The importance of an auspicious start was a focal point for the Fort Dodge boys basketball team in preseason camp.
The time has come for the Dodgers to try and put their plan into action.
Head coach Tom Daniel's squad opens their 2013-14 campaign tonight with a contest at Webster City. Fort Dodge then returns home on Tuesday to face Des Moines North.
Both varsity games are slated to start at approximately 7:45 p.m.
Four starters and six regulars return to Daniel's rotation this year. The Dodgers have over 80 percent of their scoring and rebounding back from an 8-14 team, and they'd like to build some pre-winter break momentum to show a turnaround is on the horizon.
Fort Dodge has started each of its last two seasons 1-4.
Dodger Boys (0-0)
G: JC Hatcher, 6-1, sr., 0.0
G: Sam Kolacia, 6-1, so., 0.0
G: Krunal Thakor, 6-0, sr., 0.0
F: Zach Martinson, 6-4, sr., 0.0
F: Blake Wilder, 6-3, sr., 0.0
''We want to get the community talking about Dodger basketball again, and with eight seniors and four guys starting their third year of full-time varsity ball, I'd like to think we're ready to handle those expectations,'' Daniel said. ''We're all excited and looking forward to taking that next step as a program. Our kids feel like they have a lot to prove, both to themselves and our fans.
''We have two tremendous opportunities right out of the gate. Webster City is a local rival and (the Lynx) are always going to be up for pushing us and giving their all. We went over there two years ago and got beat. We have to be focused and prepared, because going through the motions against anyone on our schedule this season just isn't going to cut it.''
Webster City was 10-12 overall last winter. Head coach Marty McKinney brings back junior guard Mason Myers (13.5 points, 41 three-pointers) and senior Ben Mossman (5.0 points) as starters.
Fort Dodge counters with senior guards JC Hatcher (14.1 points), Andrew Stover (7.6) and Krunal Thakor (3.1), senior forwards Zach Martinson (9.8) and Blake Wilder (7.2). Sophomore Sam Kolacia will make his varsity debut this evening and flank Hatcher and Thakor in the backcourt.
The Dodgers defeated the Lynx at home last season, 59-47.
North was 13-10 last winter, and the Polar Bears return their three leading scorers from a year ago in seniors Terrance Busch (18.9), Teyontae Jenkins (17.1) and Samuel Williams Jr. (11.4).
''North's going to be a Top-10 caliber ballclub,'' Daniel said. ''They're incredibly talented and athletic, and now they're experienced as well. This is going to be a very tough matchup not just for us, but a lot of teams (in the CIC) this season.
''They have three all-conference players back who play fast and like to push the tempo. The idea is to try and play under control at that pace, but it's easier said than done. It will be all about execution and keeping the swings and runs in the game under control.''
The Polar Bears posted a 58-42 victory over FDSH last December.