A nightmare scenario for Watertown’s girls basketball team worked out astonishingly well.
The Goslings fell behind Badger-West preseason favorite Sauk Prairie 9-0 to start the game, and minutes later lost junior point guard Lily Oiler to injury.
Unfazed by both situations, Watertown adjusted on both ends of the court and took the game over for a 47-32 victory in the home opener on Tuesday at WHS.
Junior guards Ellie Demet and Drew Hinrichs each scored 15 points for Watertown (2-0) while sophomore forward Alyx Johnson poured in 11 points.
“There was a lot of stuff to claw back from in this game,” Watertown girls basketball coach Matt Stollberg said.
“We get down 9-zip and then Drew hit a shot that broke the seal a little bit. There were a few points in the first half where it looked like they might pull away and I felt like we might be dead in the water if they got it into double digits. We hung in there and made some good plays.”
The Goslings shaved Sauk Prairie’s lead to 15-12 when Oiler had to be helped off the court with a knee injury that doesn’t appear serious but may require time to heal.
Demet heated up from there, hitting a turnaround jumper and finishing a baseline drive, then finding Johnson for a basket to trim the deficit to 18-17.
Sophomore forward Addi Maas found Johnson cutting to the basket and she finished to tie the game at 24-24 with less than a minute to go until halftime. Hinrichs closed the half in style with a deep 3 from the right wing and the Goslings took a 27-24 lead into the break.
Johnson scored three times down low early in the second half to push Watertown’s lead to 36-27 with 13:34 left in regulation.
“There were some things that we put into practice the other day that we ended up having to rely on,” Stollberg said.
“We didn’t think we would have to (but did) with Lily going down in this game. Fortunately, we had some stuff ready where we could get some baskets in the second half. Ellie really stepped up and played out of position and played point guard for us. Her and Drew just took a lot of the ball handling duties.
“Ellie’s got an ability to score in creative ways. It’s been a thing of teaching her when she has it and when she doesn’t. She’s been really good and made a lot of growth over the last year or two. She came up with some really big baskets and also made some good defensive plays as well.
“It was definitely everybody playing out of position because of losing somebody for the game. They really stepped up. If you play good enough defense, you’re in every game. Fortunately, that’s what they did.”
Seven different players scored for Sauk Prairie in a balanced first half. Junior guard/forward Erelyn Apel scored seven of her eight points in the first half and senior forward Maggie Hartwig added five of her seven points before the break.
Watertown’s defensive adjustments took away the middle and forced the Eagles to settle for outside shots which weren’t falling. Junior guard McKayla Paukner hit a 3-pointer and banked in a jumper to trim Watertown’s lead to 36-32, but the Eagles were shut out over the final 11:33 of the game.
“Defensively, we made a switch,” Stollberg said. “We had some trouble in the first half and then we switched to a 3-2, which we don’t normally play too often. We played it the whole second half and it worked out well for us. Addi Maas stepped up and played the top of the zone, which we have been getting her ready to do, so that was really good.
“They only took seven 3s when I was at their game against Waunakee on Friday. We took away the middle a lot more and forced them to shoot from the outside. They are more of an inside team. That’s what they did in the first half. That’s what we adjusted and took away.
“We had to live with some 3s. When they miss, that’s a long rebound and those are tough to get. Fortunately, we work on that every day and come up with most of those. We rebounded a lot better than we had against Reedsburg on Thursday. That really helped us as well.”
Watertown travels to the Kettle Moraine tournament this weekend. The Goslings face New Berlin West on Friday and Germantown on Saturday.
JV falls, JV2 wins: Watertown’s junior varsity lost 41-28. Addison Omarrah led the Goslings with 10 points. Watertown’s JV2 team won 28-24. Meredith Schaller led the way with 13 points.
WATERTOWN 47, SAUK PRAIRIE 32
Sauk Prairie 24 8—32
Sauk Prairie (fg-ft-tp)—Andres 1 0-0 2, Apel 2 3-5 8, Schultz 1 0-0 2, Hartwig 3 1-3 7, Meyer 2 0-0 4, Parker 3 0-1 7, Gulden 1 0-0 2 Totals 13 4-9 32
Watertown (fg-ft-tp)—Oiler 1 0-0 3, Desmet 6 3-4 15, Johnson 5 1-2 11, Doherty 1 0-0 2, Hinrichs 3 6-8 15, Maas 0 1-7 1 Totals 16 11-21 47
Three-point goals—SP (Apel, Parker), W (Oiler, Hinrichs 3)
Total fouls—SP 15, W 12
Fouled out—SP (Parker)