By Zach James
Assistant Sports Editor
Always respect your opponents.
That's what the Clinton River Kings learned Friday night against Camanche, leading at the half 32-30 but ending up winning 77-45 to advance to the River City Classic championship against Davenport North this afternoon.
"That was the least-inspired basketball we played in the first half," Kings coach Nick Lawrence said. "Give credit where it's due to Camanche, who came out and played with a lot of heart. We didn't.
"I guess we came out thinking that once we stepped onto the court that it was going to be a surefire win. Well, we told them all week long that it wasn't the case. I was really disappointed with how they played."
The Indians made 14 field goals in the first half, including four 3-pointers in the first quarter alone. Camanche also managed to place Jalen Jones on the bench with three first-half fouls, but to Clinton's credit, it had guys step up when called upon.
Zach Pope scored six points in the second quarter while Jones was on the bench, and Brady Ernst had seven points in the second quarter of his 20 total.
"That's part of the game," Lawrence said. "You have to get used to playing without key guys, and we had guys that made some plays, so really emphasize the defensive side of the gameplan at halftime, and they responded."
Once the second half started, it was all Kings. In fact, Clinton held Camanche scoreless until the one-minute mark in the third quarter. The Kings scored 25 to Camanche's 10.
"We referenced our game on Tuesday, and we came out to push the ball and force turnovers, which is what we want to be known for, and we did do that much better in the second half," Lawrence said.
Camanche scored just four made field goals toward the end of the third quarter, including three from sophomore Wilson Seeser.
The fourth quarter wasn't as fortunate for Camanche, as it scored just five in the final frame while Clinton's bench players scored 18 in the final eight minutes.
"Clinton really turned up the defensive pressure in the third quarter," Camanche head coach Josh Davis said. "They really played the way they're capable of; their length really gave us problems. We just had way too many turnovers.
"We don't see that kind of length in our conference, and that hurt us," Davis said.
For the River Kings, now that they've won, their eye is taking the pride in winning their home tournament.
"I've been on both sides of this tournament," Lawrence said. "I played at Prince of Peace, and our main goal was to knock Clinton out. Teams want to come beat us on our home floor, and we know that going in."
Clinton faces Davenport North at 2:30 this afternoon in Yourd Gym.
CLINTON 77, CAMANCHE 45
CAMANCHE (0-2) — Brady Beal 3 0-0 8, Seth Boysen 3 0-1 7, Brody Lodge 1 0-0 2, Derek Harksen 1 0-1 2, Tanner Atkinson 1 1-2 4, Dylan Busse 1 0-2 2, Blake Bialas 2 0-0 5, Devon Belk 1 0-1 2, Wilson Seeser 4 4-4 13, Harsh Patel 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 5-10 45.
CLINTON (2-0) — Zach Pope 4 2-4 11, Jalen Jones 4 0-0 10, Jon Cady 5 0-0 10, Howard 4 2-3 10, Brady Ernst 7 6-12 20, Ashley Jones 3 0-0 7, Jakob Faur 0 0-0 0, Thomas Smith 1 1-2 3, Colin Nelson 1 1-3 3, Justin Horst 1 0-0 3. Totals 30 12-24 77.
Camanche 16 14 10 5 — 45
Clinton 15 17 25 20 — 77
3-point goals — Clinton 5 (J. Jones 2, Pope, A. Jones, Horst); Camanche 6 (Beal 2, Boysen, Atkinson, Bialas, Seeser). Technicals — J. Jones. Fouled out — J. Jones.