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One of the toughest stretches of the schedule is out of the way for the Muscatine girls basketball team (1-4 0-3 Mississippi Athletic Conference).

While the Muskies lost four of their first five to start the season, including a 58-53 loss at North Scott (4-1 3-0 Mississippi Athletic Conference) on Tuesday, they have plenty of reason for optimism.

They got their first win of the season Saturday on the road against Linn-Mar during the second game of a back-to-back and followed it up with a competitive match against the No. 6 team in Class 4A on Tuesday night.

Muscatine had a 28-27 lead at halftime but ultimately ran out of steam. 

"I was pleased with our overall effort," Muscatine coach Susan Orvis said. "We're starting to put better stretches together on both sides of the ball. We still have a couple lapses here and there defensively and offensively, just had a few too many, and one or two's enough to beat you. But I was really encouraged by the continued progress." 

Senior Tessa Kerr led the way for the Muskies with 16 points, while Alicia Garcia chipped in 13. It was the third time in four games as a starter that the freshman has scored in double figures, improving her average to 9.8 points per game.

Junior Macey Rogers added nine points, senior Paige Miller seven, freshman Zoey Long five and junior Kendra Eller three to round out the scoring for Muscatine.

After playing four of their first five games on the road, the Muskies will play at home in five of their next eight contests, including a home game against Clinton on Friday.

"We knew this was going to be a tough part of the schedule, we knew it was going to be on the road," Orvis said. "We just got to be patient as things come together for us. We're really encouraged coming out of it, knowing that we gained some experience, we played competitive, we've been right there."