There were some questions surrounding the Pleasant Valley girls basketball team to start the year.
How would the Spartans replace three starters, two of whom are currently playing Division I basketball? How would the defense that PV has become known for carry over with some new faces?
Five games in, and the Spartans seem to have those questions answered, and in impressive fashion.
PV rolled to a 56-20 win over Assumption Tuesday at Assumption High School and are now 5-0, the five wins coming by an average of 26.2 points.
"I knew the talent this group had," head coach Jennifer Goetz said. "I didn't think defensively we'd be as quick and as active as we are. This is kind of a new level, this is a good level for this group right now."
There was no letdown for the entire 32 minutes no matter who was on the court for the Spartans. Macy Beinborn led all players with 27 points, continuing her breakout season. Carli Spelhaug added 19 points, six steals and five assists. Ilah Perez-Johnson added six steals and four rebounds off the bench as the active Spartan defense hounded the Knights all night, forcing 29 turnovers.
This is coming off another dominant defensive performance in its last conference game, when PV (5-0, 3-0) held Muscatine without a point in the first quarter.
"Last year we had a really good defensive group and I think sitting on the bench last year, I really learned from all the girls last year," Perez-Johnson said. "It was a little tough (to transition) but over the summer I got to work with (starters Adrea Arthofer and Carli Spelhaug) and they just made it a great environment to be in."
The Spartan defense came alive in the second quarter, forcing 11 turnovers and turning a 12-4 first-quarter lead into a 36-6 halftime advantage.
With four new starters, some of whom were getting their first look at the Spartan defense, it was overwhelming for Assumption. Katie Anderson led the Knights (1-4, 1-2) with five points and four rebounds while Anna Wohlers added four points and four boards.
"That's a tricky defense to play against when you haven't experienced that before and we had quite a few kids on the floor that had never experienced it before," Assumption head coach Katelyn McNamara said. "I think that if a couple shots fell there at the beginning of the game, things would have been a little different with our confidence level too going forward but we kind of hung our heads early too and we can not do that."
Assumption doesn't have much time to dwell on this loss with a road game against Class 4A No. 2 North Scott looming on Friday.
"You've got to look onto the next play, that's in this game and in the next game too," McNamara said. "We talked about body language, keeping your head up. There's no pity parties, you can't take breaks in our season because we've got North Scott coming up on Friday and they're going to be ready to go. We better be ready to go too."
With all the new faces, it's not surprising the Spartans may have been flying under the radar somewhat to start the season, unranked and picked to finish second in the conference.
To those in the program, this start is something they expected.
"Just playing with these girls for as long as I have, we knew we were going to step up to the challenges and step up the adversity we had with losing all those seniors from last year," Spelhaug said. "We've just been hungry and we want to prove everyone wrong on just how good we can be."