Bock’s 3-point barrage sparks Palmyra’s surge in title game victory over Canton


The Palmyra boys basketball team celebrates its 66-43 victory over Canton in the championship game of the 52nd Highland Tournament on Saturday night in Lewistown, Mo. | Addi Zanger photo

LEWISTOWN, Mo. — Hudson Bock has a shooter’s conscience.

In Bock’s world, if that first field goal attempt is off the mark, it’s not a big deal. The Palmyra boys basketball team’s freshman guard knows there’s a good chance the next shot he hoists from long distance will find the bottom of the net.

That’s why the 5-foot-10 Bock was not fretting when his initial 3-point try Saturday night was a clunker.

“I just tried to keep it going,” he said. “The shots will fall.”

And that they did.

Bock dropped through six straight 3-pointers in the second half, including five in the third quarter. Bock’s hot hand triggered a Palmyra pullaway that resulted in a 66-43 victory over Canton in the finals of the 52nd Highland Tournament.

Bock ended with a game-best 23 points after scoring just a combined 11 points in Palmyra’s first two tournament games.

Palmyra coach Brian Rea admitted he was trying to capitalize on Bock’s hot hand.

“We were trying to set him up with some plays,” Rea said. “He had a great shooting night. He helped get us in rhythm.”

Canton coach Dalton Armontrout agreed.

“They hit some big shots, we didn’t … and the freshman definitely hit some big shots,” Armontrout said.

Palmyra freshman guard Hudson Bock, left, looks to run some offense during Saturday night’s championship game of the Highland Tournament against Canton in Lewistown, Mo. | Addi Zanger photo

Ironically, both Bock and Rea wished to talk more about Palmyra’s defense rather than a Panthers offense that once it got rolling was next to unstoppable. Palmyra scored 46 points in the second half, a figure that would likely have been much higher if the Panthers had not milked a number of minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter after the verdict had become obvious.

“Our goal is to always hold our opponent under 40,” Bock said. “We knew what to expect from Canton after playing them earlier in the season.”

Palmyra, which defeated Canton 57-37 in early December, has held 11 of its 13 opponents below 40 points. The Panthers’ win — their seventh in a row — raised their record to 12-1 and earned the program its 12th tournament title at Highland. Palmyra also won the Monroe City tournament in early December.

“Our defense was the difference tonight,” Rea said. “We scored very well in the second half, but our defense was still the key. It had been a dogfight in the first half.”

Canton had taken a 10-8 lead at the end of the first quarter, but Palmyra moved ahead 20-15 by halftime. The Panthers broke the game open in the third quarter, outscoring Canton 26-13 to lead 46-28 going into the fourth period.

“There’s a lot of the season left,” Armontrout said. “We’ll get better.”

Canton, now 9-4, received a 19-point, nine-rebound effort from 6-foot-7 junior Preston Brewer.  He was the only Tigers player to reach double figures.

Canton was the No. 4 seed entering the tournament, but knocked off No. 1 seed Kirksville (47-46) and Clark County (66-53) to reach the title game.

Palmyra, the No. 2 seed, had previously ousted Keokuk (47-36) and Macon (59-29).

Palmyra senior swingman Bear Bock scored in double figures for the third straight tournament game, finishing with 13 points and a game-leading 11 rebounds. Carson Hicks added 10 points.

The championship was Palmyra’s first since 2019. Canton had been seeking its first title since 2015.

Keokuk defeated Kirksville 53-47 in the third-place game.

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