They've been sent to Waukee, Cedar Falls and Iowa City for a regional final each of the past three seasons.

Pleasant Valley's girls basketball team has grown weary of lengthy Tuesday night bus trips in late February and playing on the opposing team's home court.

The Spartans took another step toward avoiding that situation this season with a 60-51 win Tuesday night over Bettendorf at PV High School.

"It is something these kids have worked extremely hard for," PV coach Jennifer Goetz said of hosting a regional final. "It doesn't mean we're going to win (and go to state), but we've been on the opposite end of it the last three years.

"We want to play that game at home."

The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union's final rankings will determine which team hosts the regional final. Currently, PV is eighth in Class 5A and Iowa City West is ninth.

If the Spartans (19-1, 16-1) can beat Clinton at home on Friday, they'll earn at least a share of the Mississippi Athletic Conference title and should have home court advantage through regional competition.

"This was a huge, huge win for us to be able to do that," Carli Spelhaug said. "We took care of our business. We need to do the same Friday."

Other than a hiccup on the road to North Scott a couple weeks ago, PV has conquered every challenge.

The Spartans overcame a slow offensive start in their latest triumph.

They responded with 25 points in the second quarter and buried three 3-pointers in the first 95 seconds of the third quarter to seize control.

"(Coach) Goetz always talks about having that first punch," senior Ellie Spelhaug said. "I thought we made a statement right away in that third quarter. It is a situation where it is hard for the other team to respond from something like that."

Ellie Spelhaug finished with a game-high 20 points. Carli Spelhaug chipped in 13 and Kira Arthofer had 11.

The Spartans were 10 of 20 from beyond the arc and had five different players connect from the 3-point line against Bettendorf's zone defense.

"Against a team like PV, you've got to do some things differently," Bettendorf coach Brian Tritt said. "They were just hitting shots. It is part of basketball."

The Spartans have had some turbulent moments in the last few weeks. Goetz said that has been good for her team after sailing through the first six weeks of the season.

"We didn't have enough of those hills early in the season to open our eyes," she said. "Did we play perfect tonight? No, but I thought we did enough to win. We hit big shots when we needed to, and we controlled the ball very well."

PV finished with just seven turnovers. Conversely, Bettendorf had 24 despite shooting almost 50 percent from the field.

"They are a hard team to simulate in practice," Tritt said. "Hats off to PV because they make you play fast and do things you don't normally do."

Tritt, though, was encouraged with the fight of his team in the fourth quarter. It trimmed the deficit to 10 points on several occasions.

Kylie Wroblewski led three Bulldogs (15-5, 12-5) in double figures with 16 points and eight rebounds. Jordan Ratigan had 13 points and Emily Ivory finished with 12.

"We didn't cave in," Tritt said. "We've come a long way. Our kids are gaining more confidence and playing with more swagger. We know we can play with good teams across the state."


Sports Editor

Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.