BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The alarm clock seemed to have gone off on an otherwise sleepy season for the Fort Madison Bloodhounds Friday night.
After a sluggish first half that saw Fort Madison down nine against a 2-11 Fairfield squad at the Hound Dome, the hosts shook off the night and woke up for 55-43 Southeast Conference win.
It was the Hounds first conference win of the season.
The win is also the first time the Bloodhounds have won back-to-back games all season.
Senior Jayden Fedler said the Hounds’ play seems to be a bit different this week than it has the rest of the year. Fedler had four points in the first half, but finished with 18 to lead all scorers.
“It’s just a different vibe now. It feels like everyone is coming together and things are starting to work out like we said it was going to after the first couple of losses,” he said.
“Now it feels like it’s finally starting to come together.”
Fort Madison got behind early as the Trojans’ 6’4″ freshman post Max Weaton was able to score inside while disrupting the Hounds interior play. Fairfield senior Drew Martin buried a 3-pointer from the right baseline with 2:30 left in the first to put Fairfield up 14-5.
Fort Madison sophomore Dayton Davis was able to convert on slashing move inside the lane with :40 left in the first quarter to make it 14-7 at the end of one.
From that point the Hounds outscored Fairfield the rest of the way tying the contest at 18 on a Miles Dear 3-ball from the right wing off a skip pass over the defense from senior Parker Denning with :24 left in the first half.
Fairfield would work the ball up the floor and after a few passes on the perimeter found Weaton underneath for a shot that bounced up off the rim and fell through at the buzzer for a 20-18 Fairfield lead at the break.
Fort Madison would then take over the contest starting with a 16-8 third quarter run highlighted by eight points including a Davis 3-pointer that almost from the hip, with no time on the clock in front of the Fort Madison student section to give the Hounds a 34-28 lead.
Fairfield slipped into half-court hybrid matchup zone that tried to trap senior Michael Mosena in the fourth period. But Mosena used some righteous ball handling and quick feet to navigate a double team for most of the quarter.
Mosena’s ball control allowed some open looks underneath and the Hounds played unselfish ball the rest of the quarter with a myriad of nifty interior passes that resulted in 7-of-9 shooting for the period and a lead of as much as 16.
“A huge thanks to my teammates for them coming to the ball when their man came and trapped me. Whoever that was, I looked to get them the ball, or looked for a skip pass, because they were wide open,” Mosena said.
“I just tried to slow it down a little bit and not turn it over.”
Wilson said Mosena is showing confidence.
“We go as he goes, and as long as he stays under control and slows down and makes some ball fakes we’re ok. We have some small guards so teams are gonna double team us,” Head Coach Ryan Wilson said.
“The thing I love about Mike is his defense and his energy. He plays defense and that brings everyone else in.”
Wilson said the Hounds just wanted the win more in the second half and became unselfish with the ball.
“It really was an issue of giving up some good shots to get great shots,” he said.
“They wanted it. They came out and played hard. We didn’t make to many adjustments in the second half. We went to a different zone offense that allowed us to do more high-low stuff.”
The Hounds committed just 11 turnovers on the night which is well below their season average. Fort Madison was also 12-of-15 at the free throw line including going 7-of-7 in the final minutes.
Davis had 16 points for Fort Madison and Denning had 11. Jace Burgher had four points and Miles Dear had five.
The Hounds (5-10, 1-7) will try to make it three in a row Saturday with an afternoon set with a 5-8 Pleasant Valley squad that beat Burlington and Mt. Pleasant at the beginning of the season. Fort Madison then travels to Central Lee on Tuesday night.