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EPHRATA - The Palmyra Cougars made it a clean sweep at the annual Ephrata Holiday Tournament on Tuesday night.

Palmyra’s boys defeated the host Mounts 56-49 in the opening title game, then the girls followed suit with a 31-26 win over Lampeter-Strasburg in the nightcap to clinch a second trophy for the Cougars.

The Cougar boys held off a sharpshooting Mounts team that dropped eight 3-pointers on coach Pete Conrad’s squad with a marked defensive improvement from Monday’s night’s survival test against Donegal in the opening round - a one-point victory.

“I thought our focus at defending the basket down the stretch was markedly improved from the Donegal game,” Conrad said. “There was a level of determination and awareness that was not present (Monday).

“This is a nice feeling (to win it). We talk about building blocks and obviously we’ve got bigger goals. But we think that this is a step in the right direction - and to get it on the other team’s home floor, where they have a lot of pride, is a good feeling.”

Palmyra rallied from a 39-34 deficit after three quarters. The Cougars went on a 10-5 run to take a 44-41 lead, then hung on from the charity stripe as the fouls mounted up against Ephrata. Palmyra hit the bonus with 4:02 to play - it helped that the Cougars were deadly from the foul line, hitting all 13 freebies down the stretch to keep the hosts at arm’s length. They were 19 of 21 for the game.

An earlier 9-0 run bridging the first and second quarters - turning an 11-8 deficit into a 17-11 lead - felt as though it might be the catalyst to get the Cougars (7-3) to stick and stay. But Ephrata’s perimeter game was on, as a flurry of threes later in the frame brought the hosts even at 24 heading into the break.

The Mounts had limited success in the paint against Palmyra’s springy, lengthy bigs, but as long as the bombs were dropping, they were able to stay close. They had six of their eight drop in the opening 16 minutes.

“I may have over-coached that,” Conrad said. “We tried to scramble them and I thought they might be susceptible to pressure, but they moved the ball and shot well. Sometimes you can overthink it. When we went man down the stretch, we responded well.”

Isaac Blatt gave Ephrata all kinds of headaches at both ends. Blatt blocked a pair of shots, providing solid interior defense, and scored 18 at the other end to lead all scorers. He was named tournament MVP.

“Isaac’s so good, and he doesn’t even realize how talented he is,” ‘Conrad said. “When he gets assertive like that, we get so much better.”

Bennett Von Stetten provided key rebounding down the stretch and put back a huge offensive rebound to quell Ephrata’s last charge and give Palmyra a 48-43 lead. The Mounts got no closer.

Micah Krauter and Zach McGillan each had 12 points to lead Ephrata.

Girls: Palmyra 31, Lampeter-Strasburg 26

Never trailing, Palmyra raced to 15-2 lead late in the second quarter against L-S, but the offense ground to a halt after that, well into the third quarter. That allowed the Pioneers to hang around, but Palmyra was able to hit just enough free throws (4) in the closing minutes to hold them off.

L-S made just eight field goals, but was able to scour enough points from the free throw line (10) to keep things interesting. All 10 came after the break, in which Palmyra (6-4) headed into holding a 17-8 lead.

Molly Gundermann had 11 points in the title game for Palmyra and was named tournament MVP. Josie Stovall scored six of the Cougars’ nine first-quarter points – a stanza in which they exited leading 9-0 – and finished with a game-high 12 points. No L-S players cracked double digits.

BOYS

Palmyra 56, Ephrata 49 

Palmyra (56)

Harro 2 0-0 6, Cleckner 0 0-0 0, Willis 1 0-0 2, Isaac Blatt 6 4-4 18, Lynn 2 4-4 8, Vernet 1 5-5 7, Yetter 2 4-4 9, Von Stetten 2 2-4 6, Shiels  0 0-0 0. Totals — 16 19-21 56.

Ephrata (49)

Holbritter 2 0-0 6, Fasnacht 1 0-0 2, DaBella 1 0-0 3, Becker 0 0-0 0, Micah Krauter 4 2-4 12, Cable 2 1-2 6, M McGillan 4 0-0 8, Zach McGillan 3 4-4 12s. Totals — 17 7-10 49.

Palmyra _ 12 _ 12 _ 10 _ 22 _ — _ 56

Ephrata _ 11 _ 13 _ 15 _ 10 _ — _ 49

3-point goals — Eph 8 (Holbritter 2, Krauter 2, Z McGillan 2, DaBella, Cable).

GIRLS

Palmyra 31, Lampeter-Strasburg 26 

Palmyra (31)

Baldo 1 1-3 3, McLucas 0 0-0 0, Schultz 0 0-0 0, Werkeiser 0 1-3 1, Molly Gundermann  3 3-4 11, Josie Stovall 4 4-4 12, Carmo 0 0-0 0, Richardson 1 2-2 4. Totals — 9 11-13 31.

Lampeter-Strasburg (26)

Garber 2 4-6 8, Zameroski 2 0-0 4, Hoenninger 3 0-0 6, Shortes 2 1-2 3, Gochnauer 0 1-2 1, Horner 0 4-4 4. Totals — 8 10-14 26.

Palmyra _ 9 _ 8 _ 4 _ 10 _ — _ 31

L.-Strasburg _ 0 _ 8 _ 7 _ 11 _ — _ 26

3-point goals — Pal 2 (Gundermann 2).

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