The student news site of Creighton Preparatory School.

Jay Journal

The student news site of Creighton Preparatory School.

Jay Journal

The student news site of Creighton Preparatory School.

Jay Journal

Despite District Loss, Junior Jays Make State

A look into the past week of Creighton Prep basketball

Against all odds, Creighton Prep snuck into the state tournament as the 8th and final seed. Although they took down Fremont, the Junior Jays fell to Lincoln Southeast in the district finals and were in dire need of help. They needed Bellevue West, Millard North, Omaha Westside, Omaha North, and Gretna to win. Somehow, someway, all 5 teams won, and the Junior Jays are off to state, preventing a repeat of last year’s heartbreaking end to the season.

Against Fremont, the Junior Jays dominated. Prep simply dominated the first half, going into the locker room up 31-10. The bench was able to get into the game and propel Prep into the district finals with a 65-31 win. 

Prep was on fire on the offensive end this game. 65 points might not sound like a lot, but the Junior Jays knocked down 54% of their shots. Forwards Trinell Parker and Dillon Claussen led the way with 16 and 12 points, respectively. 

Prep continued their hot streak from beyond the arc as well, hitting 45% from 3. The Junior Jays had 6 different guys knock down shots from beyond the arc. 

Prep came into a matchup against Lincoln Southeast wanting revenge. The Junior Jays were bounced from state contention last year by the Knights and came into the game playing their best basketball of the season, winning 6 of their last 7. The Junior Jay’s 3-point shooting was above 40% in those 6 victories, and the offense was rolling. 

The Knights, however, completely halted the Junior Jay’s offense with their defense.

This game was a slow-paced defensive game. The teams went back and forth but entered the final frame locked into a 30-30 tie. 

The Knights found themselves with the ball, up 2, with 40 seconds left. Prep was able to get their biggest stop of the season, and guard Marquis Toliver stormed up the floor with the ball. He found Claussen on the wing, and he muscled his way to the hoop to send the game to overtime. 

Overtime was more of the same, with neither team able to sustain offense. With 6 seconds left in a tied game, the Knights inbounded the ball on the wing to forward Jake Hilkemann. Hilkemann drove up, turned around, and faded away over an outreached Claussen. He knocked it down as time expired, stunning the Junior Jays 40-38. 

There’s a lot to unpack with this game. The Junior Jay’s offense struggled the whole game. They had multiple 5-minute stretches without a single point. The Junior Jays shot 27% from the field and 21% from beyond the arc. Parker and Claussen shot 10/29 combined. Nothing was working. 

Regardless, the difference maker in this game came from the free throw line. The Junior Jays have struggled all year from the line, shooting 64.6% It was never more apparent in this game, where the Junior Jays shot 7 of 18 from the line. Prep had multiple opportunities to win this game with free throws, but could not knock these shots down. 

Even with the loss, the Junior Jays have a chance for redemption. Prep has earned a shot at stunning #1 Bellevue West after making state. The Thunderbirds are 24-1, their lone loss early in the season against Millard North. Bellevue West boasts the #1 offense in class A, averaging 76.2 points per game on over 50% shooting. Jaden Jackson leads the Thunderbirds with 17.6 points per game. 

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