PALMYRA >> The Palmyra boys' basketball team couldn't have picked a better time to play its best game of the season.
Playing at home Friday night, the Cougars scorched Dover, 70-54, in a District 3 Class AAA play-in game to keep their season alive.
"I think our guys were really ready," Palmyra coach Pete Conrad said. "We practiced like we were ready. We shared the ball. We did a lot of good things."
The timing was right for such a performance, because the Cougars will need to duplicate it — and then some — when they take the court again on Tuesday against No. 2 seed Bishop McDevitt at 7 p.m. on the Crusaders' home court.
But for now, the Cougars will enjoy their first foray into districts in a while. Blatt led all scorers with 21 points, including three 3-pointers; Austin Yetter dazzled with moves to the hoop in transition and the half-court game and finished with 15 points; and Eric Lynn scored 14.
Dover, the third-place team from YAIAA Division II, often only got one look at the basket because the Cougars were clearing the rebounds.
Dover, which finishes its season at 12-12, was led by Ryan Beck's 18 points, 16 from Najah Fink and 14 from Jerry O'Neal.
It was the final high school game for Beck, one of central Pennsylvania's premier players. The 5-foot-10 point guard was averaging 22 points per game coming into the contest and last season led the YAIAA with 24 ppg.
On Friday night, Beck only had seven points through three quarters as he had some trouble finding his rhythm against Palmyra's zone defense. He got hot in the fourth quarter as he desperately tried to get the Eagles back in the game, scoring 11 of his club's 20 points. The Eagles trailed by 10 twice in the final quarter but never got closer.
"(Beck) obviously is a great player who is willing to fall on the sword figuratively and do everything he can to get a win for his team," Conrad said.
Both teams came out running and firing away from the outside, and the first quarter ended 14-14. The game took a decided turn in the second quarter when the Cougars outscored the Eagles, 13-2. Blatt hit the first two buckets of the period and then had the big defensive play of the first half, swatting away a shot after Beck sprinted through a big hole in the Palmyra defense.
Frazier nailed a 3 after a steal by Lynn, and Yetter hit a short jumper to complete the run, and the Cougars were up 27-14. Dover did not score in the quarter until 2:12 remained, as Fink converted a layup.
Dover also did not quit. The Eagles made their own run, scoring the first six points of the third quarter, culminated in Beck's steal and layup. That cut the Cougars' lead to 27-22, and Conrad used a timeout.
The Cougars responded. Blatt hit a big 3-pointer, Dorta made a nice tip-in basket, and Blatt responded with another 3 to give the Cougars a 35-26 edge. The Eagles cut the lead to five on one occasion, but the Cougars quickly stretched it to nine by the end of the quarter.
The Cougars put the game away with a 13-4 run to start the final quarter.
Ryan Beck 6 4-5 18, DeShong 0 0-0 0, Bowman 0 0-0 0, Snyder 0 0-0 0, Jerry O' Neal 5 4-4 14, Najah Fink 7 2-4 16, Peters 2 2-2 6
Totals — 20 12-15 54
Dorta 3 3-4 9, Frazier 2 4-4 9, Martin 1 0-0 2, Lynn 4 6-6 14, Yetter 5 3-3 15, Blatt 7 4-4 21, Reigle 0 0-0 0, Vernet 0 0-0 0
Totals — 22 20-21 70
3-point goals — Dover, Beck 2. Palmyra, Blatt 3, Yetter 2, Frazier 1