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WATERLOO — It was the season-opener for the Waterloo West girls’ basketball team Saturday, and the Wahawks looked like a team eager to get started.

Facing a new foe in the Iowa City Liberty, West bolted past the Lightning for a 54-29 victory.

Senior Zia Collett posted up strong in the middle, racking up 10 of her 16 points in the opening eight minutes as she paced the home team to a 17-2 advantage through the first quarter.

“It just felt good to go against someone different,” Collett said. “We were all excited about this game yet a little nervous because we did not know anything about them. We just went out and played our game and didn’t really worry much about what they would do.”

The Wahawks built their lead to 20-2 early in the second on a 3-pointer by Na’Tracia Ceaser, who then followed with a quick bucket off a turnover to make it 22-2.

West’s defense was relentless all night and hounded the Lightning into 29 turnovers.

“We were pretty happy with the game tonight,” Wahawks coach Tony Pappas said. “It was a very good win that everyone contributed to. I thought we moved the ball well and jumping off to an early lead was very important.

“We were very happy with the way the defense played, as well, getting the ball back to the offense.”

The Wahawks collected 20 steals on the defensive side of the ball.

“We did a good job of keeping the pressure on them, but we need to give them credit, as well,” Pappas said. “They kept coming back as the game went on, but we got better, as well.”

West never let the Lightning get any closer than 20 points throughout the second half.

“It was very important for us to pick up that first win because we are a pretty young team,” Collett said. “As a senior I like to help out the new girls and help get them in position where they are supposed to be.

“There is a lot we can get better at, but it sure was fun getting this win. It was awesome for the whole team to play well and help build confidence for the rest of the season.”

West 54, I.C. Liberty 29

LIBERTY (0-1) — Isabel Smith 1 0-0 2, Sam McPherson 1 0-0 3, Brylee Klosterman 2 0-3 4, Cora Saunders 4 3-3 14, Kayli Baldwin 0 0-2 0, Emily Larsen 2 0-0 4, Megan Davis 1 0-0 2, Jenna Saunders 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 3-8 29.

WEST (1-0) — Camryn Meyer 1 0-0 2, Aleah Cook 3 0-0 6, Kaitlyn Meyer 0 0-0 0, Jada Draine 4 1-2 10, Zia Collett 7 2-6 16, Shiila Robinson 1 1-2 3, Na’Tracia Ceaser 4 0-1 11, Lauren Conrey 2 1-4 6, Ajla Dzelic 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 5-15 54.

I.C. Liberty 2 11 12 4 — 29

Wat. West 17 9 16 12 — 54

3-point goals—Liberty 4 (C. Saunders 3, McPherson), West 5 (Ceaser 3, Conrey, Draine). Total fouls—Liberty 12, West 10.

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