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FAIRBANK — Wapsie Valley girls’ basketball coach Justin Davie knew that their match-up with La Porte City Union was going to be a battle.

“Union plays everybody close,” Davie said after Friday’s game in the Warriors’ gymnasium. “Win or lose, they always play close games, (Robert) Driscol is a really good coach, and they were short-handed tonight, they had a couple of girls gone.

“Anytime you play Union, it’s going to be a close game either way.”

With Allie and Megan Carty out of state for a family function this weekend the Knights had to put in Emma Shirk and Carlie Hoppe into the starting five. However, Wapsie was able to clamp down the defense on Union to take control early and hold on for a 40-31 victory.

Driscoll said the key for the Knights (2-4 overall, 1-4 North Iowa Cedar League) was a slow start his team experienced.

“We fell behind 11-0 (in the first 6 minutes of the opening quarter), but I felt the girls kept their composure decently,” Driscol said. “We got back to within seven, and I thought, ‘That start was over and hopefully, we settle in and do some things better and finish up on the top side.’”

However, Union just couldn’t overcome the Warriors’ (6-3, 3-3) defense. Wapsie held the Knights to just five more points in the second quarter to take a 21-9 halftime advantage.

The lead stretched to 13, 29-16, after three before Union could inch a bit closer in the final period with a 15-11 effort.

Davie thought his offensive effort went well.

“We put in some new plays this week to get the ball inside a little more, when teams were taking some things away,” he said. “I thought we executed those pretty well tonight, and I thought we had good looks all night. Some didn’t go in, but that happens.

“Like always, our effort was really good tonight. We took care of the ball a lot better, and we rebounded better, too.”

He also tried to have Wapsie change up their defensive looks.

“A big part of their offense is getting the ball to the high post, and we tried to limit that as much as we could,” Davie said. “They still got it there a decent amount.

“We did a pretty good job of identifying their shooters. They have two really good shooters. There’s a couple of times we lost them, and they made us pay, but overall, we executed really well.”

Driscol felt his squad played well overall.

“We just need to cut down on turnovers,” he admitted. “We had some unforced turnovers in the first half that we just need to clean up and take care of, and that hurts in that first half.

“I think they did a better job in the second half of cleaning things up on both ends of the court.”

Erin Riordan led everyone with 19 points on 7-for-15 shooting. Kaci Beesecker and Mikenna Joerger added nine each.

Davie said his two senior forwards, Riordan and Joerger, have been good leaders on the low block.

“They’re both play really hard,” he said. “They’ve been playing since they were freshmen. They definitely know their way around down there. When they’re on, they’re pretty tough to stop.”

Meanwhile, Sam Glenn paced the Knights with 10 points, with Allie Driscol adding nine and Kaylin Brustkern with seven. However, the team shot just 28.2 percent from the floor (13-for-46) and made just four out of 15 from the 3-point line.

Robert Driscol said his team needs to handle the rock a little bit better and get rid of turnovers.

“When a person gives up that many possessions in a close ball game like this, that can be the difference in the ball game,” he said. “Cleaning things up, we need a little more production out of the post offensively, and the guards need to penetrate and kick a little bit more versus zones.

“Kind of all around, we have little things to clean up, but nothing that’s not fixable.”