By THE HERALD-WHIG STAFF
MOBERLY, Mo. — Celebration quickly turned to disbelief for the Palmyra girls basketball team.
With the Lady Panthers trailing St. Louis North Tech by two points Saturday night in a Class 3 state quarterfinal matchup, Allie Dietrich sank a 2-foot shot in the lane at the buzzer. However, the shot was waved off because it was released after the buzzer and North Tech escaped with a 55-53 victory at Moberly Area Community College.
"It was a bang-bang play," Palmyra coach Chris Parsons said. "Two officials agreed the shot wasn't off in time, and that's what we have to go with. It's a tough situation, but it shouldn't have gotten to that point."
That's because the Lady Panthers (24-6) made six turnovers in the fourth quarter, letting an seven-point lead slip away.
Palmyra also had several chances to take the lead or tie the score in the closing seconds. Katee Hinkle started the possession with a missed 3-pointer which was rebounded by Lexie Losson who then missed a short jumper with 10 seconds left. Alexis Van Nostrand collected the rebound and missed two shots inside.
Van Nostrand's second miss was rebounded by Dietrich who put up the potential game-tying shot just in front of the basket.
Palmyra took its biggest lead of the game at 40-33 when Van Nostrand stole the ball and drove the length of the court to score with 1:38 left in the third quarter. The Lady Panthers still had a 49-43 lead after Van Nostrand scored off a loose-ball rebound with 3:09 left in the game.
Anjanee Miller of North Tech tied the score at 51 with a driving shot with 1:36 left. After Palmyra called a timeout, Van Nostrand made a layup with 1:15 left.
The Golden Eagles followed by making their 26th turnover of the game but following a Lady Panthers turnover, Khalia Miller was fouled and made two free throws with 45 seconds left.
After another Palmyra turnover, Viviana Carter was fouled and made two free throws to put North Tech ahead 55-53 with 26 seconds left.
Taking care of the ball, especially down the stretch, was the Lady Panthers' downfall.
"We talked before the game about how important it was to take care of the ball," Parsons said. "In the first half, we turned it over a ton. We did a good job of taking care of it in the third and we extended our lead a little but then we started turning it over again in the fourth."
Hinkle led Palmyra with 20 points, while Van Nostrand added 12.
Palmyra finished the season by winning 22 of its final 24 games. The Lady Panthers were trying to reach the final four for the first since 1997 when they placed third in Class 2A.
North Tech (19-7) will play St. Peters Lutheran in a state semifinal at 3:20 p.m. Thursday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.
"I tried to tell the girls after the game that it's going to be a season to remember," Parsons said. "We met some of our goals. We won conference, we won districts and we won 20 games. But we didn't get to our ultimate goal of getting to the state tournament."