The Hershey Panthers defeated St. Pat’s 51-42 Thursday in their home finale of the season.

The Panthers (12-8) avenged an earlier loss to the Irish (12-9) on Dec. 9.

Tough defense by both teams kept the game close. It was 8-8 at the end of one quarter.

In the second, Hershey pulled out to an eight-point lead with just under a minute left before halftime, but two quick buckets by the Irish pulled them within four going into the locker-room.

St. Pat’s (12-9) scored first in the second half to cut the lead to 22-20. Hershey then missed their next shot and the Irish grabbed the rebound and headed down-court with a chance to tie. But a costly over and back call turned the ball back to the Panthers.

That error was the turning point in the game as Hershey’s Andrew Weitzel made the Irish pay for the mistake, sinking a long three pointer to put the Panthers up by five. St. Pat’s couldn’t connect on their next possession and Tyler Johnson drained a trey to build the Hershey lead to 28-20. Again, the Irish failed to score and Weitzel hit another three putting he Panthers up by 11.

Hershey increased their lead to 15 before the Irish found the net again.

The Irish got back to within 10 by the end of the quarter. St. Pat’s applied full court pressure in the fourth and closed the gap to seven points half way through the period, but that was as close as they would get.

Trailing by 10 with just under a minute left, St. Pat’s had to foul and the Panthers hit four straight free throws to close out the game.

Gary White III was the game’s leading scorer with 14 for the Irish and teammate Nick Niesen added 11.

For the Panthers, McKade Smith, Andrew Weitzel and Jacob Gosnell hit double figures with 10 points each. Hershey coach Dustin Jorgenson said the win was a team effort.

“On offense we distributed the ball well and played great defense and our post people did a great job kicking the ball out,” he said. “St. Pat’s is a very good team. And I am very proud of how our boys played.”

Hershey will end their regular season Feb. 17 against South Loup (17-1) in Arnold.

“It will be a tough game. They are one of the top teams in the state,” Jorgenson said.

Next, St. Pat’s will play at home Feb. 16 against Paxton (17-1)

Hershey: 8-14-17-12 –51

St. Pat’s: 8-10-11-13 –42