CEDAR RAPIDS — Patrick McCaffery forgot one of his shoes Tuesday night.
The Iowa City West forward packed only one for his team’s trip to the U.S. Cellular Center for its Class 4A substate final. The other accidentally remained at home.
The kid wore the sneakers of Muscatine’s Joe Wieskamp, a future University of Iowa teammate, until someone rescued him and brought his forgotten one.
“Yeah, had to borrow Joe’s for a quarter,” McCaffery said with a smile, after his team escaped Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 49-40. “A girl coming to the game, one of our girls’ basketball players, stopped at my house real quick and went and grabbed it for me, then came here and threw it down to me right before the game. I kept Joe’s on for a quarter, but I felt like I wasn’t playing well, so I had to switch.”
Second-ranked West didn’t play especially well but did just enough to qualify for next week’s state tournament for the eighth consecutive year. The Trojans actually trailed by a point, 36-35, with under four minutes to go before righting the ship and finally putting away their big-time underdog opponent.
“It was ugly, I can’t say anything else,” said West Coach Steve Bergman. “But all credit to Kennedy for making it ugly.”
West (19-4) rolled the Cougars in late January, 72-35, but this was not that game. Kennedy (11-13) played a tightly compacted 2-3 zone much of the night, slowing things down, with West not hitting shots or getting anything in transition.
It was just a 17-14 Trojans lead at halftime and 30-24 after three quarters. Kennedy surged early in the fourth, with Trey Sheets hitting a corner trey to put the Cougars up for the first time, 36-35, with 3:56 left.
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“The first time we played them, they just killed us at the rim,” said Kennedy guard Jackson Foley. “So this game, we tried to pack the paint and make sure they couldn’t get easy buckets at the rim. It worked. We were right there and did everything we could to give ourselves a chance to win.”
“The kids just executed really well tonight,” said Kennedy Coach Jon McKowen. “I couldn’t be happier with the way they played.”
After Sheets’ 3, McCaffery made a pair of free throws to put West back on top. Dante Eldridge then hit a huge trey for a four-point edge, and Kennedy could never quite make it back.
McCaffery had a game-high 24 points for the Trojans, who will find out their state tourney seed and opponent sometime Wednesday. Foley had 11 points and freshman Caleb Schlaak 10 for Kennedy.
“I had trust in my guys,” McCaffery said. “I knew we were going to rally together and figure it out. We’ve had games like this before. I was confident in my guys that we were going to pull this thing together and come out with a victory. Which we did.”
“We were kind of asleep. I can’t explain what we were doing,” Bergman said. “They switched defenses, and we did a lot of standing around. We didn’t attack the glass. We just felt like we really had an advantage inside. A couple of our guys looked tired. We’ve got to figure that out. We need a little rest, I think. It’s just a grind ... We just looked a step slow offensively.”
AT U.S. CELLULAR CENTER
C.R. KENNEDY (40): Caleb Schlaak 4-8 0-0 10, Ethan Sailer 1-1 0-0 2, Jack Wetzel 3-6 0-0 7, Trey Sheets 3-5 0-0 5, Jackson Foley 4-11 3-6 11, Tommy Vanek 1-2 0-0 2, Ben Koester 0-0 1-2 1, Grant Griffin 1-2 0-0 2, Michael Gallagher 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-35 4-8 40.
IOWA CITY WEST (49): Seybian Sims 3-4 4-6 10, Patrick McCaffery 6-14 12-16 24, Paul McGee 0-0 1-2 1, Dante Eldridge 2-5 0-0 6, Evan Flitz 0-3 3-4 3, Dadrian Hoambrecker 0-2 0-0 0, Jacob Anderson 1-2 3-3 5, Jayson Barnes 0-0 0-0 0, Brayden Adcock 0-1 0-0 0, T.J. Hillberry 0-0 0-0 0, Cole Mabry 0-0 0-0 0, Jacob Klein 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-31 23-31 49.
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Halftime – West 30, Kennedy 24. 3-point goals – Kennedy 4-10 (Schlaak 2-4, Wetzel 1-1, Sheets 1-3, Foley 0-2), West 2-11 (McCaffery 0-2, Eldridge 2-5, Flitz 0-2, Anderson 0-1, Adcock 0-1). Rebounds – Kennedy 19 (Schlaak, Wetzel 5), West 25 (Sims 9). Total fouls – Kennedy 20, West 9. Fouled out – None. Turnovers — Kennedy 10, West 9.
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