IF-A girls end on 9-0 run, deny Lynx first win

WEBSTER CITY – Losses are equally painful no matter the circumstances, so said a somber Nicole Muhlenbruch late Friday night.

Still …

The most recent setback for the Webster City girls’ basketball team had to feel like a sucker punch, as Iowa Falls-Alden rallied from a late five-point deficit to steal a 41-37 North Central Conference victory. Down 37-32 with 2:45 remaining, the Cadets (1-2, 1-1 NCC) ended the game on a 9-0 run and forced the Lynx to shuffle off the floor wondering just what in the heck happened?

“You believe you can go into every game and win it, so you’re disappointed whenever you lose,” Muhlenbruch, Webster City’s head coach, said. “We were out there to win, but some obstacles got in the way. We’ll use this as a learning experience.”

WCHS treated the basketball like a Ming vase for 30 minutes, turning the ball over just eight times en route to a lead throughout. The Lynx coughed it up four times over the final two minutes though and the miscues translated into six IF-A points.

And, ultimately, that was the difference.

“We’ve got a lot of young girls who have never been in a situation like that before,” Muhlenbruch said. “But the more we’re in those situations the more we’re going to grow from it.”

Hannah Myers scored from close range off an offensive rebound to give WCHS the 37-32 edge, but it was all Cadets the rest of the way.

A steal and lay-up by Emma Juhl – her only field goal of the game – drew IF-A even at 37-all with 35 ticks left. WCHS looked to hold for the last shot, but a turnover and foul led to two successful free throws by Samantha Kluesner – her only points of the contest – that put the Cadets on top 39-37 with 14.8 seconds to go.

Yet another turnover on the ensuing possession was the final nail in the Lynx coffin and a Brittany Fisher bucket from the right block in the waning moments sent the IF-A bench into celebration mode.

“The girls are taking this one hard,” Muhlenbruch said. “A whole bunch of girls were in the locker room thinking it was their fault we lost, but it’s not.”

WCHS had no such struggles on the glass – something that haunted it in two earlier losses. The Lynx owned a 10-0 edge in second-chance points in the first quarter and the margin was 14-2 by the break.

IF-A opted to pack the lane in a zone and dare WCHS to fire away from the perimeter, and that’s exactly what the Lynx did. They took 19 3-point shots over the initial 16 minutes – they made just two – and finished just 5 of 25 from long range in the game.

WCHS connected on just 13 of 58 shots (22 percent); the 20 percent accuracy from the arc didn’t exactly help.

“We needed to work the ball in more and not just pass twice and then shoot it,” Muhlenbruch said. “But I haven’t seen these girls shoot the way they have the last couple of games ever. They just need to stay relaxed and confident and things will come.”

Allie Flaws led WCHS with nine points, while Cassidy Bultena added eight. Chelsey Wagoner drilled a pair of 3s early in the third quarter to push the Lynx lead to 27-18 before IF-A responded with a 7-1 run over the final 3:05 of the period to pull within 28-25.

Myers chipped in seven points and 10 rebounds. Mikala Harrill claimed eight rebounds in her first action of the season; she missed the first two games while recovering from a knee injury.

Sophia Wibholm led IF-A with 14 points; she buried the Cadets only two triples late in the third period to close the gap. Jewel Friend added nine points and Saje Ites had seven.