BY CHUCK VANDENBERG – EDITOR
BURLINGTON – If the first half was an indication of things to come, Fort Madison’s varsity girls basketball team was going to give the Notre Dame Nikes all they wanted on their home floor.
The Lady Bloodhounds were able to dismantle a full zone press from Notre Dame for most of the game, a task they had struggled with at times early on in the season, and were able to get the ball inside off the transition scoring regularly throughout the first half.
The Nikes zipped to a quick 11-3 lead on a couple three pointers from junior Hailey Blythe and another from junior Anna Tillo. The Hounds crept back in the first quarter on some inside buckets from 6’1″ junior Amber Dilsaver. Dilsaver scored inside at the 5:42 mark and then added another bucket and free throw off a foul on the shot at 3:27 to get the Hounds within a bucket. Junior Shannon Taylor connected on a short jumper with 2:17 left to tie the game at 13 and then Fort Madison went on a 7-4 run to end the first quarter up 20-17. Nike senior Johanna Myers who led all scorers with 24 on the night, was fouled by the Hounds Kamryn Bailey outside the three-point line and Myers converted two of the three free throws to end the quarter.
The Hounds continued to navigate the Nike zone press in the second quarter coming up with more points off the press. Senior Mercedes Trimble opened the 2nd quarter with a bucket to put the Hounds up 22-17. Fort Madison capitalized on the bonus in the 2nd quarter and converted 5-of-8 free throws over the next three minutes without a bucket to keep the 5-point margin.
But Notre Dame got buckets from Myers, Blythe and senior Emma Lynch to close the gap to just one at the end of the half 27-26.
Interim Head Coach Kent Bailey, who is filling for head coach Charles Knipe until next week, said the press didn’t give the Hounds problems and actually opened up some opportunities. But in the third quarter turnovers plagued Fort Madison and the Hounds couldn’t find a flow. The Hounds didn’t convert a field goal in the third quarter and were almost held scoreless except for two free throws from senior Emily Mitchell with 19 seconds left.
“The third quarter they got hot and we missed about four shots that could have kept us in the game,” Bailey said after the game. “We lost our composure a little bit. Didn’t get a couple of calls we thought we should have and got into some foul trouble and that was it.”
“I told the kids we handled the press well. But we got into the half court offense, they trapped and we should have gotten the ball to the open girl and we didn’t do that very well tonight.”
Notre Dame kept putting distance between themselves and their guests as they outscored the Hounds 16-8 in the final period on the shoulders of Myers who added six more. Fort Madison was plagued by turnovers for most of the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t turn it over on the press so much, we turned it over on the back passes when we tried to force it. They trapped us and we watched instead of moving to the ball,” Bailey said.
Dilsaver led the Hounds with 10 points followed by Mercedes Trimble with 8, Brittiney Harris had five points, senior Mariah Trimble and Taylor added 4 each, sophomore Braxtyn McGhghy and Mitchell each added two. Freshman Anna Kester and Bailey both added a free throw.
The Nikes are 4-1 on the season with the win. The Hounds fall to 3-3 on the season.