Fort Madison wipes out several double digit leads to trail by two with :07 left
BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
WASHINGTON — It was a show you get when two of the state’s best boys basketball teams play.
It was the show you get when the two teams are battling for the conference lead.
The ending, though, wasn’t what Fort Madison wanted.
The No. 1 (Class 3A) Bloodhounds fought back from a double-digit halftime deficit, and then scrambled to almost erase another double-digit deficit in the closing minutes before falling 62-59 to No. 4 Washington on Friday night.
The Demons (15-2) moved to 8-1 to take sole possession of the Southeast Conference lead heading into the final week of league play. Fort Madison (15-2) suffered its second loss of the week and fell to 7-2 in the conference, tied with Burlington for second place.
“That’s what No. 1 versus No. 4 should look like,” Fort Madison coach Ryan Wilson said. “Obviously we would have liked to have been on the other end of it. But to give this gym, which was packed to the walls, that game, to show why we were ranked where we are, why they were ranked where they are, that’s what you want.”
Fort Madison trailed 37-24 at halftime before cutting the lead to 48-44 at the end of the third quarter. Then, after the Demons pulled out to a 59-49 lead with 2 1/2 minutes to play, the Bloodhounds went on an 8-0 run and had a chance to tie the game twice in the closing 30 seconds.
“Give our kids credit, they fought back,” Wilson said. “To be down like that at halftime, and then have a chance to win, says a lot about this team.”
Fort Madison’s first chance to tie came when Washington’s Kasen Bailey missed the first free throw of a one-and-bonus with 34.8 seconds left. Wilson passed up the chance to call a timeout, letting the Bloodhounds work for a shot. Miles Dear was open in the lane, but his fall-away jumper was short, and the Demons got the rebound.
“We had a chance to tie it up. Seniors are going to play, leaders are going to shoot,” Wilson said. “Miles has knocked that turnaround-fadeaway shot down all season. I wasn’t mad at the shot selection.”
Ethan Patterson was fouled on the rebound and made two free throws to give Washington a 61-57 lead. Dear scored on a drive with seven seconds left, then Bailey was fouled on the inbounds play. He made just second of the two free throws, and Washington called a timeout.
The Bloodhounds had to go for the 3-pointer and the tie, but the Demons fouled Dear before he could get to mid-court. Dear, though, missed the front end of the one-and-bonus, and Washington was able to escape with the win.
Washington took control of the game with an 11-0 run in the first half to lead 28-18. The Bloodhounds were outscored 20-8 in the quarter as the Demons made defensive adjustments after guard Reiburn Turnbull picked up two first-quarter fouls.
“Turnbull’s foul trouble hurt us,” Wilson said. “He’s a scorer, he’s a player. It allowed them to make some changes defensively, take the lane away from Dayton (Davis) and Miles.”
Wilson made sure the Bloodhounds knew there was time to rally.
“Down 13 at halftime, you want to cut that lead in half by the end of the third quarter, and then you’re back in the game,” Wilson said. “We did a lot better than that.”
Dear led the Bloodhounds with 28 points. Davis finished with 17, fighting through the pain of a sprained ankle in the closing minutes to come up with two big steals to help Fort Madison in its final comeback.
Patterson led Washington with 18 points. Lucas Kroll had 14.
The Bloodhounds came into the week undefeated, but lost to Burlington on Monday and then suffered a second setback with this game.
“It’s better that this happens now, so we can learn from it,” Wilson said. “We’ve still got a lot of games left to play.”