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March 11, 2014

All-MAC boys basketball Jones, Ernst nab league honors

DAVENPORT — Jalen Jones and Brady Ernst certainly lived up to their billing during the boys basketball season, and the honors are coming in for them in the postseason.

Jones, who before the season signed a letter-of-intent to play at NCAA Division I Nebraska-Omaha, and Ernst, who almost certainly will join Jones playing at the highest collegiate level after he graduates next year, both represented Clinton High School on the All-Missisippi Athletic Conference first team when the honors were announced Monday.

“It’s definitely a credit to those guys and the time and effort they put in,” Clinton coach Nick Lawrence said. “I’m pleased with the seasons both had. They brought a lot to the table, not just statistics, but as leaders of the team.”

Jones, a 6-foot-5 senior, and Ernst, a 6-8 junior, joined Bettendorf seniors Nicholas Baer and Cole Clearman on the first team, along with North Scott juniors Cortez Seales and Marlon Stewart, and Pleasant Valley sophomore William Carius. Baer, who led the Bulldogs to the state tournament and a share of the conference title with North Scott, was named Player of the Year.

Seales ranked second in scoring to Jones (17.3 points a game). Carius was fourth in scoring at 16.7 points and second in rebounding (9.7), while Baer averaged 13.9 points and 8.4 rebounds. Stewart averaged 13.7 points, Clearman 12.1.

The conference changed its all-conference format this season, scrapping the old system of three teams of six players each, plus honorable mention, and going with two seven-man teams plus honorable mention.

“I like the format we have now,” Lawrence said. “I think it’s much more distinguished.”

Jones and Ernst probably would have been first-team picks under any system.

Jones led the conference in scoring at 19.3 points a game in 16 conference contests.

“I think Jalen’s biggest area of improvement was mentally how he approached the game and handled games,” Lawrence said. “He was definitely a much better player than in the past. His whole game was enhanced. He looked to attack the rim lot more than in the past. He did a lot for the team. He played very unselfish.”

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