Earl Provides Spark With Return as West High Rolls Past City High
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – There was no shortage of motivation for West High entering its rematch with City High on Friday night.
There is always the rivalry aspect for the Trojans when facing their cross-town foe and this contest came with an added element of revenge after City High won the first meeting between the two teams 64-63 earlier this month.
Perhaps most motivating for West High was the fact the Trojans plain and simple needed a win.
The Trojans got what they needed on Friday.
West High broke open a close game with a strong third quarter and snapped a four-game losing skid with a 63-45 win over City High in a Mississippi Valley Conference contest in Iowa City.
“We just needed a win,” West High coach Steve Bergman said. “You can kind of forget how to win sometimes and we have lost in probably the most agonizing way you can, every game came down to one possession pretty much so we just needed to win. This last third of the season is scheduled really tough so we just needed a win.”
West High had lost six of its last seven by a combined 16 points prior to Friday.
During that stretch the Trojans had five losses by three or fewer points including a two-point loss at Waterloo West it’s last time out.
There was no tight finish on Friday.
Senior Kareem Earl returned to the lineup for the first time in 2023 and was one of four West High players in double figures as the Trojans improved to 8-7 on the season.
“It was very exciting to get back out there,” Earl said. “Seeing my team down and losing games was tough so I wanted to be out there with my teammates. Win or lose I wanted to be back out there with my teammates and it felt good.”
Sophomore Jack McCaffery had 13 of his-game high 16 points in the second half and junior Jacob Koch had 10 of his 15 points in the third quarter as West High pulled away.
The Trojans turned a 26-19 halftime lead into an 18-point advantage less than four minutes into the second half.
Koch had the first seven West High points of the half helping the Trojans shoot 58 percent from the floor in the second half.
“I think we came out a lot more energetic especially in the second half,” Koch said. “We really exploded on them in the second half and they couldn’t come back from that.”
As West High got rolling on offense it simultaneous locked down defensively.
City High was held to 37 percent shooting and committed 15 turnovers while dropping to 5-11 on the season with its fifth consecutive loss.
“We just had to come back together and play our game,” Earl said. “Sometimes we get excited and we get out of our element and we have to get back together and just play West basketball.”
In his first game action since December 20 Earl provided a boost early for the Trojans scoring four of his 11 points in the first quarter.
Earl grabbed five rebounds in limited minutes in his return to action.
“We are a different team with Kareem,” Bergman said. “Defensively we are much, much better, rebounding we are much, much better.
Junior point guard TaeVeon Stevens had 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting for West High.
“The first game was a little rough and the start tonight too,” Koch said. “The second half I started hitting some shots and we all kind of got going. Jack hit a lot of shots so everyone was going.”
Shamar Benton had nine points for City High while Matt Schaeckenbach had eight points and five rebounds.
Samuel Mbingazo had six points and nine rebounds for the Little Hawks.
City High 6 13 12 14 – 45
West High 8 18 22 15 – 63
City High (45) – Trey Wright 1-3 0-0 2, Andre Wright 3-6 0-0 7, Thomas Ksobiech 1-1 0-0 2, Jameer James 0-2 0-0 0, Matt Schaeckenbach 4-7 0-0 8, Shamar Benton 4-17 1-2 9, Kris Freeman 2-3 0-0 4, Austin Rindels 1-1 0-0 2, Amir Newell 0-1 0-0 0, Max Jacobus 0-0 0-2 0, Samuel Mbingazo 2-9 2-2 6, Parker Sutherland 1-1 0-0 2, Nolan McDonald 1-2 0-0 3, Totals 20-53 3-6 45.
West High (63) – TaeVeon Stevens 6-9 2-5 15, Ben Hoefer 1-1 0-0 2, Jacob Koch 6-13 0-1 15, Brady Simcox 1-5 0-0 2, Jack McCaffery 6-15 3-3 16, Kareem Earl 4-5 2-3 11, Aidan Jacobsen 0-1 0-0 0, JuJu Manson 1-5 0-2 2, Canaan Barnes 0-1 0-0 0, Totals 25-55 7-14 63.
3-point field goals – ICH 2-9 (T. Wright 0-1, A. Wright 1-1, James 0-2, Newell 0-1, McDonald 1-2), ICW 6-16 (Stevens 1-2, Koch 3-6, Simcox 0-3, McCaffery 1-2, Earl 1-1, Manson 0-1, Barnes 0-1). Rebounds – ICH 37 (Mbingazo 9), ICW 34 (McCaffery 10). Turnovers – ICH 15, ICW 12. Total fouls – ICH 18, ICW 10. Fouled out – None. Technical fouls – ICH (T. Wright), ICW (Stevens).
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