Considering they haven’t done it much recently, the Lincoln Southeast Knights were pretty businesslike in Saturday night’s A-4 region win over North Platte.
Now, Southeast is one win away from where it hasn’t been in nearly a decade.
A 17-0 second-quarter run secured the breakaway, and Class A No. 7 Southeast led the rest of the way with a 63-49 win over North Platte in the A-4 semifinals at the Prasch Activities Center.
The win advances Southeast (15-9) to Monday night’s district final at Creighton Prep, with the winner advancing to the Class A state tournament.
Southeast has not played at state since 2014. Entering Saturday’s game, the Knights were 3-5 in district tournament openers since that state appearance and have lost five of their last six. The last district win came in 2020, when the Knights also defeated North Platte.
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“We did enough to get it done,” Southeast coach Joey Werning said. “I was a little upset about a few possessions here and there, but we got over the jitters.
“I’m proud of our kids for getting over the hill there. Now obviously we’ve got a tough test against Creighton Prep.”
Southeast tangled with Prep earlier this season, leading in the fourth quarter before taking a 58-53 road loss at the Birdcage. The loss snapped Southeastern’s nine-game winning streak and marked the first of three straight.
“They were a little tougher than us. They hit some shots (and) we let them relax a little bit late,” Werning said of the Feb. 4 game. “Obviously, we’re going to watch some film and watch what they’ve done the last couple of games.
“You only have to win one game, that’s the cool thing.”
Most of the city teams sing the same refrain after a 6-1 night in a 42-40 road loss at Kearney, Pius X, away from Lincoln, which has all seven Class A programs in the district finals.
With East vs. Southwest meeting Monday night in the A-5 finals, Lincoln guarantees a team at state. If any other city school wants to join the Knights, they will have to hit the road and win to make it happen.
North Platte (14-9) failed to score on Saturday’s road trip.
The Bulldogs led just once, 3-2, early in the first quarter. It was a 19-18 Southeastern advantage when the Knights scored 17 straight while holding North Platte scoreless for more than five minutes before taking a 36-20 lead into the locker room.
North Platte trailed by nine midway through the third quarter and had three chances to cut the deficit further, but three turnovers and a pair of threes from Bangot Dak and Deng Giet provided relief for Southeast.
Dyck finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and two blocks for Southeast, going 7-for-8 from the floor. D’Marius Shumaker scored 11 points on 3-for-5 shooting, and Jake Hilkemann added 11 points.
River Johnston, the second-leading scorer in Class A with 19 points per game, finished with 20 points and five boards for North Platte. Jesse Mauch had 11 points and Carter Kelley had 10 points and eight rebounds for the Bulldogs.
Saturday was North Platte’s first game against a Class A opponent since a Jan. 6 loss to Pius X.
Contact the writer at (402) 473-7436 or [email protected]. @ChrisBasnettLJS on Twitter.