Royals looking to develop depth as season wears on

This year’s seniors on the Watertown-Mayer girls’ basketball team are Liz Miller, Chelsea Wandersee and Lexy Heldt. (Staff photo by Matt Bunke)

This year’s seniors on the Watertown-Mayer girls’ basketball team are Liz Miller, Chelsea Wandersee and Lexy Heldt. (Staff photo by Matt Bunke)

The Watertown-Mayer girls’ basketball team will be a young bunch, but necessarily a new bunch, this season.

The Royals lost only a handful players to a graduation, though a couple of them — all conference honorees Kate Theisen and Hannah Johnson — are significant losses. But despite returning most of their players from last year, the Royals varsity roster this year features only three seniors, a junior, a large group of underclassmen.

“We’re going to be kind of young,” Watertown-Mayer coach John Rosholt said. “That will be a concern of ours, that we’re so young, but we’re also talented at those younger ages. We feel good about that.”

With the departures of Theisen, Johnson, and also guard Courtney Fisher, the Royals will be looking to some younger faces to run the backcourt this season, but they do return with a significant amount of experience. If there is a bright side to the fact that Theisen missed almost half of last year with a torn ACL, it’s that players like Claire Killian and Kirsten Klitzke were both thrust into even bigger roles as youngsters, not to mention that fact that senior guard Chelsea Wandersee also returns this season.

Rosholt is hoping that experience will pay off this year for Killian, now a freshman, and Klitzke, now a sophomore. Killian was an honorable-mention all-conference selection last year as an eighth grader, and averaged 11.2 points per game. Klitzke averaged 8.2 points per game as freshman. Wandersee averaged 9.0 points per game a year ago.

“They’re young, but they’re not that green, because they did get some experience,” Rosholt said. “But if you look at our depth, our depth is really green, so we’re going to have to work on that.”

In the frontcourt, the Royals lost Christine Kreatz to graduation, but return a pair of solid players. Lexy Heldt and Liz Miller both return to the lineup this year as seniors to anchor the Royals in the post. Neither player is especially tall, but Rosholt said the Royals have worked around that plenty often in the past, and he believes Heldt and Miller are up to the challenge.

“We’ve been short for 12 years, so that’s just something we work around,” Rosholt said. “The biggest thing is playing physical post defense, and our posts are rock solid defensively. They’re not big, but Lexy does a great job with her physicality inside, and Miller also does a great job defensively. Even though they’re not big, they’re just quality post defenders.”

Also returning for the Royals is Ashley Wiswell, who received a decent amount of playing time last year. However, after those top six players, the Royals will be looking to some new faces to play key minutes. Victoria Lynch likely could see time for the Royals, and other young faces will likely emerge as the season goes on.

“I like their attitude at practice,” Rosholt said. “That’s a big strength for us. We’ve got kids who are willing to work hard to make themselves better.”

The Royals open the season on Tuesday, Dec. 3, when they travel to take on Dassel-Cokato at 7:30 p.m.

 

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

 
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