Hounds pass test at rowdy Fairfield gym

Fort Madison's Dayton Davis looks for room in the lane as he slips around Fairfelds' Ryan Higgins. Davis finished with 26 points on the night to lead Fort Madison. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

FAIRFIELD – The chant from the wayward Fairfield student section was “over-rated”, but the reality was Fairfield gave No. 1 Fort Madison a usual down-to-the-buzzer battle at Fairfield High School Thursday night.

The Hounds fought back a fierce rally by the Trojans to hang on for a 57-54 win in Southeast Conference boys action.

Fort Madison, sitting atop the Class 3A AP poll, improves to 14-0 on the year and stays perfect in Southeast play at 7-0, just a half a game in front of Washington (6-1), the No. 2 team in the state in 3A.

WILSON

“I told the guys in the locker room, that environment there tonight, the hostility, the noise, the gettin-everybody’s-best is what we’re gonna have the rest of the year,” said Head Coach Ryan Wilson.

“We’re home on Saturday, but we’re going to go to Burlington on Monday and it’s going to just as bad – and it’s going to be loud. Everybody’s gunnin’ for you.”

It was the Miles Dear and Dayton Davis show for most of the night. The two combined for all of Fort Madison’s points in the first half with the exception of a Reiburn Turnbull bucket that capped a 15-3 run toward the end of the first half.

Dear and Davis combined for 27 first-half points with Dear scoring 10 in the first quarter and Davis heating up in the second with 11.

The Hounds jumped out to a 12-8 first quarter lead on Dear’s 3-ball with 4:04 left in the first quarter. Fairfield would come back to tie the game at 14 on a Max Wheaton put-back in the paint. A 3-ball from Turnbull at the buzzer popped up off the back of the iron and didn’t fall.

FMHS Miles Dear throws in a shot over Fairfield’s Evan Haines (5) Thursday night in the Hounds’ 3-point win in Fairfield. The No. 1 (Class 3A) Bloodhounds improved to 14-0 on the year with a 57-54 win on the road. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

J.J. Lane scored to open the second for the Trojans and, after Matt Hopper’s 3-pointer from the right baseline came up short, Lane answered with a three from the top of the key to give Fairfield a 5-point lead.

Dear and Davis keyed a momentum swing and carried Fort Madison to an 11-0 run through the second for a 25-19 lead. Tate Allen stopped the shift with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to three before Davis and Turnbull scored back-to-back to make it a 7-point game before Lane converted a couple freethrows and Hunter Cecchini scored on a floater in the lane to make it 29-26 game at the half.

Dear opened the third with five straight points and then Fort Madison would miss its next six shots from the field. Fortunately for the Hounds, a couple turnovers and 2-of-7 shooting from Fairfield kept the lead at about five.

Davis shot a chilly 55% from the freethrow line. Fairfield picked up on the trend and went into a special Hack-A-Dayton scheme and sent the senior to the freethrow line 14 times in the final 10 minutes where he went 4-of-11 giving Fairfield several chances to get back in the game.

The ploy worked and the Trojans cut the lead to just one at 41-40 when Sam Wheaton scored, got fouled in the paint, and converted the 3-point play.

A pivotal exchange for the Bloodhounds came when Turnbull spun around Wheaton on a Davis errant freethrow and gobbled up the rebound for a putback to give Fort Madison a 3-point lead.

Tate Johnson would get a steal in the Trojans’ next possession, race to the Hounds’ end, and miss a layup, but Turnbull again scraped off the shot and scored to put Fort Madison up by five.

Fairfield would cut the lead to just one three times in the final 2:45 seconds. Lane pulled up from three and got bumped by Davis on the errant shot. Lane would convert two of the three freebies to leave Fort Madison up by one at 53-52 with :46 left.

Dear would take the throw in after a Fairfield time out and slice into the lane for a scoop shot drawing a foul off Ryan Higgins. Dear would complete the three-point play for a 56-52 lead.

Tate Allen would score at the other end after a Fairfield timeout with :14 left. Dear would be quickly fouled on the inbound with :15 seconds to play. He missed the first end of the one-and-one but converted the bonus for a 57-54 lead.

Fairfield called another time out to set the halfcourt and got two decent looks at a 3 to tie, but Lane’s final shot at the buzzer came up short of the rim.

Wilson said Davis and Dear were the leaders the team needed again, but Turnbull’s timely buckets were also a key to preserving the win.

“This is what leaders do. They step up and make some plays and knock down some freethrows. We could’ve knocked down a few more to make things a little easier,” Wilson said.

“These guys have worked their butts off all the way back to fourth grade in these kinds of environments and these kinds of situations. Miles just stepped up at the end and made some freethrows and got the game for us.”

Davis said the idea of losing the perfect season was in his head.

“I felt like it was possible that we could lose at the end of the game, but I was also thinking positive like we were going to pull it through. Last year’s buzzer beater loss was going through my head and then I thought overtime could happen, but I had to stay positive and get through the game,” Davis said.

“But I didn’t play very good. The freethrow line killed me,”

Dear said he likes to play in the crazy environments like Fairfield in big games.

“I personally like that environment. I think it elevates my game. I would rather have a crowd that’s loud rather than everyone just sitting there,” Dear said.

He said in clutch times, his time on the court has him prepared for big games.

“We have confidence in those times. I know the work I’ve put in and I know in the clutch I’m built for that.”

Davis said down the stretch he was trying to get inside to the basket and push Wheaton, who was playing with four fouls for the final four minutes.

“We just wanted to back him down and put pressure on him. When he got the fourth foul he got off me a bit and I was able to do some more things,” the senior said.

Davis finished with 26 points on the night, including a 10-for-18 night at the freethrow line. Dear finished with 23, and Turnbull had eight.

The Hounds host Notre Dame at 5:30 p.m. Saturday and then travel to Burlington for a showdown with the Grayhounds at Johannsen Gym on Monday night in a weather-related makeup. Burlington is 5-1 in the Southeast and 10-6 overall. After Burlington, the Hounds travel to Washington in what is shaping up to a be a clash of the No. 1 and 2 teams in 3A. The Demons are 13-2 on the year with losses to Ottumwa and Fort Madison.

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