CLINTON — It wasn’t pretty, but all that matters is winning.
That was the first thing to come out of Clinton coach Nick Lawrence’s mouth following a 51-45 boys basketball win over Davenport Assumption on Tuesday night.
“Coming into this game, this was again a scary game for us,” Lawrence said. “Assumption is one of those teams where they may not have the talent, but you know their effort on both ends of the floor is second to none.”
Lawrence said the River Kings played sound basketball for 29 or so minutes, but the latter three became a bit dicey.
“We were making careless mistakes when we were up 10, but at the end we found ways to get the job done,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence ruled out the team being nervous as one of the reasons, as it could have been with past teams.
“Not as much as it was in the past,” Lawrence said. “It certainly makes you sit on the edge of your seat a little, but I’m confident that our team has gotten over that. It was a total team effort tonight.
“We just gradually got better as the game went on,” Lawrence said “I thought we had some good looks, but we had all kinds of guys step up and do what they needed.”
Even though the River Kings never surrendered the lead, the Knights cut Clinton’s lead to three at around the five-minute mark in the fourth quarter.
Brady Ernst and Jalen Jones blocked some shots, fouls started to tally and those who were sent to the free-throw line hit their shots. Clinton shot 16-for-23 as a whole from the free-throw line.
The usual suspects for the River Kings — Ernst and Jones — scored 36 of the team’s 51 points. Ernst also contributed with 14 rebounds. Jones scored 21; Ernst posted 15 points.
“Brady came to play tonight,” Lawrence said. “He controlled the defensive end of the floor tonight, especially on the glass. He set the tone blocking as many shots as he did; he was a spark plug.”
Meanwhile, Jones started out the second quarter nailing a trio of 3-pointers, starting a 15-point quarter for the River Kings.
Derrick Howard also scored 11 for Clinton, including seven points from the free-throw line. Jon Cady was the only other River King to score, with four points.
Evan Wadsager led Davenport Assumption with 15 points, seven from the free-throw line.
The game came following a pair of cancelled school days because of the Arctic chill that swept over most of the country. Some teams do tend to come out complacent, but Lawrence said he thought neither team fell victim to that Tuesday.
“Assumption had to show up and do the same thing that we did, so it possibly could have; it’s possible that it didn’t,” Lawrence said. “In that type of setting, you really need to be much more focused on what you need to do on the court.”
The River Kings did have a shootaround earlier Tuesday morning, and Clinton guard Ashley Jones said it was needed to wake up the team.
“I would have slept in if we didn’t have the shootaround this morning,” he said. “It felt really weird playing with no school, but I adjusted to it and did fine.”
Jones knew how big this win could mean for the River Kings at the moment.
“I had this game circled on my calendar when the season started, so this was a big win for us,” Jones said.
CLINTON 51, DAVENPORT ASSUMPTION 45
DAVENPORT ASSUMPTION (4-5, 2-3 MAC) — Adam Rouse 1 0-0 3, Ryan Coughlin 0 0-0 0, Hunter Grenier 4 0-2 8, Tim Doyle 2 0-1 5, Evan Wadsager 3 3-10 15, Roman Youngblut 2 2-3 6, Jack Schwirtz 2 0-0 4, Jordan Allen 1 2-2 4. Totals 15 11-18 45.
CLINTON (6-2, 3-1 MAC) — Robbie Thacker 0 0-0 0, Zach Pope 0 0-1 0, Jalen Jones 7 4-6 21, Jon Cady 2 0-0 4, Ashley Jones 0 0-0 0, Derrick Howard 2 7-9 11, Thomas Smith 0 0-0 0, Brady Ernst 5-6 15. Totals 14 16-23 51.
Assumption 9 11 9 16 — 45
Clinton 10 15 8 18 — 51
3-point goals — Assumption 4 (Wadsager 2, Doyle, Rouse); Clinton 3 (J. Jones 3). Assumption 18, Clinton 15. Fouled out — Youngblut.