LINCOLN — Bellevue West was waiting for a game like this. And Thursday’s win over No. 1 Lincoln Pius X didn’t require a big scoring night from Chucky Hepburn.
The No. 5 Thunderbirds dominated the last 12 minutes on the road, winning the fourth quarter 21-7 and beating the Thunderbolts 74-56 behind 23 points from Louis Fidler and 19 from younger brother Frankie.
“A lot of people thought we weren’t reaching our full potential,’’ Louis Fidler said. “This game really showed us (to be) a full team clicking on all cylinders.”
He’s been Bellevue West’s No. 2 scorer this season behind Hepburn, who already has committed to Wisconsin as a junior. Frankie had a slower start to his season, but 6 for 7 shooting in a 14-point second half came in handy for the sophomore with a UNO offer.
Yes, Louis said, that adds to the brotherly love/competition.
“You know he’s my younger brother and has the D-I offer. I feel like I got to show that I’m still up there,” Louis said.
Bellevue West coach Doug Woodard said circumstances have made it an odd season for a team that brought most of its roster back from a team that was No. 1 for a good part of the season until losing in the Class A semifinals.
Hepburn missed three weeks between concussion protocol and the Christmas break. Others have been shuffled in the lineup. This was only West’s second game since losing to Omaha Creighton Prep 69-50 on New Year’s Eve in the Metro Holiday quarterfinals.
“We just have not had any concentrated practice time getting on the floor with guys in the spots they’re actually playing in games,’’ Woodard said. “We’ve been able to do that, having only one game last week.”
Hepburn went through a 1-for- 7 first half for three points, but finished with 13.
“He was lethargic a little bit, not so much in the fourth quarter,’’ Woodard said. “We got to get him going earlier.”
Until late in the third quarter, it was a seesaw game with 16 lead changes and seven ties. Pius (11-1) took its final lead at 49-48 on three-point play by Kolbe Rada, whose 24 points led all scorers.
Hepburn’s two free throws produced lead change No. 17, and Frankie Fidler closed the quarter with a 3 that took a high bounce before dropping with the buzzer sounding.
“I think it bounced 106 times,’’ the coach said. “The basketball gods shined on us once there. Going from one to four points was big for a little separation, and then we were able to build on that and get it to 10.”
It was a cold fourth quarter — 3 of 17 for the Thunderbolts. Neither of the Hoiberg twins, Sam and Charlie, scored in the second half after the sons of Husker coach Fred Hoiberg combined for 17 in a 32-32 first half.
“Some of the shots we had made previously toward the end of a game just didn’t fall for us,’’ Pius X coach Brian Spicka said. “Over the course of hopefully a 20-plus-game season, we’re going to have a few of those, and we picked a bad time in the fourth quarter for it to happen.”
Pius didn’t rebound well, and Bellevue West (8-2) increasingly got transition baskets and a bunch of run-outs later on. Four of the Thunderbirds’ final five baskets were dunks. Shades of Millard North, which will take over No. 1 in the Top 10 should the Mustangs (11-1) win Saturday at Omaha Creighton Prep.
Pius X held the No. 1 ranking since the holidays as the last undefeated team in Class A. But it hadn’t seen a team with the size, shooters and depth of the Thunderbirds.
What this win showed Bellevue West is it can win without Chucky magic, a belief that clearly wasn’t there a month ago.
It won’t get to play No. 5 Omaha Westside on Friday night, either. With schools closed because of the expected winter storm, the tentative rescheduled date is Tuesday at Westside.
“We kind of wish we were playing (Friday), coming with this energy going into Westside and playing at Westside again,’’ Louis Fidler said.
Bellevue West (8-2)….....14/18/21/21—74
At Lincoln Pius X (11-1)…13/19/17/7—56
BW: Louis Fidler 23, Frankie Fidler 19, Chucky Hepburn 13, John Shanklin 6, Josiah Dotzler 6, Trey Hepburn 5, Nate Glantz 2.
LP: Kolbe Rada 24, Sam Hoiberg 9, Charlie Hoiberg 8, Sam Hastreiter 7, Jake Greisen 4, Mitchell Sebek 2, Blake Daberkow 2.