Bellevue West looks to be short-handed for a while, but it adjusted Tuesday night to hand Lincoln Pius X a first loss.
The Thunderbirds were without starter Greg Brown and sixth man Evan Inselman, both for COVID-19 concerns, for their 82-65 home win.
Without them, junior Preston Ames got the start and sophomore Jaxon Stueve was the first off the bench. They chipped in 11 points.
“They came up big tonight,’’ two-time All-Nebraskan Chucky Hepburn said. “Jaxon his some big shots for us in the second half, which was a key to us getting separation. Preston was huge on defense, more than he was on offense, but he still had that little push on offense.”
Without them, sophomore Josiah Dotzler stepped up with 23 points on 5 of 7 shooting from deep.
“He can get it going,’’ West coach Doug Woodard said. “Tonight we needed somebody to be that third scorer.”
Without them, Hepburn had his usual game with 24 points — all in the final three quarters — and 13 assists. Frankie Fidler had 15 points and seven rebounds and William Kyle nine points and a game-high nine rebounds.
Woodard said by Monday he knew Brown and Inselman would be out for the No. 2 Thunderbirds (10-1).
“It’s the world we live in,’’ he said. “Surely nobody’s going to feel sorry for you, and there were some guys who had a chance to build some depth for us and get some experience against a very good basketball team.”
It was the second season in a row No. 5 Pius X (7-1) was undefeated until it played Bellevue West, but coach Brian Spicka was upbeat afterward.
Sam Hoiberg had 18 points and Sam Hastreiter 17 points, but the Thunderbolts were 4 of 22 on 3s while West was 10 of 20.
“We went toe-to-toe with them for quite a bit,’’ Spicka said. “We’ve played a lot of good teams so far, but we haven’t played the upper echelon like these guys. This is what we want to be able to achieve, and we have to play games like this to be able to do that.
“We have to be able to go ahead and have these experiences, the goods and the bads, to be able to help build ourselves to that point. I think we can be a team that can contend by the end of the year, but we have a long ways to go. But ultimately, we have really good pieces and I like what we’re doing so far.”
Pius X made 11 of its first 18 shots (65%) in taking a six-point lead early in the second quarter, but 12 points from Hepburn got the Thunderbirds to halftime leading 41-39.
West opened a 14-point lead in the third quarter, when it forced seven of Pius X’s season-high 17 turnovers, but the visitors trailed only 59-53 going into the final period. Less than a minute later, after Dotzler scored the first five points, Pius X was 11 behind.
“(Dotzler) came up big,’’ Hepburn said. “He was on fire. I was able to find him and they left him open, so I knew he would be able to knock down the shots.”
Lincoln Pius X (7-1).................21 18 14 12—65
At Bellevue West (10-1).........19 22 18 23—82
LP: Sam Hoiberg 18, Sam Hastreiter 17, Charlie Hoiberg 12, Blake Daberkow 8, Jack Hastreiter 5, Brady Christiansen 5.
BW: Chucky Hepburn 24, Josiah Dotzler 23, Frankie Fidler 15, William Kyle 9, Jaxon Stueve 6, Preston Ames 5.