Getting Closer: Lynx show improvement, not enough to win

WEBSTER CITY – The want is present and so is the determination. It’s the know-how that the youthful Webster City girls’ basketball team lacks at this early juncture of the season.

Bright moments popped up with frequency, but the same mistakes that haunted the Lynx in a season-opening loss to Boone on Saturday – a noticeable offensive drought and the inability to crash the glass – came to the surface last night in a 55-39 North Central Conference setback to Algona inside the WCHS gymnasium.

The Bulldogs (2-0, 1-0) didn’t exactly light it up offensively, but plenty of second- and third-chance points, coupled with a 9-0 run that spanned 3:10 of the first and second quarters made the difference as they sent the Lynx (0-2, 0-1) back to the drawing board.

Still, WCHS head coach Nicole Muhlenbruch saw some significant improvements from her squad, and she says they will carry those positives over to Friday’s home game against Iowa Falls-Alden.

“My girls fight and we really thought we turned a corner (last night),” she said. “We talked in the locker room afterwards and said that if you continue to improve like this, where are you going to be at the end of the season?”

Still, Muhlenbruch acknowledges that the rebounding must improve. That should occur once the Lynx get junior centers Mikaleh McCoy and Mikala Harrill back on the floor. Both sat court side with injuries.

“We asked the girls after the game what they wanted to work on in practice and they all said rebounding, so you’ve got to appreciate your kids when they know what they have to work on,” Muhlenbruch said. “Sometimes we almost looked like we were caught off guard and when we reacted it was a little bit slow.”

Sophomore lefty point guard Chelsey Wagoner carried the offensive torch for WCHS early on and scored all eight of her points in the first half. She splashed in a 3-pointer from the corner to end a 5:15 field goal drought to start the game – it actually pushed the Lynx ahead 4-3 – and she found the bottom of the net from behind the arc again with one minute to go in the quarter to put WCHS in front 11-8.

And then the dreaded Bulldog run occurred.

Algona scored the final six points of the first period and added three more early in the second to take a 17-11 lead. A steal and layup by Lynx sophomore Allie Flaws ended the 9-0 spurt and WCHS closed to within three later in the quarter on a driving bucket by Cassidy Bultena.

WCHS shot 37 percent from the field – a significant improvement from Saturday’s 24-percent showing – and had balanced scoring. Bultena and Alex Dinsdale both finished with nine. Flaws chucked in seven to go along with four steals, and Gabbi Hoversten showed versatility with four points, seven boards, two steals and two assists.

Bultena hoarded a team-high 10 rebounds.

Algona received a game-high 16 points from Reba Zeller. She canned four 3-pointers, including one early in the third quarter to extend the Bulldogs’ cushion to 10, 29-19. Abby Strohman added nine points, all in the first half.

Algona led 39-28 after three quarters.