Both Palmer Ridge and Harrison boys’ and girls’ basketball teams squared off in their first games of the season Thursday during the Cougar Adidas Tip-Off Gauntlet at Coronado.
Harrison swept both games, winning each one by a narrow margin. The Panthers’ girls won the early affair, 52-50 on a buzzer beater by Amyah Moore, while Harrison’s boys claimed the nightcap, 48-45.
“Harrison outworked us,” said long-time Palmer Ridge boys’ coach Nick Mayer. “We got down 17-1, or whatever it was, and we had 24 turnovers.
“But I’m proud of our guys and the way they fought back.”
The Bears actually trailed 17-3 late in the first quarter but slowly chipped away at Harrison’s lead eventually taking a 45-44 lead with 1:25 remaining.
Harrison went back on top on a Chea Saywon layup and two free throws by Taylor Hoffman (game-high 17 points). Palmer Ridge had one last chance, but Trey Jones’ desperation 3-pointer from about 35 feet banked off the backboard and rim.
“We lost 85 percent of our scoring from last year, we’re young and inexperienced and we have work to do, but I’m proud of the way the guys competed tonight after that start,” Mayer said.
Mayer is the only coach in the program’s history. The Lewis-Palmer graduate started the program from scratch in 2008 and is now in his 11th season.
Four Bears combined to score all but two of their points. Junior Wes McEvoy led the way with 14, followed by junior Grant Renwick (11), senior Carson Weir (9) and junior Brian McCarthy (9).
“I love the way we battled back as a team tonight,” Renwick said. “It would have been so easy for us just to put our heads down, but we never gave up.”
Palmer Ridge lost all five of its starters from last year. McCarthy is the only varsity player back with any real experience. He averaged 3.5 points per game as a sophomore.
Palmer Ridge was 16-9 last season and lost to crosstown rival Lewis-Palmer in the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
Palmer Ridge’s girls trailed virtually the entire game against Harrison. The Bears were down 50-44 with 2:20 remaining in the fourth quarter, but tied the score, thanks in large part, to a Madison Duran 3-pointer and a Mia Womack layup with 38 seconds remaining.
Palmer Ridge missed a shot with four seconds remaining. The long rebound went to Moore (game-high 17 points), who raced to the basket for the game-winning layup.
“Not exactly the way you want to end it,” said first-year Palmer Ridge coach Jason Boyer. “But at the end of the day, for us to get back in it after being down by six and to have the ball in a tie game, with a chance to take the lead, with a bunch of freshmen on the floor, is something that we will just build on.”
Palmer Ridge was led by Aubrey King’s 15 points, while Duran added 11.
The Bears were without the services of two key players, senior Makenna Hagerman and junior Dulaney Koogle. They were involved in an automobile accident on their way to the game. Boyer said the girls did not sustain any serious injuries.