When Creighton Prep gave up 80 points to Lincoln Pius X in the first round and survived an upset bid in three overtimes, Junior Jay basketball coach Josh Luedtke made a simple suggestion to his team.
“I told them after Thursday that we might want to think about playing some defense if we want to stick around,” he said.
The top-ranked Jays heeded that advice in the fourth quarter Saturday night against Bellevue West in the Class A boys state championship game at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Creighton Prep shut out the No. 4 Thunderbirds for almost six minutes in the final period, going on a 15-0 run during that span to claim a 56-46 win, nailing down the school’s 13th state championship and the third under Luedtke.
“We kept them in front of us and stopped their penetration, we contested shots and rebounded,” Luedtke said.
And that led to enough offense to cap off a 26-1 season and the Junior Jays’ 18th straight victory. The coach’s son, Kyle Luedtke, put Prep ahead to stay with a three-pointer from the left wing to make it 39-38 with 7:15 left in the game.
Kyle Luedtke, a 6-foot-5 senior who finished with a game-high 24 points, had six points in the spree, 6-2 junior point guard Jaylin Hunter chipped in four with a drive and layup and a steal and layup and 6-7 senior Jayden Temme knocked down the three that opened up a double-digit lead, 50-38, with 2:45 left.
Hunter and Temme each finished with 11 points.
“We knew we had to get stops, and when we get down on defense like that, we’re tough to stop,” Hunter said. “We’ve got a lot of options offensively and we got everyone going in that stretch.”
Bellevue West (20-7) went toe-to-toe with Prep for the first three quarters, thanks to 16 points from 6-2 senior guard Cedric Johnson and 10 more from 6-5 senior Tevin Tanner. The Thunderbirds never trailed by more than six points in the first three quarters and led late in the third and early in the fourth quarter.
Bellevue West, however, could not overcome 2-of-18 shooting from beyond the three-point line and 38 percent shooting overall (19 of 50).
“You’re not going to win a state championship game going 2-of-18 (from three-point),” Thunderbird coach Doug Woodard said. “To stay as close as we did for as long as we did is a testament to how hard we competed.
“They (Prep) had a response in the last five minutes to what we were doing defensively, and we didn’t have enough offense to stay with them,” the Bellevue West coach added.
It was an emotional win for the Luedtke’s as it was the last time they will have the coach-player relationship. Kyle had a front row seat to the Prep teams that won titles under his father in 2009 and ’15.
“I was always around them in the locker room, riding the bus all over the state with them,” Kyle said. “It gave me the motivation for myself and my teammates to go win a state championship.”
Coach Luedtke called it a special senior class, a group of players he was close to because of their close relationship with his son.
“It’s emotional because this is the time I will coach him,” the coach said. “Kyle and I have talked about it. I don’t think it’s going to bother him as much as it’s going to bother me. He’s ready to move on, to go somewhere (and play college basketball).”
Jayden Temme and Jaylin Hunter added 11 points apiece for the Junior Jays (26-1).
Cedric Johnson led Bellevue West (20-7) with 14 points and eight rebounds.