Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Before starting her junior season at City High Aubrey Joens followed the lead of her older sister Ashley and gave a verbal commitment to Iowa State.
Once the season started Aubrey Joens continued to follow in the footsteps of her older sibling with a junior campaign that cemented her status as one of the best players in the state.
A year after watching her older sister lead the state in scoring Aubrey Joens took her own scoring to a new level as a junior ranking ninth in the state and third in Class 5A with a career-high 23 points per game.
For all of her accomplishments this season Joens has been named the Your Prep Sports girls basketball player of the year.
“It helped to watch (Ashley) play last year and watch her be guarded the way and see the way she stayed composed and calm throughout it all,” Joens said. “It showed me I could do that too. She was always a leader for me so watching her and then being able to experience that I just kind of followed her lead.”
During each of her first two seasons Aubrey Joens played a supporting role as Ashley Joens starred for the Little Hawks.
Aubrey averaged 12.5 points and 4 rebounds over her first two varsity seasons.
With Ashley Joens off to Iowa State this season it was time for Aubrey to take center stage.
The 5-foot-9 guard did just that nearly doubling her career scoring and rebounding averages by putting up 23 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
“I think all of us came in knowing that we would all have to step up and do things that we didn’t do the year before and bring new things to table,” Joens said. “We all got in the gym and practiced things we hadn’t done in years past.”
Joens didn’t just put up bigger numbers this season she did it while being more efficient than ever in her career.
A 39 percent field goal shooter in her first two seasons Joens shot better than 48 percent from the floor as a junior while attempting more than 100 more shots than in either of her first two seasons.
Joens was among the top 3-point shooters in the state shooting a career-best 46 percent from beyond the arc.
She ranked fourth in 5A with 66 made 3-pointers and her 46 percent from 3-point ranked fourth in 5A among players with at least 30 made 3s.
“Going into every game confident and knowing any shot you shoot is going to go in is important,” Joens said. “Confidence was a big part of it.”
A more diverse offensive arsenal also helped Joens’ shooting percentages.
Joens put an emphasis on being more aggressive off the dribble this season and that attention to getting to the rim helped her shoot a career-high 109 free throws, more than she shot in her first two seasons combined.
“With the people that are guarding me not knowing if I am going to shoot or drive it opens up more options,” Joens said. “My shots this year were better looks and not as contested. Being able to do more than just shoot definitely helped my percentage.
Joens teamed with junior point guard Rose Nkumu (19 ppg) to give City High the highest scoring duo in the state.
The duo helped City High to a 19-3 record and a third consecutive state tournament appearance.
The third straight appearance for Joens ended with a 66-59 overtime loss to eventual champion West Des Moines Valley in the 5A quarterfinals.
“We lost to the champions but I think it made it harder because we lost to them in overtime and we could have won,” Joens said. “It’s really hard because we were right there and we could have kept going.”
With her college plans already made Joens has her sights set on her final prep season.
She is working to again expand her game in the offseason and plans to be a better ballhandler and stronger rebounder next season.
The goal is the one thing that has eluded Joens and the Little Hawks the past several seasons – a state title.
“This being the last year of high school basketball you can’t get another opportunity so it’s now or never,” Joens said. “We want to go out there and accomplish that one goal that we have tried to accomplish for the last three years.”