EPHRATA - Each time Palmyra seemed ready to create more than enough separation to make Monday’s basketball matinee comfortable, a favorable situation promptly reversed and became rather uncomfortable.

And that continued right up to the very, very end.

Able to get a late runout from Austin Yetter that gave them the lead for the final time, the Cougars held on for a 47-46 boys basketball victory over Donegal in the opening round of the Ephrata Holiday Tournament at Ephrata Intermediate School.

Yetter and Isaac Blatt each finished with 17 points for Pete Conrad’s club (6-3), which led by as many as nine points (21-12) in the first half and 10 (36-26) midway through the second only to see Matt Zoeller’s group climb back in.

“I’ll just say a lot of credit to Donegal,” a displeased Conrad said. “They’re well-coached. Matt does a good job. They could have packed it in. They kept fighting. Their guys made a lot of plays.

“In many ways, they certainly deserved to win that game.”

Blatt also grabbed 12 rebounds for the Cougars, who will play either host Ephrata or Oley Valley in Tuesday’s title game. Eric Lynn chipped in seven assists, but it was his steal and outlet that led to Yetter’s go-ahead score with 28.4 to go.

Palmyra had a chance to extend its tenuous lead several seconds later - Alec Cleckner was fouled latching on to an Ethan Hess miss - but his free-throw attempt was wiped out by a lane violation that gave the Indians (2-8) another chance.

Donegal worked the clock down to 10 seconds before calling time. And even though Lynn got a piece of Elijah Swanigan’s shot with 6.5 to play, the ball tumbled over the baseline and Zoeller’s bunch maintained possession.

Moments later, as Ryan Mitchell turned in the paint, his potential game-winning shot barely left his hand as Blatt swallowed up the attempt. Blatt promptly grabbed the loose ball and tossed it toward the other end as the horn sounded.

“There’s really not much positive to say,” Conrad added.

Mitchell finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Indians, who were able to cut their nine-point deficit to four (26-22) by the time the halftime break arrived.

As for Palmyra’s 10-point cushion, that number was completely erased with 2:48 to play when Swanigan canned a 3-pointer to give the Indians a 44-42 lead.

Derek Mohr’s finish at the tin, after Blatt’s mini-hook tied it, had Donegal up 46-44 with 1:16 to play.

“When it got to 10, I was a little concerned there,” Zoeller admitted. “But like I said, we played really good defense. They missed a couple shots that maybe they don’t typically miss and we got back in. We just couldn’t quite hold it there.”

Palmyra 47, Donegal 46

Palmyra (47)

Ethan Harro 1 0-0 3, Isaac Blatt 7 2-3 17, Eric Lynn 2 0-0 4, Braden Vernet 2 0-0 4, Austin Yetter 7 2-3 17, Alec Cleckner 1 0-0 2, Bryant Willis 0 0-0 0, Bennett Von Stetten 0 0-0 0, Sam Sheils 0 0-0 0, Noah Reale 0 0-0 0. Totals — 20 4-6 47.

Donegal (46)

Ethan Hess 2 0-0 5, Derek Mohr 3 2-3 8, Elijah Swanigan 2 1-2 6, Chris Beaudoin 3 1-2 7, Evan Burnette 0 0-0 0, Micah Reber 1 0-0 2, Austin Dimeler 1 2-2 4, Wyatt Schlaybach 0 0-0 0, Ryan Mitchell 6 1-3 14, Michael Lyons 0 0-0 0. Totals — 18 7-12 46.

Palmyra _ 13 _ 13 _ 12 _ 9 _ — _ 47

Donegal _ 11 _ 11 _ 11 _ 13 _ — _ 46

3-point goals — Pal 3 (Harro, Blatt, Yetter); Don 3 (Hess, Swanigan, Mitchell).

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