Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – West High boys basketball coach Steve Bergman has been telling Even Brauns throughout the season to be more aggressive on offense.
“That’s been the case since we started working with him is just being patient, but persistent,” Bergman said. “He would probably tell you we’re on him a lot to get going.”
Bergman’s persistence was rewarded on Thursday as the 6-foot-9 Brauns scored 21 points to help the Class 4A fourth-ranked Trojans to a 69-48 victory over City High at the West High gymnasium.
Brauns came out aggressive from the start and scored six points in the first quarter and had 10 by halftime.
“I’ve been trying to do that all season, just be more aggressive,” Brauns said. “That’s something coach has pushed a lot because he knows what I’m capable of.
“And a lot of it is just me. I’ve got to get myself better prepared for games and get myself in that game mode because I’m capable of doing stuff like this. I’ve just got to believe I can.”
City High had no answer for Brauns’ size near the basket. He only missed two of his 11 field-goal attempts.
“That helps a lot, too,” Brauns said of his size.
There have been games this season when Brauns didn’t take advantage of his size, and it was mostly due to him being passive on offense
That’s why Brauns was determined to change that in Thursday’s game.
“It carries over throughout a whole game; if I start aggressive I’ll stay aggressive the whole time,” Brauns said. “I won’t have to worry about getting ready to go at halftime. I’m already ready to go since the start of the game. So that’s something that’s been big for me.”
Brauns is also still learning to play alongside 6-8 all-state senior forward Patrick McCaffery, who led West High with 27 points in Thursday’s game.
Brauns often defers to McCaffery or just assumes that McCaffery will make a play. But Brauns knows that he has to take on more responsibility.”
“For sure, he can’t do everything by himself,” Brauns said. “I’ve got to be able to step up. That’s what I came here to do, help him out. I’ve got to step up and be able to produce when he can’t always do it when he’s double and triple-teamed.”
Brauns played his first two seasons for Regina before transferring to West High.
He entered Thursday’s game averaging 9.4 points per contest, but had only attempted 75 shots in 13 games, which is an average of less than seven shots per game.
Bruans took six shots in the first half of Thursday’s game and made five of them.
“Tonight was nice to see,” Bergman said. “That’s the guy we could have going every night. He’s just got to figure it out that it’s basically effort and focus.
“Sometimes, I think he’s just kind of out there playing. But that’s not what we do anymore. If we're to get where we want to get, he's got to get better. So if that's pressure, fine. he needs it."
Junior guard Nicholas Pepin also provided a spark for West High on offense with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field. Pepin made three of West High’s five 3-point baskets.
West High has won seven games in a row against City High and improved to 12-2 overall and 10-1 in the Mississippi Valley Conference. City High fell to 3-12 overall and 1-12 in the conference.
Brauns still is getting used to the rivalry with City High after having played at Regina for two years.
“It’s amazing, just the atmosphere,” he said. “There is nothing like it, especially when we played them at City, the gym was absolutely packed. It’s what I really wanted to get when I transferred here. It’s a rivalry that meant something.”
Sophomore guard Byron Benton led City High in scoring with 15 points, while junior Keshawn Christian and senior Antonio Turner finished with nine and eight points, respectively.
City High (48) – Darren Richardson 1-3 1-2 3, Ry Threlkeld-Wiegand 2-7 3-5 8, Byron Benton 7-14 0-0 15, Liam McComas 0-1 0-0 0, DeAngelo McNeil-White 1-1 1-2 3, Luke Young 0-0 0-0 0, Keshawn Christian 2-8 4-8 9, Antonio Turner 3-6 0-0 8, Jason Allen 0-1 2-2 2, Juwan Beard 0-1 0-0 0, Traivon Hodges 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-42 11-17 48.
West High (69) – Patrick McCaffery 11-17 3-4 27, Even Brauns 9-11 3-5 21, Marcus Morgan 1-2 2-2 4, Brayden Adcock 0-1 0-0 0, Nicholas Pepin 6-7 0-0 15, Jacob Klein 0-2 0-0 0, Cole Mabry 0-0 0-0 0, Joey Goodman 0-4 0-0 0, Ben Vander Leest 0-4 0-0 0, Tate Crane 0-1 0-0 0, Charlie Moreland 0-0 0-0 0, Logan Moel 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 28-50 8-11 69.
3-point goals – City High 5 (Turner 2, Christian, Benton, Threlkeld-Wiegand); West High 5 (Pepin 3, McCaffery 2). Fouls – City High 12, West High 13.