Your Prep Sports
NORTH LIBERTY – The only thing worse than the outcome of the last game for City High was the timing.
City High closed 2021 with a thud in the form of a 40-point loss at Cedar Rapids Kennedy and then had 14 days over the holiday break to think about the loss.
“We were really looking forward to the chance to get out here and show that last game at Kennedy wasn’t the norm,” City High coach Brennan Swayzer said. “That was an off night for us and we let it snowball but we were excited to get back out here and show that’s not who we are.”
City High finally got an opportunity to bounce back on Tuesday against cross-town rival Liberty High and the Little Hawks were ready.
Sophomore guard TaeVeon Stevens lead four Little Hawks in double figures as City High snapped two-game losing skid with an 82-72 win over Liberty High in an entertaining matchup of Mississippi Valley Conference rivals in North Liberty.
“We needed this one to get our momentum back,” Stevens said. “We definitely needed it.”
City High (4-3) closed December with consecutive losses to West High and Cedar Rapids Kennedy.
In its first game of the new year the Little Hawks looked like a new team.
Stevens had 23 points, Shamar Benton had 17 and Jovan Harris had 15 points and 16 rebounds as City High stopped a two-game losing skid to the Lightning.
“This was huge,” Swayzer said. “As early as it is in the season I hate to call this a turning point game but if you don’t put a stop to things it can start to snowball and before you know it you are out of it.”
Liberty High (1-5) spent most of the night playing catchup.
City High closed the first quarter on a 10-5 run to take an 18-15 lead and would never trail again although the Lightning kept it close.
Liberty High trailed 37-33 at the half and 57-50 after three quarters.
The Lightning got as close as one in the fourth quarter when Luke Ramsey scored eight consecutive points to cut the margin to 64-63 with his second three-pointer of the quarter.
However, City High kept the Lightning at bay.
“We knew we needed this win and we had to do whatever it took to get it,” Harris said. “This win is going to push us forward.”
Liberty High trimmed the lead to one four times in the final 4:52 but each time City High had an answer.
The final response was a step-back three-pointer from Stevens with 69 seconds left that gave City High a 75-71 lead.
“I was going to get something going to the basket but I could see that it would be there the way he was guarding me,” Stevens said. “I was confident with that shot.”
Stevens excelled all game in a fast-paced City High offense.
The sophomore made eight of nine field goal attempts including all four of his three-point attempts on his way to a game-high 23 points.
“I like moving fast,” Stevens said. “That’s our style, when we get it we want to go.”
Leading scorer Jamari Newson had 14 points and 11 rebounds for City High but the Little Hawks got big boosts from around the lineup.
Most notably from Harris, who entered averaging 4.6 points per game but finished with a career-high 15 on 6-of-12 shooting.
“There was something about tonight, I was just feeling it,” Harris said. “If I was open I shot it, if I got the ball I was going up and being strong with it and it turned out.”
Christian Barney had a season-high 22 points to lead Liberty High while Da’Shon Fisher had 15 points and Gage Kampman added nine.
City High 18 19 20 25 – 82
Liberty High 15 18 17 22 – 72
Liberty High (72) – Ja’Quez Hall 1-6 2-4 4, Christian Barney 8-11 5-11 22, Griffin Kraft 2-6 1-3 5, Gage Kampman 3-5 3-4 9, Luke Ramsey 3-9 0-0 8, Graham Beckman 2-4 1-2 5, Owen Swartzendruber 0-2 0-0 0, Da’Shon Fisher 6-11 1-3 15, Trey Hughes 2-7 0-0 4, Totals 27-61 13-27 72.
City High (82) – Trey Wright 0-1 0-0 0, David Pope 1-5 0-1 3, Thomas Ksobiech 0-3 0-0 0, TaeVeon Stevens 8-9 3-4 23, Shamar Benton 6-12 4-6 17, Jovan Harris 6-12 2-3 15, Darren Richardson 2-4 0-0 6, Jamari Newson 4-11 5-7 14, Ostyn Friday 1-2 2-2 4, Taeshon McDaniels 0-2 0-0 0, Totals 28-61 16-23 82.
3-point field goals – ICH 10-23 (Pope 1-5, Ksobiech 0-3, Stevens 4-4, Benton 1-4, Harris 1-3, Richardson 2-3, Newson 1-1), ICL 5-20 (Hall 0-2, Barney 1-3, Ramsey 2-7, Beckman 0-1, Fisher 2-4, Hughes 0-3). Rebounds – ICH 39 (Harris 16), ICL 36 (Beckman 6). Turnovers – ICH 17, ICL 12. Total fouls – ICH 19, ICL 22. Fouled out – ICH (Richardson), ICL (Beckman). Technical fouls – None.