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Emerson Whittenbaugh puts up a shot against East Buchanan.

Two more Tri-Rivers Conference wins last week improved Maquoketa Valley’s girls’ basketball record to 16-0 as the Wildcats defeated East Buchanan and North Linn.

On Jan. 19 the Wildcats earned a 49-23 win over East Buchanan at home, with the Wildcats pressing defense being the key factor in the win.

“After such a busy week of basketball the week before, it was nice to get back to a normal schedule for our kids,” coach Scot Moenck said. “I was pleased with how we came out in this game.

“We defended well and did such a better job of locating their shooters than we did the first time we played them. We have a tough schedule remaining and still have a lot of improving to do.

“We have to be better on the boards and finish shots around the bucket.”

MV’s leaders against East Buchanan were: points — Emerson Whittenbaugh 15, Taya Tucker 14, Ella Imler, Kennedy Rausch nine, Kylie Chesnut two; assists — Imler five, Whittenbaugh three, Carissa Sabers, Tucker two, Rausch one; rebounds — Tucker eight, Whittenbaugh six, Sabers, Imler three, Haley Ronnebaum one; steals — Tucker, Imler, Whittenbaugh one; blocks – Strickland one: blocks — Tucker one.

MV faced off against the fourth-ranked North Linn Lynx in Troy Mills

and earned a 44-40 win in a Tri-Rivers Conference West Division showdown, Jan. 22.

The Wildcats prevailed despite North Linn’s 38-20 rebounding advantage. They did so with exceptional ball security, committing just five turnovers to North Linn’s 12.

The Wildcats were able to hold the Lynx to just 2-of-12 shooting in the first quarter taking a 10-6 lead into the second. Carissa Sabers drained a three for the Wildcats to start the second, but it was the Lynx who held the upper hand in the quarter outscoring the Wildcats, 13-11, hitting two threes with a minute left until half. The Wildcats brought the ball down the court for the last possession of the second with Tucker driving the ball to the lane past the Lynx defense for the last shot, She was fouled and hit one of two free throws to give the Wildcats a slim 21-19 lead into the half.

“I’m proud of the kids,” Moenck said. “We knew it was going to be a war. It was fun to coach in a game like this. They did something, we had to adjust and vice versa.”

Maquoketa Valley came out strong to begin the third playing a tough 1-3-1 defense that the Lynx had trouble getting past. North Linn was able to get within five points with the Wildcats maintaining a 35-28 lead into the fourth. To start the fourth, North Linn tied the game at 35 with 5:35 to go, but the Wildcats outscored the Lynx nine to five in the remaining five minutes of the game. Whittenbaugh, who sprained an ankle in their game against East Buchanan and wasn’t cleared to play until 2 p.m., put the Wildcats back ahead with a bank shot. Then Imler nailed a three-pointer to make it 40-35 with 4:10 to go. Tucker made a pair of free throws making it 42-35. North Linn scored the next five points, with a three by Ellie Flanagan and two free throws by Macy Boge making it 42-40, but two clutch free throws by Imler sealed the win for the Wildcats.

“I felt we were really good defensively most of the night and I was so pleased with how we valued the ball on offense. I was very proud of our kids with how they responded when North Linn tied the game at 35. We didn’t panic, we were patient on offense, got a good look, and fortunately made the basket and never lost the lead after that. Again, we have to be better on the boards and finish around the bucket. That could really cost in a big game like this one. We still have a very tough schedule from here on out. We have to continue to commit to improving every day in practice.”

“We stayed calm,” Wildcats senior Imler said. “We’ve practiced these situations before. We stayed calm and stayed patient when they made a run at us at the end. I was just confident.”

MV’s leaders against North Linn were: points — Imler 16, Tucker 11, Whittenbaugh nine, Sabers six, Chesnut two; assists — Whittenbaugh six, Tucker three, Sabers two, Liz McDowell one; rebounds — Tucker eight, Imler, Whittenbaugh four, Sabers two; steals — Tucker two, Sabers, Whittenbaugh, Chesnut one.