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IOWA CITY – The list of unbeaten teams in Class 5A is down to one. West High made sure of that on Thursday night.
5A No. 10 West High handed top-ranked City High its first loss with a 65-51 win over the Little Hawks in a cross-town Mississippi Valley Conference showdown between division leaders on a snowy night at West High.
West High used a 10-0 third-quarter run to break open a one-point game while improving to 12-3 on the season and 9-2 in MVC play with its fourth consecutive win.
City High dropped to 14-1 and 10-1 in MVC play and had a 41-game regular season winning streak halted with its first loss outside of the state tournament since a 63-58 loss to West High on January 24 of 2017.
“I think we were looking more at beating City High instead of beating the No. 1 team,” West High senior Cailyn Morgan said. “But it’s always good to defeat the No. 1 team.”
This was the second consecutive year West High handed City High its first loss.
Last season the only blemish for City High was a 56-45 loss to West High in the 5A title game.
The Little Hawks got a measure of revenge with a 64-57 overtime win in the first meeting this season back in December.
Thursday’s rematch appeared to be headed for another tight ending but West High had other ideas.
Senior point guard Lauren Zacharias scored 17 of her team-high 20 points in the second half, including seven during the key 10-0 third quarter run that gave West High a 47-38 lead after three quarters.
Morgan added 17 points and Audrey Koch had 13 for West High which avoided being swept by City High in the season series for the second straight season.
“She’s a senior and she didn’t have a very good first half, she got into foul trouble and had to sit with us a long time,” West High coach BJ Mayer said of Zacharias. “We did some things that we probably don’t normally do. We changed up some things trying to go at (Rose) Nkumu just to try and get her in a little bit more foul trouble. And then we ran some ball screens and Z was able to get to the rim. I’m really happy for her. But I’m really happy for all our kids as well.”
Nkumu had a game-high 21 for City High but West High limited all-state guard Aubrey Joens to a season-low seven points.
The 51 points for City High on Thursday were 10 fewer than the Little Hawks previous season-low and more than 18 fewer than the Little Hawk’s season average.
“We had a couple girls identified that we didn’t want to catch it and I thought we did a really good job of keeping that from Aubrey,” Mayer said. “She’s a phenomenal player and she’s averaging about 24 (points) a game so for us to hold her to seven, and Cailyn was pretty much on her 99 percent of the time. Cailyn gets 17 and holds her to seven. I just couldn’t be more proud of Cailyn.”
Joens entered the game averaging 23.1 points per game, good for eighth in the state, but couldn’t get going against Morgan.
The 5-foot-9 senior guard held Joens to just three first-half points as West High took a 29-27 lead into the locker room.
“My job was to isolate her and kind of full face guard her, so that’s what I did,” Morgan said. “I tried to not make her catch the ball as much as possible but when she did, I knew her strengths. She’s a very good shooter. She knows how to shoot threes. So that was my first priority to make her not shoot threes. So just put a hand up.
“And her second strength is driving. She’s really good at driving and I just kind of knew the approach. I knew what kind of player she was so I just played my defense.”
City High trailed just 37-36 after a Joens basket midway through the third quarter but West High rattled off the next 10 points to push the lead to 47-36.
Zacharias started the run with back-to-back baskets and had a conventional 3-point play that put West High up 46-36.
City High cut the lead to 47-41 on a 3-pointer by Ella Cook to open the fourth quarter but Zacharias scored the next four points and City High never got closer than eight the rest of the way.
Cook finished with 14 points for City High which travels to 5A No. 11 West Des Moines Dowling on Saturday.
West High will host its second top-ranked team in three days when 4A top-ranked Marion comes to Iowa City on Saturday for a non-conference contest.
West High (65) – Lauren Zacharias 20, Cailyn Morgan 17, Audrey Koch 13, Sydney Allen 6, Matayia Tellis 5, Emma Ingersoll-Weng 4
City High (51) – Rose Nkumu 21, Ella Cook 14, Aubrey Joens 7, Paige Rocca 4, Eviyon Richardson 3, Andie Westlake 2