North Platte St. Pat’s held Hershey to just one point in the fourth quarter on Thursday and that helped them pull away in a 43-30 win in Hershey.
“I thought we scrambled around defensively and did a good job,” St. Pat’s Head Coach Bill O’Malley said. “Our closeouts were good and we did a better job rebounding late. The first half, they challenged us by keeping the ball alive on the offensive glass and that made it difficult.”
Cooper Hill drove and laid one in the final seconds of the third quarter to bring Hershey (7-14) to within one possession at 32-29.
St. Pat’s (17-3) doubled the lead to begin the fourth quarter with Logan Winder making a three-pointer on the right side. Kellan Spearman made a free throw for Hershey and that was the Panthers’ only output in the final period.
The Irish put the game away by making free throws when Hershey was forced to foul to extend the game. St. Pat’s went up by double figures for the first time at 41-30 when Sutton Tickle made a couple from the line with a minute left.
Both teams traded baskets to start the game with Jackson Roberts scoring for the Irish and Hill answering for the Panthers. Brecken Erickson scored the next basket for St. Pat’s and Roberts followed with a three-point play to make it 7-2.
“I felt like both teams were ready to play out of the gate,” O’Malley said. “We were fortunate to get a few cuts and Sam (Troshynski) did a nice job of throwing skip passes. That helped us get out to a nice start. They made an adjustment and made that harder. From there, (both teams had to) scratch and claw to find points.”
The margin stayed in the range of five-eight points for the rest of the first half and the Irish led 22-16 at halftime.
Hershey came within striking distance in the third quarter when Spearman hit a three from the left side. But back-to-back baskets by Erickson kept them at bay.
The Panthers were still in position to overtake St. Pat’s after Hill’s bucket right before the buzzer in the third but that rally didn’t materialize in the fourth quarter.
“St. Pat’s does a heck of a job, defensively,” Hershey Head Coach Dustin Jorgenson said. “We couldn’t put the ball in the basket but I was proud of our kids. They were resilient. We did some great things, defensively, but we’ve just got to keep working at it. St. Pat’s is good but we’ve got to continue to keep getting better and continuing to do the little things.”
Next, the Irish will host Paxton (13-8) on Friday, Feb. 16, while Hershey will host Holdrege (9-12) on the same night.
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