They were efficient. They were physical. And they were mighty determined.

Three nights after losing in the final seconds to United Township in the signature game of the Genesis Shootout, Bettendorf's boys basketball team came out with a vengeance Tuesday night.

Spurred by a 15-2 surge in the final 3-plus minutes of the second quarter, the Bulldogs clobbered Davenport Central in a battle of Mississippi Athletic Conference unbeatens, 72-49, at Bettendorf High School.

"We had to play angry and we had to play like we know we're the best team in the MAC," Bulldog sophomore point guard D.J. Carton said after a career-high 18 points. "We had to play confident and be smart with the ball.

"We did all that."

As a result, Bettendorf (5-2, 4-0 MAC) has sole possession of the conference lead heading into a 17-day winter break. Central, North Scott and Clinton are a game back a quarter of the way through the race.

"We've had four really good teams here in a row and we wanted to make a statement here at the end," Bettendorf senior Joe Martens said. "We wanted to come out with a lot of energy, and that's exactly what we did."

Bettendorf shot nearly 60 percent from the field, many of those in transition. It owned a 33-23 rebounding advantage and turned it over just a dozen times against a Central team predicated on getting steals and speeding up the game.

The complexion of the contest changed late in the second quarter.

Central standout Ray Miller picked up his third foul with 2:14 until intermission and went to the bench. Bettendorf capitalized with 10 consecutive points.

It was capped by an athletic play from Carton.

After Michael Baer snared a rebound, he threw an outlet pass to the point guard, who dribbled behind his back to elude a defender near mid-court and hit a floating 3 at the buzzer over Central's Isaiah Litt.

"D.J. is pretty good in the open court," Bettendorf coach Curtis Clark said. "He's quick and his ball skills are good."

Central (5-2, 3-1) never could gain any traction in the second half. The Blue Devils were a step slow getting back defensively, 8 of 18 at the foul line and just 3 of 16 from beyond the arc.

"Unfortunately, we thought Christmas break started today," Central coach Craig Wurdinger said. "We forgot to show up.

"We gave up a lot of easy layups. When you play against a good team like this, those details and little things show up and it snowballed on us. That's why we got embarrassed tonight."

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Miller finished with 14 points and Tyrique Vesey had a dozen to go along with a team-high six rebounds.

Clark, meanwhile, praised his scout team — referred to as the "Gold Squad" — for getting his team prepared Monday afternoon.

"I can't ever remember that a group performed so well right before a big game," he said. "They just got into us like Central does, played their tails off, were physical with us and did a great job preparing us."

Carton admitted Monday's practice was difficult going against that group, but it was needed after some unforced turnovers late Saturday resulted in the loss to UT.

"(The scout team) pushed us to the limits," Carton said. "They even got in my head sometimes. I'm so proud of them because they had us focused for this."

Dylan Clearman joined Carton and Martens in double figures with 15 points. Suni Lane and Mark Kallenberger teamed for 13 points and 16 rebounds.

Both teams will have ample practice time over break to shore any loose ends up.

"We're two baskets away from possibly being undefeated," Clark said, referencing a pair of two-point defeats. "We've got to come into Christmas break practicing like we just lost that game."

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