Lynx girls flat against Gaels, suffer the consequences

WCHS senior Cassidy Nerland (center) battles for a loose ball against St. Edmond Tuesday night. The Gaels knocked off the Lynx, 41-39. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WEBSTER CITY — The word comfortable escaped Nicole Muhlenbruch’s mouth several times as she attempted to explain what happened to her Webster City girls’ basketball team Tuesday night.

Winners of three straight games and playing a team it beat by 27 points back on Dec. 19, the Lynx were primed to push the program to its first four-game surge since January of 2006.

And then it was right back to the drawing board.

“We got comfortable, and by being comfortable we weren’t as aggressive as I would have liked to have seen us,” Muhlenbruch, the Lynx head coach, said following a head-scratching 41-39 loss to St. Edmond, the same St. Edmond team that entered on a 10-game skid and without a win since Dec. 16. “We had beaten them by 27 and I think that was the expectation we had this time. And when I say we I mean the coaches and the players. We felt that we were going to be able to win.”

But St. Edmond (4-14, 2-10 NCC) was the hungrier team throughout the 32-minute affair. The Gaels got to all of the loose balls, pounded the offensive glass and never trailed after an Erin Flattery 3-point play made it 15-13 Gaels with 3:51 remaining in the second quarter.

WCHS senior guard Haley Flaws (2) drives the baseline on her way to the bucket in the third quarter against St. Edmond on Tuesday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

St. Edmond led 21-20 at the break, an advantage that would have been sizable had Lynx forward Halle Mason not buried three first-half 3-pointers on her way to 12 points.

Cassidy Nerland led WCHS (9-9, 6-6 NCC) with 14 points and 14 rebounds. But St. Edmond held Taylor McKinney, the North Central Conference’s leading scorer, to just two points on a pair of fourth-quarter free throws. It was only the second time in McKinney’s 39-game career where she was held without a field goal.

McKinney sat for large chunks of time throughout the game and appeared to be under the weather as she sometimes sat with her head on her knees. Muhlenbruch confirmed afterwards that her sophomore point guard was indeed under the weather.

“With any team, when one of your main players is not 100 percent, it influences the team and kind of takes you out of your continuity and rhythm,” she said.

Trailing by as many as seven in the second half, WCHS finally mounted a charge in the fourth quarter. Pressure defense forced several turnovers as the Lynx slowly whittled away. A 3-pointer from Sarah Vogelbacher off an offensive rebound closed the deficit to one point, 38-37, with 49 seconds to play.

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

It was 40-39 when the Gaels missed the front end of a one-and-one with 9.6 seconds remaining, but a large scrum for the rebound went to St. Edmond and WCHS was forced to foul again with 4.8 ticks remaining. Livi Huss buried the first and missed the second, but all the Lynx could get was a running heave from just inside half-court by McKinney at the buzzer. It grazed the backboard before tumbling to the ground.

WCHS was plagued by poor shooting throughout the contest. It knocked down just 13 of 55 attempts (24 percent), including a dismal 4 of 21 (19 percent) from behind the arc.

“We got really good drives to the basket and we had a ton of bunnies, but we just didn’t finish shots,” Muhlenbruch said.

Mason added five rebounds, two steals and two assists. Grace Hoversten collected six rebounds and had two points.

Huss paced St. Edmond with 11 points. Flattery and Jocy Timmerman scored eight each.

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

St. Edmond 41, Webster City 39

Tuesday at Webster City

St. Edmond (4-14, 2-10 NCC) — Abby Landwehr 3 0-2 6, Macey Mason 1 3-4 5, Hannah Huss 0 0-0 0, Cambrie McBride 0 1-2 1, Erin Flattery 3 2-6 8, Jocy Timmerman 3 2-2 8, Livi Huss 5 1-2 11, Brea McNeil 1 0-0 2. Totals: 16 9-18 41.

Webster City (9-9, 6-6 NCC) — Haley Flaws 1 0-0 2, Taylor McKinney 0 2-2 2, Halle Mason 4 1-1 12, Sarah Vogelbacher 2 0-0 5, Zoey Woodle 0 2-2 2, Grace Hoversten 1 0-1 2, Adalie Schwandt 0 0-0 0, Cassidy Nerland 5 4-8 14. Totals: 13 9-14 39.

St. Edmond 8 13 8 12 — 41

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Webster City 8 12 5 14 — 39

3-point field goals — WC 4 (Mason 3, Vogelbacher). Rebounds — WC 32 (Nerland 14, Hoversten 6, Mason 5). Steals — WC 8 (Mason 2, McKinney 2, Nerland 2). Assists — WC 9 (McKinney 3, Mason 2, Hoversten 2). Turnovers — SE 15, WC 13. Team fouls — SE 14, WC 14. Fouled out — WC: Nerland.