Ross, Kruse look to build on last year’s 17-3 campaign
BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
FORT MADISON – It could be a lonely bench for Fort Madison girls basketball coach Tony Sargent this season.
The roster numbers for the Bloodhounds in the preseason have been so low, it’s been hard to install any schemes.
“We haven’t put any offense in, defense in, out of bounds … nothing,” Sargent said. “There’s a lot of drills we can’t do because we don’t have enough kids.”
Sargent’s hope is to have a rotation of 8-9 players — there isn’t enough to have a junior varsity team this season — but getting everyone healthy and on the same page is the goal for the opening weeks.
“It’s been quite interesting,” Sargent said. “It’s been hard at times.”
The Bloodhounds went 17-3 last season, winning the Southeast Conference title for the first time since 1998.
“I was hoping winning would be contagious,” Sargent said. “I thought that would be a big thing. Hopefully that can carry over from last season.”
There is talent among the low numbers, though, which gives Sargent optimism.
Malarie Ross, an IGCA all-district selection last season, averaged 20 points per game last season and was one of the team’s best defenders, with 109 steals.
“She’s just good,” Sargent said. “She brings the whole package.”
Sargent’s daughter, Irelynd, started five games as a freshman last season. She was second on the team with 115 rebounds and third with 49 steals.
“She’s one of my best defenders,” Sargent said. “We can put her on any player and she does a great job.”
Junior Camille Kruse averaged 8.3 points last season, and was third on the team with 109 rebounds. She led the team with 61 assists.
“Camille has the skill,” Sargent said. “She can be as good as she wants to be.”
Junior Molly Knipe started 15 games last season and was third on the team with 110 rebounds.
The Bloodhounds add Anna Lynk, who didn’t play last season but did play with the team during the summer.
“She’s done really well,” Sargent said.
Sophomores Ajia Jenkins and Taylor Johnson will also play significant roles.
Sargent likes to play a fast offense and pressure defense to counter the Bloodhounds’ lack of size.
“Once we kind of get in shape, once we get there, we’ll be able to put more pressure on the ball,” Sargent said.
Sargent said he’s maintaining a positive outlook despite the numbers.
“If I can get the puzzle put together, I think we can be OK,” he said. “I really think we’ve got a lot of talent. I know what the girls are capable of, if we can just pull everything together.”