Lynx open substate play at home against Decorah

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WEBSTER CITY — Now is not the time to get comfortable, that’s essentially the message that Webster City boys’ basketball coach Marty McKinney has given to his team as it gears up to begin the second season this evening.

Nothing will come easy in a Class 3A Substate 2 that is loaded with quality teams, and that includes seventh-seeded Decorah (9-12), which will travel to Webster City this evening to take on the second-seeded Lynx (14-7) at 6:30 p.m.

Third-seeded Charles City (12-7) will battle sixth-seeded Iowa Falls-Alden (8-9) inside the WCHS gymnasium at 8 p.m.

On the top half of the bracket, top-ranked and No. 1 seed Clear Lake will host eighth-seeded Hampton-Dumont. The Nos. 4 and 5 seeds, Waverly-Shell Rock and Algona, will also square off in Clear Lake.

And now you know the numbers next to the names. Good, immediately forget about them.

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“Seeds mean nothing at this point,” McKinney said. “Every game, in my opinion maybe other than the 1-8, is going to be a dog fight. We know that Decorah is going to come here expecting to win. This is a good basketball team coming to our place and we’re going to have to play well.”

Decorah has won three of its last four, including a 61-51 victory over Charles City. The Vikings don’t possess a lot of height, but they are a balanced group that will challenge the Lynx stingy defense.

“They’re athletic an they’re really balanced,” McKinney said.

WCHS boasts arguably the best defensive team in the substate. It allows just 49 points per game, a number that drops to 46.1 since Jan. 1.The Lynx have held five of their last 15 opponents to 40 or fewer points.

McKinney says the philosophy won’t change in the postseason. It all starts at the defensive end of the floor for his group.

“We have to be good defensively,” he said. “We’ve got to make the shooters put it on the floor and their attackers shoot it.”

Decorah is led by a trio of juniors — Matthew Franzen (10.2 points per game), Patrick Bockman (10.1) and Logan Halverson (9.1). Franzen is the team’s 3-point threat, while Halverson averages eight rebounds a night.

WCHS will have a size advantage with 6-foot-6 senior center Henry Hoversten, the team’s leading scorer at 14.4 points a night who shoots 64 percent from the floor. He also pulls down 9.1 rebounds a night.

“We’ve got to play through (Hoversten) because he’s our advantage, but we’re a better basketball team when we have three players scoring in double figures,” McKinney said. “So Henry’s got to get touches, but that doesn’t mean he has to score 20 to 25 for us to win.”

Dylan Steen (12.3 points per game) is the Lynx second option, and Tyler Olson (9.3) has become a weapon over the second half of the season. Three-point specialists Drake Doering and Tavis Eklund both average better than six points per game as well.

“At this time of year, your offense has to be better too,” McKinney said. “You can’t completely rely on defense.”

A WCHS win would give it another home game in the substate semifinal against either Charles City or Iowa Falls-Alden on Thursday. The substate final is set for Monday, Feb. 25 at Mason City High School.