Prep Basketball

Iowa City West makes it an even 10 straight trips to boys' state basketball tournament

Trojans set record after 55-36 Class 4A substate final win over Pleasant Valley

NORTH LIBERTY — Ten is ...

What’s a word that rhymes with 10 that means great, exceptional or extraordinary?

How about PHEN-omenal? How about Heav-EN?

How about just plain “record setting?” That’s what Iowa City West’s 55-36 win Tuesday night over Pleasant Valley in a Class 4A substate final at Liberty High School turned out to be.

It moved the fourth-ranked Trojans on to next week’s state tournament in Des Moines for the 10th consecutive year. No school has done that before, as West moves past Linn-Mar, which made it nine straight years from 2004 to 2012.

“I knew it had been a lot,” said West Coach Steve Bergman. “That’s good. That’s always the goal to begin with, right? So whenever you get a goal, you’re happy. Good bunch of guys. They’ve worked their butts off.”

Marcus Morgan continued his late-season recovery from a lower leg injury, scoring a game-high 17 points as West (21-2) never trailed. The Trojans went on a 16-0 run late in the first quarter and early in the second, holding Pleasant Valley (13-11) without a field goal the entire second and for about 10 total minutes.

Morgan’s older brother, Jeremy, was a sophomore on West’s 2011 team that began this decade-long state streak.

“He started it,” Marcus Morgan said. “What does this say? It’s a credit to Bergman and getting guys to buy in. Just the way he gets guys to buy in, we play our hearts out for him.”

“That no one has done it before, and I am part of it is super cool,” said West center Even Brauns, who added 14 points.

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This probably more than any of the other nine years has been particular impressive because, outside of Brauns (a Division I college signee with Belmont), this West team isn’t necessarily the most talented and definitely not the deepest.

Yet here the Trojans are, their two losses (to Dubuque Senior and Cedar Falls) by a combined four points. That close to perfect going into what should be a wide-open 4A state tourney.

“I don’t think everyone went into the season thinking this would happen,” Bergman said. “Then we had some adversity with injuries and illness. Even tonight (reserve guard) Christian Barnes is sicker than a dog. It’s never easy. We played great in the first half tonight, got what we needed. We stressed that because you don’t want to play behind that team. They like to grind it out.”

West made 13 of 18 shots in the first half and was 19 of 29 overall.

“We came out really focused,” Morgan said. “We had a good game plan, and we were confident coming into this game. When you’re confident going into a game, I think it helps a lot.”

AT NORTH LIBERTY

PLEASANT VALLEY (36): Jacob Townsend 5-12 2-2 12, Matt Mickle 2-4 0-0 6, Carter Cline 1-3 0-1 3, C.J. Ragins 4-7 1-2 9, Ryan Dolphin 2-10 2-2 6, Joey Borbeck 0-0 0-0 0, Jack Donahue 0-0 0-0 0, Seth Clausen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-36 5-7 36.

IOWA CITY WEST (55): Tate Crane 2-4 0-0 5, Even Brauns 6-7 2-4 14, Marcus Morgan 5-7 5-6 17, Nicholas Pepin 4-6 3-3 13, Joey Goodman 1-1 2-4 4, Ben Vandeer Leest 1-3 0-0 2, Christian Barnes 0-1 0-0 0, Charlie Moreland 0-0 0-0 0, Andrew Tauchen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-29 12-17 55.

Halftime — Iowa City West 32, Pleasant Valley 13. 3-point goals — Pleasant Valley 3-10 (Townsend 0-1, Mickle 2-3, Cline 1-3, Dolphin 0-3), Iowa City West 5-12 (Crane 1-2, Morgan 2-4, Pepin 2-4, Vander Leest 0-1, Barnes 0-1). Rebounds — Pleasant Valley 21 (Townsend 6), Iowa City West 14 (Morgan 4). Total fouls — Pleasant Valley 19, Iowa City West 13. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — Pleasant Valley 9, Iowa City West 4.

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

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