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 IMG_9294BY JEFF FALK

PALMYRA – It’s kind of like going on a long journey to a scenic destination. When you get close, it’s OK to sneak a peek at the sights around you, as long as you focus your eyes right back on the road.

On Tuesday night, the Palmyra boys’ basketball team took another important step towards its unspoken preseason goals with a 52-48 home triumph over Bishop McDevitt. Following an up-and-down first three period of play, the Cougars turned it on in the fourth quarter, when it outscored the Crusaders 21-12.

The victory kept Palmyra in the thick of the Mid-Penn Keystone Division race and near the top of the District Three Class AAAAA power rankings. The Cougars moved to 17-2 overall and 9-2 in the division, while Mike Gaffey’s Crusaders slumped to 11-6 on the season and 6-5 in the league.

The first time around, on December 21 in Harrisburg, Palmyra whipped Bishop McDevitt 70-50.

IMG_9356“We know where we are,” said Palmyra head coach Pete Conrad. “For as much as we talk about process, we know. If our goal is to get better everyday, then that’s heading in the right direction. That’s little things taking care of big things. We’ll keep progressing for whatever game is next on the schedule.

“Have we gotten better everyday? No,” continued Conrad. “That’s not practical. That goes against human nature. But we’ve gotten better as a whole. We’re pleased with the effort, but we don’t ever want to be complacent.”

The Cougars trailed 36-31 heading into the final eight minutes of action.

Riding two free throws from Isaac Blatt, a Sam Shiels drive and a three-ball by Bryant Willis, Palmyra opened the fourth quarter with seven straight points. Later, the Cougars ripped off a different 7-0 run – courtesy of four points from Braden Vernet, a reverse lay-in from Willis and a Blatt charity toss – to open a 45-39 lead, with 1:29 to go.

IMG_9363Though Bishop McDevitt closed to within a single possession on a number of occasions in the final seconds, seven-for-ten free throwing took care of business for the Cougars.

“I thought the difference was Bennett Von Stetten’s play in the fourth quarter,” said Conrad. “They (the Crusaders) were going to use his man to help on Blatt. What he (Von Stetten) found was a way to make basketball plays. That change had us on our heels. But he was like, ‘Hey, if you’re going to do this, I’m going to make basketball plays’.

“Once we got the lead, it’s a different game,” Conrad continued. “My guys had to sit down and guard for a long time. When you’re trailing, it’s hard to have the mentality, ‘we’re going to wait you out’.”

Palmyra used a pair of Blatt foul shots and a back-door cut from Vernet to assume a 31-29 edge, with 2:27 of the third quarter remaining. But the Crusaders netted the final seven points of the period.

“I wouldn’t say it was our best effort,” said Conrad. “But when Coach Gaffey goes five guards, it’s going to be tough for anyone. We did have a stretch where we gave up drives to the rim, which isn’t the philosophy we’re looking for.

“Absolutely. Let’s not lose sight of that (Bishop McDevitt played well),” added Conrad. “I have tremendous respect for Coach Gaffey and his program. He’s been nothing but great to me personally and professionally. That’s a good win. They’re a (Class) four-A contender. It’s certainly a good win.”

Willis poured in a game-high 21 points, while Vernet recorded 11 points. On 75 percent shooting, Palmyra outscored Bishop McDevitt by 14 points at the free throw line.

IMG_9310“You have to look at our composition,” said Conrad. “If you start all that height, are you going to be able to guard quick guards? Our goal is to hold teams to under 38 percent shooting, and all but four games we have. I think that’s pretty solid.

“We’ve got some pieces to be a good defensive team,” Conrad added. “I would say I’m pleased with that. I think that’s been one of our real keys.”

Palmyra got out of the gates quickly and raced out to an 8-0 lead. Willis tallied seven of those points, and the Cougars held the Crusaders score-less over the first 4:15.

But during a seven-minute stretch that spanned the first and second periods, Bishop McDevitt outscored the Cougars 16-7 to open a 20-16 margin. Von Stetten recorded the final two baskets of the first half, and the teams headed to the locker room deadlocked at 22.

“What we said to the guys at halftime was the worst thing that could’ve happened to us was jumping out to that early lead,” said Conrad. “They (his players) thought it was going to be easy. They’ve (the Crusaders) been playing great. We (the coaches) knew it was not going to be easy. Sometimes you get that false sense of security. But I thought we had a very good response.”

Palmyra has won only one Mid-Penn division championship in its history.

 

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 IMG_9352To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to https://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/gallery-12/.

 

 

 

 

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 2016-17 Palmyra Boys’ Basketball Results

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
12/09 #
Susquehannock
6:00 PM W 72-34
12/10 #
@Donegal
7:30 PM W 83-46
12/13 *
Mechanicsburg
7:30 PM L 47-57
12/16 *
Susquehanna Twp.
7:30 PM W 65-60
12/17
@Milton Hershey
6:00 PM W 62-61
12/20 *
@Cedar Cliff
7:30 PM W 54-38
12/21 *
@Bishop McDevitt
7:30 PM W 70-50
12/23
Cocalico
7:30 PM W 57-41
12/27 #
@Elco
4:00 PM W 68-53
12/28 #
@Ephrata
8:00 PM W 63-44
01/03 *
@Red Land
7:30 PM W 63-44
01/06 *
Hershey
7:30 PM W 58-42
01/07
Lebanon
5:30 PM W 75-73
01/10 *
@Lower Dauphin
7:30 PM L 50-51
01/13 *
@Mechanicsburg
7:30 PM W 55-41
01/17 *
@Susquehanna Twp.
7:30 PM W 66-62
01/20 *
Cedar Cliff
7:30 PM W 63-53
01/21
New Oxford
7:50 PM W 62-60
DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
01/24 *
Bishop McDevitt
7:30 PM Palmyra High School
01/27 *
Red Land
7:30 PM Palmyra High School
01/31 *
@Hershey
7:30 PM Hershey High School
02/03 *
Lower Dauphin
7:30 PM Palmyra High School

 

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PIAA District Three

 Class AAAAA Power Rankings

 

AAAAA School  W  L  T  Rating  TWP  OWP
1 Northeastern 17- 1- 0  0.781264  0.963415  0.558635
2 Manheim Central 15- 1- 0  0.753478  0.953039  0.509571
3 Mechanicsburg Area 14- 3- 0  0.748771  0.859416  0.613539
4 Palmyra Area 16- 2- 0  0.748751  0.915000  0.545558
5 Spring Grove Area 12- 4- 0  0.724652  0.805714  0.625575
6 Milton Hershey 10- 3- 0  0.686114  0.803089  0.543145
7 Ephrata Area 12- 5- 0  0.680175  0.773109  0.566588
8 Greencastle Antrim 11- 5- 0  0.674044  0.748447  0.583107
9 Shippensburg Area 10- 4- 0  0.642220  0.767606  0.488971
10 Garden Spot 9- 5- 0  0.641769  0.715753  0.551344
11 Dover Area 11- 5- 0  0.627236  0.730769  0.500696
12 Waynesboro Area 10- 6- 0  0.626777  0.687500  0.552559
13 Hershey 9- 7- 0  0.624256  0.632716  0.613916
14 Lower Dauphin 9- 7- 0  0.622945  0.639394  0.602841
15 Lampeter Strasburg 10- 7- 0  0.618904  0.646240  0.585494
16 New Oxford 9- 8- 0  0.617884  0.598820  0.641184
17 Exeter Township 9- 7- 0  0.613458  0.650943  0.567642
18 Solanco 10- 7- 0  0.595835  0.666667  0.509263
19 Conrad Weiser 11- 6- 0  0.592435  0.682997  0.481748
20 Twin Valley 9- 7- 0  0.573193  0.610759  0.527278
21 Northern York 7- 9- 0  0.536926  0.496711  0.586079
22 William Penn 5- 10- 0  0.528228  0.410526  0.672087
23 Big Spring 8- 8- 0  0.520567  0.544304  0.491556
24 Daniel Boone 5- 9- 0  0.482802  0.412000  0.569338
25 West York Area 6- 11- 0  0.474634  0.422018  0.538942
26 Susquehannock 5- 11- 0  0.471337  0.360927  0.606283
27 Cocalico 4- 13- 0  0.452394  0.299674  0.639052
28 Gettysburg Area 6- 12- 0  0.442869  0.380117  0.519566
29 West Perry 5- 8- 0  0.438839  0.369295  0.523838
30 East Pennsboro Area 5- 11- 0  0.438688  0.328125  0.573820
31 Muhlenberg 4- 12- 0  0.427851  0.290780  0.595383
32 Elizabethtown Area 4- 13- 0  0.419901  0.299674  0.566846
33 South Western 3- 14- 0  0.419559  0.232787  0.647837
34 York Suburban 4- 13- 0  0.419128  0.286604  0.581101
35 Fleetwood Area 3- 8- 0  0.386995  0.287805  0.508227
36 Red Land 2- 13- 0  0.386652  0.179211  0.640192
37 Donegal 1- 15- 0  0.320758  0.075540  0.620468

 

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IMG_9292Mid-Penn Conference

 Keystone Division Standings

TEAM LEAGUE OVERALL
Mechanicsburg 10-1 15-3
Palmyra 8-2 16-2
Bishop McDevitt 6-4 11-5
Lower Dauphin 6-5 9-6
Hershey 6-5 10-7
Susquehanna Twp. 3-7 6-10
Cedar Cliff 2-9 3-14
Red Land 1-9 2-12

 

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