Middle of road: Lynx nipped by ’Dogs, finish alone in 5th in NCC

WEBSTER CITY – A 3-point barrage helped Webster City steal a road win at Algona last month, so it was only fitting that the Bulldogs returned the favor when they stepped onto the hardwood inside the WCHS gymnasium last night.

Algona connected on four first-quarter triples and drained seven in all while shooting 47 percent from outside the arc, and the Bulldogs needed every one of them to hold off WCHS at the buzzer, 56-54.

Mason Myers, the Lynx junior shooting guard and leading scorer, had a contested look from 18 feet on the left wing at the horn to send the game into overtime, but it was off the mark.

The win pushed Algona (14-7, 12-6 NCC) into a tie for third in the North Central Conference standings with Humboldt. WCHS (10-10, 10-8 NCC) completed the league docket all alone in fifth – not bad considering how inexperienced the club was at the start of the season, but not exactly what the Lynx were hoping for either.

Point guard Justin Raymond scorched the nets early for Algona with three 3s and the Bulldogs made their first four bombs to take an early 12-2 lead and WCHS was never able to catch up.

“They shot well. Everything looks great when you shoot well and Raymond came out and hit those 3s right away,” WCHS head coach Marty McKinney said of the Bulldogs, who blitzed the nets at a 52 percent clip overall. “They got things going right away.”

Raymond finished with 12 points and teammate Trevor Loeschen led all scorers with 18. Loeschen notched most of his points in the paint, but also canned a 3 in the first half to help the Bulldogs build a 31-24 advantage. They led by as many as 13 early in the second quarter before WCHS slowly chipped away.

“Loeschen hurt us in the first half, but I thought we did a better job on him in the second half,” McKinney said.

The long range game went by the wayside for the Bulldogs in the second half, as they turned to guard Luke TerHark to score on the run. Eight of his 11 points came over the final 16 minutes, six coming on drives to the bucket.

“At times I thought we guarded really well, but we knew we had to keep them out of the lane and we didn’t do a good job of keeping TerHark or Raymond out of the lane,” McKinney said. “It’s a dribble-drive offense and we knew that was what they were going to do.”

Algona’s lead stood at 10 for much of the third quarter, but a late burst pulled WCHS with six, 44-38. The Lynx scored the opening five points of the fourth – the final three coming on a Ben Mossman bomb from the corner – to climb to within one.

Back-to-back hoops by Bulldogs’ forward Peter Hollinger extended the visitor’s lead back to seven, 54-47, with 2:30 remaining.

A traditional 3-point play by Myers, followed by a driving hoop by Mossman got WCHS right back into contention.

Algona missed the front end of a one-and-one on back-to-back possessions and clanged three of its final four free throw attempts to allow WCHS to hand around.

A miss at the charity stripe by Raymond with 30 seconds to go gave the Lynx a chance to tie or go ahead with a 3 in the final seconds. Avery Fuhs missed an open 3 from the top of the key with under 10 ticks left, but WCHS got the rebound and called a timeout to set up the final play with 3 seconds left.

Myers came off a double screen, caught the ball in traffic near the arc, turned and fired over the defense of TerHark. It hit the front of the rim and bounded off as time expired.

“It wasn’t the cleanest of looks, but it was a decent look,” McKinney said.

Myers led WCHS with 13 points and six rebounds, but he was hounded all night by a bevy of defenders who didn’t allow him to knock down a 3.

Mossman contributed 11 points, Alec Fuhs pitched in 10 and Avery Fuhs finished with nine. Colt Richardson led the Lynx on the glass with seven boards, while Sean Vogelbacher yanked down six.

The Lynx shot a tidy 49 percent from the floor and drained all five of their free throws.

WCHS is scheduled to close out the regular season on Thursday at Boone.