Brendan on Basketball: Week of 2/8/21


Brendan Preisman, CP Sports Network

As February begins to wrap up, the basketball season is beginning to wind down for the 17-2 third-ranked Creighton Prep Junior Jays.  The team has won all 7 of their games against ranked teams not named Bellevue West, but their success in that department (and their grip on the #3 spot) could be in danger if they don’t perform well over the next week or so.  The homestand is definitely over as the Jays will travel to Omaha Bryan on Saturday, and then the week of the Feb. 15th is their biggest week of the season.

On the schedule for the Junior Jays: at #2, 19-1, and nationally ranked Millard North and then for senior day, to close out what’s been an incredible season, a home game against #4 Omaha Central, whose two losses are both to the Mustangs.  It should be an exciting finish to the season, but let’s look back at what happened last week to better understand how we got here.  

Prep first entered into battle with an unranked but talented Lincoln Northeast team that refused to roll over for them.  Despite a rough shooting night for the Rockets (30% FG, 21% 3PT), they managed to hang with the Junior Jays for most of the game.  Despite going into the halftime break with a 13 point lead, Prep was only up 4 to start the fourth quarter.  Luckily, the team was able to convert from the charity stripe, hitting 10 of their 12 attempts in the final frame.  When the dust settled, the Junior Jays emerged victorious, 54-37, after outscoring the Rockets 19-6 in the fourth quarter.  

Lincoln Northeast was able to stay in the game partially because of their prowess on the boards.  They outrebounded Prep 29-26 and held the Jays to just 5 offensive rebounds, tying a season low for the team.  But due to the poor shooting by the Rockets (and a 20-7 free throw disparity), Prep’s offense (and defensive lockdown in the fourth quarter) was enough to earn another W.  Luke Jungers had his usual incredible game, scoring 17 points and grabbing 4 rebounds.  AJ Rollins (12) and Mai’Jhe Wiley (11) also scored in double figures.  

On Tuesday evening, Prep played their second straight unranked opponent in the Burke Bulldogs, and it turned into a blowout quickly.  Prep opened up the game with a 20-3 first quarter, and didn’t look back from there, ending up with an easy victory.  5 different Junior Jays hit a 3 in the game en route to a 74-44 victory that was never in doubt.  

Prep was able to coast to victory due to their stifling defense, which only let one Burke player (Sam Sorensen) score in double figures.  Much like over their past few games, the Junior Jays forced a lot of turnovers, which led to a lot of scoring.  Every player in uniform scored at least one point, from AJ Rollins with 1 (plus lots of rebounds) to Luke Jungers with 19.  Justin Sitti and Mai’Jhe Wiley continued their streak of solid performances, with both finishing with 9 points.  However, the breakout star of the night was Tony Tubrick.  Tubrick finished with a career high 11 points, including 7 in the first quarter, as well as some great defense.  The Birdcage was rolling all night, and the big win temporarily silences questions about whether or not the offense can click for a full game.  

If Prep is to continue winning the title in 3 year intervals, this is the year to do it, and going 3-0 over the final 3 games would be a great stepping stone towards that goal.  They first play against the Bryan Bears, who have won just 2 games this year, and are coming off 3 straight losses, including one to Burke.  Then comes the biggest away game of the year for the team, against the nationally ranked Millard North Mustangs, who are led by top-15 recruit Hunter Sallis (averages of 22, 6, 4, and 3 steals) and incredible scorer Saint Thomas (22, 7, 5, 1 steal), and the team as a whole shoots 57% FG, 40% 3PT, and 74% FT.  

Then for senior day, the Junior Jays go up against the other potential party crasher in Omaha Central.  Central has 5 different players scoring in double figures this year, and their only losses are to Millard North by 13 and 11.  Considering that Central plays Bellevue West next Friday, there could be a lot of turnover in the top 4, and if everything breaks right for the Junior Jays, they could be coming out on top.

Upcoming Schedule: Prep plays at Bryan on Saturday, February 13, at Millard North on Tuesday, February 16, and against Omaha Central on Saturday, February 20.