The North Platte Community College mens' basketball team survived a hot start by McCook Community College on Wednesday night for a 77-65 win at the McDonald-Belton Gymnasium.
"McCook really was ready to play," said NPCC coach Kevin O'Connor. "One of the hardest things to do in sports is to motivate your team to play hard when it's game 25 and your record isn't great. But McCook had a nice game plan and they played outstanding."
The Indians (6-19) scored the first seven points of the game on a pair of baskets by Jordan Myers and three-pointer by Tony Dobbinson.
Dobbinson was on fire to start the game. On two straight possessions, he made a stepback three off the dribble and McCook had a 24-6 lead.
But the Knights (21-5) slowly thawed from a very cold start where they could not make anything and with 31 seconds left in the first half, they pulled to within 33-32 after Booba Casse tipped in an Ethan Montalvo miss.
"We had to hope that McCook could not continue to hit the three-point shot like they were to start the game," O'Connor said. "The key was playing good enough to get within one point at halftime to where we had a shot. That three-point shot can be fool's gold and it was tonight as some of those shots McCook was making early, weren't falling later on."
Both teams battled in the second half. But NPCC started to pull away with around eight minutes left in the game as McCook self-destructed.
The Indians' Antwaun Boyd was called for a technical foul after Ben Wilson was fouled going up for a layup. Montalvo made both of the ensuing free throws and then Wilson made both foul shots afterward for a 56-50 lead.
On the following possession Casse scored on a layup to make it an eight-point game with 7:20 remaining. The closest McCook got was four after that.
"I thought we just showed more poise in the last five or six minutes," said O'Connor. "Fortunately, we played good enough defense to survive such a poor shooting night."
McCook CC 65
North Platte CC 77
Halftime: McCook CC 33, North Platte CC 32
McCook CC (65)-Tony Dobbinson 22, Carl Swallow 9, Antwaun Boyd 5, Anthony Easter 4, Jordan Myers 8, Dominique McKinzie 12, Akeme Smart 5
North Platte CC (77)-Damon Brown 18, Ethan Montalvo 14, Ben Wilson 11, Booba Casse 16, Jake Maslo 2, Reath Jiech 10, Tim Simmons 6
Free Throws: MCC 16-20, NPCC 22-32; Three Point Goals: MCC 7 (Dobbinson 4, Swallow 3), NPCC 5 (Casse 2, Simmons 2, Jiech)