MARION — They are not No. 1 for the first time this season. Ah, what do sportswriters know anyway?
They’d better know enough about the Iowa City West Trojans to know they’ll be a serious factor when the boys’ basketball season is all said and done.
A 64-47 stroll Tuesday night at Linn-Mar showed West might not be at the top of the Class 4A poll at the moment, but it might still be the team to beat.
“Our final stretch here is brutal, so it’s just attention to detail,” said West’s Patrick McCaffery. “That’s what we have been emphasizing every day in practice. Watching film, trying to correct our mistakes. Just be locked in at all times on defense. Treat every possession like it matters. Practice with that same kind of focus and attention to detail, so we can carry it over to games.”
West (14-3) slipped to third in The Gazette’s 4A rankings after seeing its 81-game home win streak snapped this past weekend by Dubuque Senior. The Trojans lost by 20 points two weekends ago to Kansas state champion Bishop Miege and dropped a one-point decision three weeks ago to Cedar Falls.
These guys are mortal, but still incredibly dangerous. McCaffery had 23 points here and Seybian Sims 14 as West led from near beginning to end.
The win clinched at least a tie of the Mississippi Valley Conference’s Mississippi Division championship.
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“I just need guys that when they make a mistake, I want to hear ‘How can I fix that?’” said West Coach Steve Bergman. “I don’t feel like I’m getting that a lot. Our problem has never been playing hard. I thought we played hard Saturday, I think we’ve played hard in every game. We just always don’t play so smart. That’s what we’re really focusing on. Trying to play smart.”
West shot it at a 60-percent clip and held Linn-Mar to 37 percent from the field, so it might appear the notoriously hard-to-please Bergman is picking nits. But, as an example, the hall of fame coach pointed to a possession where his point guard posted up inside, took an entry pass from an interior player and tried to make a move.
That should have been the other way around.
“There were some stretches tonight that were really good,” Bergman said. “We’d build a nice lead, then we’d give it right back. Just making bad decisions or not doing our job, that’s kind of our deal. Do your job and help each other out, and just play smart on the offensive end.”
Jacob Robertson led Linn-Mar with 22 points. Trey Hutcheson added 12.
Junior McCaffery, by the way, is one of 24 prep players nationwide from the class of 2019 to be invited to the NCAA Final Four in San Antonio, Texas, in late March as part of the Next Generation Sunday Program. Players will attend games and participate in special activities.
“I’ve been through stuff like that, and this is probably the most excited I’ve been,” he said. “Just the whole experience will be awesome. I’ll get to go to the games, get to be around all those guys and soak up information. I am really excited.”
IOWA CITY WEST (64): Jalen Gaudet 0-0 0-0 0, Seybian Sims 7-8 0-0 14, Patrick McCaffery 8-15 7-10 23, Evan Flitz 3-4 0-0 8, Dante Eldridge 4-7 2-2 12, Hakeem Odunsi 0-1 0-0 0, Jake Anderson 1-2 2-2 5, Dadrian Hoambrecker 1-1 0-0 2, Brayden Adcock 0-0 0-1 1, Jayson Barnes 0-1 0-0 0, Jacob Klein 0-0 0-0 0, Cole Mabry 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-40 11-15 64.
LINN-MAR (47): Jaren Nelson 3-5 0-0 7, Trey Hutcheson 4-12 4-8 12, Nate Annis 0-3 0-0 0, Nolan Ruff 0-3 0-0 0, Jacob Robertson 8-15 3-3 22, Jack Gertsen 0-1 0-0 0, Greg Hall 1-3 0-0 2, Cole Martin 1-4 0-0 2, Hayden Passmore 1-1 0-0 2, Cam Nelson 0-1 0-1 0. Totals 18-48 7-12 47.
Halftime — Iowa City West 30, Linn-Mar 19. 3-point goals — Iowa City West 6-13 (McCaffery 1-3, Flitz 2-2, Eldridge 2-3, Odunsi 0-1, Anderson 1-2, Barnes 0-1, Mabry 0-1), Linn-Mar 4-16 (J. Nelson 1-2, Hutcheson 0-3, Robertson 3-8, Hall 0-2, Martin 0-1). Rebounds — Iowa City West 24 (Sims, McCaffery 5), Linn-Mar 26 (Hutcheson 6). Total fouls — Iowa City West 14, Linn-Mar 18. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — Iowa City West 13, Linn-Mar 13.
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