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Suffocating defense can overshadow some offensive deficiencies.

The Pleasant Valley girls basketball team turned the ball over frequently in the first half and struggled hitting shots throughout the game Saturday evening.

But as the first 12 games of this season have indicated, the Spartans can be very stingy on the defensive end of the court.

Iowa Class 5A 10th-ranked PV held Geneseo scoreless for more than 6 ½ minutes during the second and third quarters en route to a 47-38 victory in the IHMVCU Shootout at the Carver Center.

“Defense was our backbone tonight, hands down,” PV coach Jennifer Goetz said.

The win secured the IHMVCU Shootout for Iowa for the third straight season.

“For this side of the river to be the best again and be the ones to seal it, it is really awesome,” PV guard Mallory Lafever said.

The Spartans (12-0) collected 22 steals, 12 from the backcourt duo of Carli Spelhaug and Lafever, to thwart the Leafs.

It wasn’t so much PV’s full-court pressure that gave Geneseo (15-4) issues. The Leafs had trouble establishing an offense in the half-court.

“The funny thing is they don’t put a ton of pressure on the ball, but those two guards stay in the passing lanes long enough to disrupt what you’re doing,” Geneseo coach Scott Hardison said. “It is a credit to those two girls. They’re very good.”

Spelhaug was named the game’s most valuable player. Despite 7-for-22 shooting, she finished with 17 points, three rebounds, two assists and a half-dozen steals.

The Iowa State softball recruit converted at the offensive end in critical junctures. She buried a 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter to extend the margin to 11.

And when Geneseo trimmed the deficit to nine points in the fourth quarter, Spelhaug pumped in another trey.

“I battled myself a lot and some adversity tonight,” Spelhaug said. “My teammates kept my head high. I knew shots would eventually fall, and it just happened at the bigger parts of the game.

“We need games like this where we have a lot of adversity because we haven’t had a lot of hiccups in the road so far. It is making us grow as a team.”

Lafever joined Spelhaug in double figures with 12 points. She also had six steals, five rebounds and three assists.

PV trailed 19-16 in the second quarter but closed the half on a 9-0 flurry to snatch a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. Lafever, Spelhaug and Macy Beinborn scored in that stretch.

“That was key,” Hardison said. “We lost our legs a little bit at the end of the half.”

The Spartans head into the second week of January as just one of three undefeated teams in Iowa’s top classification.

There might be surprise on the outside given PV graduated seven seniors, including two Division I players, from a regional final squad.

But to those in the program, the Spartans aren’t stunned.

“We firmly believe we have done everything in our power to build a good program here at PV, not one or two good classes,” Goetz said. “It is back to these seniors, waiting their turn and trusting the process.

“These kids are proof of that.”

Hannah Himmelman led Geneseo with 12 points. 

Pleasant Valley 47, Geneseo 38

PLEASANT VALLEY (12-0) -- Adrea Arthofer 0-2 0-0 0, Carli Spelhaug 7-22 0-2 17, Mallory Lafever 5-11 2-2 12, Macy Beinborn 2-10 2-2 8, Anna Griffin 1-2 0-0 2, Julia Hillman 0-0 0-0 0, Riley Vice 0-2 0-0 0, Ellie Scranton 0-0 0-0 0, Addie Kerkhoff 1-5 0-0 2, Ilah Perez-Johnson 2-3 0-1 4, Regan Denny 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 19-60 4-7 47. 

GENESEO (15-4) -- Josie Brown 1-2 3-4 5, Keeli Frerichs 1-4 1-2 3, Maddi Barickman 1-7 0-0 2, Tori Verbeck 2-5 1-2 5, Hannah Himmelman 5-8 2-5 12, Kailtyn Webster 0-4 2-2 2, Kammie Ludwig 2-4 3-4 7, Abbi Barickman 0-3 0-0 0, Taylor DeSplinter 0-2 2-2 2, Eden McAvoy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-39 14-21 38. 

Pleasant Valley;11;14;9;13;--;47

Geneseo;8;11;4;15;--;38

3-point goals -- PV 5-24 (Spelhaug 3-10, Beinborn 2-7, Lafever 0-4, Kerkhoff 0-2, Griffin 0-1); Geneseo 0-8 (M. Barickman 0-3, A. Barickman 0-3, Ludwig 0-1, Frerichs 0-1). Rebounds -- PV 33 (Arthofer 7, Lafever 5); Geneseo 41 (Himmelman 7, Brown 6, Frerichs 6). Assists -- PV 9 (Arthofer 3, Lafever 3); Geneseo 8 (Brown 2, DeSplinter 2, Verbeck 2). Steals -- PV 22 (Spelhaug 6, Lafever 6); Geneseo 7 (Brown 2, Himmelman 2). Turnovers -- PV 13, Geneseo 24. Total fouls -- PV 19, Geneseo 7. Fouled out -- none. 

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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.