Maquoketa Valley’s girls’ basketball team is in a tough stretch right now with seven games in the next 13 days. Last week, the Wildcats added three more wins to improve to 11-0. They opened on Jan. 5 with a 51-38 win against Alburnett at home and followed it up with a 43-26 win against Mount Vernon, Jan. 7, and a 61-20 win on the road against Starmont, Jan. 8.

Starting off the week against a much-improved Alburnett both teams started off strong scoring 13 points in the first. The Wildcats started to play more solid defense in the latter part of the second with Taya Tucker playing tough down low and not allowing Alburnett any second-chance shots. The Wildcats outscored the Pirates, 14-7, in the second taking a 27-20 lead into half-time. Coming out in the third the girls kept up their intensity on both ends. Imler hit a key three-pointer with five minutes left that put the Wildcats up 33-20. The Wildcats did not allow Alburnett to score until the 4:30 mark in the third and held the Pirates to only four points, going into the fourth with a commanding 41-24 lead. Alburnett came out to start the fourth more aggressive, but Emerson Whittenbaugh hit a three-pointer at the 4:04 mark. With a 46-34 lead she missed a shot down low but was able to get her own rebound putting it back in for two and a 48-34 lead with just over two minutes, securing the win.

Coach Scot Moenck said, “I was pleased with how we defended for 3 1/2 quarters. We let our guard down a little bit in the fourth quarter. We have to do a better job of finishing shots and playing a full 32 minutes on both ends of the floor. We are doing a very nice job of passing the ball and making the extra pass to get a better shot. The other thing I was really pleased with is how we rebounded the ball in this game. All five kids on the floor did a very good job of attacking the glass.”

Mv’s leaders against Alburnett were: points — Whittenbaugh 17, Ella Imler 16, Tucker 11, Kennedy Rausch and Carissa Sabers three, Kylie Chesnut one; assists — Imler six, Tucker four, Whittenbaugh three, Rausch, Sabers, Chesnut one; rebounds — Whittenbaugh 17, Tucker six, Imler and Chesnut four, Sabers two, Rausch one; steals — Imler three, Chesnut and Tucker two, Rausch one; blocks — Tucker three.

Mount Vernon being a bigger school in a very tough league, was a very good challenge for the Wildcats, Jan. 8, who don’t normally get the opportunity to play schools that size. They probably won’t see another team play defense like this all year, but they defeated Mount Vernon, 43-26.

“I was proud of our kids the way they handled it. We didn’t turn the ball over much and we were patient on offense. We missed a lot of shots at the rim and were not good from the free-throw line but our kids really battled all night. It was probably our best game defensively for the year. We really did a good job of rotating and getting to the boards. I’m really proud of our kids. This is a very tough stretch of basketball we’re going through right now,” said Moenck.

The following night the Wildcats traveled to Starmont and dominated the Stars from the opening whistle holding them to single digits all four quarters for a dominating 61-20 win. Tucker and Whittenbaugh had another good shooting night leading the Cats in scoring with 20 points.

“This was a good way to end a busy week of basketball. We are on the down-hill slide to our seven-game schedule in 13 days. You could tell we had some heavy legs in this game so it was very nice to get a lot of kids some good minutes. I am proud of our kids the way they have battled and hung in there. We have had some very tough games in this four-game stretch. To add to it we have had some kids who haven’t felt very well either. We got off to a little bit of a slow start in this game but in the second quarter, we dialed in defensively and were able to generate some points with easy baskets. Kennedy Rausch came off the bench and hit three threes in the second quarter to get us going and outscored Starmont 32-6 in the second quarter.”