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Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – This hasn’t been exactly the senior season that Hakeem Odunsi imagined.
That’s putting it mildly.
Odunsi described his senior campaign more bluntly on Thursday, calling his final year at West High ‘a struggle’.
He was suspended for five games and has been in and out of the starting lineup while averaging 4.5 points per game.
None of that mattered to Odunsi on Thursday.
The 6-foot-6 senior poured in a career-high 18 points on his 18th birthday to lift second-ranked West High to a 58-50 win over No. 9 Waukee in a Class 4A state semifinal at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
“I know I can play like this all the time,” Odunsi said. “It’s been a struggle this year but we are one game from winning a state championship so it doesn’t really matter.”
Odunsi had 13 of his game-high 18 points after halftime West High (21-4) rallied from a three-point halftime deficit to return to the 4A title game for the sixth time in seven seasons.
West High will face fourth-ranked Cedar Falls (20-5) in the 4A championship on Friday at 8:15 p.m.
“I needed to step up when my team needed me,” Odunsi said. “We weren’t hitting shots and we were stagnant on offense so I just tried to make plays for my team.”
Odunsi has had his moments this season.
He has scored 11 points twice, most recently in a 62-50 win over Muscatine in the Trojans’ state tournament opener on Tuesday.
Odunsi saved his best performance for when his team needed it the most.
He was 5-of-9 from the field and made all four of his 3-point attempts including three in a 22-point West High third quarter.
“He is a smart kid and when he lets all the frustration go he sees, he gets it and I’m glad he’s here this week,” West High coach Steve Bergman said. “We need him.”
Waukee (20-5) scored the final three points of the second quarter to take a 26-23 halftime lead and led 30-25 after a Dylan Jones dunk a little more than a minute into the second half.
That’s when Odunsi got going.
He made three 3-pointers in a span of less than four minutes as West High closed the quarter with a 20-7 run.
“I feel in my rhythm this tournament,” Odunsi said. “I’m just feeling good about things right now.”
Odunsi snapped a 32-32 tie with a triple from the top of the key and with 5:12 left in the quarter and Seybian Sims pushed the lead to five with a two-handed slam following a Dante Eldridge steal.
West High held Waukee scoreless for the final 3:31 of the quarter and took a 45-37 lead on back-to-back 3-pointers by Odunsi and Evan Flitz to end the quarter.
“All of us on the team know what he is capable of,” Sims said of Odunsi. “It’s just a little bumping heads between him and coach and that hasn’t let other people see what he is capable of. We all know what he is capable of and tournament time he is definitely showing what he can do.”
A few conflicts with Bergman kept Odunsi out of the lineup this season but he’s been impressive at state averaging 14.5 points while hitting 5-of-8 3-pointers in two state tournament wins.
“He just pushes me to do better,” Odunsi said of Bergman. “He knows what I’m capable of and sometimes I fight him but he knows what’s best for me so I just have to listen to him because he’s going to get me to where I want to go.”
The biggest shot of the game for Odunsi game in the fourth quarter.
He stopped a 6-0 Waukee run that cut the West High lead to 45-43 with 5:32 left with a 15-foot jumper that started a 5-0 spurt for West High.
Waukee never got closer than four points the rest of the game.
“The last two games he has been big,” Sims said of Odunsi. “He’s a big body that can play very well. He’s a very big key for us.”
Sims and Patrick McCaffery each had 14 points for West High as the Trojans shot 57 percent in the second half.
Jones led four Waukee players in double figures with 12 points and 11 rebounds and Nathan Nelson had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“At halftime we talked that this could be our last game especially us seniors this could be our last 16 minutes,” Sims said. “We have tomorrow thankfully. Bergman just talked about keeping our heads right and playing our hearts out.”
West High 11 12 22 13 – 58
Waukee 12 14 11 13 – 50
West High (58) – Dante Eldridge 2-8 0-0 5, Evan Flitz 3-5 0-0 7, Seybian Sims 4-5 6-8 14, Hakeem Odunsi 5-9 4-6 18, Patrick McCaffery 5-11 4-6 14, Jake Anderson 0-0 0-0 0, Dadrian Hoambrecker 0-0 0-0 0, Paul McGee 0-0 0-0 0, Team 19-38 14-20 58.
Waukee (50) – Dylan Jones 6-9 0-0 11, Noah Hart 5-10 0-0 11, Nathan Nelson 3-8 4-7 10, Jaxx Rittman 2-6 0-1 6, Nathan Johnson 4-11 2-4 11, Tyson Kelderman 0-1 0-0 0, Team 20-45 6-12 50.
3-point field goals – ICW 6-13 (Eldridge 1-5, Flitz 1-3, Odunsi 4-4, McCaffery 0-1); WAU 4-11 (Hart 1-2, Rittman 2-4, Johnson 1-5). Rebounds – ICW 18 (Sims 6); WAU 30 (Jones 11). Assists – ICW 14 (Eldridge 4); WAU 13 (Hart 6). Turnovers – ICW 8; WAU 12. Total fouls – ICW 16; WAU 18. Fouled out – None. Technical fouls – None.