Four teams entered the Dawg House at North Platte High School on Friday looking to get back to winning ways. The North Platte Bulldogs entered with a 7-5 record, but losers of their last two games, and the Grand Island Islanders at 1-13, had dropped five in a row.
On the girl’s side, the Lady Bulldogs were 4-8 after dropping their last contest and the Lady Islanders, after losing their last four games, were 3-11.
The Lady Bulldogs had three girls reach double figures in leading them to a 47-35 win over the Lady Islanders, while the Bulldogs made a sweep of it, winning 69-56.
The Bulldogs held the lead at the end of the first three quarters, but the Islanders closed to 48-44 with 4 minutes, 02 seconds remaining in the game. Luke Wright grabbed a rebound and scored and after Grand Island hit a free throw the Bulldogs began to make their run.
Kade Erickson fed Wright under for two and was fouled. Wright missed the free throw, but the momentum began to swing the Bulldogs way as they opened up a 13-point lead on the coat tails of an eight-point run.
During the span, Shane Mauch had a steal and layup. Moments later he stole the ball again, was fouled and knocked down two free throws. Erickson ended the run for a 58-45 lead, hitting both of his free throw attempts.
“I thought that was a big play,” North Platte coach Matt Kaminski said of Erickson’s feed to Wright. And Shane had a couple steals there. We were just looking for our seniors to take us home. I’m proud of the way they refocused and bounced back, especially the seniors.”
The Bulldogs shot 13-for-15 from the line during the final quarter, helping them close out the 69-56 win.
“I’m really proud of our kids the way they battled,” said Grand Island coach Jeff Hofeldt. “With it all being told, [North Platte] had 14 offensive rebounds. I think that was the huge difference in the game.
“We made some critical mistakes when it was a five-point game and that led it to nine or 10, but I’m proud of our effort.”
North Platte used a 9-0 run in the first quarter to open up an 11-8 lead. The Bulldogs trailed 6-2 when Drew Callaghan started the run with a drive to the basket. Wright hit a 10-foot jumper in the lane and Mauch was on the receiving end of a Wright assist for a 3. Erickson then completed the run on a pull-up in the lane after a steal.
“They surprised us with their 1-3 zone, we weren’t expecting that,” Kaminski said. “I thought the kids reacted well to it and we got some really good looks in the first quarter against their zone.
“I thought that was the story of the whole game. We battled, we battled with runs here and there, and knew we were going to have to hit some outside shots because they were going to double and triple our post guys.”
Both teams traded baskets in the second quarter as the Bulldogs carried a 26-20 lead heading into the second half.
Grand Island began to find some success from behind the arc in the third quarter. The Islanders connected on five 3s which would be their point total for the quarter.
Pierce Almond and Tanner Shuck connected for two 3s each in the quarter and Jaden Coen also hit from behind the arc for the Islanders.
“That’s nice to see because we’ve been struggling from the outside,” Hofeldt said. “Like I’ve told these kids all along I think they’re a great shooting team. They have to continue to shoot from the perimeter. It just seemed they were better in the flow of it stepping into their shots.”
But even though the Islanders were warming up from the outside, Erickson also knocked down two of his game-high five 3s in the quarter to help keep the Islanders at bay. Erickson led all scorers with 25 points and Mauch and Drew Callaghan added 13 and 12 points respectively.
Almond led the Islanders with 18 points, the only Islander in double figures.
Callaghan led North Platte in rebounding with 12 and Wright grabbed eight rebounds.
“We were making some runs but were getting frustrated because we just didn’t quite put the foot down,” Kaminski said. “Almond is a good player for them and when he shoots well they play good. We knew they were going to play with a lot of energy.
“I’m proud of the kids. They got a hard fought win tonight and found a way that last four minutes and made some plays. They made their free throws and that’s what you have to do in situations like that.”
North Platte (8-5)..............................14 12 14 29 — 69
Grand Island (1-14).........................10 10 15 21 — 56
NP stats: (2 pt, 3 pt, ft, pts) Shane Mauch 3, 1, 4/4, 13; Bradey Anderson 1, 0, 0/0, 2; Kade Erickson 3, 5, 4/4, 25; Jack Kenny 2, 0, 5/6, 9; Drew Callaghan 5, 0, 2/4, 12; Luke Wright 3, 0, 2/3, 8.
GI stats: Pierce Almond 1, 4, 4/4, 18; Tanner Shuck 2, 1, 0/1, 7; Ben Witkowski 2, 0, 2/2, 6; Jacob Morrow 1, 0, 1/2, 3; Jaden Coen 0, 2, 0/0, 6; Lane Uhing 3, 1, 0/1, 9; Blaine Morrow 1, 0, 0/0, 2; Choul Biel 0, 0, 1/2, 1; Elijah Hunter 2, 0, 0/0, 4.
* * *
Lady Bulldogs get fifth win
Kaitlynn Harvey hit a 3 from the top of the key to open the game, was fouled and connected on the free throw to put the Lady Bulldogs up 4-0. But Grand Island went on a 13-2 run over the next five and a half minutes and added another three points to begin the second quarter to lead 16-6 at the 6:48 mark of the second quarter.
“I thought we got off to a nice start and had a little bit of a lead,” said Grand Island coach Kelli Jeffries. “What has been our problem all year is we go into those stretches where we don’t score. We get up on a team and let them back into the game.
“Our confidence just isn’t where it needs to be right now, so when a team makes a run on us, sometimes we can’t answer it.”
GI’s Sarah Splattstoesser hit the final seven points of the first quarter, giving the Lady Islanders the momentum.
But as Jeffries alluded to, the Lady Bulldogs came back with a 15-point run of their own. Madalynn Doughty, a 5-foot, 1-inch junior, kick-started the Lady Bulldogs offense by hitting back-to-back 3s — each from the left wing.
“Madalynn hit those two big 3s,” North Platte coach Mark Woodhead said. “You go from a 10-point deficit to four up. From then on out we were able to finish out the half. That was a huge boost, just fighting back and getting a lead going into halftime.”
North Platte outscored the Lady Islanders 12-9 in the third quarter, but Grand Island came back in the fourth to cut into the lead. Grand Island opened the fourth with a 6-0 run and the Lady Islanders cut the North Platte lead to 35-31, but the Lady Bulldogs hit all eight of their free throws in the final stanza to hold off the Lady Islanders.
Doughty was a perfect 6-for-6 in the quarter and senior post, Ashten Hernandez, was 2-for-2 at the line and also added two field goals. The Lady Bulldogs finished the night 13-for-14 from the line.
“In tight games it comes down to free throws,” Woodhead said. “Every game Madalynn gets better. She does a great job of handling the ball and going 6-for-6 down the stretch — wow.
“To go 13-for-14 is just a knife in the back.”
“We had some chances and even inside we had a couple nice looks and just didn’t finish,” Jeffries said. “I thought North Platte did a nice job — they hit some timely 3s. They cut loose and hit some on us. I think [Madalynn Doughty] is a hard match up for us. She’s got a lot of speed and quickness.
“I thought our kids played hard. We had some shots, but it’s been the same thing all year, we just can’t get some of those to drop.
“North Platte did what they had to do. They did a nice job of keeping us from our rhythm on offense.”
Doughty led the Lady Bulldogs with 12 points. Harvey and Hernandez each added 10 points.
North Platte (5-8)..............................6 15 12 14 — 47
Grand Island (3-12)............................13 5 9 8 — 35
NP stats: (2 pt, 3 pt, ft, pts) Madalynn Doughty 0, 2, 6/6, 12; Kaitlyn Harvey 2, 1, 3/3, 10; Sally Hengen 0, 3, 0/0, 9; Kylie Wroot 2, 0, 0/1, 4; Ashten Hernendez 3, 0, 4/4, 10.
GI stats Kirsten Sullivan 2, 0, 0/0, 4; Sarah Splattstoesser 2, 1, 0/0, 7; McKenzie Fyfe 1, 0, 2/4, 4; Libby Norvell 1, 0, 5/7, 7; Sydney Armstrong 1, 0, 0/0, 2; Ashton Riedy 1, 0. 0/0, 2; Brooke Gangwish 1, 0, 1/4, 3.