Clarke girls basketball coach Eric Zoske said after his team picked up big wins over Albia and Nodaway Valley that he believes his team is playing its best basketball of the season at the right time.
And for Zoske, it all starts on the defensive end.
In a 50-23 win over Albia on Jan. 25, the Lady Indians achieved their goal of four single-digit quarters — holding the Lady D's to single digits scoring in all four quarters, with a high quarter of seven points.
"Anytime you hold a team to 23 points, and their highest scoring quarter was seven, any coach would be pleased with that," Zoske said. "Albia, the Tuesday before we played them, they scored 52 against Davis County. They'd been playing really well. It was a good time to see our defense step up."
In the game against Albia, Zoske came in with a different defensive scheme than he used in the first meeting with the Lady D's.
Zoske ran a 1-3-1 halfcourt trap and also used a fullcourt press. He did not run that defense in the first meeting because Kacey Klemesrud was out with an injury.
Playing that defense took some pressure off of Sarah Pate, who had the task of defending several taller post players.
"We were able to press and we were able to trap in the halfcourt and it took a lot of pressure off of Sarah and put the pressure on their guards," Zoske said. "Anytime we get Kacey and Kylar (McCann) against the other two guards, I'll put my money on that matchup.
McCann finished with a team-high 18 points, while Klemesrud added 13. Pate and Libby Bemis each scored eight points.
Bemis also finished with a team-high five assists.
Clarke also picked up a 60-38 win over Nodaway Valley on Saturday.
McCann finished with a team-high 17 points in the win, while Carley Robins added 13 points. Pate and Klemesrud each tallied eight points, while Bemis and Devon Carson each scored seven points.
The Lady Indians also pulled down a season-high 39 rebounds in the win.
"That's one area we've been stressing all year long," Zoske said. "Early in the year, we were not a good rebounding team at all. We got a little better there at break, and now we're playing the best defense we have all year, and we're rebounding the best we have all year."
Zoske said anytime his team can finish with a rebounding margin of plus-seven, he feels confident his team will win.
"Plus-13, and one key that I tell the girls — when we outrebound a team by plus-seven, that's our goal, I don't think we're going to lose a game," Zoske said. "We play good enough offensively and good enough defensively, if we win the rebounds by plus-seven, we're going to win 99 percent of the games."
The Lady Indians travel to Davis County tonight and host Winterset on Saturday for senior night.