BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A solid win over West Hancock Tuesday night put the Fort Madison Bloodhound girls basketball team over. 500 on the year.
The 50-37 win followed a 42-39 win Monday night on the road at Danville to set the girls at 4-3 on the year.
Fort Madison had comfortable lead at halftime at 24-17 and then opened up the third quarter with a 8-0 run before West Hancock”s Malarie Ross, who led all scorers with 19 points, hit a 3-pointer from the right side.
The Bloodhounds stretched the offense out behind the perimeter which allowed more movement and drives off the dribble. Junior Brandy Walker fired in six points in the quarter and senior Sara Bernhart also added six, mostly from offensive rebounds.
The Hounds defense only allowed five shots from the field in the quarter and outscored the Titans 16-10 as Fort Madison pushed the lead to 40-27 at the end of three.
The Hounds hit a shooting slump to start the final period converting just one of their first five shots, but made 3-of-4 from the free throw line to keep pressure on West Hancock.
West Hancock wouldn’t get any closer than 16 until Ross converted a couple free throws and a bucket with less than a minute remaining.
Sargent said the win was one of the higher quality wins of the year for Fort Madison.
“That’s a good ball club we played. They only lost to Quincy Notre Dame by seven or something and Quincy’s one of the better schools over there,” Sargent said.
“We haven’t played a full game. We shot better tonight, we blocked out and hit the boards. We did a little bit of everything better tonight.”
Sargent said Nadia Boeding played strong defense on top and Dalyn Wondra had a solid night off the bench. But he said the game turned on Walker and Bernhart’s play under the basket.
“Brandy finally came out and she could do that every night,” he said.
“I knew they’d have a mismatch problem with her and so I wanted to pull her out. We put her inside early and we forced it so I told her I wanted her out because she’s got good moves with the ball.”
Walker said her confidence has been building since the beginning of the year and she’s getting more comfortable taking control with the ball.
“I had a better mismatch than I’ve had before. I’ve been building up my confidence since the beginning,” Walker said.
“At Danville, I started taking my girl to the hoop and I thought if I started earlier in the game it would be more effective here.”
She said the addition of some new faces including freshman Camille Kruse has given the team a new look.
“This year we have a couple new faces that have been really helping. We’ve been talking better on defense and clicking better on offense. Its just we’re working better as a group.”
Sargent said this intensity should result in more wins than losses going forward.
“It really was a good team effort tonight. It was a great win, but we played well. If we play like this more often you’ll see more wins then losses,” he said.
“But as long as we stay competitive every game, I’m happy.”
Walker finished with 12 points to lead a balanced scoring attack from Fort Madison. Kruse and Bernhart each had 10 points on the night. Boeding had eight including two 3-balls in the first half, while senior Anna Kester had six points, Wondra had four.
On Monday night the Hounds erased at 16-11 first quarter deficit and took the lead toward the end of the third quarter at 29-27. Fort Madison would then go on a 10-7 run to open the fourth period and would hold on for a 42-39 win over Danville.
Kruse and Walker both had 12 points to lead Fort Madison. Bernhart chipped in with 10. Kester added five and Boeding had three on the night.
Walker had nine rebounds on the night to lead Fort Madison.
The Bloodhounds travel to Keokuk Friday night in a girls/boys varsity doubleheader.