Omaha Biliew’s celebrated return to the Iowa high school basketball scene came at the expense of the Ankeny boys’ squad.
The Hawks opened their season on Tuesday with a 75-51 loss at Waukee, the preseason No. 1 team in Class 4A.
Biliew, who helped the Warriors to a state title as a sophomore before spending last season at a Missouri prep school, is back at Waukee for his senior year–and on Tuesday he lived up to the hype.
Considered a top-10 national recruit in the Class of 2023, the Iowa State commit scored 22 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out six assists in the Warriors’ win. He also blocked a pair of shots.
“It was a lot of competition,” said Ankeny senior Jamison Patton, who had 12 points in his debut for the Hawks. “It pushes you to work harder and go at him more. It was fun.”
Waukee returns most of the key players from a team that lost to Ankeny, 62-57, in last year’s substate final. The Hawks, meanwhile, suffered some heavy losses, including the graduation of all-stater Ryan Crandall.
“I thought our guys played hard–it was just a tough matchup,” said Ankeny coach Brandt Carlson. “We had to play some guys pretty much the whole game, but as the season goes on and we get more healthy, I look for us to be more competitive down the stretch.”
Ankeny’s only lead of the game came early in the first quarter, when Cash Schoolen made a 3-point goal to give the Hawks a 3-1 advantage. Waukee then responded with six straight points, four of them by Biliew, and never trailed again.
Biliew had 16 points in the first half as the Warriors built a 31-21 lead. His final basket of the half came in spectacular fashion–teammate Keysean Moore flipped the ball off the backboard on a fast break, allowing Biliew to slam home the rebound.
“If you’re down 10 at half, that was pretty good,” Carlson said. “At the end of the day, we just have to grow with some of the new guys and just try to have a big picture mentality of the whole season. I think a lot of times our young people are living in the moment now with the wins and losses and all that. But I’m proud of our guys.”
Waukee extended the lead to 53-34 after three quarters. The Warriors eventually led by as many as 26 points.
The 6-foot-8 Biliew scored in a variety of ways. He made 2-of-6 3-pointers but also demonstrated an ability to drive to the basket, spinning down the lane for a layup on one possession in the first half.
That move left Patton looking for defensive help from his teammates.
“You just have to go at him,” Patton said. “Pressure him a lot and be physical. Get into his chest and try to make him take those tough shots.”
Biliew was far from a one-man show, however. Mason Costello had 15 points for the Warriors, while Vance Peiffer added 12 points, eight boards, four blocks and matched Biliew with a pair of dunks.
Waukee, which made 9-of-20 3-pointers, also got an alley-oop dunk from Jaden Rogers off a pass from Biliew. The Hawks simply didn’t have any answers.
“We got guys with a whole bunch of heart, ready to come fight,” Patton said. “It’s just game one. We’ve got a lot of season ahead of us. We just have to come back ready for the next game.”
Carson Johnson led Ankeny with 15 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Maddox Ward chipped in 11 points, and Lio Aguirre added 10.
Ward had three of the Hawks’ eight 3-pointers.
“They were doubling and tripling a lot of our guys who were going to the basket and daring our shooters to shoot it,” said Carlson, whose team shot just 31.6 percent from the field (18-of-57) and was outrebounded by a 43-28 margin. “We made some, but not enough. But it’s the first game. If you win, you feel great. And if you don’t, you feel bad–no matter who you play. We’ll just keep working to get better.”
The Hawks will host Johnston (0-1) in another CIML Conference game on Friday. The Dragons opened their season on Tuesday with a 68-58 loss to No. 2 Waukee Northwest.