Boys State Basketball: In OT, West Wins 50th Straight Game
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 Win number 50 in a row was a steal. In more ways than one.
Outhustled and outplayed most of the way, Iowa City West somehow rallied from absolutely dire circumstances, forced overtime and escaped West Des Moines Dowling, 63-59, in a Class 4A state basketball tournament quarterfinal Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Arena.
The Trojans (24-0) are alive and kicking in their attempt to get back-to-back state titles, though it might take a little while to digest just exactly how. Dubuque Senior (23-1) is the semifinal foe Friday afternoon at 3:15.
"We just weren't ready to be done," said West's Jeremy Morgan. "We knew we were in a tough situation, but we stayed together as a team and made some good things happen late."
"People keep calling us prohibitive favorites, and I think our guys just expect it," said West Coach Steve Bergman. "Now maybe they know. It's not easy down here."
That's true, but it wasn't expected to be this tough against unranked Dowling (18-6). The Maroons kept hanging around and hanging around, got a great game on the interior from Iowa football recruit Jon Wisnieski (16 points, eight rebounds) and had a six-point lead and the ball with 1:25 left.
That's when West (24-0) put on an emergency press defense that saved its season.
"I really felt that we outplayed them," Wisnieski said. "They just had more heart towards the end there. Obviously, they're a great team, and we made a couple mistakes down the stretch that really cost us."
Four Dowling turnovers, four points from Wyatt Lohaus and an and-one three-point play by Morgan in the span of 25 seconds gave West a stunning 52-51 lead. Eric Austin's three-point play on a goaltending call put the Maroons back up, but Myzeah Batie-Gaddy's layup on a terrific lane feed from Morgan re-tied it with 40.3 seconds left.
West forced another Dowling turnover with nine seconds left but could not get a shot off to win it in regulation. The biggest play of OT was provided by Morgan in the final minute, as he drove baseline and dunked for a 59-56 West lead.
Yet another Dowling turnover led to a pair of Morgan free throws that essentially iced it.
Morgan finished with 19 points, with Lohaus adding 18. West went 1 for 15 from 3-point range.
"We just started playing and getting after them," Lohaus said.
"I can't explain it because I can't talk," said a hoarse Bergman. "We pressed pretty well, they got a little uptight. They played very, very well. It was very frustrating to watch because I know we're better than that."
They're going to need to be if they want to win again.