Girls Basketball Roundup: Saunders Return a Boost for Third-ranked West High

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Jeff Yoder Photo / iagameday.smugmug.com

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

There was a point in her career when a six-point performance would have resulted in a little frustration or even disappointment for West High senior Rachael Saunders.

The only thing that accompanied the six points for Saunders in a 76-28 win over Dubuque Wahlert last Friday was a smile. One great big wide smile.   

Saunders scored six points in her season debut on Friday in her first game action since tearing her ACL in the Class 5A state quarterfinals last March.

“It was really exciting it was kind of hard to get mad at anything really or frustrated with myself because I was just really having fun with everybody,” Saunders said. “I couldn’t stop smiling.”

Saunders added three rebounds, two assists and three steals while shaking off the rust in her debut.

“I was definitely nervous a little bit,” Saunders said. “My team helped calm me down and it ended up just being really fun.”

There wasn’t a lot of rust for Saunders to get rid of.

The 5-foot-8 Creighton signee had been practicing since the season started and was cleared to return to action earlier.

Saunders and West High coach BJ Mayer eyed a return to game action after the holiday break and stuck to that plan.

“I’ve been practicing since the beginning of the season and my doctor wanted to make sure I was as good as possible to come back,” Saunders said. “I got all of my numbers back to almost equal to my other leg strength-wise and quickness-wise.

In her second game back Saunders was back to her old play-making self, scoring a team-high 15 points in a 54-33 win over Linn-Mar on Tuesday.

The return of the dynamic Saunders provides a boost to third-ranked West High (9-2) which went 7-2 without its all-state playmaker.

“Coach Mayer really focused on having me for the most important part of the season which would be conference and then the end of the year at state,” Saunders said. “Missing the games was really hard but I’m hoping that not playing in those games will prove to be somewhat beneficial when it comes down to March.”

Look Who’s Back

West High wasn’t the only team to get a boost following the holiday break.

Regina got senior all-stater Mary Crompton back for the first time this season following the break while City High sophomore sharpshooter Aubrey Joens returned from an injury that caused her to sit out the final five games of December.

Crompton debuted with 12 points in a win over Tipton last week and is averaging 14.3 points in three games this season.

Joens missed five games following an injury in a road win over Cedar Falls on December 8th but returned to score 14 in a win over Waterloo West last week and is averaging 12.3 points since returning to the lineup.

Clippers Coming Together

Any concerns about a two-week layoff during the holiday break halting the momentum for Clear Creek Amana is long gone.

Then again for the Clippers those concerns never really surfaced.

Clear Creek Amana (7-4) closed 2017 with three straight wins then spent the holiday break finetuning a lineup that had never really played together before this season.

“We really gelled as a team over break,” Clear Creek Amana senior Andrea Roller said. “We had a lot of practices and we were able to get in the gym and work together.”

The Clippers roared out of the game in 2018, winning three straight and have now won seven of their last eight following an 0-3 start.

Clear Creek Amana is averaging 55 points per game during its six-game winning streak after scoring 41.6 per game while starting 1-4.

Performances of the Week

City High senior Ashley Joens had 33 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks in a 73-22 win over Keokuk.

Liberty High sophomore Cora Saunders had 23 points in a 64-58 loss to Clear Creek Amana.

West High junior Lauren Zacharias had 16 points, 10 assists and four steals in a 76-28 win over Dubuque Wahlert.

Solon senior Brianna Smith had 14 points, four rebounds and two steals in a 45-39 win over Mount Pleasant.

Clear Creek Amana sophomore Karsyn Stratton had 31 points, 15 rebounds and three steals in a 64-58 win over Liberty High.