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If there has been a bugaboo for Pleasant Valley's girls basketball program the past four years, it doesn't possess much height.

That, coupled with playing a 2-3 zone defense, can make rebounding a challenge at times.

Ninth-ranked Iowa City West, with three girls between 5-foot-10 and 6-1 on its front line, pounced on the opportunity Tuesday night.

West gobbled up 13 second-chance chances in the first half as it ended PV's season with a 61-51 victory in a Class 5A regional final at PV High School.

"We didn't do the best job ending possessions," Spartans coach Jennifer Goetz said. "Sometimes, it comes down to we're 5-8 and 5-9 and they're 6-1. It wasn't due to a lack of effort because my kids busted their butts."

West coach BJ Mayer said getting to the glass was a focal point in the game plan. The Women of Troy finished with a 40-26 rebounding advantage.

Logan Cook, an Iowa signee, finished with a team-high 20 points and 12 rebounds. Cook feasted on second opportunities, particularly in the first half, as West built a 34-18 cushion.

"We tried to keep our bigs in the paint," Mayer said. "If we missed a shot, we wanted to crash the boards. Logan was really good, and then we got some quote-unquote cheap rebounds from our guards Rachael (Saunders) and Cailyn (Morgan). Credit our kids for following the game plan."

Eighth-ranked PV (21-2) finished the first half with six straight points to trim the deficit to 10.

The Spartans had ample opportunities to draw closer in the first 3 1/2 minutes of the third quarter. Despite forcing four straight turnovers, they couldn't capitalize on the offensive end.

Goetz's team was 18 of 55 from the field. Outside of senior Kira Arthofer, who kept the Spartans afloat with six 3-pointers and a game-high 22 points, PV was 1 of 15 from beyond the arc.

"The last couple of weeks and different times this season, we've talked about how we need to put the ball in the basket," Arthofer said. "We had a drought at the beginning of the game and in the third quarter, and you're not going to beat a good team doing that."

In addition to Cook, West had three other girls in double figures — Morgan (13), Saunders (11) and Lauren Zacharias (11) — to earn its sixth state tournament trip in eight years next week at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

West lost seven games this season, four to state-ranked teams in Iowa and three to schools outside the state.

"In that stretch when we were playing seven straight state-ranked teams and had a four-game losing streak, they were a little down on themselves but never out," Mayer said. "We were always looking towards the long run.

"To come on the road against a really good team and win says a lot about our kids' character."

For PV, this was difficult to stomach. The Spartans lost in the regional final for the sixth straight year, but this was the first time they had the game on their home court.

It breezed through the regular season with only one hiccup and had an impressive double-digit win over Rock Island in early January.

"We've wanted this for so long," Arthofer said. "For us to be at home, it got in our heads, 'We got this, we got this.' I think we got a little nervous when we got down, but there was no end in our fight. That's something our team, myself included, can keep thinking about moving forward."

It was the final high school game for seven PV seniors, a group that Goetz said put the program on the map. Ellie Spelhaug joined Arthofer in double figures with 15 points and six rebounds.

"It's tough right now because these kids deserve it," Goetz said, "but sometimes just because you deserve it doesn't mean you're going to get it. Maybe at some point in my life I'll understand that.

"I don't know if we'll have a (senior) class like this again. They've done it the right way, trusting the process, being unselfish and doing the right things on and off the court. I don't have a daughter, but if I did, it'd be like one of them. I'm a lucky basketball coach."


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.