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Hanson building winning tradition

ALEXANDRIA — Over the past 28 years, success in girls’ basketball has become a tradition for the Hanson Beavers.

But the juniors and seniors on the Beavers this season did something no team has ever done in head coach Jim Bridge’s tenure as head coach. With its 60-34 win over Chester Area in the Region 4B championship, the team secured its third straight appearance in the Class B state tournament for the first time in school history.

“We have created a tradition of success and that is a good thing,” Bridge said. “The kids want to do well and make the state tournament. The success also makes them want to achieve even more. We have some kids who don’t know what it is like to not play in a state tournament. They think it is a given, but someday it will sink in just how big that is.”Today marks the third time the No. 2 Beavers will play in the Class B state tournament as they open against No. 7 Lyman at 6 p.m. at the Huron Arena.

But Hanson has never won a state championship. The closest the team came to hoisting the trophy was when it finished second in 1992. The Beavers also finished third in 2007 and 2013. Bridge said last year’s team prepared this year’s squad to get back to the state tournament, adding the 2012-13 team was more veteran -aden, but this year’s team may be a little more athletic.

Senior guard Leah Marsh is the only Beaver in the starting lineup who started last year, but sophomore Kynedi Cheeseman, junior guard Hailey Doyle and senior forward Sydney Dodd all logged major minutes off the bench for Hanson. Despite coming off the bench for the Beavers (21-2), Cheeseman earned all-Cornbelt Conference honors last season.

This season, Cheeseman has been a force for Hanson in the paint. The sophomore is averaging 17.9 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, which are both team highs. Dodd is second on the team in scoring with 11.4 points per game, while junior Katlyn Schroeder is third with a 9.2 average. Marsh averages 7.4 points and 5.2 assists per game, while Doyle averages 6.7 points per game.

“Our team is pretty unselfish,” Bridge said. “They don’t care who gets the credit; they just care about winning. This year’s team has improved throughout the year, but we are looking for that best game of the year.”

The first obstacle in the way of the Beavers reaching the state tournament is Lyman, who Bridge doesn’t believe he has faced since he has been at Hanson.

The Raiders qualified for the state tournament after defeating New Underwood 48-44 in the Region 7B title game.

“I know that they are kind of a scrappy, aggressive team,” Bridge said. “They have some size and quickness, and they are more of a veteran team. A lot of the girls they have on their teams have been playing together for a long time.”