CEDAR RAPIDS – It’s been the big four on this side of the state in Class 4A all boys’ basketball season.
In order of state ranking, you’ve got Dubuque Senior, Bettendorf, Iowa City West and North Scott. No one else has really come close.
Despite a loss to one of the big four Tuesday night, Coach Jon McKowen insists his Cedar Rapids Kennedy Cougars are inching ever nearer to them.
“We’re close,” McKowen said, after his team’s 68-51 loss to West at the Cougars Den. “It discourages me because we played this way Saturday, too. That’s two games in a row, and we need to figure out how to fix ourselves. Until you fix yourself, you can’t worry about anything else.”
Kennedy (11-3), ranked ninth by The Gazette/Iowa Prep Sports, had to rally late to overcome an average Ames team on the road last Saturday night, fell behind 7-0 here and – outside of one strange sequence late in the third quarter – never seemed to have the back-to-back defending state champion Trojans in much danger.
Now about that strange sequence. West freshman point guard Connor McCaffery was called for a charging foul while trying to bring the ball up the floor, then was assessed a quick technical for disgustedly tossing the ball away. The ‘T’ was his fifth foul.
Then West’s Wyatt Lohaus was called for a similar offensive foul, which eventually led to head coach Steve Bergman being given a technical of his own. West still held a 10-point lead at quarter’s end and extended things back to a safe 14 midway through the fourth.
“Unbelievable. Is that a four-letter word?” Bergman said, when asked if he could assess a game with zero offensive flow without using a four-letter word. “They do some things you don’t see every night. We tried to prepare for it, but it’s a little hard. I thought at times we really handled it, and at times, we didn’t. We turned it over way too much. I liked our defense the last four minutes. That’s what saved us. We made some plays when things were crumbling.”
West (12-2) won despite an un-West like 22 turnovers. Then again, Kennedy had 27, more than double the amount of rebounds it had (13).
With his future college coach (UNI’s Ben Jacobson) on hand, Lohaus finished with a game-high 27 points, and that was despite not scoring in the first quarter. David DiLeo added 11.
“They pressured the ball pretty hard, but we knew that was going to happen coming into it,” Lohaus said. “I think we just panicked a little. Along with that, just forcing it a little bit. Personally, I thought I forced it a little late in the third quarter and early in the fourth. We just needed to calm down a little bit and hit the open man.”
A.J. Carter led Kennedy with 13 points, and Drew Heitland had 12. Bergman said starting guard Garrett Grimsman might be finished for the season for West due to a meniscus tear in his knee.
“We’re doing a good job in spurts, getting the ball into the right position,” McKowen said. “But at times we’re playing a little too fast offensively. We need good intensity for 32 minutes. That’s what we’re good at, flying around and being quick. That’s our strength. You can get away with lulls and playing slow when you have 6-4 or 6-9 guys. But we can’t get away with that, and that’s something we have to understand.”
Here is the game boxscore:
AT C.R. KENNEDY
IOWA CITY WEST (68): Wali Parks 3-4 3-3 9, Chike Ukah 5-5 0-0 10, David DiLeo 4-8 1-1 11, Connor McCaffery 0-0 0-0 0, Wyatt Lohaus 8-19 10-12 27, Adam Klein 1-1 0-0 2, Tanner Lohaus 2-2 0-0 4, Nick Gallagher 1-2 3-4 5, Marquise Yarbrough 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-41 17-20 68.
C.R. KENNEDY (51): Drew Heitland 5-7 1-4 12, Cole Murdock 1-4 3-4 5, Derek Jacobus 0-0 1-2 1, A.J. Carter 5-13 2-3 13, Zach Daniels 2-6 2-2 7, Austin Holzer 1-3 0-0 2, Bryton Heisler 1-1 5-6 7, Brendon Manning 1-1 1-1 3, Brandon Buck 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-36 15-22 51.
Halftime – West 32, Kennedy 22. 3-point goals - West 3-10 (DiLeo 2-3, W. Lohaus 1-6, Gallagher 0-1), Kennedy 4-10 (Heitland 1-1, Murdock 1-1, Carter 1-4, Daniels 1-4). Rebounds - West 24 (Ukah 7), Kennedy 13 (Carter, Heisler 3). Total fouls - West 20, Kennedy 18. Fouled out - McCaffery, Daniels. Technical foul - McCaffery. Turnovers – West 22, Kennedy 27.