SPRING VALLEY -- Dan Stasiek prefers to have the Spring Valley High School girls basketball team he coaches play man-to-man defense.

But the Cardinals have a good zone defense on the shelf as well. They pulled it off and used it to good effect on Glenwood City Friday evening.

Valley held their rivals to just 24 points in a 44-24 win that evened their Dunn-St. Croix record at 3-3.

A defense to live by

"I love man-to-man as much as anyone, but we have a zone defense that we're very effective in as well and we can switch into it when we need to," Stasiek said.

Of course, Spring Valley's zone has man-to-man features and it helped the Cards to negate the 'Toppers' size advantage by allowing SV's defenders to use their long arms and/or quick hands in the lane to force steals and turnovers they could take advantage of.

"This is probably the best defense we've played all season," Stasiek said. "And that's evident in the margin of victory. We didn't expect a big win, but when we executed well as we did, we were able to win by a large margin."

Valley switched to the zone because Glenwood City point guard Katelyn Mueller kept driving right through their defense and dishing off passes to other Glenwood players down low for easy baskets. Once SV switched to a zone, those driving lanes were cut off.

When Spring Valley takes advantage of turnovers, that usually means getting the ball to Kimmy Keehr on the fast break. The slower Glenwood players could not keep up with her, as she took outlet pass after outlet pass and converted them to lay-ups for a game-high 20-point performance. She also created her own turnovers as well with her high energy, all out, full-court play.

Bench strength

Spring Valley's big win wasn't just a one-person effort. Two reserves played a key role as well.

When the Cardinals' Carly Cook and Aarynn Deutsch were in foul trouble in the fourth quarter and had to leave the game, sophomores Kali Howe and Erin Ingli came off the bench and played some very valuable three to four minutes that kept GC from taking advantage of the Redbirds' foul trouble.

Howe sank 5-of-6 free-throws. Also making an impact from off the bench was Kristine Ostertag, as she sank a three-pointer.

"Erin and Kali held the fort very well for three-to-four minutes," Stasiek said. "They played good defense and handled the ball well and moved well for the time they were in the ballgame."

Deutsch finished with six points, Kelsey Lansing scored five points and Cook had four points. Brittany Myers led Glenwood City with seven points.

Spring Valley was able to beat a Glenwood City team with a winning record both in the conference and overall. That has Stasiek thinking that what seemed to be a throw away season at the start could be something special, if not just decent, despite the fact the Cardinals aren't very big nor have any seniors.

"We told the girls after the game that, when we execute what we do, we can win games in this way," Stasiek said. "If we keep playing this, then we're going to be a very competitive team."