West Liberty 'broke the ice' with Tuesday win

Girls basketball notes: Overtime triumph snapped 32-game skid

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What’s an extra four minutes? The West Liberty Comets had waited more than 21 months for this.

And when it happened?

“You would have thought we won a state championship,” girls’ basketball coach Al Fear said after the Comets defeated Durant, 54-48, in overtime Tuesday at home. “Some of the girls were crying in the locker room.

“The win broke the ice, and hopefully it set the tone for a new era.”

The Comets (1-3 overall, 1-2 River Valley Conference) snapped a 32-game losing streak. Their previous win was Jan. 21, 2016, against Louisa-Muscatine.

Moments like this were why Fear — a police officer in Cedar Rapids — took the job.

“They were 0-21 last year, and that intrigued me,” Fear said. “I thought I’d like to go there and help turn it around.”

West Liberty has been barren of girls’ basketball success for quite some time, but there’s a promising young nucleus now. Of the nine players in Tuesday’s rotation, four are freshmen, three are sophomores and two are juniors.

“We’re very young,” Fear said. “That’s bad for right now, but good for the future. They’re learning quick.”

Macy Akers led the Comets with 16 points, and Austyn Crees added 14 points and 10 rebounds. Crees shot 18 free throws (making 10), and West Liberty was 22 of 41 from the stripe.

The Comets travel to Iowa City Regina on Friday.

ON THE SUBJECT OF STREAKS ...

Mount Vernon held Western Dubuque to 12 second-half points and edged the Bobcats, 36-34, in a Wamac Conference East Division game Tuesday at Epworth, ending a 54-game divisional winning spree for the Bobcats.

Kristen Elliott scored 14 points for the Mustangs (3-2, 1-0).

Western Dubuque’s last divisional defeat also came to Mount Vernon, 49-33, on Jan. 22, 2013. The Bobcats (3-1, 0-1) will leave the Wamac for the Mississippi Valley Conference next season.

MVC TITAN CLASHES BEGIN

The upper tier of the Mississippi Valley Conference has been established; Iowa City West (4-0, 3-0), Iowa City High (3-0, 3-0) and Cedar Falls (3-0, 3-0) have separated themselves from the rest of the league.

City High travels to Cedar Falls on Friday to determine leadership of the Valley Division, then the Little Hawks host Iowa City West on Tuesday in a non-conference game.

Senior Ashley Joens is averaging 27.7 points per game for the Little Hawks.

MILESTONES

• Tatum Koenig became the all-time leading scorer in West Branch history. The Bradley recruit has 1,244 points, a total that includes 353 as a freshman at West Liberty. Koenig leads the state at 28.0 points per game.

• Center Point-Urbana’s Allie Wooldridge hit the 1,000-point career mark Friday in the Stormin’ Pointers’ win over Anamosa. Wooldridge has signed with Drake.

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

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