By Dan Angell
For the Herald
The pacing of their offense wasn't the Clinton River Queens' problem in their 45-26 loss to Davenport West on Friday night. Nor was it their ability to set up a good look at the basket.
The problem was that no matter where they were on the court, the River Queens couldn't get their shots to go down.
Clinton managed to sink just 10 shots for the game, with only one of them coming from somebody besides senior Erin Wenzel and sophomore Elle Tubbs. Despite a solid performance from the defense, the River Queens' offense never gave Clinton a chance, allowing the Falcons to gradually pull away for the win at Davenport West High School.
“Nothing was falling tonight, and we didn't play the game that we wanted to play,” Wenzel said. “That was not River Queen basketball at all, and when shots don't fall, it's hard to win a game.”
Wenzel's 13 points were enough to lead the River Queens (3-10, 2-8 MAC), and Tubbs added 10, but the rest of the Clinton offense kept firing and missing all night long. Hannah Burken was the only other Clinton player to make a shot from the field, and it didn't come until just 1:28 remained in the contest. By that time, the Falcons (5-8, 5-5) had long ago sealed their victory.
“We have to have some more players step up and be offensive threats, either from the inside or the outside,” Clinton coach Mike Halac said. “Scoring 26 points isn't going to get you a win in the MAC. Our other three starters had three points, and we have to score more. We took more shots than they did, so we need to put the ball in the hole.”
Many of the River Queens' misses came on putbacks from inside the paint, which left Halac frustrated as multiple looks at the basket continuously resulted in no points. Meanwhile, with Clinton focused on denying shots to guards Brooke Garnica and McKenzie Dunn, the lane opened up for West junior Savannah Allen, who didn't miss her easy looks at the basket.
Allen finished with 18 points to lead all scorers, more than enough to offset the River Queens' work in holding Garnica and Dunn to a combined 12.
“She's a very good player,” Wenzel said. “We had to step up and take a few charges, which none of us did. That's on us.”
That allowed the Falcons to gradually build their cushion to double digits, and once that happened, West seized the opportunity to let the air out of the ball. On every possession, the Falcons played keep away and forced the River Queens to chase, using up much of the clock in the process. With no choice but to play at West's tempo in the second half, Clinton rushed its shots for the remainder of the game and went almost 12 minutes without making a shot after a Tubbs 3-pointer at the 5:08 mark of the third quarter.
“They had the opportunity to do it, and we didn't pressure the way we should have,” Halac said. “We talked about if they got up, they would go into a stall. That's very typical of West, so when that happens, we need to be more denial, and we weren't able to do that. It looked like our legs were a little slow tonight.”
Indeed, the River Queens seemed to be a step behind the Falcons all night long, which left them disappointed as a winnable game became their eighth conference loss of the season.
“We did not have any energy out there tonight,” Tubbs said. “If we could have brought that to the gym, we'd have had a lot more to work with.”
DAVENPORT WEST 45, CLINTON 26
CLINTON (3-10, 2-8) — Erin Wenzel 6 1-2 13, Elle Tubbs 3 2-4 10, Hannah Burken 1 0-2 2, McKenzie Petersen 0 1-2 1, Jordan Nelson 0 0-1 0. Totals 10 4-11 26.
WEST (5-8, 5-5) — Savannah Allen 6 5-6 18, Brooke Garnica 3 2-3 10, Rachel Stewart 0 2-2 2, Mariah Mayfield 5 0-0 11, McKenzie Dunn 1 0-0 2, Adaira Madden 0 2-2 2. Totals 15 11-13 45.
Clinton 6 12 5 3 — 26
West 12 12 10 11 — 45
3-point goals — Clinton 2 (Tubbs 2); Davenport West 4 (Garnica 2, Mayfield, Allen).