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IMG_8665BY JEFF FALK

HERSHEY – For some, this concept of realizing one’s potential is a romantic one. You piece together some interchangeable talents, then hone it and shape it and mold it into a firing-on-all-cylinders, well-oiled machine.

But there is a more practical and functional way to approach it. Realizing potential is about playing to one’s capabilities more often than not – and increasingly, as a season wears on – to a point where a team is peaking at the most important time of the year.

On Tuesday night, the Palmyra boys’ basketball team played to its capabilities against rival Hershey, as the Cougars rode a huge 14-2 second quarter to a 58-46 Mid-Penn Keystone Division victory. Shooting the ball well behind senior sniper Austin Yetter, Palmyra time and time again overcame the presence of 6-10 Trojan big man Dylan Painter, both offensively and defensively.

IMG_8610Palmyra has played well more often than not this season. The win was the Cougars’ second in-a-row, following a modest two-game slide, and moved them to 5-2 overall and 2-2 in the Keystone Division of the Mid-Penn Conference.

The result left Paul Blackburn’s Hershey outfit 3-4 on the season and 2-2 in the Keystone.

“We have aspirations, pretty high goals,” said Palmyra head coach Pete Conrad. “If we don’t get tonight, maybe we have to re-evaluate our goals.

IMG_8623“As a coach, you’re never comfortable,” continued Conrad. “At no point was I not sweating through my vest. Hershey did a great job of battling. If they make one more shot, we’re in panic mode. I’d like to think we’re getting better. I’d like to think this will make us better.”

After the score had been tied five times early, the Cougars began to assert themselves late in the opening quarter. A Yetter trey and two Isaac Blatt hoops inside spurred a 7-1 Palmyra run that spilled over into the second quarter and gave them an 18-14 advantage.

But what really proved decisive for Palmyra was a 12-0 run with which it ended the half on. While holding the Trojans scoreless for a seven-minute stretch, Yetter connected for a pair of treys, a couple of free throws and a driving lay-in, and teammate Braden Vernet added an up-and-under move, to push the Cougar lead to 30-16.

IMG_8691“I thought we played good, unselfish, attacking basketball,” said Conrad of the second quarter. “Let’s give a lot of credit to Eric Lynn. He really pushed the tempo.

“That (Yetter’s hot hand) was something,,” Conrad continued. “You could see early on he had something going. With three minutes left and you’re in your spread offense, you’re usually thinking ‘lay-up’. But I was thinking, ‘Get it into the corner to that number-24 kid’. He was awesome.”

Yetter drilled eight three-pointers on the evening and collected a total of 28 points. Blatt checked in with 11 points and a handful of boards.

IMG_8638Palmyra made 11 of its 13 foul shots, while Hershey went eight-for-15 at ‘the stripe’.

The Cougars limited Painter to a total of 14 points.

“He’s so good, you’re never going to stop him,” said Conrad of Painter. “He’s the best player in this area. He’s averaging 21 points a game, so that means we contained him. That’s a lot of Braden Vernet, and Isaac was in the neighborhood. Isaac is so long. No one is blocking a 6-10 guy’s shot. But we wanted to make it hard on him. I would say our guys did work really hard.

“You guys always say we need to practice our foul shots, and we do,” Conrad added. “I thought our guys were focused in our foul shooting drills in practice. And I think that helped.”

IMG_8722By attacking when the opportunities presented themselves and running clock when they didn’t, the Cougars effectively held the Trojans at bay in the second half.

Hershey netted the first four points of the second half, before a three-pointer by Yetter squelched that uprising. Another ‘three’ from Yetter, this one with 54 seconds left in the third, gave Palmyra a 41-26 bulge.

“I don’t think I had a whole lot to do with it,” said Conrad. “Yetter hit a couple of shots and the guys moved the ball well. If we’re the sum of our parts, we can be pretty good. But I thought our guys reacted very well tonight.

IMG_8729“I certainly thought we played well,” Conrad added. “You’re not going to come into this building – or anywhere on the road in the Keystone Division – and win without playing well. Shooting cures a lot of ills.”

With five minutes remaining and the Cougars nursing a 45-36 lead, Palmyra turned to its four-corner offense. On back-to-back possessions out of the delay, Palmyra got, first a three-pointer from Yetter, and then another three-pointer from Harro, to push its margin to 15 points and all but ice the outcome.

In the final 2:27, Blatt, Lynn and Vernet combined to go seven-for-eight at the charity stripe.

IMG_8702“How we’ve expressed it is if we spread the floor at that point, we’re still attacking,” said Conrad. “Either lay-ups or inside-out. In that situation, if you’ve got a veteran group, it’s certainly to our advantage.

“I don’t know what the numbers are going to say, but I thought Lynn played well,” Conrad continued. “He was solid. He didn’t turn it over. He defended. He was in the lane all night.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_8598To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to www.http://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/gallery-ten/.

 

 2015-16 Palmyra Boys’ Basketball Schedule

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
12/04 #
@Marple Newtown
6:00 PM W 64-56
12/05 #
@Elizabethtown
7:30 PM W 66-49
12/11 *
@Lower Dauphin
7:30 PM W 73-54
12/15 *
@Mechanicsburg
7:30 PM L 54-58
12/18 *
Red Land
7:30 PM L 55-60
12/19
@Muhlenberg
1:30 PM W 52-49
12/22 *
@Hershey
7:30 PM W 58-46
DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
12/23 *
Bishop McDevitt
7:30 PM Palmyra High School
12/28 #
@Donegal
2:00 PM Ephrata High School
01/05 *
Susquehanna Twp.
7:30 PM Palmyra High School
01/08 *
@Cedar Cliff
7:30 PM Cedar Cliff High School
01/09
@York Catholic
7:30 PM York Catholic High School
01/12 *
@Bishop McDevitt
7:30 PM Bishop McDevitt High School
01/15 *
Lower Dauphin
7:30 PM Palmyra High School
01/19 *
Mechanicsburg
7:30 PM Palmyra High School
01/22 *
@Red Land
7:30 PM Red Land High School
01/23
@Susquehannock
6:30 PM Susquehannock High School
01/26 *
Hershey
7:30 PM Palmyra High School
01/29 *
@Susquehanna Twp.
7:30 PM Susquehanna Twp. High School
02/02 *
Cedar Cliff
7:30 PM Palmyra High School

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IMG_8626Mid-Penn Conference

 Keystone Division

TEAM LEAGUE OVERALL
Cedar Cliff 4-1 5-3
Bishop McDevitt 3-1 3-1
Mechanicsburg 3-2 4-3
Red Land 3-2 3-4
Palmyra 2-2 5-2
Hershey 2-3 3-4
Lower Dauphin 1-4 2-5
Susquehanna Twp. 1-4 2-6

 

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