BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The Bloodhound boys basketball team has lost seven straight to Southeast Conference rival Mt. Pleasant since the 2014-15 season.
Earlier this year, the Panthers handed Fort Madison a 62-38 loss at the Hound-Dome, after two consecutive seasons of sweeps. Both of the seasons saw the Panthers end the Hounds post-season run.
The Hounds’ Treavor James-Kokjohn leads the state in Class 3A in rebounding with 14.3 per game and is second in the state overall behind Brady Gavin of Martensville-St. Mary’s who’s at 16.4 per outing, but Head Coach Ryan Wilson said James-Kokjohn will also have to score early if the Hounds are to have a chance to win.
“We’ve got to get Treavor going early,” Wilson said. “He’s been a huge part of what we’ve done this year. We’ll need him to rebound and we’re going to need him to score early as well. We almost have to be perfect to beat them. Mt. Pleasant is a very disciplined, well-coached basketball team. They play hard, they look to push and get you out of comfort zone.”
The Panthers’ senior Brady Sartorius is leading the conference in scoring at 22.6 points per game and is second in Class 3A behind Zach Lester at 30.7. James-Kokjohn is second at 15.9 each time out. But the records would point to a pretty even game. Sartorius and fellow senior Jordan Magnani combine for 30.2 points per game, but James-Kokjohn and senior teammate Kaleb Cresswell combine for 30.5 points per outing.
Junior point guard Logan Rashid who slipped into double figures for the first time this year after last week’s 23-point performance against Holy Trinity. He had 14 Tuesday in Fort Madison’s win over Clark County.
The biggest accomplishment of Tuesday’s win, despite a win over the No. 4 team in Class 3 in Missouri, was the teamwork and support the team showed. At times, the Hounds can be heard being critical of each other on the floor, but in Tuesday’s win the on-court support of each other was seen and heard on the floor and from the bench.
“When we play together, we’re all on the same page,” Wilson said. “When we don’t spend that extra effort getting after each other, things tend to go a lot better for us.”
Back on Dec. 15, the Panthers came to Fort Madison and slapped a 38-62 win on the Hounds, the seventh win in a row for Mt. Pleasant. Wilson said the second half got away from the Hounds, but if you factor out a seven-point turnaround spurred by a technical in the first quarter, the game would have been three points at the half.
“We’ve always struggled to score against them to be completely honest,” Wilson said,. “We need to score some more points, give ourselves a shot and we’ve got to match their intensity. I’m not afraid or worried about a high scoring game, we can run, too.”
He also said trying to get some penetration off the dribble from Rashid and senior Sheymouhr Redd-Donald, who’s been scrappy of late in the lane and helping get the ball back out to the perimeter where Rashid, Cresswell, and 6th man Brandon Keester can all heat up at any time.
“When we get in the lane it opens everything up and allows us to score in many different ways and finish at the rim. But they play help defense so well it’s tough to get to those inside places.
The 11-4 Hounds have won five straight and eight of their last nine. Play starts at 4:45 Friday with a junior varsity game prior to the varsity game. The Hounds travel to Central Lee on Saturday to round out the toughest week of the year.