CEDAR RAPIDS — When you lose for the first time in almost a year, you can react in a number of ways.
For Iowa City West, it turned out to be in a so-so manner. Yet also a winning manner.
The Class 4A top-ranked Trojans spurted ahead late in the second quarter, continued to build a lead and beat Cedar Rapids Prairie, 65-55, in the finale of Saturday’s Wells Fargo Advisors Shootout at the U.S. Cellular Center.
Back on the winning track for West (11-1), which lost by a point Tuesday night at Cedar Falls. That was the first time the Trojans tasted defeat since last Feb. 18 against Cretin-Derham Hall of St. Paul, Minn.
It was the first loss to an Iowa school since Dec. 20, 2016, to Prairie.
“A little hangover, right?” West Coach Steve Bergman said. “I’ve been saying it for a couple of weeks. We’re kind of in a lull. We’re not practicing very well. That was part of what happened Tuesday ... You take your first loss in about, what, (11) months, I just don’t think they handled it very well.”
Prairie (7-6) scored the first six points of this one and had a 17-9 lead in the second quarter. That’s when West went on a 9-0 run capped by a Jayson Barnes 3-pointer.
Seybian Sims hit a corner trey to put the Trojans up at halftime, 32-28, and they held Prairie to just six third-quarter points for a 46-34 edge. It was defense that keyed things, as point guard Dante Eldridge did a terrific job of defending Prairie counterpart Griff Clark, in particular.
Clark didn’t make a field goal in the game, scoring just three points. Eldridge, meanwhile, hit four 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 19 points.
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“Their stuff is predicated on dribble penetration,” said West’s Patrick McCaffery. “We kept Griff Clark out of the lane. When he gets in the lane, he kicks it out to their shooters. We did a good job of keeping him out of the lane and made him make tough decisions rather than 3s and layups.”
McCaffery had 18 of his game-high 24 points in the second half, scoring in the lane and transition. The 6-foot-8 junior had his customary handful of impressive dunks, too, including one in the third quarter on a 3-on-2 fast break in which he took a beautiful back pass from Sims.
“The last five quarters that we played, up until the second quarter tonight, were probably the worst five quarters we’ve played all season. The Cedar Falls game and the first quarter here,” McCaffery said. “We just kind of gathered together, Seybian, Evan (Flitz) and I had a meeting today to try and figure out what we need to do to get better, make our practices better. That all started on the defensive end tonight. We really got after them, starting in the second quarter.
“That allowed us to make our run and eventually take the lead back.”
Keegan Murray had 18 points and twin brother Kris 15 for Prairie, showing off their identical silky smooth games at various times. The Hawks went 0-2 this week, though Coach Jeremy Rickertsen isn’t panicking.
This is just life in the rugged Mississippi Valley Conference.
“We’re fine,” he said. “We have had a tough stretch of games against Dubuque Senior and Davenport North and Iowa City West. Next week, we have (Dubuque) Hempstead and Linn-Mar. But that’s the MVC. Our kids are resilient. They come to practice every day. There is never a bad-attitude day or a down day after a loss. They just come back to work.”
AT U.S. CELLULAR CENTER
IOWA CITY WEST (65): Seybian Sims 2-2 3-4 8, Patrick McCaffery 10-14 4-5 24, Jayson Barnes 1-3 1-2 4, Dante Eldridge 5-9 5-6 19, Evan Flitz 0-3 0-0 0, Dadrian Hoambrecker 3-4 1-2 7, Jacob Anderson 1-1 1-2 3, Brayden Adcock 0-0 0-0 0, Jalen Gaudet 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-36 15-21 65.
CEDAR RAPIDS PRAIRIE (55): Harrison Cook 4-6 2-2 8, Mason Hook 2-8 0-0 4, Kris Murray 6-11 0-2 15, Keegan Murray 5-15 5-5 18, Griff Clark 0-7 3-4 3, Logan Burg 1-1 0-0 2, Matt Walter 1-2 0-0 3, Levi Usher 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 19-51 10-13 55.
Halftime — Iowa City West 32, C.R. Prairie 28. 3-point goals — Iowa City West 6-13 (Sims 1-1, Barnes 1-3, Eldridge 4-5, Flitz 0-3), C.R. Prairie 7-19 (Cook 0-1, Kr. Murray 3-6, Ke. Murray 3-8, Clark 0-2, Walter 1-2). Rebounds — Iowa City West 22 (McCaffery 8), C.R. Prairie 24 (Kr. Murray 7). Total fouls — Iowa City West 15, C.R. Prairie 14. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — Iowa City West 13, C.R. Prairie 13.
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