North Platte girls roll to district title, return to state playoffs

When asked about the frenzied second half of his team’s Class 2 District 15 title game victory over KC Lutheran, North Platte girls basketball coach Karl Matt smiled. “We’re OK with kind of a chaotic game,” he said. “That’s the way our practices are – controlled chaos.” Fortunately, the Lady Panthers’ sloppy second half didn’t really matter. They built an insurmountable 28-2 lead midway through the second quarter, propelling them to a 60-34 victory over KC Lutheran last weekend at Mid-Buchanan High school. The win pushed North Platte to 26-1 on the year and into a Class 2 sectional playoff at 6 p.m. tonight (March 5) at Staley High School versus Gallatin, 24-4. “We will play a very good Gallatin team, who is capable of matching our quickness and can shoot extremely well from the perimeter,” Matt said. “They start three outstanding guards who can all shoot and apply defensive pressure. We will have to play well to advance to the quarterfinals on Saturday.” Matt said the Lady Panthers’ early explosion in the district title game was welcomed, but unexpected. “You really can’t expect to jump out to a big lead like that against a team that’s 21-5,” Matt said. “But, when you’re making almost all your shots, good things will happen.” And they did, especially for junior guard Courtney Kipping, who hit three three-pointers in the first quarter on her way to a team-high 16 points. “I had been struggling lately, but I finally got into a rhythm,” Kipping said. “Our team got into a good rhythm too – we were so focused.” North Platte led 20-2 at the end of the first quarter and expanded that lead to 28-2 before KC Lutheran finally started making a few shots. The score was 36-18 at halftime and North Platte let Lutheran know there would be no second-half comeback when the Lady Panthers opened the third quarter with an 8-2 run – capped by another three from Kipping. Chelsi Sams scored 10 points, while Brittney Gerling added eight. North Platte got to the final by defeating West Platte, 59-31. Maddie Robert led North Platte with 14 points, while Sams added 13.