Making better decisions on offense in the second half Monday night powered top-ranked Bellevue West to a 73-59 Class A boys basketball victory over Lincoln High.

The Thunderbirds leaned on a more consistent defensive effort, especially in the first quarter. That allowed them to find an offensive groove that produced better shots while figuring out how to work around Links forward Buomkoth Jock, one of the state’s best shot-blockers.

“In the first half we turned them over pretty good, but we weren’t making good decisions on the other end,” T-Birds coach Doug Woodard said. “Once we started making smarter plays, we were fine.”

Neither team could get a lead bigger than three points in the first quarter of the game played before an estimated crowd of 250 at Bellevue West. With the game tied 14-14 late in the opening period, West went on a 13-0 run that ran into the first three minutes of the second quarter.

Lincoln High took two timeouts in that stretch before going on a 15-2 run of its own to tie the game 29-29 with 1:02 remaining before halftime.

A pair of 3-point baskets — one by sophomore Chucky Hepburn and the other by junior David Nuor — in the final minute gave the T-Birds a 35-29 lead at the intermission. Hepburn scored 11 of his game-high 19 points in the first half.

West then used a combination of full-court pressure defense and began to move the ball around on the offensive end in the pivotal third quarter. A 3-pointer by Nico Felici ignited a run that led to the T-Birds taking a 19-point lead before heading into the fourth quarter ahead 57-40.

Felici scored 11 of his 15 points in the third quarter, including the final four on a sequence that included a layup after a missed free throw. The 6-2 senior was fouled on the shot and made the ensuing free throw to put West ahead 57-38.

“In the third quarter we shared the ball better,” Woodard said. “The kids overall did a pretty good job. Hopefully that defensive pressure will be a hallmark for us all season.”

West’s lead eventually grew to 21 points early in the fourth quarter before fouls and free throws dominated the final five minutes of action. Keyshawn Jenkins led the 1-1 Links with 15 points while Jaxson Barber finished with 13 points and Jock had 12.

Lincoln High (1-1)..............14 15 11 19—59

At Bellevue West (2-0).......16 19 22 16—73

LHS: Tre Dixon 0-1 0-0 0, Jaxson Barber 5-16 1-4 13, Yashua Bradley 3-10 0-0, Keyshawn Jenkins 6-14 3-3 15, Zay Parks 2-5 1-2 6, Buomkoth Jock 4-7 4-7 12, Graham Newton 26- 2-3 7. Totals-22-59 11-19 59.

BW: Davi Nuor 5-11 0-0 12, Owen Woodard 1-3 1-3 3, Deng Jai 5-9 1-2 12, Nate Sullivan 2-4 0-2 4, Tre Hepburn 1-1 1-2 3, Louis Fidler 2-6 1-4 5, Nico Felici 4-9 6-7 15, Chucky Hepburn 5-12 7-10 19. Totals-25-55 17-30 73.

3-point goals: LHS 4-15 (Barber 2-7, Bradley 0-4, Jenkins 0-1, Parks 1-1, Newton 1-2); BW 6-18 (Nuor 2-4, Jal 1-3, Sullivan 0-1, Fidler 0-2, Felici 1-4, C. Hepburn 2-4). Total fouls: LHS 20, BW 19. Fouled out: Jenkins. Technical fouls: None. Turnovers: LHS 19, BW 13. Rebounds: LHS 43 (Parks 10), BW 34 Fidler 9). Field goal percentage: LHS .373, BW .455. Free throw percentage: LHS .579, BW .567. A-250 (est.).

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