Prep Basketball

All-area girls' basketball 2017-18: Ashley Joens and Corby Laube earn top honors

Joens was Miss Iowa Basketball; Laube piloted Marion to the 4A state title

Iowa City High's Ashley Joens (10), the 2018 Gazette-area girls' basketball player of the year. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Iowa City High's Ashley Joens (10), the 2018 Gazette-area girls' basketball player of the year. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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Determining an area girls’ basketball coach of the year was an excruciating mulitiple-choice puzzle.

Player of the year? That was a no-brainer. You can’t really stray from Miss Iowa Basketball.

Iowa City High senior Ashley Joens earned Gazette-area player-of-the-year honors for the second straight year, and was named to the 10-player all-area team for the fourth time, an unprecedented feat.

There were candidates galore for the top area coach. We settled on Corby Laube, who piloted Marion to the Class 4A championship — the first in school history — and a 26-0 record.

“It ended like a fairy tale,” said Laube, who also won the area award in 2016 and has taken the Indians to three consecutive state tournaments. “We had great senior leadership. Those kids really set the tone for the program this year.”

Marion was coming off a state runner-up finish last year, falling in overtime to North Scott. The Indians were talented and deep anyway, then added the Van Weelden sisters — junior Leah and freshman Ella moved in from Benton Community — plus freshman Riley Wright.

It could have been a touchy situation, but it worked out fine. Marion was dominant all season long, scoring an average of 68.0 points per game and allowing 30.3. The only teams that truly pushed the Indians were Wamac Conference West Division rival Center Point-Urbana (three times, including once in the state semifinals) and Cedar Rapids Prairie.

Marion beat Grinnell, 69-48, in the 4A state final.

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“Our team culture was really important,” Laube said. “We have a lot of supportive parents, players and coaches that all trust each other.

“You see a lot of slogans and quotes out there, but people have to enthusiastically buy in, and this team bought in.”

Laube, 43, has coached the girls’ team for six seasons, posting a 106-38 record. Toss in nine years as the Marion boys’ coach, and his career mark is 225-119.

The fun should continue for at least three more years. The program has solid players in all four grades of high school, and the Indians will enter 2018-19 as the 4A favorite again.

“The girls we have returning, (repeating) will be a goal,” Laube said. “I do think it’s realistic.”

An Iowa State University signee, Joens averaged 30.7 points and 11.4 rebounds per game as the Little Hawks finished 25-1 with a Class 5A runner-up finish at the state tournament. She shot 61.8 percent from the field (including 59.5 percent from 3-point range) and 80.3 percent from the free-throw line.

“We had a really good season,” Joens said after earning Miss Iowa Basketball honors earlier this month. “We just came up a little short in the last game (a loss to Iowa City West in the 5A final).

Joens concluded her career with 2,178 points, which ranks No. 13 in five-player state history.

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“Ashley is the most dominant, the most complete player I’ve ever coached,” McTaggart said. “She’s the most prolific player in our school’s history.”

Iowa City West Coach B.J. Mayer has been in business 20 years and puts Joens at the top of the list of players he has coached against.

“She’s right up there,” said Mayer, whose Women of Troy toppled City for the 5A title, 56-45. “She’s definitely the best I’ve coached against a lot.

“I think the big thing that stands out with Ashley is her competitiveness. She’s improved so much from the time she was a freshman to a senior.”

Six of the 10 members of the all-area team earned state championships — Logan Cook of West (5A), Chloe Rice and Kayba Laube of Marion (4A), Nicole McDermott of Cascade (2A) and Mikayla Nachazel and Rylee Menster of Springville (three straight in 1A).

The remainder of the team: Hailey Dolphin of Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Tatum Koenig of West Branch and Allie Wooldridge of Center Point-Urbana.

2017-18 Gazette All-Area girls' basketball team

Logan Cook, 6-1, sr., Iowa City West — Two-time selection. Averaged 13.8 points and 6.9 rebounds as West (19-7) won the Class 5A state championship. Shot 46.2 percent from the field, 71.1 percent from the line. 1,002 career points. IPSWA Class 5A first-team all-state. Signed with the University of Iowa.

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Hailey Dolphin, 5-7, sr., Cedar Rapids Kennedy — Averaged 17.1 points per game as the Cougars finished 11-12. Shot 42.4 percent from the field, 71.3 percent from the line. 1,047 career points. IPSWA Class 5A second-team all-state. Signed with Rockhurst University.

Ashley Joens, 6-0, sr., Iowa City High — Four-time selection. Led the state in scoring at 30.7 points per game and added 11.4 rebounds per game as the Little Hawks (25-1) reached the Class 5A state final. Shot 61.8 percent from the field (including 59.5 percent from the arc) and 80.3 percent from the line. 2,178 career points (No. 13 all-time in Iowa). Named Miss Iowa Basketball 2018 by IPSWA, and 5A first-team all-state. Signed with Iowa State University.

Tatum Koenig, 5-7, sr., West Branch — Averaged 21.2 points, 5.3 assists and 3.7 steals per game as the Bears finished 17-7. Shot 45.9 percent from the floor (including 38.4 percent from long range) and 78.5 percent from the line. 1,641 career points. IPSWA Class 2A first-team all-state. Signed with Bradley University.

Kayba Laube, 5-9, soph., Marion — Averaged 13.5 points, 2.3 assists and 2.5 steals per game as the Indians (26-0) captured the Class 4A state championship. Shot 50.4 percent from the field (including 41.2 percent from distance) and 81.6 percent from the line. 712 career points. IPSWA 4A first-team all-state. Committed to the University of Northern Iowa.

Nicole McDermott, 5-5, soph., Cascade — Averaged 14.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 2.9 steals per game as the Cougars (25-3) claimed the Class 2A state title. Shot 51.9 percent from the floor and 77.7 percent from the line. 678 career points. IPSWA 2A first-team all-state.

Rylee Menster, 5-6, sr., Springville — Three-time selection. Averaged 16.6 points, 3.7 assists and 4.3 steals per game as the Orioles (24-3) won their third consecutive Class 1A state championship. Shot 54.3 percent from the field (including 35.9 percent from long range). 1,607 career points. IPSWA 1A first-team all-state. Signed with Minnesota State-Mankato.

Mikayla Nachazel, 5-11, sr., Springville — Three-time selection. Averaged 16.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.3 steals per game as the Orioles (24-3) won their third straight Class 1A state championship. Shot 51.9 percent from the floor. 1,662 career points. IPSWA 1A first-team all-state. Signed with Minnesota State-Mankato.

Chloe Rice, 5-10, sr., Marion — Three-time selection. Averaged 10.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.8 steals per game as Marion (26-0) captured the Class 4A state championship. Shot 51.1 percent from the floor and 78.5 percent from the line. 1,289 career points. IPSWA 4A first-team all-state. Signed with Saint Louis University.

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Allie Wooldridge, 6-1, sr., Center Point-Urbana — Two-time selection. Averaged 13.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.1 blocks per game as the Stormin’ Pointers (22-4) advanced to the Class 4A state semifinals. Shot 50.2 percent from the field, 74.2 percent from the line. 1,297 career points. IPSWA 4A first-team all-state. Signed with Drake University.

Player of the year — Ashley Joens, Iowa City High

Coach of the year — Corby Laube, Marion

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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