Shaw leads Eugene to overtime win against Palmyra

MEXICO — It was a great night to be Cody Shaw. Barely.

The Eugene senior scored 33 points, broke the school’s career scoring record and, more importantly, helped the Eagles withstand a furious late rally from Palmyra to hold on for a heart-pounding 73-69 overtime victory in a Class 3 sectional game Wednesday night.

“I know I’m the leader of the team and I’ve got to step up when the stage gets bigger,” Shaw said. “I just came out and played my heart out tonight.”

Shaw’s brilliant performance was nearly wasted. Palmyra rallied from 14 points down in the fourth quarter, even taking the lead once, to force overtime. But Eugene didn’t panic, controlling the overtime session to advance.

“I’ve said this before. These guys just don’t change expression, they just keep playing,” Eugene coach Craig Engelbrecht said. “When things are going well you can’t tell any difference between when things are going bad. They’ve been that kind of group all year long. They’ve been a joy to coach, and what you saw tonight is just the way they’ve been all year long.”

Let’s pick it up at the beginning of the fourth period. Eugene held a 53-39 advantage and looked well on its way to the quarterfinals. The Eagles even led 57-44 with 6:20 left.

Palmyra then went nuts, scoring the next 13 points to tie the game. Brock Butler hit 3-pointers on three straight possessions at one point, even banking one in, to get the Panthers within two. Trevor Meny tied the game at 57 with a layup, but missed the ensuing free throw and a chance to give Palmyra the lead.

Palmyra took its first lead since 2-0 on a putback from Meny with 45 seconds left in regulation to make it 63-61.

“Palmyra just shoots the ball so well,” Engelbrecht said. “(Butler) was just a warrior tonight and would not let his team die. He just kept bringing them back and bringing them back. And our warrior Cody just kept bringing us back and bringing us back.”

So of course it was Shaw that knotted the game on a pair of free throws with 37 seconds left. Palmyra held the ball for one final shot, but Butler’s 3 rimmed out at the buzzer, sending the game to overtime.

Tied at 66 with 2:15 left in the extra session, Eugene came up with the game-winning plays.

Cameron Massman’s layup gave Eugene the lead for good, and following a stop, Tyler Kempker swished home a 3 with 1:14 left to put the Eagles up 71-66.

“Ever since Tyler’s been a freshman he’s hit shots like that,” Engelbrecht said. “We feel real confident with him shooting the ball. He always has the green light.”

After a 3 from Meny made it 71-69 with less than a minute to go, the teams exchanged empty possessions. Shaw hit one of two free throws with 17.1 seconds left to make it a three-point game before Meny missed the front end of a one-and-one with 5.2 seconds to go. Eugene grabbed the rebound and Kempker hit the second of a pair of free throws to secure the win.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but I’m elated,” Engelbrecht said. “I’m excited for the guys to get to go to a quarterfinal game. It just gets you that one more step closer to the Final Four. It just feels good.”

Eugene (26-1) advances to the quarterfinals for the first time since 1992. The Eagles will take on Cardinal Ritter (23-5) at 7:45 p.m. Saturday at Moberly Area Community College.

Shaw owned the first half, scoring 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting. The senior drove the lane at will, and even banged home a pair of 3-pointers that came from closer to halfcourt than the arc.

Shaw broke the career scoring record at Eugene with his 21st point Wednesday, which came on a free throw. The previous benchmark was held by Jesse Crum, who tallied 1,631 points during his career that ended in 2003. Shaw now sits at 1,644 points with at least one more game to go.

“He couldn’t have done it on a better stage,” Engelbrecht said. “From the get-go he was on point. When we had trouble scoring, we got the ball into his hands. They did an outstanding job of doubling him and trying to keep the ball out of his hands, but he just kept making plays.”

Shaw was a big reason Eugene led 17-11 after one quarter and 40-29 at halftime. The Eagles’ biggest lead was the margin heading into the final period, even though Palmyra began to double-team Shaw all over the court in the second half.

“I’m feeling great right now,” Shaw said. “I’m exhausted because we played our hearts out, but it feels great to get the win.”

Kempker added 12 points for Eugene, while Massman grabbed 11 rebounds.

Butler scored a game-high 37 points on 12-of-27 shooting, including 8-of-18 from beyond the arc. Meny added 21 points on 9-of-24 shooting for Palmyra (22-7).

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