Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Few players around the state have meant more to their team this season than West High senior Lauren Zacharias.
A four-year starter Zacharias played the best basketball of her career to open her senior season helping Class 5A No. 11 West High open the season 6-2.
As good as Zacharias played before the holiday break the 5-foot-5 point guard was even better in her first game following the two-week layoff.
Zacharias poured in a career-high 21 points, grabbed six rebounds while adding three assists in two steals as West High opened 2019 with a 63-47 win over Linn-Mar.
“I think I’ve taken on more of the a leadership role,” Zacharias said. “This year I have had to push the ball more and score more and I think I’m playing at the highest level that I ever had.”
The stats certainly back up the notion that Zacharias has never been better than she has been over the first nine games this season.
Zacharias is averaging a career-best 14 points per game this season while shooting better than 52 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range.
She leads 5A in assists per game with 5.9 and ranks third on the team in rebounding with 4.9 per game and has a team-high 3.4 steals.
“I imagined that I would have to do a lot more this year so I tried to raise my game,” Zacharias said. “We don’t have a lot of height so I knew I would have to help rebound a little and just do anything I can to help us win.”
Zacharias has done more than just increase the numbers in the stat columns.
She has become a leader on a West High team that features two freshmen and two sophomores in its regular rotation.
“She has done so much, she is averaging a bunch of assists, she has some rebounds and some steals and she is getting her points but I think the big thing she has done is she has been a pretty good leader for us,” West High coach BJ Mayer said. “She has taken some of these young kids and brought them along with us and I think that’s a huge thing but she is playing really well right now.”
The West High assist leader each of the past three seasons Zacharias has always been a playmaker from the point guard spot.
This season she has gone from a distributor to a scorer.
Zacharias has scored in double figures in all nine games this season and has scored 15 or more points four times.
“She has been a kid that wants the ball in her hands a lot and we’ve tried to get her off the ball a little bit to let her do a little more scoring and we will continue that,” Mayer said. “She is playing really well right now and we are going to need her to keep that up.”
Zacharias had a triple double in a loss to City High earlier this season finishing with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.
Still the senior has perhaps never been better than she was on Friday against Linn-Mar.
Zacharias hit her first three field goal attempts, all 3-pointers, and needed just 13 field goal attempts to score her game-high 21 points.
“I’ve definitely worked on my 3-point shooting a lot over break,” Zacharias said. “My percentage wasn’t great at the start of the year so I got in the gym and worked hard at trying to be more consistent.”