OMAHA — Jaylin Hunter ignored Lincoln Southeast’s record and the fact the Saturday afternoon boys basketball game at Creighton Prep lacked the fan energy and atmosphere of a nighttime tip.
“This was big. This was a city game for me,” said the 6-foot-2 junior transfer guard from Lincoln High who scored 13 points in his second game as a Junior Jay, helping the third-ranked team in Class A to a 61-46 victory over the Knights.
Hunter, the son of Nebraska assistant coach Kenya Hunter, became eligible to compete Friday, scoring 17 points as the Junior Jays (11-1) won 62-42 over Omaha South.
Although he had to sit 90 school days because of the NSAA’s transfer rules, Hunter played this past summer and fall with his Creighton Prep teammates, as well as practices this winter, so it was a smooth transition into the starting lineup.
“Jaylin has the ability to put the ball on the floor and take it to the rim or shoot the three,” Prep coach Josh Luedtke said. “He’s a smart, unselfish player who’s making everyone around him better. He plays for the team name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back.”
Jaylin’s family still lives in Lincoln, so he and his mother make the commute to school every day. “The drive is getting easier as time goes by,” he said.
His father has coached at Georgetown and Xavier and played his college ball at Duquesne, all Jesuit-based schools like Creighton Prep.
“Coach Hunter understands how a Jesuit-based education can benefit a young person, so this was a life decision to come here,” Luedtke said. “They knew if Jaylin didn’t buy into everything a Jesuit education entails, it would’ve been a bad fit.”
Hunter gives Prep one more weapon to put around 6-6 junior all-stater Akol Arop, who finished with 21 points (10-of-12 from the field) and 10 rebounds. Kyle Luedtke, a 6-5 senior and the coach’s son, finished with 12 points on four three-pointers, while another senior guard, 5-7 Spencer Moes, added 11 and was 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.
The Junior Jays led 30-9 midway through the second quarter on a Moes three. Southeast (2-12), however, finished the half with a 12-3 run, then used a string of nine unanswered points in the third quarter to narrow the deficit to 37-32 on a three-pointer by Michael Anderson with 3:48 left in the period.
Anderson, a 6-2 junior, scored 17 of his team-high 21 points in the second half. Freshman guard McGuiness Schneider added 11 for the Knights, nailing 3 of 4 three-pointers.
“We’re showing in stretches that we can play with anyone in the state,” said Southeast coach Jonah Bradley, whose team lost to top-ranked Lincoln East 57-45 Friday night and to No. 6 Kearney last Saturday in the two games leading into Saturday.
“Now we need to maintain that high level on a consistent basis, learn how to win games and finish at the end,” he added.