Girls Basketball Notebook: Defense Has West High Off to 3-0 Start


Jeff Yoder Photo /

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

BJ Mayer demands a lot from his team on defense.  

Given the lofty defensive demands from the long-time West High coach the Women of Troy have been known to get to speed quicker on the offensive end than defensive end of the court.

This season has been the opposite.

Class 5A second-ranked West High (3-0) is holding opponents to 37.6 points per game and has held back-to-back opponents to 35 points or fewer.

“I think our defense has been really good and this year it’s probably the opposite where we are probably well ahead of our offense,” Mayer said. “We are trying to get some offense out of our defense and that helps.”

The stingy defense has been important for West High as it awaits the return of senior standout Rachael Saunders.

Saunders is one of the top playmakers in the state and ranked second on the team in scoring with 12.4 points per game.

Without Saunders in the lineup, West High has turned to its defense and several first-year varsity contributors to start the season 3-0.

“Some of our other kids are having to step up and kind of be leaders and maybe they haven’t had to do that,” Mayer said. “Those kids are really flourishing without her but that being said we’d love to have her back and when we get her back it’s something we feel like will benefit us.”

West High has gotten a boost from freshmen Audrey Koch and Matayia Tellis.

Koch, a 5-foot-10 forward, is averaging eight points and 4.7 rebounds per game while Tellis is adding 3 points per game.

“(Audrey) is so long and athletic and can do a lot of things for us inside and outside,” Mayer said. “Matayia Tellis is a really good defender, she is still trying to get her bearings a little bit offensively but she really helps us out with pressure on the ball and we are getting a few minutes out of Carrie Callahan who has been steady and Sydney Allen is also playing for the first time.”

That group of newcomers combined with strong starts from veterans Logan Cook (16.3 ppg), Emma Koch (12 ppg) and Lauren Zacharias (7 ppg) have West High unbeaten heading into a seven-day stretch in which it travels to nationally ranked Hopkins, Minnesota and cross-town rival City High.

Koenig Tops Scoring Chart

With 34 points against Monticello on Friday Tatum Koenig became the all-time leading scorer at West Branch.

The senior guard pushed her career total to 1,214 career points to surpass Kate Tuttle for the top spot.

Three games into the season Koenig is averaging 27.3 points, seven assists, five steals and four rebounds per game.  

Joens Picking Up Where She Left Off

If Ashley Joens putting up huge stats seems like old news, it’s because it basically is.

The City High senior has been filling stat sheets for three seasons and has picked up where she left off this year.

Joens averaged 31 points and 11 rebounds in a pair of City High wins last week including a 36-point, 15-rebound performance in a win over Cedar Rapids Kennedy.

Regina Measures Up Against The Best

The thought for Jeff Wallace when he scheduled a game for his Regina squad against defending Missouri state champion and nationally ranked Incarnate Word was to see how the Regals stacked up against the best.

Regina showed on Saturday it could hang with anyone.

Class 2A sixth-ranked Regina (1-2) pushed the team USA Today ranked as the 16th best perp squad in the country to overtime before falling 63-58 on Saturday at the Norm Stewart Classic in Columbia

Regina plays three games this week and closes the pre-holiday portion of its schedule next week with road games at 3A No. 13 Monticello, RVC rival West Branch and 2A No. 11 Cascade. 

Performances of the Week

City High senior Ashley Joens had 36 points, 15 rebounds and eight steals in an 82-51 win over Cedar Rapids Kennedy.

West Branch senior Tatum Koenig had 34 points and seven assists in a 65-58 loss to Monticello.

Solon senior Brianna Smith had 22 points and three assists in 53-46 win over Washington.

Clear Creek Amana sophomore Karsyn Stratton had 30 points, six rebounds and three steals in a 58-53 loss to Dyersville Beckman.

West High junior Emma Koch had 15 points and eight rebounds in a 49-30 win over Cedar Rapids Xavier.