CEDAR RAPIDS – Steve Bergman sees it in practice every day. His Iowa City West basketball team competes at a high level offensively, but more importantly defensively. Then come gameday the Trojans lack a full 32 minute effort.
“I see it every day practice we run it right,” the Trojans head coach said. “We just get in games and lose it a little bit.”
It didn’t take long out of half time for the Trojans to flip the switch, and Xavier head coach Ryan Luehrsmann knew it was coming.
“We talked about it at half, that we had to come out and weather the storm and not allow them to do just what they did,” Luehrsmann said.
What Iowa City West did was balloon a two point cushion into 12 that led to a 52-41 win over Xavier Friday night.
Senior point guard Wyatt Lohaus acted as the ringleader that ignited the second half surge. The senior came out of the locker room drilling a 3-pointer – tripling his point production from the first half. Less than three minutes later he hit another jumper to extend the Trojans’ lead to six. From that point on, Iowa City West’s advantage didn’t fall below that margin.
“I think we lost Lohaus. We did a really good job on him the first half,” Luehrsmann said. “Once he gets going, all those other guys just settle in and feed off of him. I love Wyatt’s game. To me Dondre (Alexander) and Jeremy (Morgan) are phenomenal, but I don’t think Wyatt should take a back seat to them.”
Alexander took the baton from Lohaus in the fourth quarter. The Southern Mississippi commit scored eight of his ten points in the final eight minutes. He turned heads not with his scoring, but tallying assists. On three straight possessions he dished out highlight-reel dimes, including two alley-oops and an around the back pass.
“I’m always looking for the open man. If it’s the right time to pass then that person’s got to get the ball,” Alexander said.
Alexander, like his team’s first half performance, bounced back after a sluggish game against Cedar Falls Tuesday. In his return to the team after a week layoff, he scored three points with two turnovers.
The No. 1 team in 4A won its 32nd team in a row, a feat that had Luehrsmann calling them one of the best teams in the history of the state.
But even as Alexander looked closer to mid-season form, and the Trojans pulled away in the second half, Bergman isn’t satisfied.
“Hopefully all of us settle down,” Bergman said. “We’re certainly not playing great right now. We can get a lot better.”