Taking a hard tumble to the floor late in the fourth quarter, Eisha Oden flashed a big smile as she made her way to the free-throw line.
It was one of the few times Oden let down her guard and intensity Friday.
Turning in a tour-de-force 23-point effort, the senior picked up the slack as the Marshalltown girls basketball team snapped a four-game slide with a 57-43 victory over Fort Dodge in a Central Iowa Conference Northern Division game at the Roundhouse Friday.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
Marshalltown’s Rachel Blagg, left, pulls a rebound away from Fort Dodge’s Mallory Killian during first-half action inside the Roundhouse Friday. The Bobcat girls claimed victory in the Central Iowa Conference Northern Division opener for both teams, winning 57-43.
"I challenged her individually. I told her 'look you had 21 one game and then you've been in single digits, you can't do that if you're going to be a quality player and I know you are, so let's go out there and show it,'" said Marshalltown coach Tim Johnson.
Leading 39-24 off a jumper from Amanda Hughes late in third, the Bobcats (2-4, 1-0) weren't out of the woods yet. Ashley Altman hit a 3 to cap an 8-0 flurry for the Dodgers to end the third trailing 39-32. The Bobcats regrouped with buckets from Rachel Blagg and Oden, before Fort Dodge unleashed a 6-0 surge to trail 43-38 with five minutes left.
Marshalltown countered again as a putback from Oden triggered an 11-2 run to close the contest.
Marshalltown 57, Fort Dodge 43
FORT DODGE (2-3) - Lexi Astor 0 4-4 4, Lani Van Zyl 4 0-0 11, Mariah Welter 0 0-0 0, Ashton Pederson 1 0-0 2, Ashley Altman 6 1-4 13, Mallory Killian 1 2-5 4, Tiana Mericle 4 0-2 8, Rachel Herrington 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 16 7-15 43.
MHS (2-4) - Amanda Hughes 5 2-4 13, Ellyn Boland 0 0-0 0, Sam Hughes 3 0-1 6, Eisha Oden 9 5-9 23, Emily Rebik 0 0-0 0, Rachel Blagg 2 3-6 7, Kali Banks 2 0-0 4, Lauren Mazour 0 4-6 4. TOTALS 21 14-26 53.
3-Point Goals - FD 4 (Van Zyl 3, Altman), MHS 1 (A.Hughes).
"We got the stops when we needed to," said Johnson. "We made the shots when we needed to and when we missed we hit the boards hard."
None harder than Oden, who scored many of her points in the trenches and poured in nine during a critical 11-4 run that gave the Bobcats a 24-21 edge at the break.
Marshalltown never trailed again as an indirect technical from the Dodgers (2-3, 0-1) helped the Bobcats stretch their lead to 29-21, early in the third.
Playing without starting floor general Taylor Wagner, who was back on the sidelines saddled by bronchitis, Hughes picked up her play with 13 points at guard.
"Amanda played a great game. She did what she had to do handling the pressure and limiting turnovers after the first few minutes," said Johnson.
"We had to change some things (without Wagner), but we were able to find the holes in their zone tonight."
Altman led the Dodgers with 14 points, while Lani Van Zyl added 11.
While Wagner could potentially return for Monday's road game against Newton, backup center Brittanie McGrane's diagnosis is not as bright. Suffering a knee injury Tuesday against West Des Moines Valley, McGrane may not take the floor again this season, though her presence on the bench will be felt.
"We're waiting for (test) results, but we're pretty sure she's done for the season," said Johnson. "She'll be with us and we're glad that she's with us."
After their road date with the Cardinals, Marshalltown hosts Indianola Tuesday.