West High senior Devontae LaneBy Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Over the past year Devontae Lane and Connor McCaffery have experienced plenty of state title game disappointment.
McCaffery was a key member of the West High baseball team that finished runner-up at the state tournament last summer.
Lane was a standout on the West High football team that fell to West Des Moines Dowling in the 4A title game last month.
Both were part of the top-ranked West High basketball team that lost to West Des Moines Valley 46-39 in the 4A title game last March.
The senior plans to reverse its recent stretch of runner-up finishes this winter.
Lane and McCaffery give West High a pair of returning all staters as the Trojans seek their fourth state title in four seasons and the first since 2014.
“Every year if you get there and you lose you always want to get back there again next year and I have that feeling in couple of sports actually,” McCaffery said. “It’s definitely not a good feeling. It pushes you on days when you are up early because you need to get better every day.”
Lane and McCaffery both played key roles on West High’s 2014 state title team as freshman.
What the two remember most is disappointing state tournament finishes the past two seasons.
West High fell in the 2015 semifinals before coming up short against West Des Moines Valley in the title game last year.
“The last two years we were picked to win it all and it’s been disappointing,” Lane said. “Every time we lost there we always said ‘next year is going to be different’ but this year I actually can see how different it is.”
The statistics show how vital McCaffery and Lane are to the title chances for West High.
Already a three-year starter, McCaffery led West High with 15.5 points and 4.9 assists per game last season while earning first team all-state honors.
The 6-foot-5 point guard also ranked second on the team in rebounds with 3.5 per game.
A starter each of the last three seasons, Lane averaged a career-best 13.7 points per game last season as a junior while leading the Trojans with 1.9 steals per game on his way to being named a second team all-state pick.
“Just the experience is important,” McCaffery said. “In big games having guys that have experience we aren’t going to be rattled.”
The production and experience from the backcourt duo is critical for West High which opens its season on Friday against Chicago’s Marian Catholic.
However, the two senior backcourt mates may make their biggest impact as leaders on an otherwise inexperienced West High roster.
“We are a mixture, we have three guys that have played a lot and the rest of them haven’t played much,” West High coach Steve Bergman said “For me I don’t think we’ve had great chemistry the last couple of years, I don’t think we’ve had great leadership and so my hope is that with a new mix of guys that maybe we can build those two things to be better.”
McCaffery and Lane are the two veterans on a talented but largely inexperienced West High roster.
Sophomore Patrick McCaffery returns with extended varsity experience after averaging 4.7 points per game last season and the 6-foot-8 forward should be in for a breakthrough season.
No other West High returner scored more than 24 points last season but the talent is there.
Seniors Nate Disterhoft, Josh Van Roekel and Izaya Fullard are expected to fill roles along with newcomer Dante Eldridge and juniors Jake Anderson, Seybian Sims and Evan Flitz.
“The talent is not the issue and it hasn’t been, it has always been are we maximizing our potential and I don’t think we have the last two years, so my hope is that with the mixture of guys that it’s better,” Bergman said. “We have guys that were on a good sophomore team and a good JV team. Izaya Fullard and Josh Van Roekel and Nate Disterhoft didn’t play much last year but we knew that they were going to be able to play.