CLINTON — Three big runs helped the Central DeWitt girls basketball team end its regular season on a winning note.
Facing Clinton in their MAC and regular season finale Friday, the Sabers erased an early deficit, snuffed out a potential River Queens’ comeback and put their hosts away, thanks to three stretches in which they outscored their foe a combined 57-10, in a 70-45 rout.
The two teams traded points in a back-and-forth first quarter — which included a special three-pointer for Clinton senior Elle Davis, who has had to sit out the bulk of her season due to COVID-19 complications — with the Sabers using eight early points from junior Taylor Veach to take a 13-12 lead.
The River Queens, however, scored the first five points of the second quarter to surge back in front, 17-13.
The small push proved to be the precursor to the first of Central DeWitt’s three big runs.
Veach continued her strong start with a three-pointer and Allie Meadows followed with one of her own. Natalie Butler made it three straight threes before Veach struck again to make it 24-17.
EmmaGrace Hartman chipped in an old-fashioned three-point play and Meadows knocked down her own free throw before Clinton finally ended the run of 15 straight Sabers points only to see Meadows bury another three to make it 31-19.
The River Queens fought back, scoring the final five points of the half to make it a seven-point game and then buried a three-pointer to start the third quarter and get even closer.
The Sabers countered with their second run. Talbot Kinney opened the scoring with a hoop inside and Meadows added her own before Veach drained a three. Meadows added two free throws and the nine straight points pushed the lead to 13.
Clinton got a hoop, but Butler hit a three and Meadows converted a three-point play before answering another River Queens basket with another hoop to put the Sabers in front 48-31.
The hosts ate into some of that lead, but the Sabers clamped down late, holding the River Queens to just four points over the final eight minutes.
By the time Clinton did score in the fourth, Central DeWitt had already scored the first 15 points of the stanza, 13 of them coming from Veach and Hartman. Add in a Kinney three-point play to close the third quarter and the Sabers scored 18 straight points to put the game away for good.
Veach led the way for the Sabers with 26 points, while adding four rebounds and three steals. Meadows added 19 points, while dishing out both four assists and coming up with four steals.
Hartman had nine points and three assists, while Kinney chipped in eight points and paced Central DeWitt with six assists, while joining Veach with four rebounds.
The victory helped the Sabers rebound from just their second setback of the season in a road rematch with fifth-ranked North Scott on Tuesday.
Trailing by 10 points at the half, Central DeWitt scored the first 12 points of the third quarter to seize the lead, but then watched as the Lancers scored the next 10 to take the lead right back and, this time, hold it for good in a 54-48 victory.
The Sabers erased an earlier deficit in the first quarter, turning North Scott’s 10-4 advantage into an eventual 14-12 lead at the end of the stanza.
The visitors, though, were limited to just three points in the second quarter allowing the Lancers to take a 27-17 lead into the break.
Undaunted, the Sabers quickly closed the gap and even jumped in front before the hosts reclaimed the lead and then salted things away from the free throw line, making 14 foul shots in the final stanza.
Veach and Meadows poured in 17 and 15 points, respectively, with the former pulling down six rebounds and the latter 10 to go with three assists. Kinney handed out three assists as well and paced the team with three steals.
Sabers earn top seed in 4A Region 5
Region-play in Class 4A kicks off Wednesday, but Central DeWitt, as the top seed in Region 5, earned a bye into the semifinals and will open their postseason Saturday hosting either Oskaloosa (7-14) or Washington (2-18); the Sabers have not faced either southeast Iowa squad.
A trio of more familiar squads sit on the bottom of the bracket. Clinton (0-16) will head to Marion (12-8) for Wednesday’s quarterfinal with the winner taking on Clear Creek-Amana (17-4), who earned the other bye in the region.
The Sabers swept the River Queens in their two MAC games and were recently conference-mates with the Indians and Clippers, playing both squads as recently as last winter.