BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
FORT MADISON – Ryan Wilson was troubled by what he saw.
His Fort Madison High School boys basketball team was trying to force the action in the final three minutes of the third quarter of Saturday’s home game against Central Lee.
“They played basketball like we haven’t been playing,” Wilson said. “They were forcing shots, forcing drives, forcing passes. So I just told them, ‘Quit playing your way. Run our stuff. Run the stuff that has made us successful. Slow down and quit forcing things.’”
The message worked. The Bloodhounds held Central Lee to four fourth-quarter points, and rallied for a 47-46 win.
Dayton Davis’ layup with 13.7 seconds gave Fort Madison (6-4) the lead, and then the Bloodhounds survived when Kaleb Sanders’ buzzer-beating 10-foot shot in the lane rolled off the rim.
Here’s a look at Davis’ go-ahead bucket inside: https://youtu.be/flT2P3DyNLE
It was the third win of the week for the Bloodhounds, but it wasn’t easy. Central Lee (4-7), which had its three-game winning streak snapped, outscored Fort Madison 19-9 in the third quarter to take a 42-32 lead.
“They had some opportunities (in the fourth quarter),” Wilson said. “And they very well could have gotten us. But we stepped up to the challenge when we were down 10 points.”
Central Lee’s only points in the fourth quarter came on a basket by Derick Denning and two free throws from Jaxon Betker.
“I think we played not to lose,” Central Lee coach Evan Swanson said. “We weren’t looking for anything offensively. We have to understand that we can waste clock and still be aggressive.”
The Hawks had three shots on one possession and didn’t score, and turned the ball over twice in the final minute.
But they still had a good look on the final shot. Fort Madison was able to tip a pass near midcourt, but the ball was caught by Sanders, who dribbled into the lane and was open for the last shot.
“Give Fort Madison credit,” Swanson said. “They played it perfectly. With four seconds left, it’s basically a prayer anyway. It wasn’t a bad look, it just didn’t fall. We gave ourselves a chance, that’s all you can ask for.”
Davis led Fort Madison with 19 points. Miles Dear had 15.
“They’re our leaders. We know that,” Wilson said. “They’ll get their points, but they know that they don’t have to force it to get the points.”
Jaxon Betker led Central Lee with 16 points. Kade Myhre had 10 points, all in the second half.
“Kade’s done a good job all season of getting to the rim,” Swanson said. “But we can’t squander leads like that. We can’t squander the work of someone getting to the rim like he did.
“I give them a lot of credit — they’re a physical team. Honestly, it wore our boys down. They were way more physical than us, and they deserved to win.”