DEARBORN, Mo. — Alec Carson’s final shot agonizingly bounced on the front of the rim three times before falling out.
Dejectedly, West Platte’s players then trudged through the post-game handshake line after a 70-25 loss to Jefferson in a pool play opener for the North Platte Invitational on Monday, Jan. 23 at North Platte High School. The Bluejays surged to a lead during a good stretch of play in the first quarter but scored just 15 points in the final 25 minutes, still struggling to find consistent execution in a lineup filled with inexperience.
Phillip Pattison, a freshman point guard who started the season on junior varsity, again led West Platte with nine points — a shining example of the positives for the Bluejays in a difficult season.
“There’s definitely some spurts where we do some really good things, and consistently, I’ve been proud of our effort,” West Platte coach Dillon Higdon said. “Our decision-making has to improve; our consistency on defense has to improve. But again, the guys are playing hard.”
West Platte had lost nine straight and sat at 1-10 overall entering a pool play finale with third-seeded Mound City on Tuesday, Jan. 24. The result wasn’t available at The Citizen’s deadline.
Despite the inexperienced and now shuffled roster, West Platte has shown progress in recent weeks with Pattison running the offense. Jefferson jumped to a 7-0 lead on the Bluejays early before Jonah Vandel hit a jumper and Pattison added a transition layup.
Pattison and Brayden Cogan then hit back-to-back 3s to put West Platte up 10-7 on the second-seeded Eagles with 1 minute, 15 seconds left in the first quarter.
“You definitely want to try and highlight those things and the positive things we do,” Higdon said. “We were trying. We were fighting. We were giving ourselves opportunities.”
The lead disappeared by the end of the first quarter, and Jefferson scored eight unanswered to take the lead for good.
Cogan hit his second 3-pointer, but the Eagles stretched their run to 18-3 before Pattison hit an acrobatic layup to make it 25-15 midway through the second quarter. West Platte ended up down 32-17 at halftime after Pattison missed a breakaway layup, clearly showing his frustration after the buzzer sounded.
Pattison finished with a team-high nine points, while Cogan didn’t score again.
Jefferson ended up with a running clock for most of the fourth quarter with pressure defense forcing the Bluejays into turnovers. West Platte’s Nick Miller scored all five of his points in the second half, but the game got away from the Bluejays in the closing minutes.
“The only part I was a little more disappointed in was maybe toward the end we got a little out of sorts, started worrying about things we can’t control,” Higdon said. “Our effort’s consistent. It’s just not always in the right spot or doing the right thing with our effort.”
Lathrop 70, West Platte 29
The Bluejays were buried early and didn’t recover in a KCI Conference loss Friday, Jan. 20 in Weston, Mo.
Miller led West Platte with seven points, while Pattison added six. The Bluejays managed just 10 total field goals, while Lathrop led 24-6 after the first quarter, 41-13 at halftime and 67-21 after the third quarter.
West Platte dropped to 0-3 in KCI play with the loss.
Hamilton 69, North Platte 20
Latroy Harper scored 33 points, including five 3-pointers, in a KCI win for the Hornets on Friday, Jan. 20 in Hamilton, Mo.
North Platte didn’t have more than nine points in any quarter and scored just four after halftime. Corbin Green scored eight points and hit a pair of 3-pointers to highlight the Panthers’ limited offense.
Entering the North Platte Invitational, North Platte had a 1-2 record in league play.
Northland Christian 48, North Platte 43
The Panthers couldn’t keep pace in a nonconference matchup Wednesday, Jan. 18 in Dearborn, Mo.
Austin Snook finished with 10 points for North Platte, which made just three 3-pointers total. Green hit one in the first quarter, while Halen Knapp and Hunter Hendricks added one apiece in the third quarter.
Northland Christian led 29-21 at halftime and outscored North Platte in each of the first three quarters.