Oh so close

The Fort Dodge girls’ basketball team went the final 12 minutes of its game with Marshalltown without scoring a field goal but still managed to pull out the victory on the road at the Roundhouse thanks to an impressive showing at the free-throw line.

The Dodgers went 13-for-18 at the line in the final quarter and held on despite an improved showing from the Bobcats during their 44-41 win in Central Iowa Conference Northern Division play.

Marshalltown had several chances to go on top late in the game but turned it over three times in the final minute and missed 11 free throws in the contest.

“They haven’t been in this situation before,” MHS coach Stacy O’Hare said of her squad playing in a close game. “They are not going to know what to do. You can draw it up 1,000 times in practice, but until you see it live, you don’t know what to expect.”

Both teams came into the game on losing streaks. The Dodgers (8-9, 2-2) ended their streak at three games, while Marshalltown has now lost 10 in a row and 14 of its last 15.

The Bobcats (3-15, 0-3) led 8-2 early in the first quarter, but Fort Dodge jumped in front with a 16-0 run that spanned both quarters in the first half.

Seven in a row from the Bobcats kept the game within reach, but the Dodgers pushed the lead to six at the break.

The Bobcats hit 2-of-16 from the floor in the first quarter and then made only 2-of-12 in the second.

“The ball didn’t fall in the first quarter. We had good looks,” said O’Hare. “We can’t get away from those single-digit quarters.”

The Dodgers advantage was erased quickly by the home team in the third quarter. The Bobcats never grabbed a lead in the frame, but stayed within four after Samantha Hughes hit a jumper from the elbow. She added a nifty bucket in the lane and three foul shots later in the quarter to draw the Bobcats even at 31-all heading into the final frame.

Hughes had seven points in the third and led Marshalltown in the game with 13 points, five rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Rachel Blagg played her best game of the season, finishing with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

The Bobcats couldn’t convert the first two front ends of 1-and-1 opportunities in the fourth and that allowed the Dodgers to stay in front. Blagg buried two at the line with 5:14 to play to pull MHS within one and then an Amanda Hughes 3 and a Blagg putback with 2:30 to go knotted the game again.

The Bobcats led briefly after Sam Hughes went 1-of-2 from the line, but they had more turnovers (3) than points (2) in the final 2 minutes. The Dodgers then finished off the win with four free throws in the final minute.

Fort Dodge got 10 points from Ashley Altman and nine more from leading scorer Lani Van Zyl. Van Zyl was 6-of-6 from the line and the Dodgers hit 24-of-36 from the charity stripe in the win.

“We got into the bonus and didn’t take advantage of it,” said O’Hare. “And we put them on the line way too much.”

Amanda Hughes finished with eight points, five rebounds and three assists for the Bobcats, while Rachel Whaley yanked down six boards.

O’Hare is not into moral victories, but the Bobcats did manage to eclipse the 40-point barrier in their fifth straight game. They had gotten to at least 40 just four times in the previous 13 games before that.

“We’re getting better. We are trying to be more patient and take better shots,” O’Hare said. “We need the ball to go inside. We just can’t jack up the first shot we have. And we are doing a better job with that for the most part.”


Tiana Mericle scored Fort Dodge’s final bucket of the game with about 4 minutes to play in the third quarter. The Bobcats made three more shots from the floor in the game, but the Dodgers had nine more makes from the line. The Bobcats will play today against Ames in a make-up game beginning at 1:30 p.m. The Dodgers beat Marshalltown 60-25 in the previous meeting in Fort Dodge.