The Pleasant Valley girls basketball team had a pretty good idea it could handle Davenport North on Saturday night.
The Spartans had beaten the Wildcats twice during the regular season, once by 26 points and once by 29.
But they weren’t about to ease their way into the postseason. They wanted to hit the floor running.
And they did.
Pleasant Valley forced turnovers the first six times North had the basketball and continued to pry the ball loose all night as it romped to a 59-31 victory over the Wildcats in the Class 5A regional semifinals at the Spartans’ gym.
"We knew that we had to win that game, and we needed to play in a way that we want to be playing in the next game," said senior guard Kira Arthofer, who led a balanced attack with 14 points. "So for us to take a game off, that wouldn’t be helping us in the long run. We had to come out as strong as we ever have."
The victory moves the Spartans (21-1) into a battle with Iowa City West (15-7) Tuesday night at PV, where a berth in the state tournament will be on the line.
While North coach Matt Hoeppner thought Saturday’s game felt a little more competitive than the two regular-season matchups, PV really was in control the whole way despite a bit of an off night for leading scorer Ellie Spelhaug.
Younger sister Carli Spelhaug picked up the slack by scoring 10 points in a first quarter that ended with PV on top, 15-7. It was 30-14 at halftime.
Just to make sure, the Spartans forced 10 more turnovers in the third quarter on their way to coaxing 30 in the game.
"When we do that it just helps our tempo," PV coach Jen Goetz said. "When we’re out in the open court, we’re a pretty good basketball team. Tonight I felt we did a good job of forcing them into turnovers. It just helped our offense."
In addition to Arthofer’s 14 points, Carli Spelhaug scored 13, Ellie Spelhaug got rolling in the second half to finish with 11 and Grace Budde came off the bench to add 11.
"I thought we had a good, balanced attack tonight," Goetz said. "It wasn’t just one or two kids. There was multiple kids who stepped up. That’s definitely a positive."
Paige Bradford led North with 13 points and 12 rebounds in the final game of her career, but the Wildcats (13-10) shot just 26.6 percent from the field.
"We had some things in place that we thought would work against them this time …," Hoeppner said. "But they got us running a little bit and just sort of reeled us into what they do.
"I felt like of the three games we had with them, this one definitely was the closest," he added. "This is the one where we didn’t feel like we were completely out of it right away."