Stepping out of league play, the Fort Dodge basketball teams will close out their pre-holiday schedule with two doubleheaders this week.
The Dodgers welcome Ankeny tonight before visiting Johnston Friday.
Both girls games will tip at 6:15 p.m., followed by the boys contests at approximately 7:45 p.m.
After posting a convincing 64-49 conference triumph over Mason City Friday, the Dodger boys (2-4 overall) will look to stay on the winning track. Juniors JC Hatcher (16.7 points per game), Andrew Stover (9.7) and Zach Martinson (9.0) are Fort Dodge's top offensive threats.
"I think we've played some pretty good basketball since the Des Moines North game (the Dodgers dropped a 58-42 decision to the Polar Bears on Nov. 27)," said FDSH head coach Tom Daniel. "We just need to keep going forward and continue to close the gap, which we did a nice job of from the Waukee to the Mason City game."
Bryan Sumner (11.2), Ted Friedman (11.2) and Jamie Montgomery (10.5) anchor the balanced attack for No. 8 (Class 4A) Ankeny (4-2). Friedman, a 6-foot-8 University of Northern Iowa commit, also grabs 6.8 rebounds a night and is shooting 56.5 percent (26-for-46) from the field.
Dodger Boys (2-4)
G JC?Hatcher, 6-1, jr., 16.7
G Andrew Stover, 5-10, jr., 9.7
G Tyler Vaughn, 6-4, sr., 8.7
F Blake Wilder, 6-3, jr., 7.5
F Zach Martinson, 6-5, jr., 9.0
Dodger Girls (2-5)
G Lani Van Zyl, 5-7, so., 9.2
G Ashley Altman, 5-10, jr., 5.7
F Lexi Astor, 5-9, jr., 6.6
F Mallory Kilian, 5-9, so., 6.1
C Tiana Mericle, 6-1, jr., 5.4
Defending state semifinalist Ankeny has lost its last two games to reigning Minnesota 3A state champion Minneapolis DeLaSalle (67-55) and then-No. 7 (4A) West Des Moines Dowling (54-51).
"Friedman is a nice post player inside, which is what we've seen a lot of," Daniel said. "We have to be aware of their top shooters (Sumner and Montgomery) and keep Friedman off the boards.
"You can't stop everything, so it's kind of pick your poison."
The Dragons (2-4) are also coming off back-to-back defeats to Ames (64-52) and then-No. 7 West Des Moines Valley (66-62). Jay Knuth (15.0) and Nick Stitzell (10.0) are each scoring in double figures for Johnston.
"Just like Ankeny, Johnston has a solid basketball program and is very disciplined and well-coached," said Daniel. "Knuth is getting Div. I looks (Knuth has an Iowa State scholarship offer), and (the Dragons) like to pound the glass. We have to make sure we keep our turnovers down to give ourselves a chance."
Following two straight victories to start the season, the Dodger girls (2-5) are currently mired in a five-game slide, which included a 62-20 setback to No. 1 (5A) Mason City in their previous outing. Sophomore Lani Van Zyl (9.2) and junior Lexi Astor (6.6) lead the way for Fort Dodge.
"We'd like to cut down on our turnovers (FDSH committed a season-high 44 against the Mohawks and are averaging 28 per game): that has been our Achilees' heel," Dodger head coach Scott Timmerman said. "We've also been emphasizing boxing out and rebounding."
Fifth-ranked (5A) and 2012 state runner-up Ankeny (5-3) is led by Brittany Hedrick (11.3) and Jaali Winters (9.5). The Hawkettes are currently riding a three-game winning streak, including a 53-44 upset at No. 4 (5A) Des Moines East on Friday.
"Ankeny might not be quite as tall and long as last year, but they look a little quicker," Timmerman said. "I think it took (the Hawkettes) a couple of games to get their rotation in sync, but they're playing pretty well right now."
Steph Wilkinson (13.4) and Rachel Hinders (11.4) are the catalysts for the Dragons (2-5), who have dropped two straight and four of their past five outings.