Palmyra punched its ticket to the District Three semifinals with a 78-67 triumph over Boiling Springs on Friday night in a Class AAA clash at Carlisle Area High School's Gene Evans Gymnasium.
The orange-and-black finished the night with 11 3-pointers for the second straight tilt, in addition to a 27-18 advantage in made free throws. Trey Baker (16 points), Logan Stovall (13) and Chris Lynn (13) all dropped double digits in the victory.
"We came in pretty prepared, and Adam was on fire to start," said senior forward Stovall. "They hit a lot of contested shots. Give credit to (Boiling Springs), they're a good team."
With the win, Palmyra also clinched the program's first PIAA state playoff berth since 2005-06. Not bad for a team saddled with a 41-game losing streak when head coach Pete Conrad took over in 2009.
"I didn't even think about that part of it. We were just thinking about Giant Center," admitted Conrad. "It's another piece of the equation and just another great accomplishment for these guys. It's really exciting."
Palmyra, seeded No. 12, travels to Giant Center on Monday for an 8 p.m. semifinal showdown against top-ranked Susquehanna Township. The Indians, who lost to Palmyra in the regular season, dumped Northeastern 43-38 in a Friday night quarterfinal in Hershey.
"We got to make sure we shut down (their scorers)," added Stovall. "If we can hold them below their averages, I think we can pull it out."
Against Boiling Springs, the Cougars played above average from the opening tip. Newhard and Trey Baker combined to drain seven long balls in the first. Meanwhile, Eric Contreras kept the Bubblers in striking distance with nine points. After one, Palmyra held a 21-20 margin.
"We shot the ball very well," added Conrad. "Newhard just went off. I was happy for him, because no where I have come to have the fans just cat-called high school kids like it went on here. So, I was really happy for him to have a game like that."
In the second, the Cougars extended the lead to six. Chris Lynn's last-second steal, layup and free-throw conversion made it a 40-34 game at the break. Combined, the clubs made 23-of-34 shots in the first half, including Palmyra's perfect performance from beyond the arch (8-of-8).
"They shot the ball phenomenal," Conrad said. "We didn't play great defense, but at times I thought we played pretty reasonable defense and they just made shots over hands. You just tip your hat to them at that point and hope you can continue to preserve, which I thought we did."
Boiling Springs begin to rally in the third quarter, pulling even at 42 with 4:32 remaining.
"Coach (Pat) Dieter, who is obviously one of the most respected coaches around here, threw a little triangle-and-2 at us," said Conrad. "That's something we thought all year - somebody might try and disrupt us that way. We were a little bit ready for it, but until you do it in a varsity game, you're not really ready for it. More than anything, I thought we were a little passive."
Baker woke the Cougars up by nailing another trey, while point guard Shaun Robinson set up Lynn for back-to-back buckets to pull back ahead. Stovall and Newhard then added baskets to close the quarter with Palmyra ahead 55-46.
In the fourth, both teams paraded to the charity stripe. The Cougars converted 15-of-20 free throws in the fourth quarter to remove any doubts.
No doubt the Cougars have come along.
"Our freshman year, I sat varsity and we were 1-21 or something like that," Stovall.
PALMYRA 78, BOILING SPRINGS 67
¦Robinson 0 2-2 2, Stovall 5 7-8 17, C. Lynn 5 1-3 13, Baker 3 4-6 13, Graybill 0 0-0 0, Newhard 7 6-10 26, Romanoski 0 0-0 0, Mackey 0 7-8 7. Totals 20 27-37 78.
BOILING SPRINGS (67)
¦Lithgow 1 0-0 2, S. Gelber 1 0-0 2, M. Gelber 6 3-5 16, Keller 2 1-1 5, Wise 1 0-0 2, Pittenger 4 4-5 12, Thompson 1 0-0 2, B. McHenry 1 3-4 6, Contreras 6 7-8 20, Lay 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 18-23 67.
Palmyra 21 19 15 23 - 78
Boiling Springs 20 14 12 21 - 67
3-point goals - Palmyra 11 (Newhard 6, Baker 3, Lynn 2); Boiling Spring 3 (M. Gelber, B. McHenry, Contreras.
Total Fouls - Palmyra 20; Boiling Springs 32.
Fouled Out - Palmyra: none; Boiling Springs: Lithgow, Contreras, M. Gelber.