Hershey overcame a slow start on Tuesday to defeat Ogallala 63-47 in the sub-district semifinals at North Platte High School.The Panthers (17-4) advance to the C1-11 finals and play Gothenburg (23-2) on Thursday at 7 p.m. at NPHS.
Hershey coach Dustin Jorgenson said his team played with urgency and more of a sense of the moment in the second half.
"I think the biggest thing is we played with more energy," he said. "Ogallala got all of the hustle plays in the first half and we just played with more energy in the second half. The kids did a good job of responding."
Ogallala (12-12) led 14-10 at the end of the first quarter after baskets by Logan Hammond and Colby Rezac. The Indians then led by as much as nine before going into the locker room up 29-23 at halftime.
But the Panthers started to come alive after that. They tied the game at 31 after Jason Davis and Brady Roberts scored buckets inside and then they took the lead on a free throw by Davis.
Dillon Higgins and Max Lindgren scored the next two baskets for Ogallala. But Hershey came right back with Roberts and Clay Frels getting layups to regain the advantage. Then with a little over a minute left in the third quarter, J.D. Barr made a three-pointer to give the Panthers a 39-35 lead.
Higgins scored the last basket of the third to make it a two-point game going into the fourth. The teams battled in the opening minutes. Roberts scored the first two buckets of the fourth to make it a six-point Hershey lead before Ogallala got baskets from Higgins and Cameron Raffaeli to stay within one possession.
Hershey then made a couple free throws before Rezac buried a three to make it a one-point game with about three minutes left.
But Frels was fouled and on the first trip to the line in the double bonus situation, the senior made both free throws. After stopping the Indians, Tyler Johnson was fouled and he made one of two to make it a two-possession game. Then after another defensive stop, Johnson got a three-point play as he was fouled on a layup by Raffaeli trying to draw a charging call.
It was 53-46 with 1:20 left after the three-point play by Johnson and it was too big of a margin for Ogallala to overcome. Hershey was fouled after every Indian miss and they kept adding to their lead from the line to make the final score look more comfortable than the game was.
"I thought the kids did a nice job of executing, even when the shots weren't falling," Jorgenson said, "They just stuck with things. Ogallala's a very athletic team and they do a nice job with that athleticism and against that, we gotta keep grinding."
The two teams in the subdistrict final played each other on the first week of the season, on Dec. 2, which went to Gothenburg 54-42. But that means little now. Jorgenson said against the Swedes, his team can't afford to take a half, or even a quarter off, like they did against Ogallala.
"Our biggest challenge is for us to be ready to play a full 32 minutes," he said. "If there's a 50-50 play, we have to get it. If there's a loose ball, we have to get it and if there's a rebound, we have to get it."
Score by quarters
Hershey 10-13-16-24 - 63
Ogallala 14-15-8-10 - 47
Hershey (63)-Jason Davis 11, McKade Smith 3, Tyler Johnson 8, J.D. Barr 7, Clay Frels 19, Brady Roberts 10, Baylor Hellmuth 5
Ogallala (47)-Dillon Higgins 18, Logan Hammond 3, Colby Rezac 13, Max Lindgren 4, Lucas Paloucek 3, Cameron Raffaeli 6
Free Throws: H 22-30, O 3-9; Three Point Goals: H 1 (Barr), O 2 (Rezac, Paloucek)