FORT DODGE - One of the state's premier defensive teams picked the absolute worst time to be off its game.
After a season full of lock-down performances that left many opponents kicking the air in frustration, the proverbial shoe was on the other foot Friday night in the Class 3A District 4 final inside the Fort Dodge Senior High gymnasium.
Sixth-ranked Webster City and its suffocating defense were sideswiped by a Storm Lake team built to run, as the Tornadoes peeled off a 32-14 fourth-quarter surge to overcome a seven-point deficit after three periods and send the Lynx packing from the postseason, 66-55.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Webster City senior forward Andrew May (facing) plows into Storm Lake’s Ethan Kenkel and fires up a shot in the lane during the first half of Friday’s Class 3A District 4 final in Fort Dodge. May made the shot and finished with 13 points, but the Tornadoes used a big fourth-quarter spurt to upset the No. 6 Lynx, 66-55.
It was only the second time this winter that a Webster City opponent scored in the 60s; the Lynx were 0-2 in those games.
The 32 points were the most given up by Webster City (20-3) in a single quarter this season. Only two teams - Algona Bishop Garrigan (21) and second-ranked Waverly-Shell Rock (24) - topped 20 points in an 8-minute frame against the Lynx, who entered Friday's clash giving up just 43.5 points a night - the fourth-best total in the class.
Many factors played into the Lynx late-game troubles. Storm Lake (14-8) owned a 25-17 advantage on the boards, and 10 of the Tornadoes' caroms were on the offensive glass. Three of their offensive rebounds came in the opening three minutes of the fourth quarter, and they scored on all three possessions.
Storm Lake 66, Webster City 55
Storm Lake (14-8) - Aaron Krier 2 3-4 8, Trey O'Brien 6 8-10 22, Nic Seaman 1 0-0 3, Pel Deng 7 2-2 19, Jay Grant 2 0-0 4, Ethan Kenkel 4 2-2 10, Greg Germann 0 0-0 0, Aaron Shadlow 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 15-18 66.
Webster City (20-3) - Jonny Davis 8 4-9 21, Garrett Gourley 0 0-0 0, Sam Mossman 4 2-2 13, Ben Mossman 0 0-0 0, Nick Olmstead 1 0-0 2, Andrew May 5 3-4 13, Austin Myers 0 0-0 0, Boone Myers 3 0-0 6. Totals: 21 9-15 55.
Storm Lake15 13 6 32-66
Webster City11 14 16 14-55
3-point field goals - SL 7 (Deng 3, O'Brien 2, Krier, Seaman); WC 4 (S. Mossman 3, Davis). Rebounds - WC 17 (B. Myers 6, Davis 5). Steals - WC 2. Assists - WC 10 (S. Mossman 5, Davis 4). Team fouls - SL 17, WC 17. Fouled out - none.
"You're not going to win games when you give up 10 offensive rebounds like we did," WCHS head coach Marty McKinney said only minutes after his season ended. "In the third quarter when we made our run, they were one and done. But in the fourth quarter when they got back in the game they were getting two and three looks, and they made us pay.
"We battled for three quarters and we were sitting right where we needed to be, but we just ran out of gas. Part of it was our depth and part of it was we were just uncharacteristic defensively. We didn't get the stops that we normally do."
Late-game hiccups were a recurring theme for the Lynx this season. The top five and eight of the top nine scoring quarters by their opponents came in the fourth.
The surge seemingly came out of nowhere after WCHS outscored Storm Lake 16-6 in the third quarter, and the Lynx closed on a 12-2 run to jump in front 41-34. Senior Jonny Davis scored four of his team-high 21 points during the spurt, and classmate Sam Mossman canned one of his three 3-point bombs as well. Mossman and fellow senior Andrew May both finished with 13 points.
But Pel Deng and Trey O'Brien had the answer for the Tornadoes, as they combined to pop off for 21 of the fourth quarter points. Deng was the antagonist with a triple in the first 20 seconds of the fourth, and he rattled in another from the corner to cap a 10-2 Storm Lake run to put the green and white in front 44-43 with 5:40 remaining.
"We really stressed, when we sat down between (the third and fourth) quarters, that we were going to get their best shot at the start of the fourth," McKinney said. "Deng had been on the bench and we knew they would bring him back in, and he got them rolling."
O'Brien's second 3 of the game with 3 minutes remaining increased the Tornadoes' lead to 51-44, and WCHS never got closer than five the remainder of the way.
The Tornadoes notched 17 of the first 20 points in the final period, and they finished with seven 3s - tied for the most given up by the Lynx this season; St. Edmond also knocked down seven in a 56-53 overtime loss to WCHS on Jan. 24. They also rattled in 9 of 12 free throws over the final 2 minutes and were 15 of 18 overall.
Deng turned out the lights on the Lynx comeback chances with 58 ticks left when he broke free from a full-court press, caught a baseball pass in stride, took one dribble and soared in for an easy layup to put the Tornadoes in front 61-53.
Deng scored 19 in all and O'Brien finished with 22. Ethan Kenkel also reached double figures with 10.
Davis, May and Mossman were the only Lynx players to score in the first half, and they trailed at the intermission 28-25. That lack of balance - magnified by the fact that three-year starter Bryan Swon was forced to sit on the bench in street clothes because of an ankle injury sustained late in the regular season - continued after the break and McKinney thinks it's a key reason why Storm Lake was able to prevail late.
"They were really looking to shut Jon down. He got his points, but he had to take a lot of shots (Davis was 8 of 18 from the field) to get there," McKinney said. "We just didn't have the balance that we needed, and they did a great job of taking away those three (scorers) in the fourth quarter."
Davis and Storm Lake guard Nic Seaman both suffered forehead lacerations early in the third quarter when they butted heads as Seaman looked to pressure Davis while he had the ball. Blood gushed from the eyebrow of Seaman, and both sported hefty bandages when they reentered the game.
Boone Myers scored all six of his points in the second half for the Lynx, and the junior center also had six rebounds. Davis had five boards and four assists, and Mossman distributed five assists.
Friday marked the end of the prep careers for eight seniors, and McKinney says they will be impossible to replace. They were the driving forces behind a North Central Conference championship this winter and the program's first perfect league run since 1988.
"It's not going to sink in for a while - it's going to take a few days or a week - but they're going to eventually realize what a great season this was," McKinney said. "First and foremost, this senior group is a great group of kids. They're leaders in the classroom and they're going to be leaders in whatever communities and colleges they live in and attend.
"Sometimes they only see the rough guy that gets fired up and yells, but I couldn't be more proud of them. I'd do anything for every single one of those guys."
Storm Lake advanced to tonight's Substate 2 final in its backyard at Buena Vista University where it will face top-ranked MOC-Floyd Valley (23-0), a 61-58 winner over LeMars on Friday.