MONROE — Watertown’s girls basketball team made fourth-ranked Monroe work for the victory on Tuesday, rallying from a 14-point halftime deficit to make it a two-point game late before falling 70-58 in a Badger South battle.
Monroe (16-2, 10-0 in conference) led 30-16 at halftime, but Watertown (9-9, 2-8) roared back behind 21 of senior forward Lauren Burd’s team-high 23 points in the second half. The Goslings trailed 54-52 with less than five minutes to go in regulation before the Cheesemakers finally closed out the game at the foul line on 13-of-14 shooting.
“We played overall pretty well in the first half, but made a couple mistakes that led to easy baskets,” Watertown girls basketball coach Matt Stollberg said. “We clawed and hung around in the second half and cut it two. We came out of a time out down five and hit a 3. They hit a 3 to put it back to five and then they made every free throw down the stretch, like good teams do.
“It was anyone’s game with a few minutes left. They are legitimately one of the best teams in the state. It was good to fight back and be in that position. The kids just gave it everything they possibly could.”
Burd finished with six 3-pointers while junior guard Jenna Koepp had four triples as part of her 14 points. Freshman forward Teya Maas added 15 points for the Goslings, who outscored the Cheesemakers 42-40 in the second half.
“Lauren was being guarded all night by great athletes, but she stayed patient,” Stollberg said. “She got herself some shots. She and Jenna played off each other well. She took it upon herself, whatever I can do to keep us in the game, and she did. Teya had a nice game inside as well. Our posts protected the paint well.”
Senior point guard Sydney Hilliard scored 18 of her game-high 29 points in the second half for Monroe.
“A lot of their points in the second half came late when we were scrambling,” Stollberg said. “The big thing for us our team now … we’ve known for awhile we can compete with the best of the best. We’re playing our best basketball with a couple games to go. Our goal is to make a playoff run and make as much noise as we can. We’ve done a lot to scout for our playoff bracket.”
Watertown hosts Monona Grove on Friday.
Watertown 16 42 — 58
Monroe 30 40 — 70
Watertown (fg-ft-tp) — Koepp 5-0-14, Keeser 1-2-4, Maas 5-5-15, Korducki 1-0-2, Burd 8-1-23. Totals 20 8-15 58.
Monroe (fg-ft-tp) — M. Benschawel 0-3-3, G. Mathiason 2-0-6, E. Benschawel 4-2-11, Hilliard 11-5-29, Tostrud 1-4-6, S. Mathiason 4-3-15. Totals 22 17-20 70.
Three-point goals — W, Koepp 4, Burd 6; M, Mathiason 2, E. Benschawel, Hilliard 2, S. Mathiason 4.
Total fouls — W 15, M 13