After losing its last two games, the North Platte High School boys' basketball team beat Grand Island 69-56 on Friday night at the Dawg House.But it was a struggle for the Bulldogs (8-5), much of the night against the 1-14 Islanders.
NPHS took an 11-6 lead late in the first quarter when Kade Erickson made a runner that followed a three-pointer by Shane Mauch.
But early in the second quarter, Grand Island tied the game at 14. After the two teams traded baskets, Erickson made back to back threes to give the Dawgs a six point lead with a little more than three minutes left in the half.
Both teams scored a pair of baskets before and the score at halftime was 26-20.
GI's 1-3-1 zone threw North Platte off track, offensively, throughout the night, said Bulldog coach Matt Kaminski. Thankfully for NPHS, the outside shooting of Erickson, who had a game-high 25 points, helped provide a cushion for most of the game.
"I thought their zone changed the tempo of the game and we couldn't get in rhythm," Kaminski said. "That was why we took as many threes as we did and we hit enough of them."
The Islanders, with some hot shooting of their own, hung around throughout the second half. They were within around five points when North Platte's center Drew Callaghan fouled out with three and half minutes left.
But NPHS rallied to put it away a minute later, the margin was in double-digits. Grand Island never came as close as the Bulldogs made a high-percentage of free throws in the bonus situation.
"We got a little frustrated in the second half," said Kaminski. "When Drew fouled out, we needed to call a timeout to refocus. After that, we were able to make the plays to finish it. We made free throws and got a couple of steals. We finished the way we needed to."
Grand Island 10 10 15 21 - 56
North Platte 14 12 14 29 - 69
Grand Island (56)-Pierce Almond 18, Tanner Shuck 7, Ben Witkowski 6, Jacob Morrow 3, Jaden Coen 6, Elijah Hunter 5, Lane Uhing 9, Blaine Morrow 2, Choul Biel 1
North Platte (69)-Shane Mauch 13, Bradey Anderson 2, Kade Erickson 25, Jack Kenny 9, Drew Callaghan 12, Luke Wright 8
Free Throws: GI 8-11, NP 17-22; Three Point Goals: GI 8 (Almond 4, Coen 2, Shuck, Uhing), NP 6 (Erickson 5, Mauch)