CLINTON—The Easton Valley River Hawks shut down Prince of Peace’s offense after the first quarter and took the 57-29 victory at Central Catholic Auditorium Tuesday night in the teams’ first game back after the holidays.
“Overall I’m very pleased with our performance,” Easton Valley Coach Joe Kilburg said following the game. “With the first game coming out of break I figured we would be a little slower to start with. Their effort is always there.”
For Prince of Peace, who is still looking for their first win of the season, it wasn’t quite the performance they were hoping for.
“We played tentative basketball,” Irish Coach Dave Nelson said. “We’re making headway. We switched up positions and tried to modify things and get different people with the ball more. We have a long way to go.”
Easton Valley came out in the fourth quarter with a 19 point lead, and put up the first six points to lead the Irish 48-23. Blount put in a basket, but Sadie Zaruba hit a big 3-point field goal and Kennedy Thines followed it up with a layup for the 53-25 advantage.
“We still have way too many turnovers and we didn’t crash the boards like we needed to,” Nelson said. “Part of our problem has been basketball IQ. Athletically we’re making some good decisions but it’s the other pieces of the game we aren’t putting together yet.”
The River Hawks would keep the significant lead the rest of the game.
“We played a new defense that we just learned to use our athleticism and keep people out of foul trouble,” said Kilburg said. “It seemed to work well for us. Sometimes we stop pushing the ball but we did it tonight through everything that was thrown at us tonight.”
It wasn’t a blow out the entire game. It took almost four minutes for Prince of Peace to score, but a basket from Anabel Blount put them on the board and gave them the lead 2-1. Easton Valley’s Thines put in a three, but Emma Kuehl responded with a basket of her own to tie things up at 4-4.
“Their defense has really improved since the first time we played,” Kilburg said. Thines had 15 points for the River Hawks, 11 of them in the first half. “Kennedy [Thines] really gave us a pulse the first half.”
Blount drew a foul to take the 6-5 lead, followed by a jumped from Thines. Paige Kuehl then beat the Easton Valley defense down the floor and put it in for the 7-6 lead. The Irish only trailed the River Hawks 10-7 after the first eight minutes.
The River Hawks found life in the second and led the Irish 30-14 at the half.
“We tried to mix it up and went to a box and one and take away one of their better players and did a pretty decent job,” Nelson said. “As the game progressed we lost several of their other shooters and they dropped several threes on us.”
The Irish, who have struggled offensively all season, were led by Anabel Blount with nine. Both Isabel Hansen and Paige Kuehl added eight a piece.
“We don’t have enough selfish players is our biggest challenge,” Nelson said about his offense. “There’s too much standing around and we’re tentative about attacking. It’s a perception of being a ball hog and hopefully that will come with time.”
Easton Valley was led by Thines’ 15 and and another 15 from Zaruba. RaeAnn Carlson, Kierra Messerich and Sydney McNeil each added six to the offensive mix.
Easton Valley improves to 6-5 on the season and will play North Linn on the road this Friday. Prince of Peace falls to 0-12 and takes on Maquoketa Valley on the road on Friday.