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Warriors establishing winning mentality

WINNER — The Winner girls’ basketball team is one of two remaining undefeated teams in Class A, led by a core that has learned what it takes to win.

The Warriors are 11-0 and have climbed to fourth in the most recent Class A poll, outscoring their opponents by an average of 37 points per game.

“Coming into the year we knew we would be pretty good with four starters returning from last season,” Winner coach Larry Aaker said. “I didn’t know if we would be undefeated at this point, but I thought we certainly had the ability.”

The team includes 12 members from the Winner volleyball squad that took a runner-up finish at the Class A tournament in the fall.

“We have great senior leadership on this team and they all have that winning mentality,” Aaker said. “They flat out don’t like to lose.”

Leading the way for the Warriors is junior point guard Kelsey Bertram, who is averaging 15.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 4.8 steals per game.

 “Kelsey runs the show for us from the point,” Aaker said.

Seniors Sara Husher and Cassidy Hanson are each averaging over 10 points per game. Hanson leads the team with 6.9 rebounds per game, while Husher is averaging 5.5 boards. Senior Katie Mathis has contributed 8.5 points and four rebounds per game, while senior Kennede Mathis has chipped in 7.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.9 steals for the Warriors.

“We play about nine girls and it doesn’t matter who is on the floor because they play so well together.” Aaker said.

As a team, Winner is averaging 71.5 points, 34. 2 rebounds and 19.4 steals per game. The team is shooting 46 percent from the field and 61 percent from the free-throw line.

Up next for the Warriors will be a tough test against Class A No. 2 Pine Ridge (11-1) today in Pine Ridge.

“We know they are going to defend us quite well and we have to be ready for that, but we are going to treat it just like any other game,” Aaker said.

Pine Ridge eliminated Winner in the regional championship last season.