The Hershey girls’ basketball team defeated Ogallala 54-33 Tuesday in the subdistrict semifinals at North Platte High School.
With the victory, the No. 1-seed Panthers (19-4) will return to North Platte Thursday to battle Gothenburg (12-10) for the C-11 subdistrict title. The No. 3 seeded Swedes punched their ticket to the finals with a 43-37 win over No. 2 Chase County (12-10) in the nightcap.
On Monday, Ogallala (9-16) beat No. 5 Cozad (5-17) 54-53 in overtime to advance to the semifinals against the Lady Panthers (19-4).
In the semis, Hershey’s offense came out of the gate smoking and aided by their effective full court defensive press, outscored the Lady Indians 17-2 in the opening period.
Ogallala found some offensive momentum in the second period while the Panthers offense went from hot to lukewarm. The Indians cut into the lead but still trailed 25-13 at halftime.
The Panthers (19-4) opened the third quarter cold as ice, missing both inside and outside open shots.
In the meantime, the Indians took advantage of Hershey’s shooting woes, outscoring the Panthers 9-0 to cut the lead to 25-22 halfway through the third period.
Emily Barr ended the Panther drought with a layup but Ogallala answered to stay within three.
At that point, the momentum favored Ogallala and the game was theirs for the taking.
However, Hershey had other plans. Channing Holm scored under the basket and was fouled. Holm hit the free throw to put Hershey up 30-24.
That marked the beginning of the end for Ogallala. Hershey stepped up the defensive pressure, Barr stole an errant pass and sent the ball over to Dayonna Roberts who drained a long three to put the Panthers back up by nine.
Barr was not finished. She intercepted the ball as Ogallala fought to get the ball across the timeline. This time she found Holm all alone under the basket who banked in a layup to put the Panthers up 35-24.
The Lady Panthers went back up by double digits in less than two minutes. The score was 39-25 at the end of three and it was all Hershey in the fourth. Keeping up their defensive pressure along with good shooting ended any hopes for an Ogallala comeback. With the game well in hand both teams emptied their benches in the final two minutes.
Ashley Hassett led all scorers with 17 points for the Panthers. Holm added 10 and Barr put in nine.
Diana Reed led Ogallala with nine. Milan Coggins and Tory Dehning each added eight for the Indians.
Hershey coach Michael Jorgenson said his team did what it needed to win the game.
“We opened up a big lead in the first and then gave most of it back in the second,” he said. “Ogallala came back and played well after a tough overtime game last night. Hat’s off to them.”
Jorgenson was not worried when Ogallala closed the gap in the third.
“We were able to handle it, we have tough girls. I wasn’t too concerned. I knew they would be able to get themselves out of it,” he said.
Now, the Panthers prepare to play Gothenburg, who beat them 40-27 on Dec. 1, but a lot has changed for Hershey since then.
“This team gave us a loss earlier, so we just need to make sure we are focused in on the game,” Jorgenson said. “We are a different team now and I have confidence we can go out there and take care of business.”
Thursday’s winner moves on to the district C1-6 finals at a location not yet announced.
Hershey: 17-8-14-15 –54
Ogallala: 2-11-12-8 –33