CEDAR FALLS — A variety of players stepped up in key moments on offense for Class 5A’s No. 5-ranked Cedar Falls Friday night in the girls’ portion of the second Jerry Slykhuis Memorial Basketball Showcase.
On the other end of the court, relentless defense was a constant that allowed Cedar Falls to shut down metro rival Waterloo West, 58-37.
A West team (3-1) that opened the year with two wins over ranked opponents in Class 4A was held to 13 of 41 shooting from the field and turned the ball over 17 times. Cedar Falls (4-0) was strong on the boards and allowed the Wahawk shooters limited space.
“I think our defense is one of the big parts of our team,” said Cedar Falls sophomore Anaya Barney, who scored 13 of her game-high 19 points in the second half. “We work really hard on that and it is a big key for us.”
Tigers’ coach Gregg Groen was pleased with the manner in which his players were locked-in from the tip.
“The girls’ ability to switch things up, and the energy they brought on the court and communication, I think all of those things added up together and gave us a good defensive performance tonight,” Groen said. “The girls knew the challenge that was before them, and they kind of accepted that challenge of defending and making sure that no shots came easy.”
With West guarding Cedar Falls junior Emerson Green in a box-and-one, Tiger freshman Sarah Albaugh exposed the gaps in the Wahawk zone. Albaugh knocked down five 3-pointers on seven attempts over the first three quarters and finished with 17 points.
“It’s been an honor to get moved up and be able to play with these good athletes,” Albaugh said. “I’ve been feeling my shot lately and just keep shooting.”
Barney, who was in a similar position a season ago as a freshman starter, can relate to her youthful teammate.
“I think at the beginning you could tell that she was a little shy, but as the game started going on she’s really stepped into her role,” Barney said. “She’s shooting a lot of 3s and making them.”
West was paced by Na’Tracia Ceaser’s 12 points and cut its deficit to 13-11 early in the second quarter before Green got loose with all nine of her points in the stanza to help Cedar Falls pull away. While Green received plenty of attention on offense, she was an impact defender who often disrupted the Wahawks’ passing lanes.
Cedar Falls forwards McKenna Gleason and Akacia Brown also limited West inside. Talented Wahawk freshman Brooklynn Smith was held to six points. The Wahawks shot 1 of 14 from the field in the third quarter, allowing Cedar Falls to put the game out of reach.
“Give Cedar Falls credit,” West coach Tony Pappas said. “They’re a really good team and they played well. They shot well and got the loose balls tonight.
“We’re certainly better than what we showed tonight and we’re going to get better. We knew this would be a real test on the road... You could see how we kind of lost our composure.”
Cedar Falls 58, West 37
WATERLOO WEST (3-1) — Gabrielle Moore 2-5 4-4 8, Lauren Conrey 1-1 0-0 3, Na’Tracia Ceaser 5-12 1-1 12, Jada Draine 3-12 0-1 6, Brooklynn Smith 2-10 2-4 6, Meredith Eighmey 0-1 2-2 2, Sierra Burt 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-41 8-12 37.
CEDAR FALLS (4-0) — Sarah Albaugh 6-12 0-0 17, Anaya Barney 7-18 3-5 19, Emerson Green 4-7 0-0 9, McKenna Gleason 2-3 1-4 5, Lexie Godfrey 1-6 0-0 3, Tjaden Petersen 1-5 1-1 3, Akacia Brown 1-2 0-0 2, Madison Hurley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-53 5-10 58.
Wat. West 7 11 6 13 — 37
Cedar Falls 13 17 20 8 — 58
3-point goals — West 2 (Conrey, Ceaser), Cedar Falls 7 (Albaugh 5, Green, Godfrey). Total fouls — West 12, Cedar Falls 10. Fouled out — none.