BEST HE’S BEN: Mossman clutch at both ends of floor, Lynx derail IF-A

WEBSTER CITY – With the amount of energy Ben Mossman expended at the defensive end of the floor, you would think his legs would have been like jelly at the offensive end Friday night inside the WCHS gymnasium.

Um, you would think wrong.

The stellar defensive effort turned in by the Webster City senior only added to his confidence when he got the ball in scoring position, as he rattled off a team-high 17 points in the Lynx 61-57 victory over North Central Conference rival Iowa Falls-Alden.

Mossman, a three-year starter, got the defensive assignment on Casey Schlatter, a Drake recruit and one of the state’s premier scorers. The 6-foot-6 senior forward – coming off a 45-point performance against Clear Lake on Tuesday – poured in 30 points, but he needed 24 shots and 13 free throw attempts to get there.

“I knew it was a big responsibility guarding Schlatter because he’s a great player and great scorer, so I knew I had to be ready to go,” the 6-foot-2 Mossman said after logging all 32 minutes. “My teammates did a great job of helping me out, too.”

Yes, they did.

Mossman pressured Schlatter from end line to end line, and when the Cadet leader drove he saw three and sometimes four Lynx defenders jump in his path. Schlatter was 6 of 17 from the field early in the fourth quarter before finding his rhythm; he finished 10 of 24 – two of his makes came on thunderous dunks – and 8 of 13 at the line.

“Ben worked his tail off for 32 minutes,” WCHS head coach Marty McKinney said. “It was a team defensive effort, too. Ben had the confidence in his teammates that he was going to get help, so he could get up tight.”

WCHS (1-1, 1-0 NCC) led nearly the entire contest, at one point by as many as 14 points at 33-19 with 4:50 remaining in the third quarter. The Cadets (1-2, 0-2 NCC) cut it to 40-33 after three and eventually closed to within one, 48-47, with just under four minutes to go in regulation after a jumper and long 3 from Schlatter.

But the Lynx continually came through in clutch situations. Sophomore Avery Fuhs knocked down a jumper from the free throw line following Schlatter’s outburst to give his team a little wiggle room and WCHS added four more points in succession to push the lead back to seven, 54-47, with 2:35 remaining.

Twins Alec and Avery Fuhs both notched 12 points to join Mossman in double figures. Colt Richardson popped off for nine and six rebounds.

WCHS canned shots at a 55 percent clip (22 of 40), including 53 percent from outside the arc (8 of 15). Mossman drilled three triples, while Avery Fuhs and Trey Tesdahl both had two.

The Lynx made as many 3s (five) as they did shots inside the arc in building a 26-17 halftime lead.

“We’ve got kids that can shoot the ball and we’re probably a little bit better of a shooting team than we’ve had over the last three or four years,” McKinney said. “I thought we got a lot of good looks and we knocked down the shots.”

WCHS was just 10 of 19 (53 percent) at the stripe, but it made enough over the final 30 seconds to keep the Cadets at bay. Avery Fuhs calmly drilled a pair with 17.6 ticks left to extend the Lynx lead to 60-55.

The inexperienced sophomores – guys like the Fuhs boys, Richardson and Sean Vogelbacher (five points) – never played tentative, and that’s a good sign for WCHS as it continues to play without junior Mason Myers, an all-conference selection a season ago.

“I was impressed with how tough those guys were at the end there,” Mossman said. “I was worried we might struggle in the beginning (of the season), but with Mason coming back it’s going to be great.”

WCHS committed just eight turnovers, a noticeable decrease from the 27 it piled up in a season-opening loss to Fort Dodge. The drop-off can be attributed to the youngsters coming into their own, McKinney said.

“Our young guys have played a lot of basketball, so they’ve got experience,” he said. “They’re a confident group and we’re throwing a lot of them into the fire. We’re making mistakes, but we’re learning from them and getting better.”

Cadets’ guard Bo Williams took advantage of the Lynx defensive attention on Schlatter and buried three uncontested 3s for nine points. Schlatter snared 17 rebounds.