Bulldogs blitz WCHS girls with press, win by 11

Timid Lynx commit 23 turnovers in loss, McKinney takes charge with 12 points

WCHS forward Cassidy Nerland (left) and Hampton-Dumont’s Maci Arjes wrestle for a loose ball at the free throw line on Friday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WEBSTER CITY — Hampton-Dumont’s defensive strategy wasn’t tricky. It was pretty straightforward — a 1-2-2 half-court trap and then a 2-3 zone where the Bulldogs trapped in the corners.

It was attack or be attacked and, unfortunately, Webster City chose to be attacked. The Lynx paid the price, too.

WCHS rung in the new year with a disappointing effort that was filled with turnovers — 23 in all — and missed opportunities from close range in a 51-40 loss to Hampton-Dumont Friday night. The Bulldogs (3-6, 2-3 NCC), winners of two straight, scored the game’s initial nine points and never trailed.

“Worked on it and we worked on it,” a frustrated Nicole Muhlenbruch, the Lynx head coach, said when asked about the pressure defense the Lynx faced. “(The girls) have got to attack it and they have to be able to adjust in a game and understand that we can’t give them every situation in practice. But we talked about it in the locker room after the game and we’re all taking ownership for it. We all know what we need to do.”

Timid play out top against the aggressive Bulldogs was evident early. WCHS (1-7, 1-4 NCC) committed six turnovers before it finally put points on the scoreboard with 2:18 remaining in the first quarter and they tallied 13 miscues in all in the opening half.

WCHS guard Halle Mason (10) takes a short pass from Taylor McKinney as the Lynx attempt to break the Hampton-Dumont press on Friday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Hampton-Dumont was more than happy to capitalize. Callie Grover scored 15 of her game-high 20 points in the first half. Grover and Halie Dombrowski both splashed in 3-pointers in the final minute of the second quarter to extend Hampton-Dumont’s cushion to 16 points, 30-14, at the break.

It didn’t help that the Lynx leading scorer, junior forward Cassidy Nerland, watched the entire second period from the bench with two fouls. Her minutes were limited in the second half as well and she fouled out with 3:19 remaining with just four points.

“We need Cassidy to make really good choices so that she’s able to play as much as we need her,” Muhlenbruch said.

Devyn VanKooten came off the bench and gave WCHS good minutes in the post. She scored four of the team’s six first-quarter points and finished with eight points and four rebounds.

Limited to just one 3-point basket in the opening half, freshman Taylor McKinney took over for stretches of the second half and helped WCHS trim its deficit to nine. She had her own 8-0 run in the third — she hit a 3, a mid-range jumper, a layup following a steal and a free throw — to make it 38-29 with 45 ticks remaining in the period.

Lynx guard Nicole Sweazey (left) rejects the shot of Hampton-Dumont’s Nadilee Eiklenborg in the first half. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

But the Lynx never got closer.

McKinney, who got the start at shooting guard before moving over to the point in the second half in an attempt to minimize the Bulldogs’ press, finished with 12 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals.

“It’s nice to see Taylor feeling a lot more comfortable out there on the court and taking the initiative to really be our leader at the point,” Muhlenbruch said.

Halle Mason and Nicole Sweazey both buried triples in the fourth quarter to keep the Lynx within striking distance, but Hampton-Dumont had the answer every time WCHS knocked down a shot.

“The girls are trying, but you have to constantly be after it,” Muhlenbruch said. “You can’t take 10 seconds off, or five seconds off.”

Taylor McKinney drives the baseline during the fourth quarter against Hampton-Dumont on Friday. She scored 12 points in the game. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Mason finished with seven points and a pair of steals. Sweazey picked up the rebounding slack in Nerland’s absence and brought down 12 caroms to go along with five points.

WCHS connected on just 30 percent of its shots (14 of 47), while Hampton-Dumont shot at a 35 percent clip (19 of 55).

The Lynx will embark on a busy week beginning this evening with a make-up game at Clarion-Goldfield-Dows. They’ll host Manson-Northwest Webster on Tuesday and then make road trips to take on seventh-ranked (Class 3A) Clear Lake on Friday and Waverly-Shell Rock on Saturday.

Hampton-Dumont 51, Webster City 40

Friday at Webster City

Hampton-Dumont (3-6, 2-3 NCC) — Dakota Sliter 0 0-0 0, Cassy Miller 3 0-2 6, Halie Dombrowski 2 0-0 5, Courtney Miller 2 2-2 6, Maci Arjes 0 0-0 0, Nadilee Eiklenborg 3 2-6 9, Kaci Arjes 0 1-2 1, Claire Wragge 1 2-5 4, Callie Grover 8 3-4 20. Totals: 19 10-21 51.

Webster City (1-7, 1-4 NCC) — Haley Flaws 0 0-0 0, Taylor McKinney 4 2-6 12, Halle Mason 2 1-2 7, Rihanna Wood 1 0-0 2, Nicole Sweazey 2 0-0 5, Zoey Woodle 0 0-0 0, Sarah Vogelbacher 0 2-4 2, Devyn VanKooten 3 2-4 8, Cassidy Nerland 2 0-1 5. Totals: 14 7-17 40.

H-Dumont 11 19 11 10 — 51

Webster City 6 8 15 11 — 40

3-point field goals — H-D 3 (Dombrowski, Eiklenborg, Grover); WC 5 (McKinney 2, Mason 2, Sweazey). Rebounds — WC 36 (Sweazey 12, McKinney 6, VanKooten 4). Steals — WC 6 (McKinney 2, Mason 2). Assists — WC 10 (McKinney 3, Vogelbacher 3). Team fouls — H-D 18, WC 15. Fouled out — WC: Nerland.