Area's Best: Lohaus, Bergman

By: Jeff Johnson

IOWA CITY – He's the son of a former NBA player, Iowa's Mr. Basketball and the state's Gatorade Player of the Year.

He started at Iowa City West for four seasons, with the Trojans going 95-9 and winning Class 4A state championships in 2012, 2013 and 2014. West won 60 consecutive games at one point during that span.

He'll play college ball at Northern Iowa, a steal for Panthers head coach Ben Jacobson, if you listen to the recruiting experts. He has played since the eighth grade with a heart condition called supraventricular tachycardia that has forced him to come out of games from time to time and dunk his face into a container of ice water in order to shock his rapid heartbeat back to a normal rhythm.

He is on longtime West head coach Steve Bergman's Mount Rushmore of leaders in the program, alongside guys like future UNI teammate Jeremy Morgan and former UNI hero Ali Farokhmanesh. He takes ice baths virtually every single day because he thinks it helps him recover better physically and only eats certain foods – little to no junk – because he wants to be the best player he possibly can be.

If you're not sold, yet, on Wyatt Lohaus and his playing ability and character, consider he showed up last Wednesday night to Kirkwood Community College for an all-star basketball event he was selected for but couldn't play in because he was having a minor procedure done to try and help with his nagging heart issue. He even sat on his team's bench.

"We are very proud of Wyatt and his accomplishments on the court," West Athletics Director Scott Kibby said in an e-mail that announced Lohaus' Gatorade Player of the Year honor. "But also as an outstanding young man."

This outstanding young man was a no-brainer for Gazette/KCRG Boys' Basketball Player of the Year. It goes beyond the 20 points per game he scored, the five rebounds per game he collected and the 100-plus assists he recorded.

"He's unbelievable," Bergman said. "He had my back anytime something happened, which was so important. My worry this year was chemistry because you've got freshmen, you've got sophomores, you've got juniors. We had a big senior class that couldn't all play. But he kept it together."

Bergman thinks Lohaus will be a good player at UNI, and he's not alone in that thinking. It'd be surprising if he doesn't see immediate big playing time.

"I'll be heading up there in early June and be ready to go," he said. "I just want to make an impact any way I can. Whatever Coach Jake has in mind for me, that's fine with me."

Lohaus said he wants to work on his strength before practice begins in the fall, as well as shooting 3-pointers off the dribble. He wants to extend his range and be a better ballhandler.

He thinks playing under Bergman gives him an advantage in adjusting to playing at UNI. The coach has some similar philosophies as Jacobson, including an emphasis on strong man-to-man defense.

Bergman is the area's Coach of the Year for leading a team that had minimal experience to the promised land again. He has won five state championships at West in 23 years .

"There's not a better coach than Coach Bergman," Lohaus said. "He is the reason for the record we've had. He's a pretty intense guy, kind of a perfectionist. But you get used to it. In the end, you know it's for the best."

Each of the 10 all-area selections were INA all-staters, with the exception of Carter. Thumbnails on the rest of the team:

* Haber helped Senior to the state tournament three consecutive years. He made the transition from wing player to point guard this season and averaged 19.4 points per game. He's headed to Brown of the Ivy League.

* It was a great season for prep basketball in Dubuque. Pemsl helped Wahlert to the Class 3A state championship, overcoming a shoulder injury incurred in the Golden Eagles' district final game. The left-hander is a sure-fire Division I college player.

* Epworth isn't quite Dubuque, but it is in Dubuque County. Haldeman already has a handful of Division I offers, including one from in-state Drake. Averaged 24.3 points, putting up school-record 44 (eight 3-pointers) against Wahlert in district final thriller.

* One more time Dubuque way for Takes, who averaged 18.3 points for a team that didn't really score a ton of points. Cougars finished fourth in Class 2A at state tournament. Takes is headed to Clarke College in Dubuque.

* You know Cook as an all-state football quarterback and a University of Iowa commit. But did you know he can play hoops very well, too? He averaged a whopping 25.1 points for a Regina team that won its conference.

* Nissen has signed to play football at Northern Iowa, but initially thought basketball would be his ticket in college. Springville lost just twice this season. He averaged a team-best 21.7 points.

* Kennedy made it to the state tournament in Class 4A, and Carter was the Cougars' offensive and defensive leader. He averaged 15.3 points, had a team-leading 110 assists and was second on the team in rebounding.

* The final Bohannon brother significantly improved his game as a sophomore and is a definite Division I college player in a couple of years. He averaged 17.6 points, showing the trademark Bohannon shooting touch from the perimeter as well as a much better driving game.
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