The West High girls basketball team held seventh-ranked Cedar Rapids Kennedy 20 points below its average but couldn’t come up with enough offense on its own to beat the Cougars. Kennedy shook off two consecutive losses to win 40-33 Tuesday at West.
Kennedy improved to 12-4 overall and 7-2 in the Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Division. West is 7-9 overall and 4-5.
“I think there’s this hump that we just can’t seem to get over,” West junior Mikaela Morgan said. “Soon, we’ll find a way to get over that hump.”
“If you looked at us from the very beginning of the season to now, we’ve made so many more improvements,” junior guard Grace Tafolla said. “A lot of the younger girls, they’ve gotten a lot more confidence and that really helps. Because they know we have confidence in the way they play.”
“It’s not good enough; we’ve got to do better as a coaching staff and as players,” West coach B.J. Mayer said. “You can only be close so many times. Then it starts wearing on players, coaches, fans, probably everybody. We had a chance tonight and just weren’t able to get it done again.”
The Women of Troy made just 11-of-46 shots (.239) and had turnover problems when Kennedy made its move early in the second half.
Kennedy was able to survive the benching of three regulars in the first half when each player got two quick fouls. The Cougars went on a long drought, scoring just one basket from the 3:02 mark of the first quarter until 2:21 was left in the second. It provided an opportunity for West to build a lead, but West’s 11-2 run only produced a 17-12 lead.
“We didn’t execute very well,” Mayer said. “When the two bigs and one of their other guards went out we just weren’t able to extend the lead.”
To add to the missed opportunity, Kennedy scored the final eight points of the half while West committed three turnovers and missed its only two shots.
“You can’t do that,” Mayer said. “Those are times when you have to at least hold that lead instead of giving up the lead. We didn’t take care of the ball again.”
West still came out and took a 23-20 lead with 6:05 left in the third, but the Women of Troy were outscored 14-5 the rest of the third period. Kennedy made 6-of-8 shots in the quarter, mostly because it was getting transition baskets either off its press or by breaking West’s press.
“I think their press made us turn the ball over more, which didn’t allow us to get off shots that we needed to get off,” Morgan said.
“They mixed up different presses against us, which we knew they were going to do,” Mayer said. “For about three or four minutes we didn’t handle it, and it jumped from like a three-point game to a seven- or eight-point game. And that’s where it stayed.”
Trailing 34-28 heading to the final quarter, a Tafolla 3 cut the lead to three, but Kennedy made the next three baskets, while West managed only one in the final 7 minutes of play.
Mayer said that his team got pretty good shots, although players rushed some early in the game. Tafolla led West with 13 and Morgan had 10. Paige Hendrickson led all scorers with 15. She was the primary beneficiary of Kennedy’s transition game.
But overall, West High’s defense was good enough to win the game if the offense had come along for the ride.
“I think we’re kind of known for our defense,” Morgan said. “Once we get our defense going, it kind of leads to our offense going.”
“If you have a bad offensive night, you can always rely on your defense,” Tafolla said. “Even if your shots aren’t falling, you can still play good defense and that contributes.”
C.R. KENNEDY (40) — Madison Meier 0-5 0-0 0, Jordan Holmes 1-5 0-0 3, Paige Hendrickson 6-10 3-3 15, Stephanie Botkin 2-3 2-4 6, Morgan Martin 3-6 2-4 8, Brinley Milbrath 2-3 0-0 4, Abigail Hellweg 0-1 0-0 0, Sydney Hayden 1-1 0-0 2, Madison DeLong 1-1 0-0 2, Mariah Vis 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-36 7-11.
WEST HIGH (33) — Regan Steigleder 0-3 0-0 0, Grace Tafolla 5-10 0-1 13, Mollie Mason 0-3 0-0 0, Mikaela Morgan 3-15 2-2 10, Emily Halverson 1-6 3-6 5, Bella Lozano-Dobbs 0-1 0-0 0, Ali Tauchen 0-3 0-0 0, Jessie Harder 2-5 0-0 5. Totals 11-46 5-9.
3-point goals – C.R. Kennedy 1-9 (Meier 0-4, Holmes 1-2, Hendrickson 0-2, Vis 0-1), West 6-20 (Steigleder 0-2, Tafolla 3-6, Morgan 2-8, Harder 1-3). Total fouls: C.R. Kennedy 13, West 10. Fouled out: none.