YORK - There will come a time when the four-member senior class of the Palmyra girls basketball team inevitably must pass the program's baton onto two budding freshmen, Amelia Baldo and Olivia Richardson.
But Friday night at York High was not that time. Thanks largely to the Cougars' first-year duo and their senior leaders, they've all got at least one more tip to go.
Behind four different double-figure scorers and a stellar foul-shooting performance, Palmyra edged host York High in a District 3 Class AAAA tournament play-in game, 62-53, and advanced to Tuesday's first round. The Cougars (13-9) shot better than 78 percent from the line, while Baldo made five of six down the stretch to seal their playoff victory. Richardson topped all teammates with 16 points, while seniors Molly Gundermann and Josie Stovall scored 14 and 10, respectively.
One year after falling to Cumberland Valley in the district final, a much younger Palmyra squad will travel to meet the top-ranked Eagles again next week.
"It's awesome because we know people are like Palmyra's having a down year,'" Gundermann said of the win. "We're just trying to show everybody that we're still here to play and we're still in the game."
Sparked by a hot-shooting start, the Cougars were in contention from the get-go Friday and held a 17-9 lead after the first quarter. The Bearcats (14-10) soon built an 8-3 answering run through the night's high scorer, Madey-Zania Redman (20 points), who was also the primary beneficiary of her team's constant defensive pressure. While York's full-court press would eventually surrendered 32 total free throws, it first helped draw a manageable six-point deficit at the break.
Then, coming out of halftime, the Bearcats blitzed again defensively with great success, generating two separate leads during the third.
"That's the style we play. We run and play sort of like bump-and-run in the NFL," York coach Larry Corbin said. "We like to be up and invade their personal space, make them as uncomfortable as we can."
Yet in the same manner they would later cement their victory, the Cougars grabbed a tie from the charity stripe just before heading into the final quarter. Hayley Schultz drained one of two free throws at 0.7 seconds to go in the third, moments before Palmyra hit 15 of 17 over the fourth.
Stovall and Gundermann produced perfect efforts at the stripe, while Baldo came up with the most timely foul shots after navigating the Bearcats' pressure almost single-handedly.
"Amelia's really shown up the last couple weeks. She's really taken her game to another level," Palmyra coach Ron Berman said. "And we're asking her, as a point guard, to handle a lot of traps and pressures from some great coaches we go up against."
But there was no one Cougar responsible for the postseason triumph - only a single shared skill that kept York at least at a two-point distance from the 4:00 mark on.
"If we had one individual thing that makes us special as a team, it's our foul shooting," Berman said. "It's not the best team I've had in 16 years, but they will not quit, they play hard for me, they're fun to coach and are the best foul-shooting team I've ever coached."
Palmyra 62, York 53
Amelia Baldo 3 7-9 13, Hayley Schultz 1 1-2 4, Kailey Werkheiser 1 2-2 5, Molly Gundermann 4 4-4 14, Josie Stovall 3 4-5 10, Olivia Richardson 4 7-10 16, Mara Bowman 0 0-0 0, Shannon Carmo 0 0-0 0. Totals — 16 25-32 62.
Nakoya Beady 0 0-0 0, Leah Hutchinson 3 0-0 8, Madey-Zania Redman 9 1-4 20, Chyna Steele 6 0-0 12, Garia Kinard 2 0-0 4, Jasmine Beistline 3 0-0 6. Totals — 24 1-4 53.
Palmyra_ 17_ 12_ 9_ 24 _ — _ 62
York_ 9_ 14 _ 15_ 15 — _ 53
3-point goals — Pal 5 (Gundermann 2, Schultz, Richardson, Werkheiser) York 4 (Hutchinson, Givens, Redman)