BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The Fort Madison girls basketball team continued it’s string of nine wins with a 63-46 win over host Holy Trinity in the annual cross-town affair.
But Head Coach Tony Sargent said the Lady Hounds (10-1) have yet to put together a complete game and have some tough competition coming up.
“It’s the way we play. We start some times fast and some times slow and then we put a good stretch in there and then we put some bad ones in there too,” Sargent said.
“I guess sometimes we don’t like prosperity.”
Fort Madison ramps up the level of competition starting this week with Fairfield (5-1, 3-0 SEC). The Trojans have only played six games this year, but are undefeated in the Southeast Conference.
The Hounds also have Keokuk (4-5, 3-1 SEC) and a good Clark County squad on the slate this week. Next week brings another matchup with Fairfield and Iowa City Liberty (2-4, 2-2 Mississippi Valley).
Holy Trinity put up a strong start going up 4-0 and holding for an 8-7 lead in the first quarter, but Fort Madison would get its bearings with a 11-0 run in the final three minutes of the quarter for an 18-8 lead at the end of one.
The Bloodhounds Malarie Ross, who finished with a game-high 31 points on the night, was held to just six in the second period, but Irelynd Sargent took some of the pressure off with a couple of three pointers to start the second period as Fort Madison quickly pulled away.
The Hounds would take leads as big as 23 before going into the locker room up 40-23 after Holy Trinity slowed the pace a little and closed with an 8-2 run in the final three minutes led by senior Bailey Hellweg’s two buckets.
Fort Madison would stretch the lead back to 20 at the end of three and Holy Trinity would mount one final small rally in the fourth when they cut the lead to 16 at 60-44 during a cold spell for the Hounds from the floor.
Holy Trinity Coach Tony Johnson said the team has been playing without junior Kassi Randolph who’s nursing a sore ankle, and the team is looking for leadership.
“We’re playing the young ones a bunch and they’re responding. We’re going to keep going with that and hopefully the older ones will catch on,” he said.
“I’m just turning them loose. Somebody has to take charge and we’re searching for a leader. Maybe that will help these young ones become a leader for the future.”
Freshman Mary Kate Bendlage was one of the underclassman Johnson turned loose. The freshman had a season-high 21 points, 11 in the first half, against a Hound defense that’s allowing just over 39 points a game.
Another freshman Natalie Randolph had eight on the night for HTC.
Fort Madison got 10 from Camille Kruse and eight from Sargent.
The Crusaders fall to 4-12 on the year and hold at 3-8 in SEISC. They play host to Van Buren on Tuesday and Class 3A No. 7 West Burlington comes to town on Friday.
Tony Sargent said the Hounds upcoming schedule will really show where the team is at with four weeks til districts.
“It sets up pretty good for us as we’ve got some tough games coming up in a row and it’s going to show what we got or what we don’t. We’ll take some games and we’ll take some lumps,” he said.
“But when you play teams like that, you have to play the whole game.”