By FRANK CASH
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA, Mo. -- Game by game, the Palmyra girls basketball players are seeing how first-year head coach Chris Parsons' style works.
And the Lady Panthers are starting to enjoy playing man-to-man defense, too.
"It's something we never really depended on a lot until now," Palmyra junior Katee Hinkle said. "It's something we'd play once in a while, but most of the time we'd play zone. We're starting to get the hang of it now."
It was an important part of a 56-36 victory over Marion County Friday night.
The Lady Panthers' full-court press forced 14 first-quarter turnovers as they raced out to a 16-2 lead after Megan Hooper's 3-pointer with 2 minutes, 21 seconds left in the opening quarter.
Marion County (6-2) got as close as three points in the second quarter as Devan Johnson's rebound basket cut Palmyra's lead to 23-20 with 3:02 left in the quarter.
"We've been letting teams get back into some games especially late in the first half like it happened tonight," Palmyra coach Chris Parsons said. "Tonight, we put our foot down."
Turning to a half-court man-to-man defense, the Lady Panthers answered Johnson's basket with a 12-2 run over a period of 3:53. Alexis Van Nostrand rebounded her own missed shot and scored for a 35-22 lead less than two minutes into the third quarter.
Parsons believes there's an advantage to Palmyra (5-4) playing man-to-man.
"We've got the players to do it," Parsons said. "And if we do it right, it pays off. We've thought all along there might be something really special with this team. I think we're just starting to see signs of that."
When the Lady Panthers got in a defensive flow, it made things tough for the Lady Mustangs. They made 28 turnovers.
"They're the toughest team we've played all year, and a lot of that is because of their defense," Marion County coach Mike Johnson said. "We had trouble at times tonight getting settled in. After we made a couple of runs, we were not just physically tired, we were mentally tired.
"But we showed a lot of character by not giving up completely."
Palmyra's biggest lead was 53-27 after Hooper made two free throws midway through the fourth quarter. Marion County answered with 9-0 run but it wasn't nearly enough.
"Palmyra's good at a lot of things on both ends of the court," Mike Johnson said. "We're still trying to find a rhythm. It's still early in the season, but I'm proud of the way the girls are hanging in there."
Hooper scored a game-high 17 points to lead Palmyra, while Hinkle finished with 12 on 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range.
Kaelyn Spratt led Marion County with 14 points.