Taya Tucker shoots over Central City defender.

Every game the Wildcat girls’ basketball team goes into they have a huge target on their backs and they have to respect that.

This was the case on Dec. 22 when they traveled to Central City, who came out from the start playing by far their best game of the season and gave the Wildcats all they could handle.

In the end, Maquoketa Valley earned the 48-39 win to remain undefeated and stay atop the 2A state rankings at 5-0 in the conference and 7-0 overall.

Coach Moenck said, “We knew coming into this game we were going to have our hands full. I say this all the time, it’s not easy to win on the road in this league. Central City is a much-improved team this year. They have one of the best shooters in the league and a very nice big girl to go along with her.”

From the opening whistle, Central City came out with a game plan they had not used all year, the 1-3-1 defense, hoping it would disrupt MV’s offensive game plan. The first period both teams were able to get shots to fall with Maquoketa Valley taking a 21-16 lead. From that point on both defenses stepped up and took control of the game. After 37 points were scored in the first, only 50 combined points were scored in the remaining three quarters courtesy of good defensive play from both teams.

Senior guard Emerson Whittenbaugh got into some early foul trouble and MV was unable to find that second scorer to take over. Senior forward Taya Tucker got her game going at times, but for the most part, the team had a tough time getting shots to fall from the perimeter and find open teammates inside.

On the defensive end, the girls played a very solid game, containing Central City to single chance opportunities on a majority of their possessions.

“I was proud of the way we defended and rebounded in this game. I was also pleased with how we guarded their best player Sara Reid. We lost track of her a couple of times and she hurt us but for the most part, her points were earned. One of the things we have to improve on over break is our shooting, especially from the perimeter. In close games that could really hurt us down the stretch. Our kids have worked really hard up to this point and are off to a great start to the season. With that being said we have to continue to grow and push ourselves to get better,” said Moenck.

MV’s leaders against Central City were: points — Tucker 20, Whittenbaugh 15, Ella Imler 13; assists — Imler and Whittenbaugh three, Carissa Sabers, Kylie Chesnut and Haley Ronnebaum one; rebounds — Whittenbaugh 14, Chesnut eight, Tucker seven, Ronnebaum three, Imler two, Kennedy Rausch and Sabers one; steals — Imler five, Tucker and Whittenbaugh two, Sabers and Chesnut one.