Prep Basketball

Iowa City West boys' basketball hangs on to edge Cedar Rapids Xavier

Trojans nearly give up 17-point halftime lead but pick up 51-48 victory

CEDAR RAPIDS — The winning team didn’t feel like it was the winning team. The losing team felt like it lost but also left encouraged.

Weird how one quarter can change everyone’s feelings.

“I don’t think anyone feels good,” Even Brauns said, after his Iowa City West boys’ basketball team held on to beat Cedar Rapids Xavier, 51-48, Friday night at Ron Thillen Gymnasium. “No one should.”

Class 4A’s eighth-ranked Trojans ran away from their opponent but forgot to hide. West held a 17-point lead at halftime and was up 16 after three quarters.

But then you looked up at the scoreboard, and suddenly it was a one-possession game in the final 30 seconds. What the heck happened?

Well, West started doing nothing offensively and missed a whole bunch of free throws, including three straight one-and-ones. Xavier kept scrapping, and it was a ballgame.

“It was honestly the whole second half,” West Coach Steve Bergman said. “When we don’t do our stuff, we don’t score. And we didn’t score. There were about six times where I was like ‘What are you doing?’ Because we really broke it down and worked on it over break. The first half, that’s how we played.”

“We just got sped up, I think,” said Brauns, the D-I Belmont University signee, who had a game-high 16 points, though only two in the second half. “Also a lack of discipline, really. I got the ball in the post and made some bad decisions. Just our whole team. We made some bad decisions on defense, especially, and that’s where we’ve been really good this season. We just gave guys looks we normally don’t.”

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Tate Crane made one of two free throws for West with 11.7 seconds left, with Xavier’s Tre McCrary driving for a layup that made it a 50-48 game with 3.3 seconds left. Brauns made a free throw and missed one, with Xavier’s Jaylon Moses coming up short on a shot from three-quarters court at the buzzer.

West is playing without junior wing Marcus Morgan, its second leading scorer, who is out with a leg injury that has nagged him from the start of the season. He could be out awhile, Bergman said.

Davis Wagner led Xavier (2-4) with 13 points, with Nick Hansel adding 11. This was the third game in a row the Saints, a Class 3A school, have played against a top-10 4A opponent.

Xavier is 0-3 in those game.

“As a team, we’ve just been talking about doing the little things,” said first-year head coach Mike Freeman. “Everything matters in what we do every day. We have too many lapses as a team in areas. We can’t (give) a good team a 17-point lead at the half. I’m proud of our group for battling and playing really hard. But we have got to take care of the little details that are costing us wins.”

West’s two games next week are against undefeated Dubuque Hempstead and two-time defending state champ Cedar Falls.

“I’ve got kids who have played a lot of basketball, but they seem to go out there and kind of lose their self discipline,” Bergman said. “Kind of do what they want. They need to figure it out. We’ll keep showing them that, hey, this is a bad choice. And it doesn’t help that one of our scorers isn’t playing. But this is what we’ve got, and we’ve got to figure it out.”

AT CEDAR RAPIDS XAVIER

IOWA CITY WEST (51): Tate Crane 0-0 1-4 1, Benjamin Vander Leest 4-4 0-1 10, Even Brauns 6-13 4-6 16, Nicholas Pepin 4-10 0-0 10, Joey Goodman 3-5 1-2 8, Christian Barnes 2-3 1-2 6. Totals 19-35 7-15 51.

C.R. XAVIER (48): Davis Wagner 4-8 4-6 13, Nick Hansel 5-9 0-0 11, Jaylon Moses 0-8 0-0 0, Tre McCrary 2-4 0-0 4, Jacob Beckmann 1-7 4-4 6, Mitch Helmkamp 1-2 0-0 3, Kevin Nelson 0-0 0-0 0, Peyton Shannon 2-4 0-0 6, Jack Breitbach 0-1 0-0 0, Max Kaiser 2-2 0-0 5, Jack Goldsmith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-45 8-10 48.

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Halftime — West 36, Xavier 19. 3-point goals — West 6-11 (Vander Leest 2-2, Pepin 2-7, Goodman 1-1, Barnes 1-1), Xavier 6-14 (Wagner 1-1, Hansel 1-1, Moses 0-1, Beckmann 0-5, Helmkamp 0-2, Kaiser 1-1, Shannon 2-3). Rebounds — West 22 (Crane 7), Xavier 26 (Wagner, Moses 6). Total fouls — West 10, Xavier 15. Technical foul — Barnes. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — West 11, Xavier 11.

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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