BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
KEOKUK – It certainly wasn’t scripted that way, but an 18-foot jumper by FMHS center Jayden Fedler with :09 on the clock in overtime, gave Fort Madison it’s first win of the year.
The Bloodhounds walked out of the Keokuk High School gym surviving overtime for a 61-59 win in Southeast Conference boys basketball action Friday night.
The Chiefs had a chance to win it in regulation when Fedler fouled 7-footer Alex Wolter in the paint right before the final buzzer sounded. FMHS Head Coach Ryan Wilson had used up all his timeouts stemming from a Keokuk run in the final two minutes and couldn’t ice Wolter at the line. Wolter’s first shot clanked off the right side of the backboard and then the second hit the back of the rim and bounced out to send the game into overtime tied at 55.
Fort Madison wouldn’t give up the lead in the extra four-minute period. Senior guard Logan Rashid was fouled driving the lane in the Hounds first possession by sophomore Anthony Potratz. Rashid calmly slipped the two shots through the cords for a 57-55 lead. On the Chiefs next trip down the floor, Fedler again fouled Wolter inside, but Wolter missed both free throws again.
Fort Madison couldn’t convert on its next trip and Wolter was able to score inside to tie the game at 57. The Bloodhounds got a bucket from Parker Denning with 1:16 left, but Callum Tackes would hit a fader for Keokuk from about 12 feet to tie it again at 59 with less than a minute remaining.
The Hounds would get the ball across the floor into a set offense, and after about three passes around the perimeter, Fedler popped out above the free throw line after setting a pick and calmly stroked the jumper that would give the Hounds the win. Denning applied some man pressure on the inbound and was able to strip the ball from the Chiefs, where Logan Rashid picked it up and and lofted a backward pass into the air to the Hounds side where time expired.
“It was one of those you hold your breath as it goes up and leaves the hand and once it goes in your happy about it,” Wilson said of the game-winning shot.
“He’s a great kid and works hard and he likes to shoot the ball. We told him for us to be successful he has to dominate inside and he’s come out in these first two games and played great inside and that’s opened up some things for us outside.”
Fort Madison had a 43-39 with less than four minutes remaining in regulation, but Keokuk got a couple of threes, one from Potratz from the left side and another from Tyjai Mueller as part of an 8-0 run that turned the tables giving the Chiefs a four-point lead with 3:18 left in the game.
Mueller would get whistled for a foul on the Hounds next trip on an inside bucket by Fedler who sank the free throw to cut the lead to one. Keokuk would then stretch the lead back to five at 51-46 capped by a Potratz driving layup from the left side.
Keokuk suffered two quick fouls called on Potratz and junior Braylon Martinez that resulted in Fort Madison getting 3-of-4 from the free throw line with no time running off the clock.
Wolter would then convert underneath on the Chiefs next trip down the floor, but freshman Dayton Davis would answer with a driving scoop layup as he drew a foul off Wolter with 1:01 left in the 4th cutting the lead to 1 at 53-52. Martinez was whistled for another foul on Denning in the next transition, but Denning would only make the front end of the bonus two shots.
Rashid then fouled Martinez coming up the floor and Martinez netted both his freebies to put Keokuk up 55-53. Denning drove to the basket on the next trip down the floor for the Bloodhounds and enticed Wolter into a foul, and Denning made both this time with just :18 seconds left to knot it at 55.
Keokuk held for the final shot moving the ball around the perimeter and then inside to Wolter who got the foul from Fedler with no time left.
The two squads battled to a 22-22 first half tie as well. The Bloodhounds shot 48% from the field in the first half led by Denning with six and freshman Dayton Davis with five.
Davis finished with 13 points including the key 3-point play toward the end of regulation. Wilson said he has faith in the freshman’s ability to contribute at any point in the game.
“He wouldn’t be out there if I didn’t have confidence in him,” Wilson said. “He’s so smooth and doesn’t let things bother him. He had that huge 3-point play late in regulation against the big kid, he went right at him and wasn’t scared. You sure like to see that in a freshman.”
Fedler, who played with about a six-inch height disadvantage against Wolter, said his philosophy was to stay engaged each trip down the floor on both ends.
“I went into the game obviously knowing I had a height disadvantage, but I figured if I played my hardest and left everything out on the floor it would work out,” Fedler said
“We went in wanting to win from the get-go. We wanted this one bad, so we fought back and got it to overtime and then we stayed calm and did our thing.”
Wilson said he hopes the win shows the Hounds they have the ability to play through the tough and tight games.
“It’s our first road win, our first win and first conference win. A the end of the night we got the victory. It wasn’t pretty, but they all aren’t pretty. The kids did a great job of running their stuff and eventually slowing down and settling into their game,” he said.
Denning finished with an even dozen points on the night. Logan Rashid added 10. Brandon Keester scored five and Mike Mosena hit a couple free throws in the second half to end with two, rounding out the scoring for the Hounds.
Potratz finished with 16 points and Mueller had 14 to lead the 0-2 Chiefs.
Fort Madison hosts Iowa City High in a junior varsity/varsity matchup beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday at the HoundDome.