116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Practice had wound down Tuesday morning, but Courtney and Ashley Joens weren't done with basketball for the day.
'Watch this,' Bill McTaggart whispered to a visitor, then winked.
His voice rose: 'What time are you coming back?' he asked the sisters.
'Two o'clock,' Courtney said.
Such is the life of a gym rat. Or two.
'This is our second home,' said Courtney, a senior at Iowa City High. 'We'll be back this afternoon. Our dad (Brian) will run us through some drills. If he can't make it, we'll get up a lot of shots.'
A University of Illinois signee, Courtney 'is getting closer' to her pre-injury form, according to McTaggart. She suffered a knee injury a few weeks before her junior season, but hobbled her way through it.
'I never had a lot of pain,' she said. 'It would have hurt a lot more if I hadn't been able to play. I went to a lot of different doctors and heard a lot of different things. I heard that I'd never play again, or I'd never be good again.'
Courtney is a pure shooter. Ashley, a sophomore, is a slender slasher, a rebounder. She already has offers from Illinois, Drake and Wisconsin. More are sure to come for a 5-foot-11 do-it-all athlete.
Get used to the last name. In Eastern Iowa basketball circles, it's going to be around for awhile. Courtney and Ashley are the first two of five Joens sisters.
Aubrey is an eighth-grader, already accurate from long distance, and probably will join Ashley on the City High varsity next year. Then there's Kelsey, a fifth-grader, and 4-year-old Bailey.
'Bailey said she doesn't want to play basketball,' Courtney said.
Ashley said, 'Yeah, then you see her dribbling around. She wants to play.'
Brian graduated from Cedar Rapids Prairie in 1992 and coached a few years ago at Iowa City Regina. His wife, Lisa, was a six-on-six forward at Oelwein, from which she graduated in 1993 as Lisa Macke.
They don't drag their daughters to the gym. They don't have to.
'They're gym rats,' McTaggart said. 'Both of them. You can tell they're daughters of a coach, because they'll do whatever you tell them to do.'
And they'll find a place to hone their craft. Any place.
'The janitors (at City High) are really nice,' Ashley said. 'They'll let us in. If nobody's here and everything's locked, we'll go to Mercer (Recreation Center).'
Despite missing seven games last season with the bad knee, Courtney is bearing down on the 1,000-point career mark. She is averaging 17.6 points per game. The Little Hawks are 66-13 in her four years, highlighted by a state-semifinal campaign in 2014, led by Haley Lorenzen (now at the University of Florida) and Kiera Washpun.
Courtney's signature game came last season at Cedar Rapids Kennedy, a 42-point gem that Cougars Coach Tony Vis called 'a game for the ages.' She hit eight 3-pointers in nine attempts that night.
'She was just feeling it,' McTaggart said. 'She has a beautiful stroke.'
Ashley's arrival softened the blow of Courtney's injury last season. As a freshman, she averaged 18.7 points per game, shooting nearly 10 free throws per contest. This year, she is scoring 20.3 points per contest, most in the Mississippi Valley Conference.
'Courtney's more of a shooter, and I'm more of a driver,' Ashley said. 'That's the main thing I do. And I think I'm pretty good on defense.'
Last May, Illinois head coach Matt Bollant and assistant Mike Divilbiss were accused of verbally and emotionally abusing players, including making racist statements. Divilbess left the program in the wake of the allegations. Bollant did not face disciplinary action.
Courtney didn't waver from her commitment to Bollant and the Illini.
'He's a really good family man,' she said. 'I like him a lot, and that program will be a good fit for me.'
When not in the gym, Courtney spends a good amount of time waiting tables at her family's restaurant — Joensy's, on North Dodge Street in Iowa City. Ashley babysits the younger sisters.
City High (7-1 overall, 3-1 MVC) returns to action Tuesday at home against Cedar Rapids Washington. The Little Hawks aren't deep anyway, and the departure of Bryn Hanrahan will put more weight on the Joens sisters and junior Kenya Earl; the three of them combine for nearly 90 percent of the team's scoring.
Still, the goal is simple.
'We want to win a state championship,' Courtney said. 'And we think we have a chance.'
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