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No. 10 Lincoln Pius X Boys Hold on for 68-66 Win Over Kearney

by Jan 31, 2024Preps Boys Basketball

No. 10 Lincoln Pius X Boys Hold on for 68-66 Win Over Kearney
Photo Credit: Alex Van Gerpen

The No. 10 Lincoln Pius X boys secured their eighth straight victory in thrilling fashion on Tuesday night, capping a 68-66 win over the visiting Kearney Bearcats with a block at the buzzer.

Story of the Game

Kearney used an 11-2 run early to take a first-quarter lead, Pius X responded with a 15-2 run in the second quarter, then the lead changed hands six times in the third quarter to set the stage for a tight fourth.

Pius X looked like it was going to pull away, taking a 59-52 lead thanks to an 8-2 run, but the Bearcats halted the run then responded with their own 10-2 spurt to take the lead with two and a half minutes to play.

The teams continued to trade big shots down the stretch until Kearney senior Karter Lee split a pair of free throws to tie the game at 66-all with 15.6 to play. On the offensive end, the Thunderbolts put the ball in senior Kellan Humm’s hands. With the clock winding down, he attacked the basket off a screen, left his feet and dropped the ball off to fellow senior Aiden Brass cutting along the baseline for the go-ahead layup.

“I hate calling timeouts in late-game moments because our guys know how to play,” Pius X coach Adam Brill said. “Treyson [Anderson] was selfless; I know he wanted a post touch there; he was on that right block like we were talking about all game long, get him on the right block. But he was selfless, man. D-I guy come up and set a flat ball screen for Kellan and Kellan broke the rules and found Aiden at 12:01, past curfew, and Aiden made a great cut.”

Kearney called a timeout as the ball went through the net and the officials put 1.3 back on the clock. After a couple of timeouts, senior Karter Lee chucked the in-bounds pass to senior Asher Endorf at the volleyball line, and Endorf pitched it out to sophomore sharp-shooter Jacob Webber for a deep 3-point attempt as time expired. However, the 6-foot-10 Anderson, a North Dakota State commit, jumped out at Webber and blocked the 3 as it left Webber’s hands to secure the victory.

“We decided to put two on [Ben] Johnson and if they switched, we were going to switch one of them on to the switch,” Brill said. “Endorf broke free on that and caught Webber. Trey was one of those two guys that we had double Johnson, he was right there and he made a hell of a block without fouling …. Trey just came out of nowhere and made a play.”

Coach Speak

“It was it was a great win, man,” Brill said. “Anytime you play Kearney and Coach Beranek, it’s going to be a grind-it-out game. They’re really creative over there with the actions that they put you in offensively. You’ve got to be on top of your game from a communication standpoint defensively, you’ve got to make multiple effort plays and sometimes you’ve just got to F-I-O: figure it out. We definitely did that as the game went on. They made some shots early, we weren’t communicating at a high level like we have them over this stretch, but we were able to find stops, we were able to get defensive rebounds and find a way to get back in the game, and then it was back and forth.”

After a 1-3 start to the season, Pius X is 12-4 and secured three wins over ranked teams in an eight-day span, toppling Class B No. 4 Omaha Skutt and then-Class A No. 5 Creighton Prep last week before defeating the Bearcats on Tuesday.

“I think we had this idea of what we could be and what our ceiling is, and this is definitely kind of what we thought,” Brill said. “But we also started out with Millard North, Bellevue West … Just to cap off this stretch, it just shows a lot about our teams and our resolve and then also just our toughness and our mental toughness. When we buy into the defensive end of the floor, offensively it just kind of takes care of itself.”

Standout Performers

In addition to delivering the game-winning assist, Humm led the Thunderbolts in scoring thanks to a hot second half. He missed all six of his first-half 3-point attempts but didn’t let that affect his confidence. He kept shooting in the second half and went 3-for-3 from deep, adding four free throws to score 13 points after halftime and finish with a team-high 17.

“Sometimes I think he takes some difficult ones and I think maybe that’s why we see his percentage kind of the way it is,” Brill said. “We’ve really been stressing to him, get a feel early, let the ball touch hands, find in-and-outs, find kick-outs, find the one off of one more [pass]. I think he was a little anxious and he was open and it felt right, so I’m not doubting his shots. He’s a great shooter, he can hit those. But just the mental toughness to keep shooting and keep playing and keep a positive attitude, that’s Kellan in a nutshell, man. So we’re really proud of him and really happy for him.”

Beyond Humm, the Thunderbolts had terrific offensive balance. Averaging nearly 17 points and 13 rebounds on the season, Anderson finished with just nine points on 2-of-3 from the field and 5-of-6 from the line and seven boards.

Instead of a big game from Anderson, Pius got 12 points on 50% shooting from senior Adam Searcey, 10 points including the game-winner from Brass and nine points off the bench from junior Parker Kelly.

The Pius ball pressure limited Kearney junior Ben Johnson early on as he scored just seven points in the first half, but the 6-foot-5 wing got loose in the second half to give Kearney a chance to win the game. He finished with a game-high 25 points on terrific efficiency, shooting 9-of-13 from the field including 5-of-8 from 3 and 2-of-2 from the foul line. Johnson added five assists and four rebounds while serving as the primary defender for Anderson.

Endorf was terrific as well for the Bearcats, finishing with 19 points on 7-of-11 from the field (2-of-2 from 3) and 3-of-4 from the line, eight rebounds (four offensive) and six assists. Lee chipped in nine points and six assists as the Bearcats finished with 17 assists on 22 field goals and just seven turnovers as a team.

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