DEKALB, Mo. — Northeast Nodaway was the Cinderella story of the Platte Valley Invitational after pulling an upset over Stewartsville in the first round. The six-seeds nearly advanced to the championship game, but clutch foul-shooting by North Nodaway’s Cody Wood sent the second-seeded Mustangs into the championship with a 39-36 win.
“It feels awesome,” Wood, who scored 23 in the win, said. “I couldn’t do it without my teammates.”
The Jays got off to a great start in the first quarter with senior Dylan Vore scoring on a buzzer-beater to end the period, giving them a 9-6 lead. Senior Spencer Weir opened the scoring in the second quarter, pushing the Bluejay lead to 11-6.
The Mustangs quickly answered with Wood scoring five quick points and senior Arron Coleman scoring on a putback to give the Mustangs a lead.
The teams traded the lead for the rest of the half and the early portions of the third quarter, but North Nodaway heated up. With the score tied at 21-21, Mustang junior Ryan Riley hit a three.
After a Karson Oberhauser free throw, Wood beat the buzzer to give the Mustangs a 27-21 advantage at the end of the third quarter.
“He is a very tough kid to stay in front of,” North Nodaway coach Jake Shipman said of Wood. “When he sees the gap like he was and is aggressive, it is hard to stop him.”
Weir started the fourth quarter with a steal and layup, but North Nodaway answered with baskets from Oberhauser and Coleman for a 31-23 lead.
The lead was 36-29 when Northeast Nodaway coach Rory Jackson shifted Weir, who played every minute of the game, onto Wood to create some additional ball-pressure on the Mustang point guard. The move worked as the North Nodaway offense struggled to adjust and Vore and Weir each scored to pull the Jays within 36-33.
“We have to take care of the ball,” Shipman said. “When we are in situations where we are winning, we have to be able to attack pressure. … We talked about turnovers in the beginning, if we can control the ball and not turn the ball over, we are good to go. That is the part that is hard to swallow right now. … The one thing that stuck out to me was not taking care of the ball.”
Despite dealing with the pressure defense, Wood was able to get fouled with 32 seconds left and knocked down a pair of free throws. After an empty Bluejay possession, Wood was fouled again and hit 1-of-2 free throws to seal the game.
“He is a tough kid,” Shipman said. “He has been through a lot as far as within our own program. He has had his growing pains and it is great to see him reap the benefits of all the hard work that he has been doing.”
Chet Spire’s three at the buzzer went in for the Jays, but it wasn’t enough as North Nodaway advanced with a three-point win.
Wood led all scorers with 23 points. Coleman added nine for the Mustangs while Riley had four and Oberhauser had three.
“We are getting better and learning how to deal with difficult situations,” Wood said. “I like how we are progressing.”
North Nodaway advances to Friday’s championship game at Bearcat Arena where they will face South Nodaway at 8:30 p.m.
“Just continue to get better,” Shipman said. “We have played two games this year. Two games. We are still learning who we are as a team and what we need to do.”
Northeast Nodaway was led in scoring by Vore with 13 and Weir with 12. Reed McIntyre had six while Spire had three and Ethan Adwell and Mitchell Sherry each added two.
“Nobody likes to lose, but I thought the guys never gave up and that is what I told them,” Jackson said. “I didn’t feel like we played our best game tonight and that showed, but it also showed that our guys never quit and that will help us in the long run.”
The Jays will play for third place against DeKalb on Friday at 5:30 p.m. in Bearcat Arena.
“We are looking forward to it,” Jackson said.