City High Girls Rally for 53-51 Win Over Waterloo West

By Jeff Linder, Reporter


By Aaron Hepker

IOWA CITY — Come Thursday, Iowa City High will have a “1″ attached to its name.

Rated second for now, the Little Hawks staked their claim to the top spot in the Class 5A girls basketball rankings Tuesday night, rallying from a 16-point first-half deficit to edge No. 3 Waterloo West, 53-51, in a Mississippi Valley Conference girls basketball thriller at City High.

“That means a lot, but you can’t let it get to your head,” said Kiera Washpun, whose three-point play with 1:15 remaining put the Little Hawks (9-0 overall, 5-0 MVC) in front for good. “In basketball, you can’t get a big head.”

But the Little Hawks can certainly savor this one. Down 37-24 at halftime, they sprinted out of the locker room with 10 straight points to make the margin manageable. Then they made the key plays down the stretch.

“All year long, the third quarter has been our quarter,” said City High Coach Bill McTaggart. “That was the difference again tonight.”

The Little Hawks’ victory, coupled with current No. 1 West Des Moines Dowling’s loss to No. 4 West Des Moines Valley on Friday, ought to move City High to the top spot in the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union’s 5A list.

IGHSAU rankings generally come out on Thursday afternoons.

Courtney Joens’ 3-pointer from the left wing gave the Little Hawks a 46-45 advantage with 2:25 to play. After all-state center Haley Lorenzen missed the front end of a one-and-one, West’s Makayla Stokes drilled a 3-pointer from the right baseline to put the Wahawks (6-1, 3-1) back in front, 48-46, at the 1:42 mark.

Washpun answered by driving the right baseline, scoring and absorbing contact for the conventional trifecta.

“I know my drive is better than my 3-point shot,” Washpun said. “So I went for it, and if they came after me, I was going to dish it to (Lorenzen).”

Lorenzen hit two free throws with 31 seconds left, then Joens added two more to give City a 53-50 advantage with 10 seconds remaining.

West’s Haley Puk was fouled on a shot attempt with 2 seconds left. She made the first, missed the second, and City’s Kenya Earl secured the rebound to clinch the victory.

After a quiet first half (three points, three rebounds), Lorenzen picked up the pace. She finished with 17 points and 14 boards. Those are numbers fitting of a Division-I recruit; Lorenzen has signed with the University of Florida.

“I took a back seat in the first half, and that can’t happen,” she said. “I’m glad I’ve got great teammates who were there to pick me up.”

West was easily the superior team in the first half. The Wahawks hit 4 of their first 5 treys in a 16-point run that put them in front 16-2. Their high-water mark was 30-14 on Kate Letkewicz’s 3-pointer with 5:10 left in the half, and the 37-24 halftime lead seemed to signify command.

“We just kind of lost our composure,” said West Coach Tony Pappas. “We knew they would make a charge in the second half, and they did right away. We just didn’t have quite enough.”

Letkewicz (who has signed with Dartmouth) led the Wahawks with 17 points. Puk (Bowling Green) added 15, Blaire Thomas (Iowa State) 11. Letkewicz and Thomas combined for 26 first-half points, but managed two between them on 0-for-11 shooting after intermission.

Washpun joined Lorenzen with 17 points, and became City High’s all-time career leader in assists. Joens tallied 13 points.

City High concludes its pre-holiday schedule Friday at Dubuque Wahlert. West hosts Cedar Rapids Jefferson on Friday, and is at Waterloo Columbus on Saturday.

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