BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Balanced scoring and long-distance accuracy have been the keys to wins for the Fort Madison Bloodhounds boys basketball team this season.
Those keys were in full view Saturday afternoon as the Hounds kept Centerville at bay for most of the game en route to an 80-63 win to move to 3-1 on the season.
Conference play starts Friday when Mt. Pleasant comes to the Hound-Dome. The Hounds have a Tuesday matchup with high-scoring Danville on the road.
Fort Madison found themselves down 0-4 quickly, but long-range specialist Brandon Keester laced a 3-pointer off a Big Reds turnover and junior Logan Rashid hit back-to-back 3-pointers to get the Bloodhounds going with a 9-4 lead as part of a 9-0 run.
Centerville struggled from the field in the opening quarter and only managed two more buckets while Fort Madison kept a fast-paced game going, outscoring Centerville 13-4 the rest of the way through the period, highlighted by Rashid’s eight points. Centerville came out in a box-and-1 defense to contain senior Kaleb Cresswell’s outside shooting, but switched to man-to-man after the Hounds run and Cresswell got loose inside for a hoop and foul shot.
Cresswell was held to just nine points, his lowest output of the year. Averaging just over 12 points per game, Cresswell did find some open looks in the 2nd half but couldn’t convert. Cresswell and Parker Denning hit buckets to open the 2nd quarter with Centerville down 26-8, but the Hounds shooting would cool off. Aside from Lorenzo Riles converting on just the front end of a one-and-one, the Hounds wouldn’t score until about 3:30 left in the quarter when Treavor James-Kokjohn hit a bucket inside to make it 29-17. The Big Reds’ Daniel Hargrave countered with a bucket inside and converted a foul shot on the play.
“They came out in a box-and-1 or some kind of defense to slow Kaleb down,” Wilson said. “But it didn’t do anything, our other players stepped up and that’s what you need.”
The Hounds went back inside to James-Kokjohn again to make it 31-20. Centerville would continue to cut into the lead getting as close as 31-24 when sophomore Quinton Koestner converted from about 12 feet on the left side with :25 seconds left in the half. James-Kokjohn would add another bucket inside and then Cresswell would hit one in from the right baseline at the buzzer to give Fort Madison an 11-point half time lead 35-26.
Fort Madison completely smothered Centerville, not allowing a single point in the 3rd quarter, until there was 3:10 left when Hargrave converted in transition off a Hounds turnover, but Centerville was down 20, 51-28. Then the Hounds started getting a little grabby, committing five personal fouls and a couple turnovers. Centerville senior Logan Stickler converted on a foul on Keester and made the freebie to cut the lead to 14, 55-41.
Denning scored inside on a pretty interior pass from Cresswell to put the Hounds back up 16 at the end of the third quarter.
But Centerville didn’t get the message the game was getting out of hand and was able to chip away at the lead and got it down to 10 when Hargrave converted his third straight bucket to open the final period. Hargrave put in 8 points before James-Kokjohn converted a three pointer to kill the Big Red momentum.
The Hounds then pushed the lead back to 19, capped by back-to-back 3-pointers by Keester and Centerville would never get closer than 15 the rest of the game.
Head Coach Ryan Wilson said role players were a big part of the win.
“You’re gonna have your scorers, but you have to have your role players step up, too, and Brandon banged in some shots, but Sheymouhr (Redd-Donald), I have to give him credit. They really weren’t guarding him and he attacked the basket,” Wilson said. “Then the others would help or he would dish back out or try and finish and that really opened up some things for us. If he continues to play that way it could be a very successful season for us.”
Wilson said he was a little disappointed in the amount of points the Hounds allowed.
“I like us to be in the 50 point area and if we can stay there, we can do some good things. There were a couple of different spurts tonight where we got away from our brand of basketball – not playing aggressively on offense and pretty lackadaisical defensively,” he said.
The Hounds take the junior varsity and varsity boys squad to Danville Tuesday with a 6 p.m. tipoff for the junior varsity.