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For fourth time in five outings, WCHS girls drop a one-possession decision

WCHS guard Shelby Queen (30) has her shot partially rejected by St. Edmond’s Gracie Harvey during Monday’s NCC contest in Webster City. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WEBSTER CITY — The close calls, the bitter setbacks, they’re getting old. Fast.

“It’s just so frustrating,” Webster City girls’ basketball coach Nicole Muhlenbruch said Monday night. “We’re losing all of these close games and I’m worried about our confidence slipping. If we just did one thing better … I don’t know.”

Muhlenbruch and her players felt the sting of their fourth one-possession loss in five outings inside the WCHS gymnasium, as St. Edmond’s Leah Johnson made the second of two free throws with 4.7 seconds showing on the clock to give the Gaels a 30-29 victory, their first of the season.

Following a timeout, WCHS (0-5, 0-3 NCC) had one last gasp to prevail. Kelly Stoakes raced the ball up the court and let a runner from just inside the 3-point line at the top of the key fly, but it bounced off and allowed St. Edmond (1-7, 1-4 NCC) to celebrate.

It was an eerily familiar feeling for the Lynx, a trend that began back in November. They led Carroll by four points with 1:56 remaining, but gave up the winning bucket in the final seconds for a 43-41 loss. Following a two-week break, they led then 13th-ranked (Class 3A) Hampton-Dumont/CAL by six with 3:15 remaining, only to fall 38-36. A few nights later, WCHS owned a 13-point cushion on Algona entering the final period, but the Bulldogs were able to rally for a 45-42 win.

WCHS junior Kelly Stoakes (10) is hacked on a fast break as she reaches the lane during the second half against St. Edmond on Monday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Four losses by a combined eight points. Ouch.

“We just need to do the little things better, not only in the game, but in practice,” Muhlenbruch said. “Things like going to meet the pass, recognize scoring situations, closing out, knowing when to push a girl to the left or right, recognizing help defense … right now we can’t focus on winning, we have to focus on the little stuff.”

Success at the free throw line also continued to trend in the wrong direction. WCHS, which never trailed in the fourth quarter until Johnson’s make in the waning moments, made just 3 of 10 free throws over the final eight minutes. The final five attempted clanged off the rim; had the first three in than span fallen, the Lynx would have led by five with 1:22 to go.

“That comes down to practice too,” Muhlenbruch said of the free throw issues (8 of 17 on the night). “We miss one in practice and it’s no big deal, we’ll just shoot another one.”

Stoakes and Leah Kasch combined to score all but seven of the Lynx points, as both finished with 11 points. Kasch also collected five rebounds, Stoakes four to go along with four steals and all three of the team’s assists. Livia Kasch buried a 3-pointer and yanked down 10 boards. The sophomore also came up with three steals.

WCHS senior Leah Kasch is tripped up on her way to the basket during the first half against St. Edmond on Monday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“I thought Livia had a great game,” Muhlenbruch said. “She did some really nice things out there.”

Shelby Queen added four points, all in the third quarter. Queen and Stoakes scored all 10 of the Lynx points during the period, which saw a three-point halftime deficit turn into a three-point lead, 20-17.

WCHS continued to play without starting guard Alley Odland, who missed her second straight game following a collision with Livia Kasch against Hampton-Dumont/CAL last month. She was scheduled to return to the court against Greene County last night.

Leah Neverman led St. Edmond with eight points and Kiersten Clark pitched in six, all of them coming in the fourth quarter. Clark knotted the contest at 24 on an inside bucket with 4:14 remaining and then again at 29 with 40 ticks remaining on a bank from the block.

WCHS had possession as the clock moved under 20 seconds and got two looks at the basket. Johnson was fouled on the right block as a slew of players went after a rebound.

Lynx senior Jenna Miller (40) tosses up a shot over St. Edmond’s Mya McClain (22) during the second half on Monday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Leah Kasch scored four first-quarter points, as WCHS reeled off seven straight points to move in front 7-2. St. Edmond answered with a 9-0 run to open the second; Livia Kasch’s 3 from the left wing with 3:15 remaining in the half accounted for the Lynx only points of the period.

WCHS shot just 23 percent (10 of 44) from the floor in the contest.

Following last night’s non-conference game against Greene County, the Lynx will begin preparations today for their toughest test of the season — a road date against third-ranked (3A) Clear Lake on Friday. Winners of three of the past four NCC titles, Clear Lake (8-1, 5-0 NCC) is 56-4 inside the league since the start of the 2016-17 season.

St. Edmond 30, Webster City 29

Monday at Webster City

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

St. Edmond (1-7, 1-4 NCC) — Avery Galles 0 0-2 0, Leah Johnson 0 1-2 1, Kelli Kersten 2 0-0 4, Kiersten Clark 3 0-0 6, Mya McClain 0 1-2 1, Leah Neverman 3 2-4 8, Kacey Kruthoff 0 3-4 3, Emma Alstott 2 0-0 4, Gracie Harvey 1 0-0 3, Alyson Nieland 0 0-0 0. Totals: 11 7-14 30.

Webster City (0-5, 0-3 NCC) — Fallon Casey 0 0-0 0, Chloe Andersen 0 0-0 0, Kelly Stoakes 2 7-11 11, Leah Kasch 5 1-4 11, Shelby Queen 2 0-0 4, Livia Kasch 1 0-1 3, Jenna Miller 0 0-0 0, Trinity Griffith 0 0-1 0. Totals: 10 8-17 29.

St. Edmond 2 11 4 13 — 30

Web City 7 3 10 9 — 29

3-point field goals — SE 1 (Harvey); WC 1 (Li. Kasch). Rebounds — WC 25 (Li. Kasch 10, Le. Kasch 5, Stoakes 4). Steals — WC 10 (Stoakes 4, Li. Kasch 3). Assists — WC 3 (Stoakes 3). Turnovers — WC 10. Team fouls — SE 17, WC 14. Fouled out — none.

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