Always striving for perfection, West High boys basketball coach Steve Bergman wasn’t about to let a historical victory Saturday hide his frustration.
Bergman didn’t even address the fact that his team extended its winning streak to 54 games by defeating Ames 90-67 at the West High gymnasium. There was no post-game celebration for matching the longest winning streak in Class 4A, which ironically used to belong solely to Ames.
The Little Cyclones won 54 consecutive games from 2009-11 behind star players Harrison Barnes, who now plays for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, and forward Doug McDermott, who is a senior at Creighton.
Bergman was too upset with his team’s performance on defense to think about the historical significance of the victory. He also didn’t mention it in the days leading up to Saturday’s game.
“I don’t think they need that on their plate,” Bergman said of the winning streak. “I feel it a little bit. But they didn’t need that on their plate.”
Bergman had to remind his players at halftime about what’s been the driving force behind West’s back-to-back Class 4A state titles. West was clinging to a 36-31 lead at halftime and had surrendered some easy baskets.
“He just basically said we need to step it up defensively and be more intense on the defensive end,” said junior forward David Dileo, who scored 16 points, including 12 in the second half. “We were doing fine on offense. It was our defense that was keeping them in the game.”
West (2-0) flourished on offense behind all-state senior guard Wyatt Lohaus, who poured in 31 points while taking 26 shots from the field. The 6-foot-2 Lohaus, who has signed a letter of intent to play basketball for Northern Iowa, burned the Little Cyclones with his perimeter shooting and with his penetration. He made three 3-points baskets and converted on several nifty drives to the basket.
“He’s good,” Bergman said. “I don’t think there is anybody better. He shot a lot tonight, but he’s pretty unselfish. I don’t think he’s taken very many bad shots. I’ve been really blessed to have these great players that put the team in front of themselves.”
West seized the momentum by outscoring Ames 17-6 to begin the third quarter. The Trojans forced several early turnovers in the third quarter and started scoring more in transition.
However, Bergman still wasn’t pleased with the total effort.
“In the third quarter we turned them over, but when we didn’t turn them over, they scored 100 percent of the time,” Bergman said. “In the fourth quarter we got stops, but we didn’t rebound. So we’ve got a lot to work on.”
Bergman was concerned about his team being flat after watching the players in pre-game warm-ups. It’s unusual to play a game on Saturday, so it took the players out of their routine.
“I could just kind of sense that we were flat,” Bergman said. “I saw yawns during pre-game. It’s a whole bunch of kids who don’t understand the level you have to get to mentally.
“And (playing) on Saturday is a new thing, no school, no routine. We talked to them quite a bit about it this morning when they came in. Some of them just need to re-evaluate what they did today and try to do a better job of getting ready for a game.”
Lohaus was teamed in the backcourt with 6-5 freshman Connor McCaffery, who is the son of Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery. Connor scored six points, but he mostly looked to pass.
“He’s a pass guy,” Bergman said. “He doesn’t look like a freshman out there to me. And the shots will start falling.”
Lohaus also started for West as a freshman, so he understands the challenge facing Connor McCaffery.
“I just to help him every day because I’ve been there and know what to expect,” Lohaus said.
Senior Sam Straub led Ames with 26 points and made all 10 of his free throw attempts. The Little Cyclones fell to 0-3 on the season.
Ames (67) – Sam Straub 8 10-10 26, Sam Rathe 5 5-7 16, Spencer Shane 3 2-4 8, Kual Chol 2 2-4 6, Javan White 4 0-0 8, Colby Shane 0 0-0 0, Kang Chuktouc 1 0-0 3, Temi Agbaji 0 0-0, Luke Smith 0 0-0 0. Totals. 23 19-25 67.
West (90) – Wyatt Lohaus 13 2-3 31, David Dileo 6 2-2 16, Nick Gallagher 1 0-0 2, Connor McCaffery 2 2-5 6, Chike Ukah 6 2-3 14, Garrett Grimsman 1 2-2 4, Tanner Lohaus 2 2-2 6, Adam Klein 2 0-0 5, Wali Parks 1 0-0 2, Marquise Yarbrough 2 0-0 4. Totals 36 12-17 90.
3-point goals -Wyatt Lohaus 3, David Dileo 2, Adak Klein, Sam Rathe. Total fouls – Ames 14, West. 18.