Watson sets the standard at Hayfield as Vikings slip past Superlarks

Published 10:12 pm Thursday, December 29, 2022

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HAYFIELD – Hayfield junior Kristen Watson cemented herself in Hayfield basketball history as she put her name on the top of the school’s scoring list in a 49-46 win over Grand Meadow in Hayfield’s Holiday Tournament Thursday.

After trailing by nine late in the game, the Superlarks battled back to within 49-46 on a score by Lexy Foster with 13.5 seconds left. After drawing a foul, Watson missed the front end of a one-and-one, before hustling and blocking a game-tying three-point attempt by GM’S Kendyl Queensland to preserve the win.

“I was mad about missing that free throw, so I was going to hustle back,” Watson said. “I wasn’t going to let them shoot the ball.”

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Watson set the new Hayfield scoring record when she connected on a three-pointer to put the Vikings up 23-18 with 2:55 left in the game.

That shot put Watson, a junior, at 1,419 career points, surpassing Leslie Wilson, a 2008 Hayfield grad who played college basketball at Wartburg College. Wilson was in attendance for the moment and she handed Watson on a golden basketball trophy right after the milestone bucket.

Watson, who had 20 points, six rebounds and four assists Thursday, has always been a capable scorer in the paint, but she put in a lot of time over the summer to improve her jump shot – which has helped her take her game to a new level this season.

“My dreams finally came true after all of the work I’ve put in. I’d never met Leslie before, so it was nice to have her here for it,” Watson said. 

Hayfield head coach Kasey Krekling has a lot of insights on both of Hayfieild’s top scorers as he had Watson on his radar when she was a middle schooler and he also went to high school with Wilson.

“Leslie was a heck of a player and she led that Hayfield team to state in 2008. I kept in touch with her this year and I told her we had a player that was probably going to break her record. Leslie wanted to be here when it happened,” Krekling said. “Kristen has put in a lot of time and added to her game a lot. Now she has a three-point shot and she’s tough to stop.”

Watson earned a varsity spot with the Vikings in the summer before her eighth grade year and she hasn’t given it up yet. She was a key player on last year’s Viking team that went to state.

“I was wondering if it was too much for her and she hit a game winning three in her first game with the varsity at a summer tournament in Wisconsin Dells,” Krekling. “She’s not afraid of the limelight and she wants the ball in her hands. It’s hard to find kids like that.”

After trailing by at least five for much of the second half, GM pulled to within 42-40 when Lauren Queensland hit a three with 6:40 left

The Superlarks missed two go-ahead threes before Chelsea Christopherson finished a lay-up to put Hayfield up 44-40 with 4:30 left. Christopherson added a three-point play to make it 49-40 with 1:17 left.

Christopherson has played with Watson for a long stretch on varsity and the two have clicked on the court.

“Kristen’s our point guard and nobody can replace her,” Christopherson said. “She does everything for us.”

Hayfield (8-1 overall) led 28-24 at halftime, but Watson and Natalie Beaver each scored in the first minute of the second half to make it 32-24.

Beaver had 14 points, five rebounds and three steals.

GM scored the first six points of the game and Hayfield didn’t register a field goal until Watson converted a lay-up to bring the Vikings within 6-4 with 13:35 left in the first half.

Lauren Queensland led GM (6-1 overall) with 16 points and seven rebounds.

Grand Meadow 24  22  –  46

Hayfield 28  21  –  49

Hayfield scoring: Kristen Watson, 20; Natalie Beaver, 14; Chelsea Christopherson, 9; Emily Hansen, 3; Jo Tempel, 2; Ava Carney, 1

GM scoring: Lauren Queensland, 16; Kendyl Queensland, 13; Lexy Foster, 8; Sydney Cotten, 7; Rylee Schaufler, 2