DAVENPORT — The final eight minutes of Tuesday night’s contest against Davenport North went about as well as the Clinton River Queens could have hoped.
But just like it was a week ago in a loss to Bettendorf, the start of the game was a different story — and the result was both a familiar and painful one for Clinton.
This time, the Wildcats ripped off 20 consecutive points to turn a two-point Clinton lead into a runaway, and by the time the River Queens recovered, it was far too late and the hole was too deep to escape. Despite scoring 26 of the game’s final 29 points, Clinton never came close to a comeback and ultimately became the Wildcats’ first MAC victim since 2011, dropping a 73-56 decision on Tuesday night at Davenport North High School.
“The sloppy second quarter got us,” Clinton coach Mike Halac said. “It hurt us from the start that we didn’t come out with the energy we wanted. I’m really disappointed because this was a game where we wanted to come in and do some nice things, but it didn’t happen for us tonight.”
A large reason was because the Wildcats (2-4, 1-2 MAC) knew the River Queens’ biggest weakness and made sure to exploit it at every possibility. Clinton (1-6, 0-3) was playing its second game without primary ballhandler Jordan Nelson after her injury a week ago against Bettendorf, and North coach Ron O’Brien elected to use his team’s speed to harass the River Queens’ less-experienced ball-handlers and hope to force mistakes.
“We knew their strength is their inside game,” O’Brien said. “We wanted to take advantage of that, put pressure on the ball and create some opportunities.”
The Wildcats’ strategy worked to perfection. Instead of Erin Wenzel and McKenzie Petersen getting the ball in the low post, where they could be most effective, their first touch often came near the top of the key, leading to several turnovers that became easy North baskets.