Experienced Wildcats prevail over North Linn

Emerson Whittenbaugh of Maquoketa Valley (in white) dishes to a teammate during the top-ranked Wildcats’ victory over No. 2 North Linn Jan. 2 in Delhi. (Photos by Pete Temple)

Kennedy Rausch of the Wildcats (5) fires from long range against North Linn.
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     In the end, experience made all the difference.

     That, and a 17-2 second quarter advantage.

     Maquoketa Valley, top ranked in Class 2A girls basketball, rode that quarter, strong rebounding, and pressure defense to a 52-34 triumph over second-ranked North Linn Jan. 2 in Delhi.

     MV coach Scot Moenck said his team’s experience was a big factor.

     “We have three seniors that have been through the battles,” Moenck said.

     Two of those were Taya Tucker (15 points) and Emerson Whittenbaugh (12 points, eight rebounds).

     Other factors were the rebounding edge, 35-22 in favor of MV, and the fact the Lynx made just two field goals in the first half. For the game, North Linn shot just 24 percent from the field (9-for-37).

     “We knew that we had to guard certain people,” Tucker said. “We weren’t going to let them shoot on the perimeter. As soon as they’d catch the ball, we’d be right there, and I think it was just hard for them to get shots off.”

     Moenck agreed: “They’re a dangerous team. They can shoot you out of a game real fast. We wanted to make sure we paid attention to the kids that could hurt us.”

     The Wildcats trailed North Linn 8-6 after one quarter, but went on a 17-2 run to gain a 23-10 halftime lead. A pair of mid-quarter three-point baskets 35 seconds apart, both by freshman Haley Ronnebaum, gave MV a 21-10 lead. The Lynx never brought the margin down to a single digit after that.

     “That was huge,” Whittenbaugh said. “She was a spark plug for us today.”

     Coach Moenck added: “She’s big every day in practice. That’s how she plays.”

     Maquoketa Valley’s lead hovered between 11 and 18 points throughout the second half. An 8-2 run from late in the third quarter to the middle of the fourth made it an 18-point lead and essentially sealed the Wildcats’ win.

     Ronnebaum finished with nine points, while Ella Imler – the third senior starter – and Kennedy Rausch had six apiece. Whittenbaugh had five assists; Tucker made three steals.

     “We had some kids really step up and play some meaningful minutes,” coach Moenck said. “Haley Ronnebaum, Kennedy Rausch and Erin Knipper did an amazing job coming off the bench and playing some really good basketball and both ends of the court.”

     The Wildcats are 8-0, including 4-0 in the Tri-Rivers Conference West Division.


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