Putback in overtime sinks West Platte girls' upset bid

WESTON, Mo. – Twice West Platte held a lead as the last few seconds ticked off the clock Friday, Feb. 5, and twice East Buchanan stole the advantage away from the Bluejays. An untimely foul near the end of regulation allowed East Buchanan to tie the score and force overtime, and Mariah Aebersold’s putback at the overtime buzzer gave the Bulldogs a 37-36 victory in KCI

BRYCE MERENESS/Citizen photo West Platte junior Nealie Niemeyer elevates for a shot over an East Buchanan defender in a KCI Conference matchup on Friday, Feb. 5 at West Platte High School in Weston, Mo.

Conference play Friday, Feb. 5 at West Platte High School. West Platte lost its ninth in the span of 10 games with the lone victory in that stretch an upset of KCI Conference Tournament champion Mid-Buchanan during the North Platte Invitational.

In an already improved season, West Platte just missed another signature victory.

“I really felt like we were going to pull it out,” West Platte coach Jen Lawson said. “It just didn’t go our way with the rebound putback. We tried to take a charge but that knocked us out of position for the rebound.”

West Platte led for less than 3 minutes of the game but found itself up 32-29 near the end of regulation.

On East Buchanan’s final possession of the fourth quarter, Josie Fortney – the Bulldogs’ leading scorer – drew a foul on a tying 3-point attempt, which came up well off. However, she sank all three free throws with 1.8 seconds left on the clock, and West Platte dribbled out the remainder and didn’t put up a potential game-winning try.

In overtime, West Platte sophomore guard Rachel Heili hit a 15-foot jump shot to give the Bluejays a 36-35 lead with about 31 seconds to play.

Fortney drove to the basket on the next possession and made contact on her missed layup try. Aebersold, who scored all five of East Buchanan’s points in overtime, scored off the free rebound to finish with a game-high 17 points. Fortney ended up with 16.

No players reached double figures in scoring for West Platte.

Gretchen Hiatt finished with a team-high nine points, including a pair of fourth-quarter 3-pointers – the first tying the score at 21 and the second giving the Bluejays a 28-24 advantage with 2 minutes to play. The second 3 capped a 7-0 run.

“We knew we were back in it,” Hiatt said. “We knew we were just a couple points away, and we pushed for it. We learned we have to play through the whole entire game. It’s not over. We have to keep pushing, work together and fight to the end.”

West Platte didn’t make another field goal in regulation, while shooting 4-of-8 from the free throw line.

The misses included a pair of misfires on the front end of one-and-one situations in the final minute. Conversely, East Buchanan hit 9-of-12 from the line in the fourth quarter.

Having lost three straight since the win over Mid-Buchanan, West Platte owned a 7-12 record entering a Tuesday, Feb. 9 KCI rematch with Mid-Buchanan, but the result was not available at The Citizen’s deadline. The Bluejays started 1-2 in league play after going 1-6 a year ago.

West Platte finished 8-15 overall in 2015 and still has five games, including the second matchup with Mid-Buchanan, to eclipse that total.

“I think we just need to be a little more confident,” Lawson said. “We need to look to score more often and drive the lane a little more. Hopefully from this game their confidence gets pushed up a little bit. I think we just need to get better every game to get ready for districts.”

Northland Christian 37, West Platte 33

Nealie Niemeier scored a team-high 14, and Karen Knox and Hiatt hit two 3-pointers apiece in a nonconference loss Tuesday, Feb. 2 in Weston, Mo.

Coming off a fourth-place finish in the North Platte Invitational, West Platte jumped to an early lead with 12 points in the first quarter but struggled to produce points from there. Four of the Bluejays’ 12 field goals were 3s, and they went just 5-for-10 on free throws.

North Platte 51, Lathrop 23

The Panthers pulled away Friday, Feb. 5 in Lathrop, Mo. to stay unbeaten in KCI Conference play.

Emmie Lee scored a team-high 15 points to go with five rebounds, while Erin Manville added 11 points, four rebounds and four assists for North Platte, which improved to 3-0 in league play entering a Tuesday, Feb. 9 matchup with Lawson. The result was not available at The Citizen’s deadline.

Lathrop led 10-9 after the first quarter but managed just 13 points the rest of the way.

North Platte went into halftime up 17-13 and then scored 17 in each of the final two quarters. Kaycee Hodgson finished with 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting, while tying with Gracie Roach for the team lead in rebounds with six.

Maddie Lee dished out six assists for North Platte.

North Platte 49, Rock Port 26

Hodgson scored a game-high 16 points Monday, Feb. 8, and the Panthers ran their win streak to five in a busy stretch of eight games in 15 days, set to conclude Tuesday against Lawson.

Rock Port scored only two points in the second quarter and trailed 26-9 at the break. In addition to Hodgson, Emmie Lee added 14 points, and Erin Manville finished with nine for North Platte (17-4).

North Platte 47, DeKalb 19

The Panthers posted back-to-back quarters of shutout basketball Tuesday, Feb. 2 to win a second nonconference game in two nights.

North Platte led 15-10 after the first quarter and then held the Tigers without another point until the fourth quarter. The Panthers were up 36-10 at that point and ended up allowing only seven field goals. DeKalb shot 3-for-12 on free throws.

Brittney Gerling scored a team-high 18 points on 9 of 11 shooting for North Platte to go with five rebounds and two blocks. The Panthers attempted only four free throws and received a balanced offensive effort behind Gerling.

Fellow seniors Emmie Lee (seven points and three steals), Manville (six points, five steals and four assists) and Maddie Lee (five points, five rebounds, four steals and three assists) all made big contributions for the Panthers, coming off a blowout of Orrick the night before. Emmie Lee (18 points and four steals), Manville (12 points and seven steals), Gerling (10 points, eight rebounds and four assists) and Hodgson (10 points, five rebounds and five assists) all scored in double figures in the win over the Bearcats.