Cedar Rapids, Iowa News, Sports, and Weather
Boys Basketball: West Survives Late Senior Push To Win 34th Straight
By Jeff Johnson, Reporter
IOWA CITY, Iowa You weren't just seeing things. That really, truly was a zone defense the Iowa City West Trojans were playing in the fourth quarter last night.
A 2-3, to be precise.
"I don't think they were ready for that," Dondre Alexander said with a smile after West survived a big-time rally to topple Dubuque Senior, 66-56, in a match-up of Class 4A's top two ranked boys' basketball teams.
West (8-0) has built one of the state's best programs with consistent excellence of its man-to-man defending. If you've watched the Trojans play, you'd find it hard to believe there's a zone in Coach Steve Bergman's defensive playbook.
There is, and it came out from absolute necessity. Alexander and Jeremy Morgan were nagged with four fouls each, and Senior was cleaning up on the interior. A 17-point lead had been cut to four with four minutes to go. Something had to be done, so why not play zone?
"First time all year," Alexander said.
Maybe the first time in two years.
"We threw a little curveball at them, and it worked," West's Myzeah Batie-Gaddy said.
West got stops, picked up crucial driving buckets from Alexander and Morgan, made free throws and hung on for its 34th consecutive victory.
"I think this brings us together," said Batie-Gaddy, who had 18 points and eight rebounds. "It'll really help us in the long run, playing a game like this against a tough team. There was a lot of hype going into this game, and I think we handled it pretty well."
West played probably its best quarter of the season to build a 26-14 edge after one. The lead stayed in the safe 11-to-17 range until Senior (6-1) made one final push.
Josh Weeber's jumper made it 55-51 with 4:23 left.
"We were really, really good that first quarter," Bergman said. "Then we just kind of lost focus and let them feel a little bit better about themselves."
Weeber and wing Kyle Haber finished with 18 points apiece for Senior, with Haber missing the final minute plus after taking an accidental elbow to the face from teammate Seth Bonifas.
"The first quarter they just kicked our butts," said Senior Coach Wendell Eimers. "They took it to us, and you burn a lot of energy trying to get back. But I was proud of our guys. We played an awfully good second half, and I thought we played a good second quarter. To beat a team like West, you've got to play four quarters. We played three."