The Cougars used a 13-0 first-quarter burst as the catalyst for a lopsided 71-42 triumph.
Everyone wants to start off the new year on the right foot, but the Palmyra boys basketball team apparently really wanted to.
There were other more specific explanations for the Cougars' impressive beginning to 2016, but no matter the reasons Palmyra played some of its best basketball of the season on Saturday evening in the first game of the 7th annual Rhoades Foundation Classic tripleheader at Lebanon Valley College.
Already winners of seven of their first 10 entering the contest, the Cougars followed an opening 3-pointer by A-C's Noah Myers with 13 unanswered points and never looked back on the way to a thorough 71-42 triumph.
Main men Isaac Blatt and Austin Yetter led the rout with 15 and 12 points, respectively, but Palmyra was able to get almost any shot it wanted - and made many of them - almost from the get-go while turning in its most complete effort of the season against an improving but-not-there-yet Little Dutchmen squad.
"This is the best we've played," a pleased Palmyra head coach Pete Conrad said firmly. "We actually have of lot of respect for what Annville is doing - they beat a Donegal team that we just escaped against - they're getting better. We just came out and played great. I thought our energy was the best it's been. I was really pleased. Honestly, we did not expect that to be the type of game it was."
Neither did A-C coach Chris Bradford, whose squad (4-8) has already surpassed a three-win 2014-15 campaign. But the Little Dutchmen simply couldn't slow down Palmyra's potent attack, and that, combined with not hitting enough of its own shots early to stay close, made for a long night.
"We stressed that we gotta limit them and we gotta do it on the defensive end, and that's where we lacked," Bradford said. "We can't let teams put over 60 on us or we're not gonna come out on the right end of that. We gotta better defensively, and at the end of the day we gotta use this as a kick going back into (Lancaster-Lebanon) Section Four."
Stopping Palmyra was easier said than done on Saturday night, as it moved the ball superbly, and pushed the ball at will while getting points from 12- count 'em - different players.
Up 18-7 after the opening quarter, the Cougars ran off on an 11-2 jaunt to open the second that culminated with a Sam Sheils bucket and a 29-9 lead with 3:59 still to play in the first half. It wasn't really a game after that.
"I think we're a better basketball team than we showed tonight," said Bradford, whose squad was led by Myers' 12 points. "Palmyra gave it to us and we'll be better for it. Pete's got some talented guys and Pete's a great coach. They hit some shots and we tried to match jump shots with them and that doesn't work for us."
Two of those talented guys are, of course, the rangy Blatt and the sharpshooting Yetter, who combined for 18 of their 27 total points in the first half when the outcome was decided.
"It's an advantage, obviously," Conrad said of Yetter and Blatt. "Those guys can both score and we try to put them in position to not just score, but to make plays for their teammates. When we do that, good things tend to happen for us."
Palmyra 71, Annville-Cleona 42
Ethan Harro 1 1-2 3, Eric Lynn 3 0-0 7, Noah Reale 3 0-0 9, Austin Yetter 6 0-1 12, Isaac Blatt 3 9-11 15, Alec Cleckner 1 0-0 3, Bradey Powell 0 0-0 0, Sam Sheils 1 3-4 5, Braden Vernet 2 1-4 5, Bennett Von Stetten 1 0-0 2, Bryant Willis 3 0-1 8, Nick Jelliff 1 0-0 2. Totals — .25 14-23 71
Cole Waldhausen 0 0-0 0, Cameron Hoch 0 4-6 4, Gordon Parks 1 0-0 2, Eli Setlock 0 2-2 2, Matt Light 1 0-0 2, Ryan Mathews 1 1-2 3, Donald Friday 1 1-2 3, Julian DyReyes-Kapp 4 1-2 9, Tyler Talhelm 0 3- 4 3, Isaac Burris 1 0-0 2, Noah Myers 3 4-6 12 . Totals — .12 16-24 42.
Palmyra _ 18 _ 16 _ 18 _ 19 _ — _ 71
Annville-Cleona _ 7 _ 5 _ 13 _ 17 _ — _ 42
3-point goals — AC: Myers 2, P: Reale 3, Lynn, Willis 2, Cleckner