The North Platte High School boys' basketball team got off to a good start on Saturday but faded as the game went along and the Bulldogs fell 59-50 to Kearney at the Dawg House.
The Bulldogs (7-4) scored the first six points of the game. From there, NPHS led for most of the first half. It led as much as 23-13 after a three-point play by Bradey Anderson in the second quarter.
But Kearney (9-4) ended the first half on a 6-0 run and the Bearcats only trailed 28-25 at halftime.
"We had about as good of a start as we could hope for," said North Platte coach Matt Kaminski. "We got inside looks and we made outside shots. But in the second quarter, we took more quick shots and the tempo wasn't in our favor."
A little under two minutes into the second half, Kearney tied the game at 30 when Damien Austen made a three-pointer and they took the lead a minute later on a tip-in by Jake Weis.
Both teams battled for the rest of the third quarter with the Bearcats gaining more of an upper-hand. A basket by Ryan Cervantes on the first possession of the fourth quarter gave Kearney a 42-36 lead.
The Dawgs answered back with a three by Jack Kenny and a basket by Drew Callaghan to cut the lead to one with just under five minutes to play.
But the Bearcats scored the next seven with baskets by Cervantes bookending the run and from there, Kearney made the free throws they needed to.
Kaminski said that his team seemed rusty a week since its last game where it beat Kearney handily to win the GNAC title.
"We couldn't regain our rhythm in the second half," he said. "We looked fatigued coming off of the break and we need to get in better shape. We took a minor step back tonight but we're going to look to rebound next week. Omaha Northwest provides a challenge for us as they like to get up and down the floor."
Kearney 9 16 15 19 - 59
North Platte 15 13 8 14 - 50
Kearney (59)-Ben Clark 10, Damian Austen 24, Jake Weis 2, Ryan Cervantes 6, Peyton Pocock 3, Dakota Schriner 2, Brady Johnson 12
North Platte (50)-Shane Mauch 2, Bradey Anderson 8, Jack Kenny 11, Drew Callaghan 21, Luke Wright 8
Free Throws: K 18-21, NP 5-8; Three Point Goals: K 5 (Austen 4, Pocock), NP 3 (Kenny 3)