BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Fort Madison’s Anna Kester scored a season-high 18 points as Fort Madison got their first win of the season Saturday at home against Albia.
The junior went 4-of-13 on the night and hit on a couple three-balls to lead Fort Madison (1-11). But it may have been the defensive pressure of the second half that secured the win. Fort Madison allowed the Lady Dees just 12 points in the second half, six in each of the last two quarters to pull away for the win.
The Hounds have struggled shooting from the field most of the year and also struggled on the offensive board. But on Saturday, senior Jassmine Bass wrangled 17 rebounds including 12 on the offense end to allow her to finish with 10 points on the night. Bass was 4-of-18 from the field and 2-of-8 from the free throw line with two blocks on the night.
Fort Madison jumped out to a tight 16-15 lead at the end of the first quarter after trailing 2-7 with five minutes left. The two teams went back and forth in the second period, but Fort Madison went on a 8-0 run in the final two minutes to take a 35-27 lead into the break. Kester and sophomore Nadia Boeding led the Lady Hounds with eight points each.
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The Hounds put up a stifling second half defense and kept all Albia scorers under three points led by senior Taylor Colwell who had three in the second half.
“It’s great the girls can get a win. They have had a ton thrown at ’em in a very short time,” said head coach Todd McGhghy. “I’ve also demanded of them and held them accountable in a very intense and unwavering way. It’s been quite the cultural shock. In fact, we had a very intense halftime discussion after allowing 27 points.”
McGhghy said the girls responded to the talk and held Albia to 12 points in the second half. He said Albia changed some things over the break that disrupted the Lady Hounds game plan.
“They didn’t look like a 1-7 team. A win is a win and we’ll take it.”
Kester led Fort Madison with 10 points in the second half including going 5-of-6 from the free throw line.
On Friday the Hounds spotted Fairfield a 22-6 first quarter advantage and couldn’t get a player in double figures as sophomore Maddie Rashid led Fort Madison with nine points.
Fort Madison scored in double figures in the second quarter outscoring Fairfield 12 to 5. The Lady Hounds held Fairfield to just eight points in the third quarter, but only managed four points themselves as the Lady Trojans pulled away. Fairfield exploded for 18 points in the final period to secure the win.
Fairfield is a very good transition team. Right now we have to be a half-court trapping and pressure team to generate offense,” said head coach Todd McGhghy. “They made it very difficult to do that with their tempo.”
The Lady Hounds host Keokuk on Friday at the HoundDome in a girls/boys doubleheader beginning at 6:15 p.m.