BOLD shuts down Hayfield girls' state title-game hopes

Low scoring games by the Vikings' 'Big Two' made things tough for Hayfield in the state semifinals.

BOLD forward Mari Ryberg looks to operate around the defense of Hayfield's Natalie Beaver on Friday, March 17, 2023, at Williams Arena in the Class A state girls basketball tournament semifinals at Williams Arena.
Pat Ruff / Post Bulletin

MINNEAPOLIS — Hayfield has two undisputed biggest stars, guard Kristen Watson and forward Natalie Beaver.

Both have been named All-State in Class A.

But with neither able to get their considerable acts untracked Friday, the Vikings’ hopes of advancing to the state girls basketball tournament championship game were snuffed.

That happened in the state semifinals at Williams Arena, where BOLD essentially shut down Watson and Beaver and went away a 58-46 winner.

Watson and Beaver, who normally combine for 36 points, managed just five on Friday.


Hayfield, which managed a dramatic comeback win in Thursday’s quarterfinals, entered as the No. 2 seed, BOLD as the No. 3.

The Warriors used their superior height and swatted away one Vikings shot after another in the first half and grabbed an early 12-4 lead. They never would trail, though thanks especially to Hayfield junior guard Chelsea Christopherson, the Vikings gave BOLD a series of scares.

“It was a tough start for us,” Hayfield coach Kasey Krekling said. “BOLD was a more physical team than us. Our lack of size hurt us on the boards and we had too many turnovers again. We have to do a better job of protecting the ball and finding the right passing lanes.”

Besides a lack of scoring from Watson and Beaver, who drew extra defensive attention all game, the turnovers were the biggest issue for Hayfield. After losing the ball a staggering and uncharacteristic 35 times in Thursday's win, the Vikings turned it over 22 times against BOLD.

“When you give a team (22) extra chances to score, you’re probably not going to beat them,” Krekling said.

But again, thanks to Christopherson, the Vikings made things interesting. The junior guard did that by pouring in a career-high 18 points.

Christopherson finished 7-for-16 from the field, including 3-for-7 from 3-point distance.

She knew she was going to have to be special with her shot for her team to have a chance. She certainly came through.


“I knew I had to shoot because our top scorers on the team were being face-guarded all game,” Christopherson said. “I knew I had to step up and take on a bigger scoring role.”

Christopherson had Hayfield within one point of BOLD after a driving shot with 2:23 left in the first half. She also had Hayfield within three points of BOLD twice early in the second half, both times after draining 3-pointers.

But with Watson and Beaver combining for just five points in the game, it never got closer than that. Watson entered averaging 19 points, Beaver 17.

Watson had trouble driving around the lengthy BOLD defense and Beaver wasn’t close to her usual self as she’s been battling a virus the last number of days and was at her physical worst after a monster performance in Thursday’s quarterfinals. After scoring 31 points and grabbing 15 rebounds, Beaver spent the rest of the evening vomiting and was hooked up Friday morning to an IV.

“I was throwing up a little bit last night,” Beaver said. “I didn’t feel my best today but I had to go out there and compete. I had a little bit of energy, but I got tired faster than usual.”

As for Watson, it was a long, frustrating afternoon. The BOLD defense was built to stop her and Beaver, and it worked.

“It was very frustrating,” Watson said. “I’d get by one girl and another one would be right on me.”

On Saturday at 10 a.m., Hayfield will play No. 4 seed Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa in the third place game at Concordia University in St. Paul.


Complete box score:

BOLD'S Lainey Braulick goes floating in for a layup as Hayfield's Jenna Christopherson is in hot pursuit on Friday, March 17, 2023, in the state girls basketball semifinals at Williams Arena.
Pat Ruff / Post Bulletin

Pat has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter since 1994. He covers Rochester John Marshall football, as well as a variety of other southeastern Minnesota football teams. Among my other southeastern Minnesota high school beats are girls basketball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field, high school and American Legion baseball, volleyball, University of Minnesota sports (on occasion) and the Timberwolves (on occasion). Readers can reach Pat at 507-285-7723 or
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