It took about six minutes for North Platte to get revved up on Saturday but once it did, Scottsbluff didn't have an answer for the Bulldogs.With 40 points combined from guards Kade Erickson and Jack Kenny, NPHS beat the Class B No. 2 Bearcats 65-45.
"This is a huge win," said Bulldog coach Matt Kaminski. "It's our biggest win of the year and I am excited. We are playing at a high level at the right time of the year."
But it was Scottsbluff (17-4) who almost scored an early knockout.
The defending Class B champion Bearcats scored the first six points of the game on a three-pointer by Taylor Winkler and a three-point play by Michael Hadden.
In the early minutes on Saturday, Hadden was the catalyst for Scottsbluff on offense. The 6-foot-3 all-state senior drove at will against North Platte and that opened up the outside for his teammates.
In the first quarter, the Bearcats were getting anything they wanted on offense and with just under two minutes left in the opening period, they took a 21-10 after another three-point play by Hadden.
But then the Dawgs (15-5) started to assert itself. They ended the quarter by scoring the last five with Erickson making a three and Luke Wright making a pair of free throws.
NPHS also scored the first five of the second as Shane Mauch got a three-point play and Erickson made a jumper just inside the three-point arc. It was 21-20, three minutes into the second quarter.
Eric Moreno hit a three to end the drought for Scottsbluff. But the Bulldogs were just getting started.
After scoring a basket, Drew Callaghan brought the fans in the Dawg House to a frenzy with his dunk in transition off the assist by Kenny.
Then following the jam, the 6-foot-7 junior gave the Dawgs the lead with three minutes left when he put in a missed three by Erickson.
Kenny scored the next five points with a mid-range jumper and a three that made it 31-24 before Erickson finished the 13-point rally with a basket made with just under a minute left until halftime.
Just liked he did earlier in the quarter, Moreno scored to end the run. His basket was the final two points of the half and it was 33-26 at halftime.
"I just thought we clamped down too much in the first quarter, allowing them to drive by us," Kaminski said. "But we adjusted our spacing in the second quarter to keep them in front of us. The transition dunk sparked us and it sparked the crowd."
To begin the second half, Kenny knocked down another three to make it a 10-point lead. The Bearcats answered back with a mini run to pull within four and both teams battled throughout the third quarter.
But Scottsbluff could not get stops on defense and the Bulldogs distanced themselves by the end of the quarter. In the last seconds of the third, Mauch drilled a three to give NPHS a 50-41 lead.
North Platte then dominated the fourth to cap it off. The Bearcats, who were feeling the effects of the double overtime win at McCook just 18 hours earlier, only managed to score four points in the fourth.
The win over Scottsbluff was another stellar defensive effort, said Kaminski.
"Defensively, we played super," he said. "I know I've been saying this a lot, but we've been playing really good defense. Anytime you can hold Scottsbluff to 45 points, you're playing good defense."
Scottsbluff 21 5 15 4 - 45
North Platte 15 18 17 15 - 65
Scottsbluff (45)-Taylor Winkler 5, Matthew Mickey 2, Matt Klein 7, Eric Moreno 14, Michael Hadden 17
North Platte (65)-Shane Mauch 9, Kade Erickson 24, Jack Kenny 16, Drew Callaghan 5, Luke Wright 11
Free Throws: S 10-10, NP 6-8; Three Point Goals: S 3 (Winkler, Klein, Moreno), NP 9 (Erickson 4, Kenny 3, Mauch 2)