The top-ranked West High boys basketball team remained perfect on the season and glided to an easy 67-50 win over Dubuque Hempstead on Friday in Iowa City.
The Mustangs were unable to keep up with the Trojans’ offense, which put up 40 points in the first half, 17 of which came from guard Wyatt Lohaus. The 6-foot-2 senior finished the night with 21 points. Coming into Friday’s contest, Lohaus was averaging 21 points per game with a 58.4 field goal percentage.
Center Chike Ukah also had a strong performance with eight points and nine boards. The 6-6 senior was averaging 7.7 points per game coming into the night and also had 21 rebounds on the season. Ukah, who is the younger brother of Iowa Hawkeye Okey Ukah, said conditioning is emphasized during practice, which enables the Trojans to run a high-tempo offense.
“The way we practice, it’s crazy,” Ukah said. “We really look to condition. We condition harder than a lot of people, so that’s something we really look to and I feel like we could run for days.”
West coach Steve Bergman, however, thought the Trojans struggled to maintain their usually high-tempo attack Friday night.
“It was an odd game. The tempo was so stop and go,” Bergman said. “I know that isn’t probably what our guys want to do, so they’ve got to learn to deal with whatever happens whether it be officials’ calls or a teammate not making the pass or whatever, we have to deal with it a little better.”
Bergman also didn’t like that his team gave up 18 points worth of free throws and thought his team needs to improve on the defensive side of the ball. The Trojans also had 14 turnovers, compared to 19 for the Mustangs.
“The biggest thing we addressed at halftime was our defense, which wasn’t very good. When you score 40 points, you shouldn’t be giving up 28,” Bergman said. “We have a certain way we want to play, and I think we got off it. We forced the ball into some shots we didn’t need to, and our defense was very inconsistent, especially fourth quarter.”
West’s bench also was called for a technical foul at the end of the game.
Despite the defensive struggles, there were several positives for the Trojans to take away from Friday night’s game. Both freshmen on the roster saw playing time, including starting guard Connor McCaffery, who finished with seven points and led the team with six assists, as well as guard Devontae Lane, who had two points.
West (7-0 overall, 2-0 in Mississippi Valley Conference) now looks ahead to its matchup against crosstown rival City (3-2, 2-1) on Monday. Ukah said he isn’t intimidated by the size of the Little Hawks, with starting center Luke Posivio listed at 6-9.
“It’s about position. If you have good position, anybody can score,” Ukah said. “So that’s something we’re going to work for early, and hopefully, that will help us.”