North Platte Community College never trailed on Friday in their 81-76 win at home over Trinidad State Junior College. But they sure made it interesting, nearly blowing a big first half lead and somehow hanging on."We made too many mistakes," NPCC coach Kevin O'Connor said. "We play well to get the lead and for whatever reason, we lose it mentally. It's happened way too often, more than any team I can remember having."
North Platte (20-7) got off to a flying start. Sam Kearns scored the first points of the game with a three-pointer from the left corner and then Godfrey Rolle buried one on the opposite side.
Mike Amius then scored the next two baskets for the Knights to make it a 10-0 start.
NPCC led as much as 27-10 before Trinidad scored 10 unanswered to get back in the game. The Trojans brought some full-court pressure that knocked the Knights out of rhythm.
North Platte led 43-35 at halftime but Trinidad kept chipping away in the second half. They tied the game at 64 all with 5:20 left after Malik Hart made a pair of free throws.
Both teams battled for the next two minutes before the Knights came away with the upper hand. They took a 72-67 lead with 3:15 to go when Kearns drained a pull-up jump shot from 18-feet that followed a putback dunk by Amius.
Trinidad still threatened late. They had the ball with 15 seconds left down 79-76 after the Knights turned the ball over on the inbound pass following a layup by Rene Melendez.
But Brandon Newman couldn't inbound the ball in time and he was called for a five second violation. Rolle was fouled immediately and he made both free throws to save the game for the Knights.
Score by halves
Trinidad State JC: 35 - 41 - 76
North Platte CC: 43 - 38 - 81
Trinidad State (76)-Dominic Coleman 3. Payton Dickerson 3, Torrance Littles 2, Tykeem Anderson 6, Brandon Newman 15, Rene Melendez 10, Job Alexander 7, Charles Henderson 14, Karamoko Cisse 7, Malik Hart 9
North Platte (81)-Diontae Champion 6, Victor Lewis 10, Nate Duda 4, David Niklasson 8, Sam Kearns 11, Godfrey Rolle 24, Mike Amius 18
Free Throws: TS 10-17, NPCC 20-29; Three Point Goals: TS 8 (Newman 2, Melendez 2, Dickerson, Anderson, Henderson, Hart), NPCC 7 (Kearns 3, Rolle 3, Lewis)