BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Fort Madison’s girls basketball team had eight players score in Friday’s 21-56 loss to Keokuk, but the leading scorer had just four points.
The Lady Hounds went scoreless for the first three minutes while Keokuk seemed to score at will rushing out to a 20-5 first quarter lead. Fort Madison shot just 1 of 6 from the field and 2 of 7 from the free throw line in the quarter.
Fort Madison, playing in a match-up zone defense in the first quarter, forced the Chief’s into some long, drawn out possessions moving the Bloodhounds around the perimeter, but eventually, Keokuk would find a pass underneath or an open look in the ball rotation gaps.
Senior Eleesha Estrada got the scoring going for the Hounds with a 3-pointer at the 4:27 mark from the left wing, but it would be the only bucket the Hounds would get in the period. Freshman Anna Lynk and sophomore Brandy Walker would each add a free throw for the Hounds’ only first quarter points.
“They really play some in-your face, pressure defense,” Head Coach Todd McGhghy said. “Our skill deficiencies, with something like that, really get exposed with those types of teams. It just is what it is right now.”
He said the team’s goal was to break the Keokuk press on the inbounds and he said the team accomplished that, but the Hounds couldn’t get going in the half-court set. McGhghy said trying to score out of the half-court offense at this point in the program, just isn’t there yet.
The Bloodhounds went ice cold shooting in the second quarter only converting one bucket by senior Jassmine Bass underneath, after she cleaned up a miss by sophomore Maddie Rashid. Braxtyn McGhghy made a couple of free throws and Estrada added a freebie for the Hounds only points.
Keokuk only made three baskets of their own in the second quarter, but still outscored Fort Madison 14-5, The Hounds kept the Chief’s top scorer MacKenzie Northup, who’s averaging close to 18 points per outing, to just nine points in the first half.
But the senior would open things up in further in third period scoring five unanswered to push the lead to 41-10. Fort Madison would go scoreless in the third period getting off just three total shots and not getting to the foul line in the quarter. Northup and junior Michenna Davis combined for 13 of the 15 Chiefs points to put the game all but out of reach at 51-10 at the end of three.
Fort Madison would find the rim in the final period with junior Anna Kester scoring twice, Rashid converted the first points of the second half for the Hounds to open the fourth quarter. Sophomore Nadia Boeding also put up a bucket in an 11-5 run by the Hounds. Northup scored all five points for the Hounds in the period.
McGhghy said they tried different defenses to shut down Northup.
“We even went to diamond and one, and they just transitioned so well, it was for us to find her. Keokuk’s good now, their going to do well,” McGhghy said.
“But we are where we are. It’s a never ending battle of – this skill we don’t have is killing us right now, or that skill…but the one thing I continue to get is incredible effort. Mental effort, sometimes when the girls look up at the scoreboard and see, well it’s over, we have to get through that.”
Estrada and Kester led the Hounds with four apiece. McGhghy and Rashid had three each. Walker, Bass and Boeding each scored two points and Anna Link added a point. Sara Bernhardt led Fort Madison with four rebounds and Kylie Cashman had three on the night. The Hounds fall to 1-12 on the season
The Bloodhounds will take on Holy Trinity Catholic on Monday in makeup from Saturday’s weather cancellation with varsity girls and boys, with girls starting at 6 p.m. The game will feature the HTC annual Cake Auction in between games and at halftime.