The Fort Dodge girls had a choice to make at halftime of their game against fifth-ranked (Class 5A) Ankeny here Tuesday.
Facing an insurmountable 31-point deficit, the Dodgers could either fight for respectability or let the contest get even more out of hand.
Head coach Scott Timmerman's squad went the route of the former, out-scoring last year's state runner-up in the second half of a 73-43 loss inside the FDSH gym.
An 11-plus minute drought from the field - which included the entire second quarter - wiped out Dodgers against the red-hot Hawkettes, who had won three straight on the road against Top-10 opponents heading into last night's contest.
Fort Dodge made 13 of its 15 baskets in the final 13-plus minutes, though, and went on an 18-10 third-quarter run to find some light at the end of what looked like a long, dark tunnel.
''When you're down by that kind of margin at the half, you have to start somewhere,'' Timmerman said. ''We challenged the team to come out and play with pride. Not only did they do that - hustling and giving more effort on both ends of the court - but things started to click offensively.
ANKENY 73, FORT DODGE 43
Ankeny - Brittany Hedrick 10-15 0-0 27, Jaali Winters 6-12 1-3 13, Gabby Helmbrecht 4-8 0-0 8, Sarah Brandt 2-7 0-0 4, Madi Robson 2-2 0-0 4, Tasha Vipond 1-3 3-4 4, Riley Miller 2-2 0-2 4, Allison Schaff 2-4 0-0 4, Kendyl Lindaman 1-2 0-0 2, Meg Brandt 1-2 0-0 2, Mary Brandt 0-2 0-0 0, Blair Silliman 0-2 0-0 0, Jordan Enga 0-0 0-0 0, Megan Thompson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 31-61 4-9 73.
Fort Dodge - Ashley Altman 6-12 1-2 13, Lani Van Zyl 3-4 0-0 9, Mallory Kilian 2-5 4-6 8, Lexi Astor 2-3 2-3 6, Tiana Mericle 0-3 3-4 3, Kari Grindberg 1-2 0-0 2, Fatima Newsome 1-1 0-0 2, Mariah Welter 0-2 0-0 0, Mackenzie Jones 0-1 0-0 0, Rachel Herrington 0-0 0-0 0, Ashton Pederson 0-0 0-0 0, Brielle Ulrich 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 15-33 10-15 43.
Quarter scores: Ankeny led 21-7, 41-10, 55-29. Three-point goals: Ankeny 7-14 (Hedrick 7-9, S. Brandt 0-3, M. Brandt 0-1, Silliman 0-1); Fort Dodge 3-8 (Van Zyl 3-4, Kilian 0-2, Altman 0-1, Grindberg 0-1). Turnovers: Ankeny 9, Fort Dodge 25. Total fouls: Ankeny 12, Fort Dodge 11. Fouled out: Winters.
''You take what you can get from a game like this. We cut down on our turnovers some (the Dodgers had 25, or three under their average) and really got a spark from Ashley (Altman) and Lani (Van Zyl) after the break.''
Altman, a junior who had been scoring a mild 5.4 points per contest, had 13 in the second half alone. Van Zyl, a sophomore, sank three triples. Both were scoreless at the intermission.
''Lani needs to get open looks,'' Timmerman said. ''And we know Ashley is capable of putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket the way she did down the stretch. Those were encouraging things to see.''
Fort Dodge (2-6 overall) trailed 18-7 in the final minute of the opening period, but Ankeny (6-3) exploded for 23 of the half's final 26 points to pull away in a hurry. Senior guard Brittany Hedrick was the main culprit, scoring 22 of her 27 points and swishing six of her seven three-point baskets in the first half alone.
''We didn't do a good job of identifying Hedrick and putting a hand in her face,'' Timmerman said. ''You can't give a good shooter like that the kind of open looks she had.''
The Dodgers' deficit ballooned to 47-13 with six minutes left in the third quarter, but Fort Dodge held a 30-26 advantage the rest of the way. After going 2-for-12 from the field in the opening stanza, the Dodgers were 13 of 21 in the second half (62 percent).
Fort Dodge's final pre-winter break tilt is in Johnston at 6:15 p.m. on Friday night.