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ZONED OUT: WCHS girls have no answer for Wildcats’ defensive scheme

Hoversten reaches 500 career rebounds in Lynx loss

WCHS senior forward Grace Hoversten calls for the ball during the second half against Humboldt on Tuesday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

HUMBOLDT — The blueprint on how to slow down the Webster City girls’ basketball team finally found its way to Humboldt Tuesday night.

Play a zone defense. Really, it’s that simple.

The Wildcats sat back in a zone, pressured Taylor McKinney with two defenders whenever she touched the ball, and completely shut the Lynx down in a 47-31 North Central Conference victory.

And what a difference a month makes. WCHS (9-11, 6-8 NCC) dominated the first encounter back on Jan. 16, 54-35, a game in which the Lynx had 23 points by the end of the first quarter.

But on Tuesday they had no answer for the Humboldt zone defense, a storyline that has become all too familiar for WCHS head coach Nicole Muhlenbruch.

WCHS sophomore Kelly Stoakes (10) throws up a shot on the run in the lane during the fourth quarter against Humboldt Tuesday night in Humboldt. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“It’s heart wrenching and I don’t know what else to say,” Muhlenbruch said. “We play so much better against a man defense and I don’t know why. We just don’t look to attack (the zone). We get stagnant, we don’t look to flash to the middle and we just don’t feel comfortable playing against it.”

It’s taken two years, but Humboldt (11-10, 6-8 NCC) finally figured out how to silence McKinney, who had just five points, all of them coming in a 45-second stretch at the end of the second quarter. McKinney torched the Wildcats for a single-game school-record 40 points on the same floor a season ago and averaged 30 per game over the last three meetings. But on Tuesday she was never able to find open lanes to the basket or free looks from the outside.

WCHS had success on back cuts early in the game, as Adalie Schwandt and Jenna Miler combined for six points on wide open shots from the block that led to an 11-8 Lynx lead after one quarter.

The Lynx led 22-21 at the half courtesy of a McKinney buzzer beater on a contested jumper just outside of the lane, but then went into radio silence mode over the final 16 minutes.

Humboldt opened the third quarter on a 9-0 run to take the lead for good, as WCHS managed just four points in the period.

WCHS head coach Nicole Muhlenbruch doesn’t mask her displeasure with the officials during Tuesday’s 47-31 loss to Humboldt. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

The only bright moment of the second half came with 34 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Following a 10-rebound first half, senior forward Grace Hoversten collected a defensive carom with 34 seconds remaining for her 500th career rebound, a milestone that was left in the shadows following the disappointing performance.

“I’m happy for her and I’m proud of her, don’t get me wrong, but I would have taken the win over that,” Muhlenbruch said. “The win is a lot more important to us.”

WCHS, which shot just 30 percent on the night (14 of 46) pulled within 31-28 early in the fourth quarter, but then watched Humboldt reel off the next 11 points to put the game away. The Wildcats outscored WCHS 16-3 over the final six minutes and 26-9 in the second half.

Muhlenbruch took some of her frustrations out on the officials following the contest. She was not happy with the foul disparity — WCHS was whistled for 18 fouls to just nine on Humboldt — or the Wildcats’ 20 trips to the foul line compared to just six for the Lynx.

“I don’t know if you can ever handle a loss, but you can deal with it if you know your kids were given a fair shot, but I don’t think my kids were given a fair shot,” she said. “I think we were taken out of the game right away. When it’s nine fouls on us to one or two on them and they’re in the double bonus, you’re taking my kids out of the game.”

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Hoversten led WCHS with eight points and she also distributed five assists. Schwandt chipped in six points.

Kendal Clark dominated inside for Humboldt and poured in a game-high 20 points, 14 of them coming in the first half. Mady Lange and Bae Arnold had 10 points each for the Wildcats.

WCHS will need a short memory, as it closes out the regular season at home this evening against South Hardin.

Humboldt 47, Webster City 31

Tuesday at Humboldt

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Webster City (9-11, 6-8 NCC) — Tatum Goings 0 0-0 0, Taylor McKinney 2 0-0 5, Kelly Stoakes 1 0-0 3, Leah Kasch 2 0-2 4, Morgan Gallentine 0 1-2 1, Grace Hoversten 4 0-0 8, Jenna Miller 2 0-0 4, Adalie Schwandt 3 0-2 6. Totals: 14 1-6 31.

Humboldt (11-10, 6-8 NCC) — Jori Hajek 3 0-0 6, Bae Arnold 3 2-2 10, Jayda Hoefer 0 1-2 1, Mady Lange 3 4-4 10, Emily Knight 0 0-0 0, Frances Carlson 0 0-0 0, Marissa Kaufman 0 0-0 0, Lily Groat 0 0-0 0, Kendal Clark 6 7-12 20. Totals: 15 14-20 47.

Web. City 11 11 4 5 — 31

Humboldt 8 13 10 16 — 47

3-point field goals — WC 2 (McKinney, Stoakes); HUM 3 (Arnold 2, Clark). Rebounds — WC 28 (Hoversten 13). Steals — WC 4. Assists — WC 10 (Hoversten 5). Turnovers — WC 12. Team fouls — WC 18, HUM 9. Fouled out — none.

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