BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – You can do just about everything right, but when a team shoots 76% from the field you have your hands full.
The Fort Madison Bloodhounds found themselves with their hands full in a 65-53 loss to Muscatine at home Saturday evening.
The Muskies shot a polished 26-34 from the field, and five of the eight misses came in the first period. At one point the guests hit nine straight from the field including a 15-1 run in the second period.
Fort Madison held a 16-11 lead when sophomore Dayton Davis converted a three-point play with 6:50 left in the second period. Muscatine junior Josh Dieckman, a 6’6″ post player, then went to work inside with a full four inches on anyone in the lane to stop him
The Hounds were playing their second straight game without senior big man Jayden Fedler, who’s been out with the flu.
Dieckman took a pass inside from junior Noah Yahn in from the right baseline wide, pivoted, took two steps and a dribble and put a two-handed slam down to put Muscatine up 26-17.
Fort Madison would fight back to trail by five 31-26 at halftime and then a bucket by senior Jace Burgher inside cut the lead to three at the start of the third period.
Muscatine’s Waker Cler and Yahn then combined for ten points in the next four minutes to stretch the lead to 10 at 45-35. Davis would convert another three-point play to make it a seven-point lead, but Fort Madison wouldn’t get closer than six the rest of the night.
Sophomore Miles Dear, who finished with a season and team-high 16, hit a trey at the 7:17 mark of the final period to pull the Hounds again within seven at 50-43. Sophomore Reiburn Turnbull hit his second three of the night with 4:15 left in the game to cut the lead to six, but that’s a close as Fort Madison would get.
Head Coach Ryan Wilson said the Hounds were playing solid defense and creating some turnovers so he didn’t realize how well the Muskies were shooting.
“I knew they were hittin’ shots, but it didn’t feel like everything was going in,” he said.
“Our kids we’re playing hard, we just have to be more fundamental. But I can’t question the effort.”
He said Dear’s play was something that he’s been expecting, and now seeing the past few games.
“Miles played really well, and has played well the last few games. He’s coming along and figuring things out,” Wilson said.
“It’s a process and I had no doubt it was going to come. He’s attacking with confidence, shooting with confidence, and knocking down free throws.”
Turnovers again plagued the Hounds with seven in the first half which threw a bit a water on the first quarter lead.
“As long as we aren’t turning the ball over we’re OK offensively. I have no problems with that, but if you turn the ball over you can’t score,” Wilson said.
Dear said with the rest of the team struggling from the field, he relied on his ability to shoot.
“Some people were struggling, but I know I have a shot, even though it may not show statistically, I know I do,” Dear said.
“So stuff was just falling and, yeah, I was just feeling it. It hasn’t always been that way. The first half of the season was horrible and I was struggling with confidence, but the last few games I’ve been playing better.”
The Hounds got 10 from Davis, and eight each from Parker Denning, Jace Burgher and Turnbull. Mosena finished with three points.
On Friday night the Hounds went to Washington without the services of Fedler or Mosena and took a punch from the Demons 78-41. Aside from a one-point deficit at the end of the first quarter, Fort Madison was never in the game as Washington raced out to 47-27 halftime lead, and pushed the lead to 38 in the second half.
Davis led the Hound with 13 points. Denning had nine in the loss.
The Hounds (6-12) are off until Thursday when they travel to Albia and then Friday the Burlington Grayhounds come calling to wrap up the regular season.
District brackets for the post-season should be released next Friday and the Hounds will be looking at a No. 7 or 8 seed.