Grand Island may not have had its best offensive night Friday against North Platte, but ferocious defense and a huge advantage on the boards allowed the Islanders to take a 63-38 victory.

The night was full of good news/bad news, the glass is half full or half empty kind of situations for the Islanders.

Grand Island was able to force the Bulldogs into 22 turnovers, but had a tough night handling the ball themselves and gave up 19.

Grand Island outrebounded North Platte 51-24, but shot less than 37 percent from the field, as the Islanders struggled to convert in-close opportunities.

“We shot the ball so poorly that there had to be lots of opportunities for offensive rebounds,” Islander coach Jeremiah Slough said. “We had a lot of missed shots in close. With this team, though, our recipe for success is on the defensive side.

“We’ve only lost once when we hold the other team to under 50, and tonight I thought we played hard and showed a sense of urgency.”

A frustrated North Platte coach Matt Kaminski said that not much went right for his team from the opening tip.

“We’re a pretty good team when we win the paint and the boards,” he said. “Grand Island’s game plan was to pressure us, and we didn’t handle that well. We weren’t able to get shots to drop when we had them, and Grand Island got some momentum established when they got the ball.

“I thought (Grand Island) was ready to play tonight.”

Grand Island (8-6) took a little time to get things going in the first quarter, but definitely found a groove as the half unfolded.

Much Biel got the Islanders on the board with an inside basket, then Will Nordhues scored on an assist from Noah Vahle. LeBeck Warren got inside twice for drives to the bucket as Grand Island held a 9-1 lead.

Kermit Felicier-Alvarez followed Warren’s lead as he went inside to score, and Warren countered with a late 3-point play as Grand Island closed the first quarter with a 14-4 lead.

The Islanders picked up the pace offensively in the second quarter and saw their lead continue to expand. After a dunk by North Platte’s Zavlon Mitchell to open the quarter, Rashawn Smith countered with a three for Grand Island, followed by a baseline drive by Warren.

Moments later Smith took a long bounce pass on the break from Casey Burnham for a layup and a 12-point lead.

If the Bulldogs had any hopes of a second half comeback, the Islanders snatched them away with a 12-4 run to open the third period. Grand Island got threes from Burnham and Warren to start the run, then saw Vahle connect from outside later in the quarter.

That gave Grand Island its biggest lead of the night at 45-19. North Platte did begin to chip away at the lead, finishing the third with its best offensive run of the night.

However, that momentum did not survive into the fourth. North Platte was held to just five points until Derrek Ramos came off the bench for a late three-pointer.

The Islanders once again used their depth off the bench to force a hard pace that the Bulldogs were unable to handle.

Slough said his team was able to work through a tough night of shooting in spite of itself.

“We’re a pretty average team offensively,” he said. “We have to be moving and scoring in transition, but tonight we weren’t sound with the basketball. It was a lot of small things not happening along with a lot of missed shots. But we played hard, and if our effort stays consistent we’ll be in every game. We need to bridge the gap between effort and excellence to find success.”

North Platte (4-9).........4 11 15 8 – 38

Grand Island (8-6).........14 19 16 14 – 63

NP: Mitchell 3-10 2-4 8, Whited 0-0 2-4 2, Krull 2-5 0-2 5, Sawyer 1-2 2-2 4, D. Ramos 1-1 0-0 3, Hayes 0-1 0-0 0, Tatman 1-3 0-0 2, Horne 2-11 3-5 7, C. Ramos 0-1 1-2 1, Wroot 0-3 0-0 0, Kramer 2-6 0-0 6. Totals 12-43 10-19 38.

GI: Vahle 1-4 0-0 3, Warren 6-15 2-5 15, Burnham 1-3 2-4 5, Smith 2-6 0-0 5, Felicier-Alvarez 4-5 4-6 12, Douglass 1-2 0-0 2, Francl 0-1 0-0 0, Biel 4-10 0-0 8, Nordhues 1-9 2-2 4, Bardales 2-2 1-3 5, Gustafson 0-1 0-0 0, Garner 0-0 2-2 2, Koang 0-2 2-2 2. Totals 22-60 15-24 63.

3-point shots – NP 4-15 (Mitchell 0-1, Krull 1-2, D. Ramos 1-1, Horne 0-4, C. Ramos 0-1, Kramer 2-6), GI 4-26 (Vahle 1-3, Warren 1-9, Burnham 1-2, Smith 1-4, Nordhues 0-7, Gustafson 0-10. Rebounds – NP 24 (Wroot 5), GI 51 (Biel 15, Douglass 7). Assists – NP 9 (Kramer 3), GI 11 (Warren 3, Burnham 3). Turnovers – NP 22, GI 19. Personal Fouls – NP 18, GI 18. Fouled Out – NP, Krull. Technical Fouls – None.

North Platte girls 52, Grand Island 49

Grand Island had to fight back from big deficits twice in the second half, but came up just short agains the Bulldogs.

A lackluster second quarter meant trouble for the Islanders after a fast-paced and foul-filled first period. Grand Island trailed 17-14 going into the second, but found itself trailing by nine at half.

North Platte, sparked by diminutive cousins Grace and Callie Haneborg, looked to be pulling away, but it wasn’t going to be that simple.

Instead, the Islanders (1-13) opened the third with a 12-2 run to briefly take the lead at 32-31. Sydney Wald hit a three, followed by a wing drive from Kamryn Kier to get Grand Island within two.

Lauren Eihusen then converted a three-point play as Grand Island went ahead. But as quickly as the lead was gained, it disappeared, as North Platte (6-8) stormed back to finish the third on a 10-0 run, and Grand Island was once again down by nine.

Things looked worse as the Bulldogs pushed the lead to 12 after a a bucket by Leslie Borges. With time winding down, the Islanders put together one final push that cut the lead to two points with just over a minute to go.

Freshman Grace Haneborg, though, broke loose on an inbounds play and went in for a layup, giving North Platte just enough of a cushion to hold on for the win.

“It’s a credit to North Platte – they made the plays – they earned it,” Islander coach AlexMichel said. “I love how my team plays, but we have to get better at the little things. We’ve got a lot of character on this team, and w haven’t lost one of them yet, but we have to become better players.”

North Platte coach Curt Softley said his team’s inexperience (starting two freshmen) was a tough barrier to overcome in itself.

“We have so much youth on this team,” he said. “We have talent, but they have to trust themselves and rely on what we’re supposed to do, the way we do it in practice. Grand Island’s press wasn’t intense, but we had a hard time playing against it.Grand Island really came back in the second half, but it seemed that every time they made a momentum play, Grace made one to answer it.”

Wald and Lauren Hauser each had 15 for Grand Island, while Grace Haneborg topped North Platte with 18.

North Platte (6-8)......17 12 12 11 – 52

Grand Island (1-13).....14 6 12 17 – 49

NP: G. Haneborg 7-13 2-4 18, Mathieu 1-2 0-0 2, Elsten 2-7 2-2 6, Hedgecock 1-5 1-2 3, C. Haneborg 3-8 0-1 8, Borges 2-5 0-0 4, Negley 0-3 2-2 2, Streeter 0-1 0-0 0, Hughes 0-0 0-2 0, Orr 4-8 1-5 9. Totals 20-52 8-18 52.

GI: Eihusen 2-8 3-6 8, Zuelow 0-3 1-2 1, Kier 2-4 0-0 4, Wald 6-9 2-3 15, Hauser 5-12 4-5 15, Blase 1-4 0-0 2, Rose 1-3 0-0 2, Rial 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 17-45 12-19 49.

3-point shots – NP 4-7 (G. Haneborg 2-3, Elsten 0-1, Hedgecock 0-1, C. Haneborg 2-2), GI 3-12 (Eihusen 1-1, Wald 1-4, Hauser 1-4, Blase 0-1, Rose 0-2). Rebounds – NP 37 (G. Haneborg 8), GI 32 (Hauser 9). Assists – NP 12 (C. Haneborg 4), GI 8 (Blase 3). Turnovers – NP 17, GI 18. Personal Fouls – NP 17, GI 19. Fouled Out – None. Technical Fouls – None.

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