Hanson boys making long-awaited state tourney appearanceThe last time the Hanson boys’ basketball team qualified for the state tournament, the players on this year’s team were not even born.
The last time the Hanson boys’ basketball team qualified for the state tournament, the players on this year’s team were not even born.
The Beavers last trip to the state tournament came in 1989.
“Getting to the state tournament is a dream of any coach and any player,” Hanson head coach Josh Oltmanns said.
Hanson is finally making the trip back and will take on Langford Area in the first round of the Class B state tournament at 7 p.m. Thursday in Aberdeen.
“It’s great for the kids,” Oltmanns said. “We’ve had a successful program we just could never get over that hump.”
The Beavers dealt with some adversity this year, and Oltmanns admits that the state tournament seemed out of reach early.
“If you would have asked if I thought we would have been in this situation after (our) first weekend, I probably would have said no,” he said.
Hanson’s opening weekend saw a 34-30 win at home over Bridgewater-Emery, followed by a 36-21 loss on the road against Ethan. The Beavers bounced back with eight straight victories after their poor shooting performance against the Rustlers.
After the win streak, the team began to struggle again.
“I think we maybe got a little complacent,” Oltmanns said. “We beat a couple of good teams, and I don’t know if we got overconfident, but we didn’t come to practice with the mindset that we needed to get better.”
The Beavers lost four contests in a matter of six games, including three-straight losses.
“If we wanted to reach our goal, we needed to come into practice thinking we need to get better,” Oltmanns said.
Hanson did just that and has not lost a game since its three-game skid.
The Beavers got revenge for their opening-weekend loss in the District 11B championship game, taking down Ethan 58-54 in overtime.
“Anytime you can win a close game, especially in a district championship, it gives you a lot of confidence,” Oltmanns said. “We had a lot of players step up. For us to come out and play well against them gives us confidence (moving forward).”
The Beavers are led in scoring by freshman Jordan Marquardt, who averages 12 points a game.
Senior Jacob Bartscher averaged 10.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game and is a key to Hanson’s state-tournament berth.
Oltmanns said after the team’s struggles midway through the season, the coaches talked with Bartscher.
“We said he needed to play better,” Oltmanns said. “He really picked up his game.”
Oltmanns also felt that seniors Alex Kayser and Reid Smith were keys to a successful season.
“Alex and Reid have been steady all year,” Oltmanns said. “All three seniors have really stepped up this year. Not just their play but their leadership. They’ve probably been the difference for us this year.”
Hanson’s 18-5 record earned it the seventh seed at the state tournament. Its first-round matchup with second-seeded Langford Area (21-2) has the Beavers as a heavy underdog.
“If anything I think the pressure is not on us,” Oltmanns said. “I don’t think many people are expecting us to win because we are the seven seed. We’re going in there thinking we can win the game.”
He added that his expectations for the Beavers are not aimed at how the team finishes.
“We just want to play well,” he said. “If we play well and we get eighth, I’ll be happy. If we get third but don’t think we played well, I’ll be upset.”