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IMG_7493 BY JEFF FALK

HARRISBURG – Perhaps the greatest compliment one could pay the Palmyra boys’ basketball team was that it played to the level of its competition. For the Cougars probably won the games it should have won, and probably lost the games they should’ve lost.

On Tuesday night at Bishop McDevitt High School, Palmyra’s season of more ups than downs, more growth than stagnation, more positives than negatives reached a conclusion, with a 72-53 loss to the home standing Crusaders, in the opening round of the District Three Class AAA playoffs. Following a shaky beginning, Palmyra found itself at halftime and put a scare into the Crusaders before running out of the gas needed to finish the job.

IMG_7466The record will say that the loss ended 15th-seeded Palmyra’s season at 12-12 overall. But eight of those Cougar setbacks came at the hands of the top-ranked District Three teams in the AAAA and AAA classifications – Cedar Crest, Cedar Cliff, Susquehanna Township and Bishop McDevitt.

Second-seeded Bishop McDevitt, which defeated the Cougars 81-71 and 83-50 during regular-season play in the Keystone Division of the Mid-Penn Conference, improved to 18-4 on the season and moved into Friday’s quarterfinal round of the Class AAA tournament.

“Yeah, I totally believe so,” said Palmyra head coach Pete Conrad, when asked about the success of the campaign. “This team improved by seven wins. That’s pretty much unheard of, especially in our conference. We talk about being process-oriented, in terms of results and getting better. We have some guys who can pave the ground for next year. It’s up to them how hard they want to work.

IMG_7501“We had a spell during the season when we won eight of nine games,” Conrad continued. “But even when we went so-called ‘cold’ we were playing (Susquehanna) Township, McDevitt and Cedar Cliff. These guys grew by leaps and bounds. They grew as much as any team I’ve ever had. And we had some good wins along the way.”

“That team went as far as it could,” said Bishop McDevitt head coach Mike Gaffey of a Palmyra program he coached from 1991-2000. “They would have been a second-round district team, if they hadn’t gotten McDevitt on their home floor. It was just a bad draw. We said to the guys in the locker room, ‘Palmyra’s goal was to get to the Giant Center.’ Our goal is not to play at the Giant Center. We want to play into the middle of March. This was two good teams, but two teams on different paths.”

In the early stages, Bishop McDevitt appeared poised to run the Cougars out of its gymnasium. But sometime before halftime, Palmyra discovered its composure, and its confidence spilled over into the second half.

IMG_7429Facing a 23-point deficit midway through the second stanza, Palmyra rattled off eight unanswered points to move to within 31-16 of the Crusaders. Ethan Harro ignited it with a three-pointer, Eric Lynn dropped a stop-and-pop and Harro converted an old-school three-point play to complete it.

Palmyra picked up where it left off in the third quarter, with an Austin Yetter drive and an Isaac Blatt three-point play. The Cougars pulled to within 36-26 of Bishop McDevitt 3:33 into the second half on a lay-in from Lynn, and then within 38-30 on four charity tosses by Blatt.

“We didn’t quit,” said Conrad. “We had some opportunities to cut into it. That’s a tribute to our guys, our senior leadership.

“We had to get stops,” continued Conrad. “We had not done a good job defensively. Our transition defense wasn’t good enough. We had to keep them bottled up, in terms of transition. When we had them in half-court, it was reasonable. And I thought we did OK with the rebounds.”

IMG_7355“In the first half, I thought we were fantastic,” said Gaffey. “We wanted to disrupt Yetter and Blatt, and I thought we did a good job of that. Palmyra has a fantastic team and a fantastic coach and they weren’t going away. And sure enough, they got back into the game.”

Bishop McDevitt ended the third quarter on an 11-4 burst, one which was capped by James Williams’ buzzer-beating, half-court three-pointer that gave his side a 49-34 advantage. The Crusaders’ 8-4 start to the final stanza re-expanded their lead to 57-38, with 5:15 to go.

“You’re making a run,” said Conrad of Williams’ half-court prayer. “You’re working your tail off, and you get something unfortunate like that. Yeah, it hurts.

“Listen, they’re (the Crusaders) good,” added Conrad. “I don’t know if they’re super complete. But if you don’t take care of certain things against them, you’re going to get beat. It’s a district playoff game against a good team. But it’s not like you’re going into a hornet’s nest (of a gymnasium). It’s kind of a little wine-and-cheese crowd around here.”

IMG_7311“If you beat Palmyra by 20 points, you’re OK,” said Gaffey. “We’ll continue to talk about playing 32 minutes. We stopped running set plays in the middle of the third quarter. I am pleased with our guys, to see McDevitt guys get on the floor for loose balls and scrap for rebounds. There’s a lot more positives to be taken from this than negatives. We’re disappointed, but we’re at the point of the year where we look for the positives first.”

Blatt paced the Cougars with 12 points, while Lynn canned ten. Bishop McDevitt, at times, scored at will inside, and also held an 18-9 points advantage from beyond the arc.

IMG_7348“We were more assertive in the second half, more believing,” said Conrad. “I’m guessing my halftime speech wasn’t anything rousing. It was, ‘Let’s do what we do’.”

“It gets so hard with Palmyra because we had it so easy the last time they were here,” said Gaffey. “I thought in the first half that we did play with a sense of urgency. To hold them to 18 points is good, because McDevitt is not know for their defense.”

Bishop McDevitt tallied the first six points of the game and led 10-4 early. The Crusaders pieced together a 16-2 burst from the latter portions of the first quarter into the early stages of the second, to open a 26-6 lead, 4:42 before the break.

IMG_7324“I just thought we weeded to attack the moment early, and we were overwhelmed by the moment,” said Conrad. “I don’t know if it was nerves. It was being in districts and playing against a good team on their home floor.”

“I remember Palmyra because it was such a good place to coach,” said Gaffey, who still lives in the Palmyra school district. “The saying in coaching is: ‘It’s seven years and it’s time to move on’.

“I’m proud to be a taxpayer in Palmyra,” added Gaffey. “I’m proud of the things they accomplished. I know they’re working hard. I’m excited about all the things they accomplished this season. They’re great people, and good things happen to great people.”

Palmyra (53)

PLAYER FGM FTM FTA 3PM PTS_TOT FT%
Isaac Blatt 2 8 10 12 0.8
Bobby Dorta 3 0 0 6 0
Ian Frazier 3 2 2 1 9 1
Ethan Harro 2 1 1 1 6 1
Eric Lynn 4 1 2 1 10 0.5
Noah Martin 0 0 0 0 0
Noah Reale 0 0 0 0 0
Carl Reigle 0 0 0 0 0
Sam Sheils 0 0 0 0 0
Braden Vernet 1 1 2 3 0.5
Bryant Willis 0 0 0 0 0
Austin Yetter 2 3 4 7 0.75

IMG_7300Bishop McDevitt (72)

PLAYER FGM FTM FTA 3PM PTS_TOT FT%
Kyree Calli 1 0 0 2 0
Milik Gantz 6 4 8 16 0.5
Nick Gemmell 1 0 0 1 3 0
Reggie Hopkins 3 2 2 2 10 1
Lino Lupinetti 0 2 2 2 1
Alex Marsico 0 0 0 0 0
Jody Morales 0 0 0 0 0
Isaiah Owens 0 0 0 0 0
Manny Piper 0 0 0 0 0
Mark Ray 4 5 7 1 14 0.714
Tyler Stoner 1 0 0 1 3 0
James Williams 8 5 7 1 22 0.714
  • Team 1 2 3 4 Final
    Palmyra
    6 12 16 19 53
    Bishop McDevitt
    18 16 15 23 72
IMG_7502

Mid-Penn Conference

 Final Keystone Division Standings

TEAM LEAGUE OVERALL
Cedar Cliff 12-2 22-2
Susquehanna Twp. 12-2 17-5
Bishop McDevitt 11-3 17-4
Hershey 6-8 14-9
Lower Dauphin 6-8 11-11
Palmyra 4-10 12-11
Mechanicsburg 4-10 9-13
Red Land 1-13 5-17

Palmyra 2014-15 Results

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
12/05
Cedar Crest
6:30 PM L 44-62
12/06
@Elizabethtown
6:30 PM W 67-52
12/09 *
Mechanicsburg
7:30 PM L 56-68
12/12 *
@Red Land
7:30 PM L 46-59
12/13
York Catholic
1:30 PM W 63-56
12/16 *
Hershey
7:30 PM L 46-64
12/19 *
@Susquehanna Twp.
7:30 PM L 54-81
12/20
Muhlenberg
2:00 PM W 61-53
12/23 *
Cedar Cliff
7:30 PM L 46-56
12/29 #
@Donegal
4:00 PM W 67-47
12/30 #
@Ephrata
8:00 PM W 50-45
01/03
@Annville-Cleona
8:30 PM W 71-28
01/06 *
Bishop McDevitt
7:30 PM L 71-81
01/09 *
@Lower Dauphin
7:30 PM W 52-46
01/13 *
@Mechanicsburg
7:30 PM W 61-55
01/16 *
Red Land
7:30 PM W 67-62
01/17
Susquehannock
4:00 PM W 73-52
01/20 *
@Hershey
7:30 PM W 54-52
01/23 *
Susquehanna Twp.
6:30 PM L 64-73
01/27 *
@Cedar Cliff
7:30 PM L 39-55
01/30 *
@Bishop McDevitt
7:30 PM L 50-83
02/03 *
Lower Dauphin
7:30 PM L 65-68
02/13 #
Dover
6:00 PM W 70-54
02/17 * #
@Bishop McDevitt
7:00 PM L 53-72

IMG_7342

District Three

 Class AAA Power Rankings

AAA School W L T Rating

1 Susquehanna Township 17- 5- 0 0.790879

2 Bishop McDevitt 17- 4- 0 0.789136

3 Manheim Central 21- 1- 0 0.745455

4 Steelton Highspire 18- 4- 0 0.735607

5 West York Area 16- 5- 0 0.699195

6 Boiling Springs 16- 5- 0 0.681320

IMG_74447 Cocalico 16- 6- 0 0.662277

8 Berks Catholic 13- 8- 0 0.648422

9 Eastern York 14- 8- 0 0.638421

10 Conrad Weiser 15- 7- 0 0.638323

11 Gettysburg Area 14- 8- 0 0.629045

12 Wyomissing Area 14- 7- 0 0.619156

13 Lancaster Catholic 15- 7- 0 0.618495

14 Milton Hershey 11- 10- 0 0.607757

IMG_739215 Palmyra Area 11- 11- 0 0.606110

16 East Pennsboro 12- 9- 0 0.59550

17 Eastern Lebanon County 13- 9- 0 0.583591

18 Dover Area 12- 10- 0 0.583434

19 Lampeter Strasburg 11- 11- 0 0.563539

20 Twin Valley 12- 10- 0 0.557607

21 Fleetwood Area 12- 9- 0 0.535009

22 Bermudian Springs 12- 10- 0 0.500503

23 James Buchanan 9- 13- 0 0.496021

IMG_738524 Pequea Valley 9- 13- 0 0.463485

25 Middletown Area 7- 15- 0 0.461412

26 York Suburban 6- 16- 0 0.449992

27 Donegal 7- 15- 0 0.438842

28 West Perry 7- 15- 0 0.436264

29 Kennard Dale 6- 16- 0 0.426852

30 Schuylkill Valley 7- 14- 0 0.422065

31 Northern Lebanon 7- 15- 0 0.404609

32 Big Spring 4- 17- 0 0.347800

33 Oley Valley 5- 17- 0 0.337641

IMG_745534 Susquehannock 1- 21- 0 0.319501

35 Littlestown 1- 21- 0 0.267675

36 Hamburg Area 0- 22- 0 0.240885

 

 

 

 

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