CHAFFEE -- Meadow Heights' potent 3-point shooting was no match for Advance's parade to the free-throw line Tuesday night during the Class 2 District 3 semifinal.
The Hornets made 25 of 35 free throws and limited the Panthers to three 3-pointers in an 81-62 triumph at Chaffee High School.
Advance (22-6), ranked No. 10 in Class 2, will play Bernie (25-3) on Thursday night in a meeting of state-ranked teams. Bernie, No. 3 in the state but the No. 2 seed, defeated Saxony Lutheran 80-48 in the nightcap.
Neither semifinal was close, although they matched the two state-ranked teams against a team that either had been ranked much of the season in Saxony Lutheran or, in the case of Meadow Heights, had upset two ranked teams.
The Panthers (16-10) had won 12 of their last 18 games, including upsets of Saxony and South Iron during the regular season.
They had made 21 3-pointers in their last two games, but were limited to two in the first half and one in the second half Tuesday.
"I think he had planned on stopping that," Meadow Heights coach Tom Brown said of Advance's Josh Dowdy. "I wanted us to penetrate, but with our penetration, we missed some easy shots, and they knocked the ball loose a couple times, and that hurt us."
Meadow Heights rallied from a three-point halftime deficit to forge a 43-43 tie -- Zac Hotop's 3-pointer for the Panthers came in the first 30 seconds of the second half -- but was outscored 17-4 to close out the final 4:19 of the third period. During that span, the Panthers committed nine fouls, and Advance hit 11 of 15 free throws during the spree.
Advance, carrying a 60-47 lead into the final period, could afford to be patient in the fourth.
"They're not a team you want to hang around because of their 3-point shooting," Dowdy said of the Panthers.
Advance sophomore Grant Gray scored off a nice feed from Jacob Bond out of a spread set early in the fourth and then knocked down a 3-pointer with 5:07 to play after the Panthers had closed within 66-55.
"A team like that," Bond said of Meadow Heights, "they can get hot. If one's hitting, they all start hitting."
But the Panthers never caught fire for an extended stretch.
Derrick Wilfong scored 20 points, hitting two 3-pointers in the first half, and Dustin Hubler scored 19. Hubler was 7 for 10 on free throws, but Meadow Heights finished 14 of 25 there.
"We played well for 2 1/2 quarters, but we caught some bad breaks and couldn't recover," Brown said. "We missed key free throws, we made some bad foul decisions, and that really hurt us.
"We've played extremely well the last 15 games. We had eight seniors and they left it all on the line. It's hard to lose your last game, and they're very unhappy, but they were good sports about it."
Dowdy was complimentary toward Meadow Heights' effort and a little worried about his team's performance.
"We were pretty fortunate tonight," Dowdy said. "Hat's off to coach Brown. I hope we can regroup because it's going to take a great effort on Thursday night.
"I will say I have a lot of faith in these kids."
Advance had three players in double figures and two more with nine points. David VanGennip led the Hornets with 21. Luke Steil added 16, and Bond hit 9 of 10 free throws as part of his 13 points. Gray finished with nine, including two 3s, and fellow sophomore Darren VanGennip also had nine.
"I am very proud of those guys coming in," Dowdy said of his sophomore group, which also included David Dunivan. "We needed that effort tonight, we needed that energy.
"I thought Jake [Bond] had a nice second half. When he started dribble penetrating, he created those fouls and he's a tremendous free-throw shooter. We obviously want the ball in his hands."
@z_agate_no tab_no indnt_bld ld:MEADOW HEIGHTS (62) -- Dustin Hubler 19, Derrick Wilfong 20, Adam Welker 2, Ethan Mayfield 7, Zac Hotop 7, Tyler Welker 7. FG 22, FT 14-25, F 24 (3-pointers: Wilfong 2, Hotop 1. Fouled out: none)
ADVANCE (80) -- Luke Steil 16, Grant Gray 9, David Dunivan 4, David VanGennip 21, Cody VanGennip 3, Blake Seabaugh 3, Blake Lingle 3, Jacob Bond 13, Darren VanGennip 9. FG 27, FT 25-35, F 18 (3-pointers: Gray 2. Fouled out: Darren VanGennip)