Dodger girls go the extra mile

The Fort Dodge girls made their long week a little bit longer Monday night in the Dodger gym, but it was worth the extra time.

Playing the first of three home games this week, the Dodgers had to go into overtime before putting away Sioux City East, 66-58.

The Dodgers, now 9-9, actually had a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter, but East stormed back to force overtime. Fort Dodge outscored the Black Raiders 10-2 in the extra session.

“It turned out all right, but we let up a little once we got a lead,” said head coach Scott Timmerman. “We thought they were going to go away and we let our guard down. But the girls battled back and took care of business in the overtime.”

The Dodgers got six of their 10 points in the overtime at the free throw line to go along with two big buckets from Tiana Mericle.

Mericle and Lani Van Zyl each had career high games, scoring 20 points apiece. Ashley Altman added 16 points. Mericle and Altman each finished with a double-double, pulling down 11 and 10 rebounds, respectively.

“We got really good post play out of Tiana,” said Timmerman. “And Ashley and Lani really stepped it up. (Assistant) Coach (Ryan) Maehl has been working with the post players and a lot of his work paid off tonight.

“We have been trying to do a better job of feeding the post. Hopefully this will give the girls the confidence that we can do that.”

Allysen Fuller led East with 20 points, but that came on 8-of-22 shooting. Hanna Vanderloo added 11. The Raiders lost for the sixth straight time and fell to 4-14 overall.

Fort Dodge had a double-digit lead at 40-27 with 3:08 to play in the third, but East started chipping away.

After cutting it to 45-37 at the end of the period, the Raiders scored seven straight to start the fourth quarter and trimmed the lead to 45-44.

Fort Dodge went up 51-47 with 3:31 to play, but East scored the next five to lead 53-51 with just 1:15 left.

A pair of free throws by Van Zyl tied the game at 53-all. After East hit three of four free throws for a 56-53 lead, Van Zyl buried her third three-pointer of the game to tie it at 56-all with just 26 seconds to go.

East actually had a chance to win in regulation, but Brooklyn Malchow’s jumper in the lane hit the front end of the rim and bounced off as the buzzer sounded.

Mericle scored twice to start the overtime and Van Zyl hit two free throws for a 62-56 lead.

Van Zyl and Madi Bennett then drained two free throws each in the final 25 seconds.

Fort Dodge got limited time from regular starter Mallory Kilian, who is battling a bad back. Freshman Justice Crooks got the start and freshman Shariah Smith saw some action as Timmerman went nine deep on his bench.

Mericle finished 10 of 13 from the floor and had 12 points at halftime as the Dodgers led 29-24 at the break. Altman had 12 of her 16 in the second half.

The Dodgers jump right back on the court tonight, hosting Southeast Polk at 6:15. The Rams are ranked ninth in 5A and sport a 12-5 record. Fort Dodge finishes the week hosting Mason City on Friday.