The Hershey Lady Panthers scored the first 32 points Tuesday and went on to trounce Paxton 77-9 at home.
The game was decided in the first quarter when Hershey (17-4) shutout the Lady Tigers (3-16) in the first quarter. Ashley Hassett, Peyton Messersmith and Tyra Otzel each made three-pointers for the Panthers in the opening period.
Strong defense kept the outmatched Tigers (3-16) off the scoreboard for the first five minutes of the second quarter. It was 32-0 before Callie Kriha found the hoop to break the drought for Paxton.
Hershey continued to have a hot hand. Hassett dropped in three more treys and Messersmith added her second of the half and the Panthers went to halftime with a 41-7 lead.
Hershey coach Michael Jorgenson rotated players throughout the first half.
The onslaught continued in the third. The Panthers used 12 different players in the quarter, held Paxton scoreless and built the lead 56-7 going into the fourth.
With the running clock in effect early in the third period after the Lady Panthers stretched the lead to 40, Jorgenson used every player on the bench in the second half. With the starters out, the backups continued to keep Paxton at bay and held them to just two points in the last period.
Hassett led the Panthers with a season-high 31 points including five three-point buckets and Messersmith came off the bench to hit three treys and 17 points.
Callie Kriha scored five points to lead Paxton.
Jorgenson was pleased with his team.
“We took good shots, were focused and came ready to play, that’s all you can ask for,” he said. “Everybody on our team can play well, I don’t have any issues about putting them in. Sometimes in some games, it is hard to keep the flow going if you take people out. But there are a lot of great players on our team that would get a lot of minutes someplace else. So I am happy with their attitude and on a night like this it doesn’t surprise me to see all of them play very well.”
The Panthers will host rival St. Pat’s (19-2) Thursday. The game will be the rubber match between the two teams. St. Pat’s won the first meeting on their home court and then Hershey beat them on the North Platte Community College gym to capture the conference tournament championship.
“The St. Pat’s game will be a true test,” Jorgenson said. “Neither team will be scared, both will be ready to go. It will be a great way to wrap up the regular season.”
Hershey: 17-24-15-21 –77 Paxton: 0-7-0-2 –9