By ANDRES MARTINEZ
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
PALMYRA, Mo. -- The final 90 seconds of Saturday's Class 3 District 7 championship girls basketball game belonged to Palmyra.
The Lady Panthers withstood a 6-0 run from Bowling Green before scoring the final four points to claim a 54-52 victory. Palmyra's win avenged a pair of regular-season losses to Bowling Green and a 40-35 loss to the Lady Bobcats in last season's district championship. It was Palmyra's first district title since 2005.
Junior Emily Bross made a layup to put Palmyra ahead 50-46 before Bowling Green rallied and took a 52-50 lead with 1:30 to play when Kelsey Scherder made two free throws. It marked Bowling Green's first lead since the third quarter.
"(We knew) they were going to make a run," Bross said. "We just had to withstand it, and we had to keep our heads up."
The Lady Panthers (23-5) did that. Senior Alexis Van Nostrand's layup tied the game at 52 with 1:20 to play. Bowling Green then tried to hold the ball, but junior Katee Hinkle forced a steal before getting fouled. She made the first of two free throws to give Palmyra a one-point lead with 48.8 seconds left.
On the ensuing possession, Bowling Green junior Kylie Conrow missed a jumper, and Bross was fouled getting the rebound. Bross made the first free throw, but missed the second, to extend the lead to 54-52 with 7.2 seconds remaining.
"I was just thinking, ‘It's just a free throw. Just relax and make it,'" Bross said.
On Bowling Green's final possession, Scherder dribbled down court, but Bross stepped up again, blocking Scherder's shot as time expired.
The teams combined for 26 first-half turnovers.
Bowling Green (22-6) forced six Palmyra turnovers in the first quarter and led 20-10 midway through the second quarter.
"We had to relax," Palmyra head coach Chris Parsons said. "We were forcing passes. We weren't making the easy pass, (and) we were looking for the perfect pass."
The Lady Panthers cleaned up their mistakes and forced the Lady Bobcats into making 10 second-quarter turnovers. Palmyra used its defense to mount a comeback and closed the half on an 11-4 run to go into the half trailing 24-21.
"I knew we could do it," said Bross, who finished with nine points off the bench. "(Parsons) said just keep going, we just got to take it right back to them."
The teams battled back and forth early in the third quarter before the Lady Panthers closed the quarter on a 9-2 run to take 42-37 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Hinkle made four of her six 3-pointers in the third quarter.
"My teammates just got me open," said Hinkle, who finished with a game-high 19 points. "I knew what I had to do. That's my job."