State-ranked Palmyra girls shake off sluggish start to power past Bowling Green


Palmyra's Ashley Bode, left, looks to score during Thursday's game against Bowling Green in Palmyra, Mo. | Photo courtesy Alicia Deming

PALMYRA, Mo. — Enough was enough.

About halfway through the first quarter Thursday night, Palmyra girls basketball coach Kelsey Stuart had witnessed her club commit too many turnovers, miss way too many free throws and play a generally ineffective brand of basketball.

She called for a timeout.

What was actually said during that break in the action will never be for public consumption, but it’s safe to say a competitive fire was lit.

Palmyra regrouped, then responded.

The Panthers completely dominated the game from that point on, eventually settling for a 58-18 victory over Bowling Green. The victory was Palmyra’s eighth straight against the Bobcats.

How dominant was Palmyra over the final 3 1/2 quarters? Bowling Green (4-17) wound up with more turnovers (29) than points. The Bobcats did not score more than five points in any quarter in dropping their 10th straight start.

Palmyra (17-4), ranked No. 7 in this week’s Class 3 state poll, saw Sydney Compton score a game-high 22 points and Clare Williams add 16 as the Panthers raised their record against Missouri schools to 16-1.

“I wish I had an answer for how we were playing early in the game, but I don’t,” said Stuart, who watched her players commit a series of early turnovers, miss 7 of 8 free throws and struggle for any sort of cohesion at either end of the floor.

“We didn’t have any energy.” Compton said of the slow start.

The Panthers, who have won seven of their last eight games, might have been looking ahead to Saturday’s key Clarence Cannon Conference showdown at Centralia (17-4). The game will pit the two top schools in this year’s conference race. Palmyra is 5-0 in league play, Centralia 4-0.

“We’ve been looking forward to the Centralia game,” said Williams, who gave Bowling Green fits with her defense at the point. “That will probably be for the conference title.”

Compton, who collared a team-leading six rebounds, agreed with Williams.

“We’ve been getting ready for Centralia,” she said. “That is going to be our biggest game of the year.”

Compton, who is the second-leading scorer on the team with a 12-point average, drew praise from Stuart for her aggressive play “on both offense and defense”. 

Compton scored nine of her points in the second quarter when Palmyra built a 29-10 halftime lead and then added seven in the fourth quarter. Compton made eight straight free throws after clanking her first two during the Panthers’ unexpected slow start to the game.

Williams, who hit two 3-pointers and blocked a pair of shots, also knocked away two balls for breakaway layups.

“Clare does so much for us as both a playmaker and a key on defense,” Stuart said.

Williams said she was able to take advantage of some backdoor cuts on offense that seemed to catch Bowling Green by surprise. Williams is averaging 10.7 points per game.

Williams felt Palmyra was able to put Bowling Green away when its defensive intensity picked up following the early timeout. The 18 points allowed by Palmyra was its second-best effort of the season, topped only in a 60-12 win over Clark County in late January. Palmyra has held 10 of its 21 opponents to less than 40 points.

Palmyra’s top scorer for the season, center Candra King (14.0), contributed seven points and a pair of blocks. Taytum White added six points.

Kaylyn Chandler scored 10 points for Bowling Green and grabbed seven rebounds.

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