Early Chiefs' start dooms Hounds in regionals

Teams combine for just six points in the fourth quarter

KEOKUK — Landon Bentley showed the emotions from the end of his first season as Fort Madison’s girls basketball coach.
Keokuk eliminated the Bloodhounds from the postseason, taking a 43-29 in Saturday’s Class 4A regional semifinal.
Fort Madison finished the season at 14-8, a season that Bentley said was an education.
“I learned a tremendous amount,” he said.
The Bloodhounds, though, ran into a Southeast Conference nemesis. Keokuk (19-3), which advances to Tuesday’s regional final against Clear Creek-Amana, won all three games against Fort Madison this year on the way to an unbeaten season in conference play.
The Chiefs took control of this game early, and Fort Madison couldn’t mount any offense to answer. The Bloodhounds were down 21-11 early, and the Chiefs kept the lead in double digits the rest of the way.
Bentley lamented the numerous misses of easy shots inside.
“It’s been kind of our downfall all season, the bunnies we miss, the free throws,” Bentley said. “When you miss three or four layups and you’re down nine or 11, it could be a closer game if you make those. But at the end of the day, it wasn’t.”
The Bloodhounds couldn’t mount a fourth-quarter comeback. They held the Chiefs to just four points, but scored only two.
“We fought tooth and nail,” Bentley said. “That’s all you can ask for. We made a couple of surges when we could have laid over and let it go. That’s all you can ask for.”
Dayonna Davis led Fort Madison with 14 points. Halle Menke had six points, and Hadley Wolfe had five points. All three are sophomores.
“This is a young group,” Bentley said. “We’ve got freshmen, sophomores, who are ready to go for next year, and we’ll work to get them ready.”
Fort Madison loses senior captains Ajia Jenkins, Taylor Johnson and Irelynd Sargent, along with reserve Juanita Sportsman.
“It’s a great group of seniors,” Bentley said. “I’m proud I got to coach them, and I was glad they were part of this team.”
Kendra Boatman led Keokuk with 11 points.
Bentley said he’s ready to take what he learned into next season.
“Composure was a big thing,” Bentley said. “(Assistant coach Kent Bailey) being around has helped me so, so much. People don’t understand that experience is everything.
“We built a family in that locker room. We built a family, and I love that group.”
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