The catapult for No. 2 Creighton Prep and a chance to defend its Class A state title was a four-minute spurt to start the third quarter in the District A-3 final with Lincoln Pius X.
The Junior Jays used a 9-0 run to start the second half to put some distance between them and the Thunderbolts after leading by two at halftime.
It proved to be enough separation as Prep outlasted Pius 59-50 at the Birdcage.
Nate Schimonitz led the Junior Jays with 18 points, and Drew Homa and Joey Machado each added 11 for Prep.
T.J. Hansen paced the Thunderbirds with 14 points and Thomas Robertson scored 11.
Creighton Prep coach Josh Luedtke said the win didn’t come easy.
“Pius played a great game. They really cut off our transition game a little bit and did a nice job being disciplined and really contested everything that we really took on offense,” Luedtke said. “We had to work hard.”
The unranked Thunderbolts led 17-16 after the first quarter, but the Junior Jays were able to start to get it going defensively in the second quarter, outscoring Pius 14-11 to take a 30-28 halftime lead.
Prep separated quickly to start the third, and Pius was never able to recover after scoring just seven points in the quarter.
Thunderbolts coach Ray Forycki said he liked the way his team matched up with the Junior Jays and thought they would leave with a win.
“We expected to give them all we had. We expected to beat them,” Forycki said. “Yeah, they had some run-outs on us. Transition in that first four minutes (of the third quarter) hurt us.
“And then we had a hard time scoring. We did what I expected. We were going to play hard, and we were going to be right with them. And I thought were going to have a chance at the end of the game. It just got a little bit away from us.”
Prep could end up with the No. 2 seed at the state tournament, possibly setting up a rematch with last year’s state final opponent Omaha South.
The Junior Jays (23-3) won the championship game 46-41 last season but lost both matchups with the Packers this year.
Luedtke said he thought the fight the Thunderbolts (15-8) gave the Jays was good preparation for state.
“We had a lot of blowouts this year, and it was nice to play a pretty competitive game. We had to do some things down the stretch that we’re going to have to do down at state to be successful. Very happy. It’s about advancing, and we advanced,” Luedtke said.
Prep has a roster of nine seniors.
Homa, who was assessed a technical foul in the second quarter because he said he told Schimonitz “that’s a terrible call” after an offensive foul, said the team’s experience will help at state.
“We got to play in front of those big crowds. We kind of know what to expect and how to handle it and adjust to it. We feel that will work to our advantage,” Homa said.
Lincoln Pius X (15-8)...............17 11 7 15—50
At Creighton Prep (23-3)........16 14 13 16—59
LPX: Joe Burt 3-14 1-2 9, Jerome Schmidt 1-4 2-2 5, Kyle Wieser 2-3 0-0 4, Thomas Robertson 4-7 3-3 11, Mike Lewandowski 2-4 1-1 5, T.J. Hansen 2-9 0-11 14, Creighton Schoening 0-2 0-0 0, Nathan Hall 1-1 0-0 2, Jacob Olson 0-0 0-0 0, Brock Wordekemper 0-0 0-0 0, Tyler Tabenheim 0-0 0-0 0, Noah Habrock 0-0 0-0 0 Totals 15-44 16-19 50.
OCP: Joey Machado 3-5 4-4 11, Drew Homa 3-8 5-6 11, Nate Schimonitz 7-14 4-6 18, Will Schenken 0-3 5-10 5, Ethan Walz 1-3 4-6 7, Tom Schembari 1-3 0-0 3, Leonard McFadden 0-0 0-0 0, John Loughran 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 17-39 22-32 59.
3-point field goals: LPX 4-15 (Burt 2-6, Hansen 1-3, Schmidt 1-4, Weiser 0-1, Robertson 0-1); OCP 3-11 (Walz 1-2, Schembari 1-3, Machado 1-3, Schimonitz 0-1, Homa 0-2). Fouled out: None. Technical foul: Homa. Rebounds: LPX 24 (Hansen 5), OCP 28 (Schimonitz 7). Assists: LPX 3 (Schmidt, Wieser, Wordekemper 1), OCP 9 (Schenken, Schimonitz, Homa, Machado 2). Total Fouls: LPX 27, OCP 16. Turnovers: LPX 14, OCP 9.
Contact the writer: