With the monkey now off their back, the Fort Dodge girls basketball team has a golden opportunity to stay on the winning track this week.
The Dodgers (1-0 overall) hit the road to battle Des Moines North tonight and then visit Sioux City West on Friday.
Tip for this evening's contest is set for 6:15 p.m., while Friday's action will begin at 7:30 p.m.
In their 2012-13 opener last Tuesday, the Dodgers snapped a frustrating 22-game losing streak with a 48-36 home victory over Des Moines Hoover.
"We need to come out with the same type of defensive intensity, which is going to have to be our calling card this season," FDSH head coach Scott Timmerman said. "We clearly took better care of the basketball (against the Huskies) and want to cut down our turnovers even more (after committing 19 in the first game). We have to value our possessions and try to get a good shot every time down the floor."
Junior forward Lexi Astor sparked the Dodgers with 14 points in their season debut, while sophomore point guard Lani Van Zyl chipped in 10. Fort Dodge held Hoover to just 22 percent (11-for-50) shooting from the field and outrebounded the Huskies, 39-25.
"We'll definitely take a big rebounding advantage every night, but looking back, there were still too many times where we didn't put a body on anyone," said Timmerman. "Even though it might not be as intense as some of the other teams we'll face, I expect we'll see some more full-court (defensive) pressure starting (this evening)."
Richelle Jimerson (10.5 points per game) and Chelsie Thompson (8.0) are the offensive catalysts for the Polar Bears (0-2). Des Moines North was hammered by Marshalltown (67-29) and 10th-ranked (Class 5A) West Des Moines Valley (77-22) in its two previous outings.
"I'm sure we'll get North's best effort of the season," Timmerman said. "(The Polar Bears) got their only win last year against us (in a 36-35 decision), so this is a game they'll probably come out with a lot more energy."
Following an 11-12 overall campaign last winter, the Wolverines (0-0) return three of their top five scorers in Tanya Meyer (17.0), Shantel Cross (5.7) and Sammie Birkes (4.9).
"You always kind of worry about getting off the bus after a long trip and being lackadaisical," said Timmerman. "Hopefully, we can get the girls going hard from the opening warmups."