Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – West High pulled a rabbit out of its hat, coming up with three points on a free throw by Emma Ingersoll-Weng and a rebound follow basket by Cailyn Morgan to tie Cedar Falls with 17 seconds left Friday.
The Tigers rushed up court while West High scrambled to defend amid the chaos, and it looked for all the world like the game was headed to overtime.
But junior Emerson Green drove the left lane and curled in a left-handed bank shot as time expired for a 56-54 victory in the Mississippi Valley Conference cross-divisional matchup.
“I knew there was some time left, but I didn’t look up at the clock to see how much,” Morgan said. “We had to play some more defense before the game was over. I was supposed to guard Emerson, but we kind of got mixed up so it was kind of like all-out defense, like, do what you can.”
“The whole game we were trying to be aggressive,” Green said. “We knew it might come down to the very last play like it did. I looked up and there were 5 seconds left, and I knew that we were tied and there was nothing to lose at that point.”
Green’s only option in driving the lane was the left side, and she was closely guarded.
“I had to try to get to the hoop and get a foul or try to put it in,” Green said.
A right-handed shooter, Green used her left while moving full tilt and had the touch to get the angle off the box.
West High’s defender hit the deck hard, but no foul was called as time expired.
Credit Tiger coach Gregg Groen for knowing his team and resisting the urge to call timeout.
“When you have a couple players like Emerson and Anaya (Barney), and Emerson had the ball in her hand, sometimes in the chaos of trying to transition back on defense it’s easier to just allow them to try to create something rather than call a timeout and let the defense get set,” he said.
“It was a heck of a play,” West coach B.J. Mayer said. “She just does so many things for them. She’s a tough matchup. We can sort of match up because we have Cailyn being tall enough and athletic enough to stay with her. But she’s just an all-around good player.”
It was remarkable that West High tied the game given the Tigers’ 54-51 lead with just 19 seconds left.
Ingersoll-Weng drove toward the hoop, and post Akacia Brown was called for a foul. Ingersoll-Weng made the first foul shot but missed the second. Morgan rebounded.
“I knew there was not that much time left, and all I could do was shoot it,” Morgan said.
“It could have been anyone’s game at that point,” Green said of Morgan’s tying shot. “We knew that’s not how we wanted to end the game.”
Fouls were a big part of the game late. Ten of Cedar Falls’ 16 fourth-quarter points came at the foul line.
Green was 5-for-5 from the line in the quarter. West High lost point guard Lauren Zacharias to fouls with 28 seconds left, and three Tigers finished with four apiece.
Morgan led all scorers with 21. Green had 20. Barney and McKenna Gleason had 15 apiece.
West High didn’t get the usual scoring punch from stalwarts Audrey Koch and Zacharias, who came in averaging a combined 32 points but were held to 11.
But Mayer was more upset by what he saw in his players’ faces than what he saw on the stat sheet.
He called a timeout late in the third quarter with his team down six points and was heard, in no uncertain terms, urging his players to fight.
“We weren’t shooting it well; we weren’t getting some calls,” Mayer said. “But that’s not something you can do a whole lot with. You’ve just got to play and fight through adversity.”
He thought they did better in the final quarter, but against a team as talented as Cedar Falls those lapses hurt.
He also thought their communication, particularly on defense, was a problem.
Class 5A No. 11 West fell to 8-3 overall and 5-2 in the Valley division of the MVC. The seventh-ranked Tigers are 11-1 and 6-1 in the Mississippi Division.
“We knew our first three games out of break were going to be really difficult,” Green said. “We started with Xavier at home, and we talked about this road week. We had Prairie on Tuesday and coming to West Friday. We learned a lot about ourselves at Prairie (a 46-41, double-overtime loss) and implemented some of that tonight.”
“Coming into this game we had a lot of energy to play as hard as we can,” Green said. “West is always a great team, and it’s one of our favorite games to play.”
Cedar Falls (56) – Sarah Albaugh 0-4 1-2 1, Anaya Barney 4-9 5-7 15, Emerson Green 7-13 6-6 18, McKenna Gleason 7-11 0-0 15, Lexie Godfrey 0-3 2-2 2, Akacia Brown 1-3 1-2 3, Totals 19-43 15-19
West High (54) – Cailyn Morgan 6-17 8-11 21, Matayia Tellis 4-8 0-1 8, Lauren Zacharias 4-16
0-0 9, Sydney Allen 3-7 0-0 6, Audrey Koch 1-7 0-0 2, Emma Ingersoll-Weng 2-5 3-4 8, Grace Schneider 0-1 0-0 0, Totals 20-45 11-16.
3-point goals – CF 3-18 (Albaugh 0-4, Barney 2-4, Green 0-4, Gleason 1-3, Godfrey 0-3), ICW 3-22 (Morgan 1-3, Tellis 0-3, Zacharias 1-8, Allen 0-2, Koch 0-2, Ingersoll-Weng 1-3, Schneider 0-1). Total fouls – CF 17, ICW 18. Fouled out – ICW (Zacharias).