DES MOINES, Ia. — You could barely tell Iowa City West won its quarterfinal Wednesday. Quiet responses to questions after the game. Spiritless stares. A blend of disappointment and relief.
The Trojans had just squeaked by Newton, 57-51.
Friday brought a different story.
Head coach Steve Bergman, Patrick McCaffery, Connor McCaffery and Devontae Lane waltzed into interview room. Heads up. Smiles and laughs.
This game’s result? A 61-37 throttling of Cedar Rapids Kennedy in the Class 4A semifinals at Wells Fargo Arena.
“We talked about that first round, sometimes you don’t play close to your full potential,” Bergman said. “And yet it doesn’t preclude you from winning a state title.”
Now, No. 1 West is one win away from that goal. It’ll play No. 2 Valley in a rematch of the 2014 and 2016 final at 8:05 p.m. Saturday. Valley, which beat Sioux City East 64-54, won 46-39 last year, and West beat it 57-45 in 2014.
The Trojans (22-3) jumped out to a 7-0 lead with two buckets from the McCaffery brothers and a 3-pointer from Izaya Ono-Fullard. Kennedy head coach Jon McKowen called a quick timeout, but it didn’t help.
West pushed the lead to 10-0, then 12-2, 19-9 and 28-14 by halftime, when the game was effectively won.
“We talked about just taking care of business, and these guys did that today,” Bergman said.
West took 22 fewer shots than Kennedy and scored 24 more points. It shot 48.7 percent and held Kennedy to 24.6 percent from the field. It scored 30 points in the paint, 18 off turnovers and 10 on fast breaks. Those numbers for the Cougars: 22, 10, four.
Some more numbers: West blocked 10 Kennedy shots, compared with just one for the Cougars. West owned the defensive glass (29-13) and held Kennedy to 11 second-chance points despite its 21 offensive rebounds.
“I think it was a lot better than Wednesday, because we were struggling, losing our man; we don’t really do that,” said Lane, who finished with 15 points and three assists. “Not talking on defense, not knowing what to do on screens. So I think we came in with a gameplan today of, ‘We’ve got to pick the defensive end up if we’re going to win.’”
That they did.
Derrick Diggins and Drake Brewster paced Kennedy (19-6) with nine points apiece on a combined 8-for-24 shooting. Kennedy by no means played poorly. It just ran into a powerhouse embarrassed with its previous performance.
“We didn’t back down from them, so I felt great about my team and what we did,” Diggins said.
Patrick McCaffery scored 15 points along with six boards, two assists, one steal, four blocks and a pair of dunks. He logged 25 minutes after playing just 18 against Newton, constantly subbing in and out because of early foul trouble.
“I could never really get my rhythm out there,” he said of Wednesday, “because I kept getting fouls and had to keep coming out.
“I’m glad we got another day and I got a chance to redeem myself.”
Connor McCaffery led West with 18 points and seven rebounds.
“Getting back here is exactly what we wanted to do,” McCaffery said. “And now we’re right there.
“So we’ve got to finish it.”
IC West (61) – Connor McCaffery 18, Patrick McCaffery 15, Lane 15, Ono-Fullard 4, Sims 4, Odunsi 3, Disterhoft 2. Also played – Flitz, Anderson, McGee, Eldridge, Nasr, Barnes, Henstrom, Van Roekel. Totals – 19, 21/27.
CR Kennedy (37) – Brewster 9, Diggins 9, Foley 8, Haynes 4, Berst 4, Duehr 2, King 1. Also played – Olejniczak, Davis-Hanson, Harris, Dix, Schultejans, Jenkins, Wetzel, Koch. Totals – 15, 4/9.
IC West…14 14 15 18 – 61
CR Kennedy…7 7 12 11 – 37
3-point field goals – ICW 2: Patrick McCaffery 1, Ono-Fullard 1. CRK 3: Foley 2, Diggins 1. Fouls – ICW 16, CRK 23. Fouled out – ICW: none. CRK: Haynes, Brewster, Jenkins.
Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.