Prep Basketball

Iowa City West clamps down, captures 5A girls' basketball state championship

Women of Troy beat No. 1 City, 56-45

Iowa City West’s Rachael Saunders hoists the trophy overhead as the team runs to their fans following their 56-45 win over Iowa City High in the Class 5A championship game at the girls’ state basketball tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Friday. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Iowa City West’s Rachael Saunders hoists the trophy overhead as the team runs to their fans following their 56-45 win over Iowa City High in the Class 5A championship game at the girls’ state basketball tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Friday. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — She couldn’t wait.

As Lauren Zacharias shot free throws with a half-minute left, Rachael Saunders wrapped Cailyn Morgan into a bear hug.

“I just told her, ‘I’ll meet you at midcourt when it’s over,’” Saunders said.

Victory was nigh. A championship, too.

Ninth-ranked Iowa City West held No. 1 Iowa City High to 29-percent shooting and knocked off the Little Hawks, 56-45, for the Class 5A girls’ state basketball title Friday night at Wells Fargo Arena.

“We guarded,” West Coach B.J. Mayer said. “We guarded great.”

West (19-7) avenged two regular-season losses to the Little Hawks (25-1) and claimed its second state title. The other was in 2012.

City High came into the game averaging 76.8 points per game, but came nowhere near that figure Friday.

“Defense, in our minds, is what wins championships,” said Saunders, a Creighton University recruit who suffered a torn ACL here last year and was unable to play in a state-semifinal loss.

“This is the best day of my life.”

West held its three state-tournament foes to 47.7 points per game. It was a defensive play — Lauren Zacharias’ block — that saved West’s bacon in the first round against West Des Moines Dowling, and defense kept West afloat Friday.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

The Women of Troy badgered the Little Hawks into a scoreless stretch of 8 1/2 minutes in which they missed 10 straight shots. That enabled West to score 12 consecutive points for a 17-9 advantage.

And they led the rest of the way.

City senior Ashley Joens — an Iowa State signee — scored a hard-earned 26 points, 14 in the fourth quarter. The rest of the Little Hawks were 5 of 30 from the floor.

“Coach told us if we weren’t going to win with offense, we’d do it with defense,” said Morgan, who held Aubrey Joens to four points.

City Coach Bill McTaggart said, “They were trying to take Ashley and Aubrey out and they did a very good job. We had a hard time hitting shots and give all the credit to Iowa City West they played an excellent game. “

One of the top candidates for Miss Iowa Basketball, Joens concluded her career with 2,178 points, which ranks 13th all-time in five-player state history.

Joens was the all-tournament captain. She was joined by Zacharias and Morgan, plus City’s Rose Nkumu, Indianola’s Grace Berg and Johnston’s Jennah Johnson.

Zacharias led the Women of Troy with 15 points. University of Iowa recruit Logan Cook added 14, Morgan scored 10, and Saunders supplied seven points and 12 rebounds. West prevailed on the boards by a 34-22 margin and enjoyed a 34-14 scoring advantage in the paint.

West was teetering late in the regular season, losing four straight games against elite competition.

But it paid off in the end.

“I think it did,” Mayer said. “I know it did.”

IOWA CITY WEST 56, IOWA CITY HIGH 45

Class 5A State Championship, at Des Moines

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter!

You should start receiving the e-newsletters within a couple days.

IOWA CITY WEST (56): Cailyn Morgan 4-8 1-1 10, Lauren Zacharias 5-10 4-5 15, Rachael Saunders 2-5 3-4 7, Logan Cook 6-12 2-2 14, Emma Koch 3-4 1-3 7, Matayia Tellis 0-2 0-00, Audrey Koch 0-0 0-0 0, Paige Beckner 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 21-42 11-15 56.

IOWA CITY HIGH (45): Rose Nkumu 2-8 2-2 8, Ashley Joens 8-14 7-9 26, Paige Rocca 0-5 2-2 2, Aubrey Joens 1-3 2-2 4, Samantha Greving 1-3 0-0 2, Ayana Lindsey 0-3 0-0 0, Ashley Kuennen 0-1 0-0 0, Ella Cook 1-7 0-0 3. Totals 13-44 13-15 45.

Halftime: West 21, City 16. 3-point goals: West 3-9 (Morgan 1-3, Zacharias 1-2, L.Cook 0-1, Tellis 0-2, Beckner 1-1), City 6-25 (Nkumu 2-6, Ash.Joens 3-7, Rocca 0-3, Lindsey 0-1, Kuennen 0-1, E.Cook 1-7). Team fouls: West 17, City 14. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: West 34 (Saunders 12), City 22 (Ash.Joens 7). Assists: West 6 (Zacharias 3), City 2 (Ash.Joens 2). Steals: West 3 (E.Koch 2), City 7 (Ash.Joens 3). Turnovers: West 14, City 9.

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

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

CONTINUE READING

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.