Big first half lifts Royals over Sibley East

Hannah Johnson Kate Theisen Kirsten Klitzke Liz Miller Ashley Wiswell Courtney Fisher
Kirsten Klitzke

The Watertown-Mayer girls’ basketball team snapped a three-game losing streak and climbed back above .500 last week with a 61-54 win home win over Sibley East on Thursday, Jan. 10.

The win pushed the Royals record to 7-6 on the year and 4-2 in the Minnesota River Conference. The Royals were tied for third place in the conference  entering the week with Mayer Lutheran with identical 4-2 records. Those two teams met on Tuesday night in Mayer, after this edition went to press.

Against Sibley East, the Royals used a strong first half, buoyed largely by the team’s defense, to run away from the Wolverines early. The Royals led 36-19 at halftime.

The Royals jumped out to a 7-0 lead, with all 7 points coming off Sibley East turnovers. Five of those early points came from Courtney Fisher. The Royals were able to push the tempo early, and used 22 steals in the game to generate a number of easy baskets in transition.

“I thought we had pretty good pressure for most of the game,” Watertown-Mayer coach John Rosholt said. “Any time you get them playing a little faster pace than they are used to, they might throw the ball away or give us a chance to steal. We played on our toes rather than back on our heels, so that helps out quite a bit, too.”

The Wolverines actually rallied from that early deficit, tying the game at 11. However, the Royals used a 5-0 run to surge ahead once again, and allowed only eight points the rest of the half in pulling away for the big halftime lead. The Royals outscored Sibley East 25-8 in the final 9 minutes of the first half.

“We had a nice first half,” Rosholt said. “We had good bench play again, and number of people came off the bench and scored for us. We had good contributions from everybody. We played 11 kids, and I thought they all performed very well. A lot of them were little things that don’t show up in the statistics, but I thought we got solid performances from everybody that went on the floor.”

The Royals erased any doubt by racing out of the gates in the second half with a 12-2 run, building their lead to as big as 48-21. From there, the Royals were able to cruise to victory.

Kate Theisen led the Royals with 23 points, adding seven steals to match Chelsea Wandersee for the team high in that category. Wandersee also chipped in with 14 points, including four 3-pointers. As a team, the Royals shot 9-for-22 (40.1 percent) from behind the 3-point arc.

“They didn’t push us off the three that much, so Chelsea had a chance to set her feet. When she can set her feet, she’s got a good look at the rim. She did a nice job there.”

Also for the Royals, Hannah Johnson had seven points and Claire Killian had six. Fisher had five points and four rebounds, Ashley Wiswell had five rebounds. and Christine Kreatz had four rebounds.

The Royals will be back in action Friday, Jan. 18, when they host conference leader Jordan at 7:30 p.m.

Contact Matt Bunke at [email protected]