The Thunderdome played host to a battle between the Bolts and the Birds on Saturday night as Bellevue West hosted Lincoln Pius X.
The Thunderbolts kept pace early, but the Thunderbirds flew away in the second half for a 95-68 win.
Here are five thoughts on the game.
Bellevue West blitzed Pius out of the gates, putting up 27 points in the first quarter. Pius put up 19 itself, and the Thunderbolts won the second quarter to make it 41-37 Bellevue West at the break.
The Thunderbirds shot 56.7% from the field including 4-of-10 from 3 with eight assists and just two turnovers in the first half. The Bolts shot 59.3% from the filed including 3-of-7 from deep with four assists and four turnovers. They shot a combined 5-of-5 from the foul line.
Bellevue West continued to roll through the second half, hanging 27 points in each of the last two quarters to flirt with triple digits. Pius simply had no answer. The T-Birds shot 62.3% form the field for the game including 12-of-24 from deep. They dished out 20 assists on 38 buckets and had just four turnovers.
Pius didn’t play poorly in the second half, shooting just under 50% from the field, but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep up with the Thunderbirds.
Running the Show
Bellevue West got contributions up and down the lineup as all 10 players that saw the court scored, but the guy running the show was junior point guard Josiah Dotzler.
Dotzler played mostly off the ball the last two years alongside four-year starting point guard Chucky Hepburn. Hepburn is now starting at Wisconsin, and Coach Doug Woodard has turned the keys over to Dotzler, the younger brother of former Creighton floor general Josh Dotzler.
Dotzler finished with 20 point son 8-of-12 shooting (3-of-4 from 3) and 1-of- from the line, six assists, four rebounds, two steals and zero turnovers.
Dotzler has now scored 20-plus in three of Bellevue West’s four games, and he nearly recorded a triple-double in the other one. The most impressive part, however, is how efficiently he’s done it. He’s shooting 62.2% from the field, 44.4% from 3 and 75% from the foul line. He also has 21 assists and just six turnovers.
Bohrn to Score
Dotzler wasn’t the only point guard to go off on Saturday, however. Lincoln Pius X senior Jared Bohrer, a transfer from Lincoln Southwest, went off for a career-high 30 points.
Bohrer hit every shot he took in the first half (three 2s, two 3s, two free throws), then hit his first shot of the second half as well to pull Pius within two at 41-39. He finally missed on his seventh attempt but finished 11-of-14 from the field (4-of-6 from 3) and 4-of-5 from the free-throw line.
Bohrer scored nearly every way imaginable, with tough takes to the rim, difficult turnaround jumpers in the paint and shots from range.
Bohrer didn’t quite get enough help to keep up with the high-powered Thunderbirds, but he did all he could to keep the Thunderbolts in the game.
Pius’ strength is its size and athleticism across the front line, but Bellevue West got the better of the frontcourt battle on Saturday.
South Dakota State commit William Kyle III is the best rim protector in the state, and he showed that on Saturday with five blocks and a number of other altered shots. He’s continuing to progress on the other end of the court as well, scoring 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including a few self-created buckets in the low or mid post.
Fellow senior wing Evan Inselman was nearly perfect as well. He scored 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting (1-of-2 from 3) and 1-of-2 from the foul line. Inselman knocked down a number of jumpers and also finished a couple of times at the rim. He grabbed a team-high seven rebounds and dished out a couple of assists without turning the ball over.
Even freshman Robby Garcia contributed off the bench, grabbing four rebounds and scoring four points on 2-for-2 shooting.
Hastreiter Brought the Sauce
Bohrer was the star of the day for Pius, but he wasn’t the only Thunderbolts that went off. Sam “Sauce” Hastreiter scored 20 points on 10-of-14 shooting and secured a game-high eight rebounds.
The 6-foot-7 North Dakota State commit has terrific balance and body control, using a variety of spin moves, pump fakes and jump stops in the lane to create scoring opportunities for himself. Hastreiter is going to be a tough match-up for teams all season long.
BONUS: Wharton is a Winner
I wasn’t able to make it to the Thunderdome in time to catch the entire girls game, but I did see the end. It went down to the wire with Bellevue West pulling out a 53-50 win in overtime.
The star of the game was Northern Iowa commit Taryn Wharton. The senior point guard led the Thunderbirds with 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting (4-of-7 from 3) and five assists. Six of those points came in overtime, including what proved to be the game-winner.
Pius scored first in overtime, but Wharton responded with a nasty crossover into a 3-pointer from the left wing. Pius tied it up at 50-all, but Bellevue West got a stop and pushed the ball in transition and sophomore Kenzie Melcher pitched it back to a trailing Wharton for another 3 right in front of the Bellevue West bench, and she buried that one too to give Bellevue West the lead with 30 seconds to go.
— Jacob Padilla (@JacobPadilla_) December 12, 2021
Bellevue West got a stop on the last possession to secure the 53-50 win and snap Pius’ winning streak at 34 in a row. The Thunderbolts went 25-0 last season and were back-to-back Class A champs with Husker freshman Alexis Markowski in the lineup.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.