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Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – The signs held up by the West High students read 500.
As in 500 wins.
The latest career milestone for West High head coach Steve Bergman came with a defense-fueled second-half rally, 24 points from junior standout Patrick McCaffery and some explaining from the Trojans’ long-time leader.
West High overcame a sluggish start and a 22-21 halftime deficit to dump West Des Moines Dowling 52-41 in its season opener on Thursday at West High.
The win was the 500th for Bergman at West High and came in the first game of his 27th season at the helm.
Bergman has 545 career wins in 32 seasons with stops at Monticello and West Liberty before West High.
“When they hold up 500 you want to say that was three years ago but somebody wanted to make a big deal out of it, that’s great,” Bergman said. “You know me, I love to be the center of attention.”
Bergman, who boasts an all-time record of 545-181, was joking about crazing attention.
He wasn’t in the mood for jokes following a first half in which West High trailed by as many as nine and allowed West Des Moines Dowling (1-1) to shoot 47 percent from the floor.
“At halftime I was pretty disappointed with some guys’ effort,” Bergman said flatly. “The second half, it picked up.”
To say West High picked it up on defense is one way to put it.
Perhaps a more accurate way to describe the West High defense after halftime is smothering.
West High held Dowling to five points over the first 10 and a half minutes of the second half while turning a 22-21 deficit into a 39-27 lead.
“We just executed better and we started denying harder,” McCaffery said. “We weren’t really denying very much the first half so they just got (the ball) wherever they wanted and the second half we started denying, got a couple of steals and got out on the break.”
McCaffery scored 20 of his 24 points after halftime as West High shot 58 percent from the floor in the second half.
The 6-foot-8 junior missed all three of this first-quarter field goal attempts but made nine of his final 13 attempts including his final five as West High put the game away in the second half.
“I couldn’t really get much going in the first half,” McCaffery said. “The second half I got a couple of good looks and put something in and then I got to the line a couple of times and that just kind of led to everything else the rest of the way.”
For McCaffery and the Trojans it all started on defense.
Sam McMurray hit a 3-pointer on the opening possession of the half for Dowling to give the Maroons a 25-21 lead 30 seconds into the third quarter.
West High held Dowling scoreless for nearly six minutes while scoring seven straight points to take a 28-25 lead.
Dowling got within 28-27 on a John Waggoner bucket but McCaffery scored on a putback and a layup to close the quarter and had four points during a 6-0 run to start the fourth.
“The defense kind of translated into some instant offense we got out and we started denying more in the second half,” McCaffery said. “They only had something like two points in the second half for a while we really buckled down on the defensive end.”
West High forced seven Dowling turnovers in the second half and 16 in the game and limited the Maroons to 7-of-22 shooting after halftime.
Our pressure and our denial bothered them,” Bergman said. “They went a long time and scored two points.”
Dowling was led by senior Sam Ingoli with 20 points.
Ingoli had six points in the first quarter and 10 more in the final four minutes with the outcome secured.
In between, West High put the clamps on the 6-foot-5 Ingoli, holding him scoreless during a 23-4 run in the third and fourth quarters.
“He had the ball in his hands all the time and he’s going to keep going until somebody stops him,” McCaffery said of Ingoli. “We had to start running guys at him and rotating and Paul McGee came in and gave us a lot of good energy off the bench and that really kind of sparked us in that run that ended up sealing the game.
McGee finished with four points and six rebounds and did his best work on the defensive end.
Senior forward Seybian Sims had nine points, six rebounds and blocked or altered a bevy of Dowling shots in the second half.
“We obviously picked it up in the second half,” Sims said. “Paul (McGee) came in and brought a lot of energy and when a player does that it gives the whole team energy.”
West High 7 14 11 20 – 52
West Des Moines Dowling 13 9 5 14 – 41
West High (52) – Dante Eldridge 3-8 1-2 8, Evan Flitz 1-4 1-3 3, Seybian Sims 4-5 1-1 9, Jake Anderson 1-1 0-0 2, Hakeem Odunsi 1-5 0-0 2, Patrick McCaffery 9-16 6-8 24, Paul McGee 2-2 0-0 4, Brayden Adcock 0-1 0-1 0, Team 21-42 9-15 52.
West Des Moines Dowling (41) – Sam McMurray 2-3 0-0 6, Sam Ingoli 7-13 6-7 20, Luke Yacinich 0-6 0-0 0, Blake Clark 1-3 0-0 3, Jack Keough 0-2 0-0 0, Dylan Eastman 0-2 0-0 0, Jack Lyman 1-3 0-0 2, John Waggoner 4-8 0-0 8, Ryan Riggs 1-1 0-0 2, Team 16-41 6-7 41.
3-point field goals – ICW 1-10 (Eldridge 1-2, Flitz 0-3, Sims 0-1, Odunsi 0-2, McCaffery 0-2); WDD 3-11 (McMurray 2-2, Ingoli 0-1, Yacinich 0-5, Clark 1-1, Eastman 0-1, Lyman 0-1). Rebounds – ICW 24 (Sims, McGee 6); WDD 24 (Ingoli 10). Turnovers – ICW 12, WDD 16. Total fouls – ICW