MRC frontrunners to much for Royal boys

Barna Berenyi soars in for a layup during a game against Mayer Lutheran last week.
Barna Berenyi soars in for a layup during a game against Mayer Lutheran last week.
Hunter Hulley beats a Mayer Lutheran defender during last week's game in Mayer.
Hunter Hulley beats a Mayer Lutheran defender during last week’s game in Mayer.

The Watertown-Mayer boys’ basketball team was competitive last week in a pair of games against the Minnesota River Conference frontrunners, but ultimately couldn’t quite pull either one out against Mayer Lutheran and Jordan.

On the road against Mayer Lutheran on Tuesday, Jan. 22, the Royals lost 68-60. At home against Jordan on Thursday, Jan. 24, the Royals lost 63-54.

The two losses dropped the Royals to 7-8 overall this season, and to 2-4 in the MRC, good for sixth place. Jordan and Mayer Lutheran are tied atop the conference with identical 7-1 records.

LHS 68, Royals 60

Hot second-half shooting from Jacob Wandersee and Jacob Grotbo helped the Royals rally from a five-point halftime deficit to take a six-point lead, 47-41, midway through the second half, but the Crusaders battled back to win another key MRC game in their quest for a conference title.

After a defensive battle throughout the first 18 minutes, Mayer Lutheran took a 26-21 lead into the locker room at halftime. However, Wandersee and Grotbo came out of the gates red-hot in the second half, combining to hit eighth threes in the half. Many of those came early in the half, helping the Royals surge ahead.

However, Mayer Lutheran chipped away at the lead, pulled in front, and then began to pull away. The Crusaders took a 12 point lead at one point, and while the Royals trimmed it back down to six, they never got any closer than that.

Wandersee finished with 22 points, while Barna Berenyi had eight points and five rebounds, and Watertown-Mayer coach Bob Hennen said he played terrific defense on Mayer Lutheran’s leading scorer. Luke Sandquist added five points, eight rebounds and five assists.

The Royals bench came up big a low scoring first half. Caleb Fails (six) and Dan Dressel (five) combined to score more than half of the team’s points prior to halftime.

Jordan 63, Royals 54

A slow start ultimately doomed Watertown-Mayer as Jordan jumped out to a 14-2 lead and never looked back en route to the MRC win.

With Fails once again giving the Royals a lift early with nine first-half points, Watertown-Mayer crept back into the game, cutting the Hubmen lead to six at one point. However, Jordan rebuilt the lead to 13 by halftime and the Royals were unable to make much of a dent in the second half.

“Jordan attacked us from the get-go, and we did not respond well,” Hennen said.

Hennen said his team played better in the second half, but it didn’t make much of a difference. Every time his team managed to cut the lead to about seven points, they were unable to come up with a key stop or a loose ball that would have helped them further carve into the lead.

“We just dug ourselves in too much of a hole,” Hennen said. “Jordan made big plays when they needed to. We also missed a few easy shots and free throws that could have narrowed the gap at the end.”

Fails finished with a team-high 18 points, while Mark Sandquist had 10 points and eight rebounds, Luke Sandquist had eight points, seven rebounds and three blocks, Grotbo had 10 points and Hunter Hulley had eight.

Up next

The Royals were in action Tuesday, jan. 29, at Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted, and will hit the floor again Thursday, jan. 31, for a 7:30 p.m. game at Belle Plaine. The royals will return home for a matchup against Tri-City United at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 5.

Contact Matt Bunke at [email protected]