The 2nd Half: Lynx begin New Year at home against H-D

WEBSTER CITY – The month of December wasn’t exactly kind to the Webster City basketball teams.

Road trip after road trip didn’t give off the party vibe, and neither did the losses.

But that’s all behind the Lynx. It’s on to bigger and, hopefully, better things.

After a two-week layoff, Webster City will resume the season tonight inside the WCHS gymnasium against North Central Conference rival Hampton-Dumont. The girls’ game will tip-off at 6:15 p.m., with the boys’ clash on the docket for approximately 7:45 p.m.

It will start a month in which the Lynx will play five of eight games at home, a far cry from December when they entered hostile territory in all but two games.

Both the Lynx girls (2-7, 2-6 NCC) and boys (2-6, 2-5 NCC) enter the New Year on two-game losing skids following consecutive setbacks against Fort Dodge St. Edmond and Humboldt.

Nicole Muhlenbruch, the Lynx first-year girls’ coach, will face the daunting task of trying to come up with a scheme to slow down the league co-leading Bulldogs (7-2, 6-1 NCC). They’re the only team to knock off reigning NCC champion St. Edmond, with their one conference loss coming at the hands of Clear Lake.

“I know our girls are improving, but along with improving we want some wins,” Muhlenbruch said. “I think (tonight) will kind of set the tone for how we’re going to play this second half of the season.”

First-team all-conference forward Taryn Barz averages 14 points per game for Hampton-Dumont – the second-best total in the NCC – and Jessica Speake is seventh at 10.4 a night.

The Bulldogs also possess the league’s top rebounder in Paige Wragge (12.3 per game).

WCHS is led in scoring by Rachel Kauffman (5.6), Mikaleh McCoy (5.1) and Cambria Hoffmann (4.4). Hannah Myers (7.1) and McCoy (4.9) are the leaders on the glass.

Muhlenbruch says the Lynx spent the break continuing to work at the offensive end of the floor. Oh, and the players ran … a lot.

“My goal was to keep them in shape,” Muhlenbruch said. “We want to make sure we come out (tonight) and we’re not winded.”

WCHS boys’ coach Marty McKinney said the break came at just the right time for his group, which showed flashes during the first half of the season. But, ultimately, inconsistency was a big factor for the team’s struggles.

“It was a needed break for us because it’s been a tough start,” McKinney said. “We definitely had some things that we needed to get accomplished and consistency was the big thing. It about every game, we’ve put together some really good quarters or moments, we just haven’t been able to consistently do it for four quarters.

“I think we’ve definitely improved in some key areas, and I think we’re a lot closer to where we want to be after the break.”

The Lynx rely on center Boone Myers and guard Mason Myers for the bulk of their scoring; both average 12.2 points a contest. Nick Olmstead chips in 7.2.

McKinney said Boone Myers – a two-year starter – sprained an ankle in practice on Wednesday and say out Thursday, but he expects the veteran to play tonight.

“He should be OK,” McKinney said.

WCHS faces a Hampton-Dumont (0-8, 0-6 NCC) club still looking for its initial breakthrough. The Bulldogs have been outscored by an average of 18.4 points, and they ended December by handing Eagle Grove its first victory.

Parker Claypool (10.9) is the lone Bulldog to score in double figures.