IOWA CITY– It was a wake-up call.
For the West High Trojans, Friday night’s battle against Cedar Rapids Jefferson was a reminder of how easily a game can slip away; and with the postseason looming, how quickly a season can end.
West was subdued early in the first period, scoring only six points in the quarter. The only consolation in the first stanza was that West tied the J-Hawks. Myzeah Batie-Gaddy put West on the scoreboard, but the Trojans soon found themselves running behind.
“We knew they (Jefferson) were gonna slow it down, and we came out just awful on offense,” coach Steve Bergman said afterward.
Baskets by Wyatt Lohaus and Jacob Gylten gave the Trojans four points in the second period, and the J-Hawks took off for a 20-10 lead at the half.
“When you’re awful on offense, and turning it over, and not making shots, you know… now you’re in a 10-point hole, and you’re thinking ‘man, you know, there might not be enough possessions,’” Bergman said.
West finally took the lead in the third period thanks to baskets from Jeremy Morgan, Lohaus, Gylten and Dondre Alexander. A shift in defense and attitude helped, too.
“We got the pressure going a little bit, and it bothered them (Jefferson). We got ahead, and we’ve never done that, dug out of a hole. I mean, there’s so many things we haven’t done this year ‘cause we’ve won a lot of games by 25 and 30 points,” said Bergman.”
West took the third quarter, 30-26.
Morgan and Gylten combined for eight points to put West up 38-29 and prompting a J-Hawk timeout in the final eight minutes. At the Trojan bench, Bergman urged his players to “stop stop stop fouling.”
Lohaus and Austin Swank added some padding to the lead, putting West ahead 43-30. More Trojan fouls came however, giving the J-Hawks an opportunity to narrow that gap. A Jefferson three-pointer didn’t help the Trojan cause either. But in the end, West prevailed 48-35, its record improved to 17-0 overall on the season and 12-0 in the MVC.
Alexander, Morgan and Gylten each put up 10 points, Lohaus had nine on the night, and Richard Bryant put up four. Swank had three points while Batie-Gaddy scored two.
“This was a good learning experience,” Bergman said. “It was kinda frustrating to sit there and coach it, though.”
West visits crosstown rival City High on Friday, Feb. 10, and finishes the regular season at home on Thursday, Feb. 16, against Dubuque Hempstead.