Balance helps WCHS boys fend off Cowboys
Best offensive showing of season for Lynx with 4 in double figures, but defense is lacking
CLARION — An actual basketball may be optional at Webster City’s practices over the Christmas break, an idea that brings a grin to the face of head coach Marty McKinney. His players? Probably not so much.
After struggling at the defensive end of the court in a nail-biting 69-64 North Central Conference victory over Clarion-Goldfield-Dows Tuesday night, McKinney says he knows what his players need to work on before they resume their season in early January.
“Now we’ve got to get back to working on the defensive side of the ball,” McKinney, a defensive-minded coach first, second and third, said. “If (players) like to get up and guard people and do a lot of conditioning defensive drills, then (practice over the break) is going to be a lot of fun.”
WCHS (3-3, 3-1 NCC) played its best game of the season at the offensive end with balanced scoring and production both in the paint and from the perimeter, but at the other end of the floor the Lynx allowed 11-point baskets and 44 percent shooting from long distance against a Cowboys’ team that entered the contest shooting just 26 percent outside the arc.
Alec Martin clanged in five 3-pointers and scored a game-high 19 points to keep CGD within striking distance until the final 15 seconds of the battle. Christian Gaytan knocked down four more triples for all 12 of his points.
CGD (1-6, 1-4 NCC) averaged just 40.9 points per game in its first six outings. It had 36 points at halftime Tuesday night.
“Our team defense as a whole in the first half was not where it needs to be,” McKinney said. “Give (the Cowboys) credit because they stepped up and made shots that maybe they hadn’t before, but they were getting open looks. We were getting beat off the dribble and when we did the help defense was either non-existent or late.”
Luckily for WCHS, its own offense was on point. The Lynx shot 55 percent overall (27 of 49) and drained eight 3-pointers, including four from Drake Doering in the first quarter. Tyler Olson rained in a pair of 3s, both coming at critical moments in the final period.
“Offensively, everybody contributed,” McKinney said. “We focused a lot on offense early in the year because with a lot of new players that’s what we thought we needed to do. If you would have told me before the game that we were going to score 69 points, I would have been ecstatic.”
Dylan Steen led the way with 18 points to go along with six rebounds, and Henry Hoversten produced his fourth double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Doering finished with 14 points and Olson sprinkled in 12 and five assists.
Carter Neuroth (five points) and Tavis Eklund (four points) reached the scoring column as well for WCHS.
Ahead 55-48 entering the fourth quarter, the Lynx were never able to put CGD away. The Cowboys even took the lead briefly at 60-59 on a Martin 3 from the wing with 3:20 remaining, but Olson answered him with a trey of his own just 10 seconds later to put WCHS back in front to stay.
CGD closed to within a bucket, 64-62, on a Brier Boyd jumper with one minute left and again it was Olson who responded. Left along in the left corner, he buried another 3 to extend the lead back to five and silence the Cowboys.
“Tyler hit a couple big shots for us,” McKinney said. “Drake got it going in the first half too.”
The two teams combined for 12 first-half 3-pointers, but CGD led only briefly midway through the second quarter. WCHS was able to take a three-point advantage, 39-36, into the intermission.
WCHS will return to the floor on Friday, Jan. 4, at home against Iowa Falls-Alden. And between now and then, McKinney says his team will make a return to its roots.
“Going into the after Christmas part of our schedule, if we’re going to compete and be a better team, we’ve got to be better at the defensive end,” he said.
Webster City 69, CGD 64
Tuesday at Clarion
Webster City (3-3, 3-1 NCC) — Dylan Steen 6 5-9 18, Drake Doering 5 0-1 14, Nathan Ferrell 0 0-0 0, Tavis Eklund 2 0-0 4, Tyler Olson 5 0-0 12, Carter Neuroth 2 0-1 5, Henry Hoversten 7 2-4 16. Totals: 27 7-15 69.
CGD (1-6, 1-4 NCC) — Alec Martin 7 0-0 19, Blake Jackson 1 0-0 2, Dalton Nesheim 0 0-0 0, Mateo Martinez 3 0-0 6, Christian Gaytan 4 0-0 12, Brier Boyd 2 1-2 5, Clinton Miller 3 0-0 8, Nate Rapp 1 0-0 2, Jaace Weidemann 5 0-0 10. Totals: 26 1-2 64.
Webster City 22 17 16 14 — 69
CGD 19 17 12 16 — 64
3-point field goals — WC 8 (Doering 4, Olson 2, Steen, Neuroth); CGD 11 (Martin 5, Gaytan 4, Miller 2). Rebounds — WC 27 (Hoversten 11, Steen 6). Steals — WC 4 (Hoversten 2, Neuroth 2). Assists — WC 14 (Olson 5). Team fouls — WC 6, CGD 14. Fouled out — none.