Boys basketball season preview

The boys basketball team showed lots of potential in their 97-42 scrimmage win over Regina on Nov. 30, Owen Aanestad '22 breaks down the upcoming season for the Trojans.

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Boys basketball season preview

Coach Bergman and his team take a casual timeout with a big lead during a scrimmage against Regina on Nov. 30.

Coach Bergman and his team take a casual timeout with a big lead during a scrimmage against Regina on Nov. 30.

Owen Aanestad

Coach Bergman and his team take a casual timeout with a big lead during a scrimmage against Regina on Nov. 30.

Owen Aanestad

Owen Aanestad

Coach Bergman and his team take a casual timeout with a big lead during a scrimmage against Regina on Nov. 30.

If you could use one word to describe the West High basketball program it would be tradition.

Piling up the wins in the West High gymnasium year and year again with multiple state tournament runs is nothing new for head coach Steve Bergman and his coaching staff. For another year, the Trojans show signs of a bright and competitive winter.

West High faced off against Regina Saturday afternoon in which they defeated the Regals, 97-42. Seniors Joe Goodman, Tate Crane, Nick Pepin, Ben Vander Leest and Even Brauns started for the Trojans and controlled the game from tip-off as they jumped out to a 49-16 halftime lead. Christian Barnes ’22 and Marcus Morgan ’21 were coach Bergman’s first two off the bench as Morgan continues to heal some minor football season injuries.

Owen Aanestad
Tate Crane ’20 drives past a Regina defender for a basket during a scrimmage on Nov. 30.

By the end of the first quarter, the Trojans were well into their rotation and bench displaying all of West High’s options for the season. Belmont basketball commit Even Brauns led the team in scoring with 18 including some early dunks. Four other Trojans finished in double digits.

As Steve Bergman’s squad starts the season and gets into some tough nights in the Mississippi Valley Conference here is what one can expect from this year’s team.

RETURNING PLAYMAKERS

Three of the five players from last year’s late-season starting lineup return to the team this year to lead a state tournament revenge tour. Playmakers include Morgan who averaged 7.4 points and three assists a game last year, Brauns who averaged 11 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season, and Pepin who shot 53.4%  from three-point range and averaged 7.7 points per game last year.

Owen Aanestad
Marcus Morgan ’21 goes up for a dunk during a scrimmage against Regina on Nov. 30.

Returning players consist of point guard Joe Goodman, all-around athlete Tate Crane, lengthy forward Ben Vander Leest, and three-point shooter Charlie Moreland ’20. Goodman, Crane and Vander Leest will find themselves on the floor a lot more with a new leadership role as they continue to build chemistry from their previous varsity minutes.

POWER INSIDE

In gyms across eastern Iowa, the paint will be owned by six-foot-nine Even Brauns this season. Brauns had a breakout junior year for the Trojans helping lead the team to a state quarterfinal finish in his first year in a West High uniform. Featured as a returning playmaker this year, Even took this offseason personal as he comes back to the starting lineup bigger and stronger. Before you knew it Saturday Brauns was above the rim with dunks that have potential to bring down some rims this season. The big man in the lane will be backing down defenders, tipping in put backs and ripping down rebounds all season.

Owen Aanestad
Even Brauns ’20 takes a dribble as he looks to score down low during a scrimmage against Regina on Nov. 30.

EXPERIENCED GUARDS

With the paint packed, the guards for West will need to be able to feed the post but also knock down jumpers. Point guard Joe Goodman and shooting guard Nick Pepin will do the job just fine this year. Last year Goodman found his varsity minutes subbing in and out for point guard Brayden Adcock ’19. This year, Goodman looks to fill that role while also adding some of his competitive nature. While running the offense, Goodman will thrive in the dribble drive and dish. As an assist-first type of player, Goodman had 31 assists last year coming off the bench. Don’t be surprised to see him on the floor scrapping for loose balls on the defensive side as well.

Owen Aanestad
Joe Goodman ’20 looks over the defense as he brings the ball up the floor during a scrimmage against Regina on Nov. 30.

Pepin will be more likely to put up points from beyond the arc for the Trojans this season. Pepin previously played point guard for Waterloo West and can bring the ball up the court as well as getting around defenders with his crafty ball-handling. Along with being one of the state’s best three-point shooters, Pepin’s quickness fits right into West High’s defensive style as another pickpocket threat as well.

BENCH PRODUCTION

Coach Bergman is known to play eight or nine guys, especially early in the season, and this year the bench could be another helping factor. Against Regina, as West took a big lead early, Bergman was quick to get his bench into the game. In the team’s upcoming matchup against Dowling, it will be interesting to see how far into the bench he goes.

Owen Aanestad
Christian Barnes ’22 goes up for a layup on a fast break during a scrimmage against Regina on Nov. 30.

Lone varsity sophomore Christian Barnes will be a big part of the team’s bench production. Barnes is a quick basketball-minded player that can dribble drive and finish at the rim. Barnes’ first taste of varsity competition was a success as he finished with 14 points off of the bench along with a superb on-ball defense.

It’s also possible to see Mo Simpson ’20 off of the bench when in need of some size down low as he can use his length and athletic ability on both ends of the floor. Whether Brauns get in foul trouble or it is simply a bad night for the starters, the bench for the Trojans can only help.

West High opens the season at home against a talented Dowling Catholic team on Dec. 3. as they hope to make their way back to Wells Fargo Arena in March.

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