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Central girls stumble in opener to Hempstead

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It was a learning experience.

Davenport Central, which graduated its top three scorers from last season, was also without top returning scorer Addisen Ford for its season opener Tuesday night.

The Blue Devils started three sophomores who had never played in a varsity basketball game, and the result was a 59-15 loss to visiting Dubuque Hempstead inside George Marshall Gymnasium.

“We’re pretty much a brand new team,” Central head coach Amara Burrage said. “We only had three seniors who were here tonight, and our biggest (senior) wasn’t here. I did look at it as an opportunity to have other players step up and step into new roles. There were some sparks out there that were good.”

Ford is in Orlando at an Olympic Development Program Thanksgiving Inter-regional soccer tournament.

The Mustangs, on the other hand, return two of their top three scorers from last season’s 8-14 squad in Camdyn Kay and Chandler Houselog.

Kay, who led Hempstead in scoring as a sophomore last season, filled the stat sheet with a game-high 17 points, seven rebounds, five steals and five assists on Tuesday night.

“She’s the straw that stirs the drink for us,” Hempstead head coach Ryan Rush said of Kay. “She’s put in a lot of work, and she was able to lead us on offense and on defense. She had a good night not only scoring, but also distributing the ball.”

Kay’s main target was Houselog, who drained all four of her 3-point attempts and scored 16 points.

“She’s an awesome shooter,” Rush said of Houselog. “When she’s open and she gets those feet set, she’s pretty automatic.”

The Mustangs (1-0) shot 65% (17-for-26) from the field and 4-for-6 from 3-point range in the first half as they opened up a 48-8 lead by the break.

“We got a lot of the shots that we were looking for, and we were able to hit some tonight,” Rush said.

Conversely, the Blue Devils (0-1) were 6-for-47 from the field in the contest.

Sophomore Lamyah Watson provided a spark off the bench for Central, scoring a team-high six points, grabbing six rebounds and coming away with steals on three straight Hempstead possessions during the second half.

Asia Pegues-Jarrett and Emilee Clemensen, the only two Blue Devils who played on Tuesday night who came in with varsity experience, added three points apiece, and Pegues-Jarrett grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

“We are definitely learning a lot,” Burrage said. “Hopefully by the end of this year we’ll be better. That’s the plan. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. This is not going to define us. We’ll keep grinding and just get better.”

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