IOWA CITY — The first quarter was the Aubrey Joens Show. After halftime, it was Rose Nkumu who provided the offensive fireworks.
The Iowa City High juniors combined for 40 points as the sixth-ranked Little Hawks defeated Bettendorf, 57-40, in a Class 5A girls’ basketball regional final Tuesday night at Iowa City High School.
“Attacking their defense and just knowing where we are on the court,” said Nkumu, who led all scorers with 22 points. “I know she is always ready to hit a shot and she knows when to relocate when I drive in. Just being able to get the ball out quick and being able to score in transition is key.”
The victory delivers City High (19-2) to the state tournament for the third year in a row and fifth time in eight years. The Little Hawks are the defending state runners-up and will play a 5A state quarterfinal on Monday.
“They’re all different,” City High Coach Bill McTaggart said of his string of state tournament teams. “This was a completely different team. We had a bad taste in our mouth last year, so that will help us out this year hopefully. Be a little more inspired.”
Joens got off to a strong start against Bettendorf with 14 of her 18 points in the first quarter as the Little Hawks built a 12-point lead at 19-7.
“The ball movement, offensive rebounding,” said Joens, an Iowa State commit who also grabbed 12 rebounds. “I thought our rebounding tonight was really good. We moved the ball again and got good shots.”
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City High’s 5-foot-10 sophomore Ella Cook added 10 points, six rebounds and provided some tough defense against a pair of taller Bettendorf players in 6-2 senior Kylie Wroblewski and 6-1 junior Kaalyn Petersen. Wroblewski entered the game averaging over 17 points per contest. Through three quarters against Cook and City High, she managed just four.
“We really keyed in on their tallest player,” Nkumu said. “We knew that she was going to be a bit of a threat to us. We don’t really have that much height, so we had one of our tallest players guarding her, Ella Cook, and she did a great job against her. Then we just doubled down and tried to put as much pressure on her as possible.”
Nkumu scored 18 of her 22 points after halftime. Junior guard Paige Rocca posted 10 rebounds as the Little Hawks finished with a rebound advantage of 40-23.
Wroblewski finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds for Bettendorf, which ended its season with a record of 16-7.
CLASS 5A REGIONAL FINAL
No. 6 Iowa City High 57, Bettendorf 40
BETTENDORF (40): Allie Brownson 4 3-4 12, Ashley Fountain 1 5-6 7, Maggie Erpelding 2 0-2 5, Emma Dennison 0 0-0 0, Kaalyn Petersen 0 0-0 0, Kylie Wroblewski 5 0-0 10, Emilie Gist 2 0-0 4, Jenna Schweizer 1 0-0 2, Totals 12 8-12 40.
IOWA CITY HIGH (57): Rose Nkumu 8 4-6 22, Eviyon Richardson 0 2-2 2, CeCe Kelly-Harvey 0 0-0 0, Andie Westlake 1 0-0 2, Ella Cook 5 0-0 10, Paige Rocca 1 0-0 3, Aubrey Joens 6 4-5 18, Totals 21 10-13 57.
Bettendorf 9 6 10 15—40
Iowa City High 19 6 18 14—57
Halftime — City High, 25-15. Three-point goals — Bettendorf 2 (Brownson 1, Erpelding 1), City High 5 (Joens 2, Nkumu 2, Rocca 1). Rebounds — Bettendorf 23 (Wroblewski 9), City High 40 (Joens 12). Fouled out — None.
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