WATERLOO – The Waterloo West boys basketball team can smother you with their suffocating defense.
And light up the scoreboard like a pinball machine with their high-octane offense.
The Wahawks did both during a near-flawless performance in a Class 4A substate semifinal Friday night.
Second-ranked West scored the game’s first 10 points en route to overpowering Cedar Rapids Jefferson 83-47 before a packed house at Siddens Gymnasium.
“We haven’t played for seven days and our kids were really ready to play,” West coach Cliff Berinobis said. “As a coach, I couldn’t be more happy with the way our kids played. We played well together. They know this game is a steppingstone to the next one. We still have a lot of work to do. We need to continue to keep our poise and focus.”
The Wahawks (20-2) advance to face North Scott in the substate finals on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids.
West is seeking its first trip to the state tournament since 1994.
“These kids know the history of Waterloo West and know where they’re at,” Berinobis said. “They’ve known it for a while. Their main focus obviously is to accomplish that goal. We have a veteran team. They’ve been through a lot of adversity and they’ve kept their focus all season.”
Jefferson, which trailed 27-3 after one quarter, finished its season 7-15 overall.
Waterloo West’s Antonio Alexander powered to the basket to start the game, teammates Caleb Haag and DaQuavion Walker drilled back-to-back 3-pointers, and Jaden Keller followed with a strong drive.
The Wahawks jumped to a 10-0 lead and the rout was on.
West increased its advantage to 32-3 early in the second quarter before taking a 48-18 lead at halftime. The Wahawks drilled seven 3-pointers in the opening two quarters.
West’s superior athleticism was on full display Friday night. Haag leaped to power home an emphatic dunk on a pinpoint lob by Keller early in the second quarter as the West fans erupted.
West senior guard Isaiah Johnson led the first-half onslaught, collecting all 18 of his points before the break. Johnson connected on four 3-pointers, including one right before time ran out in the second quarter.
“We have a real balanced team,” Johnson said. “We don’t rely on just one guy. We’ve had different guys step up all year and that’s why we’ve been successful. We play well together and we trust each other. It’s been a lot of fun for us.”
West senior guard DaQuavion Walker continued his stellar play at both ends of the floor. Walker finished with a game-high 19 points.
“Our kids have done a great job all year staying focused on each game,” Berinobis said. “I’m super proud of the effort they’ve shown – the kids deserve all the credit. These kids have worked really hard all year and we still have some goals left we want to achieve.”
The Wahawks, which rolled past Jefferson 77-49 during the regular season, slowed down the tempo in the third quarter after building the big lead.
Now comes the substate test and a chance for West to punch its first ticket to state in 26 years.
“We’ve been waiting four years for this opportunity,” Johnson said. “Our team has come a long way and now we need to keep it going. We need to focus on our next few practices. We have a veteran team and we’re excited to get back out there on Tuesday.”
West 83, Jefferson 47
JEFFERSON (7-15) – Ozzie Meiborg 3 2-2 10, Brayden Kindhart 4 0-0 8, Maison Reed 0 0-0 0, Raejzuan Shockley 3 1-1 7, Andreas Williams 3 0-2 6, Ayrondus Hodges 0 0-0 0, Kenneth Moore 3 1-1 7, Josiah Szabo 2 0-0 6, Kaden Haller 1 0-0 3. Totals 19 4-7 47.
WEST (20-2) –DaQuavion Walker 8 1-2 19, Isaiah Johnson 5 4-4 18, Antonio Alexander 4 1-1 9, Caleb Haag 3 2-2 9, Jaden Keller 5 1-2 11. Amar Kulijuhovic 3 1-1 7, Mitch Fordyce 1 0-0 2, Nate Ewell 2 0-0 4, ShunnieWorthan 1 0 0 2, Colby Adams 1 0-0 2. Totals 33 10-14 83.
CR Jefferson 3 15 12 17— 47
Waterloo West 27 21 10 25 — 83
3-point goals – Jefferson 5 (Meiborg 2, Szabo 2, Haller), Waterloo West 7 (Johnson 4, Walker 2, Haag). Total fouls – Jefferson 15, Waterloo West 10. Fouled out –None.
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