The Clinton girls basketball team struggled in their first competition of 2019.
But then again, a preseason scrimmage doesn’t need to be pretty. It needs to show teams where they’re at.
Clinton opened up for the second consecutive year with a scrimmage against non-conference Northeast. Last year they won the contest. This year, the Rebels claimed a 55-28 victory.
For Rebel head coach Johnny Driscoll, it was his first win at the helm of the program. Even if it was a scrimmage, it felt good.
“I was pretty pleased with how the girls handled everything,” Driscoll said. “We want to push the pace, put a lot of pressure, push the ball up the court. I was pretty impressed with first game.”
The Rebels controlled he page of the game from the first whistle, trapping in the corners and pressuring the Queens on the outside.
It worked, with the Queens turning the ball over 22 times during the first half alone. That led to a lot of easy baskets for the Rebels, while they held the Queens to just six points in the first half.
“It’s always be the aggressor,” Driscoll said. “We have a pretty deep bench, so when people get tired we can give then a break if they need.”
Driscoll has the luxury of a deep bench this year, working with a number of athletes. Some of those are returning with varsity minutes, while others are fresh to the scene. Either way, by the fourth quarter their legs still looked fresh thanks to the substitution pattends.
“We’re trying to feed off of that,” Driscoll said. “We want to wear down the other team and capitalize on what we’re trying to do.”
Clinton head coach Cathy Marx was also coaching her first competition in control of the River Queens. She wasn’t focused on the end result of the preseason contest.
“I had to tell the girls that this is a scrimmage,” Marx said. “It gave us an idea of what we need to be working on in practice because we don’t get to play each other this hard.”
The Queens came out tight. They were able to muster just one point in the first quarter, taking a 9-1 deficit into the second period.
Even then they came out in the second and turned the ball over twice before getting a shot up, part of their 22 turnovers in the half.
“We know we’re going to get pressed,” Marx said. “We know the people on the bench will have to be ready. It’s using our time and honing in what we need tow work on.
Then, it took to the four minute mark for Elle Davis to hit a three. The next play, Rylie Mussman found Makenzie Cooley on the right block for a basket. Those marked their first two – and their only two – field goals of the first half.
The River Queens came out looking stronger in the second half. Compared to their 22 first half turnovers, they had just five in the second half. The Northeast defense had backed off a little, but the Queens also looked more comfortable on the court.
They have, afterall, had just nine practices together.
“Our girls, they just calmed down,” Marx said. “They were so nervous and uptight and we haven’t played together. We’re all still getting to know each other.”
They hit multiple shots from beyond the arc in the second, picking up the majority of their points from the three-point line. Makenzie Cooley also battled at the block for a number of offensive rebounds and kick outs.
Threes will be crucial for the Queens, especially when they start Mississippi Athletic Conference play.
“We just have to build her [Cooley] up and then the outside will be open,” Marx said. “We need that inside-outside game.”
With just a little over a week of practices under their belt, both squads will now be looking at what they need to improve on before opening their actual season. Northeast will play at Cascade on Tuesday, while welcoe Cedar Rapids Jefferson to Yourd Gymnasium the same night.
“We need to up our practice intensity,” Marx said. “Because this is what we’re going to have every night in our games.”