HERSHEY — It was a Dawson County-Lincoln County showdown that resulted in a boys-girls split on Friday in Hershey.
In the boys contest, Hershey remained unbeaten through two games with a tightly contested and hard fought 53-48 win, dropping Gothenburg to 0-2.
In the girls game, the visiting Gothenburg Swedes improved to 2-0 with a 39-25 victory over Hershey, which fell to 1-1.
Cayden Spearman was on fire from deep early in the game and clutch late for Hershey (2-0).
The 5-foot-8 junior sharp-shooter scored 18 of his game-high 22 points in the first half — including 15 in the fist quarter. Spearman had four 3-pointers total, three in the first frame.
Although Gothenburg (0-2) held Spearman to no field goals and just four points in the second half, his final two pressure-packed foul shots with 11 seconds left sealed the game to hold off a Swedes squad that fought until the end.
"I’m proud of him," Hershey head coach Dustin Jorgenson said. "He puts in a lot of time, these kids put in a lot of time and it pays off."
With Hershey up 22-13 after one quarter, Gothenburg made a second-quarter surge.
Gothenburg senior Maguire Bartlett drained his second 3 of the second quarter, trimming Hershey’s lead to 29-27 with 1:16 remaining before halftime. The Swedes went on to tie it at 29-29, but Hershey junior Austin Hoelscher buried his second 3 with two ticks on the clock to give the Panthers a 32-29 advantage at halftime.
Points were hard to come by in the third, with Hershey outscoring Gothenburg 9 to 6 and the teams combining to make four field goals.
The Swedes made things a little hairy for Hershey in the final eight minutes.
Bartlett — who finished as Gothenburg’s leading scorer with 12 — hit a shot in the paint, cutting the Panther lead to 51-46 with 3:30 remaining in regulation. Later with 1:10 left, Brody Steinike got a layup off a steal to cut the lead to 51-48.
Then, Bartlett stole it again leading to a foul. The Swedes missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Hershey got the ball and eventually got it to Spearman who was fouled setting up a 1-and-1. With the Gothenburg faithful making a ruckus, Spearman calmly knocked down both fouls shots with 11 seconds remaining to seal the game.
"I was proud of our grit. I thought our kids stuck with it all night," Jorgenson said.
And albeit only the second game of the season, Jorgenson believes the way his team hung on is a step in the right direction.
"It’s huge, especially against a team like Gothenburg. They’re strong, physical, and our kids showed a lot of grit."
Other top scorers for Gothenburg were Tyler Whiting, Brody Steinike and Wes Geiken with eight apiece.
Thomas Gosnell was Hershey’s second leading scored with nine, Austin Hoelscher had eight and Will Huebner added seven, Sage Young five and Bryce Butterfield two.
"We had a lot of kids that haven’t played a lot of meaningful varsity minutes and they had to tonight," Jorgenson said. "We’ve got plenty of work to do still, but they battled and I’m proud of them."
Hershey (2-0) 22 10 9 12—53
Gothenburg (0-2) 13 16 6 13—48
This one came down to the third quarter in which Gothenburg (2-0) outscored Hershey 14 to three to pull away from the Panthers (1-1).
Gothenburg clung to a 14-12 lead at halftime, but completely flipped the script in the third, turning defense to offense.
"About midway through the third quarter, our starters started getting that rhythm and feeding off each other," Gothenburg head coach Brent Streeter said.
Swedes freshman Kynlee Stauser scored a game-high 11 points, Anica Harm added 10 and Alexis Bliven had eight,
Hershey was led offensively by Abby Hassett’s eight points.
Gothenburg (2-0) 5 9 14 11—39
Hershey (1-1) 5 7 3 10—25