By FRANK CASH
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA, Mo. -- Friday night's boys basketball game between Palmyra and Marion County was the kind Brian Meny loves to be a part of.
It was an up-and-down, physical battle played in front of a large, vocal crowd.
Palmyra seemed to thrive in the atmosphere, winning 66-61.
"It was a great environment," said Meny, the Panthers' head coach. "We knew coming in here it would be a battle. It never matters if Marion County is Class 1 or Class 2 or whatever. They're always ready to play."
Palmyra (5-4) trailed 60-59 after Marion County's Clay Pollard made two free throws with 3 minutes, 10 seconds left in the game.
On the next possesion, Jordan Nutt scored a rebound basket to put the Panthers ahead 61-60, but Pollard
made a game-tying free throw with 2:54 left.
After both teams turned the ball over and missed shots, Josh Hultz sank two free throws with 37.2 seconds left to put Palmyra ahead for good.
Brock Butler and Hultz combined to make three more free throws in the closing seconds to ice the victory.
"It was a great win," Butler said. "We didn't exactly play the greatest offensively, but we made the stops on defense when we needed them. We need to find more people to step up and make shots."
Palmyra battled adversity to pull out the victory, snapping a three-game losing streak.
The Panthers tied the score at 36 when Butler scored midway through the third quarter. On the Mustangs' next possession, Will Funkenbush was charged with his fourth foul as Pollard drove the lane for a shot. Funkenbush argued the call and was whistled for a technical, disqualifying him from the game.
Pollard made one free throw and Reed Plunkett made both technical shots. After a basket by Palmyra's Trevor Meny, the Mustangs (6-2) scored six straight points, taking a 45-38 lead on two free throws by Logan Krigbaum with 1:03 left in the third.
"We attacked the rim and did a good job of getting to the free-throw line early in the game and then again in the second half," Marion County coach Ryan Wood said. "We came in here feeling pretty confident, and we played that way for three quarters. We just couldn't finish it."
Palmyra didn't waste much time making a run. An 8-0 run late in the third quarter and early in the fourth resulted in a 48-45 lead when Nutt stripped the ball from Marion County's Konnor Bridgman and scored.
There were seven lead changes and three ties after that.
"We did a great job coming back after we were down," Meny said. "The kids played with a lot of composure when things were tight. That's something you love to see as a coach."
Butler and Keller led Palmyra with 16 points each. Pollard returned from a pulled patellar tendon he suffered during the Monroe City Tournament and finished with 26 points.
"Clay hadn't even practiced and didn't get his knee brace until today," Wood said. "That shows you what type of competitor he is, coming out and doing what he did tonight.
"We didn't want a moral victory tonight. We wanted the real thing. But we played with a lot of effort. This will be a good measuring stick for us."