DEARBORN, Mo. — North Platte dominated start to finish Friday, Jan. 27 to score a second win this season in a recently lopsided rivalry series.
Long the patsy of West Platte, the Panthers scored a 57-20 win vs. the Bluejays in the fifth-place game of the North Platte Invitational at North Platte Junior High School. A recent switch puts sophomore Hunter Hendricks in the lineup while senior Hunter Oliver comes off the bench as an impact contributor.
North Platte coach Tim Sutton likes the changes, even though the results were slow to follow.
“We’ve changed our lineup a little bit hopefully to make a couple kids more comfortable but also we think it changes our rotation coming off the bench,” Sutton said. “Our real thought is it makes us stronger coming off the bench.”
North Platte had lost five straight dating back to a KCI Conference win against West Platte on Jan. 6.
That streak ended with a victory over Central Academy of Excellence in the consolation bracket of the North Platte Invitational. That set up the rematch with the Bluejays, who have endured an even longer skid without a win.
Oliver scored 14 points off the bench, hitting three 3-pointers, and North Platte ended up with 32 of its 57 points from reserves.
“Coach pulled me; he wanted me to get back into my groove. I was feeling a little out of it,” Oliver said. “Coming off the bench, I feel like I’ve been doing actually a lot better than when I was starting. It’s been good to get back into and get back into my groove.”
North Platte started slow but never trailed.
Up 8-2 after the first quarter, the Panthers surged into halftime behind Oliver, who hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send them into the break up 26-11. West Platte held a brief lead in the third quarter of the previous matchup with its top rival but never got the offense started in the rematch.
By the end of the third quarter, North Platte held a dominant 44-18 lead to allow ample playing time for the reserves. Ben French, a senior guard, matched Oliver with 14 points, while Austin Snook and reserve forward Bart Owens added eight apiece.
The 57 points were the second most this season in a game for North Platte, best since putting up 70 in a blowout of Wentworth Military Academy in early December. The Panthers beat West Platte 54-38 in the KCI matchup between the two teams three weeks earlier.
“It was a lot closer of a game last time,” Oliver said. “I think what changed mostly was just our offense. We knocked down shots and we got good passes.”
West Platte dropped to 1-13 overall and has now lost 12 straight since a victory over Orrick in late November. The youthful Bluejays had put together a string of promising performances but struggled in all aspects Friday night.
Gavin Raney led West Platte with five points, while Jonah Vandel added four.
North Platte 50, Northland Christian 44
A strong fourth quarter resulted in a comeback victory for the Panthers on Thursday, Jan. 26 in Dearborn, Mo.
Northland Christian held slim leads of 21-19 at halftime and 30-27 after three quarters, but North Platte nearly doubled its offensive output in the final 8 minutes. French scored seven in the first quarter and then added seven more in the fourth on his way to a game-high 15 points.
Oliver added a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter on his way to 11 points off the bench, part of a 23-point effort for North Platte in the final 8 minutes. The Panthers survived despite shooting 15-for-31 on free throws — 8 of 17 in the fourth quarter.
Central Academy of Excellence 42, North Platte 34
The Panthers’ offense showed up too late in a first round loss Tuesday, Jan. 24 in Dearborn, Mo.
Down 28-20 after three quarters, North Platte put up 14 in the final quarter but couldn’t gain any ground in the Nos. 4-5 matchup of the tournament. French scored nine of his team-high 12 points in the second half for the Panthers, who led early behind four points for Remington Wilson in the first quarter.
Mound City 52, West Platte 32
Vandel, Nick Miller and Phillip Pattison helped the Bluejays hang around early in the second of two pool games.
The offense couldn’t keep up from there Tuesday, Jan. 24 in Dearborn, Mo. Pattison finished with a team-high nine points, scoring six of West Platte’s 12 points in the final two quarters. Miller and Vandel had six apiece.
Mound City put up 18 points in the third quarter to pull away after taking a 26-18 lead into halftime.
North Platte 44, Cass-Midway 38
The Panthers made it three straight victories with a nonconference win Monday, Jan. 30 in Cleveland, Mo.
Consistent offense fueled the victory for the new-look lineup, which includes Hendricks and Owens in the starting lineup. North Platte put up 11, 12, 11 and 10 points respectively in the four quarters.
French led North Platte with 14 points, while Snook scored five of his nine in the first quarter. Oliver and Corbin Green, both now coming in off the bench, combined for seven points.
KC East 56, West Platte 25
The Bluejays went scoreless in the third quarter of a nonconference loss Monday, Jan. 30 in Kansas City, Mo.
East led just 23-16 at halftime after Vandel scored all of his team-high nine points in the first two quarters. The Bears then outscored the Bluejays 11-0 in the third quarter and put up 22 more points in the fourth quarter.