Maybe Saturday night was the spark the Knights needed.
In a game of runs and momentum swings, North Platte Community College (5-8) avoided a wild near-comeback by Western Nebraska Community College (11-7) for a 101-98 victory at McDonald-Belton Gymnasium in North Platte.
NPCC got 20 points each from DaVonte Tharpe and Tim Johnson, while Luke Christen had 19, while Nebraska commit Teddy Allen had a game-high 37 points for the Cougars.
NPCC led 47-36 at halftime, holding Allen to just eight points in the first half.
Allen — who entered as the NJCAA scoring leader at 32.3 points per game — heated up and then some in the second half, scoring 16 points in a span of about six minutes, giving WNCC (Scottsbluff) a 70-66 lead after completing a traditional 3-point play.
The Knights answered, getting a 3 from Christen followed by a putback by a putback by Danilo Matovic, cutting the WNCC lead to 80-79 with 5:20 remaining.
After a pair of Allen free throws, Johnson tied the game at 82-apiece with a only 3 of the game. On NPCC’s ensuing possession, Matovic went to work on Jarred Rosser, scoring in the paint to give the Knights an 84-82 lead.
Allen immediately answered with an NBA-range 3, putting the Cougars back in from 85-84.
Again, NPCC fought, getting a floater from Courtney Murrell with 3:00 left for a 89-85 lead.
With just under a minute remaining, NPCC’s DaVonte Tharpe buried a 3 for a 95-89 lead.
It wasn’t quite time to celebrate yet.
With NPCC up 99-95 with only 10.1 seconds left, Cougar guard Jordan Smith stole the inbounds pass and canned a corner 3 — his only made bucket of the game on 1-of-7 shooting — cutting the lead
After Tharpe split a pair of free throws, NPCC led 100-98 with 8.2 seconds on the clock. Out of timeout, Allen got the ball and hoisted a potential game-winning 3, but good defense from Slavomyr Marchenko resulted in an air ball and big win for NPCC.
WNCC did get possession down 101-98 after a free throw from the Knights, but only had 0.2 seconds, which would have required a tip-in.
Saturday’s effort gives the Knights a much-needed win after losing 7-of-9 entering Saturday. Their 101 points was a season-best offensively, eclipsing their previous high which came on Jan. 9 against Hastings JV.
The Knights host McCook Community College on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
WNCC (11-7) 36 62 — 98
NPCC (5-8) 47 54 — 101
W: Teddy Allen 37, Jarred Rosser 15, Kenny Strawbridge 13, Tayler Johnson 9, Kalen Williams 8, Elie Cadet 8, Jordan Smith 5, Conner McCracken 3.
N: DaVonte Tharpe 20, Tim Johnson 20, Luke Christen 19, Slavomyr Marchenko 15, Danilo Matovic 10, Courtney Murrell 9, Mert Halavurte 6, Arda Akalin 2.
Central CC 62,
By TESSA BURFORD
North Platte Community College
COLUMBUS — The Central Community College women’s basketball team defeated North Platte Community College 62-57 on Saturday in an NJCAA Region IX Division II contest.
The loss drops the Knights to 8-10 on the season and 0-2 in division.
Emily Joseph led NPCC offensively with 16 points, while Janay Brauer added 10.
"We just did not get it done today," NPCC head coach Jeff Thurman said. "We gave up too many second chance opportunities and struggled scoring the ball. It was not a good day for us."
The Knights are back in action at 5 p.m. on Tuesday when they’ll host McCook Community College at McDonald-Belton Gymnasium in North Platte.