HE’S A SHOOTER — Senior Brad Palmerton fired in 37 points in Eden’s first league win of the season, over Alden on Feb. 11. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
Eden head coach Scott Gill described his senior captain as “a little shy.” But, on senior night, Brad Palmerton was as open as ever, and determined to make his final home game, a memorable one.
Palmerton scored a game-high 24 points, including 15 in the second half, en route to Eden’s 60 – 48 victory against the John F. Kennedy Bears on Feb. 13. He led the Raiders to consecutive wins for the first time this season, after also erupting for 37 points in Eden’s 59 – 52 upset of Alden on Feb. 11.
“The past couple games we’ve been putting up more points than we have been,” Palmerton said. “We’re getting up and down the court better. Our defense has helped us a lot. It’s kept us in a lot of games.”
Eden outscored the Bears 22 – 9 in the third quarter, to increase a six-point halftime lead to 19, heading into the final quarter.
After the Bears got to within three on a 3-pointer by Joe Braniecki early in the third quarter, Eden went on a 16 – 4 run, capped off by a triple from the left corner by Palmerton.
“We haven’t come out strong in third quarters very much this year so we’ve been working on coming out and running around after halftime, to try and get our legs moving and keep us going,” Palmerton said.
The Raiders also got 14 points from junior big man Hayden Herc. They had eight different players score. The Bears were led by Braniecki who netted 14 and Cale Byczkowski with 13 points.
Eden was able to score at will in the third quarter, which stifled the Bears’ defense and ultimately led to their defeat.
“We’ve had problems defending in second halves most of the year and I don’t know, quite honestly, what the answer is,” Bears head coach Tony Krupski said. “We have mental lapses and we didn’t get after it enough. They made shots and we struggled offensively. They got on a run and got confident. They deserved it.”
The third quarter run was fueled by the Raiders defense which was much more active and aware in the second half. They held JFK to a low percentage from the field and came up with a few steals which led to easy transition baskets.
“We try and build off our defense,” Palmerton said. “We try and run up and down the court, beat other teams, get them tired. It’s nice to win our final home game. Hopefully we can carry this momentum into the postseason, win some more games, make a run, and surprise everybody.”
Eden decided to play a man-to-man defense in the second half, after JFK was able to attack its zone in the first half with efficiency. The defense was effective, especially in the early stages of the second half, and played a huge part in a successful senior salute.
“We’re learning how to win,” Gill said. “We have some momentum, heading into the postseason. Our guys play hard. I am very, very proud of what they’ve done and their commitment to team and to wanting to build a program the right way.”
The Raiders, now 4 – 13 overall and 2 – 10 in ECIC IV, opened the playoffs on Feb. 18, when they hit the road for a matchup at City Honors. The winner moved on to play at No. 6 Depew the next day. Eden’s neighbor North Collins
(1 – 15) travels to top-seeded Sherman for the Class D quarterfinals on Friday, Feb. 21.