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DES MOINES — Last year was a second. The year before that was a third. The year before that was a first.
If historical cycles run in threes, you know exactly how things will turn out for Iowa City West’s boys’ basketball team in Saturday night’s Class 4A championship game.
The Trojans returned to the title tilt for the second consecutive year and the fifth time in seven years Friday afternoon with a dominant 61-37 win over Cedar Rapids Kennedy in a 4A semifinal.
“We’ve talked about just taking care of business, and these guys did that today,” said West Coach Steve Bergman. “It wasn’t perfect, but our intensity was really good.”
Connor McCaffery scored an interior hoop a minute and 14 seconds in, and West led the rest of the way. Just that easy, peasy.
There was zero suspense after an intial 12-0 Trojans run. This might have been the quietest crowd Wells Fargo Arena has seen this week.
“I think it helped to get off to a good start,” said McCaffery, who had 18 points for the second game in a row. “I scored on the first possession, then Izaya (Ono-Fullard) hit that 3, and we got out to a quick lead. We were up quick, and I think that settled everybody down. We had one stretch that wasn’t very good. But, other than that, we were much more relaxed.”
Top-ranked and top-seeded West (22-3) struggled to overcome Newton’s upset bid in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. Sometimes your first game at state turns out to be your toughest.
Perhaps that’ll be the case here. West gets West Des Moines Valley (21-4) in a rematch of last year’s championship game.
“We talked about a couple of things,” Bergman said. “We talked about how sometimes in that first round, you don’t play close to your potential, and yet it doesn’t preclude you from winning the state title ... A couple of (these guys) remember how we were lucky to get out of the first round and then played better throughout the rest of the tournament.”
They would be McCaffery and guard Devontae Lane, both four-year players. Lane had 15 points here.
“From the very first practice, we’ve been saying we want to go back, we want to go back,” he said. “Us seniors, at least. We know the feeling of everything. Playing in the consolation game, losing in the semis. We know the feeling of it all. So it means a lot to get a second chance to come back and play for another state title.”
Kennedy (19-6) just couldn’t buy a shot in this game. The Cougars didn’t score until Derrick Diggins had a putback with 2:57 left in the first quarter.
This crazy stat says it all. Kennedy took 22 more shots from the field than West and made four fewer.
“I thought our kids competed hard,” Kennedy Coach Jon McKowen said. “They absolutely played hard the whole game. I wished we’d have finished around the hoop a little bit more, gone to the (free-throw) line a few more times. But we had 61 shots at the hoop ... We just didn’t put the ball in the hole as much as we wanted to.”
West’s length caused issues for Kennedy, which had 10 shot attempts blocked. Sophomore forward Patrick McCaffery had four in a fine overall game that included 15 points and seven rebounds.
He was in constant foul trouble against Newton and no factor, scoring just two points.
“That was really frustrating because I knew I wasn’t contributing as much as I could,” he said. “I could never really get into a rhythm out there because I kept getting fouls and had to keep coming out. So it was great that we toughed that one out and got the ‘W.’ We came out here today, and I got a chance to redeem myself.”
“We knew coming in that they were going to get some hands on our shots,” said Kennedy’s Jackson Foley. “We knew we would get some of those back, and that we’d get opportunities at the rim. We got 61 opportunities at the hoop. They just didn’t go in.”
Diggins and Drake Brewster led Kennedy with nine points apiece. The Cougars play Sioux City East in Saturday afternoon’s 4A consolation game at 1:45 p.m.
“We admire their program. Coach McKowen does a great job,” Bergman said. “They have athletes. But we thought we could take advantage of a couple of things, and we did a good job with that.”
“Getting back here was exactly what we wanted to do,” Connor McCaffery said.
AT DES MOINES
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, Ki Jenkins 0-2 0-0 0, Jack Wetzel 0-1 0-0 0, Isaiah Harris 0-1 0-0 0, Aijay Davis-Hanson 0-0 0-0 0, Jake Olejniczak 0-0 0-0 0, Keeler Dix 0-0 0-0 0, Duncan Schultejans 0-0 0-0 0, Brandon Koch 0-0 0-0 0, Ryan King 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 15-61 4-9 37.
IOWA CITY WEST (61): Devontae Lake 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 0-0 0-0 0, Hakeem Odunsi 1-1 1-2 3, Paul McGee 0-0 0-0 0, Dante Eldridge 0-1 0-2 0, Homy Nasr 0-0 0-0 0, Jayson Barnes 0-1 0-0 0, Josh Van Roekel 0-0 0-0 0, Hirsche Henstrom 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 19-39 21-27 61.
Halftime — West 28, Kennedy 14. 3-point goals — Kennedy 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). West 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). Rebounds — Kennedy 34 (Berst 10), West 40 (C. McCaffery, Odunsi 7). Total fouls — Kennedy 23, West 16. Fouled out — Haynes, Brewster, Jenkins. Assists — Kennedy 5 (Haynes, Brewster 2), West 10 (Lane 3). Turnovers — Kennedy 16, West 18.
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