Coming off a tough loss on Friday at Dowling Catholic, the Ankeny Centennial boys’ basketball team got off to a fast start on Tuesday and never looked back.
The Jaguars jumped out to a 22-5 lead in the first quarter against visiting Iowa City Liberty, built a 45-17 halftime advantage and rolled to a 70-48 victory in a non-conference game.
“I thought we set the tone right off the bat on both ends of the floor,” said Centennial coach Bob Fontana, whose team improved to 2-1 overall. “I thought we were really good defensively from the get-go, and that led to some good offense on the other end. We were really connected defensively, especially in the first half.”
Liberty’s record dropped to 1-1. Fontana watched the Lightning open the season on Saturday with a 74-62 win at Clear Creek Amana.
“They hit 11 or 12 3-pointers in that game,” Fontana said. “I knew we were going to have to take away the 3 and be physical inside, and I thought we did a good job. They’ve got two bigs inside that are good and they’ve got some shooters, so to only give up 17 points at halftime, I was really happy with that.
“I thought our approach after a tough game at Dowling was really good,” he added.
Luke Winkel led the Jaguars with 23 points, seven assists and six rebounds. Connor Welsch chipped in 11 points, Chase Schutty had nine, Nick Vaske contributed eight, and Cabryn Klingner added seven.
“Everybody pitched in,” Fontana said. “We had 18 or 19 assists.”
Reserve Kael Jones grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds for Centennial, which won the battle of the boards by a 38-25 margin. Schutty had six rebounds.
“To control the glass like that against a bigger team, I thought that was really impressive,” Fontana said.
The Jaguars will return to CIML Conference play on Friday when they host defending Class 4A state champion Valley. The Tigers are off to a 3-0 start behind junior Curtis Stinson, who is averaging 22 points per game.
“We’ve got to rebound, and we’ve got to keep them in front of us,” Fontana said. “They’re big and athletic, and we’ve got to keep them off the boards and stop them in transition.”