WEBSTER CITY - Marty McKinney's coaching philosophy has always been defense first, which is precisely why the first month of the basketball season was so frustrating.
McKinney's Webster City boys' team heads into tonight's North Central Conference road battle against Hampton-Dumont allowing 64.2 points per game - a number unheard of in recent years - and it's the main reason why they limped to a 2-4 mark (2-3 in NCC) in December.
"We've gone back to the basics defensively and we really want to establish an identity at the defensive end by playing in your face man-to-man defense," McKinney said. "It's what we've done the last few years and it's what we've hung our hat on and we need to get back to that."
A slew of fresh faces on the roster and a lack of height pushed McKinney into using more zone schemes last month, but it didn't pay dividends. The Lynx allowed four opponents to score more than 60 points and two topped the 70-point threshold.
"We're not going to completely abandon (the zone), but we just feel more comfortable getting out and guarding people," he said.
Hampton-Dumont (2-6, 2-4 NCC) ended December on a positive note, winning its last two games. The Bulldogs played league-leader Fort Dodge St. Edmond to a six-point game, so McKinney knows his team cannot overlook them.
"We're going to have to play well. If we don't we'll get beat," he said.
WCHS has four players that average in double figures and five that put up at least nine points per game. Junior Mason Myers, who tore his ACL last spring, played in two games before the break and averaged 14.5 points.
Ben Mossman (11.7), Avery Fuhs (11.0), Trey Tesdahl (10.5) and Colt Richardson (9.0) are also big contributors.
The WCHS and Hampton-Dumont girls' teams will open the festivities at 6:15 p.m. The Lynx (0-7, 0-6 NCC) will attempt to end a season-long skid, while the Bulldogs (6-2, 4-2 NCC) will try to stay in third place in the NCC.
Sophomore guards Jessica Speake (16.5) and Jordan Prantner (13.4) are two of the top scorers in the NCC and they've combined to bury 29 3-point baskets for the Bulldogs.
The Lynx received some bad news over the break; junior center Mikaleh McCoy underwent foot surgery and will miss the remainder of the season. She suffered the injury in the season opener against Boone back in late November.