North Platte boys' basketball coach Matt Kaminski was excited for the season to start and on Friday, his team confirmed his optimism by slashing Lincoln High 64-39 at the Dawg House.The Bulldogs forced 18 Lincoln High turnovers in the season opener with its full-court pressure and Kaminski said that the takeaways fueled the fire.
"Defense is one thing we focus on and it was a team effort tonight," said Kaminski. "We did a good job of containing their guards."
NPHS scored the first six points of the game with Bradey Anderson and Luke Wright scoring the first two baskets, followed by a pair of made free throws by Drew Callaghan.
Lincoln High answered back with a run of six and tied the game nearly three minutes in on a layup by KeShawn Wilson.
But after that it was all Dawgs. North Platte took a 12-7 lead with a layup by Kade Erickson two minutes later. Then Wright and Callaghan followed with layups to make it 18-7 with a minute and a half left in the first quarter.
Jason Towery scored the last basket of the first for the Links to make it 18-9 at the end of the first. But the second quarter began with Erickson making three three-pointers to push the lead to 27-9 and the rout was on.
The lead was 20 at halftime and 30 at the end of the third quarter. Lincoln High, who is perenially one of Class A's top teams but lost all five starters from last year, scored 21 points in the fourth against the Bulldog reserves to finish the game.
"We shot the ball well and that always helps," Kaminski said. "We got the ball inside too and we had some good inside looks."
On Saturday, NPHS plays again in the Dawg House, facing 1-0 Hastings, who Kaminski feels has improved tremendously this year.
"I think they're a well-coached, defensive-minded team," said Kaminski of the Tigers. "They're going to get after it no matter what the score is."
Lincoln High 9 5 4 21 - 39
North Platte 18 16 14 16 - 64
Lincoln High (39)-KeShawn Wilson 9, Payton Helmstadter 9, Khaleefa Muhammad 6, Garrett Griffin 1, Jason Towery 8, Jaden Jilg-Brown 2
North Platte (64)-Shane Mauch 6, Bradey Anderson 4, Kade Erickson 16, Jack Kenny 7, Drew Callaghan 21, Nick Wilkinson 4, Kolby Foote 2, Luke Wright 4
Free Throws: LH 2-5, NP 12-20; Three Point Goals: LH 1 (Helmstadter), NP 5 (Erickson 4, Kenny)