By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
WEST BRANCH – Having a savvy, veteran playmaker in the backcourt capable of taking over a game is a luxury for any coach.
West Branch coach Jarod Tylee knows that better than most.
Tylee has two players who fit that mold and on Thursday they took turns taking over.
Senior Haley Mullinnix had 13 of her game-high 20 points in the first half and junior Tatum Koenig had 14 of her 18 points in the second half as West Branch (13-8) pulled away for a 49-31 win over Clear Creek Amana in the regular season finale for both teams in West Branch.
“It’s a luxury to have two guards like that,” Tylee said. “It’s nice to have those two because they complement each other well and pick each other up and that’s what happened tonight.”
With Koenig struggling through a rare slump in the first half it was Mullinnix and fellow senior Paige Miller that kept the Bears afloat early.
Koenig, who leads West Branch in scoring 20.1 points per game, missed her first 10 field goal attempts and had just four points in the first half.
West Branch still led 25-18 at the half as Miller scored all of her six points in the first half and Mullinnix hit three 3-pointers in the final four minutes of the second quarter
The final triple of the half by Mullinnix came with 10 seconds left and gave West Branch its largest lead of the game at 25-18.
“If I’m ever having an off night it seems like she steps up and vice-versa,” Koenig said of Mullinnix. “It’s so nice to have her there to take that pressure off.”
The shooting slump for Koenig didn’t last long.
Koenig opened the second half scoring with a driving layup and hit three 3-pointers in a span of less than four minutes to push the lead to 39-24 after three quarters.
“I knew it was only a matter of time before Tatum started hitting shots,” Mullinnix said. “She doesn’t have off games she has off minutes.”
Koenig and Mullinnix combined for 38 of the Bears’ 49 points but also grabbed a combined 14 rebounds as West Branch held a 46-36 rebounding edge.
West Branch had 16 offensive rebounds among its 46 boards against the taller Clippers.
“Our coaches always stress that our guards have to box out and rebound for us to be successful,” Mullinnix said. “We did a better job of rebounding tonight but we still need to work in that.”
Clear Creek Amana led 11-10 after the opening quarter but the Clippers managed just 20 points over the final three quarters while falling to 12-9 with its second loss in its last five games.
“It seemed like we were just a step slow tonight and something wasn’t right and I wish I could put a finger on it,” Clear Creek Amana coach PJ Sweeney said. “We’ve been playing really, really well and tonight for whatever reason it just didn’t show.”
Freshman Karsyn Stratton had 16 points to lead Clear Creek Amana but the rest of the Clippers were 6-of-34 from the field.
Stratton had 10 of her 16 points in the first half including all seven of Clear Creek Amana’s points in the second quarter.
“Our plan was to stop Stratton and the first quarter she kind of got what she wanted,” Tylee said. I thought as the game went on we did a better job of helping on her in the last three quarters.”
Clear Creek Amana shot just 26 percent for the game and was 0-of-9 from 3-point range.
Lauren Helle finished with eight points and Meagan Harvey had six.
The first quarter we were breaking the press and we got some easy looks for Lauren and our posts and the second half we just couldn’t get anything going,” Sweeney said. “We were just out of sorts for whatever reason.”
West Branch 10 15 14 10 – 49
Clear Creek Amana 11 7 6 7 – 31
West Branch (49) – Abbey Fryauf 1-4 1-2 3, Riley Vaughan 0-2 0-0 0, Paige Miller 3-9 0-0 6, Abby Knoop 1-3 0-0 2, Tatum Koenig 6-19 2-2 18, Allie Waterman 0-2 0-0 0, Haley Mullinnix 8-20 0-0 20, Morgan Heise 0-2 0-0 0, Team 19-61 3-4 49.
Clear Creek Amana (31) – Be DeShaw 0-3 0-0 0, Jordan Neely 0-1 0-0 0, Meagan Harvey 2-8 2-2 6, Claire Navara 0-3 0-0 0, Karsyn Stratton 7-15 3-4 16, Abbi Kinnaird 0-5 1-2 1, Erin Navara 0-1 0-0 0, Lauren Helle 4-13 0-0 8, Team 13-49 5-8 31.
3-point field goals – WB 8-25 (Vaughan 0-1, Koenig 4-12, Mullinnix 4-10, Watermn 0-2) CCA 0-9 (DeShaw 0-1, Neely 0-1, C. Navara 0-2, Stratton 0-2, Kinnaird 0-3). Rebounds – WB 46 (Mullinnix 8, Knoop 8) CCA 36 (Harvey 8). Turnovers – WB 12, CCA 13. Total fouls – WB 10, CCA 10. Fouled out – None. Technical fouls – None.