Defense Carries West High Back to 4A Title Game
By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – It took until the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s Class 4A state quarterfinal for West High to crank its defense up to the level head coach Steve Bergman expects.
There was no defensive delay for the top-ranked Trojans on Friday.
West High (22-3) held Cedar Rapids Kennedy (19-6) scoreless for more than five minutes to open the game while building a 12-point lead and never trailed in an emphatic 61-37 win over the Cougars in a 4A semifinal at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
“Our defense was a lot better than Wednesday when we were struggling losing our man, we weren’t talking on defense, not knowing what to do on screens,” West High senior Devontae Lane said. “We came in today with a game plan that we have to pick it up on the defensive end if we are going to win.”
Connor McCaffery led a trio of West High players in double figures with a game-high 18 points.
More importantly, McCaffery spearheaded a West High defensive onslaught that limited Kennedy to 25 percent shooting and a season-low point total and sent the Trojans to the 4A title game for the fifth time in the past six seasons.
“Connor sometimes has trouble admitting he didn’t do something right but on the way home Wednesday he said, ‘coach I just didn’t guard anybody the first half,’” West High coach Steve Bergman said. “So, I think he was determined to do it today and he did it today. Devontae had a great defensive game and Patrick blocked some shots. It was a lot better.”
The win sets up a 4A title game rematch.
West High will face defending champ West Des Moines Valley (21-4) in the 4A title game on Saturday at 8:05 p.m. in
“We talked about just taking care of business today and these guys did that today,” Bergman said. “It wasn’t perfect but our intensity was really good.”
West High didn’t allow a point for nearly six minutes to begin the fourth quarter of its 57-51 quarterfinal win over Newton.
That late defensive intensity carried over to Friday as West High held Kennedy without a point for more than five minutes while scoring the first 12 points of the game.
McCaffery started the scoring with a basket in the lane off a post feed nearly a minute and a half into the game.
After a Patrick McCaffery tip in made it 4-0 Izaya Ono-Fullard buried a 3-pointer to put West High up 7-0.
“I think it helped to get off to a good start,” McCaffery said. “I scored on the first possession and then Izaya hit that 3 and when we got that lead and we were up quick I think that settled everybody down.”
It was only the beginning.
Patrick McCaffery scored the next five points to give West High a 12-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.
After being held scoreless while battling foul trouble in the quarterfinals, Patrick McCaffery had seven of his 15 points in the opening quarter as West High built a 14-7 lead.
“I could never get in a rhythm because I kept getting fouls and had I to keep coming out so it was definitely tough but we toughed that one out and got the W and I had a chance to redeem myself today,” Patrick McCaffery said. “When I scored the seven in the first quarter that just gave me a lot more confidence.”
West High set the tone early, harassing Kennedy into 3-of-17 first-quarter shooting and five turnovers while building a 14-7 lead it would never give up.
Kennedy finished 15-of-61 from the field while scoring its fewest points of the season, seven less than it had in any game during the year.
West High blocked 10 shots and had seven steals while forcing the Cougars in 16 turnovers.
“We knew coming in that they were going to get some hands on some of our shots and we knew we could get some opportunities at the rim,” Kennedy junior guard Jackson Foley said. “We got 61 opportunities at the hoop and we just couldn’t capitalize on them.”
The Trojans switched between their dialed-in man-to-man defense and a 1-3-1 zone on Friday.
Both caused fits for Kennedy which didn’t have a player reach double figures and never scored more than 12 points in a quarter.
“I thought the 1-3-1 really gave them a lot of trouble,” Bergman said. “They really turned it over a bunch against the 1-3-1 and what good shots they got they did not make so that was good for us too.”
Kennedy got as close as 19-14 on a Matt Berst bucket in the in the paint with 3:11 left in the second quarter but West High closed the half with nine unanswered points.
Patrick McCaffery put the finishing touches on the 9-0 run when he took an outlet pass following a Seybian Sims rejection and threw down a two-handed dunk in transition with 18 seconds left.
“We took all the momentum away from them and got it back to us before the half,” Patrick McCaffery said. “We knew it was really important to get on them the first four minutes of the second half and we traded baskets a little bit but then we did what we were supposed to do.”
Lane added 15 points for West High while Sims and Ono-Fullard each had four as West High shot 49 percent.
Drake Brewster and Derrick Diggins led Kennedy with nine points each.
“They do some things defensively that can get you a little out of whack but I thought we got better as the game went on,” Bergman said. “We got a bunch of pretty good shots out of what we were doing.”
West High 14 14 15 18 – 61
CR Kennedy 7 7 12 11 – 37
West High (61) – Devontae Lane 4-11 7-8 15, Nate Disterhoft 1-1 0-0 2, Patrick McCaffery 6-7 2-2 15, Connor McCaffery 5-11 8-9 18, Izaya Ono-Fullard 1-2 1-2 4, Evan Flitz 0-1 0-0 0, Seybian Sims 1-1 2-2 4, Jake Anderson 0-1 0-0 0, Hakeem Odunsi 1-1 1-2 3, Dane Eldrige 0-1 0-2 0, Jayson Barnes 0-1 0-0 0, Hirsche Henstrom 0-1 0-0 0, Team 19-39 21-27 61.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy (37) – Malik Haynes 1-6 2-2 4, Drake Brewster 4-12 1-1 9, Matt Berst 2-10 0-1 4, Derrick Diggins 4-12 0-3 9, Jackson Foley 3-12 0-0 8, Nick Duehr 1-4 0-0 2, Jake Olejniczak 0-1 0-0 0, Isaiah Harris 0-1 0-0 0, Ki Jenkins 0-2 0-0 0, Jack Wetzel 0-1 0-0 0, Team 15-61 4-9 37.
3-point field goals – ICW 2-11 (Lane 0-2, P. McCaffery 1-2, C. McCaffery 0-2, Ono-Fullard 1-2, Flitz 0-1, Barnes 0-1, Henstrom 0-1), CRK 3-23 (Haynes 0-4, Brewster 0-2, Berst 0-2, Diggins 1-5, Foley 2-5, Duehr 0-1, Olejniczak 0-1, Harris 0-1, Jenkins 0-2). Rebounds – ICW 40 (C. McCaffery, Odunsi 7), CRK 34 (Berst 10). Assists – ICW 10 (Lane 3), CRK 5 (Haynes, Brewster 2). Turnovers – ICW 18, CRK 16. Total fouls – ICW 16, CRK 23. Fouled out – Kennedy (Brewster, Haynes, Jenkins). Technical fouls – None.