Turnovers, rebounds, and free throws are the three things Davenport Central has tried to focus on all season. The Blue Devils executed in all three areas Tuesday night as they bullied their way to a 67-57 win over visiting Clinton.
“We were able to get the tempo going where we needed it, and created our own offense,” said Central coach Craig Wurdinger.
This tempo posed all sorts of problems for the River Kings (5-4, 4-2 MAC) as they committed 12 first-half turnovers including two in the final minute that led to two monstrous open court dunks by Ray Miller.
“We wanted to make things as tough as possible on their guards and get the game going up and down,” said Miller, who led all scorers with 26 points.
The Blue Devils (6-3, 4-2) grabbed 10 offensive rebounds in the first half in addition to creating turnovers. Part of the problem was Miller's backcourt mate, Tyrique Vesey, who created all kinds of havoc defensively and chipped in offensively with 12 points.
“The key coming into this game was keeping Central off the boards, and limiting live ball turnovers. We didn’t do a good job of either,” said Clinton coach Chris Powers.
Central big man Zach Taylor chipped in 14 points mostly off easy offensive rebounds and dump downs. Taylor helped seal the game with nine of his 14 coming down the stretch, including a trio of and ones in the fourth quarter.
“Zach played with a lot of energy tonight, and really helped us get extra possessions by battling inside,” Wurdinger said.
Despite all the miscues the River Kings had a chance late, pulling within 61-57 on a Jaden Mixon lay up with a little over a minute left. On the next possession Central was able to find a cutting Vesey, who laid it in for two. Mixon came down and missed a long 3-pointer, as Vesey and Ray Miller hit all four free throws to put the game away.
“I was proud of the way our guys fought back, and battled until the end,” Powers said. “I was encouraged to see guys step up.”
One of those players was freshman guard LJ Henderson, who found out he was playing varsity tonight after another player went home sick. Henderson finished with 11 points and was joined in double figures by teammates Makai Hart who dropped in 12 and Jaden Mixon who poured in 15.