Dodger boys handle Humboldt

Fort Dodge’s final week of the regular season got off the on right foot here Monday as the boys handled Humboldt, 60-41.

The Dodgers ended a three-game skid in the first of four straight contests on their home court as they move from the regular season into substate play. Fort Dodge returns to the court right away on Tuesday against ninth-ranked (Class 4A)?Des Moines Hoover, then closes out the regular season Friday at home against Southeast Polk.

Johnston comes to town on Monday as the Dodgers host a playoff opener.

“Any win or game can’t be taken for granted,” said FDSH head coach Tom Daniel, whose squad moved to 7-12 overall after playing its fourth contest in eight days. “We had a bad practice on Sunday. One of the worst we’ve had this year. From that point to (last night) was a significant improvement. That response was good to see.

“We had a lousy third quarter (Monday) but that’s something we’ll have to take a look at and see if we can improve.”

The Dodgers used an 8-0 run in the second period to take a 33-21 halftime lead, but the Wildcats (14-6) cut the deficit to 34-32 with just 1:43 left in the third period and had possession of the ball.

That’s when Fort Dodge junior JC Hatcher got a steal just inside half court and dunked to energize both the Fort Dodge crowd and his squad, which went on a 10-0 run to take a comfortable 45-32 advantage with 6:22 remaining in regulation.

“For a smaller team, when someone gets a dunk like that it gave us some life,” said Daniel. “Defensively you can definitely feed off a moment like that.”

Hatcher finished with 18 points for the Dodgers. Tyler Vaughn added 14 and Zach Martinson had 11 off the bench.

Brady Ross led the Wildcats with 14 points, but he had to sit most of the third period after picking up his third and fourth fouls less than two minutes in.

“Ross is an important part of our game,” said Humboldt head coach Daryl Short. “That really made a difference with him out. We got close there in the third period, but we got impatient on offense.”

Fort Dodge was up by as many as 16 points at 31-15 in the first half. After pulling within two and then surrendering a 10-0 counter-punch, the Wildcats never got within 10 the rest of the way.

“We need the experience of handling a quarter like that. We need the experience of closing out a game,” said Daniel.

After not making it to the free throw line in a narrow loss to Ames Friday, the Dodgers were 11 of 13 from the stripe last night. Humboldt struggled to just 17 of 46 shooting, including 1 of 8 from beyond the arc.

Fort Dodge will go the rest of the year without the services of sophomore Austin Halligan, who rolled an ankle in practice. He had been proving quickness off the bench, which the Dodgers will need tonight against the speedy Huskies (15-2).

Tonight’s game with Hoover tips at approximately 7:45.

Humboldt closes out the regular season against Storm Lake on Thursday before hosting Algona in a 3A District opener next Monday.