Dodgers bow out
No. 7 Johnston pulls away at the free throw line
JOHNSTON — With less than a minute remaining in Fort Dodge’s 61-48 Class 4A substate semifinal loss to Johnston here on Friday, senior guards Malcolm Clayton and Trey Mosley officially checked out of a game together for the last time.
The moment passed without much reaction from either player. Clayton and Mosley were visibly frustrated that their long prep careers were coming to an end simultaneously, but their emotions were held in check for the most part.
FDSH fans, on the other hand, weren’t so quick to let go.
A long standing ovation from the Dodger faithful greeted both Clayton and Mosley, who combined to play in over 150 games and score more than 1,500 points for a program that posted 27 combined victories in the last two seasons and registered back-to-back winning campaigns for the first time in nearly three decades.
Unfortunately for the FDSH tandem and their teammates, the seventh-ranked Dragons (19-3 overall) kept their distance from the Dodgers (14-9) long enough before sealing the deal at the free-throw line down the stretch. Johnston is now in the Substate 8 championship round this Tuesday against No. 3 Des Moines North.
”It’s tough, coming to the realization that it’s over,” Fort Dodge head coach Tom Daniel said. ”We battled and didn’t pack it in when we were down 14 (in the third quarter). That was the danger zone. But we fought our way back. We just couldn’t get that one key bucket or rebound that would have maybe made them sweat just enough (at crunch time).
”I just want to thank Malcolm, Trey and the other seniors for what they’ve done for our program both on and off the court. And I’m glad our crowd did, too. They’ve really raised the bar, and will leave the program in better shape than before they started. They’ve help create a template for success here.”
Johnston registered the last five points of the first quarter to pull ahead 17-10, then labored its way through the second period with a trademark defensive effort. Though the Dragons didn’t score for the first 3:57 of the frame, the Dodgers were only able to shave three points off the deficit during that stretch.
Back-to-back baskets by senior guard Boston Grimes then pushed the Johnston advantage to double digits right before the intermission.
”We were right there within striking distance, but went cold and Grimes got those two late (field goals, to make it 25-15),” Daniel said. ”He’s tough to stop (Grimes finished with a game-high 20 points on 8 of 11 shooting). He got to the hoop and created with his dribble penetration.”
Fort Dodge fell behind by as many as 14 points twice in the third quarter, but the Dodgers crawled within 49-41 and had the ball on two different possessions midway through the fourth. After coming up empty both times, things started to unravel for good when FDSH was whistled for both an intentional foul and a technical foul at the 2:09 mark.
The Dragons extended their advantage by hitting three free throws, then getting fouled again and sinking two more at the charity stripe. In four seconds of court time, Johnston had put five points on the board from the line for a 54-41 edge.
The Dragons were 12 of 16 on free throw attempts in that last 2:09 alone.
”We were right there before things got a little out of hand,” Daniel said. ”It’s hard to overcome that kind of deficit on the road in a postseason game against an experienced, ranked opponent, but we did have our chances.”
Seniors Grimes, Camden Vander Zwaag and Bo Sandquist combined for 45 of Johnston’s 61 points. The trio hardly left the court for any rest, but still went 14 of 24 from the floor and 13 of 17 at the charity stripe.
Clayton had 12 of his 14 points in the second half, with junior Jordan Jackson (13 points) and Mosley (10) also reaching double figures. Fort Dodge finished with the exact same number of field goals and three-point baskets as Johnston, but got out-scored 17 to 4 at the foul line.
”(The Dragons) are a solid team; they’re 19-3 for a reason,” Daniel said. ”We just couldn’t keep them off the boards; their size really bothered us, especially with the offensive rebounds and second-chance points.
”I thought Jimmy (Jordan Jackson) really turned a corner for us down the stretch of the season. Petey (Jace Peterson) battled out there like he always does, and Tysen (Kershaw) brings so much to the table defensively; he’s a heady player who does a lot of little things right.”
For the time being, though, Daniel wanted to focus on his seniors.
”Malcolm finished as the third-leading scorer in school history, and Trey has been a rock for us and other programs (at FDSH) for three full years,” Daniel said. ”Aaron Porter did a lot of the dirty work and took the assignments that most players wouldn’t want (to accept), and Edward Crawford gave us everything he had. We’re undoubtedly going to miss these guys; their (collective) leadership, maturity and demeanor is something that doesn’t come around very often in high school athletics.”
JOHNSTON 61, FORT DODGE 48
Johnston — Boston Grimes 8-11 3-4 20, Camden Vander Zwaag 5-9 5-7 17, Peyton Williams 4-11 2-4 10, Bo Sandquist 1-4 5-6 8, Nathan Newcomb 2-5 2-4 6, Chandler Heiser 0-1 0-0 0, Reid Grant 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-41 17-25 61.
Fort Dodge — Malcolm Clayton 5-16 2-3 14, Jordan Jackson 6-11 1-1 13, Trey Mosley 4-10 0-0 10, Jace Peterson 2-4 1-2 5, Tysen Kershaw 2-3 0-0 4, Aaron Porter 1-3 0-0 2, Isaiah Alvarez 0-1 0-0 0, Malihk Lockman 0-0 0-0 0, Spencer Barber 0-0 0-0 0, Rodney Tilawen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-48 4-6 48.
Quarter scores: Johnston led 17-10, 25-15, 43-31. Three-point goals: Johnston 4-13 (Vander Zwaag 2-5, Grimes 1-3, Sandquist 1-4, Newcomb 0-1); Fort Dodge 4-17 (Mosley 2-7, Clayton 2-6, Jackson 0-2, Peterson 0-1, Kershaw 0-1). Turnovers: Johnston 6, Fort Dodge 10. Total fouls: Johnston 13, Fort Dodge 22. Fouled out: Porter, Peterson.