Vikings roll past USC in postseason opener

Published 9:37 pm Thursday, February 24, 2022

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HAYFIELD — The top-seeded and unbeaten Hayfield Vikings played like the heavy favorite as they controlled the pace from start to finish in a 72-18 win over No. 17 United South Central (2-24 overall) in a Section 1A first round girls basketball game Thursday night.

Hayfield scored the first 12 points of the game and held a commanding 51-10 halftime lead over USC.

The Vikings (28-0 overall) had three players reach double figure scoring in the first half alone as Kristen Watson scored 19 of her 22 points and Natalie Beaver scored 14 of her 16 points in the first 18 minutes.

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“We just wanted to take it to them right away,” Watson said. “We didn’t want them to have a chance. We pressured the ball and got a lot of fast lay-ups right away. We just wanted to come out strong.”

Watson added four assists and three rebounds and Beaver chipped in six rebounds and four assists. Beaver has played with Watson since the duo were seventh graders and they have thrived together.

“She does a great job of finding me,” Beaver said. “She’s a great point guard.”

Hayfield led 62-10 with 13 minutes left when head coach Kasey Krekling pulled his starters for the night.

The Vikings will now take on No. 8 seeded Houston in Mayo Civic Center in Rochester at 6 p.m. Monday. This is the first time Civic Center has hosted postseason high school basketball since 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Watson, a sophomore, played in Civic Center as an eighth grader, but this time the Vikings are coming in with an unbeaten record.

“We’re going to keep our heads up high,” Watson said. “We know that we are the better team, but we can’t act like we’re the better team. We have to take it to them right away. We don’t want to lose, but we all know that we’re good enough to win every game.”

United South Central 10   8 —  18

Hayfield 51  21 —  72

Hayfield scoring: Kristen Watson, 22; Natalie Beaver, 16; Chelsea Christopherson, 12; McKenna Chick, 5; Aine Stasko, 4; Josanne Tempel, 4; Molly Hansen, 3; Kenna O’Connor, 2; Sydney Risius, 2; Ava Carney, 2; rebounds: 33 (Beaver, 6); turnovers: 7