WCHS boys escape against feisty Algona, stay unbeaten
Down by 17 with 7:25 to go, Bulldogs rally to take lead and almost pull off the improbable
WEBSTER CITY — It didn’t feel like a win, not as Marty McKinney sat slouched with his head tilted and resting on his right hand while he looked at the scorebook late Tuesday night.
McKinney’s Webster City boys’ basketball team built an 18-point lead on Algona early in the third quarter and led by 17 with 7:25 remaining.
And then the Lynx did everything in their power to squander it.
WCHS even fell behind by a point on two occasions late in the final period, but a clutch 3-pointer by Cameron Moen and two free throws by Jordan Tanner down the stretch were just enough to hold off the Bulldogs, 58-56.
“We are not even close to where we need to be,” a clearly frustrated McKinney said afterwards. “But give Algona credit because they had us on our heels.
Just how unorthodox was the final quarter? WCHS (4-0, 2-0 NCC) led by four with 6.6 seconds remaining and then had to hold its breath on a final desperation heave from just inside halfcourt by Algona’s Spencer Nelson that smacked off the backboard and bounced off the front of the rim before it fell harmlessly to the court.
The Lynx gave up an uncontested layup with two seconds to go and then, following a timeout, attempted to heave the ball to the other end of the court. But the pass was short and fell into the lap of Nelson, who took two dribbles before letting the ball fly just as time expired.
Turnovers were a problem for the Lynx, particularly in the second half when Algona turned up the defensive pressure and utilized a press. WCHS finished with 19 turnovers, 14 after the intermission.
“You can’t turn the ball over 19 times and expect to win very many nights,” McKinney said. “Those (Algona) kids defended and they made us uncomfortable. We’ve got to get that fixed and fixed in a hurry.”
If there was a knock on WCHS a season ago, it was its inability to hold onto the ball against pressure. And McKinney knows that Algona just gave the rest of the Lynx opponents a blueprint on how to play defense.
“We’ve got four seniors that all started a year ago and we’ve got to play with confidence,” McKinney said. “We’ve got to play like seniors and attack. If teams are going to play that defense, we’ve got to be able to exploit it.”
Wyatt Wegener spurred a 19-1 run with 17 fourth-quarter points, and his drive and bucket with two minutes to go gave Algona its first lead since it was 2-0. Wegener finished with a game-high 25 points.
“We didn’t have an answer for him defensively,” McKinney said. “He’s a smooth player and has some nice moves in the paint.”
It was 54-53 in the Bulldogs favor when Moen took a kick-out pass from Henry Hoversten and buried a deep 3 from the corner to put WCHS in front 56-54 with 19.2 ticks remaining. It was his only triple of the game and it ended a 7-minute, 6-second field goal dry spell for the Lynx.
“Cameron hit a big shot and he was 0 for 5 (from 3) up to that point,” McKinney said. “You’ve got to give credit to our guys. We didn’t play well in the fourth quarter, but that last 45 seconds, we did what we needed to do.”
Tanner stole a pass on the Bulldogs’ ensuing possession and calmly sank two free throws to give the Lynx a four-point edge. Tanner led WCHS with 13 points, five rebounds and two steals.
For three quarters, it looked like the Lynx would cruise. They went on an early 13-0 run in the opening period and ended the first half on a 12-2 spurt to build a 35-21 cushion. Noah McKinney scored eight of his 10 points over the final 2:35 of the second quarter.
WCHS scored on back-to-back possessions to open the third for its biggest lead of 18, 39-31.
Henry Hoversten and Tyler Bultena both pitched in 11 points in the win. Moen finished with seven points and Dylan Steen came off the bench to provide six points, seven rebounds and three assists. McKinney and Moen dished out four assists each.
Webster City 58, Algona 56
Tuesday at Webster City
Algona (1-4, 0-2 NCC) — Matt Grein 1 0-0 2, Wyatt Wegener 10 5-7 25, Trevor Bormann 4 1-4 9, Trey Engen 1 0-0 2, Spencer Nelson 2 1-1 5, Skyler Green 2 0-0 4, Spencer Holmes 1 0-0 2, Collin Bleich 2 2-2 7, Collin Sexton 0 0-0 0, Jason Cecil 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23 9-14 56.
Webster City (4-0, 2-0 NCC) — Noah McKinney 3 3-3 10, Cameron Moen 3 0-0 7, Jordan Tanner 5 2-2 13, Tyler Bultena 4 3-4 11, Dylan Steen 3 0-0 6, Henry Hoversten 5 1-1 11. Totals: 23 9-10 58.
Algona 6 15 12 23 — 56
Webster City 15 20 13 10 — 58
3-point field goals — ALG 1 (Bleich); WC 3 (McKinney, Moen, Tanner). Rebounds — WC 24 (Steen 7, Tanner 5, Hoversten 5). Steals — WC 4 (Tanner 2). Assists — WC 15 (McKinney 4, Moen 4, Steen 3). Turnovers — WC 19.Team fouls — ALG 18, WC 14. Fouled out — none.