SEDGWICK — The Hesston High School girls’ basketball team saw a 12-point lead turn into an eight-point deficit, but lived to tell the tale in a 48-46 win over top-seeded Sterling Friday in the Class 3A sub-state semifinals in Sedgwick.

Hesston hit three of four free throws in the final minute of play, holding Sterling scoreless in that span, to win the game and improve to 17-4.

“We knew Sterling had some really good players,” Hesston coach Matt Richardson said. “They had some good outside shooters. We wanted to hold them to one shot from the perimeter. If we could force them to take one shot and get the rebound, like we did in the first half. We need to be a little more patient. Our guards got into some foul trouble. They need to move their feet a little better.”

Kailey Jo Ince scored 13 points for Hesston, follwed by Celbi Richardson with 11 and Rylie Schilling with nine, eight in the fourth quarter.

Celbi Richardson went nine of 10 from the line, four of four in the fourth quarter.

“We had to put them in at the end,” Celbi Richardson said. “We do that at the end of every practice. It’s just like practice. We had to work as a team. We needed more energy. We let down, but then we got it back up.”

Taya Wilson led Sterling with 16 points, 12 in the third quarter.

Hesston missed its first seven shots from the field, while Sterling missed its first 14. Hesston scored first on an Ince layup with 4:13 left in the period.

Down 9-0, Aniston Ramsey hit a layup with seven seconds left in the period, Sterling’s first make after 14 misses.

Hesston opened the second quarter with an 11-4 run. Sterling stopped the run with a pair of free throws and a Taya Wilson trey to get the deficit under 10. Hesston got back out by 12, only to see Sterling cut the lead to seven. A Lydia Enge layup with 10 seconds left in the half put Hesston back up by nine, 26-17.

Hesston finished the first half eight of 21 from the field, while Sterling was four of 25.

Sterling made a 13-0 run to start the third quarter, tying the game on a Schweizer layup and taking the lead on a Wilson layup. Elise Kaiser broke the run with a layup with 3:02 left in the period. Hesston tied the game, but a Ramsey trey at the buzzer put the Black Bears up by five, 38-33, at the end of the period.

Ince scored first in the fourth quarter, but Sterling came back with a pair of Alley Rowland free throws and a Kinzie Comley trey to go up by eight.

Hesston came back with a run of its own, tying the game on one of two Schilling free throws with 1:44 in regulation. After missing four free throws in the period, Schweizer hit one of two free throws with 1:29 in the period to put Sterling back up by one. Comley missed the front end of a one-and-bonus 30 seconds later.

Schilling missed two free throws with 39.7 seconds left and the rebound went out of bounds to Sterling.

Celbi Richardson stole the ball, was fouled and hit both free throws to put Hesston back in front. Ramsey missed a shot and Kaiser was fouled on the rebound. Kaiser hit the second free throw. A Sterling layup at the buzzer rimmed out.

Hesston will face Haven at 6 p.m. today in the finals. Hesston beat Haven 37-28 earlier this season.

“We need to rest,” Matt Richardson said.

HESSTON (17-4) — Dunlavy 0 0-0 4, 0; Weber 0 (1) 1-2 3, 4; Klassen 0 0-0 3, 0; Kaiser 3 1-2 3, 7; Vogt 1 0-0 0, 2; Ince 5 3-8 1, 13; Richardson 1 9-10 1, 11; Schilling 3 3-7 4, 9; Enge 1 0-0 0, 2; TOTALS 14 (1) 17-29 20, 48.

STERLING (18-3) — G.Rowland 1 3-4 5, 5; Morris 0 0-0 1, 0; Zimmerman 0 0-0 1, 0; Schwiezer 3 3-8 1, 9; A.Rowland 0 2-2 4, 2; Wilson 2 (3) 3-4 4, 16; Ramsey 1 (1) 1-2 4, 6; Schmidt 1 1-2 0, 3; Comley 1 (1) 0-1 4, 5; TOTALS 9 (5) 13-23 24, 46.