Before the shots started to fall Tuesday, a little defense went a long way for the Pleasant Valley girls basketball team.
The Spartans forced Davenport Assumption into 17 first-half turnovers, finished the second quarter with a run of 18 unanswered points and cruised to a 67-36 Mississippi Athletic Conference victory at PV.
Limited to five points in the game’s first six minutes, Pleasant Valley relied on defensive pressure to force turnovers, create tempo and help the Spartans find their offensive rhythm.
“A big part of what we’ve been able to do so far this season is Carli (Spelhaug) and Kira (Arthofer) being on the point of our defense,’’ PV senior Ellie Spelhaug said. “They’re not making anything easy on the other team’s point guard.’’
The Knights were in no position to argue.
Assumption trailed 12-10 after one quarter before consecutive three-pointers by Arthofer and Ellie Spelhaug pushed Pleasant Valley in front 18-10.
The Spartans led by 20-14 midway through the second quarter before finishing the half on an 18-0 run, forcing the Knights into 11 turnovers in a quarter that ended with a string of three-point baskets by PV over the final 1:08, two by by Carli Spelhaug and the third by Arthofer.
“We keep seeing glimpses of what we can do offensively,’’ Pleasant Valley coach Jennifer Goetz said. “We’ve started slowly in each of our four games so far and that’s something I’ve got to figure out, but the defense has been there for us. It’s been the constant and it’s making a difference.’’
Working to build a 33-20 edge on the boards, the Spartans took 32 shots in the first two quarters while using the work of its defense to hold the Knights to 15 attempts.
Ellie Spelhaug said the PV defense is creating transition opportunities which seem to help the offense find its flow.
"Defense has been getting us going,'' she said. "The second quarter, we settled down offensively and were hitting the same shots we missed early in the game.''
The pressure continued to make a difference in the third quarter, helping Pleasant Valley (4-0, 3-0 MAC) grow its lead to 62-26 with a 17-1 run which covered the final five minutes of the third quarter and extended more than two minutes in the fourth.
“We did a decent job on defense all night against an Assumption team that has been putting a lot of points on the board,’’ Goetz said. “But the thing I like is that when it was over, the girls see areas where we can get better and I like that about this team.’’
Ellie Spelhaug led three Spartans in double figures with a 21-point performance, an effort complemented by 15 points from Arthofer and 14 from Carli Spelhaug.
Assumption (2-3, 2-1) was led by Bailey Brown, who scored seven of her 10 points in the third quarter.