WESTON, Mo. — West Platte guard Luke Horseman finally stopped making 3-pointers. A senior, Horseman hit a pair of free throws with 14.5 seconds remaining in the annual KCI Conference rivalry meeting with North Platte on Friday, Jan. 8 at West Platte High School. His first points that didn’t come via a 3-pointer gave him a game- and season-high 23 points in a 41-35 win, reversing the result of the teams’ previous meeting in the consolation bracket of the KCI Conference Tournament in December.
Horseman’s seven 3-pointers tied for the fourth-best single-game performance in school history with Erick Roe holding the record at nine.
“I knew I needed to step up for my team and score some points,” said Horseman, who signed to golf at Missouri Western this past fall. “I started shooting, and they started to fall so that was great. I wasn’t even looking to see how many points I had. I just knew I was hot so I kept shooting.”
North Platte held the ball down two possessions, but Anthony Hernandez misfired on a 3-pointer. Andrew Roberts’ putback attempt also missed, and West Platte senior forward Daniel Cicha grabbed a rebound and drew a foul with 0.6 of a second left.
Cicha made both free throws, finishing with seven points, to provide the final margin.
Neither team led by more than six points in back-and-forth proceedings. North Platte, which has shot well on 3-pointers during a decent start to the season, had a hard time overcoming Horseman’s hot shooting. The Panthers had lost three of four heading into a Tuesday, Jan. 12 matchup with Richmond in the first round of the Lawson Invitational.
The result wasn’t available at The Citizen’s deadline, but North Platte coach Tim Sutton spent a long time with his players following the most recent loss, which dropped the Panthers to 5-5.
“Usually, we don’t spend a lot of time talking after games,” he said. “But we talked a lot tonight about understanding how things need to finish. We’re playing OK. We’re in games, but we’re struggling to finish them right now. This is three out of four where we had the lead with 2 or 3 minutes, and we let them get away. It just takes experience and I have to do a little bit better job of teaching them that.”
West Platte finished on an 8-0 run, turning a two-point deficit into a six-point win in just 49 seconds of game play.
Cicha tied the score at 35 with 49 seconds left on a mid-range jumper before Bluejays senior forward Brett Shepardson (nine points) gave them the lead for good with a power inside move of his own with 37 seconds on the clock, following a North Platte turnover.
Only four players ended up scoring for West Platte with senior forwards Kaleb Baber and McKaulley Stephenson out nursing ankle injuries picked up in West Platte’s four-game week.
“I can’t even describe how proud I am of our guys,” West Platte coach Dillon Higdon said. “To be in the situation we’re in, back-to-back nights, close games and for us to be able to stick with it and make plays at the end. I asked a lot out of them running our half-court trap late in the fourth quarter. I can’t be more proud of the guys, and it’s just an awesome feeling right now.”
North Platte similarly had just five players find the net with senior Kyle Ewing leading the way with 14 points. Roberts (10) and Hernandez (eight) provided the bulk of the scoring with each hitting a pair of 3s. In the final minute, North Platte went 0-for-4 from the floor and didn’t attempt a free throw in addition to the turnover.
Ewing scored only four points in the first half with West Platte taking a 14-13 lead at the break on a Horseman 3 shortly before the buzzer. Ewing ended up scoring eight in the fourth quarter in what turned into a high-octane finish after the teams were tied at 26 after three quarters.
“Once I drove into the lane a couple of times and made those, I was feeling pretty confident,” Ewing said. “I think we learned we need to come out strong. We were kind of playing slow at the beginning, kind of playing their game. We need to play our own game and our own pace.”
While West Platte went on to lose its Lawson Invitational opener, another meeting of the rivals remains possible if sixth-seeded North Platte loses its opener. The two rivals are also in the North Platte Invitational later this month, providing more opportunity for matchups.
West Platte made sure not to go winless in the series if it doesn’t continue this year.
“We had a lot of motivation,” Horseman said. “North Platte is definitely our rival, and we lost to them the first time by 16 or 17 points. It was nice having a home crowd like we did. When Adam Roe and Bryce (Cashman) were here, it was always like that every game. It was a great atmosphere to play in.”
West Platte 40, Richmond 34
The Bluejays held off a late rally on Thursday, Jan. 7 at West Platte High School .
The visiting Spartans scored 18 points in the fourth quarter to pull the score to within six after entering the fourth quarter trailing 30-16.
West Platte sophomore Shayne Kleinsorge scored five of his seven points in the frame and Shepardson scored three of his game-high 14. The Spartans hit four 3s in the final eight minutes to spark the comeback attempt.
North Platte 49, Maysville 31
The Panthers were dominant start to finish in a nonconference win Tuesday, Jan. 5 in Dearborn, Mo.
Roberts and Hernandez combined for 30 points, including all four of North Platte’s 3-pointers, and Kyle Ewing added seven more. The teams combined to shoot just 13 free throws.
North Platte led 18-7 after the first quarter and upped that advantage to 16 points at halftime despite scoring only seven in the second quarter. The Panthers expanded the lead to 42-20 after three quarters.
Savannah 65, West Platte 23
Jonah Vandel scored a team-high nine points for the Bluejays in a blowout loss Tuesday, Jan. 5 in Savannah, Mo.
Savannah limited West Platte to just seven field goals total (one 3-pointer for Luke Horseman). The Bluejays were 8 of 11 on free throws.
Trenton 75, West Platte 43
The Bluejays dropped into the consolation bracket, scoring just 14 points in the second half of a loss to the tournament’s top seed Monday, Jan. 11.
Coming off the big win against North Platte, West Platte stayed close for much of the first half behind Shepardson (15 points) and Horseman (10 points). The Bluejays were down 38-29 at the break and were outscored 20-6 in the third quarter before encountering a running clock in the final 8 minutes.
West Platte shot 13 of 17 on free throws but surrendered eight 3-pointers to the Bulldogs.