Perimeter shooting and strong post play helped Monroe City pick up a 61-55 Clarence Cannon Conference victory over Palmyra on Tuesday.
Out of the corner of his eye, Monroe City senior Michael Speaks caught a glimpse of Jordan Bichsel wide open and tossed his teammate the basketball.
Bichsel rewarded him by sinking one from downtown.
The timely 3-pointer grew Monroe City’s lead to 14 points in the third quarter of what eventually turned into a 61-55 Clarence Cannon Conference victory over Palmyra on Tuesday.
Only 40 seconds later, Bichsel struck again from deep range — his third trey of the contest.
“It was a confidence booster for him, hitting those shots,” Monroe City coach Brock Edris said. “He was open a lot of the night. We were just missing him. We talk about him being more vocal when he is open for our bigs to kick the ball out, because they were doubling and tripling our bigs down low and making it tough.”
Senior Casch Doyle scored two of his team-leading 19 points with 3 minutes, 22 seconds to pull Palmyra within four points, but the home team never rallied any closer.
Palmyra (9-14, 4-2 CCC) raced to an 8-4 lead in the first quarter before Monroe City (18-3, 3-2) responded with a 10-4 run to end the opening period ahead 14-12.
Palmyra sophomore Ragar Plunkett scored a 3-pointer with 50 seconds left in the first half, but Monroe City took a 27-20 cushion into halftime.
“Every possession counts, and we’ve got to act like it more,” Palmyra coach Ryan Wood said. “We got a little shaky with the basketball in the first half and lost some possessions with turnovers. Those little things hurt you throughout the game. We’re learning, we’re still getting better, but that was a good team tonight.”
Senior Peyton Plunkett scored 12 of his 14 points for Palmyra after the break, but the combo of Michael Speaks and Logan Minter down low proved too much to handle down the stretch.
Monroe City led 49-37 after the third quarter and held on when the game tightened in the fourth.
Speaks led with 15 points for Monroe City. Bichsel and Blake Hays each scored 12 points a piece, while Minter netted eight. C E Talton finished with five.
“They’re a balanced team,” Wood said of Monroe City. “Talton does a good job of being the ball handler, and he can score. Hayes played really well tonight. So, then you’ve got Minter and Speaks inside, who are both very physical-type players and both can score. They’re a tough matchup for a lot of teams around here.”
Ragar Plunkett and Ragar McKinney each scored eight points a piece for Palmyra, while Laithan Sublette finished with four.
Wood said his team is still improving but will have its hands full with the three remaining games on its schedule before both Palmyra and Monroe City play in the Class 3, District 8 tournament later this month.
“Our three remaining games will all be tough,” he said. “We have Louisiana down there, we’ve got Hannibal here next week, and we go to Highland next Friday. Those will be good tests for us going into districts.”
Edris gave props to his Monroe City team for finding a way to grind out a win even when Palmyra fought back late in the final period.
“We’ve been known for getting a lead and letting teams get back in it,” he said. “But I told our guys what’s great about basketball is a team is going to make a run at some point, and it’s what you do to respond.
“We’ve struggled on the road up to this point and lost a few close ones. Playing here, we knew it was going to be a tough game. Palmyra has been playing really well lately, and our guys found a way to pull it out.”