BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Strong first half performances and subsequently lackluster third quarters are hindering the Fort Madison Bloodhound varsity girls basketball team as they dropped another close game 49-40 Tuesday night against West Hancock County.
Amber Dilsaver had a game-high and career high 16 points to lead the Lady Hounds. Followed by seniors Emily Mitchell and Mercedes Trimble with 6 apiece, and seniors Mariah Trimble and Brittiney Harris and junior Taylor Shannon with 4 each.
Head Coach Charlie Knipe said this morning the Lady Hounds just got away from what they have been successful at, a trend that has been more of a 2nd half characteristic.
“Our problem was we went away from our offense. We got a little congested and they went to a 1-2-2 and our girls didn’t adjust well,” Knipe said “It wasn’t that we turned the ball over, we just gave up a lot of driving layups and plus 1s. They had four of those in the third quarter. They drove the lane, we fouled them and they went to the line and hit them all. We got lazy moving our feet on the defense and cutting off the drive.”
The Lady Hounds were tied with the Lady Titans at 22 each to end the first half. But again the 3rd quarter proved difficult for Fort Madison. On Saturday against Burlington Notre Dame, Fort Madison managed only two points in the third and they were on a couple of free throws in the final minute of the quarter.
The Lady Titans outscored the Hounds 16-6 Tuesday in the third period and then the Hounds had to play catchup, but the 12-11 advantage in the fourth quarter wasn’t enough to win the game. Knipe said without true regular guard scoring it will be tough to get wins.
“We have struggled at the guard position getting some shooting,” Knipe said. “We’ve had to move Mercedes out to a guard. It’s not a natural position for her. She’s done great. She worked hard all summer with ball handling and I think part of that is preparing for the next step playing college. She’s going to have move to a 2 or 3 position. (The Trimbles) have been a great addition for us. Taylor Shannon probably had her best game for us last night. She’s starting to realize what she can do.”
“It’s hard to play the game without true guards. We have Taylor and then we have a freshman Anne Kester who but might be point guard in the future, but stepping from 8th grade to varsity is difficult. It’s been a hard adjustment, but she’s doing well.”
Knipe said although his team typically will dominate inside play, teams are beating them by running and getting penetration off the dribble. But he wouldn’t recommend underestimating the size and physical play of his front court.
“We’re very fortunate. Every team I talk to is envious of our big girls. They’ve worked hard. Emily Mitchell has been coming along fantastic. Amber Dilsaver probably has the softest hands in the conference by far for a big girl.
Knipe also said junior Kamryn Bailey has been a great morale booster and is always full of energy off the bench.
Mercedes Trimble and Dilsaver are leading the Hounds in scoring this year at 10 points each with Dilsaver shooting 56% from the comfort of the lane. Trimble leads the team in rebounds with 44 with Dilsaver right behind at 41. The Hounds are leading the Southeast conference with 34 rebounds per game.
Kailee Pfeiferling led the scoring for West Hancock with a dozen followed by Abi Shaw with 10, Brittany Douglas with nine and Emma Knipe with 8.
The Hounds fall to 3-4 on the season and host Mt. Pleasant Friday night starting with junior varsity at 6:15 p.m.