IOWA CITY — The final buzzer sounded, and the student section held up a bunch of white paper signs in celebration.
“500th Win,” they all said.
Not that Steve Bergman really gave a turkey. Oh, sure, the Iowa City West boys’ basketball coach appreciated the acknowledgement of this milestone.
But, Bergy being Bergy, the fact his team slugged its way past West Des Moines Dowling, 52-41, Thursday night in the season opener took precedence. By about a million times.
“Somebody wanted to make a big deal out of it, and that’s great,” Bergman deadpanned. “But you know me. I love to be the center of attention.”
To be specific, this was Bergman’s 500th win at West, not overall. His record at the school is a pretty unbelievable 500-132 in 27 seasons, including six state championships.
He’s 545-181 in 32 years at West, Monticello and West Liberty, and 1-0 this season, thanks to a second-half defensive effort from his club the notoriously hard-to-please coach had to appreciate. West turned a one-point halftime deficit into a 15-point lead midway through the fourth quarter by holding Dowling (1-1) to six points in that span.
“If we practice the way we’re capable of practicing, we (can) play defense like that all the time,” Bergman said. “At halftime, I was pretty disappointed with some guys’ efforts ... In the second half, our pressure and denial bothered them.”
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In particular, West really got after Sam Ingoli, Dowling’s leading scorer and a possible Division I college player. He had six points the first quarter but was held completely in check during West’s decisive 24-6 run.
Ingoli finished with 20, but many of those came late.
“Bergman came in at halftime and kind of switched up how we were going to help on Ingoli,” said West’s Evan Flitz. “He’s a good player, and the goal was really to stop his drives.”
“He’s got his hands on the ball all the time, and he’s going to keep going until somebody stops him,” said West’s Patrick McCaffery. “We started running guys at him, rotating.”
Considered one of the top juniors in the country, the 6-foot-8 McCaffery, son of Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery, got untracked offensively in the second half. That’s when he scored 20 of his game-high 24 points, driving to the hole and getting out in the open court on the break.
“I just had some shots go down in a row,” McCaffery said. “I got some good looks, had them go down in the second half. Got to the line. That just led to everything else the rest of the way.”
“He was very out of sorts, it seemed like,” Bergman said. “He’s going to get it, they are going to be very physical with him (this season). He missed some shots he’s used to making. But in the second half, we got it to him in better spots, and he did a better job finishing. He’s good. He knows I want him to be just as good on the defensive end. He’s got some work to do there. I think that will make him a better offensive player, too.”
Seybian Sims added nine points and seven rebounds for West, his shot-blocking ability also playing a key factor. Guard Paul McGee Jr., who didn’t play much last season, came off the bench and provided a significant spark, scoring four points, pulling down six rebounds and playing solid defense.
West heads north to the Twin Cities for a game Saturday against Minnesota power Minneapolis DeLaSalle.
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“We’re a very undisciplined unit in practice right now,” Bergman cautioned. “There are losses out there for us if we don’t figure out a way to be a little more consistent.”
AT IOWA CITY
WEST DES MOINES DOWLING (41): John Waggoner 4-8 0-0 8, Luke Yacinich 0-7 0-0 0, Sam Ingoli 7-13 6-7 20, Sam McMurray 2-3 0-0 6, Dylan Eastman 0-4 0-0 0, Blake Clark 1-2 0-0 3, Jack Keough 0-3 0-0 0, Ryan Riggs 1-1 0-0 2, Jack Lyman 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 16-44 6-7 41.
IOWA CITY WEST (52): Hakeem Odunsi 1-5 0-0 2, Seybian Sims 4-5 1-1 9, Patrick McCaffery 8-15 8-10 24, Evan Flitz 1-4 1-3 3, Dante Eldridge 3-8 1-2 8, Dadrian Hoambrecker 0-0 0-0 0, Brayden Adcock 0-1 0-1 0, Paul McGee Jr. 2-2 0-0 4, Jake Anderson 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 20-36 11-17 52.
Halftime — Dowling 22, West 21. 3-point goals — Dowling 3-10 (Yacinich 0-3, Ingoli 0-1, McMurray 2-2, Eastman 0-1, Clark 1-1, Keough 0-1, Lyman 0-1), West 1-11 (Odunsi 0-2, Sims 0-1, McCaffery 0-2, Flitz 0-3, Eldridge 1-3). Rebounds — Dowling 28 (Ingoli 10), West 25 (Sims 7). Total fouls — Dowling 17, West 13. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — Dowling 18, West 10.
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