State Tournament Notebook: Spreading the Court Helps West High Secure State Title
By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – Entering the Class 4A state title game West Des Moines Valley was the team focused on slowing the tempo.
Instead it was West High that spread the floor and pulled the ball out in the second half.
The Trojans weren’t trying to stall, just using a different way to attack.
Using a spread court attack, top-ranked West High outscored West Des Moines Valley 19-11 in the fourth quarter to secure a 64-50 win over the Tigers in a title game rematch from last season.
“It wasn’t the way that we normally play but we were in foul trouble and we just saw guys out there that we didn’t think could stay in front of our guys,” West High coach Steve Bergman said. “So, we just spread the floor.”
With a six-point lead and the ball to open the fourth quarter West High spread the floor and wasted little time securing its fourth state title in six seasons.
The Trojans used its spread court offense to isolate the matchup it wanted and then attack the basket.
“It’s probably an offense from the 1950s and Les Hipple that (assistant coach) Gordon (Rundquist) brought in,” Bergman said. “But it really fits our team well because we have such skilled players at every position.”
On the first possession of the fourth quarter West High had the ball for 45 seconds before senior Devontae Lane hit up a pull-up 15-foot jumper to put the Trojans up 47-39.
West High worked the spread offense to perfection during a 13-2 fourth-quarter run that put the game away.
Connor McCaffery and Lane both had four points during that run, all coming after being isolated against a defender.
“Between he and Connor they are hard to match up to,” Bergman said.
West Des Moines Valley had given opponents fits with the post combo of 6-foot-6 Quinton Curry and 6-foot-8 Charley Crowley.
With a second-half lead West High neutralized the duo by pulling them away from the basket on defense.
“There are mismatches out there for them on the defensive side,” Lane said. “There were mismatches for both teams because sometimes we struggle with bigs so I just think it was a game of defense, a game of stops.”
Six and Counting: The title was the sixth for Bergman making him one of three coaches in state history with more than four championships.
With six career titles Bergman trails only Jim Eekhoff who won eight titles at Western Christian and Davenport coach Paul Moon who won seven.
“It’s mostly just relief truthfully about winning this one,” Bergman said. “Someday maybe somebody will talk about you won six titles but I’m still way behind a couple of guys anyway.”
Wire to Wire: West High opened the season atop the Class 4A Associated Press poll and finished the season on Saturday with a state title.
In between, the Trojans never budged from the top spot.
West High (23-3) closed the season with 18 consecutive wins against Iowa competition and finished the season 22-1 against in-state teams.
“The hardest thing to do is be the favorite from day one and hang in there and do it,” Bergman said. “These guys did that.”
Back-to-back: Two of the four champions crowd this week were repeat champions.
Cedar Rapids Xavier won its second consecutive 3A crown with a 54-49 win over Sergeant-Bluff Luton and Western Christian won 2A for the second straight season with a 62-50 win over Pella Christian.
West High stopped the chance for a third repeat champ with its 64-50 win over defending 4A champ West Des Moines Valley in a rematch of last year’s title game.
“Obviously, you have the revenge factor but if it was against anybody I don’t think I could feel any better than I do right now,” Connor McCaffery said.
MVC Titles: The Mississippi Valley Conference put on a show on Saturday.
Cedar Rapids Xavier won its second consecutive Class 3A title to open the final session of the 2017 state tournament and West High followed with its fourth title in the past six seasons.
The back-to-back titles marked the third time in the last 10 years the MVC won 3A and 4A titles in the same year.
West High and Dubuque Wahlert pulled off the feat in 2014 and City High and Wahlert did it in 2008.
The MVC has won 11 titles during that span, six in Class 4A and five in 3A.
All tournament: McCaffery and Lane were both named to the 4A all-tournament team after leading West High in scoring in three games at state.
Lane averaged 15.3 points in three state tournament games while McCaffery averaged 18.3 points and 6.3 rebounds while being named the all-tournament team captain.
Joining Lane and McCaffery on the all-tournament team were West Des Moines Valley seniors Charley Crowley and Quinton Curry and Sioux City East junior Van Rees.