Maquoketa Valley’s girls’ basketball team continues to show why the Wildcats are ranked number one in the state with two more victories. On Dec. 15 the Wildcats defeated conference rival East Buchanan, 36-26. Dec. 17, they hosted the Lisbon Lions coming away with a convincing, 64-21, win.

On the road against West Division RVC rival East Buchanan, the girls struggled a bit containing their opposing team’s top players but were able to continue to play tough defense, recording 15 defensive rebounds. Senior Emerson Whittenbaugh had a team-high nine boards with seven of those coming on the defensive end. After taking a 13-5 lead after one period, the Buccaneers came back strong in the second outscoring the Wildcats 9-6 for a 19-14 lead going into the half. The Wildcats came out in the third determined to play their game holding East Buchanan to only one point courtesy of some tough defense. East Buchanan was able to get back into the game in the fourth outscoring the Wildcats 11-10. Senior Ella Imler led the Wildcats in scoring with a team-high 14 points going 2-of-5 beyond the arch and 8-of-9 on the line. She also contributed with a team-high three assists.

Coach Scot Moenck said, “Going into this game we knew it was going to be tough. Any time when you get a W on the road in this conference it’s a good thing. With that being said, we have to be a lot better at finishing shots at the rim and not turning the ball over. In close games that will cost us. We will continue to get better in practice and focus on the things we need to improve on.”

MV’s leaders against East Buchanan were: points — Ella Imler 14, Emerson Whittenbaugh 12, Taya Tucker seven, Carissa Sabers three; assists — Imler three, Kylie Chesnut, Tucker, Whittenbaugh, Kennedy Rausch one; rebounds — Whittenbaugh nine, Imler, Tucker four, Rausch three, Chesnut two; steals — Imler four, Chesnut three, Tucker two, Whittenbaugh, Haley Ronnebaum one.

Dec. 17 the Wildcats hosted the Lions of Lisbon for a 64-21 win. The Wildcats struggled in the first containing Lisbon’s shooters but were able to contain the Lions in the final three periods to single-digit points.

Taking a 15-12 lead into the second the Wildcats turned up the pressure on the defensive side of the court with their never-ending full-court press which the Lions were not able to handle. Defense has been the trademark for the team this season as they outscored the Lions 22-2 in the second, taking a 37-14 lead into the half.

“At the start of the game, we have to give Lisbon some credit. They came out and hit some shots against us early. We have to do a much better job of recognizing other teams’ best shooters. We have struggled with that and other teams’ best players have really hurt us. With that being said, I was proud of how our kids responded when we made some adjustments,” said Moenck.

Coming out in the third with the same intensity as they had in the second the Wildcats were able to continue to put pressure on the Lisbon ball handlers which in turn created turnovers and easy baskets for the Wildcats. They outscored the Lions 21-2 in the third taking a 58-16 lead into the fourth. In the fourth, the Wildcats had a tough time getting shots to fall. But when you can hold the opposing team to single-digit points in three periods you will come home with the win in most all cases.

Following the game coach Moenck said, “We turned up the pressure with our half-court defense and we also ran a really good half-court offense which led to some easy buckets. We have a way to go but we’re improving every day.”

Leading MV against Lisbon were: points — Tucker 20, Whittenbaugh 17, Imler 14, Sabers five, Ella Mensen four, Caelyn Sands, Haley Ronnebaum two; assists — Imler six, Chesnut, Tucker, Whittenbaugh two, Sabers, Ronnebaun one; rebounds — Tucker nine, Whittenbaugh four, Sabers two, Sands, Kennedy Rausch, Chesnut, Ronnebaum, Isabel Imler, Erin Knipper one; steals — Tucker six, Whittenbaugh three, Rausch, Ella Imler two, Sands, Ronnebaum one.