WMHS girls top Tri City United, 66-49

After a cold-weather postponement left the Watertown-Mayer girl’s basketball team with just one game last week, the Royals made the most of it, knocking off Tri City United, 66-49, on the road.

It was a late flurry in the final 30 seconds of the first half that may have made the biggest difference for the Royals. After TCU had trimmed what had been a nine-point Watertown-Mayer lead down to 31-28 with 1:25 remaining in the half, Kirstin Klitzke drained a 3-pointer with 30.5 seconds left to push the lead back to 34-28.

On the Royals’ ensuing possession, Chelsea Wandersee knocked down another three for Watertown-Mayer, this time also drawing a foul and converting the free throw with one second left in the half for a four-point play. The mini 7-0 run over the course of 29.5 seconds gave the Royals a 10-point halftime advantage at 38-28, and sent them on their way to another Minnesota River Conference win.

“We had a nice run at the end of the first half,” Watertown-Mayer coach John Rosholt said. “That helped us a lot. It’s much nicer going into halftime with a 10-point lead than a 3-point lead. It took a little wind out of their sails.”

The Royals were never threatened in the second half, leading by double digits almost the entire way. The 17-point final margin of victory equaled the biggest of the game for the Royals.

“We had better defensive play in the second half,” Rosholt said. “I thought we defended the post much better in the second half. We held their posts to four points in the second half.”

Klitzke led the team with 22 points, also adding eight rebounds, six assists and four steals. Claire Killian had 11 points and six steals.

Lexy Heldt added a season-high nine points for the Royals, including seven in the first half.

“We had nice aggressive play by lexy heldt in the first half offensively,” Rosholt said. “She was real aggressive taking the ball to the rim, and that was a big boost for us.”

Watertown-Mayer shot 38.3 percent from the field, and just 5-for-22 from behind the arc. However, the Royals were 15-for-18 from the foul line.

“Any time you make more free throws than the other team shoots, and they shot 10,” Rosholt said. “That’s a big differential.”

The win moved the Royals to 8-4 overall this season, and at 4-0, they still atop the Minnesota River Conference standings. Watertown-Mayer was in action Tuesday against Sibley East at home, and will return to the court Friday, Jan. 17, at Mayer Lutheran at 7:30 p.m.