Prep Basketball

Always dynamic, Xavier's Caitlynn Daniels had added efficiency to her game

Girls' basketball notes: She is the school record holder in points and assists, and about to set the steals mark

Cedar Rapids Xavier's Caitlynn Daniels races upcourt in the Saints' win over Waterloo West on Tuesday. Daniels is the sc
Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Caitlynn Daniels races upcourt in the Saints’ win over Waterloo West on Tuesday. Daniels is the school’s career leader in points and assists, and is two steals away from the record in that category. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Tom Lilly likened a young Caitlynn Daniels to Brett Favre.

“It didn’t matter how small the window was,” Lilly said, holding his hands so they were the size of a bread box. “She’d try to fit it in there.”

Gunslinger. That was a common term for Favre. And for Daniels, it used to fit, too.

A one-handed, no-look pass might hit a teammate in stride for a basket. Or it might hit off a non-suspecting teammate’s chest. Or maybe into the stands.

That was then.

Always dynamic, Daniels has added efficiency and maturity to her game. And she’ll finish her girls’ basketball career at Cedar Rapids Xavier as one of its most decorated players. Considering the Saints have won four state championships in their 22-year existence, that’s saying something.

“When I was young, I wanted to be known as one of the best players Xavier ever had,” Daniels said Tuesday after the Class 4A eighth-ranked Saints downed Waterloo West, 65-52, to improve to 7-3.

“With my teammates, I wanted to help the program grow and expand.”

Daniels became Xavier’s career scoring leader Tuesday, with 950 points. She set the career assists record last year, and now has 407. With 218 career steals, she needs two more to break that record, too.

But here’s the real mark of Daniels’ growth. As a freshman, her assist-to-turnover rate was 1.19. That improved to 1.42 as a sophomore, 1.54 as a junior.

This year: 3.42 — 65 assists and 19 turnovers through 10 games. She had 17 points and 10 assists Tuesday.

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“She’s very driven, a perfectionist,” Lilly said. “She’s harder on herself than anybody else is on her. She’s our general, our leader.”

“A great leader and role model,” according to sophomore Mary Kate Moeder. “Caitlynn helps us build our confidence.”

When Daniels attended Xavier games as a young girl, she had her eye on Kayla Armstrong, who led the Saints to a state championship in 2013.

“She was a two-sport athlete, soccer and basketball, and I wanted to be like her,” Daniels said.

With Daniels at the point, Xavier reached the 4A state semifinals in 2017, then returned to the tournament last year.

“We want to get back,” said Daniels, an Alabama-Birmingham signee. “I think we proved against (top-ranked) North Scott (in a 59-55 loss Nov. 30) that we can compete with anybody in the state.”

McDonald's All-American nominees

Three area players are among five nominees from Iowa for the McDonald’s All-American Games.

Iowa City High’s Aubrey Joens and Rose Nkumu are on the list, along with Kayba Laube of Marion.

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Caitlin Clark, a University of Iowa signee from West Des Moines Dowling, and Van Buren County’s Taryn Scheuermann also are nominees.

Thinking postseason?

According to Gary Ross of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, regional pairings will be released Feb. 5 or Feb. 6 for Class 1A, 2A and 3A, Feb. 12 or Feb. 13 for 4A and 5A.

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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