T-birds lose twice to end regular season

Bellevue West’s Laura Jurek runs a fast break while Westside’s Lynsey Curran gives chase.

Bellevue West girls basketball lost two heart breakers over the weekend to close out the regular season on a two-game losing streak.

Friday night, the Thunderbirds fell to Omaha Westside 54-52 on a buzzer beater by Westside sophomore Quinn Weidemann.

After Bellevue West’s Laura Jurek drilled a 3-pointer to tie the game at 52-all with under a minute to play, Chloe Akin-Otiko deflected a Westside pass and Mia Felici secured the steal with 10 seconds left. Felici then passed to Akin-Otiko, who was fouled in transition, giving her two free throws with 5.6 seconds left.

Akin-Otiko missed both free throws and Weidemann took the ball coast-to-coast and made a floater at the buzzer to down the T-birds.

“If you had told me that there’s a tie game, five seconds left, you’ve got the best player on the line, I’d take that every time,” Thunderbird coach Rick Mintken said.

The two teams traded the lead nine times in the second half, with the largest lead being Bellevue West’s 32-27 advantage at the start of the third quarter.

“It doesn’t come down to those two free throws,” Mintken said.

“It’s an easy game; layups and free throws, and we just didn’t make either one tonight.”

To start the second half, the T-birds were held scoreless until the 3:36 mark of the third quarter, but three free throws from Akin-Otiko and a 3-pointer by Felici gave the T-birds a 38-36 lead with 2:41 remaining.

“You can’t do that, you just can’t,” Mintken said of the T-birds’ scoring drought to start the second half.

Weidemann responded with a three-point play and the Warriors hit another trey to go into the fourth quarter with a 42-41 lead.

Akin-Otiko led the T-birds with 23 points and 13 rebounds while Jurek added 13 points.

Saturday night, the T-birds fell to Elkhorn South 65-53.

The T-birds led 17-16 at the end of the first quarter but were held to five points in the second and trailed 27-22 at halftime.

Akin-Otiko led Bellevue West with 16 points and seven rebounds while Akili Felici added 15 points.

Mintken said playing a tough weekend slate to close out the regular season would prepare the T-birds for a deep run at the state tournament next weekend.

“It’s a good test to get us ready for state, where if you’re going to win it you’re going to play three good teams back-to-back-to-back,” Mintken said.

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