Photo by Rob Howe
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – A quick postgame announcement over the public address system and a quick, impromptu showering from players’ water bottles on the way to the locker room.
Those were the only signs that West High coach Steve Bergman had reached any kind of milestone let alone career win number 600 with a 59-47 win over Cedar Rapids Prairie on Tuesday.
No flashy celebration, no banner, no drama. Just the way Bergman likes it (except perhaps the water).
“I’ve already got a cold and the flu and they are doing that?” Bergman said shaking water from his shirt.
When you’ve had the type coaching career Bergman has you’ve earned the right to celebrate or not celebrate any way you like.
Bergman added another achievement to his hall of fame career on Tuesday becoming the 15th coach in state history to reach the 600-win mark – the last 555 of those wins coming in 29 seasons at West High.
“You already know what I’m going to say about it,” Bergman said before being asked about reaching 600 wins. “I don’t coach for those numbers, it’s nice.”
Bergman hit 500 wins at the 2015 state tournament.
In the five seasons since he’s added 100 more wins and a sixth state title. He owns a stagger 600-193 career record in 33 seasons.
“I remember 500 vividly I was there,” West High junior Marcus Morgan said. “I didn’t realize he was up to 600 so fast.”
Bergman didn’t realize he was closing in on 600 either. He knew he was close but said he didn’t track the number of wins needed to hit 600 all that closely.
“I honestly wasn’t sure where I was at, I thought it was something in the high teens,” Bergman said. “I don’t really pay attention but it’s nice to get it done.”
West High players back up the notion that the long-time coach doesn’t care about the numbers.
Senior center Even Brauns who had 13 points and six boards on Tuesday said there was no mention of 600 wins until the final seconds ticked away on Tuesday.
Brauns knew surprising Bergman with a water bath would be easy.
“When I came out at the end (of the game) coach Rundquist told us to get a water bottle and run back here,” Brauns said. “We knew he didn’t know about it. He doesn’t keep track of that.”
Bergman may not care about records or milestones but he certainly cares about winning.
“I’m very competitive,” he quipped when asked what has kept him in coaching for 33 years. “It feeds that side of me.”
Bergman also cares about his players. A lot, which is why it can be hard to play for Bergman at times. He demands a lot out of his guys, because he cares a lot about them.
“He does demand a lot of us,” Morgan said. “Most days are tough with him but we know he is doing it for the best of us and to make us better.”
Brauns, who is in his second season playing for Bergman after transferring from Regina, echoes that sentiment.
“He cares about us in a different way than most coaches do,” Brauns said. “He doesn’t talk about it a lot but it’s evident with how much effort and work he puts in to the team that he really, really does care.”
It seemed fitting that the latest milestone win for Bergman was fueled by defense, which has long been the forte of Bergman-led teams.
Class 4A fifth-ranked West High (18-2) held Cedar Rapids Prairie (14-6) to six points in the second quarter, outscoring the Hawks 24-6 to erase an early 12-9 deficit.
West High forced six Prairie turnovers in the second quarter, turning three into transition layups, and made its first eight field goal attempts in the quarter.
“We were speeding them up and getting scores off turnovers and ultimately I think it was our defense that got us to a lead there in the second quarter,” Morgan said. “We were turning them over and speeding them up.”
West High held Prairie scoreless for the final 4:45 of the second quarter while closing the half on an 8-0 run to take a 33-18 halftime lead.
The Trojans made 9-of-12 field goals in the second half, including 3-of-5 from beyond the 3-point line and shot 53 percent for the game.
“Our defense bothered them a lot,” Brauns said. “We tried to work on some zone stuff yesterday but when shots are falling like that it works great.”
Brauns and Nick Pepin each had 13 points to lead four West High players in double figures.
Morgan had 12 and Tate Crane had 11 as West High held on despite allowing Prairie to shoot 15 second-half free throws.
“We have plenty to work on and our guys know that,” Bergman said. “They come every day and they are very much no drama good guys and they work hard, they show up every day and do what I ask. They put up with me so I appreciate it.”
West High (59) – Christian Barnes 1-1 0-0 3, Tate Crane 4-6 3-5 11, Joey Goodman 0-1 1-2 1, Nick Pepin 2-8 8-10 13, Marcus Morgan 4-7 2-2 12, Ben Vander Leest 3-7 0-2 6, Even Brauns 6-8 1-1 13, Totals 20-38 15-22 59.
CR Prairie (47) – Caden Stoffer 1-2 2-2 4, Jackson Nove 2-4 2-4 7, Jake Walter 2-6 11-11 16, Jonathan Mullins 2-6 0-0 4, Elijah Ward 1-5 2-2 4, Max Lampe 1-7 0-0 2, Gabe Burkle 4-7 1-2 10, Totals 13-37 18-21 47.
3-point field goals – ICW 4-12 (Barnes 1-1, Pepin 1-6, Morgan 2-3, Vander Leest 0-2), CRP 3-9 (Nove 1-1, Stoffer 0-1, Walter 1-2, Mullins 0-1, Lampe 0-2). Rebounds – ICW 28 (Vander Leest 8), CRP 20 (Lampe, Burkle 5). Turnovers – ICW 12, CRP 11. Total fouls – ICW 14, CRP 17. Fouled out – CRP (Lampe). Technical fouls – None.
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