Balance offensively helps carry Palmyra girls into Tony Lenzini Tournament title game

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PALMYRA, Mo. — Tim Southers demonstrated he knows how — and more importantly, when — to delegate authority.

The Palmyra girls basketball coach opted to let his players on the floor run the early part of the fourth quarter. They called the plays on offense and the adjustments on defense.

“I just sat back and watched,” Southers said.

And he liked what he witnessed.

The end result saw Palmyra rattle off the first six points of the period and eight of the initial 10 en route to pulling away from Monroe City for a 63-54 victory in a semifinal game of the 80th annual Tony Lenzini Tournament.

Obviously, Southers appreciated the effort. His club had struggled in the third quarter, being outscored 15-7, and he felt a players-first approach might help them relax and regain their composure. Palmyra had led 34-24 at halftime, but was clinging to a 41-39 edge going into the final eight minutes.

“That’s one of the strengths of our team,” Southers said. “Everyone steps up.”

Southers’ point was further illustrated in Palmyra’s balance. The Panthers produced four players — Clare Williams, Candra King, Taytum White and Sydney Compton — who each contributed 13 points. A fifth, Abbey Redd, scored nine.

“We just try and get the ball to who has the hot hand,” said King, a 6-foot-2 junior center who took game rebounding honors with 14. “We have a lot of trust in one another.”

Palmyra (14-3) advances the championship game at 6:30 p.m. Saturday against the winner of the Canton-Hannibal semifinal game, being played at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Palmyra last won the Lenzini Tournament in 2020, its 20th title in an event that dates to 1944.

Monroe City (7-9) plays the loser of the Canton (10-6) vs. Hannibal (9-4) matchup for third place at 8 p.m. Friday.

Williams, a 5-foot-9 sophomore point guard who runs the Palmyra offense, was elated over her team’s offensive balance.

“Four players in double figures means a lot,” Williams said. “When one of us is hot, we want to try and get her the ball.”

Three different Palmyra players registered eight points in a quarter — King in the first, Williams in the second and White in the fourth.

“Both teams played hard, but I think our level of consistency on offense was probably the difference,” Southers said. “(Williams) is solid running our offense for us. She handles the pressure very well.”

Monroe City was led in scoring by Maridith Gares, who dropped through a game-best 20 points, getting 19 of her total over the first three quarters. Naaron Hays added 15 points and Lucy Pratt nine.

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