Dodgers play for CIC title

This year’s senior class is Fort Dodge head coach Tom Daniel’s group.

He had them when they were in middle school and now for four seasons at the high school level. They are the players Daniel hopes will help lay the foundation of the program for years to come.

Fort Dodge will get a chance tonight to etch its name into the record books as it plays for the CIC Northern division championship against Ames.

With a victory, the Dodgers (10-7 overall, 4-1 CIC North) would share the league title with the Little Cyclones (9-9, 5-0) – the school’s first basketball conference title since 2006.

Tip off will be at approximately 7:45 p.m. following the girls game.

Senior starters JC Hatcher, Blake Wilder, Zach Martinson, Krunal Thakor and Andrew Stover, along with Marquan Clayton, Cody Ellis and Cody Rivers, will be playing their last regular-season home game.

“This group has been making a foundation – something that can last,” Daniel said. “We haven’t been near any conference titles recently, and these guys are building the program for future Dodger players.

“It’s been exciting to sit back and watch these guys from the start, to the end. This is a huge opportunity for us to win. We haven’t had a tremendous amount of success, but we want this foundation to build off of.”

With two non-conference road games remaining, this is the perfect ending for Daniel’s group on Senior Night in the Dodger gym and a chance at the record books.

“We’re excited for this,” Daniel said. “We’ve been waiting for this moment on Senior Night. These guys are my security blanked – and it’ll be tough losing them.

“They need to reward themselves and see where they’ve started from as scronny sophomores and now to playing bigger and stronger basketball at a high level. I’m just going to sit back and enjoy this last moment and I don’t want it to end.”

Daniel isn’t putting a lot of stress on winning the conference title, but is hoping to end the streak against Ames and build momentum heading into the final stretch.

“We know this is just part of the bigger picture,” Daniel said. “We’re chasing the goal of getting to stay and to do that we have to play quality basketball.

“We want to snap the skid against Ames and we worked to hard to finish second.”

The Dodgers have lost five straight games to Ames, including a 61-57 loss in Ames. Daniel is 2-9 against Ames in his six seasons as Dodger head coach.

In the last meeting, Daniel believes a bad half hindered the Dodgers.

“We didn’t play with any energy and kind of gave away a half,” Daniel said. “We have to play with a ton of energy.

“I expect the home crowd to be really strong. These guys have had a nice career and this will be playoff type atmosphere.”

The Dodger girls (9-10, 2-3) will start tonight’s action against Ames (13-7, 4-1) at 6:15 p.m.

Fort Dodge dropped a 72-49 decision to the Little Cyclones in Ames earlier.

This will also be senior night for graduating Dodgers Lexi Astor, Kari Grindberg, Ashley Altman, Tiana Mericle and Rachel Herrington.