Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Going a few months without playing a basketball game isn’t a big deal for many prep hoopers.
For someone like West High senior Audrey Koch who has played the sport year-round for most of her life a stretch of months without actual games was a shock to the system.
That was the scenario for Koch after the coronavirus pandemic shook up her summer AAU plans.
Without summer AAU games and with online only classes delaying the start of West High’s season Koch went more than nine months without an actual game.
“It’s pretty weird because I’ve always done AAU and played basketball all year,” Koch said. “It had been a while since I had played a game.”
Koch hadn’t had hit the court for a game of any kind since West High had its season end with a 60-48 loss to Southeast Polk in a Class 5A regional final last February.
A summer filled with individual workouts didn’t feel the same as an offseason that would normally be filled with AAU events.
The lead up was different but once Koch made her debut she looked like the same dynamic player that has made her an all-stater and one of the top scorers in the state.
Koch had 20 points and five rebounds as third-ranked West High opened the season with a 75-63 win over eighth-ranked City High.
“There were definitely nerves on my end just because I hadn’t played a basketball game in so long,” Koch said. “There were some nerves there but it was overall really fun and I think our coaches did a great job of getting us ready.”
While practices began in November for most teams West High was among the teams that had the start of the season delayed as classes continued online only due to COVID-19 concerns.
West High held its first practice December 12 and less than a week later snapped a two-game losing skid to its cross-town rival behind the 20-point effort from Koch.
“It was pretty hard to not have that time with the team because we all get pretty close and then seeing some of my friends from other schools getting ready for games it had me missing that feeling of being with our team and getting ready to play,” Koch said. “We were so excited when we were able to play with each other, it was a little bit of a bummer but you have to be ready for change with the circumstances so it was really exciting when we got to be able to play together in the same gym.”
Koch continued her strong start to the season with 15 points and six rebounds in a 54-35 win over previously unbeaten Linn-Mar in the Trojans’ final game of 2020.
Through two games Koch is averaging a team-high 17.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2 steals per game.
Koch has led West High in scoring each of the past two seasons but this year is surrounding by a strong supporting cast capable of carrying the scoring load.
The 5-foot-11 Koch leads four players averaging in double figures as Matayia Tellis and Emma Ingersoll-Weng are both averaging 11.5 points per game and Meena State is scoring 10 per game.
“I think having that depth will be really important and that’s been great,” Koch said. “(West High coach BJ) Mayer has a really great philosophy of ‘if it’s your night have your not and if its not find some other way to help the team,’ and I think that has been really great with this team. There are so many different players that can do different things. The depth is really exciting this year.”
The time away from the court was difficult for Koch but she used the time to work on her individual skills.
That time gave Koch a new appreciative of the sport she has played for so long.
“Since I didn’t really do anything with AAU this summer I hadn’t played a basketball game for a while so I definitely was just missing that,” Koch said. “I think it made us even more appreciative when we did get to play so that was really nice.”