North Platte – The North Platte Community College Lady Knights basketball team (6-5) held off the Lamar Community College Runnin’ Lopes (4-7) by a final score of 87-84 Saturday night at McDonald-Belton Gymnasium behind four free throw by Courtney Widick in the final 30 seconds.
DaVontaye Merritt scored a lay-up with 35 seconds to even the game at 82-82. The Lady Knights would intentionally foul Gabriela Jiminez who would make one of two from the line. The Lady Knights would push the ball up the floor and Widick was fouled to shoot two free throws to put the Lady Knights up one. North Platte would then get a stop and Widick was fouled again and hit two more free throws for the final margin.
“I knew I needed to focus to make the free throws,” said Widick. “I know my teammates were counting on me.
The second half was back and forth action as neither team could open up a lead and hold it as both teams traded baskets to set up the final minute of action.
The Lady Knights would score the first six points of the game before the Runnin’ Lopes responded with eight points of their own. Lamar would open up a five point lead at 17-12 before the teams traded baskets and North Platte tied the game up at 19. DaVontaye Merritt led the way in the first 10 minutes as she scored 14 of North Platte’s 21 points as the Lady Knights trailed 21-24.
The Runnin’ Lopes played a very aggressive and fast paced style of basketball as they always pressed full court and trapped at any opportunity. Lamar substituted five players at a time every couple of minute and had five line changes in the first 4:30 of the game. At the 14:00 minute mark in the first half, Lamar’s head coach called a timeout only to substitute players. In the first half the Runnin’ Lopes had 17 mass substitutions of five players and all 17 players saw the floor.
The second ten minutes of the first half saw the team’s trade baskets including several lay-ups in transition by both teams because of the Runnin’ Lopes frenetic style of play. At the end of the half, the Lady Knights opened up a six point lead that they were able to take into halftime at a score of 42-36. Merritt finished the half with 18 points while April Stull was also in double-figures with 10 points and had seven rebounds. The Runnin’ Lopes had nine players score as reserve Janay Truiett led the way with seven points.
Merritt would finish with 26 points and 11 rebounds to lead the way for the Lady Knights. Three other players were in double figures as Stull finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds to go along with 12 points from Widick and Aliyah Brown.
“It was a total team effort,” said head coach Richard Thurin. “We played good defense and handled their pressure pretty well.”
The Lady Knights host the Northeastern Junior College Plainswomen (4-7) Wednesday Dec. 11 at 5:30 p.m. in their last game of the fall semester. The game with Northeastern precedes the men’s game and will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 1410 and online. The Lady Knights will then return to action in 2014 on Jan. 10 as they host Doane College JV.