There was no slowing down the Fort Dodge girls basketball team here Tuesday night.
Behind a dominant effort on both ends of the court, the Dodgers (2-0 overall) trounced Des Moines North by a 73-17 final at the FDSH gym.
"We came out and did what we knew we should do," Fort Dodge head coach Scott Timmerman said. "Individually, I think each one of our five starters stepped up and made positive contributions. We were able to get the kind of (offensive) balance we were hoping for. It seems like we're starting to get less robotic, and we're playing more with the flow of the game, which is encouraging to see."
Tiana Mericle, a 6-foot-1 senior forward, sparked the Dodgers with 15 points and seven rebounds.
"Tiana keeps gaining more confidence down low," said Timmerman. "Her and Ashley (Altman) are really working well inside together right now. Madi (Bennett) is also staking a claim for more playing time."
Junior Lani Van Zyl and the sophomore Bennett each added 12 points for Fort Dodge, which never trailed after a 14-0 burst out of the gate. As a team, the Dodgers fired at a 51.7 percent (31-for-60) clip from the field. Defensively, FDSH forced 30 Polar Bear turnovers.
FORT DODGE 73, DES MOINES NORTH 17
Fort Dodge - Lani Van Zyl 5-8 0-0 12, Mallory Kilian 2-5 2-2 7, Madi Bennett 5-6 0-0 12, Ashley Altman 3-6 2-4 8, Tiana Mericle 7-8 1-2 15, Lexi Astor 2-5 0-0 4, Molly Matthes 1-1 0-0 2, Rachel Herrington 2-7 0-0 4, Brielle Ulrich 0-5 0-0 0, Becca Sunken 1-2 1-1 3, Justice Crooks 2-2 0-0 4, Michael Hiracheta 1-5 0-0 2. Totals: 31-60 6-9 73.
Des Moines North - Shamekia James 1-6 0-0 2, Kenya Williams 2-11 1-3 6, Mikayla Carey 2-8 0-0 5, Tia Robinson 0-4 3-4 3, Sebrina Dixon 0-4 1-3 1, Keeona Ary 0-0 0-0 0, Valora James 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 5-33 5-10 17.
Quarter scores: Fort Dodge led 31-5, 48-7, 62-7. Three-point goals: Fort Dodge 5-11 (Van Zyl 2-5, Kilian 1-3, Bennett 2-2, Ulrich 0-1); Des Moines North 2-14 (S. James 0-2, Williams 1-2, Carey 1-6, Dixon 0-4). Total rebounds: Fort Dodge 32, Des Moines North 17. Turnovers: Fort Dodge 14, Des Moines North 30. Total fouls: Fort Dodge 12, Des Moines North 9.
"We want to be aggressive and put a lot of pressure on the ball, which our girls are getting more comfortable with," Timmerman said. "I also think we've made some strides with our shooting. We aren't forcing things like we did other years, and we're doing a much better job of passing the ball."
Fort Dodge built a 31-5 lead after the first quarter, while pushing its lopsided advantage to 48-7 at the break. Due to the 35-point differential rule, the clock ran continuously throughout the second half.
Kenya Williams paced North (0-3) with six points, while Mikayla Carey was right behind with five. The Polar Bears, who were held scoreless in the third period, made only five field goals. North, which suited just seven players, actually tallied 10 of its points in the final 5:50 of the contest.
With the loss, the Polar Bears have now dropped 26 straight games since earning a 36-35 road victory over Fort Dodge back on Jan. 31 of 2012. A year ago, the Dodgers pounded North, 53-10.
FDSH also received a boost Tuesday with the return of senior forward Lexi Astor (concussion), who managed four points off the bench.
"It was good to see Lexi back after being out for a week," said Timmerman. "She had the opportunity to knock off some rust and focus on playing without a lot of pressure. We need her to come up big Friday night against Sioux City (West). I'm excited to see how we can handle (the Wolverine) full-court press."
Eleven different Dodgers cracked the scoring column Tuesday. The 73 points by FDSH was its highest output since an 86-37 triumph at Humboldt on Jan. 24 of 2011.
Fort Dodge welcomes No. 8 (Class 5A) Sioux City West (2-0) Friday for a 7:45 p.m. start time. The Dodgers suffered a 62-48 setback to the Wolverines last season.