With a regional semifinal against Pleasant Valley looming, Davenport North got an important lesson in being ready from the tip.
Hosting winless Davenport West in a Class 5A regional opener Wednesday, the Wildcats endured a little bit of a sluggish start before finding their footing and rolling to a 75-23 win at Davenport North High School.
North hits the road to play PV Saturday at 7 p.m.
"We can take away that we need to work harder. There were many times in the game when West would beat us to balls, and that just can't happen, especially against PV," senior Coral Dillie said. "It was definitely an eye-opener. We can't do that. We've done it all season, and we need to clean it up."
West has struggled to start games this year, with the Falcons having been held scoreless in the first quarter 10 times, but kept the Wildcats busy with active hands and defense, trailing 12-6 with 3 minutes, 30 seconds left in the quarter.
The Wildcats, who were battling some injuries and illness, built that lead to 21-8 after the first quarter and 41-15 at halftime.
Zoey Davis came off the bench to lead North (13-9) with 11 points while Dillie added 10 points and eight rebounds. All told, 11 different Wildcats scored in the game.
"The thing is, we've got kids all the way around that have worked hard for us all year, they go in and do a good job and try to do the things that we ask," North head coach Matt Hoeppner said. "Hopefully, maybe our bench is going to play a big role for us on Saturday."
The Wildcats now set their sights on the Spartans (20-1), who beat the Wildcats in both prior meetings this season.
"It's a game coming up you want to really get ready for so we're focusing on it," Hoeppner said. "You've got to hope they (PV) don't shoot well, you've got to keep your turnovers down, you've got to do a lot of fundamental things against a team that's as good as they are."
Despite finishing the season 0-22, there were some positives for the Falcons that could help the program start turning around. The Falcons scored 15 points in the first half, their most this season, and equaled a season high with 23 points.
Junior Madison Schlotfeldt scored a career-high 11 points, the high mark of the season for the Falcons. Perhaps most importantly, throughout the game, much like throughout the season, the Falcons continued to play hard, cheered for their teammates, and never quit.
"Our kids have continued to play hard, our bench is excited for each other, and when you talk about building on things, I think more than anything, the kids like each other, they support each other and you don't always see that," West head coach Pat Finn said. "There are obviously a lot of problems to solve, but I think just by scoring a few points tonight and playing some pretty good defense in the first half ... the kids are young, they've stuck with it, and they're excited about playing."