BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A mere 1 point per game separates the season average for the boys varsity basketball teams from Fort Madison and Chariton.
The two clash Monday night in Class 3A, District 11 basketball in Mount Pleasant with a 6:30 start time. Sixth-ranked Mount Pleasant, who had defeated the Hounds soundly in conference play this year, looms on the top of the bracket and hosts Keokuk the same night after the Hounds.
The two teams are both 14-7 on the year with the Hounds on a 3-game win streak dating back to a Feb. 4. loss to Pittsfield in the KHQA shootout. Chariton was pounded in their last outing by Oskaloosa 37-69. They finished 2nd in the South Central Conference one game behind Knoxville.
The Chargers come with a slightly larger back court with senior Kobey Riechmann and junior Dylan Stites both listed at 6’0″. The Hounds guard court of CJ Richardson and Kaleb Cresswell are 5’8″ and 5’10” respectively.
“When we look at film I think we match up really well with them. I’m interested to see them in person and see how that compares to video,” Head Coach Ryan Wilson said.
However Fort Madison’s scoring production from the guards is slightly higher than that of Chariton. Cresswell is second in the conference at 15.2 and Richardson is at 11.7 points per outing, Chariton’s Stites is just under Richardson at 11.6 points a game and Riechmann averages a 10.7 clip. The Hounds also are 9% better from the 3-point arc at 40% to the Chargers 31%.
Big man Lim Choul matches up with Hounds Treavor Kokjohn both at 6’3″. However Choul is 2nd in the South Central at 17.0 points per game. Kokjohn is hovering at 11.6. The Hounds junior will also have his hands full on the boards. Chariton has a nine-board per game average over the Hounds and Choul led his conference at 10 boards per outing. Kokjohn was second in the Southeast Conference at nine rebounds per game.
The Hounds’ regular remaining starters include Landon Bentley and Austin Rose. The Chargers usual lineup includes Riley Walters and Nathan Weaver who score at 3 and 7 points per game. But Weaver is active around the glass at eight boards per game and Rose will have to help keep him under wraps if the Hounds hope to stave off the Chargers’ rebounding edge.
“We just gotta rebound,” Wilson said. “We’ll need five guys blocking out and then five going to the board. Rebounding’s all about effort and hopefully we can force them to miss some shots and get the ball out and go.”
Chariton plays its most productive basketball late in the game scoring 330 points in that quarter compared to 320 in the first, 274 in the second quarter and 302 in the third. The Hounds tend to be more productive in the middle of the game putting up 293 in the 2nd quarter and 315 in the third, so look for Head Coach Ryan Wilson’s troops to start quick.
“Yeah, we like to push the ball and score in transition as much as we can. But we know if we set up we have to be patient and move the ball around and eventually we’ll get our shots.”
Wilson said everyone on the team is healthy despite a recent flu epidemic that has swept across Iowa.
“We had a little battle of flu with one player but we’re past it. We’re healthy.”
Wilson said it would be great to see a big student section and a good community turnout.
“Our players feed off that and it creates an exciting environment, so it’d be good to see a lot of people there,” he said.
The doors open at Mt. Pleasant High School at 5:30 p.m.