Prep Basketball

Iowa City High claims 1-vs.-2 girls' basketball showdown against Dowling in final seconds

Caitlin Clark scores 34, but Aubrey Joens and Little Hawks get the win, 75-73

Iowa City High's Aubrey Joens (23) walks through a line of cheerleaders and their mascot after a postseason win last Feb
Iowa City High's Aubrey Joens (23) walks through a line of cheerleaders and their mascot after a postseason win last February. (The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — When the top-ranked Iowa City High girls’ basketball team hosted No. 2 West Des Moines Dowling on Saturday, it proved to be a battle between future in-state rivals.

Dowling’s Caitlin Clark and City High’s Aubrey Joens put on a show that came down to the final possession.

In the end, Joens — an Iowa State commit — and the Little Hawks prevailed in the last seconds over Iowa commit Clark and the Maroons, 75-73.

“We knew that Caitlin Clark was a phenomenal player, and we weren’t going to stop,” City High head coach Bill McTaggart said. “We were trying to make all of her shots difficult the best we could and try to contain the others a little bit. That’s one of the best teams in the state. It was a good test. It’s too bad somebody had to lose.”

The effort to stop Clark paid off, but the Dowling star still put up a game-high 34 points, with 24 coming before halftime.

Joens, however, got the final say.

The future Cyclone scored six of her 29 points in the final 3 1/2 minutes, including the game-winning bucket with four seconds remaining.

With the game tied at 73, Joens drove in from the wing, unleashed a spin move, and went up and under for the basket to give City High a two-point advantage.

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From there, Clark dribbled past the half-court line and unloaded a deep 3-point attempt for the potential win. It fell short.

Instead, City’s senior presence of Joens and Rose Nkumu — who added 21 points — won out.

“It was exciting,” Joens said. “A lot of back and forth — competitive personalities out there.”

While the Little Hawks focused on limiting Clark’s impact, Dowling was forced to do the same thing with Joens.

Joens scored 13 points in the first quarter before her late-game heroics, giving the raucous City High student section something to cheer for early.

“It’s tough because you’ve got to come out and guard her on the perimeter, but then she’s such a good driver,” Dowling head coach Kristin Meyers said. “You can’t give her space because she’ll shoot it, but you have to be able to stay on your feet.”

City High’s victory put an exclamation mark in the Little Hawks’ win column. The Little Hawks powered through and prepared themselves for the future in the process.

“It was really actually imperative that we made those plays because this is a team we’re going to see in the state tournament,” Nkumu said. “They’re a great team, and they’ve got Caitlin Clark, the best player in the state.

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“Getting a good look at them before the state tournament was good for us in preparing us for games like Prairie and Waukee.”

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