Nikes hang, but can’t unseat perfect Hounds

The Nikes' Hunter Lillie tries to go baseline on Fort Madison's Phillip Goldie and Miles Dear in the first quarter of Saturday's 58-49 by the 15-0 Bloodhounds. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

Dear and Davis combine for 44 of Fort Madison 58 points

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

FORT MADISON – Burlington Notre Dame was looking to come in and give the No. 1 Class 3A Fort Madison Bloodhounds’ 14-0 record a black eye in a Saturday tussle in the Hound Dome.

WILSON

And despite leaving senior Miles Dear in a heap on the floor at halftime after taking a blow to his eye, the Nikes couldn’t catch up to Fort Madison as the Hounds took a 58-49 win over the upset-minded Nikes.

But, in reality, everyone is upset-minded when the now 15-0 Hounds come into the building. Burlington will have the same mindset, and a hostile environment, on Monday night when Fort Madison comes calling in a critical Southeast Conference matchup.

“We gotta come in tomorrow and practice. We’ve got Burlington on Monday and there are some things we need work on and talk about,” Head Coach Ryan Wilson said.

Fort Madison’s Miles Dear slips to the basket in front of Notre Dame’s Owen Gulick in the first half of Saturday’s win over the Nikes. Dear finished with 21 points on the night. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

The Bloodhounds, who have an average margin of victory of 27 points on the year, with wins by as much as 69, have been atop the Class 3A Associated Press rankings for close to three weeks. This past week they were the unanimous choice at No. 1, something that has never happened in the program’s history.

But Wilson said the Hounds didn’t play their best Saturday, or Thursday against Fairfield for that matter. But, he said, they are playing good enough.

“For two weeks in a row we haven’t been our best. But we’ve been good enough,” he said.

“I told the guys tonight, we can’t just be good enough in the post season.”

Fort Madison will play in Substate 5 this year with games kicking off Feb. 21, giving them about two more weeks of regular season play – to get good enough.

The Hounds, despite having leads as big as 10 in the first half, could never really shake off the Nikes until there was about a minute left in the game.

Notre Dame jumped out to a 4-0 lead on a Carson Jones move inside, but Fort Madison would tie things up on a Dear breakaway layup. Jackson Brent would answer on the next possession for the Nikes, but senior Reiburn Turnbull would bury a three in front of the Hounds’ stands to give Fort Madison a 7-6 lead.

The two teams would exchange buckets until Fort Madison would go on a 6-2 run to open a 15-12 first quarter lead. Fort Madison would go 8 of 16 from the field in the second quarter, including one donnybrook in the lane where Matt Hopper would miss underneath, Dayton Davis would miss a putback, get his own rebound, miss again, try to tap in another rebound, and miss before Notre Dame could muscle the ball out of the paint.

The Nikes wouldn’t score in transition and Tate Johnson would score on the next trip for Fort Madison to open the largest lead for Fort Madison at 34-24 with about a minute left in the half. The Hounds would get a defensive stop and then, with just seconds left in the half, Dear went streaking down the floor trying to convert in transition before the buzzer and missed. After the shot he laid crouched on the floor for several minutes after taking a shot to the eye.

Notre Dame would get right back in it after the half, outscoring the Hounds 17-11 in the 3rd quarter with six different Nikes scoring in the run, cutting the lead to four 45-41.

Senior Landes Williams pulls up for a 3-ball with his parents just off his right shoulder in the background in the first half of Saturday night’s win. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

A breakaway dunk by Davis pushed the lead back to six and brought an already rowdy home crowd back into the game. Davis would score the next five unanswered for the Hounds, but would pick up his fourth foul with 3:47 left in the game.

Wilson made the decision to leave Davis in and the move paid off as the senior didn’t foul out, but was able to draw some attention in the middle, leaving Dear to put a cap on the game with the Hounds’ final eight points for the win.

Fort Madison committed 10 turnovers in the game and had several instances of not being able to convert despite three and four offensive chances in one possession.

Wilson said it wasn’t a matter of fatigue, but decision making.

“I don’t think it’s fatigue, they play so hard defensively it’s hard not to turn that switch off – slow things down and not get crazy offensively,” he said.

“We talked about that. We gotta go hard on defense, but then we have to slow it down on offense. We’re rushing shots and layups and we’re not taking care of the ball. If we want to have any postseason run we’ve gotta be more efficient offensively, slow things down, and play at the same level offensively as we do defensively.

Davis had 23 points on the night and went a much better 7-8 from the freethrow line after converting just over 54% of his freebies Thursday at Fairfield. Dear had 21 for Fort Madison. Turnbull had seven points for the Bloodhounds.

Jones led Notre Dame (5-11) with 15 points.

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