116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — It wasn't Jada Gyamfi's scoring that quelled Iowa City West's comeback bid.
It was her rebounding. And, at the very end, it was her arm.
Gyamfi threw the equivalent of two touchdown passes in the final stretch, enabling second-ranked Johnston to hold on, 52-47, in a Class 5A semifinal at the girls' state basketball tournament Thursday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena.
'Those are my favorite passes,' said Gyamfi, a 6-foot-2 junior who has committed to the University of Iowa. 'Two in one game ... that really allowed us to relax at the end.
'We blew a big lead, but we pulled it out.'
The result sets up a Johnston-Waukee rematch for the 5A championship at 7 p.m. Friday. Top-ranked Waukee ran away from No. 5 Ankeny Centennial late in its semifinal, 50-29.
Johnston prevailed last year, 69-65. That was pre-Gyamfi; she was at Urbandale last season.
The Dragons (18-1) built a 16-point second-quarter lead, then held on after West (14-4) closed within 45-43 on Audrey Koch's two free throws with 2:07 to go.
West got a steal, and a fleeting opportunity to tie or take the lead. But the Trojans couldn't capitalize, Gyamfi got the ball and threw a deep pass to Aili Tanke for a layup and a four-point Johnston advantage.
Koch's basket in the final moments made it 50-47, but Gyamfi hooked up on another deep post pattern, this time to Zoey Buchan for the clinching layup.
'We gave ourselves a chance, and that's what we asked for,' West Coach B.J. Mayer said. 'We just got down too much, too soon.'
West got points from four different players on its way to an early 8-6 lead, but Molly Noelck hit a pair of 3-pointers to ignite a 21-3 run that put the Dragons in front, 27-11.
Koch, who didn't have a field goal in a first-round win over Waterloo West, scored on a catch-and-shoot inbounds play in the final 4-tenths of a second of the half, closing the gap to 29-21.
'That definitely helped me, and it helped us,' said Koch, who led all scorers with 16 points — she hit 4 of 5 shots, and 8 of 9 free throws.
Koch's three-point play got the Trojans within 42-39, her basket made it 44-41, then her two fouls shots cut it to 45-43.
But each time, the Dragons answered.
'It all says that we're not afraid, and we don't give up,' West's Matayia Tellis said. 'We did the same thing against Waterloo West (rallying from eight points down in the quarterfinals), but we couldn't pull it off this time.'
Tellis added 10 points; Emma Ingersoll-Weng posted six points and six rebounds.
The Trojans got to this point despite losing a combined six weeks due to COVID-related pauses.
'It's been a successful season, but it came with a lot of stress for our kids, our coaches and our families,' Mayer said. 'With all of that, it's gratifying to get here and win a game.'
Gyamfi finished with 11 points (on 4-of-15 shooting), 18 rebounds and those two key passes.
JOHNSTON 52, IOWA CITY WEST 47
Class 5A State Semifinal, at Des Moines
IOWA CITY WEST (47): Matayia Tellis 4-12 1-1 10, Emma Ingersoll-Weng 3-13 0-0 6, Meena Tate 2-6 0-0 4, Audrey Koch 4-5 8-9 16, Anna Prouty 2-3 0-0 5, Lucy Wolf 1-4 2-2 4, Liv Williams 1-2 0-0 2, Jenna Saunders 0-1 0-1 0, Malae Lacy 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 17-49 11-13 47.
JOHNSTON (52): Zoey Buchan 3-7 1-2 9, Kinsey Jilek 0-0 2-2 2, Anna Gossling 2-6 1-2 5, Aili Tanke 4-6 0-0 9, Jada Gyamfi 4-15 3-5 11, Aaliyah Riley 2-4 6-6 10, Molly Noelck 2-6 0-0 6, Emma Hampton 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-45 13-17 52.
Halftime: Johnston 29, West 21. 3-point goals: West 2-15 (Tellis 1-3, Ingersoll-Weng 0-6, Tate 0-1, Prouty 1-1, Wolf 0-1, Saunders 0-1, Lacy 0-2), Johnston 5-14 (Buchan 2-3, Gossling 0-3, Tanke 1-1, Gyamfi 0-2, Riley 0-1, Noelck 2-4). Team fouls: West 15, Johnston 13. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: West 26 (Ingersoll-Weng, Wolf 6), Johnston 37 (Gyamfi 18). Assists: West 3 (Tellis 2), Johnston 9 (Gossling, Gyamfi 3). Steals: West 9 (Tate 3), Johnston 2 (Jilek, Riley). Turnovers: West 7, Johnston 13.
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