Clark/Willow Lake’s first loss of the season proved to be the costliest.
The top-seeded – and previously undefeated – Cyclones couldn’t withstand the Platte-Geddes barrage and interior presence Thursday as the Black Panthers pulled the 66-51 upset at the Class A state boys basketball tournament.
Coby Johnson paced Platte-Geddes (16-7) with 22 points, including 18 in the second half, but it was the loose ball rebounds and strong transition play that helped clinch a semifinals matchup with Tea Area tonight.
“With a team like that, if you don’t play hard, you’re get it taken to you,” said PG coach Frank Cutler. “We knew coming in that we were going to be the eighth seed and that we were going to play the top dog. Our kids said, ‘We’re there, let’s see what we can do.'”
After taking a 21-19 lead into halftime, the Panthers slowly stretched the advantage to nine with 2:28 left in the third before pushing it to double digits early in the fourth. Part of that had to do with limiting Cyclones standout and South Dakota State recruit Skyler Flatten to six points over the first three quarters. Flatten finished with 16 points, while PG minimized the damage of Clark/Willow Lake’s (21-1) other weapons.
“You don’t slow a guy like that down. He’s going to get his points,” Cutler said of Flatten. “One of our main points was he’s going to get his points, so let’s try to slow the other kids down.”
While the win would normally be a springboard for the Panthers over the remainder of the tournament, Johnson pointed out that they’ve been playing with more confidence than a typical eight-seed after recovering particularly well from a four-game skid midway through the season.
“We’ve been playing great since then and we’ve had this mentality that we can go against anyone,” said Johnson, a 6-foot-4 sophomore. “We have a lot of respect for Clark/Willow Lake and Skyler Flatten. They’re a great team. We just came out with a lot of intensity and a lot of confidence today.”