Prep Basketball

No. 1 Iowa City High girls' basketball still unbeaten after another stirring comeback

Little Hawks rise up from 10-point deficit and edge Cedar Rapids Xavier, 65-64

Iowa City High's Ella Cook (from left), Aubrey Joens, and Paige Rocca surround an opponent during the state tournament l
Iowa City High's Ella Cook (from left), Aubrey Joens, and Paige Rocca surround an opponent during the state tournament last season. (The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The amount of talent on the Iowa City High girls’ basketball team is well documented.

Turns out, the Class 5A top-ranked Little Hawks are a pretty resilient bunch, too.

Three days after overcoming a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win in overtime at No. 7 Cedar Falls, City High faced an even bigger hole.

Bigger shortfall, bigger comeback.

“We just stayed together, played hard and knew that we could make big plays down the stretch,” City High senior Aubrey Joens said after the Little Hawks edged 4A No. 6 Cedar Rapids Xavier, 65-64, in a non-conference game Friday night at the City High gym. “They got a lot of points in the first half and we needed to eliminate those later on in the game. Playing hard and getting good stops down the stretch was important.”

City High (11-0) trailed by 13 points on two occasions in the first half and entered the fourth quarter down by 10 at 52-42. A 12-5 surge pulled the Little Hawks within three points midway through the final frame, but Xavier (8-4) pushed its lead to seven at 61-54 with just over three minutes left.

From there, it was all City High. An 11-0 explosion, highlighted by an Ella Cook defensive rebound of a missed free throw and basket, gave the Little Hawks their first lead of the game at 62-61 with a minute to go.

“I always just try to make sure I crash the boards hard,” Cook said. “No one boxed me out on that one and I got the ball. I just put it up. I just got it and put it up and it went in.”

Four City High players scored in double figures, led by Joens with 25. Fellow seniors Paige Rocca and Rose Nkumu added 12 and 11, respectively, while freshman Kelsey Joens chipped in 10.

“We have got three seniors that have been there before,” City High Coach Bill McTaggart said.

Caitlynn Daniels led Xavier with 18 points, including a 3-point basket at the buzzer to trim the final deficit to a point.

Girls’ basketball

AT IOWA CITY HIGH

Class 5A No. 1 Iowa City High 65, 4A No. 6 Cedar Rapids Xavier 64

C.R. XAVIER (64): Lexi Turner 1 0-1 2, Aree Beckmann 5 2-2 12, Brielle Bastian 2 0-0 4, Caitlynn Daniels 7 1-2 18, Aubrey Jones 2 2-2 6, Maya Karl 3 0-3 6, Libby Arnold 4 2-4 10, Mary Kate Moeder 2 1-4 6, Totals 26 8-18 64.

I.C. HIGH (65): Rose Nkumu 3 5-7 11, Kelsey Joens 4 1-2 10, Eviyon Richardson 1 0-2 2, Andie Westlake 1 0-0 2, Ella Cook 1 1-2 3, Paige Rocca 2 6-9 12, Aubrey Joens 7 8-10 25, Kacie Earl 0 0-0 0, Totals 19 21-32 65.

C.R. Xavier 18 23 11 12—64

I.C. High 18 12 12 23—65

Three-point goals — C.R. Xavier 4 (Daniels 3, Moeder 1); I.C. High 6 (A. Joens 3, Rocca 2, K. Joens 1). Rebounds — C.R. Xavier 28 (Beckmann 10); I.C. High 23 (A. Joens 9). Total fouls — C.R. Xavier 24; I.C. High 17. Fouled out — None.

Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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