Two teams came into the Dawg House on Friday rated in the Omaha World-Herald top-ten basketball standings, but only one will take a win back to Lincoln. The preseason No. 1 girls team from Lincoln Southeast (2-1) got a combined 41 points from Iowa recruit Alexa Kastanek and Husker recruit Jess Shepard to down the Lady Bulldogs 63-31.
But in the boys contest, the Bulldogs (2-1) had three in double figures to knock off the preseason No. 5 Knights (1-2), 57-35. Drew Callaghan led the Bulldogs with 19 points and 17 boards, while Jack Kenny and Kade Erickson chipped in 16 and 10 points respectively.
“I can’t say enough about the effort of the kids,” Bulldogs’ coach Matt Kaminski said. “They were really focused and determined all week in practice.
“We talked about how we had to do the little things in this game at a high level. We did that for 32 minutes. We played together and played hard, and I thought their enthusiasm and energy was great — just proud of their effort.”
Both teams got off to a slow start with the first points coming at the 5 minute, 42 second mark of the first quarter when the Knights’ BJ Day hit two free throws for the early lead. But the Bulldogs began to warm up, scoring 13 of the next 15 points to take a 13-4 first-quarter lead.
Kenny and Erickson each hit from behind the arc and after Luke Gifford scored two in the lane, Callaghan made good on an offensive board before Erickson hit his second 3. After a Southeast timeout, Callaghan scored on his second offensive board of the quarter.
“We’ve been shooting the ball good the first three games,” Kaminski said. “It is a game of makes and misses. We had some momentum in the first quarter, hitting some big 3s, but I thought our defensive effort was great.
“We talk to the kids about defense, rebound and transition all the time. They’re committed to that and they’re doing a super job of executing as a team.”
The Knights outscored the Bulldogs 14-12 in the second frame, as Day put in 10 straight. North Platte led 23-8 when Day connected on two 3s and then hit in the lane and took a steal the length of the court for a score. The Bulldogs took a 25-18 lead at half.
“He was playing aggressive — trying to get them back in the game,” Kaminski said of Day. “He hit some 3s to bring them back in the first half.”
North Platte opened the second half with eight straight points and after a Southeast basket went 3-of-4 at the line before Shane Mauch scored after a steal off the press. The Bulldogs led 42-24 at the end of three and outscored the Knights 15-11 in the final frame.
“We knew it was going to be a long game,” said Kaminski. “Each team was going to have their runs. We wanted to not get too high or get too low. Just stay the course and win every possession both defensively and offensively. I thought for the most part we did that. We executed well. I want to think defensively we took them out of their rhythm.”
Besides the three in double figures, the Bulldogs also had offensive production from Mauch and Brady Anderson.
“That’s what is unique about us,” said Kaminski. “We have Drew who we rely on that’s solid. Night in and night out we need him to be solid.
“We have a bunch of solid players that right now are playing their roll well. Not trying to make spectacular plays — letting the game come to them.”
Day led the Knights with 16 points.
Lincoln Southeast ...........................4 14 6 11 — 35
North Platte.........................13 12 17 15 — 57
North Platte statistics: (2 pt fg, 3 pt fg, ft, pts, reb) Shane Mauch 2/2, 0/2, 3/4, 7, 2; Alec Wesslund 0/0, 0/0, 0/0, 0, 1; Bradey Anderson 1/2, 1/1, 0.0, 5, 2; Kade Erickson 0/0, 3/5, 1/2, 10, 2; Jack Kenny 0/2, 3/4, 7/8, 16, 3; Drew Callaghan 7/14, 0/0, 5/8, 19, 17; Luke Wright 0/0, 0/0, 0/0, 0, 1.
Lady Knights move to 2-1
The Lady Knights duo of Alexa Kastanek and Jess Shepard proved too much for the Lady Bulldogs on Friday. Shepard led all scorers with 24 points and Kastanek chipped in 17 points. Southeast coach Kara Graham said that is what her team needs.
“That’s been pretty consistent for us, that the two of them will be our leading scorers if we’re going to win ballgames,” Graham said. “I thought they were pretty consistent. They ran well in transition tonight and finished, so that helped.”
Southeast used 10 first-quarter turnovers by the Lady Bulldogs to take a 22-6 lead in the opening frame. Shepard opened the quarter with a bucket off a Kastanek assist and then both Shepard and Reanne May scored on turnovers. The Lady Knights outscored North Platte 17-11 with the help of nine Lady Bulldogs’ turnovers in the second quarter, leading 39-17 at the half.
“The big key was their transition after we turned the ball over,” said North Platte head coach Mark Woodhead. “We had 18 or 19 turnovers in the first half and they made us pay. Their half-court defense pushes you out of your comfort zone so we weren’t able to get it down and set up.”
Shepard and Kastanek continued to dominate in the second half, and the Lady Knights defense continued to give the Lady Bulldogs little room for a comeback, outscoring North Platte 26-16..
“I was pleased with our pressure tonight,” said Graham. “We were able to help defensively and Jess was able to step up and get a few blocked shots for us. I thought we rebounded pretty well — first half anyway, which helped us get the lead.”
“Jess Shepard was obviously tough,” Woodhead said, “at 6-3 and a Husker recruit. She misses her first shot, she gets the rebound and puts it back up. She’s just a tough cover inside.
“And then they take Shepard out and Kastanek can go down inside. She’s a great ball handler and can shoot the 3. Those two are so difficult They make that machine go.”
Lincoln Southeast...................................22 17 16 10 — 63
North Platte.......................6 11 7 9 — 31
North Platte statistics: (2 pt, 3 pt, ft, pts) Madalyn Doughty 2, 1, 0, 7; Marisa Martinez 1, 0, 0, 2; Kaitlyn Harvey 0, 2, 1/2, 7; Ashten Hernandez 7, 0, 3/4, 17.