BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Fort Madison’s Jayden Fedler just has the Keokuk Chief’s number on the basketball court.
The junior post player scored 23, including knocking down two free throws with 1.1 seconds on the clock and the Hounds down by one as Fort Madison beat Keokuk 49-48 in dramatic fashion Friday at the HoundDome.
The Hounds knocked off Keokuk on the road earlier this year 61-59 when the Chiefs’ 7-foot center Alex Wolter missed a couple of free throws with no time remaining to force overtime. Fedler hit an 18-foot jump shot with :09 left in overtime for the win back on Nov. 30.
On Friday, the Hounds trailed by one with 11 seconds on the clock. Senior Logan Rashid inbounded in front of the Hounds’ student section and then got the ball back at the top of the key. After a cross-over at the top that allowed him room into the paint, Rashid drove the lane and threw up a shot that went off the rim. Fedler was there to clean up the rebound, but was fouled trying to put it back in with just one second remaining.
He calmly stroked two free throws that didn’t hit anything but net and put the Bloodhounds up by one 49-48. The Chiefs immediately called a time out to set up a full-court inbounds play. Once FMHS Head Coach Ryan Wilson saw the set, he called a time out to set up a defense.
With Fedler chasing and chirping at Keokuk’s Callum Tackes back and forth along the baseline, Keokuk called another time out to prevent a 5-second violation.
Out of the timeout, Keokuk slid Tyjai Mueller down to the baseline while Fedler was chasing the ball to try to draw a charge, Fedler collided with Mueller, but no call was made and the Chiefs couldn’t get a good shot off from the inbound pass.
Wilson said they gave Fedler a warning about Keokuk possibly trying to draw a charge on the inbounds out of the first time out, but Keokuk didn’t set up that way.
“We didn’t give him that warning after their second time out and that’s on us coaches, but we just wanted to keep the ball in front of us, nothing deep, nothing over the top, maybe a catch, one dribble and it’s got a go,” Wilson said.
He said he’s confident in Fedler with the ball shooting at the line and in a five-out offense set like he ran Friday with Wolter looming inside.
“Statistically, he’s our best free throw shooter. Jayden has a nice touch. He hit a three for us tonight and really hit the game-winner the first time. He spends some time shooting the jump shots and getting into the gym doing those things and that’s what makes him a special player for us,” Wilson said.
Fort Madison trailed just once in the first half when Keokuk sophomore Anthony Potratz hit a 3-ball with his mouth-guard hanging out to open the scoring. Rashid would counter at the other end to tie it up and the Hounds would stretch the lead to 12-7 when senior Jordyn Gerdes scored on a put-back underneath. Wolter would score before the end of the quarter to cut the lead to three at 12-9. Fedler had five of the Hounds’ first 12.
The two squads traded buckets to open the second quarter, but senior Brandon Keester would hit for a three from the left wing in front of the Keokuk bench to push Fort Madison’s lead to 19-12. Keokuk’s Isaiah Seay would counter at the other end of the floor. Seay would score nine straight to keep the Chiefs within striking distance.
Fedler would score on back-to-back buckets with about 1:28 left in the half and Keester hit the back end of a one-and-one to give Fort Madison a 27-21 lead, but Mueller would score twice in transition in the final :40 of the half to cut the lead to two at 27-25 going into halftime.
Keokuk would score first out of the break with 6:20 left when Mueller scored on a drive off the left wing to tie the game at 27. Fedler would then step out onto the left baseline on the Hounds’ next possession and drain a 3-ball.
Freshman Dayton Davis would score on the next trip down to give the Hounds a 5-point cushion at 32-27 before Keokuk ripped off a 9-4 run to pull with one at 37-36 going into the final period.
Wolter would step out of the lane on the Chiefs’ first possession and hit a 10-footer to give Keokuk a 38-37 lead and then Tackes would score for a 40-37 Chiefs’ lead. Junior Parker Denning would score inside for Fort Madison with a hanging drive that went up and over Wolter’s reach, but Tackes would score again on the next trip down following a :30 timeout by Wilson.
Fedler again would convert two free throws to make it a one-point game again and then Davis would get fouled on a drive from the right side and make both of his freebies with 3:27 left.
Wolter would score the next time down for Keokuk and get fouled but missed his free throw to make it 44-43 Keokuk.
The Hounds would miss on their next two possessions, while Keokuk kept feeding Wolter inside. With just 1:24 on the clock and Keokuk up 46-43, Davis stroked a 3-ball in front of the Fort Madison student section to knot the game at 46 and prompting Wilson to call a time out.
The Chiefs were able to get the ball back inside to Wolter who scored easily to put Keokuk up 48-46. Rashid penetrated from the top of the key and was able to draw the foul, but an acrobatic attempt to get the ball over Wolter fell short. Rashid made the front end of two, but missed the second.
Keokuk called a time out to set up the final :45 out of the break and Mueller was fouled and sent to the line, where a lane violation on the front end of the one-and-one nullified the first free throw and turned the ball over to Fort Madison, who called a time out setting up the final :26.
Wilson said the Bloodhounds did a much better job controlling the ball in the fourth quarter.
“That’s been a problem for us all year. Composure and taking care of the ball in the fourth quarter. There have been a lot of opportunities we’ve had but didn’t execute it. Tonight our kids played excellent down the stretch,” he said.
“We moved the ball and attacked the basket and Jayden got a big offensive rebound tbere at the end and, for the second time this year, Jayden came through at the end and beat Keokuk for us.”
Fort Madison improves to 5-7 on the year, but are 3-2 in conference play and travels across town to Holy Trinity Catholic tonight for a girls/boys doubleheader. Keokuk was led by Wolter with 16 points. They move to 6-6 on the year, but are just 1-4 in conference play.