Dodger boys begin tourney trek at home

Beating the same opponent three times in one season is never an easy task.

The Fort Dodge boys basketball team (11-9 overall) will look to do exactly that here tonight when they host rival Mason City (5-16) in a Class 4A, Substate 2 quarterfinal.

Tip is set for 7 p.m. at the FDSH gym.

During the regular season, the Dodgers swept the Mohawks in CIC Northern Division play by scores of 65-48 and 71-56. Since the start of the 2012-13 campaign, Fort Dodge has won all four meetings against Mason City.

“We obviously can’t afford to take teams lightly, but hopefully that won’t be a problem with our senior group,” FDSH head coach Tom Daniel said. “We haven’t been very successful in the playoffs since I’ve been here (in the previous five years), and we’re not good enough to just look past anybody.”

Seniors JC Hatcher (18.3), Blake Wilder (12.8) and Zach Martinson (10.7) are the offensive focal points for the Dodgers, who are aiming to rebound from a 70-58 setback at Des Moines Hoover on Tuesday.

Hatcher, who ranks sixth on the school’s all-time scoring list with 965 career points, leads FDSH in nearly every statistical category, including total assists (66), steals (22), made field goals (134), made three-pointers (37) and made free throws (61). Wilder has also grabbed a team-high 127 boards.

“I’d like to see us have better shot selection and not settle awfully quick for the first open look,” said Daniel. “Defensively, we can’t get lost, either. It’s the same keys we’ve had all year long. Sometimes, we’ve been able to sustain it over the course of a game, and other times fatigue sets in.

“We have a three game season now. This is a chance for us to redo Senior Night (the Dodgers dropped a 65-54 decision to Ames on Senior Night). We can’t ask for anything more than to get a home playoff game. Our guys have earned it.”

Seniors Matt Meyer (15.9) and Jared Lichman (10.6) are the top scoring threats for the Mohawks, who have dropped six of their past seven outings, including an 86-57 blowout home loss to No. 4 (3A) Clear Lake on Tuesday.

Both Mason City and Fort Dodge have attempted 330 three-pointers this season, with the Dodgers hitting 109 compared to 101 for the Mohawks.

Fort Dodge owns a 3-6 home record this year, while Mason City is 3-8 on the road.

Tonight’s winner advances to face West Des Moines Valley (13-8) in a 4A, Substate 2 semifinal on Friday in West Des Moines.