WATERLOO – Cliff Berinobis still recalls during his high school years at Waterloo East when he’d make the trip over to the University of Northern Iowa. The Panthers’ starting point guard, Brent Carmichael, always took the time to help teach him new skills.
Now Berinobis is years into his tenure across the river as Waterloo West’s head coach, while Carmichael is beginning his first season coaching at East.
Following West’s 68-49 win at East Tuesday night, Berinobis could already see building blocks start to form within his former high school.
“Coach Carmichael is trying to do things the right way,” Berinobis said. “Far too often we’ve got kids nowadays trying to skip the first level of basketball.
“Sometimes you need patience to understand, ‘I’ve got to be good at the first level before I want to get to the second level.’ You’ve got to be great at the first level to get to the second level.”
West (5-2) trailed 19-17 after East’s Brock Kiewiet hit a pair of free throws early in the second quarter, before locking down on defense and frequently getting to the free throw line to take a 32-23 lead into intermission. The Wahawks stretched their advantage to 23 points in the fourth quarter, before East (2-4) responded with a quick 11-0 run during a two-minute surge.
West patiently held the ball on its next possession, Luke Fordyce knocked down an open 3-pointer, and the Wahawks recovered.
Center Amar Kuljuhovic used a vast array of post moves – taking advantage of an East team that often didn’t send an extra defender – to lead West with a game-high 23 points on 8 of 16 shooting with makes on all seven free throw attempts.
“I haven’t seen a kid like Amar in a long time because nobody plays in the post,” Berinobis said. “His moves aren’t normal moves. He gets to where he wants and he makes shots. He did some things off the dribble tonight that I thought were pretty impressive.”
Wahawk point guard Colby Adams combined lock-down, on-ball defense with a pair of baskets through contact and a 3-pointer as part of a 15-point game. West’s Shuntavis Wortham and Keishaun Pendleton combined for 15 points off the bench.
West’s offense was complemented by a defense that held East to 19 points over the middle two quarters and took advantage of 10 turnovers over that stretch.
“The one thing that coach told us was to keep our composure and do the little things right on defense,” Kuljuhovic said. “I think that coming out of break and that showed on the court. … We do a lot of talking and we practice defense every day.”
Eleven of the 13 Trojans that saw the court for Carmichael reached the scoring column, led by guard Dayton Bruce’s eight points and Brian Keene’s seven. West’s 31 free throw attempts and East’s 15 turnovers ultimately were too much to overcome.
“We see some really good signs, but then the immaturity comes in, the lack of experience comes in and we dig ourselves a hole and the energy comes back,” Carmichael said. “On any team, especially a young team, their character is going to be defined by, ‘When you’re down how well you can fight through that?’
“We haven’t found the recipe yet. When we find that recipe on how dig ourselves out of a hole and come back and win, then we’re going to be a really good team.”
West 68, East 49
WEST (5-2)—Colby Adams 5-9 4-6 15, Michael Robinson Jr. 0-3 5-6 5, Luke Fordyce 2-2 0-0 5, Mitch Fordyce 1-4 1-2 3, Amar Kuljuhovic 8-16 7-7 23, Keishaun Pendleton 2-7 3-6 7, Shuntavis Wortham 2-2 2-4 8, Sam Moore 1-1 0-0 2.
EAST (2-4)—Ramir Scott 2-6 0-0 5, Dayton Bruce 3-6 1-2 8, Brian Keene 3-7 1-2 7, Martez Wiggley 2-6 0-1 4, Kewone Jones 2-5 0-0 6, Domion Schmidt 1-2 0-1, 2, Dajuan Holmes 1-1 0-0 2, DaMarial Graves 2-2 0-0 5, Shakur Wright 3-6 0-0 6, Jaquoi Harrington 1-2 0-0 2, Brock Kiewiet 0-0 2-3 2, Derrek Allen 0-0 0-0 0, Develle Rambus 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 20-45 4-9 49.
West 14 18 17 19 — 68
East 13 10 9 17 — 49
3-point goals — West 4 (Wortham 2, Adams, L. Fordyce), East 4 (Jones 2, Scott, Graves). Total fouls — West 13, East 22. Fouled out — Adams.