The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Sports

January 18, 2014

Kings cruise after 27-0 start

CLINTON — Getting off to a good start is something Clinton boys basketball coach Nick Lawrence preaches in practice on a daily basis. His River Kings jumped to a 27-0 lead Friday night, propelling them to an easy 69-28 win over Davenport West at Yourd Gym.

Senior forward Jalen Jones came out firing on all cylinders, knocking down three 3-point baskets in the opening quarter. Fellow senior Jon Cady added eight points. The highlight of the quarter came on a Brady Ernst two-handed dunk that gave Clinton (8-4, 5-2) a 25-0 advantage.

“We emphasize the first few minutes of each half, and that’s two games in a row now where we’ve gotten off to incredible starts,” Lawrence said. He was referring the Clinton’s 33-point barrage in the opening quarter Tuesday night in a 75-41 win over Muscatine.

Davenport West finally got on the board with a Michael Evans layup at the 7-minute mark in the second quarter. Clinton answered with a 3-pointer from Cady and a two-handed slam by Jones to up the lead to 34-6 midway through the quarter.

Lawrence and Jones had nothing but praise for Cady, who scored all 14 of his points in the first half.

“All year he has done a nice job for us. He’s de-fending really well and is active on offense; he’s just oozing with confidence,” Lawrence said.

Jones, who pitched in 17 points, six rebounds and five assists, said, “He was a huge spark for us early with the offensive rebounds which led to some easy buckets.”

It was Ernst who sprung to life early in the third. Playing in front of University of Wisconsin assistant coach Gary Close, the 6-foot-8 junior scored the first 10 points in the quarter, including a pair of dunks. An alley-oop from Jones to Ernst put the River Kings in front 50-12. Ernst finished with a game-high 22 points, eight rebounds and six blocks.

The closest Davenport West came the rest of the way was 51-23 after an 11-1 run to end the third quarter. Junior guard Nasir Shabazz led the Falcons with 15 points, including a 12-foot jumper at the buzzer in the third.

Clinton’s trio returned to the court at the start of the fourth quarter and quickly stretched out the lead for the final time. Two blocks by Jones led to a one-handed flush by sophomore guard Derrick Howard, who pitched in nine points.

The River Kings have a week off before traveling to Pleasant Valley next Friday. Lawrence’s team has come up short against several top teams in the state, but they’re ready for the next round of conference games.

“Being able to take care of the teams you’re supposed to beat is big,” Lawrence said. “Moving forward, we have to go out on the road and prove we can beat the teams in the upper half of the conference.”

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