WCHS girls play right into Bulldogs track meet

HAMPTON – Taking Hampton-Dumont out of its comfort zone was not just the goal, but a necessity for the Webster City girls’ basketball team here Friday night.

But instead the Lynx fed the beast.

And the result was not good.

With quick and talented sophomore guards Jessica Speake and Jordan Prantner directing the show, the Bulldogs jumped into their run-and-gun style with both feet and sprinted by Webster City, 69-29, in the first North Central Conference contest of 2014 for both teams.

Prantner rained in a pair of 3-pointers and scored plenty on drives to the bucket; she finished with a game-high 16 points. Speake, a returning all-conference performer, had no trouble playing second fiddle and she still managed to pop off for 13 to help send Hampton-Dumont (7-2, 5-2 NCC) to its fourth consecutive victory.

WCHS (0-8, 0-7 NCC) went in with the game plan of putting the shackles on the duo with a triangle-and-two defense. The Lynx also raced back on defense whenever possible to slow the Bulldogs down, but by the midpoint of the first quarter it was clear – neither tactic was going to work.

“When they got in that running game … we fed into what they wanted to do and they took us out of the element where we wanted to be and we just never recovered,” WCHS head coach Nicole Muhlenbruch said. “I’m at a loss for words right now because this isn’t how I expected it to go.”

The Lynx stuck to the game plan early and the result was a 7-5 deficit four minutes into the clash. But then Hampton-Dumont started to push the pace with its own pressure defense and WCHS took the bait. Muhlenbruch’s club didn’t have trouble breaking the Bulldogs’ press, but rather than slow the tempo and work the offense, WCHS put up quick shots that all too often missed the mark.

Hampton-Dumont took advantage of the Lynx impatience and scored 10 straight points in under two minutes and the lead ballooned to 25-7 by the time the horn sounded to end the opening quarter.

And that was pretty much all she wrote.

WCHS shot just 29 percent from the field (11 of 38) despite getting more than its fair share of open looks at the basket. The Lynx had greater success from long distance; they rattled in 4 of 10 3s, led by two from Allie Flaws, who scored a team-high seven points. Chelsey Wagoner and Colby Deakman also found the bottom of the net from outside the arc.

“I think we worked our offense well,” Muhlenbruch said. “Their press really wasn’t a big deal, but we just shot a terrible percentage.”

Speake scored five straight points early in the second quarter – part of an 11-0 Bulldog run – and Prantner added a 3 to extend the margin to 36-7. Hampton-Dumont led 42-14 at the intermission.

“They’re good, probably two of the best guards in the (conference),” Muhlenbruch said of Prantner and Speake. “I know they play a lot of basketball … they’re just good.”

It didn’t help that WCHS played much of the first half without starting junior forward Hannah Myers, who picked up two fouls in the first quarter and her third just 1:11 into the second. Myers was solid in the second half – she finished with six points, two steals and two assists – but by then it was too late.

Mikala Harrill added four points and four rebounds. Gabbi Hoversten collected eight boards; Flaws also contributed four caroms, three assists and two thefts.

Muhlenbruch and her players will try again on Tuesday when the Lynx host Algona Bishop Garrigan at 6:15 p.m.

“We had a real good talk (after the game) and it’s like one of the players said – we can’t always focus on all the negatives,” Muhlenbruch said. “We have to focus on what we did well (Friday night) and build on that. We just have to do what we can to get ready for Garrigan on Tuesday and Eagle Grove on Friday.”