The girls’ basketball matchup between 13th-ranked Ankeny and No. 6 Cedar Falls was expected to feature three of the state’s top 50 players, according to The Des Moines Register.
Instead, Tuesday’s game turned into The Karsen Jacks Show.
The senior guard scored 23 of her career-high 30 points after halftime and the host Hawkettes rallied from a 13-point deficit to post a 60-55 victory in overtime.
“We have really good players, and my job is to get the ball around and ultimately as the returning senior I want to win. We all want to win,” said Jacks, whose previous career-high of 21 points came in a loss at Johnston two years ago. “It’s my job to put us in a position to win. Get the ball to the players that can make plays. It was just my night, I guess.”
Jacks made her third 3-point goal to put Ankeny ahead for good, 51-50, with 1 minute 44 seconds left in overtime. She drilled the trey from the top of the key as the shot clock was winding down.
The Hawkettes led, 54-52, when Jacks grabbed an offensive rebound in the lane and put it back in while being fouled with 37.8 seconds to go. She missed the ensuing free throw, but then connected on her next two attempts to give Ankeny a 58-52 advantage with 18 seconds remaining.
“That was just senior leadership and knowing how to play and being involved in so many big games,” Ankeny coach Nate Tobey said of Jacks’ performance. “Having played so much basketball in her career, she’s been tremendous to have since I (took over the program in the offseason).”
Cedar Falls’ Grace Knutson made a 3-pointer with 7 seconds left to cut Ankeny’s lead to 58-55. But Cassie Johnson then converted two free throws to seal the win with 4 seconds to go.
“Things looked pretty bleak there for awhile, but these girls stuck together and we had some seniors make some big plays down the stretch, take some leadership and it was awesome to see,” Tobey said.
Knutson, a Drake recruit, led Cedar Falls (2-1) with 24 points. Northern Iowa commit Karis Finley added 17 points for the Tigers.
“We wanted to make it as hard for them to score as possible and make their other role players beat us,” Jacks said. “They’re really good, and all props to them. Grace made a lot of shots, and Karis made a lot of shots. We obviously have some things to work on, but overall it was a really good team win.”
Ankeny got 16 points from Jayla Williams, including a huge 3-pointer in overtime. She was No. 6 on The Register’s preseason list of the state’s top 50 players, while Knutson was 13th and Finley 27th.
“It’s a top-10 win,” Jacks said. “Obviously, it’s going to boost our confidence. We’re 2-0 going into the Thanksgiving break, and it’s a lot to build on as we go into conference play. But we know conference play is going to be just like that game every night.”
Cedar Falls closed out the first half with a 14-5 run to take a 24-16 lead. Knutson had eight of her points in the second quarter, including back-to-back 3-pointers.
The Tigers took their biggest lead, 31-18, early in the second half. A pair of 3-pointers by Kyla Schaapveld pulled Ankeny to within 37-29 after three quarters.
“We just needed to move the ball a little side-to-side, and we changed the way we were driving offensively,” Tobey said. “Defensively, we just stuck with trying to wear down their two best players who are so good and so effective with everything they do. We just made enough plays at the end to pull it out.”
Jacks poured in 20 points in the next 12 minutes, beginning with 11 consecutive points to open the fourth quarter. She made two free throws to cut Cedar Falls’ lead to 41-40.
“Karsen identified some mismatches–some girls who weren’t as experienced guarding her,” Tobey said. “She went after them, and credit to her for identifying that and taking advantage.”
The Hawkettes tied the game at 46-46 on two free throws by Ainsley Kiene with 1:15 left. Cedar Falls answered with a driving layup by Sophie Stanic at the 1-minute mark, but Stanic then missed two free throws with 35 seconds to go that could have increased the Tigers’ margin.
Jacks was eventually fouled with 6.5 seconds left and made both free throws to force overtime. She went 7-for-8 at the charity stripe.
“I was pretty confident,” Jacks said. “They tried to ice me out with the timeout, but I knew I was going to make them both.”
Jacks went 10-of-17 from the field and also grabbed nine rebounds. She also had two assists and three steals.
Ankeny will travel to Waukee on Tuesday to face the No. 8 Warriors (1-0) in the CIML Conference opener for both teams.