Boys basketball regular season recap

Meg Gross, Editor-In-Chief

The boys basketball team has ended the regular season and enter districts as the #1 seed in the A-2 district. The Thunderbirds will play at home on Feb. 2 vs Norfolk. West is currently ranked #1 by the Omaha World Herald, the same position they held in the preseason. West head into districts with a 21-3 record; Below are some regular season highlights that got the Thunderbirds to where they now sit.  

vs Norfolk on Dec. 2

Week one, the Thunderbirds hosted the Norfolk Panthers to kick off the 2021-2022 season. The Thunderbirds looked to make a statement in Class A early after graduating key stars Chucky Hepburn and Frankie Fidler. Junior Josiah Dotzler and senior William Kyle return to the starting lineup with the additions of senior Evan Inselman,  sophomore Jaden Jackson, and junior Jaxon Stueve. 

Dotzler starts his season off with a 22 point game, shooting 57 percent from three. The Thunderbirds get an even rebound spread: Kyle, Inselman, and sophomore Jadyn Cascio Jensen each grabbing six rebounds to go. 

The Thunderbirds emerge appearing just as stellar as the previous season, leaving with a 87-40 statement win over Norfolk.

Photo by Meg Gross
Senior William Kyle slams one under the rim against Norfolk on Dec. 2, 2021. (Meg Gross)

vs Lincoln Pius X on Dec. 11

Bellevue West looks to continue their early winning streak and maintain their #1 Class A ranking against the Lincoln Pius X Bolts. 

Dotzler takes the lead in scoring once again, dropping 20 points with Inselman close behind with 16. Inselman leaves with the rebounding lead of seven total. Kyle throws a block party, swatting a career high of five blocks against the Bolts. 

Thunderbirds also dominated the turnover battle to end the night with a 95-68 win against Pius. 

Junior Josiah Dotzler reaches for the hoop vs Pius on Dec. 11. (Meg Gross)
Sophomore Jaden Jackson goes up for a layup against a Pius defender. (Meg Gross)

vs Central on Dec. 29 – Metro Holiday Tournament

After defeating Gretna 83-58 in the first round of the annual Metro Holiday Tournament, West advanced to take on Omaha Central in what was talked to be the Thunderbirds hardest game yet. 

The Thunderbirds fend off the Eagles as Dotzler takes a career high 27 points. Kyle walks off with a double-double, 18 points and 11 rebounds, with additionally yet another season high of five blocks in a game.

The Thunderbirds pull off the win 72-69 and advance to play Omaha Westside in the Holiday Tournament finals. 

Junior Josiah Dotzler tries to put up two guarded by 3 Central defenders during the Metro Holiday Tournament on Dec. 29. (Meg Gross)

vs Westside on Dec. 31

#1 Bellevue West meets #2 Omaha Westside on New Years Eve in the Holiday Tournament championship. Stakes were high and Baxter Arena was packed as fans flocked to see the two teams face-off.

As expected, Dotzler leads the scoring with 24. Kyle fends off the Warriors under the rim with nine rebounds, but the Thunderbirds lose the turnover battle 17-11. A dry night behind the arc will decide the game, as West hits only two three-pointers compared to Westside’s eight. 

Westside proves their dominance over the Thunderbirds with a 20-point game from junior Tate Odvody.

The game seemed neck and neck for the full four quarters, but the Warriors just barely outscored in the second and third to seal the win. Bellevue West falls 76-68 and moves to a 9-2 record, the other loss coming out of a exhibition game against the nation’s #7 (now #5) team, Centennial out of California. 

Senior Will Kyle puts up a floater against Westside on Dec. 31, 2021. (Meg Gross)
Sophomore Jaden Jackson dribbles to free court with help of a screen from senior Evan Inselman. (Meg Gross)

vs Gretna on Jan. 7

After the loss to Westside and a 73-66 win over Council Bluffs’s Abraham Lincoln, West looks to continue their “bounce back.” The Thunderbirds make the drive to Gretna High to take on the Dragons for the second time this season, the first bringing home a 83-58 dominant win for West. 

Gretna proved early that they came prepared, outscoring West the first three quarters. Despite 13 turnovers, the Dragons dominated the Thunderbirds with four of their players in double digit scoring. An attempted fourth quarter comeback falls short for West and the Thunderbirds lose 60-49. 

Junior John Mitchell dribbles past a Gretna defender. (Meg Gross)


vs Bellevue East on Jan. 21 

The annual East West basketball game had the Thunderdome packed to the brim as the Thunderbirds look to remain dominant in the series against the Chieftains.

West would do exactly that; Kyle leaves with eight rebounds and the scoring lead of 14 points with three other Thunderbirds in the double digits. Sophomore Jacob Arop drops 13 points and grabs three steals in his second start of the season after waiting the 30-day transfer period. 

The Chieftains turned it over 18 times and Bellevue West won by 45, coincidentally on the 45th anniversary of the series. The final score was 77-32. 

Sophomore Eldon Turner shoots from behind the arc vs Bellevue East on Jan. 21. (Meg Gross)

vs Millard North on Jan. 27

Bellevue West and Millard North faceoff for the first time since the Mustangs took the 2021 State Championship title 87-78 in OT. 

Millard North’s Jasen Green hits a double-double of 24 points and 12 rebounds, proving his leadership for the Mustangs. Three West players have stellar games; Inselman drops 16 in his first game back after being placed on concussion protocol. Jackson follows behind with 15, and Arop gets himself a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds. 

West holds off the Mustangs, taking the win 73-64

Senior William Kyle puts up a layup against Millard North on Jan. 27. (Meg Gross)
Sophomore Jacob Arop reaches for the rim in front of Millard North’s senior Jasen Green. (Meg Gross)

vs Creighton Prep on Jan. 29

Just two days following Bellevue West’s win over Millard North, the Creighton Prep Junior Jays make the drive to take on the Thunderbirds. 

The Jays kept it close as senior Casey O’Malley hit a career high of 26 points and shot 71 percent from three in the absence of senior Martel Evans. Kyle battled it out under the rim against Prep senior Luke Jungers and got 10 rebounds to go. Dotzler drops his seventh 20-piece of the season, with 23 points. 

Bellevue West shuts down the Jays 74-63.

Junior Josiah Dotzler dribbles against a Prep defender. (Meg Gross)
Junior Josiah Dotzler leaps towards the rim to put up 2 against Creighton Prep on Jan. 29.