GOWER, Mo. — North Platte coach Karl Matt’s pressure strategy finally started paying dividends near the halftime break Friday, Dec.19 at East Buchanan High School.
A strong run during the final 90 seconds of the first half gave the Panthers a decided advantage to begin play in the third quarter against host East Buchanan. They continued to extend the advantage on the way to a 64-51 win in their KCI Conference opener.
North Platte — ranked No. 2 in Class 2 in the most recent Missouri Basketball Coaches Association poll — rolled with a strong fourth quarter. Panthers senior forward Chelsi Sams tallied team-highs of 22 points and seven rebounds.
“We played a solid fourth quarter to extend out to a 13-point win,” Matt said. “Chelsi Sams had another big game, and we were able to defend them well most of the night. We are happy to be 7-0 heading into Christmas break and look forward to continuing to improve as the season moves forward.”
Erin Manville grabbed five steals for North Platte, including a theft with 25 seconds to go in the first quarter to provide a layup attempt. East Buchanan collected the miss and converted on the other end with 12 seconds remaining to lead 10-8 after the first 8 minutes.
The two teams traded buckets until 2 ½ minutes remained in the second quarter.
North Platte responded with a 7-0 run and went into halftime ahead 25-17. East Buchanan’s scoring drought began after senior guard McKenna Holdsworth converted on a pair of free throws.
Emmie Lee chipped in eight points, and Courtney Kipping and Baylie Wilson added seven apiece for North Platte, the defending regular season KCI champions. The Panthers (7-0) also beat East Buchanan in the KCI Conference Tournament semifinals earlier this month — that one a 62-43 victory.
North Platte plays again Jan. 2 at North Andrew, last year’s Class 1 state runner-up.
Plattsburg girls 52, West Platte 38
The Bluejays’ KCI Conference slate started with a road loss Friday, Dec. 19.
West Platte struggled with the size of Plattsburg standout senior Tori Kelly, who scored a game-high 21 points. The Bluejays trailed by just three at halftime, but a slew of second-half turnovers allowed the hosts to pull away.
Mattie Vandel led West Platte with 16 points, including all three of the Bluejays’ 3-pointers. Nealie Niemeier scored 10.
A night earlier, West Platte beat Hogan Prep 43-40 with Gretchen Hiatt leading a balanced attack with 10 points. Vandel added nine and Niemeier eight.
West Platte (3-5) is off until a Jan. 5 home game against DeKalb.
Park Hill South girls 56, Raytown South 52
The Panthers snapped a four-game losing streak Dec. 17 at Raytown South High School.
Park Hill South forward Sydney Baska compiled team-highs of 20 points and six rebounds, hitting four 3-pointers. Mackenzie Stout added 16 points, including three 3s, and senior Erica Timmerman chipped in 11 points with two more triples to round out a trio of double-digit scorers.
Off until playing at Oak Park on Jan. 5, Park Hill South (4-4) lost the championship game of one of the Winnetonka Invitational brackets before losing to Grandview, Platte County and Belton.