DEARBORN, Mo. — North Platte missed six straight free throws down the stretch of its KCI Conference opener Friday, Dec. 18. On another night, the misses might have proved costly. Instead, a stretch late in the third quarter
spanning into the fourth quarter against East Buchanan at North Platte High School created enough cushion to ensure victory. North Platte held on for a 49-38 win over the Bulldogs behind 10 points apiece from Brittney Gerling, Kaycee Hodgson and Janell Manville.
Tied at 28 in the third quarter, North Platte went on a 15-3 run that buried East Buchanan.
“Honestly, there wasn’t a whole lot of back and forth, going at it,” North Platte coach Ryan Davis said. “We just made like three or four plays of hustling and getting a steal and then getting a layup that was the difference.”
East Buchanan took a 13-8 lead after the first quarter but ended up tied at 16 at halftime.
North Platte then scored 19 in the third quarter to take control for good. Hodgson scored six of her 10 in the quarter before fouling out, and Manville, a freshman reserve, played her best game of the season with six of her 10 points in the second half.
Emmie Lee added eight points, including five in the fourth quarter.
“Our defense stepped up, started getting after it more,” Gerling said.
North Platte didn’t lead until the third quarter, making just one field goal in the first 3 minutes — a Maddie Lee 3-pointer. Manville had four points in the first quarter, but East Buchanan closed with four straight points, taking control of North Platte’s leaky zone.
The defense tightened up from there.
The 15-3 run in the second half put North Platte ahead 41-31, and the lead ballooned to 14 with 1 minute, 21 seconds left. Gerling and Emmie Lee scored back-to-back baskets sandwiched around a turnover from East Buchanan to squelch the Bulldogs’ final rally.
North Platte improved to 5-1 on the season, coming off of its first loss to Mid-Buchanan in the KCI Conference Tournament title game. Still awaiting the return of senior guard Erin Manville from her second ACL tear suffered this past summer, the Panthers sat for a week after the defeat before coming out against East Buchanan and had one final chance to add to its win total Monday, Dec. 21 against Novinger in the Trenton Holiday Hoops Shootout. North Platte cruised to the win in Trenton, Mo. with Manville debuting with 13 points.
“We were kind of down last week about (the loss), and we had a really long break between games so that kind of sat on us a while,” Gerling said. “All of our players can score really well, and when we have Erin back, that will only help us.”
East Buchanan 52, North Platte 39
The Panthers held a brief lead in the third quarter, but the offense dried up down the stretch of their upset bid Friday, Dec. 18 at North Platte High School.
Andrew Roberts and Anthony Hernandez — both senior guards — accounted for 28 of North Platte’s points. East Buchanan closed on a 23-9 run over the final 12 minutes to pull away for a win in the KCI opener for both teams.
North Platte’s Austin Reynolds hit a pair of free throws and bucket on back-to-back possessions to put the Panthers up 30-29 with 3:45 left in the third quarter. They stayed close thanks to five 3-pointers total from Hernandez (three) and Roberts (two) in the first half.
In the final two quarters, North Platte didn’t connect again from outside, and the Panthers finished 6 of 13 on free throws.
East Buchanan led 11-4 early, but Roberts hit a 3 and Hernandez two more — one from each corner — on consecutive possessions during the first quarter to tie the score at 13. Colby Rapp beat the buzzer with a 3 from the left wing to put the Bulldogs up 18-13 going to the second.
Roberts started the second quarter with a deep two and a driving scoop layup to create a three-point play chance that he converted to tie the score at 18.
North Platte missed on four chances to take the lead there and went behind 24-18 but another pair of 3s, one each for Hernandez and Roberts, tied at 24 with 1:04 left. East Buchanan took a 25-24 lead into the break after Roberts’ shot at the buzzer missed everything.
Roberts and Hernandez scored 11 apiece in the first half.
After North Platte took its only lead, East Buchanan split a pair of free throw opportunities on consecutive possessions to take the lead for good. The Bulldogs closed the third quarter on an 8-1 run, and North Platte scored just eight total in the fourth quarter, including five of Roberts’ team-high 17 points.
Hernandez went scoreless in the second half and finished with 11 points. Reynolds tallied seven.