BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Bodies were flying all over the floor, but it’s not unexpected when Holy Trinity Catholic and Fort Madison meet up for the annual cross-town matchup.
Fort Madison pressured the Crusaders for most of the game, controlling the tempo and setting the pace for a 63-48 win Saturday in non-conference boys high school basketball.
Fort Madison started racing up and down the floor and had seven shots from the field before Holy Trinity got its second shot.
But the Hounds were a bit chilly going just 2-8 in the first eight minutes for an 8-3 lead.
Holy Trinity wouldn’t have much going either as the full court pressure of Fort Madison forced a slower pace for the Crusaders. A swarming defense forced a five-second call and several close calls on 10-second violations in the first period getting the Crusaders out of sync.
Bloodhound sophomore Dayton Davis scored six unanswered points to give the Hounds a comfy 12-5 lead, but foul trouble would force Davis to the sideline. The sophomore has battled foul trouble all year, getting after steals and wreaking havoc in passing lanes.
‘It’s tough and exciting, but frustrating,” said Head Coach Ryan Wilson about having to keep Davis on the bench.
“If he could stay in position he’s gonna get the steals and we can keep him on the floor longer. He has to quit gambling and be a little more picky.”
Fort Madison would push a 14-7 first quarter lead and a pesky man defense held HTC to no made buckets from the 3:38 mark of the 1st period until Chandler Rung’s 3-point play just before the end of the half set the score at 29-15.
Holy Trinity wouldn’t be able to cut into the lead in the third with Jayden Fedler taking over inside and scoring Fort Madison’s first seven of the third period to open up a 36-21 lead.
Davis would swipe the inbound pass and hit a layup, but then would turn around and commit his fourth foul right after the play getting after the next inbound pass.
Vasin Thurman and Matt Hellige would convert back-to-back buckets to cut the lead back to 38-25, but HTC wouldn’t get much closer than that.
Thurman would take a hard fall going up for a bucket in the third period when he got over the Hounds’ Jace Burgher and fell over the top of him on the way down, halting play. Thurman would return after some treatment to his hip.
Head Coach John Hellige said it was a physical game, but they always expect that in town.
“We weren’t totally not expecting a physical game. The consistency just hasn’t been there for us,” he said.
“We’ll have an absolute perfect game like at Mediapolis, and we played good enough to win against Winfield. But there’s times when it feels like other teams are throwing that first punch and we get back on our heels and get caught trying to play catch up.
He said the Crusaders handled the press okay, but couldn’t attack it because of the pace.
“They controlled the tempo and that’s really our game to try and do that, but we were just a tick off tonight.”
Wilson said he wanted to pressure the Crusader ball handlers and see if they could get some buckets in transition.
“Pressing is something we do. I saw that they struggle handling the ball a little bit against man-to-man defenses. We had a couple times where we held them to 9 or 9.5 seconds at halfcourt. Our kids were disciplined in the press.”
With the Bloodhounds up 44-25 going into the final period, Wilson started getting some bench in the game, as the student section started chanting who they’d like to see next.
He said it’s good to get those kids some floor time because the Hounds have had foul trouble, but also they need the experience.
“We have a phenomenal group of sophomores and a big group of seniors and when we’re able to find some time to get some of these kids some minutes, it’s good for the program.”
The Bloodhounds committed just eight turnovers on the night, which is down about 10 on average for the year, and had just three in the first half.
“That speaks volumes being down about 10 turnovers from our average. Our patience really paid off,” Wilson said.
Fedler led the Hounds with 17 points followed by Parker Denning and Dayton Davis each with 12.
Vasin Thurman had 13 to lead Holy Trinity. Chandler Rung chipped in with 11 and Matt Hellige had nine.