PALMER — The Lady Bulldogs win streak stopped at four after missed opportunities forced Tuesday's 53-41 loss to undefeated district co-leader Grandview High School at PHS Gymnasium. It also dropped them into a fourth-place with Blooming Grove High School in the 17-3A.
Despite the loss, Ted Shurtleff, the head girls' basketball coach at Palmer High School, said it was one of the best performance of the season.
"We played the best we have all year against Grandview for three quarters but lost our focus in the fourth," he said about his team's loss. "They are a good team that you can’t let hang around and missed opportunities sealed the win for them. We had a chance to extend the lead in the first and second quarters but weren't able to do it."
Behind a smothering defensive effort, Palmer held the undefeated Lady Zebras to a meager five points and scored 10 with the help of key buckets from senior Dom Flores and junior Sierra Stone.
Grandview, however, shifted the momentum in the second scoring 11 points in the second quarter, 17 in the third and 20 in the fourth. They also held the Lady Bulldogs to 31 points through three quarters.
Entering the fourth quarter, with Grandview holding a slim 33-32 lead, Palmer's opportunity to strike and change the landscape of the game was within reach. That eight-minute span, though, was the team's downfall, Shurtleff said.
"We stopped moving the ball and driving and settled for jump shots that weren't falling. That has been a problem for us all year. We move the ball, we score. When we make less than two passes before attempting a shot, our percentage goes down. It's that simple."
Forced into one-on-one situations and isolation offense, the Lady Bulldogs scored only nine points — which tied with the second quarter as their lowest since the fourth quarter of their 38-27 win against Mildred High School —in the final eight minutes.
Palmer finished 14-43 (33 percent) from the field and hit two of its eight attempts from the 3-point line. Their free throw percentage — 34 percent — was only slightly better.
The loss came in spite of 15 points from Flores and 10 points and six rebounds from Stone as well as 11 total steals and more than 15 forced turnovers. Palmer controlled the offensive and defensive boards, too, pulling down 43 rebounds via freshman Tiffany Sadler (12), seniors Teryn Pritchett (10) and Haley Coffey (7).
Senior JoJo Davidson led Palmer in steals with three and Coffey, Pritchett and Stone had two apiece. Coffey had two blocks.
Shurtleff said his words to his team after the loss were straightforward and poignant, meant to prepare them for the long road ahead, their 6:30 p.m. Friday matchup with Blooming Grove at BGHS Gymnasium and the opportunity to secure fourth place in the district and footing for a playoff run.
"Losing hurts, so the mood was down, but I told them to keep heads up because they played hard," he said. "They know what's at stake, that every game counts from here on out and that they need to come ready to practice and throw everything they have at Blooming Grove. We need to handle their pressure and try to stop Jasmine Sutton and Mariah Horner, their two best scorers. If we can do that, we can sneak out a win on the road."
He also said the little things would make the difference between a win and loss and fourth or fifth place in the district.
"In any game we outrebound an opponent, make more free throws than they take and turn the ball over less, we will have a good chance to win the game" Shurtleff continued. We need to play as a team. Then and only then we will have a chance to win. They need to know it's not necessarily the fourth quarter that we struggle in, it's that one quarter we're out of our system that has the biggest effect."
Marcus S. Marion can be reached at for story ideas or concerns at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter @MarcusMarionWNI.