Short-handed Iowa City West wins a thriller

Girls' state basketball: Without Saunders, Women of Troy outlast Waukee

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DES MOINES — Courageous. Gutsy.

And we’re not just talking about Cailyn Morgan’s fateful shot.

Morgan connected on a tie-breaking baseline runner with 50 seconds left, and third-ranked Iowa City West made it stand up in a 40-38 Class 5A quarterfinal win over No. 6 Waukee at the girls’ state basketball tournament Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Arena.

“I knew we needed to take a shot, and we wanted it to be a smart shot,” Morgan said.

The Women of Troy (21-3) advanced despite a first-quarter injury to the left knee of arguably its top player, junior guard Rachael Saunders.

It was a courageous effort. Gutsy.

“We knew we all had to step up,” Logan Cook said. “Everybody had to chip in, and that’s what we did.”

 

 

West will meet No. 2 West Des Moines Valley (22-2) in a semifinal at 3:15 Friday afternoon. Valley whipped No. 7 West Des Moines Dowling, 87-64, Wednesday.

Saunders’ availability won’t be determined until Thursday, at the earliest.

“It didn’t look good,” West Coach B.J. Mayer said. “If she can go, she’ll go. If not, we’ll do what she did tonight and support her teammates.”

There was a lot for which Saunders to be proud. Much of it came from her replacement, Morgan.

“She’s a very important piece to our puzzle,” Mayer said. “She brings a lot of energy.”

She scored nine points, including the winning deuce. And she did an admirable job guarding Waukee’s Carlie Littlefield, holding the future Princeton player to 15 points.

Waukee (18-5) seemed to be in control midway through the third quarter, when an 8-0 surge gave the Warriors a 26-22 lead.

But Morgan hit a 3-pointer to put West up, 27-26, and the lead changed hands four more times.

Littlefield’s 3-pointer knotted the score at 38-38 with 1:43 left, then Morgan found a seam in the Waukee defense and hit the short runner with 50 seconds to go.

West had two fouls to give, and gave them, setting up Waukee’s final chance.

Jori Nieman missed a contested shot from about 5 feet out, Morgan rebounded and was fouled.

The Women of Troy were not yet in the bonus, so they took the ball out of bounds. A deep pass was intercepted, but Kylie Coleman’s desparation heave was short.

Cook led West with 13 points. Morgan had nine, and Emma Koch contributed seven points and 14 rebounds.

“We’re just all so excited,” Koch said. “We really wanted to win for Rachael. Everybody needed to step up and fill that role together.”

IOWA CITY WEST 40, WAUKEE 38

5A State Quarterfinal, at Des Moines

WAUKEE (38): Kylie Coleman 2-6 0-0 6, Rebecca Corbett 3-9 2-2 8, Carlie Littlefield 5-13 4-6 15, Jori Nieman 3-12 0-2 7, Brianna Hartman 1-2 2-2 2, Kelli Fogt 0-2 0-0 0, Callie Earney 0-2 0-0 0, Paityn Rau 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-46 6-10 38.

IOWA CITY WEST (40): Lauren Zacharias 2-4 0-0 5, Rachael Saunders 1-1 0-0 3, Maddie Huinker 1-6 0-0 3, Logan Cook 6-13 1-2 13, Emma Koch 1-3 5-6 7, Cailyn Morgan 4-11 0-0 9, Katie McGrane 0-0 0-0 0, Paige Beckner 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-38 6-8 40.

Halftime: West 20, Waukee 18. 3-point goals: Waukee 4-11 (Coleman 2-3, Corbett 0-4, Littlefield 1-1, Nieman 1-2, Fogt 0-1), West 4-15 (Zacharias 1-2, Saunders 1-1, Huinker 1-5, Cook 0-2, Koch 0-1, Morgan 1-4). Team fouls: Waukee 10, West 13. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: Waukee 23 (three with 5), West 30 (Koch 14). Assists: Waukee 7 (Nieman 4), West 8 (Zacharias 3). Steals: Waukee 7 (Littlefield 6), West 3 (three with 1). Turnovers: Waukee 7, West 12.

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

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