Beavers looking for first-ever Class B state titleALEXANDRIA - Today, Hanson makes its sixth appearance at the state girls’ basketball tournament with hopes of finally hoisting the championship trophy.
By: Aaron Saunders, The Daily Republic
ALEXANDRIA - Today, Hanson makes its sixth appearance at the state girls’ basketball tournament with hopes of finally hoisting the championship trophy. The Beavers came close to winning it all in 1992, but fell to Hurley in the title game. They also qualified in 1990, 2007, 2008 and last season.
Hanson (21-2) enters the first round of state as the third seed and plays sixth-seeded Wall at 7:45 p.m. today at Huron Arena.
“It would mean a lot to me and my teammates to win the state tournament,” Hanson guard Kelli Wenande said. “If we win two more games, we will set a record for the most wins in a season at our school. There is a lot of pressure because we are a good team and coach expects a lot from us, but we just have to stay focused and come ready to play.”
Last season, with only one senior, the Beavers went 21-5 and finished sixth at state. This year Hanson has five seniors and sports a team full of state tournament experience.
While the Beavers boast five seniors, the team’s two leading scorers are a junior and a freshman.
Cassidy Graham, a junior, is averaging 14.4 points per game, and freshman Kynedi Cheeseman averages 12.9 points per game. Cheeseman comes off the bench, but logs about as much time on the court as the starters.
Kendra Cheeseman is the highest-scoring senior, averaging 8.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Three other Hanson players average 5 points or better, including Wenande, who averages 5.4.
“I am a little nervous about the tournament,” senior center Erika Nelson said. “It’s kind of scary since it’s our last year. But we have been there before, so we know how it is and we are excited to be at state again.”
Heading into the contest, Wall is 18-3 and coming off an 11-point victory over Lyman in the Region 7B girls’ final.
“They have two really good guards in Sadie O’Rourke and Carlee Johnston that are really quick,” Bridge said. “They look way faster than us. I am not sure if we have anyone that can guard them, but we are going to have to slow them down a little bit. Wall has had a lot of good teams over the years, so we have our work cut out for us. But our kids don’t get too high or too low, and they seem to be pretty focused.”
While Bridge hasn’t won a state championship as a girls’ basketball coach, he did win a state championship as an assistant coach with the Hanson boys’ basketball team his first year at the school in 1986.