Postseason play is still a week away for Class 4A teams.
That didn’t stop City High and West High from playing a playoff-type game on Friday.
Top-ranked and three-time defending 4A champion West High (19-0) stayed unbeaten with a come-from-behind 66-63 win over City High in front of a nearly packed house at West High.
Friday’s game featured an electric atmosphere that should serve as a learning experience for both teams as they prepare to host 4A Substate semifinals later this month.
“It’s always like that when we play them,” West High junior Alex Henderson said. “In this type of game it’s different because they build off the energy and everything gets hyped up, so some of the things that you work on you just don’t do. We need to do that better because there are going to be bigger games ahead.”
The big games start immediately for both teams.
West High will try to wrap up its third perfect regular season in the past four years this week.
The Trojans conclude Mississippi Valley Conference play at Dubuque Hempstead (13-6) Thursday and wrap up the regular season Saturday at home against three-time defending Minnesota state champion Minneapolis DeLaSalle (18-3).
City High (7-13) has its own challenging end to the regular season with a road game at Dubuque Senior (10-9) and a home game against No. 9 Cedar Rapids Kennedy on Thursday.
The Little Hawks have dropped six in a row, four of which have come to ranked teams by a combined 18 points.
City High coach Don Showalter is hoping Friday’s near miss against the state’s premier team is a building block for his young squad.
“I’m really proud of our kids,” Showalter said. “Undefeated, three-time defending state champion, No. 24 in the USA TODAY poll and we played a heck of a game against them. That’s something you build on.”
West High and City High both earned first-round Substate byes and will open postseason play at home on Feb. 27.
• MARTIN’S THE MAN: Showalter called junior Micah Martin a “man-child” after his second consecutive 12-point, 11-rebound performance in Friday’s loss at West High.
The 6-foot-8 center also had 12 points and 11 rebounds in a two-point loss to Cedar Falls and is now averaging 6.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
Martin had his double-double against West High despite fouling out with more than seven minutes to play.
“He is a huge presence down there,” West High junior Wali Parks said. “Getting him out of the game was real big for us because when he was in there we weren’t really getting anything inside.”
• CLOSE CALLS: Lone Tree and Highland both suffered tough losses in the SEISC Shootout Friday at Southeast Community College.
Lone Tree (17-4) had four players in double figures but lost to Class 1A second-ranked Danville 66-63 while Highland fell to Burlington Notre Dame 47-45.
• RATINGS UPDATE: West High remained atop the Class 4A poll released by The Associated Press on Monday, receiving all 14 first-place votes.
Regina dropped out of the Class 2A poll while New Hampton claimed the top spot in Class 2A.
Other top-ranked teams are Gladbrook-Reinbeck in 1A and Williamsburg and Pella shared the top spot in 3A.
• A LOOK AHEAD: The postseason opens this week in Class 1A and 2A as 3A and 4A teams wrap up the regular season.
Regina will host a Class 2A, District 9 doubleheader Thursday with the top-seeded Regals playing in the second game at 8 p.m.
Iowa Mennonite opens Class 1A, District 8 play on Thursday against H-L-V at Montezuma while Lone Tree will host Midland in a District 7 quarterfinal at 8 p.m.
• PERFORMANCES OF THE WEEK: Regina senior Drew Cook had 35 points and 12 rebounds in a 67-47 win over West Liberty.
Solon senior Emilio Villagrana had 20 points and 10 assists in a 75-67 loss to Dyersville Beckman.
Lone Tree sophomore Jovonte Squiers had 22 points, 10 steals and six assists in a 75-63 win over Pekin.
West Liberty junior Brady Smith had 23 points and 11 rebounds in a 67-47 loss to Regina.
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.