PLEASANT HILL - Fighting an uphill climb from the start, the Fort Dodge girls basketball team suffered a 56-26 setback to No. 3 (Class 5A) Southeast Polk on Monday.
The Dodgers (3-15 overall) dug themselves an early 14-0 hole and failed to recover en route to their eighth consecutive loss.
"We started off really slow and just didn't have our heads into the game," said FDSH head coach Scott Timmerman. "Even the times where we had breakouts against their fullcourt pressure, we couldn't take advantage of the opportunities."
Ashley Altman paced Fort Dodge with nine points, while Tiana Mericle added eight points and a career-high 17 rebounds. The Dodgers went just 10-for-22 from the charity stripe and committed 24 turnovers.
"We need Tiana's work ethic to become contagious among the rest of our girls," Timmerman said. "She's really been all over the court for us lately."
Drake recruit Caitlin Ingle (12) and Jessica Cole (11) each scored in double figures for the two-time defending 4A state semifinalist Rams (12-4).
SE Polk 56, Fort Dodge 26
Southeast Polk - Jacey Huinker 2, Megan Bianchi 8, Caitlin Ingle 12,Victoria Bricker 8, Jessica Cole 11, Jessica Gardner 6, Annie Penquite 4, Allee Ira 5.
Fort Dodge - Lexi Astor 2, Lani Van Zyl 1, Fatima Newsome 2, Ashley Altman 9, Mallory Kilian 4, Tiana Mericle 8.
Quarter scores: SEP led 20-3, 31-12, 45-18.
Fort Dodge returns to action this evening at Sioux City East (6-12).