PALMYRA - First it was circled. Now it's been checked. And in retrospect, Tuesday will simply look like all the rest.
Just another win in the books for a suddenly sizzling Palmyra boys basketball team.
Avenging its most recent loss, a defeat at Bishop McDevitt on Dec. 23, the Cougars pulled away from the Crusaders, 70-56, for their seventh straight victory. Palmyra senior Austin Yetter netted a game-high 20 points, finishing as one of four Cougars in double figures. Isaac Blatt scored 13 after halftime to help the orange and black build a 46-27 post-intermission advantage.
Bishop McDevitt (9-4, 6-2 Mid Penn Keystone) was forced to lace up without leading scorer James Williams, point guard Jody Morales and key reserve Kobay White. Williams and White were benched for disciplinary reasons, while Morales sat with a broken hand.
In their stead, Tim Kater (19 points) and Bryce Hall supplied more than half the Crusaders' scoring, but couldn't keep pace with a deeper, more motivated Palmyra club.
"We were just looking at it like, 'Let's get this game, revenge game,'" Yetter said. "It was close last time, and we really wanted this game."
After leading for only 26 seconds of the opening half, the Cougars (12-3, 5-3) at last regained the upper hand with 2:05 left in the third quarter on a Blatt score that birthed a 40-39 edge. Moments earlier, the junior forward scored through a foul committed by against Hall, who had limited him to two points before halftime.
The division foes went on to trade baskets near the close of the quarter, when Bishop McDevitt coach Mike Gaffey was whistled for a technical foul at the conclusion of two Hall foul shots. Yetter then answered via his own pair of freebies, and Palmyra was rewarded with the ball as 23 seconds still remained in the period.
"I really don't know. I don't get technicals very often. I don't know what (the referee) was upset about," Gaffey said. "We just deflected and moved on."
Armed now with a four-point advantage, Cougars guard Sam Sheils (11 points), making his starting debut, sank a reverse layup shortly before the buzzer to go up 48-42 with a quarter left.
"(Sam) puts great pressure on the basketball," Palmyra coach Tim Conrad said. "(He) slashes to the rim, had some really nice finishes and moves the ball for us."
While the Crusaders later cut their deficit to two, they failed to connect a single time from 3-point distance in the second half and were eventually buried by rotating scores from Blatt, Bryant Willis (13 points) and Eric Lynn. The Cougars finished 13-15 at the charity stripe as a team and delivered the proverbial dagger with consecutive Willis scores that sandwiched the 1:30 mark and sparked a double-digit lead.
Moving forward, Yetter believes the Keystone Division script essentially ought to be flipped, with Palmyra opponents now seeking the same spoils the Cougars won Tuesday night.
"I think they should be preparing to play us," Yetter said. "Now they're looking for us and looking to get revenge and beat us."
Palmyra 70, Bishop McDevitt 56
Bishop McDevitt (56)
Chris Briner 2 0-0 4, Nick Gemmell 2 2-2 6, Bryce Hall 5 8-12 18, Joe Headen 1 0-0 3, Tim Kater 8 2-2 19, Alex Marsico 2 2-2 6. Totals — 20 14-18 56.
Isaac Blatt 6 3-3 15, Ethan Harro 1 0-0 2, Eric Lynn 4 0-0 8, Sam Sheils 5 1-3 11, Bryant Willis 5 3-3 14, Austin Yetter 6 6-6 20. Totals — 27 13-15 70.
McDevitt _ 21_8_ 13_ 14_ — _ 56
Palmyra _ 12_ 12_ 24_ 22 _ — _ 70
3-point goals — Pal 3 (Yetter 2, Willis), BM 2 (Headen, Kater)