CLINTON — On Monday, as was the case last season, the River Queens debuted with a non-conference clash against Dubuque Hempstead. Within the first two minutes of play, Elle Tubbs demonstrated how this year's squad is already a step above last year's 5-17 team.
The sophomore wing slashed into the post for the game's opening bucket, drawing contact and draining Clinton's first free throw of the season. Tubbs then rolled out on the right edge on the next possession and swished a three-pointer to give the River Queens a 6-1 edge. Her early output alone accounted for more points than last year's third and fourth quarters against Hempstead, which resulted in a 57-21 blowout in Dubuque.
Although Clinton still opened the season 0-1, falling 56-40, Mustangs' coach Justin Smith acknowledged that this year's Queens are ready to make more noise.
"They are a much better team this year than last year," Smith said. "They shoot the ball well... I told their coach that they're going to have a nice team this year."
Hempstead quickly regained control as Danielle Wagner's layup at the 4 minute mark gave the Mustangs an 8-6 lead they never relinquished. But even as the deficit ballooned to as large as 20 during the game, Clinton coach Mike Halac said Hempstead could never quite settle behind another blowout.
"I think we're miles ahead of where we were last year," Halac said. "The girls came in and have had a great attitude all season. We want to get out there and compete with everyone and I feel like the girls did a real nice job competing tonight."
-Watch Jordan Nelson drive to the basket for the foul and one.
Jordan Nelson led the way with 11 points, followed by Tubbs' 10. Senior center Erin Wenzel grabbed 15 rebounds, and freshman forward McKenzie Petersen finished with 8 points.