BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
BURLINGTON – When you shoot 2-19 in a half and hit a couple free throws, things gonna be tough.
The Fort Madison Bloodhounds 4-6 in the Southeast Conference and 8-9 overall, completely shut down offensively in the 2nd half at Don Gibbs Gym in Burlington Friday night falling 66-35 to the Grayhounds.
“Couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn,” Head Coach Ryan Wilson said at the end of his post-game interview.
Fort Madison got down 6-2 in the early going but chipped away at the Grayhounds. The Grayhounds favored transition over setting up a half court offense – something that wasn’t lost on head coach Ryan Wilson after the second half shooting woes.
“When you shoot that bad you don’t give yourself a chance to set a press or a defense or anything. Give (Burlington) credit, they played hard.”
But the quick pace can also be a detriment when things get too loose. Burlington committed back-to-back turnovers and then were whistled for consecutive fouls with just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Matt Hopper caught the first foul in the paint on a nice move inside, but would miss both freebies. Junior Dayton Davis would tip the rebound back to himself and score on a putback to cut the lead to three 11-8.
Davis would then make two free throws on the next possession after a defensive stop in the middle of 6-0 Fort Madison run.
Hopper would score inside on a nifty assist from Miles Dear off the dribble in the paint to give Fort Madison its first lead at 13-12.
Senior Michael Alexander would answer for the Grayhounds after slipping through the Fort Madison press to take the lead back. Davis would be fouled on the next possession for the Bloodhounds and sink both to take the lead 14-13.
Fort Madison, who doesn’t have a senior on the squad, then got a 3-ball from junior Reiburn Turnbull from the right wing. Turnbull’s shot went in, rimmed up and round and slipped back through the net.
Nate Spear would answer with a 3 from the left baseline off a kickout pass from the lane. Turnbull would heat up at the other end with another 3-ball at the 5:22 mark of the second and Fort Madison had a 20-16 lead.
Jackson Carlson and Jordan Lowe would each score inside for Burlington and Philip Goldie would miss on a leaner at the bucket with 4:45 left and the game was tied at 20.
After a Burlington timeout, the Grayhounds came out with some full court pressure and forced a couple quick turnovers as Fort Madison tried to adjust. Burlington would capitalize in transition on each turnover for a 24-20 lead.
Davis would put back a Turnbull miss to cut it two, but Burlington would start to pull away from that point on.
Davis would score four more points for a team-high 16 on the night all in the first half, but Burlington would pull ahead for a 33-29 lead at the half, which included Turnbull’s third 3 of the night just before the buzzer.
Fort Madison would then get just two buckets and two free throws from Miles Dear in the final 16 minutes of play as Burlington ran away with game from the opening third quarter inbounds.
After Davis’ 16, Turnbull finished with nine, Dear had eight, including a nice fake to the left backing down a Grayhound defender in the lane and pulled back for an 8-foot fade away in the fourth quarter, but the game was out of reach at 53-35.
Matt Hopper finished with a couple to round out Fort Madison’s scoring.
“In the second half we just weren’t there. We got beat on the boards, gave up three rebounds on one possession which ends up in a made three, had 10 turnover and then act like we haven’t seen a 1-2-2 press all year,” Wilson said.
“We’ve seen that press darn near every game, so those things are frustrating. But we just didn’t take care of the ball, throwing lazy passes, long lazy lobs over the top that quick athletes will go get – and that’s what they did tonight.”
The Grayhounds improved to 7-3 in the Southeast Conference, but are just 8-10 overall.
Fort Madison plays at Muscatine Saturday and then rounds out the regular season on Tuesday at home with Ottumwa.
The Hounds then open post season play with a Feb. 22 tilt with Mt. Vernon (12-5) at Mt. Vernon. The Mustangs play in WaMaC and are 12-3 in loop play there and 13-5 overall. They are a perfect 7-0 against teams below .500 on the year.
The winner of the game will play the winner of Mt. Pleasant and Keokuk in the bottom half of the bracket in Mt. Vernon on Feb. 25. Both games are 7 p.m. starts.
On the top half of the draw is Davenport Assumption (11-6) v. Fairfield (5-8), and Marion (12-7) vs. CR Xavier (7-9). The winners there will play Assumption on 2/25, with the substate final game TBD on March 1.