Palmyra boys put cap on CCC championship, turn sights to postseason success

Palmyra boys

The Palmyra boys basketball team celebrates its perfect run through the Clarence Cannon Conference, which the Panthers capped Saturday with a 54-30 victory over Highland in Palmyra, Mo. | Photo courtesy Beau Hicks

PALMYRA, Mo. — Now the real fun begins.

The Palmyra boys basketball team capped a perfect run through the Clarence Cannon Conference on Saturday afternoon en route to securing its 19th straight victory — a 54-30 vanquishing of Highland.

Next on the Panthers’ to-do list is to make a strong run in the Class 3 postseason. Top-seeded Palmyra (24-1) opens district play on its home floor at 6 p.m. Thursday against either Clark County (5-16) or Highland (6-15).

Sophomore guard Ryan McKinney said the Panthers are ready for what’s to come.

“We’ll be prepared for any team,” said McKinney, who led Palmyra’s usual balanced scorebook with 15 points. 

Carson Hicks, a senior forward who topped the Panthers with eight rebounds and scored 11 points, wanted to make one thing perfectly clear.

“We’re not done yet,” he said.

Before the Panthers began concentrating solely on district play, there was some well-deserved time following Saturday’s win when they simply enjoyed finishing 7-0 in the conference and collecting their 14th consecutive home win, a streak that dates to late last season.

“It’s just awesome to go undefeated in the CCC,” senior point guard Bear Bock said.

Bock, who scored 12 points and was one of seven upperclassmen singled out on Senior Day, told how important those fellow seniors have been.

“We have 15 guys on our team, but only five can play at one time,” Bock said. “The support everyone gives one another is huge. We always have one another’s backs.”

Hicks nodded his head in agreement.

“We care about each other,” he said.

Palmyra coach Brian Rea had similar feelings when looking back over a regular season that included just one stubbed toe, a 54-42 loss at Quincy Notre Dame in early December. That is the Panthers’ only loss in 13 games against opponents with winning records.

“This has been an emotional season, in a good way,” Rea said. “We dress 15 kids, and a lot of guys make sacrifices. They are all such good kids.”

At the heart of Palmyra’s victory over Highland was the Panthers’ defense. Palmyra has held 17 of its 25 opponents below 40 points, including six in the 20s.

“We knew we would get Highland’s best,” Rea said. “Our defense is what broke the game open. When we got into a rhythm on defense, we were able to (open the game up).”

Palmyra outscored Highland 41-15 over the middle two quarters after struggling to earn a 9-7 lead after one period.

Palmyra is holding opponents to an average of 32.2 points per game over its last six starts. The Panthers forced 27 Highland turnovers and did not allow the Cougars to score in double figures in any of the four quarters. 

Brady Campen led Highland with nine points and five rebounds. 

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