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Battle-tested Hanson Beavers set for state tournament

Hanson to play rival Ethan on Thursday

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Hanson's Shelby Hernandez, left, looks for an open teammate against a Faith defender on March 4 at the Huron Arena.

HURON -- There’s been no shortage of nail biters for the Hanson Beavers this season.

The Beavers, who have gone 9-2 in games decided by five points or less this season, will play in the State B girls basketball tournament at the Huron Arena. No. 4 Hanson (19-3) will play rival and No. 5 Ethan (20-3) at 2 p.m. in the opening round.

It will be the culmination of a rewarding season for coach Jim Bridge and the Beavers, who went 15-8 last season and lost in the Region 4B tournament to Ethan.

“We’ve had such a fun year and we’ve overachieved a lot,” Bridge said about this season. “From the beginning of the year, I don’t think a lot of people probably gave us much of a chance and yet these kids listened really well, the coaching staff did an amazing job. They all played together.”

Bridge said the team continually improved each game and each week, while also piecing together a nine-game winning streak early in the season.

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“They are starting to gel at the right time,” Bridge said. “We’ve gotten better all year. We let a couple games get away from us at the beginning of the year.”

Sophomore guard Annalyse Weber averages a team-high 15 points and adds 4.4 rebounds per game. Senior center Mekiah Campbell adds 12 points and eight boards per contest. Freshman Alyssa Moschell (7.3 ppg), senior Shelby Hernandez (6.1 ppg) and junior Vanessa Doyle (1.3 ppg) round out the starting lineup.

Seniors Andrea Thelen (3.3 ppg/2.4 rpg), Grace Weber (1.1 ppg) and freshman Eliza Oltmanns (1.1 ppg) are regulars off the bench.

“We’ve got kids that probably could play on a lot other teams that don’t get to play much on our team and they’ve accepted that role,” Bridge said.

The team suffered a blow when sophomore Karlie Goergen (4.1 ppg/2 rpg) sustained a season-ending knee injury in Region 4B action. Bridge said Goergen routinely guarded the opposing team’s best player.

“I’m so thankful to the kids for sticking together and working hard and losing Karlie didn’t help,” Bridge said. “Karlie is a lot of our heart. She’s always hustling and handling the ball.”

Hanson lost to Sanborn Central/Woonsocket (43-38) and Wagner (52-48). The Beavers also dropped a 70-56 decision against Ethan on Dec. 12. Hanson will get another crack at its rival from 20 miles down the road.

“I know they are a different team,” Bridge said. “They shot 12 threes that night against us and it was a four-point game with a couple minutes to go. The score ended up bigger than that. We are going to get ready to do our best.”

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The Hanson vs. Ethan winner plays No. 1 Castlewood or No. 8 Waverly-South Shore in the championship semifinals.

The Beavers last qualified for the state tournament in 2018 when it placed second.

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