DAVENPORT — In a season defined by learning, the Clinton girls’ basketball team encountered a valuable lesson on Tuesday night.

The start of a game can ultimately decide the outcome.

First-quarter turnovers put the River Queens in a deficit they could not overcome, resulting in a 52-38 Mississippi Athletic Conference loss to Davenport Central at George Marshall Gym. Clinton committed 10 turnovers in the first quarter, with half coming in its first six possessions.

“We don’t know how to fight yet. That’s the frustrating part,” Clinton coach Cathy Marx said. “I know they’re not going to pick themselves up. It’s going to be us (the coaching staff) calling timeouts and harping.”

On the flip side, the Blue Devils (6-8, 4-7 MAC) did not commit a turnover in the first quarter. Central built a 17-4 advantage during that stretch as it was able to consistently score in transition.

Eleven of their 17 first-quarter points came off turnovers. The transition points were set up because of the Blue Devils’ ability to create steals.

“We played well together; we played as a team,” Central coach Rita Jett said. “The first half was very important because we came right out (and started well). The girls were very confident.”

Clinton (1-13, 0-12) displayed some confidence in the second half.

Rylie Mussman’s trey from the top of the key capped Clinton’s 8-2 run, getting them within 39-29 with 4 minutes, 49 seconds left in regulation. At that point, the River Queens had outscored Central by a 13-8 second-half margin.

Clinton, which had Makenzie Cooley (15 points) and Elle Davis (10) both reach double figures, was finally getting stops. It was starting to limit turnovers. Shots were beginning to fall.

“We had some open shots (even though) they didn’t fall all the time,” Marx said. “We got post touches. That was all great.”

Turnovers ultimately negated the good vibes.

After Davis converted two foul shots with 4:22 left in regulation that got them within 41-31, the River Queens turned the ball over on its next five possessions. Central turned those miscues into eight points.

Thirty-one of Central’s 52 points were scored off turnovers.

“I tell you what, these girls have so much potential,” said Jett, whose team received 17 points from Adriauna Mayfield and 16 more from Bria Clark. “I just never know what I’m getting from night to night. Tonight, they listened well and executed well.”

On this night, Clinton certainly showed glimpses executing on both ends of the court. The defense got stops and the offense was getting quality looks.

“I have glimpses of this every game and every practice,” Marx said. “That’s why I have a smile on my face and why I’m still here. I just need them to believe. That’s where I get frustrated.

“We can say over and over that we believe in them. We see it. They just have to put it together.”

In the last three quarters, the River Queens were outscored 35-34 and forced 12 turnovers. The start is what decided the outcome.

“We have not started (well) this season at all,” Marx said. “We have to find out what the trigger is for them.”