DEARBORN, Mo. — Even as a win became inevitable early in the first half, Erin Manville seemed to display a scowl and expressed frustration at missed opportunities. The North Platte senior guard missed a good portion of the past two seasons recovering from two separate torn ACLs, and since her return in December, her role continues to expand. That includes an added responsibility to score more and provide leadership.
Manville did both in the Panthers’ 52-27 blowout of West Platte in the North Platte Invitational third-place game Friday, Jan. 29 at North Platte High School. She didn’t allow any complacency, even as the defense held the Bluejays without a field goal until early in the second quarter.
“Perfect. Yes. Expect perfection,” said Manville, who led all scorers with 17 points to go with six rebounds, five steals, three assists and two blocks. “I want to help any way that I can. We really work together well as a team, and I love all the girls on this team.”
The statistics looked good for North Platte in the first half.
The Panthers forced 20 turnovers, drew 14 fouls on West Platte and allowed the Bluejays only four possessions that resulted in points. Yet, North Platte’s lead stood at just 13-3 in the second quarter when Rachel Heili hit West Platte’s first shot from the field with 6 minutes, 44 seconds left before halftime.
North Platte had just missed the front end of two one-and-one opportunities and were not taking advantage of West Platte’s sloppy play leading to turnovers.
“We were playing so hard on defense then on the other end we got going a little too quick for a few of the shots,” North Platte coach Ryan Davis said. “That’s part of it, and that’s something we’ve got to get better at as we make our stretch run. That’s something we’ve struggled with all year, and it’s something I feel like we’ve improved.”
Manville split her next two free throw opportunities but forced a tie up and a turnover after missing the back half of the second. That led to an easy bucket for Emmie Lee, who scored six of her eight points in the first half, and Manville added a 3-pointer and finished with eight points in the second quarter, sending North Platte into halftime up 26-5.
The Panthers then scored six straight to start the third quarter before West Platte’s Gretchen Hiatt (team-high seven points) made the Bluejays’ second shot from the floor.
Despite playing mostly reserves in the second half, North Platte’s lead hit 29 before West Platte carved into it late. Gracie Roach matched Lee with eight points off the bench, while freshman reserve Grace Rice notched five in extended action, the same total as Maddie Lee.
North Platte’s pressure from the guard spot, starting with Manville, forced West Platte into three early turnovers, and Emmie Lee scored the first four points. The Bluejays gave it away 11 times in the first quarter but trailed just 10-1 entering the second.
A 7-of-15 performance at the line also hindered North Platte’s ability to extend the lead, but the suffocating defense did more than enough for another win in the series. The Panthers are now 3-0 against West Platte this season, earning a win one night after a loss to Mound City in a battle of state-ranked teams.
Brittney Gerling, a senior forward, went scoreless but finished with eight rebounds and three blocks, providing the consistent interior defense needed to limit West Platte to 11 points through three quarters.
“The girls out of front get a lot of the accolades for causing a little bit of chaos,” Davis said, “but you don’t hold teams to two field goals without the girls underneath as well. Brittney Gerling has played an excellent season on defense inside. In girls basketball, you’re going to miss a lot of shots. It’s those second shots and trash points that hurt you.
“When we do gamble and we get beat, (Gerling)’s there to cut them off and then she keeps them to one and out. I thought she was excellent.”
Mound City 46, North Platte 34
In a matchup of ranked teams, Mound City prevailed thanks to a run late in the third quarter.
Kendey Eaton hit a pair of 3s, and Mound City added a putback to push a one-point lead to nine entering the fourth quarter. The run continued, and North Platte fell behind 44-27 with 6 minutes to play. Eaton ended up with 18 points.
Emmie Lee scored 11 points for North Platte, which went 1-1 in pool games, while Maddie Lee added nine points. Gerling collected nine rebounds in addition to limiting the production of Kameron Freemyer, Mound City’s No. 2 scoring option.
Mound City entered ranked No. 2 in the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Class 1 poll, while North Platte has dropped to No. 10 in Class 2.
West Platte 51, Mid-Buchanan 48
The Bluejays scored an upset of the KCI Conference Tournament champions during their pool opener Tuesday, Jan. 26.
Hiatt (11 points) hit two 3s and Karen Knox (nine points) added another during a 17-point second quarter that gave West Platte a 25-17 halftime lead. After squandering that advantage, the Bluejays put up 20 in the fourth quarter to stage another comeback.
Nealie Niemeier and Taylor Binkley scored six each in the final frame of their way to a joint team-high of 14 points apiece.
Binkley went 4-for-4 on free throws in the fourth quarter and 6-for-6 overall. West Platte shot 21 free throws in the fourth quarter, making 12. The Bluejays were 14 of 28 at the line overall with three of Mid-Buchanan’s starters fouling out.
North Platte 50, Northland Christian 16
The Panthers’ suffocating defense limited the Blazers to five points or fewer in all four quarters Tuesday, Jan. 26.
Manville collected eight steals, while Emmie Lee grabbed five. Lee also scored a game-high 11 points for North Platte, which led 27-7 at halftime.
Maddie Lee added nine points to go with four rebounds, three assists and three steals. Janell Manville grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.