DEARBORN, Mo. — Shot after shot struck a busy rim in the first quarter on Friday, Feb. 6 at North Platte High School.
The early offensive struggles provided a deficit for North Platte coach Karl Matt and his players to dig out of against Lathrop. In the end, North Platte’s offensive attack found its track, and the Panthers rebounded for a 49-36 win to remain unbeaten in KCI Conference play.
Lathrop led by as many as eight in the first quarter.
“We didn’t really change anything,” Matt said. “Our press got in better position. We matched up a little bit better with how we were defending the full court. We were able to take away a few open gaps that were there in the first half. They have guards that have been playing varsity for several years. They weren’t an easy team to press. They have a couple of really good players.”
Matt called timeout with 30 seconds remaining in the first quarter after a 3-pointer from Lathrop’s Annika Huitt made it a 12-4 lead for the Mules. Out of the stoppage, North Platte senior guard Courtney Kipping responded with a 3 to cut the deficit to five entering the second quarter.
North Platte continued its hot shooting to earn its first lead.
Kipping hit her second of three 3s and Sarah Johnson knocked one down from the outside as part of what turned out to be an 11-2 run that put the Panthers up 15-14 midway through the second quarter. North Platte junior Emmie Lee scored all four of her points during off the bench during that stretch.
“Emmie can score a lot of points really quickly,” Matt said. “She’s always been able to do that. She did a good job coming in. She was out (with an injury) for a little bit so it’s nice to have her back contributing.”
The score remained close at halftime — a 20-18 advantage for North Platte — before a second-half barrage put the Mules down double digits. Erin Manville scored eight for the Panthers after the break and collected three steals, while forward Chelsi Sams tallied 10 in the second half to finish with a team-high 14 points.
North Platte (14-1) has now won eight straight since its lone loss to Hamilton in the Lawson Invitational championship and two of those have been KCI wins.
“It was kind of exciting,” Manville said. “I was a little worried there at first. We kind of worked together, and we came out it was fun. With how close it was in the beginning, we had something to crawl back from. It was just fun.”
Kipping hit her third 3 and scored her remaining seven points in North Platte’s 17-point third quarter on her way to 13 points.
Lathrop forward Isabel Maddick scored a game-high 23 points including seven in each of the first, third and fourth quarters.
North Platte returned to action on Tuesday, Feb. 10 at Lawson but the result was not available at The Citizen’s deadline. The Panthers’ won their previous matchup by 25 points in the semifinals of the Lawson Invitational.
North Platte 59, DeKalb 33
The Panthers limited the Tigers to just 14 points in the first half of their nonconference matchup Tuesday, Feb. 3 at Buchanan County High School in DeKalb, Mo.
North Platte led 35-14 at the break and rolled behind another balanced attack despite attempting only two free throws. The Panthers totaled 27 field goals made — just one 3-pointer — with eight players scoring. Sams led the way with 20 points, while Kaycee Hodgson and Brittney Gerling added eight apiece. Emmie Lee was next with seven points.
West Platte 39, Northland Christian 34
The Bluejays held on despite a late charge in their nonconference matchup Tuesday, Feb. 3 at West Platte High School.
West Platte went 15 of 24 on free throws and received a total of 29 points from Taylor Binkley (game-high 15) and Nealie Niemeier (14). The Bluejays led 30-10 at halftime but scored just one point in the third quarter, and Northland Christian outscored them 14-8 in the final 8 minutes to make a comeback bid.
Virginia Kruse — a 5-foot-6 freshman — scored 12 for Northland Christian before fouling out. The Trailblazers went on to score wins against Shawnee Mission Christian and Whitfield Academy later in the week, improving to 8-7 on the season.
Northland Christian is a non-Missouri State High School Activities Association school located in Southern Platte County.