Not there yet

Fort Dodge boys head coach Tom Daniel was proud of his team’s valiant comeback effort here Friday against Des Moines Roosevelt.

The fact that the Dodgers nearly erased a 13-point fourth quarter deficit offered some solace in what was otherwise another frustrating night of basketball for Daniel’s squad, which ultimately became the Roughriders’ seventh straight victim yesterday evening, 56-51.

”We rallied and showed some fight, which was encouraging and something we can take away from this loss,” Daniel said. ”At the same time, though, we have to look at the mistakes and the breakdowns that dug us that hole in the first place.

”We again showed in stretches that we can compete with one of the better teams the CIML has to offer. But what are we going to do to get over that hump and find the level of consistency and effort it takes to beat an opponent of this caliber? That’s the question right now – does this bother us enough that we’re going to do something about it, or are we content with being close enough?”

Fort Dodge (2-6 overall) resurrected its chances with a 9-0 run to make it 51-48 with 3:19 left in regulation. Senior Tyler Vaughn actually had a chance to tie the contest with a three-point attempt from the left corner, but the shot went wide and the Dodgers’ bubble seemed to slowly deflate from there.

Roosevelt (7-1), which shot 59 percent from the floor through three quarters and then had only one field goal in the entire fourth period, held FDSH scoreless over the next three minutes of action and made just enough free throws to keep the Dodgers at bay.

”We had a nice (15-4 spurt) where we showed energy and enthusiasm, but in the last two minutes, (the Roughriders) earned that win. They out-played us and were tougher than us at crunch time,” Daniel said. ”That’s the problem with falling behind by that much – you have to be pretty much flawless to overcome such a big deficit late against a 7-1 ballclub.

”There are plays here and plays there – a lot of little things – that add up over the course of a loss. You have to look back and each one of our guys has to ask himself, ‘what could I have done differently that makes it a more competitive game and gives us a more realistic shot at the very end?’ That’s all part of the learning process.”

.Junior Zach Martinson (14 points) and junior Blake Wilder (12) reached double figures for the Dodgers, who made only 6 of 20 three-point attempts and just 1 of 2 foul shots. Fort Dodge had four more baskets than Roosevelt, but were out-scored 13-1 at the charity stripe.

The Roughriders tallied the final nine points of both the first and second quarters. The Dodgers went scoreless for the last 5:03 of the first half.

”That’s really inexcusable,” Daniel said of the long drought. ”It’s a matter of getting five guys on the same page both execution-wise and effort-wise at this point. I was pleased with the minutes Andrew Stover (nine points and five rebounds) gave us and Marquan Clayton gave us, and Tyler (Vaughn) found other ways to contribute (six rebounds, five assists) despite struggling with his shot.

”Blake did well despite being in early foul trouble and Zach hit some big shots during our run. Look, it’s not all doom and gloom. If these kids decide they’re ready to take that next step both physically and mentally, the wins will start to come. But they have to want it – you can’t fake desire in the CIML.”

Fort Dodge, which has six setbacks to opponents with a combined record of 29-18 so far, faces another difficult challenge Tuesday at seventh-ranked Urbandale (8-1).