Like in last year’s SPVA tournament finals, the third quarter proved to be the difference as Hershey handed Bridgeport their first loss of the season, 46-43, on Saturday night.
With the score tied at nine early in the second quarter, Cayden Spearman made a three-pointer to give Hershey (10-1) the lead. Spearman then followed with a mid-range jump shot to make it a five-point lead.
Bridgeport (10-1) went on top, 19-18, after Luis Garza scored two straight baskets late in the first half. But Spearman hit a three falling away with eight seconds left to give the Panthers the lead at halftime.
The second half opened with Spearman burying another three. A basket by Bryce Butterfield a minute later made it 26-19.
Hershey led the rest of the way after that. A free throw by Thomas Gosnell with 1:26 left in the game gave the Panthers a 10-point lead at 44-34.
The Bulldogs staged a furious comeback in the final minute. They pulled to within 44-41 with seven seconds left after Brady Newkirk scored inside to follow a Garza three.
But Hershey, who had trouble inbounding the ball against Bridgeport’s pressure in the last minute, got the ball to Austin Holscher. Holscher made both free throws to put the game away.
After beating Bridgeport, the Panthers will next host Sutherland (1-6) on Tuesday.