The West High boys basketball team showed Friday that it’s defending the Class 4A both title figuratively and literally.
The Trojans, who have won the last two championships, defeated Cedar Rapids Xavier 75-41 behind a suffocating defense that forced numerous turnovers and allowed few open shots.
West improved to 6-0 this season and extended its winning streak to 58 games, which is a Class 4A state record. The Trojans were so impressive on defense that coach Steve Bergman found little to complain about at halftime, which is rare for him.
“He was very pleased (at halftime),” West junior guard Adam Klein said of Bergman. “I haven’t seen him that pleased all season.”
West had almost too much firepower on offense with 12 players scoring at least one point Friday. The bench also did its part, with players such as Klein providing a spark on offense and defense.
“I tried to step it up on defense,” said Klein, who scored six points off the bench. “That’s kind of my role, is to get stops and run out on breaks and try to get open layups.”
Bergman used nine players in the first half, with all of them scoring at least one point, led by senior guard Wyatt Lohaus with 10. Lohaus finished with a game-high 18 points despite barely playing in the fourth quarter.
“He can score 30,” Bergman said of the 6-foot-2 Lohaus, who has signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Northern Iowa. “He knows it. The other team knows it. And we know it.
“But that’ll be there when we need it. But if we don’t need it, he’s doing the right thing. He’s helping this team get better.”
One of the biggest challenges for Bergman is finding enough minutes for his players.
“We have a deep bench and I trust every one of them out there on the floor,” Bergman said. “I can’t get them all out there on the floor and they’ve all worked hard enough to deserve playing time. So I’m doing what I can. But we’re 15 deep.”
West bolted to leads of 12-2 and 22-4 in the first quarter and led 25-6 after the first eight minutes. The second quarter was more of the same as West forced numerous turnovers and scored points in bunches from the perimeter and from near the basket.
Senior Nick Gallagher made a 3-point basket to expand West’s lead to 42-19 in the final minute of the second quarter. Senior guard Garrett Grimsman then made a breakaway layup to give West a 44-19 advantage at halftime.
The Trojans continued to pour it on in the third quarter, which ended with West leading 66-32.
“They’re as good as we’ll see all year,” said Xavier coach Ryan Luehrsmann, who played basketball at the University of Iowa. “They really do an excellent job all five guys of contesting passing lanes and pressuring the ball when you pick it. We tried to simulate it in practice, and evidently, didn’t do a very good job of it.
“They’re just that good and they’re deep. They come at you in waves. Bergman has those guys conditioned, not only physically but mentally, to be committed on that end. I told our guys we can learn a lot from this.”
Junior forward David Dileo complemented Lohaus with 15 points. Dileo also made two of West six 3-point baskets.
Friday’s crowd at the West gym had a celebrity feel to it with current Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery among the spectators. McCaffery’s son, 6-5 freshman Connor McCaffery, started at point guard for West and scored six points.
Former Iowa men’s basketball coach Tom Davis and his son Keno Davis also attended Friday’s game. Keno Davis is the head coach at Central Michigan.
Junior guard Adam McDermott led Xavier (3-4) with 17 points while fellow junior Calvin Winkler chipped in with 11. Center Matt Nelson, who has signed a letter of intent to play football at Iowa, scored six points for Xavier.
C.R. XAVIER (41) – Adam McDermott 7 3-4 17, Calvin Winkler 5 1-2 11, Matt Nelson 2 2-2 6, Andre Bisenius 0 2-2 2, Connor Ramlo 1 0-0 2, Mitchell Burger 0 0-0 0, Joe Welch 1 1-2 3, Frank Hill 0 0-0 0, Noah Clasen 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 9-12 41.
WEST HIGH (75) – Wyatt Lohaus 7 4-4 18, David Dileo 6 1-2 15, Chike Ukah 2 1-2 5, Connor McCaffery 2 0-0 6, Garrett Grimsman 1 0-0 2, Adam Klein 2 1-2 6, Nick Gallagher 4 0-0 9, Tanner Lohaus 2 3-3 7, Nick Spiess 0 1-2, 1, Marquise Yarbrough 0 0-0 0, Wali Parks 0 0-2 0, Harley Shear 1 0-0 2, Alex Henderson 1 0-0 2, Ahmed Ismail 1 0-0 2, Malik Williams 0 0-0 0. Totals 29 11-17 75.
3-point goals – David Dileo 2, Connor McCaffery 2, Nick Gallagher, Adam Klein. Fouls – Xavier 15. West 15.