Boys Basketball Notebook: West High Kicks Off Tough Stretch at Linn-Mar
By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
West High won’t learn its path to the state tournament until Class 4A postseason assignments are released toward the end of the month.
The Trojans have the potential to make that path a lot clearer with a strong showing between now and when the substate assignments are announced on Jan. 27.
Top-ranked West High (7-1) plays five games during that stretch starting with a trip to traditional Mississippi Valley Conference contender Linn-Mar (4-3) on Tuesday.
Following Tuesday’s Mississippi Divisional matchup with Linn-Mar are a showdown with Kansas powerhouse Blue Valley Northwest on Saturday, a home date with No. 9 Bettendorf, a rematch with Cedar Rapids Prairie and a trip to cross-town rival City High.
“The pairings come out in the fourth week (of January) and the east side of the state has to kind of wash out a little bit,” West High coach Steve Bergman said. “It is really on for us now.”
The lone setback for West High this season was an 80-71 loss to Prairie in the final game before break.
West High is averaging 83.5 points in a pair of lopsided January wins.
There aren’t many potential blowouts remaining on the schedule.
The road actually toughens for West High after January 27th as the Trojans host No. 6 Cedar Falls and travel to second-ranked Cedar Rapids Kennedy and fifth-ranked Dubuque senior in a span of seven days.
All of those games will play a role in substate seeding.
“We have Senior and Kennedy and Cedar Falls is in that stretch as well,” Bergman said. “It’s a tough stretch and it gives us a chance to separate ourselves from those teams a little bit if we play well or lose a couple of games if we don’t.”
It all starts with Tuesday’s trip to Marion to face a Linn-Mar team that has already lost twice to second-ranked Cedar Rapids Kennedy.
The Lions lost to Kennedy by 21 back on Dec. 6 and dropped a 59-48 rematch on Friday.
Linn-Mar also lost to Prairie 62-59 in December.
“They’ve lost to good teams,” Bergman said. “They lost to Kennedy twice and I noticed the first time they played Kennedy they got beat pretty bad and the second time was much closer so they are better.”
1,000 and Counting: West High senior Connor McCaffery cracked the 1,000-point barrier for his career this week in a win over Cedar Rapids Washington.
McCaffery posted back-to-back 22-point games last week, adding 22 points in a win at Dubuque Wahlert.
The 6-foot-5 point guard is averaging a career-high 19.6 points per game this season and now has 1,026 points in his career.
Welcome back: Chuck Johnson had to wait until January to make his season debut but the City High senior hasn’t wasted any time making an impact.
Johnson has averaged 8.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in two games since becoming eligible this month.
The 6-foot-4 Johnson had eight points and 13 rebounds in his first game of the season against Mount Pleasant on Tuesday and scored nine points and grabbed 10 boards against Waterloo West on Friday.
Performances of the week: Regina freshman Masen Miller had 20 points and five assists in a 78-72 win at Tipton.
West Branch senior Cooper Kabela had 27 points, 11 rebounds and three assists in a 71-58 win over Durant.
West High senior Connor McCaffery had 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a 92-56 win over Cedar Rapids Washington.
Clear Creek Amana senior Tate Thomsen had 24 points and six rebounds in a 74-58 loss to Maquoketa
Regina freshman Even Brauns had 23 points and 10 rebounds in a 58-37 win over Bellevue.