The Fort Dodge boys and girls basketball teams will open league play later this week at Marshalltown, but first up is a doubleheader with Dowling inside the FDSH gym this evening.
Tip is set for 6:15 p.m. with the girls games, while the boys shot begin at approximately 7:45 p.m.
Friday marks the start of a new league, as the old CIML has been split. The Dodgers are part of the Central Iowa Conference's Northern division, joining the Bobcats, Ames and Mason City.
After beginning the year with a win over Webster City, the Dodger boys (1-1 overall) were topped at Des Moines North. JC Hatcher leads Fort Dodge in points (21 per game), steals and assists this year, while Tyler Vaughn is grabbing a team-high 6.5 rebounds.
Blake Wilder is right behind in points (7.5) and boards (5.5).
No. 10 (Class 4A) Dowling (1-0)?opened the year with a 62-53 victory over Des Moines Roosevelt. Peter Odia led them in scoring with 12 points. Two other players scored nine, while three more chipped in eight.
Dodger Boys (1-1, 0-0)
G JC Hatcher, 6-1, jr., 21.0
G Andrew Stover, 5-10, jr., 4.0
G Tyler Vaughn, 6-4, sr., 6.0
F Blake Wilder, 6-3, jr., 7.5
F Jake Porter, 6-3, jr., 4.0
Dodger Girls (2-1, 0-0)
G Lani Van Zyl, 5-7, so., 12.7
G Ashley Altman, 5-10, jr., 5.0
F Lexi Astor, 5-9, jr., 10.0
F Mallory Kilian, 5-9, so., 9.3
C Tiana Mericle, 6-1, jr., 4.0
"Odia is a pretty good basketball player, and (Jon) Wisnieski is a Div. I football athlete going to Iowa," FDSH head coach Tom Daniel said. "They are always a solid team, and this year is no different."
Dowling also got to the free throw line 22 times, compared to just 21 shots from the charity stripe by the Dodgers through two games.
"Our shot selection needs to improve," Daniel said. "Our guys need to run our offense and need to do a better job with their selections."
Marshalltown (0-2) has suffered losses to Des Moines Hoover and Roosevelt by a combined 38 points. They play sixth-ranked Valley this evening.
Blake Gimbel and Blake Judkins are the leading scorers for the Bobcats, posting 11.5 and 8.5 per night. The top six scorers for Marshalltown are seniors.
"The Roundhouse is always a tough place to play," Daniel said. "Gimbel is their go-to-player and I am sure he will be the focal point of their attack.
"We are typically pretty well-matched with Marshalltown, so we'll have to bring some energy, maybe dip into our bench a little bit and be prepared to match them from the start."
The Dodger girls (2-1) suffered their first loss last Friday, falling to Sioux City West. Fort Dodge had posted back-to-back victories over Hoover and North prior to the setback.
Lani Van Zyl leads FDSH in scoring at 12.7 per game, and will be counted on to continue her progression as a point guard against a Dowling (2-0) squad that has allowed just 35 points through two games.
"We know the defensive pressure is going to be there," Dodger head coach Scott Timmerman said. "They have good size and talented players - despite the loss of four senior starters, they are Dowling and they just reload.
"We talked about concentrating on not turning the ball over and taking away chances we have at scoring."
Fort Dodge had 38 turnovers vs. West, and Timmerman said, "that was 38 shot attempts we didn't get. We have to value each possession."
Lexi Astor is averaging 10 points per game, while Mallory Kilian is contributing 9.3. Ashley Altman, Astor and Tiana Mericle lead the Dodgers in rebounding.
Dowling is paced by sophomore Audrey Faber, who is scoring 13 points. Faber started last year for the Maroons. Freshman Becca Hittner is right behind her at nine points.
Marshalltown (1-3) recently got senior guard Taylor Wagner back from a battle with illness. Wagner is averaging 13 points, while Eisha Oden is contributing 9.5.
"Getting Wagner back will make Marshalltown more effective team," Timmerman said. "It's a road game, and we have to expect that (the Bobcats) will be ready to play."