North holds off Dodger boys

The shots weren’t falling and the fouls were piling up on the Fort Dodge boys basketball team here Tuesday.

Those shortcomings were ultimately too much for the Dodgers to overcome, as visiting Des Moines North prevailed by a 68-60 final. Even so, head coach Tom Daniel’s squad showed a resilience that will serve them well once their execution catches up to the effort.

”There’s definitely a silver lining to this loss, and that’s a tenacity that we sometimes didn’t show a year ago,” Daniel said. ”I liked seeing that. We made a ton of physical and mental mistakes – way too many to expect to win against a veteran ballclub like North.

”Despite everything we didn’t do, we were right there in the last three minutes. So we can use this game as a learning experience and get back to work on fixing the correctable issues we were struggling with (last night).”

Fort Dodge (1-1 overall) was whistled for 33 fouls and shot just 35 percent from the field – including a 2-for-19 mark from behind the three-point line. The Polar Bears pulled through in their season debut, thanks in large part to 49 free throw attempts and 53 percent shooting.

Senior point guard Teyontae Jenkins – one of three all-conference players returning from North’s 13-10 team of a year ago – had a game-high 22 points to guide the Polar Bears despite fouling out with 5:13 left in regulation. Down by 11 points with 6:32 remaining, the Dodgers pulled within a single possession on three separate occasions – but never did draw even.

”We had Jenkins out of the game and the crowd was into it with a little over three minutes to go,” Daniel said. ”Then we’d force up a bad three-point shot, turn the ball over or simply not run our offense the right way. It was incredibly frustrating from an execution standpoint.

”Our fight is what kept us in it and that’s something to build around, but we have a lot of things we need to fix and a lot of adjustments to make from here.”

Senior guards JC Hatcher (18 points) and Krunal Thakor (17) paced the Dodgers. Hatcher was bloodied across his face and from his nose after colliding with Jenkins, and had to miss a chunk of time late in the third quarter. He only scored two points from that incident on, and missed four of five free-throw attempts in the second half.

Ten of Thakor’s points came in the fourth quarter.

Senior starters Blake Wilder and Zach Martinson both battled foul trouble and, like Jenkins, were eventually disqualified. Wilder did contribute 15 points, but Martinson finished with just four after scoring 26 on Monday at Webster City.

”Blake and Zach just didn’t get into a rhythm. The same could be said for our whole offense,” Daniel said. ”I’m not going to harp on the officiating too much, though. The new hand-check rules are being emphasized and it was obvious from the get-go (Tuesday) that was going to be the case. We didn’t adjust. It was up to us to handle it and deal with it, but instead it got the better of us. That can’t happen – especially to a team as experienced as we are.”

Fort Dodge led 12-6 early and 14-12 after a Martinson put-back bucket to end the first quarter. The Polar Bears opened the second period on an 8-0 run, though, and never trailed again.

The Dodgers twice had the ball trailing by three points in the last three-plus minutes of regulation, but empty offensive trips sealed their fate. North was 17 for 28 at the line in the fourth quarter.

Jenkins, Samuel Williams Jr. (17 points) and Terrance Bush Jr. (10) all reached double figures for the Polar Bears. The all-conference senior trio combined to shoot 32 foul shots, sinking 20.

There were 58 fouls and 76 free throws attempted in the contest overall.

Fort Dodge is off until next Tuesday, when it faces West Des Moines Dowling on the road. The Maroons edged Des Moines Roosevelt on a last-second shot last night in their 2013-14 opener, 49-47.