Sandwiched between a dramatic last-second victory at West Des Moines Dowling earlier in the week and a pending showdown with No. 5 Waukee, Fort Dodge's matchup with Marshalltown here Friday had all the makings of a trap game.
Instead, the Dodger boys methodically took care of business and started their Central Iowa Conference Northern Division slate on the right foot with a 74-59 victory over the Bobcats.
Four FDSH players reached double figures on the scoreboard, as the Dodgers (3-1 overall, 1-0 CIC North) shot 60 percent from the field in a dress rehersal of sorts for Tuesday's home clash with the ranked Warriors. Head coach Tom Daniel's squad led by as many as 22 points in turning away winless Marshalltown (0-4, 0-1).
''I can be glass-half-empty and talk about a lot of the little things execution-wise that we simply must clean up, but the bottom line is we scored 74 points even when we weren't at our best. I'm happy with that,'' Daniel said. ''We did a good job of working the ball around and not settling for jump shots, instead finding the higher-percentage look. That's what veteran teams do.
''We certainly had some bright spots and stretches where we looked solid. But those stretches have to come in longer and more consistent doses against an opponent the caliber of Waukee. I thought (senior guard) JC (Hatcher) said it best in the locker room after the game: we can enjoy the win (Friday), sleep on it, get up (Saturday), reset and go back to work.''
Hatcher paced Fort Dodge with 16 points, while fellow seniors Zach Martinson (13) and Blake Wilder (12) followed close behind. Junior reserve Kyle Hanson added a career-high 10 points in the victory.
FORT DODGE 74, MARSHALLTOWN 59
Fort Dodge - JC Hatcher 8-16 0-0 16, Zach Martinson 6-7 1-3 13, Blake Wilder 5-7 2-3 12, Andrew Stover 3-6 2-2 8, Krunal Thakor 2-4 0-0 6, Kyle Hanson 3-5 4-5 10, Alex Jackson 1-2 0-0 2, Marquan Clayton 1-1 0-2 2, Kyle Beisch 1-1 0-0 2, Cody Rivers 1-2 0-0 2, Solomon Clayton 0-0 1-2 1, Thomas Hartley 0-1 0-0 0, Cody Ellis 0-0 0-0 0, Sam Kolacia 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 31-52 10-17 74.
Marshalltown - Dylan Diveney 7-13 1-5 18, Austin Kluver 5-11 2-4 13, Mason McCarville 2-9 4-4 10, Aaron Hauser 2-3 1-2 6, Connor Johnson 2-3 1-1 5, Grant Thimesch 1-1 0-0 3, Jacob Shirar 1-1 0-0 2, Hunter Riedl 1-2 0-0 2, Jordan Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Austin Lovin 0-0 0-0 0, Michael Schrempf 0-0 0-0 0, Christian Guido 0-0 0-0 0, Marco Yepez 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-43 9-16 59.
Quarter scores: Fort Dodge led 16-11, 34-21, 56-36. Three-point goals: Fort Dodge 2-7 (Thakor 2-3, Hatcher 0-2, Jackson 0-1, Rivers 0-1); Marshalltown 8-21 (Diveney 3-6, McCarville 2-8, Kluver 1-4, Hauser 1-2, Thimesch 1-1). Turnovers: Fort Dodge 15, Marshalltown 17. Total fouls: Fort Dodge 14, Marshalltown 16. Fouled out: Thakor.
''There were two things that really stuck out to me: Kyle gave us a really nice offensive spark off the bench, and (senior guard) Andrew (Stover) played excellent defense on (Aaron) Hauser. That's a kid who was averaging 17 a game against some good competition so far, and Andrew really disrupted his rhythm and it kind of threw a kink into their whole offense (Hauser scored just six points).''
The Dodgers jumped ahead 12-2 early, but Marshalltown clawed back to within 24-19 in the second quarter. Fort Dodge answered with a 10-0 run, though, thanks in large part to three Hatcher buckets. Their lead never dwindled below double digits the rest of the way.
Ahead 34-21 at halftime, the Dodgers had converted on 63 percent of their field goals and attempted only three shots from behind the three-point arc.
''You can make a good look a great one with an extra pass or two,'' Daniel said. ''The jump shot is always going to be there. A three-pointer is always going to be there. We found the open man and took the ball to the hole with more regularity than we had been so far (this season).''
Now Fort Dodge shifts its attention to Waukee (3-1). The Warriors suffered their first loss last night, falling at home to No. 8 Ankeny Centennial, 65-50.
''They're a big, talented ballclub, like usual,'' Daniel said. ''We'll have our hands full, but we're looking forward to the challenge. It's a good early measuring stick to see where we stand.''
The game will be Tuesday at approximately 7:45 p.m.