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Ella Imler shoots a basket during the state semifinals.

The Maquoketa Valley girls’ basketball season recorded a single blemish. Unfortunately, it happened to be the championship game of the Class 2A State Basketball Tournament. But for coach Scot Moenck, the loss is overshadowed by how his players conducted themselves.

“These kids taught our community a lot about perseverance,” Moenck said. “Life isn’t always easy. Tough times can define you in a positive way. It’s been special, we formed a bond that will last forever. These kids are special, we spent a lot of time together outside the court and gym together. They are like my family. They had to deal with a lot of adversity that most high school kids do not have to go through. It was truly an amazing season.

“All these kids bought in from the beginning, they believed in one another, and pushed each other to be the best they could be every day. We played 26 games this year and for 25 and a half of them, we were on the right side of things. We just let the 4th quarter of the last game get away from us a little bit.

“The thing I have tried to teach these kids for years is that we teach life skills, not basketball skills. At the end of the day, it is our job to teach these girls to be better young ladies and to be honest with you, they taught me to be a better person too. A highlight for the season for sure was being able to get a whole season in. With the world we live in right now we were just thankful to get to practice and play every day. Winning the conference championship, making it to state, and reaching the championship game were all amazing experiences.”

Besides making it to the state finals for the first time since 2013, there were some other highlights from the season. They recorded their highest winning percentage ever at Maquoketa Valley and made the most threes (143) in school history for a season. All three seniors broke the 300-point mark in scoring with Ella Imler scoring a team-high 364 points, Taya Tucker 342 and Emerson Whittenbaugh 324. Imler also led the team with 112 assists. Tucker and Whittenbaugh both broke the century mark in rebounds with Tucker at 185 and Whittenbaugh right behind with 177. The team also combined for 308 steals with six players in double digits. Tucker led the team with 93 and also led the team in blocks with 11.

Looking back on the season, Tucker said, “It was a special one, my teammates were with me the entire time and every one of them believed in us getting here. That shows we have a family here, and our community was always right there by us, it will be a good memory I will cherish forever.”

Imler commented, “I will remember all the friendships I formed with my teammates. I am going to miss them and the times we had together. Being a part of the girls’ basketball program the last four years has been really special. I am so thankful I was able to be a part of it because of all of the memories that we have created. Coach Moenck has been an awesome coach, role model, friend, and shoulder to cry on. He has always pushed us to be our best, even when we didn’t believe in ourselves. He has taught us a lot, not just in basketball, but in life as well. The relationships I have formed with my teammates and coaches are very special. I will forever have them as a family.”

Whittenbaugh said, “Playing in the Maquoketa Valley basketball program wasn’t just about basketball. Coach has always taught us that basketball is just a little part of life and the lessons that are learned in this program are ones we can take with us for a lifetime. This program means family, someone to lean on when you’re in need. The memories and skills can be remembered for a lifetime and it will be something that will be missed so much.

“These past four years have been something special, they have taught me how to overcome struggles. They have taught me who I can rely on and they have pushed me to be the best person and player I can possibly be. Coach Moenck has created a culture that is not like anything else with this program. He truly was a blessing to play for and I can’t thank him enough for what he has done.

“This team this year wasn’t just a team, it was a family. The bond we had with each other was indescribable and was something really special. These girls were my best friends and I knew I could go to them for anything. They made me excited to come to practice every day. I am forever thankful for this experience and this team. Being a Wildcat is something that I will never take for granted, this program is special and it is filled with special people. I am forever grateful to wear the black and gold.”