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The PHS boys varsity basketball team was unable to finish in a 35-34 loss to Van-Far during the Tony Lenzini Tournament title game Saturday.
In a game dominated by defense, Palmyra’s Bear Bock sank a jumper from right in front of the rim with a little over a minute and a half left in the game.
The field goal capped a 12-5 fourth quarter run for the Panthers that put them up 34-33.
Unfortunately, that would be the final points for Palmyra, and Van-Far got a late field goal that held up for the win.
Palmyra had its chances but misfired on two free throws, and failed to get a shot of in their final possession despite getting a late second chance.
Van-Far made a stop with two seconds left, but in an effort to corral the ball, committed a travel, giving Palmyra one more opportunity.
Still the Panthers could not get a shot off before the final buzzer.
Both teams struggled to get even a shot off for much of the game as defense ruled the floor.
Palmyra managed to hit just seven field goals in falling behind 23-15 by the half.
And it didn’t get any better in the third quarter when the Panthers hit just three field goals while chipping just two points off Van-Far’s lead.
But then Bock, Palmyra’s main offensive contributor, muscled in three field goals while Drew Copenhaver and Tyler Banta hit two
big three-pointers to give the team a shot at winning.
Van-Far’s Nikos Connaway stepped up to provide all of his team’s fourth quarter offense that included a three-pointer and the eventual game-winning field
Connaway finished with a game-high 20 points, while Bock led Palmyra with 16.
Also scoring for Palmyra were Banta, 11, Copenhaver, three, Bronson Juette, two, and Carson Hicks, two.
The Panthers advanced to the championship game with a 53-34 win over fifth-seeded Canton, Wednesday.
Palmyra fell to Canton in the Highland Tournament semifinals but turned the tables by holding the Tigers to 10 first-half points while building a 14-point halftime lead.
Canton fought hard to get back in the game in the third quarter, but the Panthers had answers for it.
A series of referees calls that did not go Canton’s way boiled over with a technical, and Palmyra was able to extend its lead in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
Bock led Palmyra’s second-half effort by scoring 14 of his game-high 18 points, while Trey Smyser sank seven of eight fourth-quarter free throws while totaling 14 off the bench.
Carson Hicks put in six field goals for 12 points, and Ryan McKeown add four and Banta a three-pointer.
Palmyra’s lopsided 79-34 win over Highland in the opener might have been an afterthought except for the school record-setting performance by Smyser.
The sophomore came off the bench and proceeded to real off a three-point shooting run for the ages, nailing 11 of 18 three-point shots, setting a new one-game record, topping Aaron Stamper’s recent standard of 10.
Smyser also, more than likely, set a school record of 35 points by a non-starter, going 12 of 20 from the floor.
Coach Brian Rea said he’s seen some hot three-point shooting performances from players over the years but nothing like Smyser’s run.
“Trey was the recipient of 11 great assists from teammates, and getting some quick open looks while he was hot,” Rea said of Smyser, who has been playing in a reserve role this season.
“I think it’s going to do wonders for his confidence as well as for our team,” Rea said. “I would doubt that anyone will leave him open to get good looks from now on…at least as a coach, I wouldn’t.”
The Panthers will now dive into Clarence Cannon Conference play this week by hosting Brookfield, Tuesday, and traveling to Macon, Friday. both first-time opponents this season.
11/22 Els. W 54-51, 1-0
11/29 at M.T.W 55-45, 2-0
12/2 at Can.W 64-52, 3-0
12/5-10 M.C. Tournament
10/5 Par. W 42-28, 4-0
10/7 Lou. W 57-50, 5-0
10/10 S.S. W 45-29, 6-0
12/13 QND W 55-34, 7-0
12/16 Unity W 50-45, 8-0
12/17 at River Rivalry
vs. Burl. L 22-59, 8-1
12/20 at Lou.W 42-26, 9-1
1/2-7 Highland Tourn.
1/3 C.C. W 48-34, 10-1
1/5 Kirk. L 43-51, 10-2
1/6 Can. L 54-46, 10-3
1/10 Kirk. L 37-48, 10-4
1/13 Cent. W 54-49, 11-4
1/16-21 Lenzini Tourn.
1/16 High. W 79-34, 12-4
1/18 Can. W 53-34, 13-4
1/21 V-F L 34-35, 13-5
1/27 at Macon
1/31 Clark County
2/3 at South Shelby
2/7 Monroe City
2/9 at Bowling Green
2/20-25 Districts TBA