BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
FORT MADISON – The zone defense never changed.
There was no need.
Fort Madison High School girls basketball coach Tony Sargent had a plan to slow Central Lee’s Mya Merschman, and it worked on shutting down all of the Hawks.
The Bloodhounds’ defense did its job in a 37-22 home win on Saturday night.
Merschman, who averages 29.9 points per game, was held to just 15 points, only four in the first half. Only two other Hawks — Makayla Morrison (4) and Ella Sanders (3) — scored.
“I thought about playing a 1-3-1, or maybe go man-to-man, or something else,” Sargent said. “We started out in the 1-3-1, it was working, so we figured, why change it? Our girls communicated really well. Our defense was spot on. I thought we played well.”
The Hawks scored just two first-quarter points, but were only down by four points. Still, Central Lee coach Jay Baldwin figured, his team felt the deficit was greater.
“They were in our heads a little bit,” Baldwin said. “In all due respect, (the defense) wasn’t something we haven’t seen. We just missed shots, and it was contagious. When everybody started missing, we couldn’t get their heads straightened.
“We didn’t have bad shots. We had good shots. We didn’t make them.”
The Hawks (6-5) couldn’t loosen the zone with outside shots. Merschman had three 3-pointers, and Ella Sanders had one, but those came in the second half as Fort Madison (8-1) was in control.
“We had a couple of airballs, and then we quit shooting,” Baldwin said. “I was a little disappointed in our energy. We just didn’t have the energy we’ve had the last few games. Maybe we were due for a stinker, I don’t know.”
The Bloodhounds made sure to always have someone on Merschman.
“I told the girls, once she got across half-court, watch her, because she can hit from anywhere,” Sargent said. “We didn’t get out on her the last few times, but so what? It was OK.”
Fort Madison was able to attack Central Lee’s defense. Malarie Ross had 16 points, hitting three 3-pointers, and the Bloodhounds got 11 points from Brandy Walker inside.
It was Fort Madison’s seventh consecutive victory.
“I’m happy,” Sargent said. “The girls played well.”