The Hershey girls' basketball team did not get a four-quarter game offensively on Thursday.But the Lady Panthers certainly got one on defense when they beat Kimball 48-27 in the semifinals of the South Platte Valley Association tournament at North Platte Community College.
"That's what we talked about," Hershey coach Jeremy Thomas said. "We can't always rely on making shots every night. But we can rely on our defensive intensity and that's what we did tonight."
Hershey (16-1) got off to a fast start. Meagan Hiatt opened the game with a three-pointer and then Maddie Seamann got a three-point play for a 6-0 lead.
Danika Daum made a free throw to get Kimball (9-4) on the board. But the Panthers followed with the next four via two free throws by Brooke Munsen and a jumper just inside the arc by Taylor Mustion to make it 10-1.
At the end of the first quarter, Hershey remained in control when Tayler Baker hit a three at the buzzer to make it 18-7.
But Kimball slowly crept back into the game in the second quarter. The Longhorns held the Panthers to just four points and they trailed 22-16 at halftime after Jessica Hanks made two foul shots with four seconds left in the first half.
On Hershey's first possession of the second half, Baker knocked down another three. The score remained at 25-16 for the next five minutes before Seamann scored again on a putback of a missed three by Hiatt with 2:25 left in the third quarter.
The Longhorns avoided being shutout for the quarter when Jessica Vogel put in a miss by Daum with one second left in the third to make it 27-18 going into the fourth.
But in the fourth, the Lady Panthers came out firing again and they went on a 10-0 run that put the game away.
"We had a huge dry spell in the second quarter and you have to give credit to Kimball, they slowed the game down," Thomas said. "Our defense kept us going that whole time and it gave us some momentum on offense in the fourth quarter."
In the SPVA finals on Saturday, Hershey will play St. Pat's for the third straight year. This year's meeting will serve as a rubber match between the two programs. The Irish beat the Panthers two years ago but Hershey beat St. Pat's last year to win the tournament for the first time since 2005.
Hershey 18 4 5 21 - 48
Kimball 7 9 2 9 - 27
Hershey (48)-Taylor Mustion 10, Mariah DaMoude 2, Tessa Otzel 3, Ryce Troyer 2, Brooke Munsen 7, Maegan Hiatt 5, Tayler Baker 8, Maddie Seamann 11
Kimball (27)-Laura Flores 2, Arica McCloud 2, Jessica Hanks 4, Shelby Vogel 3, Brooks Hager 2, Danika Daum 10
Free Throws: H 4-9, K 11-17; Three Point Goals: H 4 (Baker 2, Otzel, Hiatt), K 0