Fort Dodge and Webster City traded punches well into the second half of the 2012-13 boys basketball season opener.
Then JC Hatcher delivered the knockout blow.
The junior guard scored 16 of his 26 points in a four-minute flurry to end the third quarter as the Dodgers distanced themselves from Lynx for a 59-47 victory here Monday.
Hatcher, who averaged 13 points per contest while garnering second team all-CIML Iowa Conference honors a year ago, sank four three-point baskets and had a pair of other buckets to end the period as a tentative five-point advantage suddenly ballooned to 16. Hatcher wound up tying his career-high to let Fort Dodge work its way past defending North Central Conference champion Webster City in the ninth consecutive meeting between the programs.
''JC took off at a point in time when we needed it most,'' FDSH head coach Tom Daniel said. ''He got into a rhythm and his teammates did a good job of getting the ball to him in a position to score.
''We didn't lose our composure or panic when it was a one- or two-possession game, which was important because Webster City definitely came to play. This was a chance for both programs to see where we're at and what we need to work on from here.''
FORT DODGE 59, WEBSTER CITY 47
Fort Dodge - JC Hatcher 10-20 2-4 26, Tyler Vaughn 3-6 0-2 9, Blake Wilder 1-2 4-4 6, Andrew Stover 3-8 0-0 6, Krunal Thakor 2-6 0-0 4, Jake Porter 2-3 2-3 6, Austin Halligan 1-4 0-1 2, Marquan Clayton 0-0 0-0 0, Brandan Schoenfeld 0-0 0-0 0, Cody Ellis 0-0 0-0 0, Titus Iba 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 22-49 8-14 59.
Webster City - Boone Myers 4-4 2-4 8, Nick Olmstead 3-6 2-2 8, Mason Myers 2-8 2-2 7, Austin Myers 3-4 0-0 6, Ben Mossman 1-8 1-2 3, Eric Coleman 2-4 0-0 5, Trey Tesdahl 1-5 1-2 3, Lucas Daniels 1-1 0-0 3, Colby Larson 1-4 0-0 2, Nick Thilges 0-1 0-0 0, Cody Chambers 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-45 8-12 47.
Quarter scores: Fort Dodge led 17-10, 25-22, 48-32. Three-point goals: Fort Dodge 7-20 (Hatcher 4-10, Vaughn 3-6, Thakor 0-2, Halligan 0-1, Stover 0-1); Webster City 4-11 (Myers 1-4, Daniels 1-1, Coleman 1-1, Mossman 0-3, Olmstead 0-1, Larson 0-1). Turnovers: Fort Dodge 14, Webster City 17. Total fouls: Fort Dodge 14, Webster City 9. Fouled out: B. Myers.
Hatcher was the difference-maker for a contest that saw no other players reach double figures in scoring. The Dodgers, who led by only three points at halftime, went up by as many as 21 before the Lynx clawed their way back to within the final margin.
''I give our kids credit for playing hard. The effort was certainly there,'' said WCHS head coach Marty McKinney, who is in the process of replacing four graduated all-conference players. ''With that being said, we really need to concentrate on getting better with the fundamentals of basketball. There were a lot of mistakes that, although correctable, can't be made if we want to succeed.
''We lost JC a few times and he made us pay. He's a terrific player, but part of that is on us for not identifying their scorers on quite a few possessions during that (third-quarter run).''
Hatcher and senior guard Tyler Vaughn, who combined to knock down 65 triples a year ago, hit seven last night. Vaughn finished with nine points on a trifecta of treys, while juniors Blake Wilder, Andrew Stover and Jake Porter contributed six points each.
Senior center Boone Myers, the lone returning starter back for the Lynx this season, had eight points before fouling out. Classmate Nick Olmstead also added eight.
Fort Dodge had six steals in the first four minutes and parlayed that into a 12-6 edge. The Dodgers were up 17-10 after the opening period, but Webster City surrendered only eight second-quarter points and found itself down just 25-22 at the break.
Vaughn and Hatcher sank six shots from behind the arc in the third during a 23-10 quarter-long burst that ended the suspense.
Both squads gathered themselves after a turnover-filled start.
''We settled down and cleaned things up, and they did the same,'' Daniel said. ''Now we have a foundation we can build from. There's always a level of uncertainty going into your opener, and you find out where you're at execution-wise and conditioning-wise. We definitely have work to do in both aspects, but now we have a reference point for the kids to see.
''Some of our guys got a little winded and lost their intensity on the defensive end. That won't be acceptable, for instance, (Tuesday at Des Moines North), where we'll be running from start to finish. It's one win, but we'll approach (the North trip) like we're 0-0 and then we get a week to go back to work before our next game.''
Fort Dodge and Webster City have now met 91 times on the hardwood since 1926. The Dodgers have taken eight of nine since the rivalry was renewed in 2005, and they exacted revenge for a 44-39 Lynx victory a year ago.
The programs squared off every season from 1926 through 1984. FDSH's series with Webster City is the oldest in program history.