Joens Sisters Power City High Past West Des Moines Valley, Into 5A Semis


Jeff Yoder Photo /

Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports

DES MOINES – There was no late game lapse or second-half comeback.

Ashley Joens made sure of that.

Joens matched the Class 5A state tournament record with 36 points to lift top-ranked City High to a 78-62 win over No. 12 West Des Moines Valley (13-11) in the state quarterfinals on Monday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

Monday’s win was a year in the making after the Little Hawks squandered a seven-point halftime lead in a quarterfinal lost last March.

Joens wasn’t about to allow a repeat performance on Monday.

The Iowa State recruit scored 12 of her 36 in the final quarter to send City High (24-0) back to the 5A semifinals for the first time since 2014.

“Before the game we said we don’t want to come out like we did last year and let them back in it,” Joens said. “We just reminded ourselves of that and then went out and played.”

The state’s top scorer at 31 points per game Joens was her usual dominant self with 36 points and 10 rebounds.

Joens had plenty of help on Monday.

Aubrey Joens had 20 points and Rose Nkumu and Paige Rocca each added nine as City High shot 52 percent from the field.

City High will face No. 4 Johnston (21-3) in the 5A semifinals on Thursday at 10 a.m.

“The girls carried out their role and that’s what it takes this late in the season,” City High coach Bill McTaggart said. “Hopefully we can do that two more times.”

Just as it did in quarterfinal matchup with Cedar Falls a year ago City High sprinted to an early lead.

City High shot 59 percent in the first half, including 6-of-11 from 3-point range, while building a 47-34 halftime lead.

“We played really well,” Ashley Joens said of the start. “We came out ready to go and we kept going hard the whole time.”

City High led 23-21 after a fast-paced first quarter and created some separation with an 8-0 run in the opening 94 seconds of the second quarter.

Ashley Joens started the spurt with a 3-pointer and Aubrey Joens had a steal and layup and a 3 that pushed the lead to 31-23.

“We just had to keep doing our thing,” Aubrey Joens said. “When shots are falling for everyone we can rely on each other.”

The Joens sisters combined for 33 points in the first half but City High got key contributions from Nkumu, Rocca and freshman Ella Cook.

Cook hit a pair of first-quarter jumpers and Nkumu and Rocca combined for 10 points and five assists with just two turnovers in the first half.

“It’s definitely hard to guard when we all knock down shots,” Aubrey Joens said. “If Ash is being guarded we can all hit shots and she knows that.”

Valley closed the lead to eight twice in the third quarter, the final time on a Grace Plummer bucket with 3:12 left.

Unlike its last trip to state, City High had the second-half answer.

The Little Hawks closed the third quarter with five unanswered points on an Aubrey Joens 3-pointer and two Ashley Joens free throws.

City High led 60-47 after three quarters and never let the Tigers get closer than 11 the rest of the way.

“We definitely talked about it on the wipe board before we put the score and we said just remember how it feels,” Aubrey Joens said. “We know how it feels to go out there and not do what we came here to do so we definitely had that in the back of our mind and came out ready to play.”

Ashley Joens scored the first six City High points of the fourth quarter and the Little Hawks hit 8-of-11 fourth-quarter free throws to put the game away.

“At halftime coach came in and said we were up last year and this year we have to put it away,” Nkumu said. “We had to come out the second half with punch and I think we did that.”

Ashley Joens finished 10-of-20 from the field and 13-of-14 from the free throw line while matching the 5A tournament single-game scoring mark set by Indianola’s Grace Berg last season.

It was the first state tournament win in a brilliant career for Joens.

“It feels great,” Joens said. “We are all really excited but we know that we have to stay focused and come out ready to go the next game.

City High                               23  24  13  15  –  78

West Des Moines Valley          21  13  13  18  –  62

City High (78) – Rose Nkumu 3-5 2-7 9, Ashley Joens 10-20 13-14 36, Paige Rocca 4-7 0-0 9, Aubrey Joens 7-11 2-2 20, Samantha Greving 0-4 0-2 0, Ayana Lindsey 0-0 0-1 0, Ashley Kuennen 0-0 0-0 0, Ella Cook 2-3 0-0 4, Team 26-50 17-26 78.

West Des Moines Valley (62) – Libby Helverson 1-3 1-2 3, Zoe Young 12-24 2-3 28, Grace Plummer 5-8 1-4 14, Shea Fuller 1-5 5-8 7, Amber Kettering 3-7 1-2 10, Grace Hinkle 0-1 0-0 0, Anna Bernard 0-1 0-0 0, Team 22-49 10-19 62.

3-point field goals – ICH 9-15 (Nkumu 1-1, Ash. Joens 3-3, Rocca 1-3, Aub. Joens 4-7, Cook 0-1); WDV 8-20 (Young 2-8, Plummer 3-5, Fuller 0-1, Kettering 3-5, Bernhard 0-1). Rebounds – ICH 34 (Ash. Joens 10); WDV 25 (Young 7). Assists – ICH 18 (Rocca 4); WDV (11 (Fuller 4). Turnovers – ICH 11; WDV 17. Total fouls – ICH 15; WDV 22. Fouled out – WDV (Helverson). Technical fouls – None.