‘We just do what we do’: Palmyra boys hold 14th opponent below 40 points, improve to 19-1


Palmyra's Bear Bock uses a screen from Jonathan Edwards and drives to the basket during Friday night's boys basketball game against South Shelby in Palmyra, Mo. | Photo courtesy of Alicia Deming

PALMYRA, Mo. — Brian Rea offered a hint late Friday night as to why the Palmyra boys basketball team enjoys playing defense so much.

“It’s a mindset, and it’s a testament to our guys who have totally bought into it,” said Rea, the second-year coach whose club is now 19-1 following a 47-25 Clarence Cannon Conference victory over South Shelby.

Palmyra’s victory was its 14th in a row and stretched its win streak at home to 13, dating to late last season.

Rea says his players understand the importance of defense, so much so that more preparation time is spent working on how best to stop an opponent than figuring out some new-fangled way to put the ball in the hoop. 

“We always focus more on defense,” Rea said. “It’s a chess match.”

Rea says the Panthers, who have had just one losing record since the 2011-12 season, remain extremely basic on offense — but they try their suffocating best to keep every opponent away from the basket on every possession.

Just ask standout senior Bear Bock, who at 6-foot-5 is the tallest point guard in Northeast Missouri, if not the entire state. Bock, who scored seven points, led the Panthers with six rebounds and blocked three shots, kept his explanation simple when it comes to Palmyra’s priorities.

“We just do what we do,” Bock said.

And that, in a nutshell, translates into not allowing the opposition to put the ball in the basket. The Panthers have held 14 of 20 opponents under 40 points.

Palmyra, No. 7 in this week’s Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Class 3 rankings, limited South Shelby (10-10) to 16 points through the game’s first 26 minutes.

“Our defense was great tonight,” said 5-10 Palmyra freshman guard Hudson Bock, Bear Bock’s little brother and the best outside shooter in the family.

Hudson Bock led the Panthers with 12 points, the result of four 3-point field goals, including three in the second quarter when Palmyra moved from an 8-6 lead after the first eight minutes to a 25-12 advantage at halftime.

“I’m learning and just trying to get better every game,” the youngest Bock said. “And I really enjoy being able to play on the same team with my brother.”

Palmyra’s latest conquest kept it unbeaten (4-0) in the conference, heading into Tuesday’s 7:30 p.m. game at arch rival Monroe City (13-7), which lambasted Bowling Green 81-45 on Friday.

Bear Bock said there is no added pressure on Palmyra, whether the conversation is dealing with the team’s winning streak, the home-court skein or the perfect conference mark.

“For us, it’s always one quarter, one half, one game at a time,” he said. “At halftime, no matter what the score of the game is, we always come out in the third quarter with the score 0-0 in our minds.”

Rea says that approach comes in handy, especially during a season like the one where Palmyra finds itself. There is no dwelling on losses or victories, he says. Just play the game at hand and move forward.

“If you start to feel the pressure, it will affect your play,” said Rea, whose team has won in-season tournaments at Highland and Monroe City plus its own invitational.

Carson Hicks (9), Ryan McKinney (7) and Jeremiah Edwards (6) combined for 22 points for Palmyra, which suffered its only loss back on Dec. 12 at Quincy Notre Dame 54-42.

Palmyra’s win snapped a two-game losing streak to South Shelby. Palmyra has won 25 of the last 30 games against the Cardinals.

South Shelby, which fell to 2-2 in the conference, was led in scoring by junior Gabe Bowen (6).

Miss Clipping Out Stories to Save for Later?

Click the Purchase Story button below to order a print of this story. We will print it for you on matte photo paper to keep forever.

Related Articles