DAVENPORT — Pushing the tempo is always a large part of Clinton boys basketball coach Nick Lawrence’s strategy.
On Tuesday night in their 83-44 win over Davenport North, the River Kings went for the gas from the beginning of the contest — and it paid off for them in a big way.
Clinton opened the game on a 16-1 run and never let the Wildcats back into the game, using their outside-inside combination of guard Jalen Jones and center Brady Ernst to overwhelm Davenport North. Jones finished with 28 points and Ernst added 18 in three quarters of action, as the River Kings’ reserves played the entire fourth quarter in the blowout at North High School.
“Coming into every game, we emphasize the first three or four minutes of each half,” Lawrence said. “(We want to) set the tone for the half right off the bat, and I think we established that tonight. We made a great run to start the game and built off that momentum. Guys played a little more relaxed, and we’re going to play with pace all year long. It was a nice bounce-back win for us.”
After a pair of setbacks last week against third-rated Dubuque Senior and No. 4 North Scott, Clinton (4-2, 1-1 MAC) was eager to redeem itself against a North squad that it had beaten by 40 points at home on Dec. 7. Quickly, the River Kings made sure to prove to the Wildcats (1-3, 0-2) that nothing had changed in the past 10 days. In fact, the only difference was that Clinton knew exactly what it needed to do to establish itself from the opening whistle.
“We were a little more prepared for them this time, and we knew how their guys played,” Jones said. “We wanted to get a lot of pressure and get some easy layups on the break.”