North Platte leaned on its defense on Friday to get a 58-34 win over Lexington at the Dawg House.

“(The defense) was the key to the game,” NPHS coach Matt Kaminski said. “We had a much-needed week of practice. Wednesday was our best practice of the year and the focus was really dialing in on defense. Pressuring the ball, brushing off the ball, scrambling, rotating — I thought we executed that part well. That’s what won us the game. I feel we could be a lot more efficient on offense. We left a lot out there but, defensively, there was a lot to be proud of.”

The game began with Kade Mohr getting a layup for North Platte (4-6). Then River Johnston made a three-pointer from the left corner to give the Bulldogs a 5-0 start.

Lexington (3-9) answered with baskets by Kaden West and Daud Daud to pull within one. But Carter Kelley scored inside and Johnston got a three-point play to bring the lead back up to six.

NPHS went up by double figures, 18-8, after Kolten Tilford and Caleb Tonkinson hit consecutive threes. Then Kelley scored the next six points with a three from the right corner and a three-point play to make it 24-8.

Luis Castellanos scored the last basket of the first half for Lexington and it was 24-10 at halftime. But the margin kept growing in the second half and the Bulldogs won going away.

“We got some separation but we left a lot of points out there,” Kaminski said. “I think the kids were overly aggressive and sometimes a little bit out of control, maybe trying to force things that aren’t there. That’s just excitement and energy. I’d rather see it that way than being lackadaisical. I love the mindframe we came into this game with, we just got to keep proving ourselves.”

Next, the Bulldogs will play at Sidney (12-2) on Saturday.

Score by quarters:

Lexington: 6-4-12-12 – 34

North Platte: 12-12-19-15 – 58

Lexington (34)-Daud Daud 5, Jase Carpenter 4, Kaden West 2, Greyson Strauss 2, Luis Castellanos 8, Isaiah Ellingson 2, Isaac Scharff 11

North Platte (58)-Kolten Tilford 6, Carter Kelley 13, Carson Uehling 2, River Johnston 22, Caleb Tonkinson 5, Ryan Kaminski 4, Caleb Kinkaid 2, Kade Mohr 2, Jack Polk 2

Free throws: L 12-21, NP 12-18; Three-point goals: L 0, NP 6 (Johnston 2, Kelley 2, Tilford, Tonkinson)

© 2022 The North Platte Bulletin. All rights reserved.