Clinton’s big men had the size advantage.
But Davenport Central’s post players had the desire.
Despite being a couple of inches shorter, the Blue Devils challenged the River Kings’ big men at the rim during Friday’s Mississippi Athletic Conference game. That defensive effort helped Central to a 61-49 win over Clinton inside George Marshall Gymnasium, snapping the Blue Devils’ five-game losing streak.
“We had to play physical,” said Diontrel Wommack, Central’s 6-foot-1 post player. “We’re undersized every game we play, so we have to play physical and hustle.”
Central (4-11, 3-9 MAC) led 34-27 at halftime and then held the River Kings without a field goal for nearly four minutes to start the second half, building its lead to 13 points in the process.
“It was a good run,” Central head coach Craig Wurdinger said. “We got some transition buckets. We got some easy layups. We hit a couple of big outside shots that got us going. That was a huge difference in the game to come out of the half like that.”
With the Blue Devils contesting every shot, Clinton (1-13, 1-11 MAC) missed its first six field goal attempts of the third quarter. All of those shots came inside the paint.
“The guys were working hard to get good shots, and we were getting tons of shots in the paint, but I think we missed eight shots in the paint in the third quarter alone,” Clinton head coach Chris Powers said. “You can’t get better looks than that. You’ve got to capitalize.”
Central, which had eight players score in Friday’s contest, led by as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter. Josh English, playing in his third game for the Blue Devils, scored a game-high 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Wommack had 11 points and eight boards. Nate Tyson battled foul trouble most of the game and finished with 11 points in limited minutes.
“We moved the ball well,” Wurdinger said of his team’s selfless play. “We took good shots. We didn’t force a lot. I was really happy with the team.”
Ricky Clay, Clinton’s 6-foot-6 center, finished with 10 points but was limited to just two points on 1-for-6 shooting in the second half. L.J. Henderson, who missed the River Kings’ last two games with a broken knuckle on his left hand, came off the bench to score nine points. Bret Myli, a 6-foot-4 forward, had eight points but was also held to two points after the break on 1-for-7 shooting.
“I thought we responded well for the lack of size that we have,” Wurdinger said. “I thought we fought pretty hard down there. It was a pretty physical game down there, and I thought our guys stepped up and did a good job of rebounding.”