Columbus, Neb. – Fumnanya Ijeh paced three Knights players in double figures, as North Platte upset Central Community College in the opening round of the Region IX postseason tournament on Wednesday night inside the Raider Fieldhouse, winning 64-57.
"We did a great job of limiting the Raiders offense in the fourth quarter," said head coach Jeff Thurman. "Our guard play generated opportunities for others to get involved and that was the difference in the game."
Ijeh's 22 points notches her fourteenth double digit performance of the season, while Reece Halley (12) and Jada Grigsby (11) rounded out the North Platte players in double digits.
As a team, North Platte finished the game shooting 44.6 percent (25-56) from the floor, while knocking down 12-of-15 from the free throw line. The black and gold won the rebounding battle, 36-32, including doubling up the Raiders 10-5 in the final quarter.
Central led 19-16 at the end of the opening quarter after showcasing their perimeter shooting offense. North Platte reversed the momentum in the second quarter by outscoring the Raiders 15-7 to take a five-point lead into the locker room.
North Platte saw their lead vanish late in the third quarter, as Central used an 11-2 run to steal back the momentum. The Knights responded by putting together their best quarter of the season to erase a six-point deficit in the final quarter.
Trailing 47-41, the Knights quickly erased the margin and retook the lead on a layup by Halley. Teams traded the lead over the next four minutes, before North Platte retook the lead for the final time after back-to-back baskets from Grigbsy and Remie Haynes.
A turnover cut the margin to one inside the closing minute, but Samantha Riggles received the ball on the baseline and fought through the contact to finish the layup and stretch the lead to 60-57. Despite the margin being within one possession, Central struggled to find their offensive rhythm which forced the Knights to earn the win at the free throw line. Halley and Ijeh stepped to the line and knocked down all four attempts to secure the come from behind win.
The Knights (9-20) punched their ticket to their third straight Region IX championship and will take on Southeast Community College on Saturday in Beatrice. The game will be broadcast on FM 98.1 / AM 1410.