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Winner girls riding 11-game winning streak

WINNER—Balanced scoring and suffocating defense have sparked an 11-game winning streak for the Winner girls basketball team.

After dropping two straight games against Class B No. 1 Sully Buttes and Parkston, the Warriors have reeled off 11 straight victories.

And they are doing it together.

"We just have been playing together and we are really stressing that, just every time you step on the court you have to play together," Winner coach Larry Aaker said after his team defeated Mount Vernon/Plankinton 53-33 on Jan. 26 in Plankinton.

And they are doing it with defense. Winner (13-2) has held its opponents to 39 points per game this season.

"That's really going to lead us because we want to play fast. In order to play fast, you have to play good defense and try to get some steals and get some easy buckets so you can get in the press," Aaker said. "Our defense is definitely going to lead us."

Offensively, sophomore Morgan Hammerbeck and junior Gabriel Kocer handle most of the scoring, said Aaker.

"They are both having really nice years and then everybody else just kind of fits in," Aaker said. "Abby Marts does a nice job inside. We've got girls off the bench that know their role and just want to defend and if they are open, they will hit shots."

Madyson Frazier—the lone senior—has started for the past two seasons and was a regular during Winner's state runner-up team in 2016. She had 14 points and eight assists against MVP, while adding 11 points one night earlier in a win against Miller.

"She's really stepped up toward the end of the season," Aaker said.

The Warriors are expecting some additional help in the final month of the regular season. Eighth-grader Bella Swedlund is set to return soon from offseason anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery. She led Winner in scoring last season as a seventh grader.

"Hopefully we can get her back and that's just another weapon," Aaker said. "We understand that she's not going to be able to give us significant minutes, but just any minutes at all is going to be great."

The Warriors will put their 11-game winning streak on the line tonight against Crow Creek — the top team in Region 6A with a record of 12-2 — in Stephan.