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WATERLOO — Waterloo West spent much of its holiday break working on defense and rebounding.

Friday at Siddens Gymnasium, the Wahawks were better at both as they rolled to a 61-23 Mississippi Valley Conference girls’ basketball victory over Iowa City Liberty.

“I feel like we played pretty good,” West junior point guard Lauren Conrey said. “We worked really hard over break trying to improve on rebounding and getting back on defense. Those were two things we had struggled with, but I felt those were things we improved on tonight.”

After the teams traded 3-point baskets to open the game, Conrey’s trey with 5 minutes, 52 seconds left in the first quarter gave West a lead it never relinquished.

The Wahawks (6-3) led by 14 after one (21-7) and at halftime, 35-17.

“It was a good start to the 2019 year,” West coach Anthony Pappas said. “I think we really kind of hustled and wore them down in the second half. We hit some shots and executed. For our first game back, we are happy to get an MVC win.”

The Wahawks ramped up their defensive efforts over the final two quarters, holding the Lightning (2-8) to just six second-half points, including only one in the fourth quarter. Liberty was just 2 of 19 from the field in the second half and 0-for-10 in the fourth.

West had a balanced attack with freshman Brooklynn Smith leading all scorers with 14 points. Na’Tracia Ceaser added 12, Jada Draine 11 and Gabby Moore had nine.

Conrey recorded 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals while directing the Wahawks’ offense.

“We haven’t faced many zones, but we got our 1-3-1 going, and our shots started to fall and we got going,” Conrey said.

The Wahawks made nine 3-pointers in the game, including four from Ceaser. West had runs of 9-0 in the third quarter and 10-0 in the fourth to stretch its lead and pull away.

“We did rebound the ball better tonight than what we did in the first half, so that was a real plus,” Pappas said. “We got several offensive rebounds and that was real important to us.

“We also wanted to run the floor and have a lot of possessions, which we did and then we executed some things really nicely.”

West 61, Liberty 23

IOWA CITY LIBERTY (2-8) — Cora Saunders 4-9 0-0 10, Sam McPherson 1-6 0-0 2, Jenna Saunders 0-5 1-2 1, Isabel Smith 0-6 0-2 0, Megan Davis 0-1 1-5 1, Haley Napoli 0-1 0-0 0, Kayli Baldwin 2-2 0-0 5, Emily Larsen 1-5 0-0 3, Cecily Johnston 0-1 0-0 0, Neshy Byrd 0-1 1-2 1, Megan Uden 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 8-38 3-11 23.

WATERLOO WEST (6-3) — Gabrielle Moore 3-13 2-2 9, Lauren Conrey 2-6 0-0 6, Na’Tracia Ceaser 4-11 0-0 12, Jada Draine 4-10 2-4 11, Brooklynn Smith 6-13 2-2 14, Meredith Eighmey 2-3 2-4 6, Sierra Burt 1-1 0-0 3, Ashley Nystrom 0-0 0-0 0, Ajla Dzelic 0-0 0-0 0, Jaide Domatob 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-59 8-12 61.

I.C. Liberty 7 10 5 1 — 23

Wat. West 21 14 14 12 — 61

3-point goals — I.C. Liberty 4 (C. Saunders 2, Baldwin, E. Larsen). West 9 (Moore, Conrey 2, Ceaser 4, Draine, Burt). Total fouls — I.C. Liberty 6, West 16. Fouled out — none.

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Sports reporter for The Courier

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