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Hanson defeats Dakota Christian 56-40 in girls' Region 6B championship game

(Luke Hagen/Republic) Hanson's Cassidy Graham, center, goes up between Dakota Christian's Amy Overweg (25) and Laurel Zomer during the Region 6B girls' basketball championship Saturday at the Corn Palace.

With the use of a full-court press defense, the Hanson Beavers powered their way to a 56-40 win over the Dakota Christian Cadets to claim the Region 6B championship at the Corn Palace Saturday in a girls' high school basketball game.

The win landed Hanson a spot in the girls' Class B state basketball tournament in Huron.

The game opened well for Dakota Christian. The Cadets had early leads of 4-0 and 8-4, but the Beavers' full-court pressure started to take effect. Hanson went on an 8-1 run and took a 12-9 lead after the opening quarter.

Hanson's pressure defense continued to cause Dakota Christian problems in the second quarter, and the Beavers outscored the Cadets 16-4 for a 28-13 lead with just under two minutes left in the half.

The Cadets managed a small run to get to within 30-16 at intermission.

"We knew we had to make it a full-court game," Hanson coach Jim Bridge said of his team's pressure. "If it would have been a half-court game, we would have been in trouble. We would have gotten in foul trouble, and it just wouldn't have been good."

Sara De Waard opened the second half for Dakota Chrisitan with a basket, but the Beavers took control with a 15-4 run to grab a 45-22 lead.

The Beavers led 47-26 after three quarters.

Hanson had defeated Dakota Christian earlier in the year 73-42, but Hanson senior standout Ashley Robinson said the region title wasn't a game her team took lightly.

"We knew that we couldn't come in overconfident," Robinson said. "We had to come out and play our game, because teams can change just like that during the season."

Bridge was happy with his team.

"It wasn't really pretty, but you have to give DC credit," he said. "I'm proud of this group of kids and how far they've come since the beginning of the year. "

Robinson led the Beaver attack with 18 points and seven rebounds, followed by Cassidy Graham with 16 points. Kendra Cheeseman had 11 points and Leah Marsh finished with eight steals.

Hanson (20-3) made 20 of 42 field goals for 48 percent and 14 of 29 free throws for 48 percent.

The Beavers held a 22-20 rebounding advantage, committed 24 turnovers and had 26 steals.

Dakota Chrisitan lost Kim Veurink, Sammie DeLange and Amber Baan Hofman for the season due to injuries, which made it more difficult for the Cadets, according to DC coach Sane Neiwenhuis.

"It's hard when you have a freshman (Brooklyn Vander Pol) bring the ball up the court," Neiwenhuis said. "She's come a long ways this year, but you can't beat a Hanson press with one dribbler. I thought we could pass through it, but obviously it didn't work for us. They were a step or even two steps quicker than us, and there deepness hurt us a lot."

De Waard scored 18 points and seven rebounds to pace Dakota Christian, followed by Laurel Zomer with nine rebounds.

The Cadets (9-14) were 13-of-33 from the field for 39 percent and 12-of-17 for 71 percent from the free-throw line. Dakota Christian committed 26 turnovers.