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WATERLOO — Defense has been a focal point for the Cedar Falls girls’ basketball team this season.

Friday night, the third-ranked Tigers were relentless.

With its potent offensive game on track and the defense rising to new heights, Cedar Falls suffocated Waterloo East for a 61-20 Mississippi Valley Conference win.

The Trojans (1-6) stayed with the visitors through the first five minutes, trailing 13-5, but East, which was missing one of its top players in Amanee Clark, didn’t score again until Ellasa Horton put in a pair of free throws in the third quarter.

“I was very pleased with the way the girls played defense tonight,” said Tigers coach Gregg Groen. “We knew East can be quick off the dribble and find their way to the rim, but our girls did a great job anchoring the outside and slowing them down.

“East has talented girls over there and we wanted to just slow them down. They were without one of their better players, however. We were able to do what we wanted and we have always talked about doing the little things right, especially on defense, and they did tonight. Those little things make a big difference.”

When East found a good shot against the Cedar Falls defense, the Trojans couldn’t get it to fall during a frustrating offensive night.

“We have struggled this year with playing hard through all four quarters,” Emerson Green said of her Tiger squad. “We knew we would have to play better and put four strong quarters together against East. They play very hard and are a very scrappy team and we just had to be better defensively.

“We needed to work better at identifying who we have to guard and tonight I believe our defense did a very good job of that.”

Green was just as effective on the offensive side as she led Cedar Falls with 20 points. Anaya Barney added 18 points and also had several blocked shots and steals from the defensive side of the court.

“Cedar Falls is a tough team and very solid,” East coach William Muhammad said. “We knew we would have to take care of the ball better than we have and get a better flow on offense.

“They had a height difference on us that made things very difficult. It is what it is and we just have to take care of what we can take care of. Win or lose, we have to do better and clean some things up.”

Cedar Falls 61, Wat. East 20

CEDAR FALLS (9-0) — Emerson Green 7 3-4 20, Anaya Barney 7 1-2 18, Sarah Albaugh 3 0-0 6, McKenna Gleason 3 0-0 6, Lexie Godfrey 0 1-2 1, Akacia Brown 3 0-0 6, Tjaden Petersen 1 0-0 2, Emmey Sherbon 1 0-0 2, Skylar Boerhave 0 0-0 0, Sydney Remmert 0 0-0 0, Alivia Bronner 0 0-0 0, Kaitlyn Harris 0 0-0 0, Madison Hurley 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 5-8 61.

WATERLOO EAST (1-6) — Ellasa Horton 2 3-3 7, Kerris Roberts 2 3-6 7, Nia Crowley 0 0-0 0, Madison Whitson 0 1-4 1, Havelyn Anderson 0 2-2 2, Aaliyah Franklin 0 1-2 1, Key’Lajaha Jefferson-Putman 0 0-0 0, Jessica Hyke 0 0-0 0, Erion Gafeney 1 0-0 2, Marshay Polk 0 0-0 0. Totals 5 10-17 20.

Cedar Falls 23 20 12 6 — 61

Wat. East 5 0 2 13 — 20

3-point goals — Cedar Falls 6 (Barney 3, Green 3), East 0. Total fouls — Cedar Falls 17, East 12. Fouled out — none.

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