116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
NORTH LIBERTY — The growth of the Iowa City Liberty girls’ basketball program now has an accelerant.
Jasmine Barney’s arrival has been a key reason — but not the only reason — the Lightning are off to a 2-1 start.
A 5-foot-8 junior guard who played her first two seasons at Cedar Falls, Barney is averaging 19.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 4.0 steals per contest. She has gotten to the free-throw line 20 times, making 17.
“I want to help the team by doing what I do best,” she said.
Barney’s family moved from Cedar Falls last summer after her father, Willie Barney, took a job in Davenport.
“We were choosing between schools, and we chose Liberty,” said Barney, who was Cedar Falls’ third-leading scorer last year. “It’s different. It’s not as big as Cedar Falls.”
Jaime Brandt’s reaction to Barney’s move was about what you would expect.
“I got an email, that they had bought a house here,” Brandt said. “My first reaction was, ‘What?!? Who’s moving here?’
“She’s a great kid, unselfish. Obviously, her basketball skills are going to help us a ton.”
Liberty rallied from a nine-point third-quarter deficit to defeat Keokuk, 61-50, Tuesday. Barney posted 15 points, six rebounds and six assists.
Her arrival, coupled with some promising young talent, makes Liberty an intriguing outfit.
The Lightning were 16-62 in their first four years, including 4-12 last year. They won six league games in their first three seasons in the Mississippi Valley Conference.
One senior is on the 12-player roster. Ava Meyer (junior) and Madeline Casey (freshman) are adding 10.7 points per game apiece.
Casey’s 55-foot heave at the end of the third quarter was part of a 27-6 blitz that brought the Bolts from behind against Keokuk.
“She’s a freshman, but she doesn’t play like it,” Brandt said. “The team has rallied around her being a shooter.”
Sophomore Mischa Reiners is a spark off the bench, adding 6.7 points per game.
Liberty plays at Cedar Rapids Kennedy on Friday in both teams’ MVC opener.
West rules the Tri-Rivers, again
Girls’ basketball divisional disparity has been a common theme since the Tri-Rivers Conference expanded, and it’s the case again.
Cross-divisional play began this week, and West Division teams are 8-0 against the East, by an average margin of 33 points.
The trend is expected to continue through the next three playing dates (Friday, next Tuesday and next Friday) before divisional play resumes Dec. 14.
Class 1A fourth- and fifth-ranked Springville (3-0) and North Linn (2-1) headline the list of West Division heavyweights. Maquoketa Valley (2-1) was the 2A state runner-up last year, and East Buchanan (2-0) has been solid the last five years.
Intersectional battles at Johnston
A week after Rivalry Saturday, a similar event will be held at Johnston High School on Saturday, and three area teams will be involved.
West Liberty, ranked ninth in Class 3A, takes its six-girl roster into battle against 5A No. 7 West Des Moines Valley at 12:30 p.m., then 4A No. 8 Solon meets 4A No. 14 North Polk at 2:15 and 4A No. 13 Benton Community tangles with 4A No. 5 Dallas Center-Grimes at 4.