The Girls Basketball Team Loses in the Semifinal Round at the State Tournament

The girls basketball team lost to the Johnston Dragons on Thursday, March 5, ending out the season with a disappointing finish.


Natalie Green

The City High Girls Basketball team lost to Johnston 61-71 during on Thursday March 5, during the semifinals of the state tournament. ,

Rachel Marsh, Reporter

The journey to the state girls basketball tournament was a long one and on Thursday, March 5, the girls basketball team went up to Des Moines to compete in the third leg on the state journey. The first was going almost undefeated their whole season, losing only to the Waukee girls In a home game on February 15, which bumped them from their first place ranking to the second place, which they still hold. The second was going to the quarter final game, in which they competed in on the second. They competed against Cedar Rapids Prairie and won 59-40.

“I talked to the kids all year, saying you just have to win one game, and that’s good for us, because you only have to win one game but it’s also bad for us, because they only have to win one game too. We focus on doing the things that we were capable of doing executing the game plan,” said assistant coach Lynsey Barnard.

The third was the semifinal game, held in Wells Fargo Arena. They went against Des Moines Johnston, who were ranked fourth. The game started at 10 in the morning, and went live on the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union youtube. 

“We watched a lot of films, and we played [Johnston] in a scrimmage over Christmas, so we knew that we had to stop them in transition. hey are really fast and they run on teams. That’s how they get a lot of their points,” said Barnard. “We focused on that for a super long time, just saying we’ve got to do this in transition. We thought if we limited that then we would have had a good shot.”

Both teams were supported by their respective student sections, seeming to be in their own competition of who could cheer louder. Both teams brought pep bands complete with drum majors and a drum line. The cheerleaders also attended the game, leading cheers for their sections.

“We were cheering a lot but I think when they got down [the student section] started getting quiet and not caring as much. People weren’t as into it as much,” said Dylan Chard-Cuda ‘22.

City ended the first quarter leading 21 to 16 with the first four points earned by Aubrey Joens ‘20 and a buzzer shot by Paige Rocca ‘20. The second quarter had 5 lead changes ending with a 3 point buzzer shot by Johnston giving them the lead through halftime with 33-31.

“[Going into halftime] we didn’t really need to change anything huge because that girl hitting three back to back threes was just a couple of miscommunications. Yes, it went wrong but it wasn’t really something that we said ‘oh we need to drastically change this.’” said Barnard. “[We still had] a lot of confidence as [it was only] a two point game. It was just tweaking some minor little lapses that we had but still felt pretty good going into the second half.”

The third quarter ended with the Dragons in the lead yet again with 52-43, helped by City missing three attempts for three pointers. Joens was the highest scorer with 18 points at the end of third, and was falling and getting thrown around for it. Late in the game, City got foul after foul called on them which only helped Johnstons win 71-61. Joens ended with 24 points, Rocca with 13, Rose Nkumu ‘20 with 11 and Ella Cook ‘21 with 10. 

“There’s a lot of talent on our team this year and they somehow found a way to stick together, to not be selfish, to stay as good teammates and to be really good representatives of our school,” said Barnard. “I feel terrible [about the loss]. I know that the team does too. But this doesn’t define our season and it doesn’t define their careers. I think that that’s what we really need to highlight. It stings today and that hurts a lot. But when they look back at this season it’s gonna be… proud isn’t a very good way to describe it. It’s significantly more than that.”