Still going strong: Hayfield's Watson leads the Vikings to a victory in Grand Meadow

Jan. 2—GRAND MEADOW — Things have gotten tougher for the Viking girls basketball team as of late, but Hayfield has survived with its experience and tenacity.

After winning its first 10 games of the season by at least 20 points, the Vikings scored their second straight close victory when they outlasted the Superlarks 62-50 Tuesday night.

The Superlarks pulled to within 53-46 when Lexy Foster scored with 3:42 left in the game, but Hayfield senior Kirsten Watson slammed the door on a GM comeback when she converted a lay-up and drilled a three to push the Viking lead to 60-46 in the late minutes.

Watson, who is Hayfield's all-time leading scorer with over 2,000 career points, finished with 20 points and six rebounds.

"It was a good game. We played a hard game last week against Spring Grove too and playing these harder teams get us going because we know it'll be tough," Watson said. "I trust my teammates. Attacking and dishing is a big part of it. As long as you take away more than one girl, then someone else will be open and I trust everyone on our team to make those three pointers."

The Superlarks (5-5 overall) hung around for much of the first half and they tied the game at 26 after Gracie Foster hit two straight three-pointers. Hayfield (12-0 overall) eventually took control late in the game when Natalie Beaver hit two straight threes to make it 51-38, but GM was still able to produce a late rally.

"We have to make sure we don't give up runs. We worked so hard to build up that lead and you can't take possessions off after that. We've got to play with the same intensity all game long, no matter what the score is," Hayfield head coach Kasey Krekling said. "With our experience, I know we're going to run our stuff and get our shots. Our shooters are going to find ways to score and most nights that should be enough to hopefully win the game."

GM junior Lauren Queensland kept her team in the game as she helped break the Viking full court press, while finishing with 22 points and six rebounds.

"We're all bummed," Queensland said. "We all wanted to win that game, but it does give us more confidence to come back tomorrow and work harder. (Hayfield) is solid all-around, they bring a lot of defensive pressure and they have a lot of great shooters."

Watson hasn't scored too many empty points for the Vikings as the team's play has increased ever since her and fellow seniors Natlaie Beaver, who has committed to play at Luther College, and Chelsea Christopherson have been part of the core. Since Watson has been playing for the Vikings as an eighth grader, Hayfield has taken third in two Class A state tournaments and amassed a record of 102-26 overall.

"Kristen's going to find her shots. She's either going to get to the rim or shoot threes," Krekling said. "She's tough to play defense against, even with her 5-4 stature. It's nice to have a two-way scorer like her and for the last five years, it's been easy to pencil her in as our starter at point guard."

Grand Meadow 26 24 — 50

Hayfield 30 32 — 62

Hayfield scoring: Kristen Watson, 20; Natalie Beaver, 11; Betsy Gillette, 9; Jenna Christopherson, 9; Chelsea Christopherson, 7; Lilly Beyer, 6

GM scoring: Lauren Queensland, 22; Lexy Foster, 12; Gracie Foster, 10; Rylee Schaufler, 4; Aspen Kolling, 2