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Black Panthers headed to B tourney after placing 3rd in Class A last year

PLATTE — Since consolidating in 2007, Platte-Geddes has gone to the state tournament three times, all in Class A.

This year, the Black Panthers boys’ basketball team will again travel to the state tournament, but this time, it will compete in Class B.

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“I think the biggest thing that will be different is this is a place we haven’t played before,” said Platte-Geddes coach Frank Cutler, whose team plays Langford Area in the Class B quarterfinals at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Barnett Center in Aberdeen. “We are going to try to get the guys comfortable. Langford is only 40 miles from Aberdeen, so they are going to be comfortable and we are going to have to make sure we come in comfortable and ready to play.”

Cutler coached Platte from 1990 to 2007 and took over as head coach when Platte and Geddes joined in a cooperative in the 2007-08 school year.

As the coach at Platte, Cutler went to the Class A state tournament seven times. The Black Panthers won the Class A title in 2008, finished as the runner-up in 2009 and earned a third-place finish last year. This is the first year, the Black Panthers will play in the Class B tournament.

“It is nice playing different people that we have never played before,” Platte-Geddes junior guard Coby Johnson said. “The Class A tournament was fun, but now we get to experience the Class B side of things. Going down a class doesn’t mean that it is lessening in competition because there are some really good teams in the Class B tournament.”

Johnson is one of five Black Panthers on this year’s team who played at the Class A state tournament last year. The others are junior Brady Peterson and seniors Cody Qualm, Kole Heller and Sid Holter.

Johnson leads the team in scoring and rebounding this season with 20 points and nine rebounds per game averages. Johnson remembered watching the 2008 and 2009 teams earn back-to-back state tournament appearances and said he is humbled to be a part of another group that has reached two straight state tournaments.

“I remember going to those games as a fifth- and sixth-grader,” he said. “It was something I never forgot and I look forward to having little kids coming to watch us and say one day that will be me. Just knowing that you are one of the top eight teams in the state is awesome and hopefully we can do well like last year.”

Last year, the Black Panthers played eight Class B schools and 17 Class A schools during their regular-season schedule. But this season, Platte-Geddes had to adjust to the movement, playing 13 Class B schools and 10 Class A schools.

“We felt like we could be competitive heading into this season,” Cutler said. “As the season progressed, we saw that we could have a chance to make it to the state tournament if we could put some games together. We did just enough to earn our bid. The kids played well enough in the regular season and in districts and regions to get there.”