The North Platte girls basketball team did something on Tuesday it had not done since Feb. 24, 2015 — win in the postseason.
The top-seeded Bulldogs (11-9) accomplished just that with a 54-37 victory over fourth-seeded Holdrege (4-18) in the first round of the B-7 subdistrict tourney at the Dawg House in North Platte.
First-year North Platte head coach Tyson Hammond talked to his team about the significance of Tuesday’s result.
"It’s been a long time since North Platte girls basketball has had a win in the postseason. I told the girls to be excited about this, love every second of it and be ready to get that feeling again (Wednesday)," Hammond said.
The victory sets up a North Platte-Lexington rematch in Wednesday’s subdistrict final after the third-seeded Minutemaids (7-18) defeated second-seeded McCook (10-11) 50-25 in the other semifinal on Tuesday. Earlier this season, North Platte defeated the Minutemaids 50-21 on Dec. 18, 2018, in Lexington.
North Platte sophomore guard Gracie Haneborg led the Bulldogs offensively with a game-high 19 points, senior forward Peyton Negley had 16 and sophomore Abby Orr added 10.
The Bulldog defense didn’t allow any Holdrege player to score in double figures, as the Dusters were led by McKenna Ortgiesen and Taylor Wiser with nine points apiece.
North Platte got off to a fast start, jumping out to an 8-0 lead only to watch the Dusters drain three consecutive 3s to take a 9-8 lead — which would be their first and only of the game.
"I actually thought it was good for us that (Holdrege) answered and made some shots, because I think we kind of had an idea that this was going to be easy. For about two minutes during that stretch, I didn’t think we played as hard and gave up some open looks," Hammond said. "After that though, I thought we focused and played hard the rest of the way."
The Bulldogs regrouped quickly, getting a 3 from Kamryn Hughes, followed by a transition layup from Orr. The Bulldogs closed the first quarter on a 7-0 run to take a 15-9 lead.
Holdrege ratcheted up the defense in the second
quarter and clawed to within four, but a Haneborg 3 from the corner with 25 seconds left before halftime gave the Bulldogs momentum and a more comfortable 25-18 lead at the break.
North Platte picked up where they left off in the third, when Haneborg found Negley off the pick-and-roll for an easy layup in the paint. It was one of several instances throughout the night of Haneborg’s stellar court vision resulting in a North Platte basket.
"She has really good court sense, is really aware of what’s happening in the game and just has a great basketball mind," Hammond said. "Gracie does a good job of coming off of ball screens and finding the open person, but I also think the entire team has come a long way in terms of knowing each other’s strengths and making the right play. We’re a young team that keeps improving."
Leading 39-28 after three quarters, the Bulldogs got another Haneborg-to-Negley basket, followed by a long 2 from Orr, then a fast-break layup from Haneborg to extend the lead to 14 and seal the deal.
Tip-off of the B-7 subdistrict final is set for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at North Platte High School.
Lexington held McCook to its second lowest scoring output of the season, winning 50-25 in the first round of the B-7 subdistrict tourney on Tuesday in North Platte.
After third-seeded Lexington (7-18) failed to turn in their starting lineup on time, the game got off to a peculiar start with second-seeded McCook (10-11) shooting a pair of technical foul free throws before tip-off. The Bison converted 1-of-2 and led 1-0, but Lexington proceeded to score 14 consecutive points for a 14-1 lead after the first quarter. Things didn’t get much better for the Bison, who shot 5-of-36 from the field and committed 25 turnovers.
Lexington freshman Sarah Treffer scored a game-high 18 points, Klair Fagot added nine and Courtney Hanson had eight. Mackenzie Smith scored nine points to lead McCook.
Lexington plays host North Platte in the subdistrict final on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in North Platte.