Ayrlie Waldo aced the pressure test Tuesday night.
The 5-foot-5 sophomore drilled two free throws with 6.2 seconds left in the game, then defended Watertown’s post-entry pass at the other end of the court to help seal a 57-55 win for the Aberdeen Central girls’ basketball program at Golden Eagles Arena.
And, while it wasn’t quite the play the Golden Eagles had drawn up for the occasion, Waldo proved up for the task.
“Out of everybody out there, I would be the last (option),” Waldo joked after the game.
After a see-saw fourth-quarter battle that mimicked the game as a whole, Central claimed control of the ball with under 25 seconds left to play in the game. Jaida Young had just put the Arrows back on top with a driving layup that made it 55-54 and forced Central to burn a timeout to set up a final possession.
Only, it didn’t go as planned. Watertown’s full-court press forced the ball away from Central’s main scoring options and into Waldo’s hands as time wound down, and the Arrows inadvertently fouled the sophomore as she came down with the pass.
“Free throws are not my strong suit,” Waldo said. “I was kind of freaking out. I was just like, ‘I’ve got to get these in for my team.’ ”
First free throw, good.
“I’m thinking, ‘I’ve got to get this second one in, but I’m glad I got the first one,” Waldo said.
Second free throw, good.
But there was no time to celebrate. Watertown moved quickly down the court and tried to get the ball into the low post, but – who else – Waldo was there to defend the pass, and the ball bounced out of bounds and back into Central’s possession.
“We practice free throws quite a bit, and I encourage the girls to put themselves in game-winning situations every time they put themselves on the line,” said Central coach Mikayla Arechigo. “Waldo is a very coachable player, and tonight it was evident how coachable she is, because clearly when she puts herself on the line in practice, she’s putting herself in pressure situations. She was ready for this moment.”
That capped a nearly perfect stat line for Waldo, who went 2-for-2 from the field, 1-for-1 from 3-point range, 2-for-2 from the line and finished with two rebounds, seven points, four assists and just a single turnover.
It also capped Central’s third win of the season, a bright spot amidst a season of ups and downs for the Golden Eagles.
“I think it really brings us some confidence in what we’re doing,” Arechigo said. “There’s a lot of times when you’re battling injury and illness and just trying to find some consistency in roles … and then you’re having to move (players) around and then move them back, you can really start to question what you’re doing. … We’ve finally been able to get some consistency the last couple practices. Hopefully we’ll be able to carry that down the stretch here.”
While Waldo may have been the most conspicuous of heroes for the Golden Eagles, she was far from the lone contributor in a game that saw six ties and 12 lead changes.
Kiana Mounga finished with 16 points and nine rebounds before fouling out of the game. Kyra Griese had 15 points, including three 3-pointers. Anna Malchow had six points on a pair of critical 3-pointers, and Karly Wellman tallied another seven points off the bench.
“It’s hard to pick just one player that you would say had a great game,” Arechigo said. “A lot of that has to do with the fact that we don’t need a player to have a great game. We just need a bunch of kids to have good consistent minutes for us.”
Watertown was led by Jaida Young’s 13 points and six rebounds. Emery Thury came off the bench for 10 points, while Grace Corey and Jade Lund had eight points a piece, also off the bench.
“We’ve talked a lot about how games are going to have runs,” Arechigo said. “We got up by seven early in the first quarter and then we got down by 10 in the second. This is a team that, early in the season, if we got down by 10, we could have just called the game at halftime. It’s been really encouraging the last few games when we do get down, to see the kids battle back and really buy into the fact that the game is 32 minutes long.”
Central has just three games left in the regular season to make a play for a SoDak 16 berth. That final stretch begins Saturday at Brookings. Game time is set for 3 p.m.
WATERTOWN (9-9): Maddy Rohde 2 1-2 6, Jaida Young 5 2-2 13, Miranda Falconer 0 4-6 4, Grace Ortmeier 2 0-0 6, Emery Thury 3 3-4 10, Grace Corey 2 4-5 8, Jade Lund 3 0-0 8. Totals 18-46 14-19 55.
ABERDEEN CENTRAL (3-14): Anna Malchow 2 0-0 6, Kyra Griese 5 2-4 15, Kiana Mounga 7 2-2 16, Taryn Hermansen 1 1-2 3, Sydney Evans 0 1-2 1, Ayrlie Waldo 2 2-2 7, Karly Wellman 3 1-1 7, Grace Kuch 1 0-0 2. Totals 21 9-13 57.
Watertown 10 29 44 55
Aberdeen Central 12 26 40 57
3-pt FG – Rohde, Thury, Young, Lund 2; Malchow 2, Griese 3, Waldo. Fouled out – Corey; Mounga. Fouls – Watertown 18; Aberdeen Central 15. Rebounds – Watertown 22 (Young 6, Thury 5); Aberdeen Central 31 (Mounga 9, Hermansen 5). Assists – Watertown 7 (Rohde 4); Aberdeen Central 15 (Griese 4, Waldo 4). Turnovers – Watertown 10; Aberdeen Central 19. Blocks – Watertown (Young, Corey); Aberdeen Central 1 (Griese). Steals – Watertown 12 (Young 5, Thury 4); Aberdeen Central 4 (Mounga 2).
Purchase a Photo
Browse By Category
- Auto Racing (18)
- Baseball (105)
- Basketball (55)
- BMX (1)
- Boys Basketball (279)
- Boys' Hockey (24)
- Columns (16)
- Cross Country (48)
- Curling (1)
- Football (116)
- Galleries (354)
- General (66)
- Girls Basketball (244)
- Girls' Hockey (26)
- Golf (122)
- Gymnastics (19)
- Hockey (60)
- Looking Back (65)
- Men's Basketball (19)
- Men's Basketball (2)
- Mixed Martial Arts (2)
- Polls (23)
- Roundups (144)
- Running (3)
- Soccer (59)
- Softball (9)
- Special Moments (15)
- State B Notebooks (3)
- Swimming (26)
- Tennis (116)
- Track and Field (214)
- Volleyball (198)
- Women's Basketball (14)
- Wrestling (87)