the season in a great way. They had great moments early and they were playing well late. I think that’s helped them a lot coming into this season because they are more helpful, they are more vocal and they are more confident as they play.”

A couple of freshmen that could have an impact on this year’s team are Sydney Compton and Clare Williams, who have been shooting well in preseason practices.

Defensively, Brandeburg sees Juette and Redd as being impact players.

“Those girls can guard just about anybody,” Brandenburg said. “I see those two girls, especially on the perimeter, being able to shut down the other team’s top scorers. They are also very competitive, so they love that challenge of being able to do that.”

The coaching staff also likes the team’s defense in the paint.

“Inside, you’ve got girls like Jaynee (Durst), Ashley Bode and Candra (King),” Brandenburg said. “They are all really good interior defenders.”

Durst said Palmyra has been working on playing together as a unit.

“Defense is important,” Durst said. “For me and I think for the team. It’s been a lot of defense (in practice). Defense can win games and if we work on that, it could be a big benefit to us.”

Brandenburg wants to make sure Palmyra has all five girls on the floor on the same page.

“A lot of what we’ve been doing is just (stressing) that we have to play together as one,” Brandenburg said. “It’s been a lot of working together on teamwork. Finding ways to play defense as one and to move the ball on offense. We work on a little bit of everything.”

Palmyra finished last season 8-14 and were a streaky team. The Lady Panthers were able to overcome a late-season swoon and advance to the district championship game after losing the last five regular season games.

Another accomplishment for Palmyra last season was finishing third in the Monroe City Tournament despite having several key players out due to injury or illness.

Juette and the rest of the team hopes they can be celebrating later in the season this year.

“Mainly what I want to go for is a district championship and I know (the rest of) our team does too,” Juette said. “That’s something we are going to strive for.”

2021-22 Schedule

Nov. 23 — at Elsberry

Nov. 30 — Mark Twain

Dec. 3 — Canton

Dec. 14 — Quincy Notre Dame

Dec. 17 — at Unity

Dec. 20 — Louisiana

Jan. 3-8 — Highland Tournament

Jan. 11 — at North Point

Jan. 14 — at Centralia

Jan. 17-22 — Tony Lenzini Tournament

Jan. 25 — at Brookfield

Jan. 28 — Macon

Feb. 1 — at Clark County

Feb. 2 — Kirksville

Feb. 4 — South Shelby

Feb. 8 — at Monroe City

Feb. 10 — Bowling Green

Feb. 15 — at Hannibal

Feb. 18 — Highland

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