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 BY JEFF FALK

 ALTOONA – There were a lot of great things about the trip – the spontaneity, the companionship, the novelty. But the best thing about it was that no one knew, or cared, where it was going.

 The Palmyra girls’ basketball team is disappointed that the trip is over. But the Cougars became better student-athletes, better daughters, better people because of it.

 On Saturday afternoon at Altoona High School, Palmyra ran into a little more athletic, a little more seasoned club in Thomas Jefferson, and endured a 48-39 season-ending defeat, in the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class AAAAA playoffs. The Cougars competed, performed well and made their regular complement of mistakes, but found its margin for error to be much smaller.

 The contest was close throughout, or at least until the potent Jaguars spurted late in the third quarter.

  The loss snapped Palmyra’s ten-game winning streak – six of which had come in the postseason – and concluded the Cougars season at  18-11. Along the way, the Cougars captured a surprising District Three Class AAAAA championship, reached their true potential  and created lifelong memories.

 Not too shabby for a squad that was a game away from missing out on the postseason altogether.

 Thomas Jefferson, the runner-up out of District Seven, ran its record to 22-7 and barged into Tuesday’s semifinal round of the PIAA Class AAAAA tournament.

  “We had so much momentum behind us,” said Palmyra head coach Mary Manlove. “It was like, ‘Let’s see where this can take us.’ You don’t know where you’re going to go. We discovered that throughout the ride. We just pushed ourselves and tried to improve daily. That approach really took them (her players) far.

 “We enjoyed it so much,” Manlove continued. “We enjoyed the practices so much. We enjoyed the bus rides so much. It was just enjoyable spending time together. They made us all better coaches.”

 

 After the Cougars had enjoyed three early one-point leads thanks to baskets from seniors Amelia Baldo and Olivia Richardson, Thomas Jefferson used a 9-2 run to take a 20-12 lead early in the second quarter.

 But Katelyn Becker’s three-pointer sparked a 9-0 burst that gave Palmyra a 21-20 advantage, with 2:51 left in the first half. Jess St. Clair, Baldo and Zoe Smith all contributed a couple of points apiece during the stretch.

  “I thought we played well,” said Manlove. “We missed some shots. We didn’t have as much poise in the second half as we did in the first.

“If we played this team ten times, we’d have our work cut out for us every single time,” Manlove added. “This team was very good. We played dead even with them. It was a battle.”

 Baldo paced the Palmyra scoring with 12 points, while Becker collected 11. For the Jaguars, Alyssa DeAngelo tallied a game-high 14 points and teammate Jenna Clark pumped in 13.

 The Cougars made good on six of their ten free throw attempts.

 “I thought she went toe-to-toe with that point guard,” said Manlove of Baldo. “We made their bench beat us.

 “They’re (the Jaguars) good. They can score,” added Manlove. “We did our very, very best to keep it close. We had our chances. We didn’t play as meticulously as we needed to, to beat a team like that.”

 Thomas Jefferson netted the first two baskets of the second half to push its three-point halftime margin to 28-21.

 Palmyra responded with four straight bench points from Sara Boyer to pull to within 28-25 of the Jaguars. Two minutes later, another three-ball by Becker drew the Cougars to within 32-28 of the lead.

 “Credit to them,” said Manlove of the Jaguars. “They made some adjustments at halftime. It wasn’t as easy for us in the second half. They’re so in control. They’re so confident. They’re a very skilled team. I’d say they’re the best team we played this year. We were fortunate to get the (playoff) bracket we did.

 “I knew today was going to be very difficult,” continued Manlove. “We knew it was going to be a challenge. We knew we were going to have our hands full. We got every look we wanted. We just didn’t make shots.”

 As the fourth quarter opened, the end drew nearer for Palmyra.

 A three-pointer by Graci Fairman gave Thomas Jefferson its biggest lead of the contest at 40-30, 16 seconds into the final period. It was a lead the Jaguars matched a minute later, thanks to a Clark lay-in.

 On the other side of the floor, the Cougars were suffering through a 4:39 score-less stretch.

 “They’re a mess,” said Manlove of her troops. “It’s just so hard. We didn’t want it to end. But they knew the last game was going to come. We know how special it is to be one of the last eight teams in AAAAA.

 “This group has given me everything I every wanted,” added Manlove. “I wish I was on this team (as a player). It’s a credit to the kids, a credit to the community and a credit to the administration. It was a fun ride.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018-19 Palmyra Girls’ Basketball Results

Date Opponent Result
12/75:00p (W) 52 – 29
12/86:45p (W) 43 – 25
12/117:30p
Location: Palmyra High School
(W) 44 – 37
12/147:30p
Location: Palmyra High School
(L) 47 – 44
12/177:30p
Location: Palmyra High School
(W) 46 – 24
12/217:30p
Location: Hershey High School
(L) 34 – 26
12/227:30p
Location: Palmyra High School
(W) 43 – 26
12/27TBA (L) 45 – 36
12/28TBA (W) 47 – 29
1/512:30a
Location: Palmyra High School
(L) 45 – 43
1/8TBA (W) 40 – 37
1/11TBA (L) 45 – 30
1/157:30p
Location: Cedar Cliff High School
(L) 37 – 30
1/187:30p
Location: Bishop McDevitt High School
(L) 52 – 34
1/217:30p
Game Details: WILSON HIGH SCHOOL, Gym
(L) 43 – 40
1/227:30p
Location: Red Land High School
(W) 31 – 26
1/257:30p
Location: Palmyra High School
(L) 40 – 39
2/1TBA (L) 46 – 33
2/2TBA (W) 40 – 19
2/8TBA (W) 46 – 15
2/19TBA (W) 41 – 35
2/227:00p
Location: Spring Grove High School
(W) 43 – 41
2/26TBA (W) 54 – 51
3/1TBA (W) 31 – 23
3/93:00p
Game Details: Milton Hershey HS, Hershey
(W) 46 – 38
3/136:30p
Game Details: Martz Hall, Pottsville
(W) 42 – 24
3/161:00p
Game Details: Altoona HS
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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