Wins don't come easily out in West Liberty.
Over the last 12 years, the Comets haven't finished above .500 and once endured a 32-game losing streak.
Two years ago, West Liberty finished 0-22 and ended last year 2-19.
So the Comets know not to take victories for granted, and right now they are on their best stretch in at least 25 years.
With a 50-45 win over Durant on Tuesday, the Comets have won four games in a row for what the coaching staff estimated was the first time since the early 1990s.
“It’s building the chemistry,” West Liberty coach Michele Teran-Marsh told the Muscatine Journal on Tuesday. “We all have a role on the team, and it’s helping them understand that. They’re playing well together, talking and communicating. We didn’t have that last year.”
Macy Akers has been a fixture on the team for the last four years, starting since she was a freshman, and is leading the Comets with 9.1 points per game this year. She currently has 725 career points, but West Liberty is getting contributions from a new crop of athletes as well.
Freshman Macy Daufeldt is second on the team with 8.5 points per game and classmate Sailor Hall is adding 7.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.1 steals.
Sitting at 5-11, the Comets will need to win out and grab at least one postseason victory to finish at .500. It's a tall task, but with the youth on the team, it's possible that this winning streak could be the start of a new era of basketball out in West Liberty.
Breaking their stride: The MAC had Tuesday off because of a built-in snow day but it wouldn't be surprising if every team would like to get back into a groove with the postseason approaching.
Since the holiday break, all but three teams have seen a dip in offensive production. Muscatine, Burlington and Davenport West are all averaging more points per game in January than they were in the first half of the season, but the other seven teams have seen their offensive numbers go down.
North has seen the biggest drop-off. The Wildcats were averaging 65.1 points per game before the holidays but just 49.3 points in four games since.
"Teams make adjustments, and I think that's the biggest thing," North head coach Matt Hoeppner said. "We need to take care of the things we can control and continue to push forward."
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Hoeppner said this week off has allowed his team to focus on some of the things that go overlooked in preseason as teams work to implement their systems.
"I'd rather play but that's out of our control," Hoeppner said. "Now we can start nitpicking the little things and correct what we need to correct, and hopefully that helps us go forward."
With the offensive numbers down, defensive numbers have also improved. All but four teams have seen their points per game allowed decrease since the holidays, the biggest jump coming from Davenport West. The Falcons were allowing 66.8 points per game before the break, 56.3 points after.
Masked and dangerous: North's Camry Dillie led the Wildcats to a win over Assumption last week wearing a protective mask after suffering a facial injury in a game against Bettendorf.
It didn't faze Dillie, who scored 17 points in the win. Hoeppner said he thinks she'll likely have to wear the mask the rest of the season, and Dillie might become something of a trendsetter moving forward.
Assumption's Anna Wohlers had surgery last week to repair a broken nose. Originally, it was thought that Wohlers would have to miss anywhere from four to six weeks after having the surgery.
However, Wohlers has been cleared to wear a mask and, according to head coach Katelyn McNamara, could return as early as next week as she is also recovering from an ankle injury.
That would be a boost as Wohlers is averaging 9.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game despite routinely coming off the bench.
"We're definitely missing her, but we saw some good things happen in the North game too," McNamara said. "Girls have just been stepping up, and that's what they need to do when we're down kids like that. You never know who's going to step up and have a good night. We were hoping for a little bit more consistency, but right now we've got kids stepping up to the challenge and filling in holes, and that's what we're going to need to continue to do until we can get Anna back."
North Scott-Muscatine DH moved: The girl-boy doubleheader between North Scott and Muscatine at Muscatine High School was moved from Friday night to tonight because of inclement weather.
The girls game will start at 6 p.m., while the boys game is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.
On the girls side, North Scott (12-2, 10-1 MAC) is looking for its third straight win while Muscatine (4-10, 4-7) is looking to snap a two-game losing streak.
On the boys side, the Muskies (0-12, 0-9) are looking for their first win of the season against the Lancers (12-0, 9-0).