CEDAR FALLS — Building toward the stretch run of a girls’ basketball season off to a promising start, Class 5A’s No. 2-ranked Cedar Falls spent the holiday break working to improve on one of its strengths.

A defense that has surrendered the third-fewest points in Class 5A is entering the new year dedicated to making life that much more difficult for its opposition.

Seventeen days removed from its previous game, Cedar Falls suffocated Waterloo East’s offense — surrendering just nine field goals during a 71-36 win at Cedar Falls High School.

“The number one thing we worked on over the break was our defense,” Cedar Falls senior Kamryn Finley said. “We knew that Waterloo East was going to come out quick. They have very quick guards, and they’re very talented. We worked on the one-on-one, not being able to reach, moving our feet to have great help defense, as well.”

Finley’s offense was also clicking. The veteran guard mixed in a pair of 3-pointers while finding success inside the arc and at the free throw line as she led a balanced Cedar Falls team (9-1) with 20 points. Fellow seniors and UNI basketball recruits Kiana Barney and Cynthia Wolf also knocked down 3-pointers during an initial 11-0 run and finished with 14 points apiece for the Tigers.

East (3-8) committed 23 turnovers and struggled to find open looks throughout this contest. The Trojans trailed 34-7 late in the second quarter before finally settling into a rhythm.

Despite the loss, one area of growth for East was the free throw battle. The Trojans generated seven more opportunities at the line with guard Kerris Roberts converting 11 of 12 from the stripe as part of a team-high 18 points. Nia Crowley knocked down all four of her free throw attempts and finished with eight points.

Denae Nash also provided a strong post defensive presence for East with three blocked shots, while dodging foul trouble throughout most of the game.

“I emphasized to our girls correcting our mistakes and limiting our turnovers is a huge thing that we have to work on,” East coach William Muhammad said. “We’ve been watching the film and that’s some of the things our guards have been talking about within themselves, better decision making.

“Second half we played a lot better. The ball moved better and we got to the free throw line. We want to be aggressive and the evidence of our aggressiveness is how often we get to the charity stripe.”

Cedar Falls Gregg Groen likes the competitive edge his team has continued to develop.

“During the holiday break we were able to focus on defense and some of the things that we didn’t get a lot of time to work on once the season got started,” Groen said. “The girls did a great job of adapting and really buying into what we wanted to accomplish, and they worked hard on it over break.”

Cedar Falls 71, Wat. East 36

WATERLOO EAST (3-8) — Amanee Clark 2-9 0-0 4, Denae Nash 1-7 0-1 2, Kerris Roberts 3-9 11-12 18, Nia Crowley 2-6 4-4 8, Olivia Shannon 0-0 0-0 0, Ma’Kayla Johnson 0-1 1-2 1, Charnika Cherry 0-0 0-0 0, Jaida Blair 1-2 0-0 3, Shamya Jenkins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 9-34 16-19 36.

CEDAR FALLS (9-1) — Anaya Barney 2-8 1-1 5, Emerson Green 4-8 3-5 11, Kamryn Finley 6-9 6-7 20, Kiana Barney 5-13 2-3 14, Cynthia Wolf 6-11 1-1 14, McKenna Gleason 2-4 0-0 4, Grace Burken 1-5 0-0 2, Allison Eagen 0-1 0-0 0, Morgan Sterrett 0-1 0-0 0, Cara Forsblom 0-2 1-2 1, Kaylie Kleinschmidt 0-1 0-0 0, Lexie Godfrey 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-55 9-12 71.

Wat. East 4 12 16 4 — 36

Cedar Falls 17 25 18 11 — 71

3-point goals—East 2 (Roberts, Blair), Cedar Falls 5 (Finley 2, K. Barney 2, Wolf). Total fouls—East 14, Cedar Falls 18. Fouled out—none.

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for The Courier

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