Girls Basketball Notebook: West High Measures Up in Second Half of Top-10 Win Over CR Prairie

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Photo by Jeff Yoder

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

A meeting with a top-10 opponent one week into the season is a solid measuring stick for any team.

That is how West High coach BJ Mayer viewed his teams meeting with ninth-ranked Cedar Rapids Prairie.

If the first two quarters of action against Prairie on Friday didn’t show Mayer enough about his young team the final two quarters certainly flashed what West High is capable of.

Class 5A seventh-ranked West High (2-0) rallied from a seven-point third quarter deficit and ended the game on a 4-0 earning a 55-53 win on a runner by Lauren Zacharias with four seconds left.

“They are in different roles,” Mayer said. “We have Lauren and Cailyn (Morgan) that have been there and then we have five other kids that have played for us but this is all new so we wanted to see how they would respond.”

The defining moment Mayer was looking for early in the season came at the start of the second half.
West High had a 26-25 halftime lead erased by a 8-0 Prairie run to start the third quarter.

Back-to-back 3-pointers put the Hawks up 33-26 less than three minutes into the half and would have normally prompted a timeout from the veteran West High coach.

Instead, Mayer wanted to let his team play through the adversity.

“Sometimes you just have to see what you’ve got,” Mayer said. “I don’t think one loss is going to kill us so we were going to play through that and to their credit they got stops, we made some shots and we were able to pull it out at the end.”
Mayer got the response he had hoped for.

Sophomore Matayia Tellis stopped the run with a 3-pointer and Zacharias followed with a bucket.

West High then closed the quarter on an 8-0 run of its own over the final 2:10 to take a 45-44 lead.

“We talked about calling a timeout but it’s early and I wanted our kids to play through some things,” Mayer said. “Later in the year we might have taken a timeout to weather that storm but I wanted to see what we had.”

What Mayer appears to have this season is another balanced offensive team.

A year ago West High rode its balanced attack to the Class 5A state title.

This season the Women of Troy are following a similar mold with five players currently average better than 8.5 points per game.

Sophomore Audrey Koch leads the way with 15 points per game followed by Zacharias with 14.5 and Morgan with 12.5.

Tellis is averaging 9 and freshman Emma Ingersoll-Weng 8.5.

“We are still not a one or two person team,” Mayer said. “We have a lot of people that can score. Emma scored 15 the other night, Matayia has averaged about 12 a night. We have kids that can score, we have kids that can do it and on their night that’s kind of the way that we play and hopefully we can continue to do that.”

Smith Gets Win No. 1: Jamie Smith is no stranger to winning basketball games. The Solon head coach won 130 games in nine seasons at Interstate 35.

On Friday Smith picked up win number one in his new home as Solon (1-3) defeated Vinton-Shellsburg 65-25 for its first win of the season.

Hot Start for Joens: A Joens scoring in the 30s became common over the past few seasons at City High with current Iowa State freshman Ashley Joens regularly eclipsing the 30-point mark.

Young sister Aubrey didn’t waste any time picking up the slack this season.

Aubrey Joens poured in 30 points for third-ranked City High in a season-opening 75-48 win over Cedar Rapids Kennedy on Friday.

West Branch Starts Strong: West Branch head coach Jarod Tylee knows the conference season is a marathon not a sprint.

West Branch has shown early it expects to be in the River Valley Conference South Division race down to the wire.

The Bears picked up three RVC wins in a span of five days to start 3-0 for the first time since the 2015-2016 that ended with a state tournament berth.

West Branch started 1-2 last season on its way to a 17-7 record.

Performances of the Week: City High junior Aubrey Joens had 30 points, six rebounds and six steals in a 75-48 win over Cedar Rapids Kennedy

West High sophomore Audrey Koch had 23 points and seven rebounds in a 55-53 win over Cedar Rapids Prairie

Solon senior Abby Smith had 11 points, seven rebounds and three steals in a 65-25 win over Vinton-Shellsburg

Clear Creek Amana junior Karsyn Stratton had 15 points, seven rebounds and three steals in a 46-41 loss to Central DeWitt

West Branch sophomore Sasha Koenig had 31 points, four assists and five steals in a 76-43 win over Durant.

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