Defense, Saunders lift West High past C.R. Prairie

Defense, Saunders lift West High past C.R. Prairie

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Defense, Saunders lift West High past C.R. Prairie

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West High's Jessie Harder and Cedar Rapids Prairie's Taylor Moenk fight for the ball during their game on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015.

West High’s Jessie Harder and Cedar Rapids Prairie’s Taylor Moenk fight for the ball during their game on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015.

West High's Ali Tauchen fights for a rebound during the Women of Troy's game against Cedar Rapids Prairie on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015.

West High’s Ali Tauchen fights for a rebound during the Women of Troy’s game against Cedar Rapids Prairie on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015.

West High's Rachael Saunders drives to the hoop during the Women of Troy's game against Cedar Rapids Prairie on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015.

West High’s Rachael Saunders drives to the hoop during the Women of Troy’s game against Cedar Rapids Prairie on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015.

Rachael Saunders provided the offense for West High on Tuesday night.

The defense for West High came from everyone.

Saunders poured in a game-high 19 points and West High held Cedar Rapids Prairie to 18 percent shooting in a 60-23 win in the Mississippi Valley Conference opener for both teams at West High.

West High didn’t allow more than eight points in a quarter on Tuesday and forced 16 Prairie turnovers while improving to 2-0 on the season.

“I think our kids have really bought into the defense,” West High coach B.J. Mayer said. “They are helping each other out, they are talking a lot and our defense is definitely ahead of our offense. I think we do some good things offensively but we aren’t as consistent but when you give up 23 points in a conference game you are going to win a lot of games.”

Saunders was the lone West High player in double figures, though four others had at least seven points.

Ali Tauchen and freshman Emma Koch each had nine points. Logan Cook added eight and Maddie Huinker had seven.

Cook and Tauchen each had 11 rebounds as West High finished with a 47-31 rebounding edge that included 17 offensive boards.

“Rebounding wins games,” Tauchen said. “You are either get the ball back or they are going to get a chance at getting a transition shot. That is always a big emphasis for us.”

Saunders provided the offensive spark early for West High, scoring 10 of the Trojans’ first 12 points. West High built a 12-3 lead after the opening quarter.

The sophomore guard scored the first 10 points of the game as the Women of Troy ended the first quarter on a 12-2 run.

“That quick start gave us some confidence,” Saunders said. “We just kept moving and talking and that helped us set the pace of the game.”

West High didn’t allow Prairie (1-1) to make more than three field goals in any quarter, holding the Hawks to eight field goals in the game.

“We all played together on defense and everyone contributed, it was a team effort,” Ali Tauchen said. “We are starting to mesh well and we are working well together on defense.”

West High put the game out of reach with a 12 -0 run early in the third quarter that was capped by a Saunders layup that made the score 36-11.

Saunders finished 7 of 10 from the field and 3 of 4 from beyond the 3-point line, all in the first three quarters.

“We’ve moved her a little out of the point guard spot and allowed her a little more freedom to look to score a little bit more,” Mayer said. “She can still handle it but getting her off the ball allows her some more freedom to get to the rim and shoot some threes.”

With four starters, including its top four scorers gone from last year’s state tournament team, Mayer expected some offensive struggles early in the season.

West High had a few Tuesday, shooting 39 percent from the floor, but its defense made sure it wasn’t a problem.

“We really weren’t sure who was going to score because we lost all of those kids that we lost last year,” Mayer said. “It’s nice to see our defense doing what they are doing.”

Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or rmurken@press-citizen.com and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.

West High– 12 12 24 12 – 60

Cedar Rapids Prairie– 3 6 8 6 – 23

West High (60) – Cailyn Morgan 0-1 0-0 0, Lauren Zacharias 1-4 0-0 2, Bailey Nock 0-1 0-1 0, Ali Tauchen 2-7 5-6 9, Maddie Fay 1-3 0-0 3, Rachael Saunders 7-10 2-2 19, Katie McGrane 1-2 0-0 3, Maddie Huinker 3-9 0-0 7, Logan Cook 4-8 0-0 8, Jessie Harder 0-3 0-0 0, Emma Koch 3-5 2-6 9, Andrea Morgan 0-3 0-0 0, Paige Beckner 0-1 0-0 0, Team 22-57 9-15 60.

Cedar Rapids Prairie (23) – Sarah Schmitt 0-8 1-2 1, Taylor Moenk 0-4 1-2 1, Lynsey Altenhofen 0-3 0-0 0, Maggie Lampe 0-1 0-2 0, Madalynn Adams 1-2 0-0 2, Olivia Usher 4-12 0-1 8, Jenna Wagemester 1-4 0-0 2, Tarryn Shreeves 0-2 0-0 0, Lauren Kuch 1-3 0-0 2, Halle Person 0-3 5-6 5, Makenzie Stoffer 1-3 0-0 2, Team 8-45 7-13 23.

3-point field goals – CRP: 0-10 (Schmitt 0-2, Moenk 0-1, Altenhofen 0-2, Usher 0-2, Kuch 0-1, Person 0-1, Stoffer 0-1); ICW: (C. Morgan 0-1, Nock 0-1, Zacharias 0-2, Fay 1-3, Saunders 3-4, McGrane 1-2, Huinker 1-5, Harder 0-2, Koch 1-1, A. Morgan 0-2). Rebounds – CRP: 31 (Usher 5), ICW: 47 (Tauchen 11, Cook 11). Turnovers – CRP: 16; ICW: 14. Total Fouls – CRP 13; ICW 14. Fouled out – None. Technical fouls – None.

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