Maquoketa Valley fell at home to Independence, Jan. 7, 55-48, but rebounded with a road win over Starmont, 54-17. The Wildcats’ game with Alburnett was postponed until Jan. 11.

Eric Conner said following the Independence game, “We played probably our best game of the year for three quarters. We had an eight-point lead about halfway through the third quarter and then we went cold offensively. You have to give credit to Independence as they turned up the pressure on defense on our guys and made us go cold in the fourth quarter. It was a hard-fought, physical game that we just didn’t close out and ended up losing 55-48.”

MV’s leaders against Independence were: points — Andrew Holtz 18, AJ Ambundo eight, Owen Mensen six, Avery Holtz and Miguel Bojorquez five, Mitch Heims and Lucas Orcutt three; assists — Avery Holtz five, Andrew Holtz three, Jacorrey Wallace one; rebounds — Ambundo eight, Andrew Holtz four, Bojorquez and Orcutt two, Heims and Mensen one; steals — Avery Holtz four, Bojorquez two, Ambundo and Heims one.

On Jan. 8, the Wildcats traveled to Starmont with a chance to get back on track and accomplished that with a 54-17 win, keeping the Stars to single-digit points in each one of their quarters. Ambundo had the best game of his season so far scoring a team-high 23 points and seven rebounds. The Wildcats started slowly in the first quarter only scoring eight points, but came on strong in the second scoring 32 points and followed it up with 12 points to start the second half. Both teams put in their reserves to get everyone some quality playing time.

Conner said, “We came out a little sluggishly which I think was a result of that hard-fought loss the night before. We got some great looks both around the rim and from deep and we just couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean in the first quarter. We responded very well in the second quarter, thanks to some great scoring from AJ Ambundo. We have been working very hard with AJ on finishing around the rim, and I was super proud of how he adjusted last night, it helped him immensely. I was very pleased with our effort defensively throughout the game, but we talked after the game that we can’t afford to have that same style of start in our games next week. We have four huge games next week and we have to take each game one at a time and play our best basketball, which I am confident that we will.”

Leading MV against Starmont were: points — Ambundo 23, Andrew Holtz 12, Orcutt four, Avery Holtz and Mensen three, Heims, Bojorquez, Devante Strickland and Ethan Doyle two, Wallace one; assists — Avery Holtz and Andrew Holtz three, Bojorquez two, Mensen and Wallace one; rebounds — Ambundo and Andrew Holtz seven, Bojorquez and Wallace three, Landen Deutmeyer, Orcutt, Brock Trenkamp, Strickland two, Mensen and Doyle one; steals — Andrew Holtz six, Wallace four, Ambundo, three, Orcutt and Strickland two; blocks — Bojorquez and Strickland one.