MONROE CITY, Mo. | Monroe City senior Bryce Stark came up huge in the clutch again against Palmyra in Tuesday's 62-59 home win.
With Palmyra getting a possession with eight second remaining and the game tied 59-59, Stark came away with a steal from Palmyra's Jayden Durst for a score and a free throw.
Monroe City head coach Brock Edris said his team had to deal with adversity coming from behind and dealing with foul trouble.
“We were bringing guys in and out, trying to switch and getting different guys guarding Jayden Durst,” Edris said. “He's a terrific player and when two of our best defenders are in foul trouble, he is probably going to score quite a bit. We struggled defending him. He did a great job of attacking the rim and if he didn't score, he got fouled and went to the free throw line. Fortunately there at the end, we were able to get better help on defense and Bryce goes down and gets that layup that ended up putting us up by three.”
Edris said games between these two conference rivals always brings out the best of each team.
“Ryan Wood is a very good coach and they are a very well-coached team,” Edris said. “We knew that the other two games have been nip and tuck. Really the first game, it was the opposite scenario when we were down three with four seconds left and Bryce hit a three to force overtime.”
Throughout much of the game, it looked like Palmyra was going to win, as they held the lead until the end of the third quarter.
Palmyra head coach Ryan Wood thought his team outplayed Monroe City for 31 minutes, but were unable to finish out the game.
“It wasn't just one person's fault, we all made our own mistakes, but we had opportunities tonight,” Wood said. “The kids played hard. It seemed like in the fourth quarter, we would take the lead by two and they would come down and hit free throws to tie it back up. We just couldn't get that one stop that we needed.”
Momentum started to change when Monroe City senior Dalton McAfee scored on a buzzer-beater to tie the game at 41-41 at the end of the third quarter.
“That was huge for our team because we had been down for most of the game and we found ourselves,” Edris said. “We only scored five in the first quarter, but only given up 10 points. I think we got ourselves down by 12 in the first half, but we kind of got some momentum going. We went to halftime down five and got down by 10 or 12 again, but our kids just stayed poised and battled back. Logan Buhlig had a terrific game fours tonight, hit some shots for us from the perimeter, got some deflections and some steals.”
Despite the loss, Wood said his coaching staff needs to stay positive and his players have responded from setbacks all year.
“Compared to the last two games (against Monroe City), I thought we rebounded better,” Wood said. “I thought we did some good things off ball screens tonight, that's something we haven't done a whole lot against Monroe City. We defended well at times, but I thought in the second half we gave up a lot of penetration in the middle, and they beat us with kickouts and finishes. It was a back and forth game with a great atmosphere.”
Buhlig led Monroe City in scoring with 20 points, and Joshua Talton was second with 13 points.
Palmyra had three players reach double-digit scoring; Durst with 18 points, Zane Meyers with 17 points and Abe Haerr with 14 points.
Monroe City improves their record to 20-2, while Palmyra falls to 18-4.
Up next – Monroe City will play on the road against Centralia on Friday, with game time at 7:30 p.m. Palmyra will play on the road against Hannibal on Tuesday, with game time at 7:30 p.m.
Scoring by quarter
MC – 5 | 15 | 21 | 21 – 62
PAL – 10 | 15 | 16 | 18 – 59