DEARBORN, Mo. — North Platte coach Ryan Davis knows his team had an opportunity for a key KCI Conference win slip away on Friday, Feb. 2.
Playing host to East Buchanan on courtwarming night, the Panthers had three chances in the final minute to forge a tie but came up shy and ultimately the Bulldogs hit two free throws to secure a 57-52 victory.
“It is a tough loss,” Davis said. “Any time you score 52 points in girls basketball, you need to win. We sometimes struggle to score and to put it in the hole enough to get 52 points, you want to get a ‘W’ out of it, especially on courtwarming, a Friday night game and still in a decent spot in the conference.”
East Buchanan (12-9, 2-2 KCI after the win) led 47-40 going into the fourth and maintained that advantage with 5 minutes to play.
Then, McKenzie Brockhoff took over for the Panthers (9-12, 2-2) by scoring five points in a row with a free throw and two buckets inside the pain.
She pulled the Panthers within 51-49 with 3:13 left.
“She did a great job,” Davis said. “She worked hard to get to that position. She really stepped up big when we needed her and she carried us.”
A 3-pointer by senior Gracie Roach pulled North Platte within 53-52.
Samantha White hit a pair of free throws with 1:02 left that gave East Buchanan a 5-point lead.
On the ensuing possession, Addisyn Ishmael got a steal for East Buchanan and that sent East Buchanan to the free-throw line, but it missed a 1-and-1 situation.
North Platte, still down by a bucket, missed a shot on the next possession and a foul sent East Buchanan to the free-throw line with 24.7 seconds left and the Bulldogs missed both shots.
Davis called a timeout with 17.2 seconds remaining to set up a play, but a turnover followed.
North Platte had to foul again and this time, two free throws from White with 7.4 seconds left secured the win.
“The difference in the game was we had three or four chances to make a play or tie it and we didn’t,” Davis said. “We got ourselves opportunities we wanted but this is part of basketball. Our kids played extremely hard and played well to give ourselves a chance.”
This contest went down to the wire much like the first meeting of the teams, which came in the semifinal of the KCI Tournament on Dec. 5. The Bulldogs won that contest 55-52 in overtime.
“We knew they needed 3s and we pressured tighter,” East Buchanan coach Cori Elms said. “That was a big difference. Early in the game we didn’t pressure enough.”
North Platte led after the first eight minutes, 17-12, thanks to closing on a 7-2 run that broke a tie. That started with a steal and score by McKenna Fulton.
The lead for North Platte remained until an offensive rebound and a putback by Madison McCreary, who had a game-high 20 points. North Platte pulled within 25-24 on a pair of free throws from Janell Manville with 1:31 left.
Manville’s 3-pointer with 35 seconds left tied the game at 27, but a 3-point play McCreary helped the Bulldogs nudge ahead, 30-29, at the break.
A pair of 3s from Audrey Elifirits early in the third helped extend the Bulldogs’ advantage to six points. North Platte pulled within 38-36 with 5:30 left in the third, but a 3-point play from Ishmael followed. Ishmael had 14, while Ellifrits tallied 12 for the Bulldogs.
Brockhoff led the Panthers with 15 points, while Manville finished with 12.
Mound City 55, North Platte 38
Playing for the second time in a five-game span, Mound City beat North Platte for the second time in a non-conference game on Tuesday, Jan. 30, in Mound City.
The teams were tied at 8-8 after the first quarter, but Mound City — ranked No. 7 in Class 1 in the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association poll — tallied 35 points over the next two frames.
Mound City beat North Platte, 42-26, in the North Platte Invitational on Jan. 22.
A 15-point second quarter included a pair of 3-pointers from Victoria Nauman, which gave Mound City a 23-17 lead. North Platte was limited to two buckets in the second quarter — both by Alley Rickel — and hit 3 of 6 free throw attempts.
Rickel hit a pair of 3s and added another bucket in the third, but Mound City posted 20 points behind the strong play of Nauman and Kameron Freemyer, who each had nine points in the third.
Freemyer, a starter on the Mound City Class 1 title team in 2016, added eight points in the fourth — the same total that North Platte had — to finish with a game-high 23. Nauman had 18.
Rickel hit four 3-pointers and finished with 17 points. No other player had more than four for North Platte.
The Panthers will look to snap a three-game losing streak when play resumes on Tuesday, Feb. 6, with a road trip to West Platte.
Then, the Panthers will return home on Friday, Feb. 9, against Mid-Buchanan, the No. 3 ranked team in Class 2. The Dragons have won six in a row and eight of the past nine entering Tuesday’s KCI game against Hamilton.