Lynx face challenge of slowing down Class 3A’s leading scorer Jackson Molstead in tonight’s substate semifinal

WCHS sophomore Tyler Olson scores two of his 16 points in Monday’s win over Decorah. Olson will likely get a crack at guarding Charles City’s Jackson Molstead during tonight’s Class 3A Substate 2 semifinal. DFJ photo/Troy Banning


WEBSTER CITY — Dylan Steen called it the elephant in the room, the one thing everyone is curious about as the Webster City boys’ basketball team prepares for tonight’s Class 3A Substate 2 semifinal against Charles City.

Just how in the heck are the Lynx going to defend Comets’ all-state point guard Jackson Molstead? The answer is pretty simple, actually. They’re not going to do anything different than what they’ve done in their first 22 outings.

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, right?

WCHS senior Dylan Steen (4) has his path to the basket blocked by Decorah’s Logan Halverson (40) on Monday. Steen enters tonight’s substate semifinal averaging 12.3 points per game. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“Molstead is obviously very good and we understand that, but I don’t think it’s going to change what we are going to do,” Steen, a senior who will likely get the call to guard Molstead at least some of the time, said. “We’ve won 15 games playing hard man-to-man defense and that’s what we’re planning on doing.”

It will be a battle of contrasting styles this evening inside the WCHS gymnasium when the ball is thrown into the air for tip-off at 7 p.m. Charles City (13-7) likes to run, press and push the tempo into the stratosphere. The Lynx (15-7) want to counter with what

head coach Marty McKinney admits is a style you could refer to as uglying up the game, and that’s meant as a compliment. WCHS wants to control tempo, slow the pace and make Charles City play its game.

“It starts out with knowing who we are and what we do,” McKinney said. “We’re not going to be able to outscore people, that’s not our game. We have to start with our identity and that’s at the defensive end. At the offensive end, we want to take care of the ball, get the ball reversed, get lots of touches and we’re OK if a possession takes 45 to 50 seconds and we don’t force up a bad shot.”

Tonight will be a rematch of a 2018 substate semifinal Charles City won on its home floor, 65-58. Molstead poured in 20 points against the Lynx a season ago and he enters Round 2 averaging a 3A-best 28.9 points per game. But the quick 5-foot-11 floor general can do more than just score; he distributes 6.8 assists a night as well.

“We’ve faced some good kids this season, but I don’t think we’ve seen anybody as quick as he is that can create so many things off the dribble,” McKinney said of Molstead. “He can shoot the 3, he’s got a nice pull up jump shot and he gets to the rim. So we’ve got to play good help defense and we’ve got to be patient. We know he’s going to get his.”

Tyler Olson, a WCHS sophomore, will get his crack at defending Molstead as well. He knows he’s going to give up points, and he also knows he can’t let it get to his head.

“He’s obviously really good and I have a lot of respect for him,” Olson said. “You know with a player like him he’s always going to get his points, but you try to make him take as many shots as he can to get those points.”

Charles City averages better than 68 points per game, while WCHS allows fewer than 50. A game that is in the low 50s come late in the fourth quarter certainly favors the Lynx, but to do that they must be better on the boards than they were in Monday’s 55-47 quarterfinal win over Decorah.

“Anytime we can force them to miss a shot, they have to be one and done,” McKinney said.

WCHS will counter Molstead and Comets’ 6-6 forward Bradley Andrews (12.7 points per game) with its own offensive weaponry, namely 6-6 senior center Henry Hoversten (14.4 points, 8.8 rebounds per game), Steen (12.3 points) and Olson (9.6 points).

Tonight’s winner will advance to Monday’s substate final in Mason City to face either top-ranked Clear Lake or Algona.