After losing four seniors that combined to score 80 percent of North Platte’s points last year, coach Tim Sutton might be in for more of a rebuild in his second season than his successful debut with the Panthers.
North Platte went just 1-6 in KCI Conference play last year but ended up in the Class 2 District 16 semifinals by season’s end, finishing with a 14-12 record. All-state guard Andrew Roberts and backcourt mate Anthony Hernandez did nearly all of the scoring in the program’s first winning season since 2008-2009.
After losing four seniors, North Platte will have five this year but not a ton of experience.
“We’re a pretty young group,” Sutton said. “Not a lot of returning experience, but we’re athletic and we play hard and we’ll see where our experience and skill takes us.”
Hunter Oliver, Ben French, Halen Knapp, Garrett Lamar and Phil James will be charged with bringing along the younger portion of the roster.
Roberts averaged 17.5 points per game a year ago and became a 1,000-point career scorer. Despite playing at guard, he brought size along with fellow seniors Kyle Ewing and Austin Reynolds.
“A lot has changed because we lost five of our starters,” Oliver said. “We’re a lot smaller now and not going to be sizing up against other teams so we’re going to have to be really quick.”
Coming up with a second straight winning season will be difficult, but the players hope to benefit from last year’s successes.
“We’re coming back with guys that have played together for a long time and that will be one of our strengths,” French said. “We’ll know what we’re doing and we’ll know what each other is pretty much thinking all the time.”