There is no question the Bettendorf basketball team is going to score a lot of points this season.
With a Big Ten-bound point guard in D.J. Carton and an improved supporting cast, the Bulldogs are going light up the scoreboard most nights.
But head coach Curtis Clark knows that in order for his team to have the sort of record it wants, it also is going to need to play some defense.
The Bulldogs did that for at least a while Friday, long enough to bolt to a big lead and then cruise to a 79-49 victory over Davenport West at the Bettendorf gym.
"I haven’t been real pleased with the way we’ve guarded, and the guys know that’s probably a weakness of ours …," Clark said.
"I thought we were really locked in the first six minutes. Then … well, old habits die hard. It’s good for those guys to see that, though, so we can continue to work at it."
The defense was good enough that the Bulldogs jumped to an early 12-0 lead against the rebuilding Falcons. It was 19-5 after one quarter and 43-25 at the half.
Bettendorf shot 69.5 percent from the field in the first half and missed only two two-point shots before halftime. It cooled off later on but still finished at 53.6 percent for the game.
Carton led the way with 19 points, five rebounds, eight assists and four resounding dunks, but he saw some of the same lapses that his coach did as the game progressed.
"We had a couple of defensive things going on in there that we need to clean up in practice tomorrow," he said. "But we’re learning along the way, and we’re playing good basketball right now."
Trevor Feller added 14 points for the Bulldogs (3-0, 2-0 Mississippi Athletic Conference), including 3-pointers on the Bulldogs first two possessions of the game. Center Lucas Hayes did not miss a shot from the floor while finishing with 12 points and a game-high seven rebounds.
Carton likes that he no longer is the only offensive option for the Bulldogs.
"I feel like it all started this summer," he said. "I could just see the improvement in my guys shooting-wise and playing smarter on the court and getting more comfortable with each other. I kind of saw this coming."
Junior guard Zach Trevino tossed in 20 points, including five 3-pointers, to lead West (0-3, 0-2 MAC).
"We have some other shooters. He just happened to be the one that was on tonight," first-year coach David Robinson said. "They did a better job in the second half of containing him."
Robinson was actually pleased with some of the things he saw from his team, which has five new starters and a whole new system and which is opening the MAC schedule with the five teams most likely to occupy the upper division.
"I think our schedule is perfect," Robinson said. "It gives us a chance to learn by playing some of the best teams in this league. That’s how you learn, and from there we’ll build off it.
"We’re playing hard," he added. "That’s one thing you’re going to see from us. We’re going to go hard the whole time."