Pleasant Valley High School head basketball coach Jennifer Goetz during practice in Bettendorf, Iowa Wednesday November 30, 2011. (Jeff Cook/QUAD-CITY TIMES)

Jeff Cook

Just after 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Davenport Assumption and North Scott were starting the second half of their girls basketball game.

Muscatine and Pleasant Valley, meanwhile, had secured 50- and 60-point victories, respectively.

And all three contests began at nearly the same time.

Thanks to a mercy rule implemented by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union this season, lopsided games are finishing much quicker.

“I’m a fan of it for both sides,” Pleasant Valley girls coach Jennifer Goetz said. “It helps both teams, and there is no need to drag things on.

“You never want it to get to that point, but things happen in a game.”

Like the Iowa High School Athletic Association, which put the rule into effect two years ago for boys games, the contest turns into a continuous clock if one team leads by 35 points or more after the first half.

The clock is only stopped for a timeout taken by either team, the intermission between the third and fourth quarters, a foul that results in free throws or if there is an injury.

If the team trailing by 35 points or more trims the deficit below 25 points, the normal timing will resume.

“It piqued my curiosity at the beginning of the year, and I guess I’m indifferent about it,” Muscatine coach Susan Orvis said. “I like playing out the game like you set out to do, but at the same time it is tough for both sides when the game reaches that point.”

The bigger quandary for coaches is getting the starters adequate playing time but also allowing the reserves to see the floor.

“It’s tough, especially at the varsity level where you’re only guaranteed 21 or 22 games a year,” Goetz said. “You want to get your starters game reps, but at the same time you have to think about your whole program and you want to get as many people minutes as possible.”

Thus far, three of the 10 MAC games have gone to the mercy rule — and a fourth should have.

Muscatine clobbered Burlington by 41 points in last Friday’s conference opener, but Orvis said the contest never went to a continuous clock.

“It was brought up briefly towards the end, but I’m sure it is an adjustment for the officials as well,” Orvis said.

Learning curve

After opening the season with a two-point win over a depleted Cedar Rapids Prairie squad, the Davenport West boys basketball team was walloped by Iowa City High at home Saturday, 69-44.

The Falcons rebounded with a three-point road win at United Township on Tuesday.

The growing pains and roller coaster are expected with two sophomores and a freshman in the rotation. West had only six assists against the Little Hawks — a game in which it trailed 63-30 after three quarters.

“Right now, our hype is a little bit out-running our reality,” West coach Mark Bigler said. “We’re young and we’re talented, but right now we’re allergic to the pass.

“Until we learn how to share the basketball a little bit, we’re going to have our ups and downs. We’re coaching effort and attitude right now, and that takes away from basketball a little bit. I’m sure our guys will respond.”

Kallenberger violates conduct policy

Pleasant Valley senior and Division-I basketball recruit Kaycee Kallenberger has not participated in the team’s first four games after violating the school’s student code of conduct.

Goetz didn’t reveal specifics, but said Kallenberger, who signed with Eastern Illinois last month, will miss at least nine games and isn’t expected to return until the second or third week of January.

The 6-foot-5 senior played her first three seasons at North Scott before transferring to PV this fall.

Lancers are battle-tested

Class 4A 14th-ranked North Scott’s girls basketball team arguably has played one of the state’s most demanding schedules thus far.

With eight sophomores on the roster, Todd Borrison’s squad has faced Class 5A second-ranked Iowa City High, fifth-ranked Iowa City West, a conference road tilt at Bettendorf, a home contest with 3A top-ranked Davenport Assumption and a nonconference game with Maquoketa.

The Lancers have salvaged a pair of wins.

“The schedule only makes you tougher,” said Borrison, whose team travels to third-ranked Muscatine next Friday. “This is going to make us a better team down the stretch. We’re still functioning and getting better.”