Anytime the ball is in Karsen Jacks’ hands, Ankeny girls’ basketball coach Nate Tobey is confident that the senior point guard will make the right play.
Jacks was fouled with 17.5 seconds left to go and made two free throws to put her team ahead, and the eighth-ranked Hawkettes went on to post a 55-50 victory over No. 5 Valley in a CIML Conference game on Tuesday at Ankeny.
“Down the stretch, she’s been the difference in these close games,” Tobey said of Jacks. “She’s just so steady and confident. She knows where to get the ball, whether that’s her driving or getting it to other people. We’re very fortunate to have her as our point guard.
“She made some more clutch plays tonight for sure,” he added.
Savannah Gage connected on four more free throws in the final 10 seconds to seal the victory, snapping Ankeny’s two-game losing skid. The Hawkettes improved to 3-4 in the conference and 7-4 overall, while Valley’s records dropped to 4-3 and 7-3.
The Tigers have lost three of their last four games after a 6-0 start. They were coming off a 57-27 drubbing at No. 11 Southeast Polk on Dec. 19, when they shot just 23.9 percent and did not make a free throw.
“Valley’s a great team. It would be no surprise to us to see them make a deep run in the state tournament,” Tobey said. “That just shows us again that that’s a standard we have to hold for ourselves. We should be competing in all these tough games after the break.”
Ankeny outscored Valley in the second quarter, 15-6, to build a 31-21 lead at halftime. The Tigers then closed the gap to 39-37 after three periods, setting the stage for a dramatic finish.
Valley led, 50-49, with 21.8 seconds left. Jacks then drew a foul shortly thereafter, putting her at the charity stripe.
She calmly made both attempts to give the Hawkettes the lead for good.
“Our girls stayed with our plan after Valley took the lead, and we were able to come back in the last minute or two,” Tobey said.
Ainsley Kiene and Jayla Williams each scored 15 points to lead Ankeny. Kiene had three of the Hawkettes’ five 3-point goals, while Williams added a pair of blocks.
Gage had 14 points, five assists and four steals. Jacks added 11 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
Tylee Weite led Valley with 11 points. Elise Jaeger added eight, but she had scored 30 in last year’s game at Ankeny.
The Hawkettes will host another conference game against Urbandale (2-8) on Friday. The J-Hawks dropped an 80-29 decision to No. 3 Dowling Catholic on Tuesday.