Top-ranked City High Speeds Past Liberty High

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Photo by Jeff Yoder

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

NORTH LIBERTY – City High needed some overtime heroics to edge long-time rival West High last Friday.

The Little Hawks didn’t have any of that drama in the first meeting with a brand new rival on Friday.

Top-ranked City High raced to a 24-10 first-quarter lead and rolled to a 71-26 win over Liberty High in the first ever meeting between the teams in a Mississippi Valley Conference cross-divisional matchup in North Liberty.

Rose Nkumu scored 17 of her game-high 19 points in the first half as City High built a 45-20 halftime advantage.

Four Little Hawks scored in double figures as City High improved to 5-0 while Liberty High dropped to 2-4.

“We definitely still have some things to work on but that goes for any team,” Nkumu said. “I think that the way we played tonight shows our potential and I think we still have things we can get better at.”

Sandwiched around a 64-57 overtime win over eighth-ranked West High last week were a pair of less than impressive wins for City High over Dubuque Hempstead and Dubuque Wahlert.

In each of those games City High scuffled through the first half.

That wasn’t the case on Friday as City High scored the first six points and never trailed.

“Coming out strong like that against a good team is good for us and helps us show our potential,” City High junior Aubrey Joens said. “It was important for us to get off to a good start.”

City High opened the game in a half-court trap that caused problems for the Lightning immediately.

Joens and Nkumu each scored on transition layups following a Liberty High turnover as the Little Hawks took a 6-0 lead just 68 seconds into the game.

Liberty High got as close as 8-7 on a Megan Davis jumper but City High closed the quarter on a 16-3 run fueled by its pressure defense that lead to fast break after fast break.

“I thought we set the tempo early and that’s what we wanted to do tonight,” City High coach Bill McTaggart said. “The key to our team is to control the tempo and against Hempstead we looked tired so we’ve gotten in better shape since then.”

City High shot 56 percent in the first two quarters while building an insurmountable 45-20 halftime lead.

It was the Little Hawk defense that set the tone.

City High forced 19 first-half turnovers while limiting Liberty High to just 13 shot attempts in the first half.

“We have been working on our defense in practice which I think showed in this game,” Nkumu said. “We’ve been working on communicating and being a little more aggressive on the defensive end straight from the beginning of the game.”

City High put the game away with a 21-2 third quarter and held Liberty High to just six second-half points on two made field goals.

Nkumu led four City High players in double figures with 19 points while junior Paige Rocca had 14 points and Joens added 11.

Sophomore Ella Cook had all 10 of her points in the third quarter and freshman Kacie Earl and Eviyon Richardson each added six points.

“If we can have that kind of balance it makes it harder for teams when they scout us and we won’t see as many gimmicks that way,” McTaggart said. “It makes us hard to guard.”

Jenna Saunders led Liberty High with nine points while Cora Saunders added seven for the Lightning.

City High        24  21  21  5  –  71

Liberty High  10  10   2   4  –  26

City High (71) – Carey Koenig 0-2 0-0 0, Rose Nkumu 9-17 0-0 19, Eviyon Richardson 3-5 0-0 6, Andie Westlake 2-4 0-0 5, Ella Cook 4-5 1-1 10, Paige Rocca 4-7 4-4 14, Aubrey Joens 4-8 2-2 11, Kacie Earl 2-4 2-2 6, Team 29-52 9-9 71.

Liberty High (26) – Isabel Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Megan Davis 1-2 0-0 2, Emily Larsen 0-2 0-0 0, Sam McPherson 1-4 2-2 4, Jenna Saunders 3-6 0-0 9, Haley Napoli 0-1 0-0 0, Cora Saunders 3-5 0-2 7, Kayli Baldwin 1-3 0-0 3, Neshy Byrd 0-1 1-2 1, Team 9-25 3-6 26.

3-point field goals – ICH 6-15 (Koenig 0-1, Nkumu 1-2, Richardson 0-2, Westlake 1-2, Cook 1-1, Rocca 2-4, Joens 1-2, Earl 0-1), ICL 5-16 (Davis 0-1, Larsen 0-2, McPherson 0-2, J. Saunders 3-4, Napoli 0-1, C. Saunders 1-3, Baldwin 1-3). Rebounds – ICH 20 (Nkumu, Richardson 4), ICL 17 (C. Saunders 4). Turnovers – ICH 10, ICL 31. Total fouls – ICH 15, ICL 10. Fouled out – ICH (Cook). Technical fouls – None.