As if opponents didn’t know this already, Jayla Hobza makes a big difference for Bellevue East.
The senior guard scored a game-high 19 points Thursday night to lead the third-ranked Chieftains to a 68-56 home win over eighth-ranked Millard West. Hobza, who missed much of last season with a knee injury, saw her first extensive action this season after returning from a team leave of absence for personal reasons.
“I was feeling pretty good tonight,” Hobza said. “But they’re a good team and they came back on us.”
Hobza, a first-team All- Nebraska selection as a sophomore, did not start but entered the game early in the first quarter. She was 6 of 7 from the field and sank all seven free-throw attempts.
“She’s getting her legs under her,” Chieftains coach Scott Jensen said. “She got into a rhythm tonight in part because she’s such a great passer.”
Bellevue East (4-0) led 19-13 after the first quarter and stretched its advantage to 41-27 by halftime. Junior guard Peyton Hagen scored 14 of her 16 points in the first half for the Chieftains, but Millard West would rally in the third quarter.
The Wildcats (4-1) closed within 43-39 late in the period on a layup by senior guard Dani Saenz, and they then crept within two points early in the fourth quarter on another basket by Saenz. A timeout helped refocus the Chieftains, who got baskets from Sidni Trotter and Hobza to open some breathing room.
Bellevue East then put the game away at the free-throw line by sinking 13 of 14 down the stretch. It was too much to overcome for the Wildcats, who defeated top-ranked Lincoln Southeast on the opening weekend of the season.
“I thought our depth was a big factor tonight,” Jensen said. “We have a lot of kids who can score, and we needed them when we got into foul trouble.”
Amaun Frazier added 13 for Bellevue East, while Trotter had a game-high nine rebounds.
Brooke Savage led the Wildcats with 14 points and Samantha Waldron added 11. But Millard West, one of the better 3-point shooting teams in the Metro Conference, was just 3 of 18 from behind the arc.
Both teams return to action Friday night. Bellevue East plays at Omaha North while the Wildcats host second-ranked Omaha Central.
Millard West (4-1) ................. 13 14 14 15—56
Bellevue East (4-0) ................. 19 22 6 21—68
MW: Paige Phipps 7, Madi Severson 7, Samantha Waldron 11, Brooke Savage 14, Dani Saenz 8, Alex Hruby 2, Marisa Lowe 5, Kate Suelter 2.
BE: Peyton Hagen 16, NaShawn Williams 2, Jessica Vernon 2, Roshawn Hollie 2, Rylie Cascio-Jensen 5, Amaun Frazier 13, Sidni Trotter 7, Jayla Hobza 19, Shelby Quinn 2.
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