DEARBORN, Mo. — West Platte boys coach Dillon Higdon didn’t know how his players would respond to playing again after a loss in a semifinal game of the North Platte Invitational.
The Bluejays not only lost to third-seeded Mound City, but senior forward Conner Salmons suffered a season-ending broken leg in the fourth quarter. After a quick turnaround, West Platte rebounded to claim third place with a 39-31 win against Jefferson on Saturday, Jan. 31 at North Platte High School.
“I can’t say enough how proud I am with our guys’ effort,” Higdon said. “They flat laid it out and gave us everything they had. For the most part, over the majority of the game, it was five guys doing it.”
West Platte rebounded for the win but suffered another key loss in the second quarter when senior forward Tanner Lintner hobbled to the bench following a blocked shot with 1 minute, 18 seconds left in the half. He landed awkwardly on the player who took the shot, rolling both ankles.
Higdon hopes Lintner can return for districts, but the timeline remains uncertain.
With both starting forwards out, junior Brett Shepardson again stepped into an unexpected role. Shepardson took over part-time quarterback duties this past fall in football after a multitude of injuries, and now, he will likely see increased minutes in the post to deal with the current hardships.
“It’s a little tiring,” Shepardson said. “I’m glad we came out and won for them. It’s big shoes to fill. I don’t know if I can, but I can at least try. We’re going to stay positive and work as a team like we have all year.”
Despite the injuries, West Platte entered halftime tied at 13. The Bluejays exited the locker room with an offensive outburst, and Guthrie scored eight points in the third quarter on the way to a game-high 16. West Platte, seeded second, doubled its offensive output from the first half in the first 4 minutes of the third quarter.
“We executed our stuff,” Higdon said. “We got better movement on the perimeter offensively. We continued to defend. We knew that if we made them work to score, we were going to be in pretty good shape. It’s going to be a struggle for us. We’ve got to find a way to get a little more depth, but we’ll keep working.”
Kaleb Baber, a 5-foot-10-inch junior, stepped into a larger role following Lintner’s injury. The stand-in forward added six points — all in the second half — and junior guard Luke Horseman tallied eight, all in the Bluejays’ third quarter outburst.
West Platte (14-5) was scheduled to host Northland Christian on Tuesday, Feb. 3, but results were not available at deadline. The Bluejays return to KCI play at East Buchanan on Friday, Feb. 6.
North Platte boys 59, Orrick 33
Andrew Roberts scored a game-high 20 points, helping the Panthers run their win streak to three on Monday, Feb. 2. They were scheduled to host DeKalb on Tuesday, Feb. 3, but the results was not available at deadline.
North Platte returns to KCI Conference play at home vs. Lathrop on Friday, Feb. 6.
Coming off of a fifth-place showing at its home tournament, North Platte (5-12) placed a pair in double figures and built an early lead on the way to an easy win. Kyle Ewing tallied 12 points, while Jerry Copenhaver added eight against the Bearcats, a potential Class 2 District 15 foe.
North Platte outscored Orrick in each quarter.
After a first round loss in the North Platte Invitational last week, North Platte rallied to beat Cristo Rey and Plattsburg to claim the consolation title.