W-M girls’ basketball team lands two on MRC first team

The Watertown-Mayer girls’ basketball team’s 13-15 record this year might not have been quite what the team was hoping for, but the progress his team made during the season and the way his team finished the year still left head coach John Rosholt pleased.

Despite losing its star forward to injury roughly midway through the year, the Royals didn’t cave. In fact, with key contributions from a number of younger players, the Royals were playing some of their best basketball at the end of the season, when they upset Mayer Lutheran on the road in the first round of the playoffs.

“Overall I thought we played quite well at the end of the season on both offense and defense,” Rosholt said. “To go over to Mayer and play such a nice game and control the tempo and do all the little things we did on the defensive side of the ball, and play as a team, I was very pleased to see that.”

The Royals finished in fourth place in the conference with an 8-6 record, and had three players earn all-conference honors. Despite both missing games with injury, Kate Theisen and Hannah Johnson were named to the first team, and Claire Killian, an eighth grader who stepped up to fill their void, received honorable mention recognition.

Theisen’s injury was especially difficult for the Royals, given that she was averaging a team-best 18.3 points per game and shooting better than 50 percent from the field. However, a torn ACL in the first game of the season against Mayer Lutheran, the team’s 13th game of the year, cost her the remainder of her senior season.

“Missing Kate was a struggle for us,” Rosholt said. “She was an integral part of the team.”

Rosholt said Theisen’s ability to score inside and out when healthy proved to be a matchup problem for many teams. She came out of the gates on a tear, posting 30 points in each of the first two games of the season.

“If defenses tried to defend her with a post, she’d go outside and dribble around them,” Rosholt said. “If the tried to defend her with a perimeter, she had the ability to go and score inside. She could play outside on the perimeter facing the basket or inside with her back to the basket, and I think that was a tough matchup for a lot of teams.”

Johnson played all year with an injury she sustained in the fall, prior to the cross country season. It finally cost her five games late in the year, and that too was an injury that significantly affected the Royals as they tried to move on without their primary ball handler and one of their senior leaders on the floor.

Even despite a few missed games at the end, Johnson still received first-team honors in the MRC after averaging 8.7 points and 2.8 assists.

She had good vision on the floor, and I thought her scoring from the outside improved from last year,” Rosholt said. “Her ability to shoot over people while closely guarded was something she really improved upon, and it’s something that a lot of girls aren’t able to do. Her assist to turnover ratio was also excellent all season long.”

Killian, just an eighth grader, seemed to get stronger as the year went on, as did freshman Kirstin Klitzke, both of whom stepped up with some big scoring games late in the year. Killian was named honorable mention all-conference in the MRC.

“Claire really stepped up on the offensive side of the ball when Kate and Hannah went out,” Rosholt said. “She really stepped up and performed at an extremely high level for an eighth grader.”

Chelsea Wandersee and Courtney Fischer also provided the Royals with quality play at the guard position, and Liz Miller, Lexy Heldt and Christine Kreatz did the bulk of the Royals’ work inside. Miller was the team’s leading rebounder. Ashley Wiswell and Kira Hazelbaker also lettered for the Royals.

The team also handed out a number of awards at its postseason banquet on April 6. Klitzke was named the programs Most Improved Player, Miller won the Hustle Award, Theisen won the Offensive Player of the Year Award, Heldt won the Defensive Player of the Year Award, and Miller won the Noble Award. Theisen was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player.

Rosholt said once again the support from parents, fans and administrators was excellent, and the work put in by assistant coaches was outstanding.

“I just like the way the team came together at the end,” he said. “It was a fun group to work with.”

Contact Matt Bunke at matt.bunke@ecm-inc.com