With the past two state titles in tow and just two losses this season, Friday afternoon's Division III state semifinal went as expected for the Pershing County girls.
It might even have been closer than expected considering the Mustangs owned a 26-point average margin of victory in their previous four state tournament games.
Pershing County moved one step closer to a three-peat with its 61-36 win over Calvary Chapel at the Orleans Arena.
"Everyone had a ton of energy; we were really excited to be in state again. It went really well," Pershing County's Sarita Jo Condie said. "We feel it's an honor to play in another championship game. We love state, not just because of the games but because it's another week we get to be together that not every teams gets."
And it's on to another championship game. This time, though, the Mustangs will see a new opponent.
After beating White Pine in the final each of the past two seasons, Pershing County will take on Lincoln County this afternoon after the Lynx beat White Pine in Friday's other semifinal.
"I think if we continue to play solid defense like we have, we should be right with them," Lincoln County coach Lori Cheeney said.
That is easier said than done when facing Pershing County's triumvirate of Condie, Samantha Dennler and Melissa Gonzalez.
"It is," Cheeney said. "But we've been working all season on defense ... and it's all starting to come together at the right time for us."
Condie scored 12 of her 31 points in the first quarter against Calvary Chapel, which made its first state appearance in a decade. The senior also had 11 in the third to help put the Lions away early.
"We shot the ball well from the perimeter and from the free-throw line. We did some good things defensively and also had some breakdowns," Pershing County coach Steve Cerini said. "I kind of feel like a lot of time our kids deal with a lot of pressure. Because if they don't win big some nights, people want to know what's wrong. This is the state tournament. Teams are going to come hard. You should have to earn it."
Dennler added 12 points, and Gonzalez had eight for Pershing County.
LINCOLN COUNTY 49, WHITE PINE 32: The Bobcats' offense never left the Orleans Arena locker after halftime and it took with it a spot in a third straight state championship game.
White Pine managed just 11 points in the second half -- Lincoln County scored 12 in the third quarter and 15 in the fourth.
"We went cold. Our offensive wasn't flowing," White Pine coach Krystal Smith said. "Obviously, Bailey Moore is our leading scorer, and when we can't get Bailey going, we struggle to score sometimes. A lack of taking care of the ball and a lack of offensive rebounds, which has kind of been our scapegoat against Lincoln in the past, just weren't there for us. We did a good job of breaking their press and had open shots inside but didn't finish at the rim."
Moore finished with 13 points but had just two free throws after halftime.