Abilene — A three-point barrage to end the first half and start the second provided the Hesston Swathers with the cushion it needed to defeat the Concordia Panthers 61-51 in the semifinals of the Class 4A sub-state tournament Thursday night.
With the score tied at 25-25, Hesston’s Ryan Schadler banked in a three as time ran out in the first half to make it 28-25.
Hesston then knocked down three consecutive threes to start the second half and extend the lead 37-25.
Concordia could get no closer than eight points after that as the Swathers advanced to the sub-state championship game.
“I told them at halftime that as soon as he banked in that three they were going to have confidence shooting the three. They came out and hit three in a row, and that gives a team a lot of confidence,” Concordia coach Michael Roe said.
Concordia finished up 15-7 with the loss.
“Fifteen wins is a good year. There are a lot of teams that would think 15 wins is a great year, and we had a good year. We played hard, made some strides, but we still have to get better,” Roe said.
Top-seeded Hesston (20-2) will play third-seeded Abilene (18-4) in the title game on Saturday night with the winner advancing to the state tournament next week in Salina.
Abilene was a 59-55 winner over McPherson in the semifinals on Thursday night.
Concordia and Hesston were locked up in a tight battle throughout the first half.
The Panthers’ last lead in the game was at 7-6 when Grant Holmes made one of two free throws with 2:45 to play in the first quarter.
A three-point basket by Tyler McCartney and a bucket by Dean Dahlsten put Hesston up 11-7.
Cooper Holmes scored inside, and Concordia trailed just 11-9.
A three-point play with two seconds on the clock gave Hesston a 14-9 advantage.
Concordia got a three-point play by Cooper Holmes 37 seconds into the second period to make it 14-12.
Cooper Holmes led all scorers with 27 points. He was 12 of 18 from the field and two of three from the free throw line, and also had eight rebounds, two assists and three steals.
Schadler scored to put Hesston up 16-12.
Grant Holmes buried a three, and then went one of two from the line, to pull the Panthers even with the Swathers, 16-16.
The game was knotted at 25-25 when Schadler banked in the three to give Hesston the 28-25 halftime advantage.
A three by Schadler and two threes by Dahlsten pushed the Swathers’ lead to 37-25 less than four minutes into the second half.
Concordia went nearly four minutes without scoring before Cooper Holmes hit from 10 feet.
Dahlsten scored for Hesston, but Cooper Holmes answered with consecutive baskets to pull the Panthers within eight points, 39-31.
Wyatt McKinney went one of two from the line for Hesston, and Gabe Bergmann scored for Concordia to close the gap to 40-33.
Schadler completed a three-point play, and the Swathers led 43-33.
A floater in the lane by Cooper Holmes again pulled Concordia within eight points, 43-35.
Tyler McCartney drew a foul with two seconds to play in the third quarter. He hit one of two free throws, and Hesston led 44-35.
“They are fundamental. They aren’t going to rush a shot,” Roe said of the Swathers, “They get a 10-point lead they aren’t in a hurry to shoot. They are going to be disciplined, swing it and get a very makeable shot. That really shortens the game when you have a team that does that.”
Concordia went more than five minutes in the fourth quarter without a field goal, and missed four of its first eight free throws as Hesston extended the lead to 15 points, 54-39.
Grant Holmes scored four points in 32 seconds and Cooper Holmes buried a three following a Hesston turnover to pull the Panthers back within eight points, 54-46.
“That is the thing about this group. They can put some points on the board in a very short amount of time if they get some steals, and we can get ourselves back in a game,” Roe said.
Hesston hit four of six free throws in a span of 46 seconds, and led 58-46.
Grant Holmes knocked down a three for Concordia, and it was 58-49 with 1:05 to play.
A follow by McKinney put Hesston on top, 60-49.
Grant Holmes scored on a drive to again make the deficit nine points, 60-51.
That is as close as the Panthers would get.
Grant Holmes finished with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Bergmann had six points and seven rebounds before fouling out early in the fourth quarter.
Concordia was 19 of 44 from the field for 43 percent and 10 of 18 from the line for 55 percent.
Schadler led four Swathers in double figures with 22 points.
Dahlsten scored 11 points. McKinney and McCartney chipped in 10 each.
K. Pounds 0-1-2 1, Garcia 0-0-5 0, J. Pounds 0-0-2 0, G. Holmes 5-5-4 17, C. Holmes 12-2-2 27, Bergmann 2-2-5 6. Totals: 19-10-20 51.
Gehrer 1-0-3 2, Dahlsten 4-1-2 11, Duerksen 2-0-1 4, McCartney 3-2-2 10, Smith 1-0-4 2, Schadler 7-6-3 22, McKinney 4-2-3 10. Totals: 22-11-18 61.