CLINTON – It may not technically be an upset when you’re playing a team that’s around .500, but in the Clinton River Kings’ eyes – it was.
“It definitely is for us,” Clinton head coach Troy Ersland said. “They’ve beaten us quite a few games in a row. Guys are still battling.”
The River Kings, who came into the game with just one win, used big bench points and an impenetrable defense to quiet Pleasant Valley and come away with a 33-29 victory in what was their best looking effort of the season Tuesday night at home.
“We’ve been putting a quarter here or a quarter there together all year, but we finally put it all together tonight,” Ersland said. “Just happy for the guys.”
Tied 27-27 with two and half left in the game, Taylon Hayes picked up a foul along the sideline and went to the line for one and the bonus, nailing both from the foul line.
Hayes then took a charge in the back court, turning the ball over into the hands of the red and black. The River Kings reversed it twice and then found a wide open Treveon Bailey on the block, who banked it in easily.
It wasn’t over. Pleasant Valley tried two threes which both bounced out, but they got the offensive putback anyway to cut it to two. Carter Horan got the ball on the block, smothered by Spartan hands, which sent the ball the other way.
Among a couple chaotic shots, Bailey somehow got his hands on the ball and held on, coming down with the defensive board and getting fouled. He made one. Max Holy came down with the board, and got fouled again, hitting another foul shot to cap of their win, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
The entire performance from the River Kings was hands down their best of the season, top to bottom. Their zone kept the Spartans from getting shots off for 30, 40 and even 60 second time frames, and then the rebounding effort continued all night. The River Kings gave up just five offensive boards despite being outsized.
“It helped that our back line was talking and we were flying around,” Ersland said. “We didn’t get caught too much on any weak side screens. They like to run long possessions, and our guys did a great job of not losing focus and staying engaged.”
The baskets came from all sorts of hands. Max Holy, Damarcus Knox and Zach Hoffman all nailed crucial threes at different points of the game. Treveon Bailey and Ulysses Patterson did work inside. The dribble attack was at it’s best, with the entire roster finding the seams.
“We worked a lot on attacking off the dribble and replacing the guy,” Ersland said. “Guys like Carter [Horan], Damarcus [Knox] had a nice night, Dasean [Mingo] was rusty in his first game back but did some nice things.”
The first time the River Kings met Pleasant Valley, the Spartans won 59-25. To Coach Ersland, this shows the strides the Kings have made this season.
“It says we’re doing the right things,” Ersland said. “This seniors, what legacy they want to leave, they’re leaving one of not giving up no matter what the record is. We’re here to play.
“You have to get better every day be playing your best basketball by the end of the season and hopefully we’ll be doing that.”
The River Kings improve to 2-15 and will play at Burlington this Thursday. They return home once more for Senior Night against Davenport West.
Queens go quiet in 54-19 loss
CLINTON – The River Queens didn’t have a bad first quarter of play, but lost control of the game to fall 54-19 to Pleasant Valley on Senior Night on Tuesday.
The Queens were playing shorthanded, with illness running rampant through the roster.
“We’re missing two guards, and that hurt,” head coach Cathy Marx said. “I kept looking at Coach [John] Davis] and saying this is where we need them.”
Pleasant Valley jumped out 8-0, but the River Queens responded. Makenzie Cooley scored off an offensive rebound five minutes into the game, and then Rylie Mussman nailed a three.
Capping off a 7-0 run, Cooley moved from the elbow to the block to pick up a foul, draining both free throws, cutting the game to 8-7.
That’s when things turned the other direction. The Spartans went on a 12-0 run, broken up by an Elle Davis three late in the second quarter, but the Queens were already behind 20-10.
“We called the timeouts, we told them to keep their heads up, and we just have to keep reminding them that one pass can break the run,” Marx said.
The Spartans followed that run up with a 11-0 run, broken up by an Avery Dohrn layup in the third quarter. Dohrn’s basket off the bench would be the only points the River Queens could muster in the third quarter, trailing 38-13 by the time the fourth started.
The offense never got clicking. Michelle Powell, Molly Shannon and Makenzie Cooley had position many times against Pleasant Valley’s zone, but the perimeter players were a step slow on getting the ball inside, causing a high amount of turnovers.
“That’s something we haven’t done before,” Marx said. “Those are adjustments we’re trying to make on the fly and what I’m learning is we’re still not able to make adjustments like that. When they’re tired and they just can’t see them, it’s hard to make those passes.”
The Queens fall to 2-18 and travel to Burlington on Thursday for a varsity doubleheader.
Camanche boys suffer first conference loss
MONTICELLO – The No. 5 Camanche boys were halted from a perfect River Valley Conference record on Tuesday night, falling on the road 47-45 to a powerful Monticello team.
The Indians were playing from behind from the get-go. The Panthers jumped out, holding then to single digits for the first five minutes of play. The Panthers were on top 22-15 by the end of the first quarter.
Camanche clawed their way back, but never got out in front of Monticello.
Cam Soenksen had 19, while Caleb Delzell had 13.
The Indians beat Monticello by 22 in the pair’s first meeting.
The Indians will now play Tipton at home on Thursday night, before wrapping up their regular season at West Branch this weekend.
Fulton falls at Orion
ORION, Ill. – The Fulton Steamers lost their undefeated Three Rivers Conference record on Tuesday night, falling 67-42 to Orion on the road.
“Not our best effort tonight,” Fulton head coach RJ Coffey tweeted out after the game. “Needs to be something we learn from.”
The Steamers were behind by four after the first quarter of play, but then only mustered six points in the second quarter to go into halftime trailing 29-18. They never recovered the deficit.
Kyler Pessman put up 13 points and Connor Barnett added 10.
The Steamers get a chance at redemption right away, welcoming the Chargers to Stan Borgman Court on Friday night. They fall to 20-7 overall and 7-1 in the TRAC.
Camanche girls edge Tipton
CAMANCHE – The Camanche girls picked up a big win to gather some momentum heading into regional play, squeaking by Tipton 29-27.
“Huge win for us tonight,” head coach Andrew Carbajal said after the game. “Very proud of our girls. They stayed focused and showed perserverence through the face of adversity.”
It was a big night for Tarah Wehde, who hit four threes for a team high 14 points. Aubrey Carstensen went 2-for-2 from the foul line in the fourth quarter as well, ending with five points, and Lauren Snyder drained two outside shots for six.
The Indians will now turn their attention to the postseason. They open it up on Saturday night, traveling to Anamosa.
Northeast girls stumble against Bellevue
GOOSE LAKE – The Northeast girls fell 58-46 to Bellevue end their regular season and give them a taste of what they need to accomplish in the postseason.
The Rebels fell behind early, but then their defense woke up and held the Comets scoreless in the second quarter, allowing them to go into the half trailing by just one. They were still in it, but the Comets lit up for a 26-point fourth quarter to pull away for the RVC win.
The Rebels fall to 11-10 and face the Comets for the third time this season to kick off their regional bracket. They’ll head to Bellevue on Feb. 18.