Viking girls keep their composure and take down Burros in semis

Published 1:05 pm Saturday, March 4, 2023

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ROCHESTER – In a game that is often decided in the late minutes, sometimes patience is a virtue.

Hayfield junior Natalie Beaver showed immense patience as she sat on the bench with three fouls and watched her team’s first half almost disappear, but she returned the court in the second half and helped the top-seeded Vikings beat No. 4 Lanesboro 63-35 in a Section 1A semifinal in Mayo Civic Auditorium Saturday.

The Vikings (28-3 overall) opened the second half with a 7-0 spurt to go up 30-21 after Beaver knocked down a three. Beaver, who finished with 13 points, six rebounds and three steals, did most of her damage in the second half as she sat for the bulk of the first half with foul trouble.

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“It was pretty tough (to sit in the first half) but I did my best to cheer on my teammates from the bench. That’s all I could do,” Beaver said. “I felt refreshed in the second half and it was good to get back out there. It’s so fun here. The fans were great today and a lot of them came out to watch us. We’re excited to play in the arena next game.”

Hayfield pushed its lead to 45-26 after Jenna Christopherson and Kristen Watson each converted steals for lay-ups on back-to-back plays. Watson compiled 17 points, three rebounds, five assists and six steals.

Eight different players scored for Hayfield after the team had just four players score in Tuesday’s win.

“I told them to get ready to play 10 or 12 deep because I wanted this game to be a track meet. The second half was a much better pace for what we wanted,” Hayfield head coach Kasey Krekling said. “We were called for a lot of fouls in the first half and we didn’t adjust real well. We had to give them a little more space. We ended up with 12 or 13 fouls in the first half. A lot of them were on our key players.”

Hayfield senior Jojo Tempel chipped in eight points as she knocked down a couple of key three-pointers. She said the Vikings never felt any panic, even when their halftime lead was just 23-21.

“We talked about pushing in transition and we just weren’t doing that in the first half,” Tempel said. “We had to pick up our defense, move our feet and stop fouling. Having a lot of close games has helped us keep our composure down the stretch.”

The Vikings opened the game with strong defensive pressure and they built up a 23-16 lead when eighth grader Jenna Christopherson converted a steal for a score with 2:22 left in the half. Lanesboro’s Jessie Schreiber hit a three on a second chance opportunity to cut the lead to 23-21 with 1:47 until the break.

Lanesboro (24-7 overall) played the game without Kaci Ruen, its top scorer and rebounder, as she suffered an injury in the quarterfinals.

Hayfield, which won Section 1A last year, has now won 12 in a row and it will take on Grand Meadow at 6 p.m. Thursday in Mayo Civic Auditorium.

“We have that experience, but we’re going to play a well coached, athletic team,” Krekling said. “We’ll have our work cut out for us.”

Lanesboro 21 14 – 35

Hayfield 23 40 – 63

Hayfield scoring: Kristen Watson, 17; Natalie Baver, 13; Chelsea Christopherson, 10; Jojo Tempel, 8; Jenna Christopherson, 7; Lilly Beyer, 4; Maggie Hansen, 2; Molly Hansen, 2