Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – BJ Mayer has a motto for his West High girls basketball team.
“If it’s your night, have your night,” Mayer often tells his team. “If it’s not your night find another way to help the team win.”
That advice is Mayer telling every player he puts on the floor they have the green light to shoot. More importantly it is Mayer’s way of telling his team he has confidence that every player is capable of leading the way on any given night.
For most every night over the past three seasons it has been Audrey Koch’s night.
The Providence-bound senior is one of the best all-around players in the state, a 1,000-point career scorer and with the height and length of a post and skills of a guard is an absolute nightmare for opposing defenders.
Monday’s quarterfinal win over third-ranked Waterloo West was the rare game that wasn’t Koch’s night.
The top scorer for West High at over 20 points per game this season, Koch had a season-low two points on 0-of-5 shooting against Waterloo West.
Here is what makes sixth-ranked West High (14-3) so dangerous entering Thursday’s Class 5A semifinal tilt against second-ranked Johnston (17-1), in a game where its best player had an extremely rare off night West High still found a way to win.
“To me it goes back to our system, Audrey trusts them, I thought she turned down some shots and I wanted her to be more aggressive but it wasn’t her night,” Mayer said. “We have that saying if it’s your night have your night and if it’s not your night find a way to help us win. I think her vocal leadership of keeping our kids positive was a huge thing.”
Four players scored nine points or more for West High in its quarterfinal win and none of them were Koch, who entered ranked in the top five in 5A in scoring at 20.1 per game.
Meena Tate had 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting, Emma Ingersoll-Weng hit five 3-pointers and finished with 17 points and Matayia Tellis added 12 points.
Sophomore Anna Prouty, who averages 4.6 points per game had nine in the two-point win.
“I thought that if Audrey got 20 that we would probably win, if you would have told me that Audrey got two I would have thought it would be really tough,” Mayer said. “Meena got us going early, Emma made a bunch of 3s in the second half. Matayia was our defensive stalwart and got so many of those steals on the backside of the zone and had run outs.”
The amount of production West High got from everyone including two points each from freshman Lucy Wolfe and Malae’ Lacy off the bench against the third-ranked team in the state stood out.
But surprising. Not really.
It’s part of the motto that Mayer has stressed for years.
“They believe in what we do, they trust us as coaches,” Mayer said. “We’ve had so many really good players that have come through our program that on other teams they might average 25 a game and they average about 15 a game for us because of the way we play and they believe in their teammates.”
West High will likely need a similar performance from its supporting cast along with a big game from Koch against second-ranked Johnston on Thursday at Noon in the 5A semifinals.
The Dragons advanced with a 71-64 quarterfinal win over Cedar Falls and own victories over top-ranked Waukee and state qualifier West Des Moines Dowling this season.
“They are really good,” Mayer said. “They beat Waukee and that tells me plenty right there.”
Johnston has won six straight since its only loss of the season, an 18-point setback to Waukee on February 4.
The defending 5A champs are led by Iowa recruit Jada Gyamfi, a 6-foot-2 forward that averages 13.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
Gyamfi had 19 points and 18 rebounds in the quarterfinal win over Cedar Falls.
Freshman Aili Tanke averages 12.5 points per game while junior Anna Gossling adds 8.5 per game.
Tanke had 17 points and seven rebounds in the quarterfinal win in which Johnston shot 56 percent from the field and outrebounded Cedar Falls 39-19.
“I know they are really good but you find a way when you down here,” Mayer said. “That will be our goal is to see if we can’t find a way to get to the finals on Friday.”