Omaha Westside, ranked No. 1 in the NebPreps.com coaches poll, made a statement on Friday night with an 82-43 blowout at home over No. 5 Omaha Creighton Prep.
Here are five thoughts on the game.
Creighton Prep-Westside is one of the fiercest rivalries in the state, and although they played twice last year, attendance restrictions meant the atmosphere and intensity didn’t quite stack up to what a typical Prep-Westside game looks like.
The only restriction on Friday, however, was the gym capacity limit as one officer said they had to turn away 200 students. Both student sections were full by halftime of the JV game, and the rest of the crowd filled in soon after.
The game didn’t quite live up to the atmosphere in the tiny Westside gym, but the crowds certainly brought it with the two student sections leading the way.
The star of the night was Westside junior Tate Odvody, who has been on a tear this entire season. After battling through an injury-plagued first season at Westside, the 6-foot-4 wing has been healthy this year and has been one of the most efficient scorers in the state.
Odvody finished with a game-high 25 points on 9-of-10 from the field (3-of-3 from 3) and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line. It tied his season high (one point shy of his career high) and was his seventh 20-point game of the season.
Odvody hit that 20-point mark in the first half as well, scoring inside and out and going perfect from the field and the line. He missed his first shot of the third quarter, but the Warriors maintained possession and the ball later found its way back to Odvody who buried another 3-pointer.
That miss proved to be his only one of the game, and he finished without a turnover. Through 15 games, Odvody is averaging 16.9 points on 61% from the field, 44% from 3 and 89% from the foul line.
Odvody was nearly flawless, but he wasn’t the only one who had a good day for the Warriors. As a team, Westside scored on 16 of its first 18 possessions, rebounding five of its first seven misses, racing out to a 37-16 lead early in the second quarter.
The Warriors put up 50 in the first half, shooting 60% from the field including 6-of-10 from 3. The pace and scoring slowed down a bit in the second half, but Westside maintained its efficiency, shooting over 60% from the field again. Westside scored 20 in the third quarter then triggered a running clock with a 41-point lead midway through the fourth.
Westside shot 60% from the field including 10-of-18 from deep with 13 assists and just seven turnovers. Nine different players scored against a Prep team that had given up 49.0 points per game and 43% shooting to its first 12 opponents.
Odvody led the way, but senior Reggie Thomas wasn’t far behind with 21 points on 9-of-11 from the field (2-of-3 from 3) and 1-of-3 from the line, six rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block. Odvody and Thomas outscored the entire Prep team by themselves and they did it on a combined 26 scoring possessions.
A 50-point half shows how well the Warriors played on offense, but their defensive performance was perhaps even more impressive. Prep had some success very early, but Westside quickly settled in and ran away with the game.
The Junior Jays shot 37% from the field including 5-of-16 from 3 and had 16 turnovers. Westside’s ability to put pressure on the ball, one through five, made Prep uncomfortable all night long.
Westside led 50-29 at halftime, but the defensive intensity didn’t wane a bit, whether it was starters or reserves on the floor, despite the lopsided score. Westside held Prep to 14 points in the second half including zero in the fourth quarter until a 3-pointer from Owen Shotkoski on Prep’s final possession.
Foul trouble played a part as second-leading scorer Martel Evans picked up his second foul late in the first quarter and fellow senior Casey O’Malley joined him midway through the second, but Prep’s three starting guards combined for eight points on 3-of-11 shooting and five turnovers.
The Warriors limited Evans (12.9 points per game on 54% shooting and 3.7 assists per game) to one shot attempt, two assists and three turnovers. Starters Chandler Meeks and Reggie Thomas and reserves CJ Mitchell and Caleb Benning can all pressure the ball with the best of them, so there’s no rest in the backcourt when you’re facing the Warriors.
Bright Spots for Prep
Omaha commit Luke Jungers got off to a great start with 10 points in the first quarter, showing off his talent with a three-point play in the post, a 3-pointer and a couple other buckets. He cooled off in the second quarter then Coach Josh Luedtke saw enough and pulled some of his starters early in the second half, but the skilled 6-foot-8 post led the Junior Jays with 12 points.
Junior Joey Rieschl added 11 points including 3-of-6 from deep. The 6-foot-1 guard has to guard up in Prep’s four-guard lineup, and on the offensive end he’s shooting 42.5% from deep on 6.2 attempts per game. Rieschl (10.2 points per game) has stepped up in a big way in his first varsity season after the Junior Jays lost four players to season-ending injuries including three prior to the season and another after just six games.
Prep is certainly better than it showed on Friday, but match-ups with the best of the best really show where those injuries have started to catch up with Prep as the Junior Jays may not have the depth to make up for their key guys having an off night. Even so, a core duo of Jungers and Evans is good enough to win a lot of games this season.
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.