WCHS girls start quick, ride pressure D past Cadets

IOWA FALLS – Chelsey Wagoner isn’t big; far from it, in fact. But Webster City’s junior guard showed she knows how to play big Tuesday night.

Wagoner didn’t score points in bunches and she didn’t venture into the land of trees and jostle for rebounds. Instead, she played the role of perimeter pest – and she played it quite well – in the Lynx 51-38 victory over North Central Conference rival Iowa Falls-Alden.

Wagoner’s quickness and ball-hawking mentality led to a season-high eight steals, many of which translated into transition buckets, as WCHS scored 20 points off turnovers and never trailed en route to ending a seven-game slide.

“She’s feisty and I know she’s got that in her all the time,” WCHS head coach Nicole Muhlenbruch said of Wagoner, who scored just two points and yet had arguably the biggest impact on the outcome. “She was tenacious on defense.”

WCHS (3-10, 3-5 NCC) collected 17 steals in all and swept the two-game season set from the Cadets. The Lynx also prevailed back on Dec. 5, 47-34, in a contest that was separated by just a few points heading into the final period.

This one was never really close though. WCHS feasted offensively in the first quarter, thanks largely to its pressure defense, and led 20-8 after the initial eight minutes. The Lynx scored the game’s first six points and then put together a 14-2 run later in the stanza to pull away.

Cassidy Bultena scored seven of her 11 points in the opening quarter and Lynne Chalfant cashed in from behind the 3-point arc during the flurry.

“We needed this win. We’ve been so close in so many (games) and they’ve slipped through our fingers, so this was big,” Muhlenbruch said. “It doesn’t always happen where you come out and things are clicking, but the passes were there and the shots were falling early and that was key. If we hadn’t come out that quickly and that well, I don’t think we would have ended where we did.”

Reserve forward Alex Dinsdale paced the Lynx with 13 points, eight coming in the second quarter on high percentage shots from the block. She dropped in back-to-back buckets early in the second and Chalfant hit a bank 3 to extend the lead.

“That’s where Alex needs to be because she’s smart under the basket and she knows what to do under there,” Muhlenbruch said. “She’s a strong player under the basket.”

IF-A (1-12, 0-6 NCC) ended the first half on a 13-5 spurt to climb to within 10, 31-21. The Cadets trimmed the deficit to eight on two occasions in the third period, but never got closer. Dinsdale hit two more baskets to help push the Lynx advantage to 13, 42-29, heading into the fourth.

Each time IF-A tried to put a run together late, WCHS had the answer. The Cadets cut it to 44-36 with 5:10 remaining, but Bultena took the initiative and scored on a running jumper to push it back to a double-digit game.

Bultena drained a pair of free throws with three minutes left to make it 48-37 in the Lynx favor.

WCHS shot 33 percent from the field (21 of 63).

Gabbi Hoversten registered nine points, four rebounds and three assists in the win. Mikaleh McCoy added six points and six boards, and Chalfant finished with six points and four caroms. Kayla Miller came off the bench to drop in four points.

Wagoner and Chalfant also had three assists each. Bultena yanked down five rebounds.

Post player Saje Ites led IF-A with 15 points. Cali Viet just missed scoring in double figures; she walked off the floor with nine points.

WCHS will return home to tackle Clarion-Goldfield-Dows on Friday at 6:15 p.m. The Lynx claimed the first match-up, 47-41, back on Dec. 12, and Muhlenbruch says here team isn’t content with just one win this week.

“If we can get a couple more wins under our belt, that will be a huge thing going into the last half of the season,” she said.

WCHS will also be on the court on Saturday for a non-conference home clash against Gilbert.