City High junior Ashley JoensBy Richard C. Lewis
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – It was a fitting game for two intra-city rivals, both unbeaten and ranked in the top five in the state.
Kenya Earl drained a key corner 3-pointer in overtime, and Class 5A, No. 2 City High held on for a 74-73 win over host West High in front of a raucous crowd on Tuesday night.
Ashley Joens fed Earl for the basket with less than two minutes to go in the extra session that put City High ahead to stay, 70-69. Joens, a junior and Iowa State commit, recorded a double-double, finishing with a team-high 21 points and 11 rebounds.
But it was her assist to Earl that proved to be the game-winning play.
Joens drove into the paint and passed out to Earl, who was wide open in the left corner. Her shot hit nothing but net.
“I’ve been hitting a few 3s, so when I shot it, I knew it was going in,” said Earl, who made four triples and finished with 20 points.
In the second half, City High coach Bill McTaggart frequently isolated Joens on the perimeter, where she either drove to the bucket or kicked out to teammates if defensive help arrived.
“Ashley’s hard to guard one on one, and then when they double and triple her, somebody’s open, and she can hit the open person, and that’s what she did tonight more times than not,” McTaggart said.
West High came into the game 5-0 and having ascended to No. 5 in Class 3A. The Women of Troy gamely fought back from a ten-point deficit just before the half to seize the lead, 67-65, on a layup by Emma Koch moments into overtime.
West crept within one, 72-71, with 38 seconds left on a nifty, off-hand shot in the paint by Maddie Huinker, who finished with a team-high 22 points.
Rose Nkumu connected on a pair of free throws to extend City’s lead to three, but Lauren Zacharias answered with a bucket to again pull West within one with 19 seconds to go.
West High junior Rachael Saunders
Nkumu missed both free throws with 12.1 seconds left, and West improbably had a chance to steal it. But Cailyn Morgan missed a 3 after a wild scramble in the paint as the seconds ticked by.
“I thought that last shot from Morgan, I thought it was in,” McTaggart said. “They got a good look at the end, right at the buzzer.”
West coach B.J. Mayer was disappointed with the loss, but felt his team improved during the game and gave itself a chance to win.
“We got a great look at the end,” Mayer said. “It was a scramble situation, and you’re trying to get a good look, and if we get that shot every time, I’ll take it.”
Sydney Schroder tallied 12 points and Aubrey Joens scored 10 for the Little Hawks, who improved to 6-0.
Rachael Saunders shook off a shooting slump to score 19 for the Women of Troy, who also got 15 from leading scorer Logan Cook before she fouled out late in the fourth quarter. Cook led her team with eight rebounds.
Earl scored 12 first-quarter points, including two treys, to stake City to a 17-12 lead after one.
The Little Hawks led by as many as ten points in the second period, as West went scoreless for more than four minutes. A Saunders’ 3 at the buzzer ended the drought and pulled the Women of Troy to 31-24 at halftime.
West trailed 47-46 to start the fourth, but City re-established its double-digit bulge on a basket by Nkumu two minutes in. West then went on a 16-6 run, and pushed ahead by one on a 3 from Huinker with 31.5 seconds left.
Ashley Joens made one of two from the line to send the game into overtime.
City High 17 14 16 18 9 – 74
West High 12 12 22 19 8 – 73
City High (74) – Ashley Joens 4-12 11-17 21, Kenya Earl 7-12 2-2 20, Aubrey Joens 4-10 0-0 10, Rose Nkumu 2-6 5-8 9, Sydney Schroder 5-6 0-0 12, Christina Hora 0-0 0-0 0, Paige Rocca 0-0 0-0 0, Mikayla Lacey, 1-2 0-0 2. Team 23-47 18-27 74.
West High (73) – Logan Cook 6-11 2-4 15, Maddie Huinker 9-15 0-0 22, Rachael Saunders 7-15 0-1 19, Lauren Zacharias 3-7 0-2 8, Emma Koch 2-7 3-4 7, Cailyn Morgan 0-4 0-0 0, Paige Beckner 0-0 2-2 2, Ali Tauchen 0-0 0-0 0, Katie McGrane 0-0 0-1 0, Team 27-59 7-14 73.
3-point field goals – City 10-21 (Ash. Joens 2-4, Nkumu 0-2, Schroder 2-2, Aub. Joens 2-5, Earl 4-8). West 9-24 (Morgan 0-3, Zacharias 2-4, Saunders 3-7, Huinker 3-7, Cook 1-1). Turnovers – City 14, West 9. Total Fouls – City 15, West 21. Fouled out – Cook. Technical fouls – None.