By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – City High didn’t have any trouble getting started in its first game following a two-week holiday break.
It was the finishing where the Little Hawks showed a little rust.
Class 5A second-ranked City High (9-0) led by as many as 17 points in the first half and held on for a 58-51 win over No. 13 Pleasant Valley on Tuesday in a non-conference top-15 matchup at City High.
“We started out fine but we let up, especially on defense,” City High junior Ashley Joens said. “We need to pick up our defense a little bit, intensity wasn’t always there and we are going to keep working on it.”
Joens posted a double-double with a game-high 28 points and 10 rebounds but City High still needed all 32 minutes to put away Pleasant Valley (7-2).
The Spartans hit six of their 10 3-pointers in the second half and cut the City High lead to four on a Adrea Arthofer basket with 24 seconds left.
Sydney Schroder converted a pair of free throws 10 seconds later to help City High hang on for its ninth straight victory to open the season.
“Our defense was sub-par tonight,” City High coach Bill McTaggart said. “They shot a lot of threes and they were missing them early and that’s part of why we were up and they had nothing to lose and they started draining them and that was pretty frustrating.”
City High led 11-7 after a sluggish start that saw the teams go a combined 6-of-30 from the field in the opening quarter.
The Little Hawks got things rolling early in the second quarter, scoring 13 unanswered points to take their biggest lead of the game at 24-7.
Pleasant Valley responded with a 10-0 run of its own and trailed just 26-17 at the half.
“It was 24-7 and then we started taking one pass and shot and that’s how they got back in it,” City High coach Bill McTaggart said. “Our shot selection and our passing was sub-par so we will be working on that in practice.”
Joens kept the Spartans at bay in the third quarter, scoring 12 of her 28 points in the quarter without missing a shot.
The 5-foot-11 junior hit back-to-back 3-pointers to open the City High scoring and push the lead to 32-20.
“When we reverse the ball we get open looks and when we can get it in the high post we have different options there,” Joens said. “It opens up a lot more when I hit those 3s. I can drive or I can pull up.”
Joens ended the third quarter with four unanswered points to put City High up 42-31.
Pleasant Valley wouldn’t go away.
The Spartans cut the lead to 47-41 on a conventional 3-point play by Ellie Spelhaug and again cut the margin to six at 55-49 in a Carli Spelhaug free throw with 1:43 left.
“I think we were kind of getting flustered,” Schroder said. “The game got in our head a little bit toward the end.”
A put back by Donahue with 24 seconds left gave the Spartans a chance but Schroder made a pair of free throws on the next possession and Pleasant Valley came up empty on its final two trips.
Schroder had attempted just one shot before her free throws with 14 seconds left but converted both to give City High a two possession lead.
“I try to stay relaxed,” Schroder said. “I tried to stay calm and act like it was just the middle of the game and I had to put them in.”
Joens finished 11-of-19 from the field and had 17 of her game-high 28 points in the second half.
Kenya Earl had 10 points and nine rebounds for City High and freshman Aubrey Joens had nine points and nine rebounds.
Ellie Spelhaug and Carli Spelhaug each had 14 to pace Pleasant Valley, which had a three-game winning streak end with the loss.
The Spartans finished 10-of-35 from 3-point range.
Pleasant Valley 7 10 14 20 – 51
City High 11 15 16 16 – 58
Pleasant Valley (51) – Adrea Arthofer 1-3 0-0 2, Carli Spelhaug 4-12 2-4 14, Cami Hunter 0-2 0-0 0, Rory Donahue 3-5 0-0 7, Mallory Lafever 2-5 0-0 5, Grace Necker 2-4 0-0 6, Grace Budde 1-9 0-1 3, Ellie Spelhaug 4-14 5-7 14, Team 17-51 7-12 51.
City High (58) – Christina Hora 1-2 0-0 3, Rose Nkumu 3-6 0-0 6, Sydney Schroder 0-1 2-2 2, Ashley Joens 11-19 4-9 28, Aubrey Joens 1-10 7-8 9, Kenya Earl 3-9 4-4 10, Team 19-47 17-23 58.
3-point field goals – ICH 3-11 (Ash. Joens 2-3, Aub. Joens 0-5, Hora 1-2, Nkumu 0-1), PV 10-35 (Arthofer 0-1, C. Spelhaug 4-10, Hunter 0-2, Donahue 1-2, Lafever 1-3, Necker 2-3, Budde 1-9, E. Spelhaug 1-5). Rebounds – ICH 43 (Ash. Joens 10), PV 40 (E. Spelhaug 12). Turnovers – ICH 14, PV 12. Total fouls – ICH 15, PV 20. Fouled out – PV (Arthofer). Technical fouls – None.