HERSHEY-In a battle of two state-ranked teams, the Hershey girls' basketball team outscored Sidney 32-8 in the second half Saturday to earn a decisive 45-27 win.
Hershey coach Jeremy Thomas was ecstatic after seeing his team rise to the occasion against what is probably the toughest team on the Lady Panthers' schedule.
"This wasn't just a 'statement game' for the area, but one for the whole state," Thomas said.
In the beginning of the game, Sidney was sharp. The No. 8-ranked team in Class B led 11-3 after the first quarter, scoring eight unanswered points.
In the second, Hershey (14-3) came within 16-13 with two and a half minutes left in the half, after Daynlee Miller made a layup.
Sidney (12-5) scored the last points of the half when Katelin Cole made a three-pointer and the Raiders took a six-point lead into the locker room.
Thomas said he liked how the Panthers started the game. They missed several closely contested shots in the lane, which was why they were behind.
"In the first half, I liked the shots we took, they just didn't go in," he said. "I knew that if we kept getting good shots, they were eventually going to go in."
Hershey came out firing. A little less than three minutes into the half, the Class C2 No. 5-ranked Lady Panthers took the lead at 21-19 after Tayler Baker hit a pull-up three after a Sidney turnover.
Sidney's Abbi Porter answered with a basket to tie the game. But Brooke Frederick scored to give Hershey the lead back. Then Miller followed with a three-point play.
With just over three minutes left in the third quarter, Maegan Hiatt drained a mid-range jump shot to make it 28-21 for Hershey.
The Panthers had a 33-24 lead at the end of the third quarter and built on it. Hiatt and Frederick got the first two buckets of the fourth to build the cushion to 13 points.
From there, Hershey cruised to victory. The Red Raiders were unable to overcome the Lady Panthers' defensive pressure.
Hershey pressed more in the second half to create turnovers and opportunities in the open court off those takeaways.
"After the first half, I knew that defensively, we had to go to the next level," Thomas said. "Holding them to just four attempts and eight points in the second half is huge. We went back to our bread and butter with our pressure defense."
With the win over Sidney, the Panthers will pick up a substantial 50 NSAA wild card points. They are currently ranked No. 3 in C2 behind Crofton and Hastings St. Cecilia in the point standings.
Score by quarters
Sidney: 11 8 5 3 - 27
Hershey: 3 10 20 12 - 45
Sidney (27)-Abbi Porter 3, Sarah Mahr 7, Sarah Krueger 7, Karissa Segelke 5, Katelin Cole 3, Ashley Stafford 1, Jeni Heeren 1
Hershey (45)-Taylor Mustion 2, Jenna Young 2, Daynlee Miller 11, Brooke Frederick 4, Maegan Hiatt 11, Tayler Baker 3, Maddie Seamann 12
Free Throws: Sidney 9-14, Her 6-9; Three Pointers: Sidney 2 (Krueger, Cole), Her 1 (Baker)