Right on the money: Bock, state-ranked Panthers make right plays in capturing 16th straight victory


Palmyra guard Ryan McKinney looks to make a move toward the basket during Thursday night's game against Bowling Green in Palmyra, Mo. | Photo courtesy Alicia Deming

PALMYRA, Mo. — Bear Bock found himself with what looked to be a breakaway layup in the second half, only to eventually run into some Bowling Green defenders blocking his path to the basket.

No problem.

Bock fired a behind-the-back pass to trailing teammate Luke Sheppard, who secured the toss and cashed in a layup.

That little bit of French pastry helped serve as an exclamation point in Palmyra’s latest boys basketball victory, a 61-51 triumph Thursday night over Bowling Green.

“I saw Luke coming and was just able to get the ball back to him,” said Bock, whose 12-point, seven-rebound performance helped the state’s No. 6-ranked Class 3 school win its 16th straight game.

Palmyra coach Brian Rea, whose club is now 21-1, had nothing but praise for Bock’s entertaining toss.

“That was really a good pass, and the kind that should have been made in a situation like that,” Rea said. “It might have looked a little flashy, but was the right pass on that play.”

The 6-foot-5 Bock said that was not his first behind-the-back effort in a situation like that.

“It was actually the second time,” he said. “I’ve used it once before this season. The first time was against Payson (a 55-39 win Dec. 18).”

The win over Bowling Green (6-15) was Palmyra’s eighth straight against the Bobcats, plus its 14th in a row at home, dating to late last season.

Freshman guard Hudson Bock led Palmyra with 15 points, which were accented by three 3-point field goals.

Sophomore guard Ryan McKinney also reached double figures with 11 points. Senior forward Carson Hicks scored nine points, all in the first half when Palmyra built a 35-20 lead by intermission. The Panthers led 49-29 going into the fourth quarter.

Palmyra looked to be on the way to holding another opponent below 40 points (which it has done 15 times), but Bowling Green scored 22 points in the fourth quarter. Junior guard Jake Eskew paced Bowling Green with 27 points, including 11 in the fourth period — all at the foul line.

“We controlled the game after the first quarter (when Palmyra led 19-15),” Rea said. “We’re a lot tougher both mentally and physically than people might think.”

The 51 points allowed represented the second-most Palmyra has permitted. Quincy Notre Dame is the only team to score more when it registered a 54-42 victory Dec. 12 at The Pit.

“We’re only averaging giving up 36 to 38 points a game,” Bock said. “Fifty-one points? That’s just not us … but it’s still a ‘W.’”

Palmyra travels to Centralia (13-8) on Saturday for a key showdown in the Clarence Cannon Conference. Palmyra is 5-0 in the league and Centralia, which hosts Monroe City on Friday night, is 3-1.

“Our game with Centralia should be for the title,” Rea said. 

Palmyra’s only other conference game remaining is a home date with Highland (6-13, 2-2 CCC) on Feb. 16.

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