West Platte girls showing improvement, seeded 5th in district

WESTON, Mo. — West Platte ended the first quarter against Lawson on the highest of notes after a 3-pointer from Karen Knox tied the game.

BRYCE MERENESS/Citizen photo West Platte guard Nealie Niemeier, center, drives to the basket during a game against Lawson on Friday, Feb. 13 at West Platte High School in Weston, Mo.

The Bluejays suffered an equally low spell to begin the second quarter allowing 11 unanswered in a KCI Conference matchup Friday, Feb. 13 at West Platte High School. They never fully recovered in a 42-36 loss to Lawson that showed the continued progress of the team this year but didn’t achieve the desired result.

“The girls are starting to understand the game a little bit better,” West Platte coach Jen Lawson said. “They’re ready to get the shot off when they need to. We’ve had quite a few of those little buzzer-beaters where we actually get the shot off in time.”

West Platte junior Gretchen Hiatt finished with a team-high 14 points — also a season best — to lead the attack. She scored nine points after the break after the Bluejays trailed 22-16 at halftime after sophomore Nealie Niemeier scored a layup at the buzzer but failed to convert a chance at a three-point play after being fouled on the way up with the shot.

Neimeier — one of the Bluejays main scoring threats along with Knox (eight points), Taylor Binkley (two) and Mattie Vandel (four) — finished with four points. Averaging about six points per game this season, Hiatt helped pick up the slack.

“I think we worked as a team,” Hiatt said. “Definitely teamwork. We were working hard all the way through. We fought back when we were down. We don’t give up at all we fight through four quarters.”

West Platte (7-13, 1-5 KCI) earned the No. 5 seed in the upcoming Class 2 District 15 tournament to be held at Wellington-Napoleon High School starting Monday, Feb. 24. The Bluejays face No. 4-seeded Orrick in the opening round, and the Bearcats won their previous meeting this season 34-33 in early December.

The regular season concludes starting with a final KCI matchup against Hamilton scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 17, but the result wasn’t available at The Citizen’s deadline. The Bluejays are also scheduled to play at University Academy on Thursday, Feb. 19 in the final district tuneup.

North Platte 59, Plattsburg 36

North Platte collected it’s second straight KCI Conference Championship with a win against Plattsburg on Friday, Feb. 13 at North Platte High School.

Senior Chelsi Sams scored a game-high 20 points in the win while collecting seven rebounds.

North Platte now winners of four of the last five KCI Conference titles — with two trips to the Show-Me Showdown in that span — earned the No. 1 seed in the Class 2 District 16 tournament to be held starting Monday, Feb. 23 at Albany High School in Albany, Mo. The Panthers host the host Albany at 4:45 p.m. A win sets up a match with the winner of the No. 4 seed Gallatin and No. 5 seed Polo on Wednesday, Feb. 25.

The championship is set for Friday, Feb. 27 with Hamilton — the team responsible for the Panthers lone loss — earning the No. 2 seed on the other side of the bracket.

West Platte 57, Mid-Buchanan 47

The Bluejays picked up their first KCI win of the year on Tuesday, Feb. 10 at West Platte High School. Mid-Buchanan rallied late but were unable to overcome a 10-point first half. West Platte led 30-10 at the break and ended up winning both meetings with the Dragons this season.

The 57 points marked West Platte’s second-best total this season (61 in a December win vs. KC Lutheran), and Niemeier led the way with 16. Knox (14) and Binkley (13) were right behind her to account for the majority of the Bluejays’ production.

North Platte 53, Lawson 37

The Panthers trailed early for a second straight KCI matchup but came back to beat the Cardinals by double digits for the second time this season. In the previous matchup, North Platte won 64-39 in a semifinal at the Lawson Invitational.

Courtney Kipping continued her hot shooting with four 3-pointers and a game-high 18 points, while Sams added 17. Lawson scored just six points in the fourth quarter as the Panthers pulled away.