By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – Between the state tournament opener for West High on Wednesday and Friday’s semifinal tilt Steve Bergman had a short talk with sophomore standout Patrick McCaffery.
Nothing too complicated Bergman said of the conversation.
In fact, the message from the long-time West High coach was pretty simple – keep doing what you are doing.
“He is pretty confident in himself, it’s not like I had a tough sales job with him,” Bergman said. “I just told him to relax and play and I thought he was really good the last two games.”
The short and succinct message from Bergman stemmed from a rough state tournament opener for McCaffery against Newton.
Foul trouble limited the 6-foot-8 forward to a single field goal attempt and three points in 18 minutes as West High rallied for a 57-51 win over the Cardinals in the 4A quarterfinals.
“It was really frustrating because I wasn’t contributing as much as I thought I could,” McCaffery said. “I could never really get into a rhythm out there I kept getting fouls so I had to keep coming out.”
Heading into a semifinal rematch with Mississippi Valley Conference rival Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Bergman wanted to make sure the uncharacteristic performance from McCaffery in the opener didn’t linger.
“I just said that’s not going to happen again and you just can’t worry about things that are outside of your control like foul calls,” Bergman said. “I told him I thought he was a little uptight, he had some calls that hurt you and that won’t happen again and he was good the rest of the way.
It turns out Bergman had nothing to worry about.
McCaffery bounced back from the opening round performance with a pair of sparkling outings to help West High win its fourth state title in six years.
The best game of the tournament for McCaffery came in the semifinal win over Kennedy.
McCaffery had 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting, six rebounds and four blocked shots in the 61-37 win over the Cougars.
Seven of his 15 points came during a 12-0 West High run to open the game.,
“When I scored the seven in the first quarter that just gave me a lot more confidence the rest of the way,” McCaffery said.
He added 12 points, five rebounds and five assists in the title game win over West Des Moines Valley.
Perhaps his biggest contributions came on defense.
Against over Valley the versatile McCaffery helped hold 6-foot-8 center Charley Crowley to a tournament-low seven points while rotating between guarding Crowley and shadowing the Tigers’ point guard Austin Hinkle.
“Going into the finals the big debate among the coaching staff was should be try him on Crowley because he’s never guarded a guy like that before,” Bergman explained. “I said if he can’t guard Crowley then we have to try him on Hinkle and the funny thing is he guarded both of them and he did great against both of them.”
“He goes from guarding a point guard to guarding a center who is averaging about 20 in the state tournament and did a great job on both of them.”
The state title was the first that McCaffery had been a part of after watching older brother Connor help the Trojans win the 2014 title.
A senior point guard, Connor was named the captain of the state tournament team after leading West High in scoring in all three games.
“It means everything,” Patrick McCaffery said. “That has been our goal since we started playing together, we want to win two but at least we won one.”