HERSHEY-The Hershey girls' basketball turned up the intensity in the second half for a 48-39 win over McCook on Friday night.
"It was one heck of a physical game against one heck of an opponent," Hershey coach Jeremy Thomas said. "It's games like this that prepare us for ones later in the season."
Both teams traded runs throughout the first half. McCook (5-6) took a 10-5 lead after a basket by Brenleigh Daum with 3:25 left in the first quarter.
Tayler Baker made a three-pointer for Hershey (10-1) on the following possession to bring the Panthers to within two.
But after that, nearly five minutes went by before one of the two teams scored again. Hershey tied the game with just over a minute and a half into the second quarter when Maegan Hiatt hit a pull-up jumper in transition.
McCook then scored the next five points before Hershey responded with seven straight. But a three by Molly Sughroue and another bucket by Daum in the last minute of the first half gave the Bison a 20-17 lead at the break.
"They're a tough team," Thomas said of McCook. "They can hit shots. (Daum) had 22 points and (Sughroue) is a two-time state gold medalist in the 400 meters and she's not just a great athlete but a great player. McCook is a team that can go on a 10-0 run in a hurry. So I was proud that we limited them the way we did."
The Lady Panthers started to take control in the opening minutes of the second half and they took a 25-23 after four straight free throws by Hiatt and Maddie Seamann.
Then with two minutes left in the third, Hershey stretched the lead to 32-27 after a backdoor layup by Baker. Daum got a layup to bring McCook to within three but Brooke Munsen followed with a basket to cap the third quarter and make it 34-29 going into the fourth quarter.
"We caught them off-guard (with our pressure on defense) and they weren't expecting that," Thomas said. "The girls did a good job of executing traps and they forced some turnovers in the second half."
McCook closed to within one early in the fourth quarter before Hershey scored consecutive baskets to keep the Bison at a distance.
With 1:16 left, Hiatt hit a mid-range jumper off the bounce to make it a 42-36. Then after a McCook turnover, Ryce Troyer made a layup with just 40 seconds left that all but sealed the win for the Lady Panthers.
McCook 10 10 9 10 - 39
Hershey 8 9 17 14 - 48
McCook (39)-Brenleigh Daum 22, Molly Sughroue 10, Madi Garcia 5, Tiara Schmidt 2
Hershey (48)-Taylor Mustion 4, Ryce Troyer 2, Brooke Munsen 5, Maegan Hiatt 16, Tayler Baker 15, Maddie Seamann 6
Free Throws: MC 7-13, H 11-19; Three Point Goals: MC 4 (Daum 2, Sughroue 2), H 3 (Baker 3)