Second half lifts NYA over Royals

Claire Killian Christine Kreatz, right, and Lexy Heldt, left, force an NYA player into a turnover. Kirsten Klitzke
Christine Kreatz, right, and Lexy Heldt, left, force an NYA player into a turnover.

In a key early-season game in the Minnesota River Conference, Kaylie Brazil poured in 34 points — including 20 in the second half — as Norwood Young America rallied from an early 12-point hole to beat Watertown-Mayer on Friday, Jan. 4, in Watertown.

The Raiders led 34-32 at halftime, but scored 42 points in the second half as they pulled away from the Royals.  Both teams were tied for second place at 3-1 in the Minnesota River Conference entering the game. The Raiders kept pace, one game behind league leader Jordan (5-0), while the Royals dropped to 3-2 in the league and 6-6 overall.

A Courtney Fisher 3-pointer to open the second half gave the Royals a 35-34 lead, but Norwood Young America quickly took control after that. A 10-2 run gave the Raiders a 44-37 lead, and the Royals never closed to within fewer than five points the rest of the way.

NYA pushed the lead to as many as 12 points when a layup with 9:53 to play gave the Raiders a 53-41 lead. A 7-0 run for the Royals, capped by a 3-pointer from Kate Theisen, cut the lead back down to 53-48 with 6:37 left to play, but the Raiders responded with a quick 8-0 run, including five straight points from Brazil, to take a 61-48 lead with 3:59 to go and put the game out of reach.

“We have to be better defensively,” Watertown-Mayer coach John Rosholt said. “Seventy-six points in a game, and 42 in a half, is a lot of points to give up.”

The Royals actually took control out of the gates, opening on layup from Theisen, who finished with a team-high 25 points, and a 3-pointer from Hannah Johnson to take a 5-0 lead.

Johnson quickly added another three, Chelsea Wandersee hit one of her own, and Theisen and Claire Killian combined for six points inside, and suddenly the Royals led 17-5. However, just as quickly as the Royals beat the lead, it disappeared. The Raiders used a 15-0 run over the span of just 3:50 to take a 20-17 lead. The teams battled in a back-and-forth affair over the remainder of the first half before the Raiders were able to pull away after halftime.

“They’re a real solid team,” Rosholt said of the Raiders.

Johnson, Wandersee and Killian all added eight points for the Royals. Theisen had five steals and four rebounds to go with her 25 points.

While Rosholt was not pleased with his team’s overall defense, he said he pleased with the way his team defended and rebounded inside against a much bigger NYA team.

“That’s one real positive thing that came out of this game, is the way we played in the post,” Rosholt said.

Watertown-Mayer returns to action Thursday, Jan. 10, with a 7:30 p.m. home game against Sibley East. The Royals also play Tuesday, Jan. 15, on the road against Mayer Lutheran at 7:30 p.m.

Contact Matt Bunke at [email protected]