Whether it was struggling with transition defense or overall communication, Muscatine girls basketball coach Susan Orvis knows her team has some quick fixes to make after its 62-30 loss at home to Pleasant Valley (2-0, 2-0 Mississippi Athletic Conference) on Friday night.
Those improvements must be made overnight, however, as the Muskies (0-3, 0-2 MAC) play again at 2:30 p.m. Saturday on the road against a Linn-Mar team that was also winless heading into Friday night.
Pleasant Valley got ahead early against Muscatine, opening the first quarter on a 7-2 run while forcing three quick turnovers as the Muskies struggled to attack the Spartans’ zone defense.
“They extend that zone, and we talk a lot about playing north and south,” Orvis said. “When you get caught playing east and west, there are a lot of challenges that come with that, and deflections. That’s just something we need to work on.
“Obviously we’ve got some timing issues. We got to read gaps, find gaps, we just got to attack it a little bit better. We turned the ball over a little too much tonight.”
Muscatine struck to within a possession by the end of the first quarter, trailing just 11-8, but the turnover bug continued to play a factor as the game progressed. The Muskies turned it over eight times in the second quarter alone, leading to easy transition points as the Spartans built a 32-12 cushion heading into the half.
Pleasant Valley continued to extend that lead in the second half, using a wealth of depth that included three players scoring in double figures – Kira Arthofer 16, Ellie Spelhaug 15 and Carli Spelhaug 10 – while 11 players recorded at least one basket.
For Muscatine, freshman Alicia Garcia started for the second straight game, leading her team in scoring with nine points to go along with a team-best eight rebounds. Senior Paige Miller and junior Macey Rogers each chipped in six points, while senior Tessa Kerr finished with five and sophomore Emily Woepking one.
“We’re seeing good positive minutes out of (Garcia),” Orvis said. “I think we’re seeing glimpses of what she can do. I think she’s also learning too, just adapting to the intensity and the level, and I think we’ll see all of the (young players) do that. But those are just some of the things that we’re just having to work through individually and collectively as a group.”
Despite Muscatine’s opportunity to quickly flip the page with a matchup against Linn-Mar tipping off less than 24 hours after Friday night’s game ended, Orvis knows her team has some lessons to learn from the loss to PV.
“We got a lot to learn,” Orvis said. “First and foremost I think the thing that we can do already that we didn’t do consistently tonight was we just didn’t identify and get back consistently in transition, and I think we know better.
“I think our communication, some of those things that we talked about and we know we can do, that was something that got away from us and gave them some points early. … The transition defense, the communication at that end, those are things I know we can improve instantaneously.”
While the Muskies have to head back on the road again for their third away game so far this season, they won’t have to play another ranked opponent after drawing Class 5A No. 13 Cedar Rapids Prairie, 3A No. 7 Davenport Assumption and 5A No. 5 Pleasant Valley.
“… We’re going to see a different zone (against Linn-Mar), so we need to continue to attack the zone and we just got to clean up some of those details,” Orvis said. "We got to learn quickly from tonight and then we got to move on.”