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Westside boys basketball ends season in state semi-finals

March 12, 2023

The Westside boys basketball team saw their season come to an end in the NSAA Class A State tournament on Friday, March 10 at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The Warriors opened the tourney with a 84-54 win against Lincoln East in the quarterfinals. Then Westside lost to the No.1 seed Bellevue West 74-41 in the semifinals. The Warriors ended the season with a record of 19-8.

The Warriors were impressive in their win over the Spartans. Westside was led in scoring by junior Kevin Stubblefield with 20 points. Junior Ricky Loftin came off the bench and finished with 10 points. Loftin returned from a torn ACL and MCL he had suffered late last season. 

“Last year, late February,” Loftin said. “I got hurt in a game, and it was a long way back. Taking it one step at a time, and we’re here now.”

The Warriors lost to the T-Birds in an 80-78 overtime heartbreaker in the final regular season game. Westside head coach Jim Simons knew Bellevue West would be ready this time at the state tournament.

“We talked about it, and we talked about it after the last game.” Simons said. “The plan is easy to speak into. But to actually do it is much more complicated. Number one, you’ve got to keep them out of transition. They’re lethal in transition. A couple of weeks ago, we held them to 10 points in transition. They had significantly more than that today. A combination of their defensive pressure. I thought they had us out of sorts early. We took some tough shots, some live ball turnovers. Those things just lead to stuff in transition to them. Then you have defensive rebounding.” 

Bellevue West finished the season with a perfect 29-0 record. The Thunderbirds were led by Creighton commit Josiah Dotzler, who won his second state title. Bellevue West outrebounded Westside 39-23 to control the boards.

 “We were significantly undersized against them,” Simons said. “They used their size much better today than they did a couple of weeks ago. They were on the glass much better. Our kids fought, but we just couldn’t keep them off the glass. The combination of their transition and second chance points, start of the game and start of second half, was just too much to overcome.”

Senior Tate Odvody has been playing for the Warriors since his sophomore season. Odvody, who transferred from Elkhorn South, was very thankful for everything Westside has brought him throughout his career as a Warrior.

“The community.” Odvody said. “That’s one of the great parts about Westside. The aspects of transferring. The community, you can just feel it more, they always come out to support. I’m very thankful for the Westside community. It’s something that’s been in my career throughout my time here.”

The Warriors will lose seniors Kevin Brown, JT Evans, Malik Crawford and Odvody. The Warriors ended the season ranked No.4 by the Omaha World-Herald.

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