Going Out on Top: Joens Hopes to Close Brilliant Career With Coveted State Title

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Jeff Yoder Photo / iagameday.smugmug.com

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

IOWA CITY – Before the question could even be completed Ashley Joens was already shaking her head.

Joens slipped away from a postgame celebration with family and friends following senior night at City High for a moment with reporters.

That night Joens guard had become the 19th player in state history to crack the 2,000-point mark, the latest in a seemingly endless string of individual achievements for the City High senior.

The final question directed at Joens that night required little more than a yes or no answer but elicited her most animated reaction.

Would you trade all the individual success for a state title?

The normally reserved, soft spoken Joens didn’t let the question end before responding.

“Yes. In a minute,” Joens said without hesitation. “That celebration at the end………that would be a lot more than these little ones.”

There have been a lot of those little celebrations the past four for Joens who will leave City High the program’s career scoring and rebounding leader.

A three-time all-state pick and four-time Mississippi Valley Conference divisional player of the year Joens has practically done it all during her impressive prep career.

She is a top-10 national recruit, was named to the Naismith Trophy high school midseason watch list and has set single-game and single-season scoring records this season as a senior.

“We haven’t had anybody better than her,” City High coach Bill McTaggart said. “She is a little bit of Kelly Krei and Virginia Johnson because those two brought the ball up. She is going to have the best stats of anyone at City High.”

Even with everything Joens has accomplished over the past four seasons there is one thing that has eluded her.

It happens to be the one thing she wants more than anything else, a state tournament win.

“She doesn’t like to talk about the awards or stats or anything like that,” City High sophomore and Ashley’s younger sister Aubrey Joens said. “When we talk about basketball all she ever really talks about is winning. She just really wants to win.”

Joens can add that missing piece to her already sterling resume on Monday when top-ranked City High (23-0) takes on defending champion West Des Moines Valley (13-10) in the opening round of the Class 5A state tournament at 11:45 a.m. at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

With the end of her prep career on the horizon Joens isn’t thinking about one state tournament win.

Instead she has her sights set on three straight wins in Des Moines and a state title.

“Being undefeated and to be able to finish the season like that would be huge,” Joens said. “It would be big. Especially with this team and for City High and the program. It would be perfect.”

Joens has been one of the state’s top players for the past three seasons.

She made an immediate splash as a freshman averaging 18.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game and upped those numbers to 19.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game as a sophomore.

Both of those seasons ended with regional final losses.

Joens led City High to the state tournament for the first time in her career last year, averaging a double-double with 21.1 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.

That state tournament trip was short lived as City High let a seven-point halftime lead slip away in a 48-46 quarterfinal loss to Cedar Falls.

“We were up by a lot at half and then we kind of let them get back in it,” Joens said. “I remember that feeling we had.”

Heading into her final season Joens set her sights on an extended state tournament stay.

She has produced with one of the best seasons in state history.

Joens leads the state in scoring at 31 points per game and ranks ninth in the state with 11.8 rebounds per contest.

She adds 3.3 steals, 3.1 assists and 1.8 blocks per game and has committed a career low 32 turnovers.

“She probably would feel more comfortable being the point guard but she has to be the post for us,” McTaggart said. “I think what makes her so special is we ask her to do so many things.”

Ranked the 18th best senior in the country by ESPN Hoopgurlz Joens became the highest ranked recruit in Iowa State history when she signed with the Cyclones in November.

She will leave City High one of the best to ever play in Iowa.

Her 712 points this season are the 17th most ever in a single-season in Iowa and second most for a big school player.

The 2,092 career points for Joens rank her 14th all-time and second behind only Anne O’Neill of Cedar Rapids Kennedy (2,494) among Class 4A/5A players.

“She is the best player that I have coached against and I think that includes both AAU and also high school,” Regina coach Jeff Wallace said. “You just don’t see a 6-foot girl that can run like she can and then to have all the skills to go with it and then she has a really high basketball IQ. Composure and just everything you are looking for in a player. She is just an incredible talent.

What makes her stats even more impressive, the huge scoring numbers come with unapparelled efficiency.

Joens is shooting 62 percent from the field including 60 percent from 3-point range and 79 percent from the free throw line.

What makes the eye-popping stat lines that Joens puts up on a regular basis refreshing is she doesn’t seem to care about them only about winning.

“I never really thought about any of those things,” Joens said. “All I’ve really thought about is getting better and winning. I want to win a state championship.”
Joens gets her final shot at a state title this week.

It would be a fitting end for one of the best ever.

“You don’t want to get the cart in front of the horse but it would be a nice ending to her fabulous senior year,” McTaggart said. “It would definitely be fitting.”