With Nebraska basketball coach Fred Hoiberg in attendance, Grand Island’s Isaac Traudt didn’t disappoint. The 6-foot-9 junior, one of the most sought-after basketball recruits nationally in the class of 2022, scored a game-high 26 points Friday night at Bishop Flavin Gym.
But the coach was primarily there to watch his sons play, and the senior twin brothers Sam and Charlie Hoiberg didn’t let Dad down.
Sam Hoiberg scored 13 of his team-high 15 points in the second half, while Charlie knocked down four three-pointers after intermission to finish with 12 points to lead Class A No. 4 Lincoln Pius X boys to a 74-53 win in the final regular-season game for both teams.
“We’ve both been working on our shots, it’s been a little bit of an off-season for us shooting,” said Sam Hoiberg, a 6-foot guard like his twin brother.
“We went back to the basics shooting the ball and got some confidence before the game today,” Sam Hoiberg added. “We came out a little more aggressive the second half, and that confidence came out on the court.”
The Hoibergs led a balanced Thunderbolt scoring attack that saw 10 players account for points. Sam Hastreiter, a 6-6 junior, added 11 points and eight rebounds, while senior guard Luke Taubenheim contributed nine points.
“Sharing the ball is a big emphasis for us, and they’re really trusting their teammates right now,” Pius X coach Brian Spicka said. “They know that if I give it up to my teammate, then when I’m open, my teammate is going to get it back to me. That’s one of the things I’m most proud of this group.”
Pius X (17-2) led from start to finish. The Bolts held a 13-8 edge after one quarter and a 31-21 advantage at halftime. Pius X hit five three-pointers in the third quarter, including three from Charlie Hoiberg, to outscore the Islanders 22-10 in the period and open up a 53-31 gap heading into the final eight minutes.
The Pius X defense forced the Islanders into 16 turnovers and made it difficult for Traudt to get the ball, often double-teaming him even on the perimeter. Traudt was 7-of-14 from the field and 12-of-13 at the free-throw line.
“I thought we played pretty well defensively on him (Traudt), he had to earn every one of those 26,” Spicka said. “He’s basically a 6-9 guard who can go inside, outside, handle the ball and rebound. You can’t stop him, you just try to contain the best you can and make him work for everything he gets.”
Sam Hoiberg agreed with the coach’s assessment of Traudt, who tied the Class A single-game scoring record earlier this month with 57 against Norfolk.
“I think we did a pretty good job. Twenty-six points is a lot, but it’s about his average. He’s going to get his buckets,” Sam Hoiberg said of Traudt, who came into Friday’s game averaging 24.8 points per game.
So did Sam Hoiberg do some recruiting on the behalf of his father during the game?
“Not today, I wasn’t guarding Isaac that often,” Sam Hoiberg said, laughing. “But he’s gotten the message before, he knows we want him here (at Nebraska).”
Pius X often converted the Islander turnovers into fast-break opportunities, which allowed the Thunderbolts to shoot just under 52% from the field (27-of-52).
Dylan Sextro, a 6-6 junior, added 10 points for the Islanders (12-10).
“They’re (Pius X) a little more vulnerable defensively when you play faster, get the ball advanced up the floor and attack right away,” Grand Island coach Jeremiah Slough said. “But that puts a lot of stress on your defense because it becomes an up-and-down game, and you saw how good they are in transition in the third quarter.”