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Upsets becoming trend for Cutler, Platte-Geddes

ABERDEEN — The Platte-Geddes boys’ basketball team has made a habit of pulling early upsets at the state tournament, as it refuses to use its seed as an excuse.

The Black Panthers have entered the state tournament at or near the bottom of the bracket each of the last two seasons, knocking off a top seed each time in the first round.

Carter Dykstra, a junior transfer from Dakota Christian, said the team felt confident about coming away with a win as a seven seed over No. 2 Langford Area Thursday in the Class B state tournament at the Barnett Center.

The Black Panthers knocked off the Lions 58-50, with lone returning starter Coby Johnson scoring a game-high 28 points.

“We aren’t that experienced with the state tournament atmosphere,” Platte-Geddes coach Frank Cutler said.

Four starters are gone from the 2012-13 team that came into the Class A state tournament as the lowest seed — eight — and defeated No. 1 Clark/Willow Lake by 15 points in the first round. The team finished third at the event before dropping down to Class B this season.

The game against Langford started much like a No. 2 vs. a No. 7 might be expected to, with the lower-seeded Platte-Geddes team turning the ball over and falling behind. Once the Black Panthers established their presence around the basket, the path of the contest quickly turned in favor of Cutler’s squad.

Johnson said it is fun to “shock the world” as a lower seed, adding not many people expected the Black Panthers to win their first-round game each of the last two years.

“It was good having a little experience with these types of games,” Johnson said about what he was able to bring to his team after the experience from a year ago.

Cutler praised Dykstra as a player who has brought an added scoring threat to the team this season, as well as some size other teams have to deal with.

With Johnson at 6-foot-5 and Dykstra at 6-foot-3, the Black Panthers have size few teams in Class B can match.

“We are always conscious of our size and I told the team that we should dominate down low and on the boards,” Johnson said. “That is something that we can control.”

Prior to the start of this year’s Class B tournament Thursday, Cutler said this squad is different from the one that pulled the upset last year. Platte-Geddes was smaller a year ago, but the added size this season has allowed for strong rebounding and the ability to spread out its shooters, according to Cutler.

Platte-Geddes edged No. 6 seed Ethan 59-56 Friday in the semifinals of the Class B tournament Friday and will play James Valley Christian in the championship at 8 p.m. today at the Barnett Center.