A 20-6 third-quarter burst shoved the Pleasant Valley High School girls basketball team past the Clinton River Queens 48-39 in a Mississippi Athletic Conference battle Friday night in W.J. Yourd Gymnasium. It was the second victory of the season for the Spartans over Clinton, having defeated the Queens 68-42 earlier in the year at Pleasant Valley.

The loss dropped Clinton to a 5-7 overall record, 3-6 in conference action. Pleasant Valley moved up to 8-4 overall and 7-2 in loop play.

After trailing 17-5 with less than two minutes remaining in the opening period, coach Mike Halac’s River Queens pulled within six at 17-11 by the end of the quarter, then held the Spartans to just two points in the second period, a field goal by Aija Johnson with 4:58 remaining in the quarter. Clinton pulled within one point by halftime, 19-18.

Sophomore Erin Wenzel used a two-point field goal to send Clinton in front 20-19 as second-half play got under way but nine unanswered points by Pleasant Valley put the Spartans in control, 28-20. The Spartans outscored the River Queens 11-4 in the final 3 1/2 minutes of the period for a 39-24 Pleasant Valley lead as the fourth quarter got under way.

The River Queens outscored the visitors 15-9 in the final period but could not pull any closer than 12 points, 42-30 and 44-32. The Spartans held a 16-point spread, 48-32, before Larissa Brewer put in a pair of two-point field goals and Jordan Nelson a 3-pointer to round out the scoring.

“This was a much different game than the one at our place,” Pleasant Valley coach Jennifer Goetz said. “They have some big bodies and work hard. The coach (Mike Halac) is doing a fine job with them. They handled the ball well and played better defense.”

Halac said: “Our defense did a great job in challenging them and forcing shots. Brewer did a good job with 22 points, nine rebounds, two steals a blocked shot and an assist. We started slow in the first quarter, then battled  back in the second. We started slow again in the third quarter and battled back in the fourth. We will have to start doing better at the free-throw line.

“(Julie) Rutenbeck played a phenomenal defensive game,” Halac said. “We were outrebounded 32-28, but Julie pulled down eight of them. She also had three steals. We only had seven assists, with Paige (Barsema) and Julie (Rutenbeck) having two each. Barsema had six rebounds and a steal. I thought we worked hard and had a great defensive effort. They are starting to believe in being first on the floor in getting rebounds and loose balls. Teams will know they have to fight when coming to our place.

“We can’t allow ourselves to give up runs like we did tonight,” he said. “We played an excellent 28 minutes, but the four minutes that hurt us cost us the game tonight. We are very excited about the improvement the players have made, and we look forward to battling it out with Camanche (this) afternoon for a non-conference local showdown.

“As always, the girls continue to show that no one will outwork us, and the assistant coaches did an amazing job once again of providing game-changing strategy,” Halac said.

Brewer, averaging 13.4 points a game, took game scoring honors with her 22-point effort. No other River Queen had more than six. Lexi Spelhaug arched in four 3-point baskets and added a free to lead the Spartans with 13.

Today’s Clinton-Camanche sophomore game gets under way at 1 p.m. with the varsity tip-off at approximately 2:30.


PLEASANT VALLEY (8-4, 7-2) — Morgan Waterman 0 0-0 0, Lexi Spelhaug 4 1-2 13, Chloe Miller 2 0-1 4, Maddie Reynolds 2 0-0 4, Katelyn Tuttle 2 4-4 8, Aija Johnson 4 0-0 8, Sydney Dwyer 2 0-0 6, Holly Hoelting 1 0-0 3, Megan Paustian 1 0-0 2, Abby Elceser 0 0-0 0.

CLINTON (5-7, 3-6) — Erin Wenzel 1 0-0 2, Karly Schneeberger 0 0-0 0, Jordan Nelson 2 0-0 6, Mallory Horner 1 0-0 2, Paige Barsema 0 2-4 2, Kerstyn Davis 0 1-2 1, Julie Rutenbeck 1 2-2 4, Larissa Brewer 9 4-10 22, Libby Mumm 0 0-0 0.

Pleasant Valley    17    2    20    9 — 48

Clinton    11    7    6    15 — 39

3-point goals — Pleasant Valley 7 (Spelhaug 4, Dwyer 2, Hoelting 1), Clinton 2 (Nelson 2). Total fouls — Pleasant Valley 12, Clinton 12. Fouled out — None.