Wednesday night, even Iowa City West head coach Steve Bergman thought it was coming to an end for the Trojans.
The Trojans had one more trick up their sleeve, and then took the next two games to remind everyone why they just might be the best high school basketball team the state of Iowa has ever seen.
Trailing West Des Moines Dowling Catholic by six with 1:37 to go on Wednesday, it looked like West’s 49-game winning streak was over. But the Trojans refused to let it end. Scoring seven points in a 26-second span, West forced overtime, and powered by a thunderous baseline slam by Jeremy Morgan, claimed a 63-59 victory to advance to the semifinals.
At halftime of Friday night’s semifinal against Dubuque Senior, it seemed as if West was in for another battle, trailing the Rams 23-17. The second half, though, was the Jeremy Morgan Show. The UNI commit knocked home three three-pointers in the second half, and scored 17 points for the game. Morgan’s performance, and a defensive clinic from West overwhelmed the Rams, as the Trojans outscored Dubuque Senior 35-13 in the second half for a 52-36 win.
Ultimately though, West’s legacy would be defined by Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Standing between the Trojans and back-to-back championships was another undefeated squad — Bettendorf. The championship in the state’s largest class would be contested between two unbeaten teams for the first time in nearly 40 years.
However, it quickly became apparent that it was not going to be an epic battle between the two best teams in Iowa. It was going to be West’s coronation. The leader of this coronation was the one starter that returns next season — Wyatt Lohaus. The junior poured in 22 points, outscoring Bettendorf for most of the first three quarters. In fact, the West student section began chanting “Wyatt’s winning!” midway through the third quarter, when the 6-1 guard was outscoring the Bulldogs singlehandedly.
West’s place at the top of the state — again — was complete with a 54-36 win over Bettendorf. As the buzzer sounded, the green and gold-clad Trojand raced onto the floor, and senior Myzeah Batie-Gaddy flung the ball into the air, caught it, and tossed it again. Lohaus was named to the all-tournament team, and Morgan was named captain of the team.
West’s 52-game winning streak is second-longest in state history for a school in 4A, and a 3-0 start in 2013-14 would top the record set in 2010 by Ames. That team featured Harrison Barnes and Doug McDermott.
This West High team didn’t need that kind of national star power to be special. The Trojans blew nearly every team they played out. But when they needed it — against Davenport Assumption, Sun Prairie, and Dowling — West simply found a way.
Before the title game, the 1963 state champions were recognized. One can only wonder, in fifty years when the Trojans are recognized again, if those that saw this team play will remark that the 2012-13 Iowa City West Trojans were Iowa’s best.