EAGLE GROVE - Cassidy Bultena and her cohorts didn't publicize their celebration. They waited until they were behind closed doors inside the locker room to let loose.
And let loose they did.
At long last.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Following a steal, WCHS sophomore Cassidy Bultena (25) goes coast-to-coast for a layup against Eagle Grove on Friday. She scored 19 points in a 66-38 Lynx win.
"We were all just shouting and screaming in the locker room ... it was awesome," Bultena, a Webster City sophomore guard, said after Webster City made its way out of the deep freeze for the first time this season with a 66-38 rout of North Central Conference rival Eagle Grove Friday night. "It just felt really good."
The thawing out process was quite simple - bouts of panic that have often plagued the Lynx were replaced my an unending supply of confidence, and the result was a wire-to-wire statement that included a career-high 19 points for Bultena, a season-high 19 steals for the team and the realization that, yes, they can knock down shots from the field.
"We just relaxed when we shot and that helped with our confidence," Bultena, who did her damage on 7 of 13 shooting, said. "Our team knows that anyone can be the leading scorer and I think they realized I was scoring (Friday night)."
WEBSTER CITY 66, EAGLE GROVE 38
Friday at Eagle Grove
Webster City (1-9, 1-8 NCC) - Chelsey Wagoner 2 1-2 6, Lynne Chalfant 3 0-0 7, Gabbi Hoversten 5 0-0 11, Colby Deakman 1 0-0 3, Hannah Myers 2 0-0 4, Cassidy Bultena 7 3-5 19, Allie Flaws 2 3-4 8, Alex Dinsdale 3 0-0 6, Catie Boyd 0 0-0 0, Mikala Harrill 1 0-0 2, Kenzie Garvey 0 0-0 0, Kayla Miller 0 0-0 0. Totals: 26 7-11 66.
Eagle Grove (0-11, 0-10 NCC) - Allison Purcell 1 1-3 3, Kylee Almond 3 0-0 8, Leslie Cooper 0 1-2 1, Megan Crail 4 2-3 10, Desira Shivers 2 0-0 6, Katie Spellmeyer 0 1-2 1, Stephanie Martin 0 0-0 0, Samantha Helmke 2 0-0 5, Katie Blasi 2 0-2 4. Totals: 14 5-15 38.
Webster City17 22 16 11-66
Eagle Grove 8 12 6 12-38
3-point goals - WCHS 7 (Bultena 2, Wagoner, Chalfant, Hoversten, Deakman, Flaws); EG 4 (Almond 2, Shivers 2). Rebounds - WCHS 31 (Myers 9, Hoversten 5, Bultena 5). Steals - WCHS 19 (Flaws 5, Hoversten 3, Myers 3). Assists - WCHS 19 (Bultena 5, Flaws 3, Garvey 3). Team fouls - WCHS 16, EG 10. Fouled out - Almond.
Gabbi Hoversten provided WCHS (1-9, 1-8 NCC) with a viable second option on offense. She finished with 11 points, keyed by a scorching stretch late in the second quarter in which she scored seven straight points. It was part of a 10-0 Lynx run over the final 1:45 that pushed them in front 39-20 and, essentially, put the game out of reach.
Bultena went off for 13 of her points in the opening half. Hoversten's one-girl show late gave her nine at the break and Allie Flaws poured in all eight of her points over the game's first 16 minutes.
WCHS shot 39 percent from the field (26 of 67) - a significant improvement over its season average of 29 percent - and blitzed the winless Eagles (0-11, 0-10 NCC) from behind the arc with seven makes in 18 shots (39 percent). Six different girls rained in 3s; Bultena canned two in the first half, and Hoversten, Flaws, Chelsey Wagoner, Lynne Chalfant and Colby Deakman also dialed it up from long range.
"They've always had that and I think it showed (Friday night)," WCHS head coach Nicole Muhlenbruch said when asked about the improved shooting. "This whole week, for some odd reason, the whole atmosphere in our practices was so different and so much more light-hearted. The girls were more determined."
Chalfant and Alex Dinsdale came off the Lynx bench to pop off for seven and six points, respectively, and Wagoner also finished with six.
The Lynx half-court trapping press led to numerous uncontested looks at the basket. Flaws' speed at the front of the press caused havoc and allowed her to come up with a team-high five steals. Hoversten and Hannah Myers both came up with three thefts.
"We use that to try to slow the game down," Muhlenbruch said. "Our goal is to do that every game, but it just doesn't seem like we've done it well against other teams."
Myers was a force on the boards; she collected nine rebounds to go along with four points. Bultena distributed five assists when she wasn't scoring, and Flaws and Kenzie Garvey both handed out three.
Any concern Muhlenbruch may have had about her team letting the foot off the gas in the second half was quickly put to bed, as WCHS outscored the Eagles 16-6 in the third quarter to up the lead to 55-26. The onslaught included a 9-1 run over the final four minutes that started when Bultena came up with a steal and went coast-to-coast for the layup.
Deakman's 3 from the left wing with 4:15 left in regulation gave the Lynx their biggest lead of 33, 62-29.
Megan Crail reached double figures for Eagle Grove with 10 points. Kylee Almond chipped in eight.
This marked the Lynx final road trip to face the Eagles as a member of the NCC. Eagle Grove will leave the conference following the 2014 softball season in late July for the North Iowa Conference.
WCHS will have some time to soak up the win before it returns to the court Friday night at Algona. The Lynx will return home on Saturday for a non-conference battle with 13th-ranked (Class 4A) Waverly-Shell Rock.