BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Fairfield junior Austin Simpson put up 28 points and ruined FMHS’s senior and Hall of Fame night as the Trojans eeked out a 58-56 win in the Hounds’ final conference game of the year.
The Bloodhounds had a 1-point lead at 49-48 after Simpson scored on a put back with 2:10 left in the game. Fort Madison senior Kaleb Cresswell was called for an offensive foul on a push off at the perimeter on the next trip down the floor. Carson Crile scored on a floater on the right side to give Fairfield a 50-49 lead with 1:39 left.
Senior Sheymouhr Redd-Donald then was whistled for the same foul as Cresswell at about the same location and with Fairfield in the bonus, senior guard Dante Cingire quickly sank two of what would be six straight free throws down the stretch to seal the win for Fairfield.
The Bloodhounds failed to convert on the next possession sending the ball out of bounds under the basket. Fairfield got the ball to Cingire, who rushed down the floor and was quickly fouled by junior Logan Rashid, who fouled out on the play. Cingire sank the freebies to give the Trojans a 54-49 lead with :49 left. The Hounds got the ball into sophomore Jayden Fedler’s hands who was fouled underneath. Fedler only hit the second free throw to make it a four-point game.
Junior Brandon Keester fouled Cingire again, as Fairfield was able to get the ball in Cingire’s hands again. He sank both shots for a 56-50 lead and the Hounds pushed the ball up the floor to senior Treavor James-Kokjohn who plowed in a 3-ball from about 23 feet, prompting a quick time out from the Hounds.
Head Coach Ryan Wilson had the Hounds swarm everyone but the Trojan junior Collin Breen who handled the inbound pass. Simpson leaked out and Breen found him deep down the floor. The Hounds fouled him to prevent the bucket, but Simpson sank the two free throws to put the Hounds down by five 58-53.
Fairfield didn’t want to foul on the inbounds and Kokjohn hit on another three pointer at the buzzer for the final score.
Fort Madison shot 6-10 in the final period but the four missed shots came in a 4:30 stretch of the final period where a Redd-Donald driving layup was the only bucket amidst seven personal fouls.
Head coach Ryan Wilson said the Hounds got away from the shot selection that put them ahead in the first half.
“We had some poor shot selections in the fourth quarter,” he said. “I don’t mind the shots they took, but we can’t do that on the first pass of the possession. We have to work the ball around and look for our openings. We beat ourselves in the fourth quarter with those decisions,” he said.
“That’s not to take anything away from Fairfield. They worked hard for everything they got tonight.”
The Hounds held a 28-24 lead at the half, but Fairfield chipped into the lead in the third period outscoring the Hounds 16-12 highlighted by six points from Simpson. Keester and Cresswell each hit on 3-pointers toward the end of the period, but the Trojans defense was keeping the Hounds busy on the perimeter, while collapsing inside when the Hounds were able to get the ball inside.
Fort Madison jumped out to a 7-3 lead early on after James-Kokjohn hit on a couple of free throws. Simpson scored on the next possession for Fairfield, but Cresswell hit on a 3 from the right side on the next possession to push the lead to 10-5. Fairfield pushed back in the back half of the first quarter going on a 9-5 run highlighted by seven points from Crile to cut the lead to 15-14 at the end of one.
James-Kokjohn scored eight points in the second period including two from 3-point land as the Hounds outscored the Trojans 13-10 for the 28-24 halftime lead.
Wilson said he wanted to try to keep James-Kokjohn and senior Lorenzo Riles on Simpson most of the night as they knew he battled hard inside.
“We tried to keep Treavor or Zo on him inside and he just kept working hard and getting points off rebounds and having position,” Wilson said.
James-Kokjohn finished with 18 points to lead Fort Madison. Rashid had 10 for Fort Madison, while Keester and Cresswell both chipped in with nine points. Riles and Fedler each had four and Redd-Donald finished with two points.
The Hounds travel to Carthage on Tuesday to take on Illini West in the regular season finale.