Despite an exceptional defensive effort in the first quarter and holding a halftime lead, the Brookfield girls' basketball team fell in its first home game in 53 days, 55-43, to Palmyra.
Brookfield falls to 5-10 overall and is in the midst of a five-game skid. With a victory over Louisiana before Christmas, the Bulldogs are 1-1 in Clarence Cannon play. Palmyra improves to 11-6.
"I thought our effort was a lot better tonight," first-year Brookfield skipper Tony Fairchild said. "That's what our offense is supposed to look like, not what it's been looking like. We moved the ball on the offensive end and rebounded a little bit. Those things have killed us. Instead of one pass and a shot, we had some ball movement.
"I don't want want to be happy about a loss, but we finally looked like a team out there."
The Bulldogs got on top of the Panthers early, mounting a 13-3 lead at the end of the first period including sophomore Kaylie Stufflebean swishing an uncontested three-pointer with just seconds remaining in the period.
In the second period, it took several minutes for the Bulldogs to get any offensive production before a Rylee Sensenich three-pointer killed what was nearly a four-minute drought. The Bulldogs were outscored 15-7 in the period, including a four-point play for Palmyra's Megan Stone as time expired in the half.
"The play at the buzzer bit us," Fairchild said. "It would have been nice to have a six-point lead going into the half."
Palmyra tied the game in the opening moments of the third quarter, and in all, there were five lead changes and two ties in that quarter. Palmyra's harnessing a 31-29 lead was the beginning of an 8-0 run to end the quarter, and with a 37-29 deficit entering the fourth, the 'Dogs were unable to scrap back within seven points for the remainder of the evening.
Sensenich led her team in scoring with 16 points, and point guard Cassi Conard was close behind with 14. Stufflebean finished with nine, and Sydney Wilbeck was the only other Bulldog to score, finishing with a pair of buckets.
Junior center Audrey Fohey did a great deal of the damage on the low block for the Panthers, finishing with a game-high 21 points.
The Bulldogs play again Friday in Ewing. Conference foe Highland enters the game with an 11-5 record.
"We've got to compete in this conference if we want to get to where we want to be," Fairchild said.