Scheels Athlete of the Week: City High's Nkumu Shines in Return to State Tournament

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Photo by Jeff Yoder

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

DES MOINES – The defensive game plan for West Des Moines Valley in its state tournament opener against City High on Monday dared Rose Nkumu to beat the Tigers from the perimeter.

Nkumu very nearly did just that.

The junior point guard made a career-best five 3-pointers and scored a team-high 25 points but it wasn’t quite enough as sixth-ranked City High fell to No. 8 West Des Moines Valley 66-59 in overtime in a 5A state quarter at Wells Fargo Arena.

West Des Moines Valley opened the game in a triangle and two look defensively, chasing Aubrey Joens and Paige Rocca everywhere they went while leaving Nkumu virtually unguarded at the 3-point arc.

Nkumu responded by hitting 3-of-4 first quarter 3-pointers while scoring 13 of her 25 points in the opening eight minutes.

“In the regular season I really did not shoot that much from the outside and I think they watched film on me and knew that I wouldn’t shoot it,” Nkumu said. “I’ve really been working to be a threat from the perimeter.”

The Tigers defensive plan was statistically sound.

Nkumu entered the game shooting 24 percent from beyond the arc with nine made 3-pointers in 21 games.

However, Nkumu had been heating up recently.

Making just 4-of-28 3-point attempts in her first 18 games Nkumu had gone 5-of-9 from 3-point range in the final three games before Monday’s state tournament opener.

“My coaches have talked with me and I’ve been working really hard on becoming more of a threat from out there,” Nkumu said. “I got a few good looks and working on my shot at the end of the season was big today.”

Nkumu finished 5-of-11 from 3-point range on Monday, her first game of the season with more than two made 3-pointers, including a game-tying 3 with 30 seconds left that forced overtime.

“It’s tough to get open against them they did a great job on defense and so we had to have players step up and knock down shots and Rose did that,” City High junior Aubrey Joens said.

Shooting was only one of the things Nkumu did well on Monday in what was one of the best games of her career.

The 5-foot-8 point guard had six steals, four rebounds and four assists while playing all 36 minutes.

Perhaps equally importantly Nkumu had just one turnover in the high stakes game.

“She did not want to lose and she played like a champion,” City High coach Bill McTaggart said of Nkumu. “What you saw today shows what kind of a competitor she is.”

The performance by Nkumu came on the state’s biggest stage against one of the state’s best players in West Des Moines Valley senior point guard Zoe Young.

Nkumu went toe-to-toe with her AAU teammate and Young for much of the game more than holding her own against the Maryland recruit.

“I played with her in the summer so it was fun to see her again and play against her,” Nkumu said. “It’s always fun to play against people you know and that’s one of the top point guards in the state so it was just an honor to be able to compete with her again.”

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