DEARBORN, Mo. — North Platte coach Doug Burnett watched as the Panthers encountered an early deficit with a winning streak on the line Friday, Feb. 6.
The players responded and created intrigue in a KCI Conference matchup at North Platte High School, but ultimately, Lathrop stretched out enough of a lead to hold on for a 62-54 win. North Platte had won four straight — its best stretch under the first-year coach — but remained winless in conference play with the loss.
“We had to expend a lot of energy fighting back into it,” Burnett said. “It just wears on you the rest of the game after you expend all that energy. It probably cost us as we missed easy shots because we were tired.” Lathrop scored the first nine points and enjoyed a seemingly comfortable lead just 3 minutes into the first quarter.
Tristen Rickel (six points) and Andrew Roberts (game-high 19) helped North Platte crawl back into the game, kicking off a 10-0 run. That gave the Panthers a brief lead, but the Mules quickly reclaimed the advantage and held on the rest of the way.
“We seem to think we can’t play until the other team is up by 10,” Burnett said. “Then we go crazy, get back into the game and let them go crazy again. We keep going up and down. It’s a roller coaster. I’m going to have no hair pretty soon.”
Lathrop sophomore Conner Vanderkooi put the Mules ahead for good on a 3-pointer with 50 seconds remaining in the first quarter. He finished with 17 points including three 3s.
North Platte (6-13, 0-4 KCI Conference) stayed close most of the second half but couldn’t cut the advantage to one possession in the final quarter, unable to muster a key defensive stop.
“We got it to six and couldn’t convert some easy shots,” Burnett said. “We did not shoot well at all. Their emotions were all over the place. I don’t think our focus was there like it should have been.”
North Platte travelled to Lawson on Tuesday, Feb. 10, but the result was not available at the Citizen’s deadline.
North Platte 56, DeKalb 54
The Panthers ran their winning streak to four, hanging on a tight battle Tuesday, Feb. 3 at Buchanan County High School in DeKalb, Mo.
Roberts (21 points) and Austin Shanks (19) combined for most of North Platte’s offense, including all six of the Panthers’ 3s. The win came on the heels of a run to the consolation title at the North Platte Invitational the previous week and a home win vs. Orrick the previous night.
East Buchanan boys 61, West Platte 46
The Bluejays dropped their first conference game Friday, Feb. 6 at East Buchanan High School in Gower, Mo.
West Platte senior Seth Eagan scored 11 points, stepping in to fill minutes with the loss of Conner Salmons (broken leg) and Tanner Lintner (sprained ankle). Cody Guthrie scored a team-high 12 points, including one of six 3-pointers for West Platte (14-7, 3-1 KCI Conference). Eagan hit three 3s, and junior Luke Horseman added a pair from long range.
East Buchanan (14-6, 2-2 KCI) built a 27-19 lead at the half and it continued to grow with a 34-27 advantage in the second half for the Bulldogs.
Northland Christian 53, West Platte 52
Harris Kruse and Jacob McCubbin combined for 31 points, helping the Trailblazers clip the Bluejays on Tuesday, Feb. 3.
Guthrie tallied 18 points, and Horseman went for 15, hitting four of the Bluejays’ six 3-pointers. However, West Platte shot just 10-of-20 on free throws in the loss.
McCubbin scored 15 and hit 5-of-11 tries from 3-point range.
Northland Christian added wins against Shawnee Mission Christian and Whitfield Academy later in the week, and the non-Missouri State High School Activities Association School in eastern Platte County improved to 5-14 on the season.