CLINTON – In the final minutes of play, the Clinton girls basketball team faltered.

Not much, but just enough to fall on the wrong end of a close game. In their season and home opener in Yourd Gymansium Tuesday night, they fell 28-27 to Cedar Rapids Jefferson to open up their 2019-2020 campaign.

The River Queens actually out-scored the J-Hawks in every quarter except one, but that one proved to be the undoing.”

“The story was heart and hustle, period,” head coach Cathy Marx said. “I am over the moon with these ladies.

Off an inbounds play, Molly Shannon hit a short jumper to give the River Queens a 27-26 lead with under a minute to play. The game had gone back and forth the entire last period.

But then the J-Hawks found an opening on the baseline and hit a layup to take the lead right back.

The River Queens still had 34 seconds left to make a play, and they called a timeout to do so. A messy play to throw the ball in left Elle Davis trapped on the baseline, and another turnover – the ninth of the fourth quarter – was committed.

That forced Clinton to foul. Jefferson missed both free throw attempts, but the River Queens couldn’t get a handle on the ball thanks to a scrappy J-Hawk press and no more shots were taken before the final buzzer.

Marx wasn’t worried about the late turnovers.

“We’ve only known each other for 11 practices,” Marx said. “What I saw tonight, I can’t teach, but I can do X’s and O’s off of that.”

It was a highly defensive game all around, with Clinton putting together a much more solid effort compared to their preseason scrimmage just a week ago in Goose Lake.

The first four minutes of the game were scoreless until Rylie Mussman drained a three to kick off the Clinton offense.

The next play Mussman found a wide open Molly Shannon on the weak side for an easy bank shot, and that 5-3 lead would hold until the first quarter was over.

The J-Hawks were the ones with the lead at the half, going into the locker room up 12-10,

Elle Davis hit a three right out of the gates in the third quarter, three of her team-high eight points.

From there, it was a battle through the end. The River Queens scrapped all night in the paint for rebounds against the tall J-Hawks, with Makenzie Cooley looking impressive. She pulled down 16 boards throughout the night.

“She was in beast mode,” Marx said. “She kept her feet moving and you can’t teach that. She was just going after the ball and and heart and hustle.”

The J-Hawks started a press in the second half that gave the River Queens fits. They have 16 turnovers in the second half compared to just seven in the first.

“I think it’s people just getting used to playing their positions and playing at this level,” Marx said. “It’s all exciting.”

The River Queens (0-1) will now break for the holiday. They return to action next Tuesday night, traveling to Mississippi Athletic Conference opponent Davenport West for their second contest of the season.

Irish win opener

CALAMUS – The Prince of Peace girls basketball team started off the season on the right foot on Tuesday night, taking down a Tri-Rivers Conference opponent on the road.

The Irish squeaked past Calamus-Wheatland 53-47.

After being tied at the half and down going into the fourth, the Irish outscored the Warriors 17-8 to finish off the game.

Prince of Peace (1-0) will stay on the road, traveling to Alburnett next Tuesday.

Indians falter on road

MONTICELLO – The Camanche girls couldn’t quite keep up with a powerful Monticello team on Tuesday, falling 59-35.

The Indians were within ten of the Panthers at the halfbut only scored six points in the third quarter to fall back to a 20 point deficit.

“Monticello is a huge team,” head coach Andrew Carbajal said. “We surprised them at half but when you play a team of that caliber they can make corrections and execute.”

Aubrey Carstensen put up eight points and Tarah Wehde six, both scoring all of theirs in the first half. Erin Shorts nad Emy Seeser also had six points each.

“Our ladies did a good job of implementing our defensive plan but ultimately we had issues with their size,” Carbajal said. “We competed well and will be heading back tot he drawing board as we prepare for Cascade.”

That Cascade game will take place in a week and a half, the Indians (0-1) welcoming the Cougars next Friday.

No. 1 Cascade downs Rebels

CASCADE – The Northeast girls struggled against the No. 1 ranked team in the state, suffering a 59-27 loss to open their season.

The Rebels were only able to put up 11 points in the first half, falling behind by 30 points by the time the first 16 minutes of the game were over.

Claire Abbott had a team-high eight points, white Jaden Smith had seven and Emma Fowler six.

Northeast (0-1) will play on the road at North Cedar next Tuesday night.

Sabers run over Tama

TAMA – The No. 11 Sabers rolled a South Tama team to open thei season on the road, dominating 83-16.

The Sabers only allowed four points in the first half, taking a 48-4 lead.

Taylor Veach led the effort with 21 points, while Allison Meadows put up 15. Also scoring double digits was Talbot Kinney, who finished with 11 points.

The Sabers (1-0) will play their home opener next Tuesday when Clear-Creek Amana comes to DeWitt.