COLUMBUS — The North Platte Bulldogs avenged one of their earlier losses of the 2012-13 season by downing McCook 48-46 in semifinal action of the Greater Nebraska Athletic Conference Tournament in Columbus on Friday. The Bulldogs now move on to play Kearney in the finals at 3:15 today.
North Platte found themselves in trouble early, as 6-foot, 7-inch junior Drew Callaghan picked up his second foul just a minute and a half into the contest. The Bulldogs trailed 13-9 at the end of quarter one and still trailed 25-23 at the half.
“With Drew in foul trouble, we really had some kids step up,” said North Platte coach Matt Kaminski. “The team defended well, especially behind the arc.”
Kaminski said a defensive key to the game was the play of Brady Anderson as he guarded McCook’s Cody Wudtke.
“Brady did a great job defending Wudtke,” Kaminski said. “We knew he would be an offensive threat for them.”
The Bulldogs (6-3) outscored McCook 18-12 in the third quarter, as Callaghan found a way to stay away from further foul trouble.
“Drew had a big third quarter,” said Kaminski. “He stayed out of foul trouble and really was a big factor.”
Also coming up big for the Bulldogs was another junior, Kade Erickson. Erickson was 2-of-4 on 2-point shots and hit 4-of-7 behind the arc to lead the Bulldogs in scoring with 16 points.
“We’re going to need someone to hit some 3s,” Kaminski said. “He hit some big shots at the right time. We did a good job of getting some inside/out passes to set him up.
“McCook (6-2) really tried to take away our inside game, so it was important to get those from the outside.”
North Platte led 41-37 heading into the fourth quarter, but missing their final six free throws made getting the win even more difficult.
“We made it difficult on ourselves to finish out the game,” Kaminski said. “But we found a way to get a win and I’m proud of the way the kids played.”
Erickson finished the game with 16 points and two rebounds. Callaghan had nine points, three rebounds and three assists while Jack Kenny put in nine points and had eight assists and six rebounds. Luke Wright added six points and four rebounds.
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Lady Bulldogs fall
Slow starts are hurting the North Platte girls basketball team.
The Lady Bulldogs dropped a 58-53 contest to Norfolk in the semifinals of the Greater Nebraska Athletic Conference tournament in Columbus.
“We did everything but win the game,” said North Platte assistant coach Steve Spiehs. “For the second game in a row we didn’t come out very well and dug a hole.
“It’s not that easy to come back.”
North Platte trailed 16-9 after the first quarter and 25-20 at halftime. In the third quarter, the Lady Bulldogs put together a better effort and took a three-point lead, but entered the last stanza trailing 43-42.
“That third quarter may have been the best quarter of basketball we’ve played all season,” Spiehs said. “We played very well.”
However, Norfolk outscored the Lady Bulldogs 15-11 in the final quarter for the 58-53 victory.
“That’s on us as coaches,” Spiehs said when asked about better starts for the team. “The girls are playing hard and in their in the right positions on the court, but for some reason, they don’t have good energy or focus.
“That’s something we as coaches need to fix, starting [Saturday].”
Kaitlyn Harvey led the Lady Bulldogs with 18 points, including two 3-pointers. Sally Hengen scored 13, with three 3-pointers and Ashten Hernandez added 10 points. The Lady Bulldogs outrebounded Norfolk 28-15.
“The difference was, when we didn’t get an offensive rebound, they would run out and get layups,” Spiehs said.
Jaycee Bradley paced Norfolk with 25 points.
Norfolk was 12-for-20 at the free throw line, while the Lady Bulldogs were 6-of-8.
“We’re not going to get any calls away from home,” Spiehs said. “We need to do a better job of forcing fouls.”
The Lady Bulldogs will play McCook today at 10 a.m. in the third place contest.