WESTON, Mo. — Perhaps some rust accumulated after a two-week layoff. After a lackluster showing to begin the opening quarter on Monday, Jan. 5, a call rang out from West Platte’s bench.
“Come on white; be ready to play,” first-year coach Dillon Higdon implored to his players.
The Bluejays responded. After clinging to a slender advantage early, they downed DeKalb 48-30 at West Platte High School. West Platte last played during a 49-26 win against Plattsburg on Dec. 19.
“I was a little bit concerned about our effort and our focus and passion for the game,” Higdon said. “We go through lulls where we’re not playing well and that’s usually the case. We’re not focused on what we need to do. When we get that lapse in focus, it really hurts us. When we’re focused in on what we’re doing, we’re a good basketball team. We do some really good things.”
West Platte started the second quarter with a 6-0 run, building the advantage to 15-7. Senior guard Cody Guthrie poured in the first four points of the run — part of his game-high 16 points.
Senior forward Tanner Lintner added 13 points, including four of his own in the surging second quarter.
“We look like a really good basketball team,” Higdon said. “We have some good guys inside. We have good guard play. When we execute our stuff and lock down defensively, we look good. When we’re not doing that, we look pretty average.”
Linter’s inside presence helped push the lead to 36-17 after three quarters. Conner Salmons and Brett Shepardson — who added four and six points, respectively, before both fouled out in the fourth quarter — also took advantage of their opportunities.
“We wanted to just execute our stuff,” Lintner said. “We knew we had to pick it up. We were playing good defense, but offensively, we were not executing very much.”
West Platte junior guard Luke Horseman also added six points, including the game’s final score after both coaches emptied their benches. DeKalb closed to within 36-23 after a 6-0 run to start the fourth quarter on six straight Bluejays turnovers.
“It was one of those stretches where it wasn’t our best basketball,” Lintner said. “We know that if we keep that up it will come back and bite us sometimes. We need to clean it up and keep the ball.”
West Platte hosted Savannah on Tuesday, Jan. 6, but the result was not available at The Citizen’s deadline. Next on the horizon is a date with rival North Platte in Dearborn on Jan. 9.