When he was coaching the Mike Gesell era of championship teams at South Sioux City, Terry Comstock saw the best of the Omaha Central teams. Including the last to go undefeated in Class A.
Now an assistant at Sioux City East, he got an eyeful of Bellevue West, the last undefeated team this season in Class A, in a 71-40 Thunderbirds win Tuesday night.
They, Comstock said, have all the parts. As Central did in the late 2000s and early 2010s.
“They've got really good guards. They've got the guys that can shoot the basketball and they've got size inside. The big kid (Jacob Arop), he causes problems,’’ Comstock said. “He's a big athletic kid and so we have to come in on him and when they kick it out, they've got the shooters and (Josiah) Dotzler, obviously is very good. He’s always under control.
“In comparison with those Central teams, (Central) always had one really big guy, one really good guard, and we always had to figure out which one we were going to give up,’’ Comstock said. “Tonight (West) had guys stepping up and shooting it very well, guys that maybe weren't always great shooters all season stepped up, and that's what makes a great team.”
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The Black Raiders came into the week undefeated themselves at 16-0. The zero went away Monday night with a 60-56 loss at conference rival Sergeant Bluff-Luton. Their offense was taken away Tuesday night.
A team that was averaging 73 points a game and shooting 40% on 3s while trying more than 20 a game hit a season low in points and got off only nine 3-point attempts.
“We thought we just have to run them off the 3-point line and not give them those open looks, and they haven't played that kind of defensive pressure before,’’ West coach Doug Woodard said.
Up in Siouxland, East coach Ras Vanderloo said, there aren’t teams like Bellevue West. In his state’s 4-A class, maybe Waukee and Waukee Northwest would compare to MaxPreps’ national No. 23 team in Nebraska.
“Just seeing that speed and quickness will help us if we get into the tournament a ways,’’ Vanderloo said. “On a given night we've been better than we were tonight. I hate the fact that people came and said, Well, this Iowa team’s no good. I mean, that's not really who we are. But it was tonight. So live with it.”
The downward spiral started for the Black Raiders when, at 25-22 in the second quarter, West closed out the final three minutes with an 11-0 spurt. The final seven came in the final 38 seconds, including a 3 and a bucket by Jaden Jackson. He was the game’s leading scorer, making 5 of 9 from 3, with 19 points.
A 15-2 start to the second half, Jackson scoring eight in a row aided by two treys, was sufficient as West kept the hammer down on its pressure defense.
“This was a state championship-style team, athletic, quick,’’ Vandeloo said. “If you have a good team and you make 12 3s you have a chance for another banner.”
East’s goal for its three-game week is still intact. Beat Council Bluffs Lincoln at home Friday to win the Missouri River Conference regular season title. One win out of the three. Vanderloo would have liked two, but Monday didn’t happen. “Three would have been a miracle.”
West has a weekend set at home Friday against No. 3 Omaha Creighton Prep, which lost in the Metro Conference Holiday Tournament final to the Thunderbirds, and Saturday against No. 9 Lincoln Pius X.
“It’s a great stretch,” Woodard said. “And then we get (No. 5) Lincoln Southeast next Tuesday. We’re looking forward to it.”
Sioux City East (16-2)10;12;7;11—40
At Bellevue West (17-0);18;18;17;18—71
SCE: Fitzy Grant 10, Preston Dobbs 7, Kelynn Jackson 4, Brandt Van Dyke 4, Samuel Jons 4, Cole Ritchie 3, Brody Comstock 2, Bilal Yusuf 2, Michael Manuel 2.
BW: Jaden Jackson 19, Josiah Dotzler 12, Robby Garcia 11, Isaiah McMorris 8, Steven Poulicek 8, Jaxob Stueve 7, Jacob Arop 4, Eldon Turner 2.