TWICE AS NICE

TWICE AS NICE

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TWICE AS NICE

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DES MOINES

It should give the rest of the state shivers that it was a junior, Wyatt Lohaus, who served as the ignition on West High’s launch past a befuddled Bettendorf team 54-36 to win the Class 4A boys state basketball championship Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena.

Lohaus was magnificent for the Trojans, scoring inside, cutting through the defense with drives and hitting jumpers from all over. At one point the Trojans led 38-17 and the West High student section chanted “Wyatt’s winning,” because the plucky, ever-present Lohaus had 20 points while the Bulldogs were stuck on 17. His performance was so dominant that the TV broadcasters named him player of the game with 51/2 minutes left. He finished with a game-high 22 points.

In winning, West duplicated the Ames High teams that were unbeaten and won back-to-back titles in 2009-10. They are the only two teams in the large-school class to do so. West has won 52 games in a row, only two behind Ames’ 4A record of 54 in a row. It is the fifth title for West and fourth for coach Steve Bergman, placing him second on the all-time list behind only Paul Moon of Davenport, who won seven championships. It is the first time West has won back-to-back basketball titles.

Bettendorf lost for the first time this season and returns almost all of its roster, but that was little consolation after a smash-down like that.

West took control early blasting out from a 7-all tie in the first quarter with a 10-0 run. Chike Ukah’s follow shot started the run and was his second basket in a row off an offensive rebound. Austin Swank hit a jumper in the lane, and Wyatt Lohaus drilled a 3-pointer after having his fast break attempt blocked out of bounds. Lohaus started the second quarter with a drive and a free throw for a 3-point play.

With a 17-7 lead West managed 14 points in the second period while Bettendorf self-destructed, committing five turnovers and making just 3-of-7 shots. In the half, West scored 15 points off the nine Bettendorf turnovers.

All-stater Jeremy Morgan was taken out after his second foul, but Lohaus carried the offense in his absence. Lohaus had 11 of West’s 14 second-quarter points and 14 in the half. He sent the Trojans to the locker room with a 28-13 lead after a deep three and threw his arms up to the West crowd.

The Bulldogs were stymied by West’s defense and were unable to get the ball inside. Their guards, Cole Clearman and Dylan Sortillo, were 0-for-11 in the first half in trying to score outside. The Bulldogs shot just 25 percent in the first half (6-of-24).

Both teams missed their share of shots. West shot 36.7 percent (11-of-30) but scored eight points off offensive rebounds. Ukah and Morgan each had five points in the half for West. Center Nicholas Baer led Bettendorf with six points.

Morgan began the second half by stealing the ball from Clearman and weaving through traffic for a spectacular finger roll fast break. Soon West’s lead was 38-17 after a Lohaus drive, two Jason Stewart free throws, two Lohaus free throws and a baseline jumper from — who else? — Lohaus.

West had the tempo it wanted, and Bettendorf was in an ever-deepening hole. To add insult to injury, reserve Mark Lowe, known for his defense, hit a 3-pointer to end the third quarter and give West a 45-23 lead.

For Bettendorf the game was a nightmare. A solid, undefeated team with some tough athletes just had the wheels come off offensively and defensively. West, on the other hand, reaped the benefits of having survived the scare in the first round against Dowling.

Morgan and Lohaus were named to the all-tournament team with Morgan as the captain.

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