Second-half Surge Lifts Top-Ranked City High Past Cedar Rapids Kennedy


Photo by Rob Howe

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

IOWA CITY – For the first two quarters of its season opener on Friday night City High didn’t look much like a top-ranked team.

The Little Hawks wasted no time in the second half showing exactly why they are atop the Class 5A rankings.

Top-ranked City High scored 17 consecutive points to open the second half pulling away for a 79-37 win over Cedar Rapids Kennedy (0-2) at City High.

 “We told them at halftime what had to be done, we weren’t playing as a team,” City High coach Bill McTaggart said. “I told my assistant coach if we played like we were capable of we were going to get the running clock and we did.”

City High (1-0) never trailed in its opener on Friday but led just 32-25 after a lackluster first half in which the Little Hawks shot 35 percent from the floor.

It took less than five minutes of the third quarter for City High to pull away.

City High scored 16 points in the opening five minutes of the second half on its way to outscoring the Cougars 29-3 in the quarter.

“We came out and turned it up on the defensive end, changed the temp to our control and got some steals and some good looks,” City High senior Rose Nkumu said. “We you could really start to see us play as a team.”

Nkumu had 13 of her game-high 22 points during the third-quarter City High explosion.

Paige Rocca added 18 points as five different Little Hawks had at least nine points.

“In practice we work on ball movement and moving it fast and getting people good looks right away,” Nkumu said. “We are really good when we are moving it quick and I think just making sure we keep that momentum up and start at the beginning of the game instead of easing into it will help us.”

City High shot 54 percent from the field in the second half and was 8-of-15 from beyond the 3-point line in the final two quarters.

However, the second-half charge all started with defense.

City High forced Cedar Rapids Kennedy into 12 turnovers in the third quarter turning many of those into transition baskets.

“At halftime we talked about being more patient on offense and more aggressive on defense,” City High junior Ella Cook said. “We were really able to do that in the second half.”

City High switched from its man-to-man defense to a 1-3-1 zone in the third quarter and it fueled the early run.

Aubrey Joens scored on a driving layup and Nkumu scored on a steal and layup in the first minute of the second half.

Rocca had a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws before back-to-back Nkumu layups in transition pushed the lead to 46-25.

“We were a completely different team in the second half,” McTaggart said. “Kennedy, give credit to them they really came out ready to play in the first half.”

Sadie Powell stopped the 17-point run with a free throw with 2:33 left in the third quarter but City High rattled off the next 12 points, seven coming from Nkumu.

Kennedy went 1-for-7 from the field in the quarter, its only field goal coming on a Sophia Barrett jumper at the buzzer.

“We just have to remember what got us that big lead in the second half,” McTaggart said. “It was moving the ball, good passing and we are a much better team when we make it an up tempo game.”

Aubrey Joens had 10 points for City High, all in the second half, and freshman Kelsey Joens and Eviyon Richardson each had nine.

 Cook didn’t score on Friday but led City High with 13 rebounds, including six offensive boards, as the Little Hawks held a 41-33 rebounding edge.

“Every day we talk in practice about rebounding,” Cook said. “If I get my rebounds I’ve done my job.”

City High       17  15  29  18 –  79

CR Kennedy  13  12   3    9  –  37

City High (79) – CeCe Kelly-Harvey 0-2 0-0 0, Rose Nkumu 10-16 0-1 22, Carey Koenig 1-1 0-0 3, Kelsey Joens 3-12 1-2 9, Eviyon Richardson 3-5 3-4 9, Jae Dancer 0-1 0-0 0, Ayanna House 0-0 2-2 2, Andie Westlake 2-4 0-0 6, Ella Cook 0-5 0-2 0, Paige Rocca 6-8 2-4 18, Aubrey Joens 3-11 2-2 10, Team 28-65 10-17 79.

CR Kennedy (37) – Camryn Ray 2-5 1-1 5, Sophia Barrett 5-11 3-6 14, Olivia Pecinovsky 0-4 0-2 0, Sadie Powell 3-5 4-8 10, Victoria Knight 2-6 0-0 4, Carlee Smith 0-5 0-0 0, Eliah Palma 0-1 0-0 0, Madalyn Niemeier 0-1 0-0 0, Rylee Bolsinger 2-3 0-0 4, Team 14-41 8-17 37.

3-point field goals – ICH 13-29 (Nkumu 2-6, Koenig 1-1, K. Koens 2-7, Westlake 2-3, Cook 0-2, Rocca 4-4, A. Joens 2-6), CRK 1-13 (Barrett 1-5, Pecinovsky 0-1, Knight 0-3, Smith 0-3, Niemeier 0-1). Rebounds – ICH 41 (Cook 13), CRK 33 (Powell 9). Turnovers – ICH 12, CRK 30. Total fouls – ICH 14, CRK 15. Fouled out – None. Technical fouls – ICH (Nkumu), CRK (Bench).

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