WESTON, Mo. — West Platte might have been shorthanded and still rebuilding, but a loss Monday, Dec. 18 to Northland Christian still won’t sit well.
The Trailblazers forged a tie late in the second quarter, pulled away in the second half and then held on for a 54-48 win after some spotty free throw shooting in the fourth quarter. The Bluejays played without leading scorer Brayden Cogan —out with a knee injury suffered a day earlier in practice — and sophomore Miles DeMayo, dressing just eight for the game.
With Cogan’s return in question, West Platte’s inexperienced lineup will need to make more adjustments after a 1-7 start to the season.
“Every game we come out trying to win,” West Platte coach Dillon Higdon said. “We’ve got a group that’s able to be competitive on a consistent basis. We’ve just got to learn to put things together for longer stretches.”
West Platte went nearly three minutes without a point to start the game.
An inside basket for senior senior Aidan Sullivan and a 3-pointer for sophomore Phillip Pattison quickly cut an early deficit to 6-5. Northland Christian took a 14-10 lead into the second quarter, and the Trailblazers quickly expanded that out to eight.
West Platte then ran off a 10-0 run to take its first lead at 20-18. The surge included six of senior Cole Whalen’s eight points.
Seemingly with momentum gone, Northland Christian converted a layup with 6.6 seconds left before halftime to tie it back up at 21-21 before junior guard Seth McCubbin missed the free throw on a potential three-point play. West Platte then committed a turnover, but the Trailblazers couldn’t get a last-second shot off.
West Platte wouldn’t lead again with Northland Christian going on a 13-2 run to start the third quarter.
“We’re doing better things, but we’re struggling to do it consistently,” Higdon said. “For the most part, they did the things I asked them to do. Again, it’s the execution.”
West Platte’s scoring remained inconsistent from start to finish.
In the fourth quarter, junior guard Noah Johnson and senior forward Grant Eagen (eight points) hit back-to-back 3s to close the Bluejays back within 39-34 with 7:09 left in regulation. The run hit 11-2 to make it 41-39 with six minutes to go before the comeback stalled.
Johnson eventually fouled out with a team-high 11 points, while Pattison scored six of his 10 during the the fourth quarter. The Bluejays pressed until the end, and Northland Christian’s 4 of 12 shooting from the free throw line in the final 8 minutes provided some brief glimmers of hope.
“The guys played their tails off, competed for the whole 32 minutes,” Higdon said. “Yeah, It wasn’t ideal, but I thought the guys did a really job of stepping up and doing some good things.”
Plattsburg 67, North Platte 47
Hunter Hendricks scored a team-high 16 points, but the Panthers couldn’t keep pace the in the KCI Conference opener for both teams Friday, Dec. 15 in Plattsburg, Mo.
Plattsburg led start to finish behind a trio of double-digit scorers, while Hendricks scored eight in each half for North Platte, which cut its deficit to 31-26 at halftime. The Tigers made 27 total field goals but no 3s in a strong offensive effort.
North Platte was scheduled to play a nonconference game with St. Joseph Christian on Tuesday, Dec. 19 before the holiday break.
Lawson 53, West Platte 34
The Bluejays managed just two points in the first quarter and didn’t recover in a KCI opener Friday, Dec. 15 in Lawson, Mo.
Lawson led 23-10 after the first half and pulled away behind 22 points for Zach Miller. Truman Gillis led West Platte with 12 points, but the Bluejays attempted only one free throw, finishing 0-for-1 at the line.
North Platte 53, Midway 29
Panthers forward Jesse Martin turned in a second strong start with 16 points in a win Tuesday, Dec. 12 at North Platte High School in Dearborn, Mo.
Hendricks scored nine of his 12 in the second half, helping North Platte oustscore the Vikings 21-7 in the third quarter. The junior duo was in double-figures scoring for a second straight game, coming off a win over Northland Christian the night before.