By ANDRES MARTINEZ
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
PALMYRA, Mo. — Allie Dietrich was at a loss for words when Katee Hinkle, the Palmyra girls basketball team's leading scorer, was not performing like her usual self Wednesday night.
"It was weird not having her shooting like she was," Dietrich said.
Hinkle managed just one field in each of the first two quarters against Clark County in the semifinals of the Tony Lenzini Tournament, but Dietrich and Lexie Losson picked up the slack and guided the top-seeded Lady Panthers to a 61-50 victory.
"That's when the team comes together," Dietrich said.
Palmyra will face either second-seeded Bowling Green or third-seeded Highland in Saturday's championship.
"Katee has been lights out for us lately," Palmyra coach Chris Parsons said. "We're blessed enough on this team that we have five or six other girls that at any moment can light up a scoreboard."
Dietrich finished with a team-high 18 points, and she and Losson combined for 11 points in the second quarter as Palmyra turned a two-point deficit into a five-point lead. Losson finished with 16 points, going 10 of 12 from the free-throw line.
"It's not a one-person show. We all have to come together," Dietrich said. "We all are going to be off one night."
Dietrich had to come up big again in the fourth quarter.
Clark County went on a 7-1 run to close the third quarter and took a 39-37 lead into the fourth quarter. Dietrich then scored four points to open the fourth quarter and helped spark a 9-2 Palmyra run.
It pushed the Lady Panthers' lead to 46-41, and they never trailed again.
"It's almost like no matter what happens that night, we are going to pull through," Dietrich said. "We're still going to push to the last minute to pull a win together."
Clark County made Palmyra earn it.
Lady Indians coach John Weaver emphasized shutting down Hinkle before the game, a plan that proved to be effective.
Hinkle had 10 points and fouled out in the fourth quarter.
"We challenged them to compete before the game. We held their best player," Weaver said.
Clark County's half-court defensive pressure gave Palmyra problems as the Lady Panthers scored just seven points with two field goals in the first quarter.
"Our half-court defense was really good tonight, probably the best it's been all season," Weaver said. "We thought if we slowed the game down a little bit we would give ourselves a chance in the fourth quarter."
The Lady Indians did that, but Dietrich and the Lady Panthers refused to fail.
"They like to get after it, but it almost came down to the last second, who's was going to put their team together, who was going to work together to pull the win, and obviously we did that," Dietrich said.