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West High Women of Troy claim 5A hoops title with 56-45 win over City High

DES MOINES– The third time was truly the charm.
B.J. Mayer and his Iowa City West High Women of Troy claimed the 2018 Class 5A State Basketball Championship Friday, March 2, at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines after knocking off crosstown rival City High, 56-45.
It was West’s sixth tournament appearance (all under Mayer) and its first championship since 2012.
Rachael Saunders, who was injured early in the 2017 season, likely spoke for her teammates after the game when she expressed her amazement at the accomplishment.
“It’s incredible,” she said. “I couldn’t even tell you what just happened, to be honest. I’m on Cloud Nine.”
Saunders gave much credit to the Little Hawks, who defeated West twice during the regular season and narrowly took the first quarter, 9-8. The Women of Troy pulled ahead for a 21-16 halftime lead and never looked back with as much as a 10-point buffer at times.
“We’ve grown up with them (City) and we were happy to be able to play them again,” Saunders said. She also praised her teammates saying, “They did incredible. They all took their role and we were going 110 percent the whole time, and I couldn’t ask for anything more from them.”
Lauren Zacharias led West High with 15 points, Logan Cook scored 14, Cailyn Morgan had 10 while Saunders and Emma Koch produced seven points apiece. Paige Beckner rounded out the scorers with three points. Ashley Joens led City High with a game-high 26 points. No other Little Hawks were in double figures.
City High ended its season at 25-1 while the Women of Troy finished at 19-7.
West’s ticket to the championship was punched Thursday, March 1, as they knocked off Indianola, 58-45, in the semifinal round. West led throughout the contest, taking the first period 14-10 and leading 31-22 at halftime. Morgan and Saunders led West High with 14 points each, Zacharias and Koch contributed 10 points apiece while Cook scored five, Audrey Koch contributed three and Beckner put in two points. Grace Berg led the Indians with 15 points while Maggie McGraw added 13. Indianola finished its season at 21-4.
The tourney began in dramatic fashion with a 63-53 win in overtime over West Des Moines Dowling Catholic on Monday, Feb. 26. Morgan led the Women of Troy with 20 points, Saunders had 13, and Zacharias and Koch scored nine points apiece with a tremendous and momentum-shifting block by Zacharias. Matayia Tellis had a seven-point game while Cook contributed five points. The Maroons finished the season at 20-4.
“I didn’t know if we’d make it here at the beginning of the season,” Saunders said. “We were going through some growing pains.”
The team started out 4-0 before falling in Minnesota to Hopkins (Minn.) and then suffering the first of two losses to City High before rebounding to a six-game winning streak. Bolingbrook (Ill.) put another loss in the books ahead of a win over Cedar Rapids Prairie. A four-game losing streak (including losses to West Des Moines Valley and Montini Catholic (Ill.) was followed by a eight-game streak to the finish.
Cook led the team with 358 points this season, Morgan had 256, Zacharias added 252 and Koch scored 251. Saunders had 185 points, Audrey Koch, a freshman, put in 124 and Beckner scored 80. Tellis, a freshman, contributed 71 points, Carrie Callahan scored 20, Grace Schneider had 13 points on the season and Sydney Allen scored nine. It was the final performance for seniors Cook, Saunders, Beckner and Callahan.
Zacharias and Morgan were named to the 2018 Class 5A All-Tournament Team as selected by the Iowa Girls Coaches Association. City High’s Ashley Joens was named the team captain. City’s Rose Nkumu, Indianola’s Grace Berg and Johnston’s Jennah Johnson were also selected for the honor.