MECHANICSBURG – The Palmyra girls’ basketball team might be better than its record indicates.
The Cougars may just be experiencing an extended slow start to their season.
Or Palmyra might simply be underachieving.
But one thing is for sure, the time for a sense of urgency to kick in is upon us.
On Wednesday night at Mechanicsburg High School, the reigning District Three Class AAAAA champions dropped another disappointing decision, 36-24 to the home-standing and undefeated Wildcats. The Cougars fell behind in the middle of the second period, and didn’t have enough offensive firepower to catch up.
It was around this time last season that a senior-laden Palmyra outfit began its run to the District Three crown. For the Cougars to even have a chance at qualifying for the district tournament this season, they would probably need to go at least 7-4 over their final 11 games.
The loss was Palmyra’s fourth straight and the Cougars are now 3-8 overall and 1-5 in the Keystone Division of the Mid-Penn Conference. Palmyra, which has yet to score over 48 points in any contest this season, was situated 21st in a Class AAAAA power rankings that takes 16 teams for its District Three postseason.
The result pushed Mechanicsburg to 11-0 on the season and 8-0 in the Keystone Division.
“I don’t know,” said Palmyra head coach Mary Manlove, when asked if her charges can reach the District Three postseason. “We’re not thinking about that right now. That’s the farthest thing from our minds. It wasn’t a year ago either. That’s not how I think. That’s not how we think.”
There was nothing wrong with the way the Cougars started last night’s contest.
Junior Katelyn Becker converted a steal into a lay-up, and then nailed a three-pointer, as the Cougars tallied the initial five points of the game. With 1:08 left in the first quarter, sophomore Zoe Smith laid in a deuce to give Palmyra a 7-6 edge.
“I was happy that we played dead-even with them for three quarters,” said Manlove. “I thought we played better than we did in the last game with Lower Dauphin. But there are still things we’ve got to clean up and improve on.”
It was a 10-0 run that began late in the first quarter and spilled over into the second period that gave the Wildcats control of the outcome.
Palmyra went without a score for a 5:52 stretch, as Mechanicsburg opened a 16-7 advantage. In fact, all that the Cougars could muster over the entire second stanza was a lone Smith bucket, and the Wildcats led 21-9 at the break.
“Defensively, we did fine, holding them to 36 points, and (an average of) single digits for four quarters,” said Manlove. “Our mistakes on offense allowed them to get the lead and keep the cushion.
“They scored more points than us,” continued Manlove. “They played some defense. I’ve seen other Mid-Penn teams do that too.”
Only three Cougars found their way into the scorebook, and Becker and Smith combined to score 22 of Palmyra’s 24 total points. Becker notched 14 points and attempted the Cougars’ only two free throws of the night.
Throughout, Palmyra struggled to get to the rim or post touches, instead settling for jump shots. Turnovers were also a problem for the Cougars, who were outscored 21-6 from beyond the arc.
“I’m a teacher. I’m a reading specialist,” said Manlove. “I work with kids who struggle all year long. We are in a growth-mindset undertaking and focused on the process. We were here last year. At some point, it’s going to go our way.”
Palmyra also tallied the first five points of the second half, as Smith drained a short jumper and Becker drilled a three-pointer, to pull the Cougars to within 21-14 of the Wildcats. But the Cougars then endured another 6:50 scoring drought and Mechanicsburg’s resulting 14 unanswered points gave it a 35-14 margin and settled the affair.
The Cougars did score the final eight points of the game.
“No, I’m not disappointed with the season,” said Manlove. “Every night is a learning experience and we want to take advantage of them. Other people may be disappointed, but that’s their problem.”
|2019-12-30||A||vs||West York Area(3)||L||49-40|
|2020-01-07||A||vs||Mechanicsburg Area Senior(3)||0-0|
|2020-01-31||H||vs||Mechanicsburg Area Senior(3)||0-0|
|1||Mechanicsburg Area Senior||11-||0-||0||0.811721||1.000000||0.581602||12.6||127.4||0.0||91.7|
|2||Berks Catholic School||7-||1-||0||0.749431||0.888235||0.579780||7.6||113.6||1.0||82.3|
|5||West York Area||9-||2-||0||0.728668||0.846154||0.585074||10.5||134.5||1.9||95.4|
|7||Spring Grove Area||6-||3-||0||0.669486||0.746114||0.575829||7.2||133.7||2.5||98.5|
|19||East Pennsboro Area||4-||4-||0||0.505107||0.536585||0.466634||4.4||96.2||3.8||109.9|
|Mechanicsburg Area High School||5-0-0||1.000||5-0-0||1.000|
|Cedar Cliff High School||4-1-0||0.800||7-3-0||0.700|
|Susquehanna Township High School||2-1-0||0.667||4-1-0||0.800|
|Bishop McDevitt High School||3-2-0||0.600||5-3-0||0.625|
|Hershey High School||2-3-0||0.400||7-4-0||0.636|
|Lower Dauphin High School||2-3-0||0.400||4-5-0||0.444|
|Palmyra Area High School||1-4-0||0.200||3-7-0||0.300|
|Red Land High School||0-3-0||0.000||0-3-0||0.000|