Hayfield girls have their way, headed back to state

Hayfield built a large early lead against Grand Meadow in the Section 1A girls basketball championship, then cruised to a comfortable win.

Hayfield, Grand Meadow Section 1A girls basketball championships
Hayfield cheers during the Section 1A girls basketball championship game against Grand Meadow on Friday, March 10, 2023, at Mayo Civic Center in Rochester. Hayfield defeated Grand Meadow 51-32.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

ROCHESTER — A second close game this season between top-10 ranked girls basketball teams Hayfield and Grand Meadow never materialized Friday night.

That’s because Hayfield never let it.

The Vikings, seeded No. 1 in the Section 1A tournament, got early control against No. 2 Grand Meadow and never let go. The result was a 51-32 blitz in the Section 1A championship game at Mayo Civic Auditorium.

Hayfield defeated Grand Meadow 51-32 in the Section 1A girls basketball championship game on Friday, March 10, 2023, at Mayo Civic Center in Rochester.

“In your wildest dreams, you hope it goes like this,” Hayfield coach Kasey Krekling said. “But it really came down to the girls executing what we wanted. We put in some new wrinkles offensively and defensively this week. But you have to put the ball in the hole. When you do that, you look like a genius.”

No. 4-ranked Hayfield improves to 28-3 and is headed to state for the second straight year. Grand Meadow, which also lost to Hayfield in last year’s section final, finished 27-3. The Larks entered ranked seventh in Class A.


The contest was in stark contrast to the last time the teams met, Dec. 29, when Hayfield sneaked away with a 49-46 win.

Hayfield rode its superior speed and quickness this time, as well as shot making, to build a 34-16 halftime lead. All but two of those Larks’ points came from one source, sophomore forward Lauren Queensland. Center Lexy Foster, who was limited with a back injury, had the team’s only other bucket then and it didn’t come until just 2 minutes remained in the half.

Hayfield, Grand Meadow Section 1A girls basketball championships
Hayfield’s Natalie Beaver drives toward the basket during the Section 1A girls basketball championship game against Grand Meadow on Friday, March 10, 2023, at Mayo Civic Center in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

“We played really good as a team,” said Hayfield junior guard Chelsea Christopherson, who finished with 10 points while guard Jojo Tempel had eight, each of them giving their team more offense than usual.

“We knew what we needed to do,” Christopherson said. “We had to pass the ball and we had to step up our offense. Then on defense, we had to shut down their big girls and box out. It had to be one shot and done for them.”

Hayfield entered the game on an 11-game winning streak. As dominant as that sounds, a handful of those wins had been of the “just-barely” variety.

But there was nothing narrow about what went on in this latest Hayfied triumph.

Hayfield, which only got four points in the first half from star point guard Kristen Watson and eight for the game, found plenty of other scoring this night.

Its No. 1 source was sharp-shooting forward Natalie Beaver, who used her smooth shooting stroke to finish with 17 points. Combined with three others scoring at least eight points apiece, Hayfield had all the scoring it would need in this defensive-minded affair.


It needed no more than that because other than Superlarks stellar forward Queensland scoring 20 points, no other Grand Meadow player had more than four.

That included the ailing Foster, who was 10 points beneath her average.

Grand Meadow coach Ryan Queensland gave Hayfield credit for meeting the moment much better than his team.

“Their experience showed more than ours,” he said. “And we knew all season that we couldn’t get bit by the injury bug. But then it happened. Lexy’s back injury really affected what we were able to do.”

Beaver was thrilled with her team's performance. She knew it would be energized. After all, a second straight trip to state was on the line. Combine that with the game having been pushed back one day by a snow storm, and Hayfield was chomping at the bit.

The Vikings came to play. All of them.

“We were really looking forward to this game,” Beaver said. “The game being postponed (Thursday) just gave us even more excitement. Then we came out hitting shots. It was a real team effort.”

Hayfield 51, Grand Meadow 32
Lauren Queensland 20 P, 4 3-PT; Kendyl Queensland 1 P; Gracie Foster 3 P, 1 3-PT; Rebeca Hoffman 4 P; Lexy Foster 4 P.
Kristen Watson 8 P; Chelsea Christopherson 10 P; Molly Hansen 2 P; Jojo Tempel 8 P, 2 3-PT; Emily Hansen 4 P; Natalie Beaver 17 P; Betsy Gillette 2 P.
Halftime: HAY 34, GM 16.
Free throws: GM 1-2, HAY 3-7.
Three-point goals: GM 5, HAY 2.

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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