Bears show they can compete with the best

Bears show they can compete with the best

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Bears show they can compete with the best

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Splitting a pair of games in a six-day span doesn’t often give coaches reason to celebrate.

When you are facing the schedule the West Branch girls basketball team had last week, 1-1 looks pretty good.

West Branch fell to Class 2A No. 2 Cascade on Jan. 4 but rebounded to knock off No. 3 Regina 60-51 on Friday.

The win over Regina was the fourth in the last five games for West Branch, which moved to 7-4 on the season and 6-3 in River Valley Conference play.

“You always want to win every game regardless of what your record is or where you are ranked but out of the eight quarters between the two games I felt like seven of them for the most part were pretty good for us,” Tylee said. “I thought our girls competed extremely well against two quality basketball teams.”

West Branch played second-ranked Cascade even for the first half before faltering after halftime.

That was not the case against Regina.

Trailing 27-26 at intermission, West Branch outscored Regina 34-24 in the second half, including a 22-16 edge in the fourth quarter.

“I think the confidence that we gained from that game carried over against Regina,” Tylee said. “Regina is a great team, and they are always going to make a run, but even during their runs, our girls never panicked.”

One of the keys for West Branch during its recent hot streak has been the play of senior Ashley Finnegan.

Finnegan averaged seven points as West Branch lost back-to-back games to Durant and Washington last month but has improved those numbers of late.

The senior guard is averaging 15.3 points over the past four games, including 16 in the win over Regina.

“Ever since that Clear Creek game, I just feel like she has just been outstanding,” Tylee said. “Hopefully, she can continue to do that.”

* PICKING UP THE SLACK: It was somewhat inevitable that sooner or later City High all-stater Haley Lorenzen would have an off night. When that night came Tuesday against West High, sophomore Courtney Joens was ready.

Joens scored 12 of her game-high 16 points in the second half to lead the Class 5A top-ranked Little Hawks to a 53-37 win over West.

A Division I prospect, Joens followed with a 23-point, nine-rebound performance in City High’s 58-39 win over Dubuque Hempstead on Friday.

“Her rebounding was really good against Hempstead, and that was what I was most impressed with,” City coach Bill McTaggart said. “She had a great all-around game.”

* GREEN MEANS GO: Jody Fink lets his Highland players know they always have the green light to shoot.

Yet, Fink felt like sophomore Cheyanne Adamson needed a little boost to let loose offensively.

“I talked to her over the break that I have all the confidence in the world in her,” Fink said. “I told her she needs to take 15 or 20 shots a game, and if you miss one, so be it. Come back and hit the next one.”

That talked seems to have worked wonders for Adamson.

Adamson is averaging 20 points per game in three games in 2014, including a 29-point outburst against West Burlington.

The sophomore hit 12-of-16 shots, including 3-of-4 3-pointers in the win over West Burlington, added 20 points against Pekin, and added 12 more in a win over Lone Tree.

* A LOOK AHEAD: West High sits third in the MVC Mississippi Division standings at 3-3 and has a pair of road games this week against Dubuque Hempstead (2-2 MVC) on Tuesday and Cedar Rapids Jefferson (2-4) on Friday.

Regina leads the River Valley’s South Division, but West Branch (6-3) and Mid-Prairie (5-3) aren’t far behind. West Branch travels to Mid-Prairie on Friday.

* PERFORMANCES OF THE WEEK: West High junior Mikaela Morgan had 25 points and six steals in a 69-47 win over Dubuque Senior.

Iowa Mennonite School senior Olivia Yutzy had 22 points and 11 rebounds in a 64-42 loss to Class 3A No. 3 Mediapolis.

City High senior Haley Lorenzen had 24 points and eight rebounds in a 58-39 win over Dubuque Hempstead.

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