LJ Henderson

Carie Kuehn/Clinton Herald

CLINTON-- It was the second time this regular season Clinton has been swept by Pleasant Valley, but this time it was endured at home.

The No. 8 Spartans handled the girls with ease, while the boys bounced back in a surprisingly close game that ended in heartbreak for Clinton. It was one of the last home games Clinton will play before entering the postseason. 

It was Senior Night for the boys swimming team and the cheerleaders tonight, while the basketball teams will celebrate their recognition Saturday afternoon. 

KINGS SLIP IN FINAL SECONDS

In their last ten games, the River Kings now have three games that have finished with less than a ten point spread. For the third time, they fell just on the wrong side of it.

Friday it ended in a loss to 37-34 loss to Pleasant Valley, where Clinton got off the last two shots. When the two teams met earlier this season, Pleasant Valley walked away with the 54-25 victory. 

"I was really proud of our fight tonight," head coach Troy Ersland said. "After a tough game on Wednesday, for these guys to bounce back. Our word we talked about before the game was resilience, and I thought that was what we were tonight."

Both LJ Henderson and Max Holy put up threes in the final 27 seconds of the game. Holy, who is leading the team in threes this season, put up a long distance shot at the buzzer that looked good but rimmed in and out. 

"I don't know how that shot didn't go in," Ersland said. 

With under two minutes remaining, the Kings were trailing by just three, 35-32. Junior LJ Henderson managed to draw the shooting foul and drained both to put them within one.

On the other end, Frederick Williams pulled down a big rebound in the thick of things, but no score. The Spartans put in free throws on a foul. The next possession was scoreless for Clinton too, which led to another foul to stop the clock. PV missed those free throws, giving Henderson and Holy the three-point attempts at the end. 

"I thought all around this was our best complete game," Ersland said. "For us to bounce back, it's shown how far we've come since we played PV last time."

The Kings (2-15) will celebrate Senior Night on Saturday, following up the girls' contest with Davenport North with one of their own. They'll travel on Monday to makeup a game with Muscatine.

COLD SHOOTING HAUNTS QUEENS

It was a cold offensive night for the River Queens, but that was to be expected against one of the top teams in the state.

Pleasant Valley beat Clinton by over thirty points the first time they met, and finished a regular season sweep with a 50-15 win Friday night. The Spartans are ranked No. 8 in Class 5A.

Clinton was held scoreless for over five minutes before Megan Gandrup put in a three. They were trailing 10-5 after the first quarter, but then they went on another five minute scoring drought before another Gandrup three.

Spartan threes added up and all of a sudden the game was wide open and PV took the 23-10 lead at the half. Despite patient offense with few turnovers, the Queens just could not find a way to score.

"We had a lot less turnovers," head coach Stacy Clark said. "The last time we played them they stole it right off the top and would go and shoot a layup and we didn't have that. But they're right out of shooters and quicker than a lot of teams we see, too."

The Queen's defense worked hard all night, and managed to keep Pleasant Valley players to manageable numbers for the most part.

The River Queens will return to Yourd Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon, taking on Davenport North in a Mississippi Athletic Conference matchup for Senior Night at noon. That will be their last regular season game.

Clinton (8-9) gets to take on Maquoketa at home to start the postseason next Wednesday, a team they've already beaten once this season. Clark is feeling good heading into the substate brackets with the way her team is playing right now.

"This group of girls, they can rise to the occasion and take care of business for us," Clark said. "With the matchup we got, it won't be easy, but they'll take on the challenge head first."