Boys State Basketball: 'Real' West Finally Shows Up In 4A Semifinal
By Jeff Johnson and Josh Christensen, Reporters
This game was televised live on KCRG 9.2, as every game of the boys state basketball tournament will be.
DES MOINES, Iowa Wyatt Lohaus drove hard baseline, drawing two interior defenders. Deftly, he bounced a pass just inside the out-of-bounds line, past those defenders and to teammate Jason Stewart for a layup.
It was a beautiful basketball play, one that caused Iowa City West head coach Steve Bergman to leap out of his seat and give a double fist pump to his team. If you know Bergy at all, you understand the rarity of that outward display of positive emotion.
"He did that?" Lohaus said. "That's probably the first time that's ever happened."
Excuse Bergman because that fourth-quarter sequence was another sign he finally found the team he has coached most of this season. One that has been missing at the state tournament.
A great second half performance rallied the Trojans past Dubuque Senior, 52-36, in a Class 4A semifinal Friday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena for their 51st consecutive victory. Sluggish and timid in an overtime quarterfinal escape of West Des Moines Dowling and the first half here, West (25-0) reimerged with relentless defense and torrid 67-percent shooting that moves it to tonight's finals against Bettendorf (25-0).
It'll be the first time since 1975 (Ames and Des Moines Lincoln) that 4A's championship game features two unbeaten teams.
"That was my team," Bergman said of a second half that saw West outscore Senior by a 35-13 margin. "I don't know who that was the other night or the first half today. But that's the team."
Senior (23-2) played a desired slower tempo in the first half, getting 17 combined points from forwards Kyle Haber and Josh Weeber for a 23-17 halftime advantage. West was just 4 of 18 from the field.
But a defense-inspired 15-0 run in the third quarter put the Trojans on top for good. It was one steal after another for West, which denied passes and double-teamed shell-shocked Senior players.
"The second half, that was about as good of defense as we've ever played. That was unreal," said Lohaus, who had 13 points and six assists. "Whoever had the ball, we were all over them. Active hands. Then whenever they'd kick it out, we'd scramble and matchup again. That was great."
"We were doing the things we needed to do to win," Senior Coach Wendell Eimers said. "The second half, that didn't happen. Credit West. They had to have played one of their best halves of the year."
As it was late in the Dowling game, Jeremy Morgan took over on both sides of the ball for West. He hit four treys in the third quarter en route to a game-high 17 points and helped completely take away Haber and Weeber offensively, neither of whom had a second-half point.
"It's always a great feeling to come out and play the way we did in the second half," Morgan said. "That's the way we're capable of playing all game."
"That defense was unbelievable," Bergman said. "Unbelievable. We were thinking maybe throw a little zone in there, but that man was so good."
West was just so good. Finally.