Fort Dodge girls coach Scott Timmerman admitted he was concerned all day about how his team would respond coming off its first loss of the season.
As it turns out, he had nothing to worry about.
The Dodgers rebounded nicely from Tuesday night's loss to top-ranked (5A) West Des Moines Dowling with a convincing 60-25 victory over Marshalltown in their CIC Northern Division opener in the FDSH gym Friday night.
"This was a huge test to see where we were after that loss to Dowling," said Timmerman. "I wasn't sure how we'd bounce back. I was worried all day that we wouldn't come out and play to our abilities."
The Dodgers, now 4-1, got a balanced scoring attack again, getting 12 points from Madi Bennett, 11 from Tiana Mericle and 10 from Ashley Altman. Eleven Dodgers played and nine contributed points.
"People off the bench are making big contributions," said Timmerman. "They are realizing that when they come in there's an expectation that they will contribute. Something that has been huge for us is we are balanced. We aren't relying on just one player."
Fort Dodge 60, Marshalltown 25
Fort Dodge Lani Van Zyl 2-4 4-7 9, Lexi Astor 2-4 3-4 8, Madi Bennett 5-8 0-0 12, Ashley Altman 2-11 5-8 10, Tiana Mericle 4-7 3-3 11, Mallory Kilian 1-4 1-3 3, Rachel Herrington 1-1 0-0 2, Molly Matthes 0-0 0-0 0, Justice Crooks 1-2 2-2 4, Kari Grindberg 0-0 0-0 0, Becca Sunken 0-1 1-2 1. Totals: 18-43, 19-29 60.
Marshalltown Amanda Hughes 1-3 0-0 2, Sam Hughes 3-8 2-2 8, Emily Rebik 0-7 2-2 2, Rachel Blagg 1-8 3-4 5, Kali Banks 1-5 0-2 2, Ellyn Boland 0-3 0-1 0, Tabby Steffensen 1-2 0-0 3, Karli McClure 0-2 0-0 0, Molly Major 0-3 1-2 1, Kyra Hungerford 0-1 2-2 2. Totals: 7-41, 10-15, 25.
Quarter scores: Fort Dodge led 13-7, 33-14, 44-18. Three-point shots: Fort Dodge 5-14 (VanZyl 1-3, Astor 1-1, Bennett 2-5, Altman 1-3, Kilian 0-1, Crooks 0-1); Marshalltown 1-6 (A. Hughes 0-1, Rebik 0-1, Boland 0-1, Steffensen 1-1, McClure 0-1, Hungerford 0-1). Total fouls: Fort Dodge 17, Marshalltown 24. Fouled out: Blagg, Hungerford.
Lani Van Zyl added nine points and Lexi Astor eight for the Dodgers.
Fort Dodge also got a strong defensive effort, holding the Bobcats (2-3, 0-1) to just seven of 41 shooting (17 percent). Marshalltown had nearly as many fouls (24) as points.
Sam Hughes led Marshalltown with eight points. Rachel Blagg had five.
The Dodgers threatened to make it a blowout right away, jumping to a 13-3 lead on the strength of a 7-0 run midway through the opening quarter. Marshalltown closed with a bucket by Blagg and Kali Banks to make it 13-7 after one period.
Fort Dodge then went on a 13-0 run in the second quarter and this time the Bobcats couldn't recover and it was 33-14 at the half.
Marshalltown managed just 11 points in the second half while the Dodgers kept clicking, scoring the first eight points of the third quarter to erase any doubt.
The Dodgers scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter to bring the 35-point rule into effect for the last 6:03 of the game, leading 54-18 after two free throws by Van Zyl.
Fort Dodge now has a new burden to carry after winning a combined three games the past two years success. Timmerman says the challenge is to keep improving as the season continues on.
"We still have room for improvement. (The fast start) is huge. It just brings so much more intensity to practice," Timmerman said. "The kids aren't dreading things. They are looking forward to that next game. We've only shown some of what we can do. We still haven't played that perfect game. They've all said that, even tonight."
The Dodgers face two more challenges next week, playing Waukee at home Tuesday then finishing the first part of the season at Mason City next Friday.
Waukee is ranked 9th in the latest Class 5A ratings. Mason City was fourth earlier in the year, but just fell out of the top 10.