With its student section dressed in Christmas themed outfits, the North Platte High School boys' basketball team got a present 18 days early on Friday with a 57-35 win over Lincoln Southeast.
It was the first win for the Bulldogs over the Knights since 1999 and NPHS coach Matt Kaminski said that his team was on a mission to end that long-standing losing streak.
"I thought the boys were determined and focused this week in practice," said Kaminski. "They played with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. We did all the little things we needed to do."
The Dawgs (3-0) got off to a promising start. Kade Erickson made a three-pointer that followed a pair of baskets by Drew Callghan to take a 13-4 lead a little under five minutes into the game.
Neither team scored the rest of the first quarter and North Platte continued to stay hot at the beginning of the second. The Bulldogs led as much as 23-8.
Lincoln Southeast (1-2) went on a 10-point run with B.J. Day scoring all 10 points. A layup by Callaghan with 25 seconds left in the first half made the halftime score 25-18.
"We ended up playing zone more than we thought," Kaminski said. "Day made some threes and I thought he was looking for his offense. We also made some uncharacteristic turnovers in the first half."
But NPHS started the second half like it did the first. Callaghan scored the first four points with a pair of made free throws and a basket. Then Jack Kenny hit a three before Callaghan scored again inside to finish the run and make it 34-18.
Callaghan, the 6-foot-7 starting center, and Kenny, the 5-8 point guard, each had a game-high 19 points, showing the inside-outside balance that has been North Platte's calling card so far.
"That's what we always tell them, to work inside-out," said Kaminski. "We have the players and the passers to do that."
The Bulldogs never looked back after scoring nine straight to open the second half. Southeast tried to get some momentum from getting turnovers with its full-court pressure. While the Knights got some turnovers off of the Dawgs, they kept turning it back over more often than not.
"We forced them to make some turnovers too," Kaminski. "We made a lot of deflections and we rebounded better."
Lincoln Southeast 4 14 6 11 - 35
North Platte 13 12 17 15 - 57
Lincoln Southeast (35)-Luke Gifford 10, Najee Jackson 6, Clayton Peterson 2, Aaron Walker 1, B.J. Day 16
North Platte (57)-Shane Mauch 7, Bradey Anderson 5, Kade Erickson 7, Jack Kenny 19, Drew Callaghan 19
Free Throws: LSE 7-11, NP 16-24; Three Point Goals: LSE 4 (Day 2, Gifford, Jackson), NP 5 (Kenny 3, Anderson, Erickson)