WM girls’ hoops enjoys chance at conference, section titles

The Royals talk strategy during the Subsection 5AA finals in March. (Staff photo by Melissa Marohl)
The Royals talk strategy during the Subsection 5AA finals in March. (Staff photo by Melissa Marohl)

The Watertown-Mayer girls’ basketball team recently reflected on an impressive 2013-14 season, a season that led to a shot at the Minnesota River Conference title and a runner up finish in the Royals’ subsection.

With an 18-10 overall record, the losses were spread throughout the season, eliminating the regular season ‘slump’ teams can often experience midseason. The Royals had two four-game win streaks and two three-game streaks to boost their number of wins, despite taking on talented teams.

“We played a strong schedule which included a victory over Class AAAA Bemidji,” WMHS head coach John Rosholt said.

That Bemidji win came in the Wood City Tournament Dec. 27-28, where the Royals defeated Bemidji 54-48, a school two classes above the Royals in Class AA, and the host team Cloquet in a close 57-56 win for the tournament title.

Beyond the tournament, the Royals also filled the regular schedule with non-conference teams for some extra competition, picking up wins over Rockford and Minneapolis Henry. The Minneapolis Henry game was the Royals’ largest margin of victory during the season, crushing the Patriots in a 72-6 game. In the postseason,  the Royals also grabbed a large-margin win over Brooklyn Center, winning 65-16.

The Royals finished the conference schedule with a 10-4 record, tied for third with Mayer Lutheran behind a two-way tie for first place between NYA Central and Jordan (12-2).

Watertown-Mayer was seeded No. 2 in the South Subsection of Section 5AA and took down No. 7 Brooklyn Center in the first round.

“We played well on both offense and defense in the opening game of the playoffs versus Brooklyn Center,” Rosholt said.

The Royals went on to defeat No. 3 Providence Academy a few days later to land in the subsection finals against Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted.

“We executed very well defensively versus Providence Academy, putting excellent pressure on their offense,” Rosholt said.

It was against HLWW that the Royals met a true challenge, with the Lakers’ stellar three-point shooting that would lead them to a section title and fourth place finish at state. The Royals fell to the Lakers 66-41.

Hard work and positive attitudes throughout the season certainly came to fruition at the end of the year, Rosholt said.

“The hard work paid off as we showed great improvement as the season progressed, competing for both the conference title and the subsection championship at the end of the season,” he said.

For their efforts on the court this season, senior Chelsea Wandersee and freshmen Claire Killian and Kirstin Klitzke received All-Conference honors, while senior Elizabeth Miller was All-Conference Honorable Mention.

The Royals lose Miller, Wandersee, and senior Lexy Heldt to graduating this spring, but Killian and Klitzke are set to return for their sophomore seasons.

Miller was the team’s season-high rebound leader and also earned Academic All-State Honors. As a team, the Royals received the Silver Level academic award for a team GPA of 3.66.

Killian and Klitzke teamed up to top most of the leader boards this season. Killian was the team’s top two-point field goal percentage leader in MRC games, and also at the free throw line. She was the season-long three-point percentage, personal fouls, and steals leader.

Klitzke topped the lists of highest season-long field goal percentage, assists, and total points leader. She also joined the team’s summer 2013 10,000 shot club. In addition, Klitzke was named to the KDUZ All Area girls’ basketball team.

Ashley Wiswell will lead the Royals as a senior next season and Rosholt can also look forward to the return of to-be juniors Allison Anderson, Katelyn Yliniemi, Anna Barfknecht, Victoria Lynch, and Lydia Fails, who all earned significant varsity minutes this season. Lynch held the team’s highest two-point field goal percentage during the season.

With the number of experienced players returning next season the Royals will surely have their sights set high.

At the team’s annual banquet, numerous team awards were given out including: Most Improved (Lynch), Hustle Award (Miller), Offensive Players of the Year (Killian and Klitzke), Defensive Player of the Year (Heldt), and the Noble Award (Heldt).

The team’s MVP award, as decided by the team and coaching staff, went to Killian and Heldt.


Contact Melissa Marohl at [email protected]