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Bucs open season with high hopes

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Beach senior guard Bailey Waldal, right, goes up for a jump shot against Beulah’s Delaney Johansen during the Region 7 tournament on March 11 at Knights of Columbus Activities Center. Waldal posted 13.1 points per game during the regular season for the Buccaneers. As a team, Beach has won four straight Region 7 titles and made the title game five times in a row.

For the last four years, the Beach girls basketball team has ended its season at the North Dakota Class B state basketball tournament.

In the last four years, the Buccaneers won a state title in 2010, took third in 2012, placed fifth in 2011 and sixth in 2013.

During the same period of time, Beach has consistently been ranked as one of the top 10 teams in Class B.

Needless to say, Beach doesn’t have too many complaints.

After coming off a season where the team went 14-5 overall and finished with a 5-0 record in District 13, the Buccaneers are searching for their fifth straight state tournament appearance this season’s team is in a prime spot.

Beach returns its big three in seniors Haliee Farstveet, Bailey Waldal and Cydni Stedman. The three players combined for an average of 48 points per game last season. Stedman led all scorers in Region 7 with 17.6 points per game, while Farstveet had 17.3 and Waldal supplied 13.1. Farstveet, Waldal and Stedman’s scoring averages ranked them in the top seven in Region 7.

The biggest area the Buccaneers struggled with all of last season was an inside presence. Before the 2012-13 basketball season, Channa Clarin suffered an ACL injury during volleyball. The 6-foot-2 post had surgery on her knee after the 2012 Region 7 volleyball tournament. Clarin, who is in her junior year, received playing time as a freshman.

The other returners for Beach include seniors Paige Rising (5-10, forward/center) and Chantel Fulton (5-5, guard), juniors Ashley Dietz (5-7, guard) and Lateasha Lechler (5-9, forward/center) and sophomore forward/guard Brooklyn Zachmann.

As a team the Buccaneers lead Region 7 averaging 63.4 points per game, while giving up 41.1. The only team with a better scoring defense was New England, which allowed 40.1 points per game.

Though Beach is the favorite to repeat as Region 7 champions, the team can’t take anything for granted — especially now since there isn’t a district tournament before regionals. Before the super-regional was approved by the North Dakota High Activities Association, Beach won five straight District 13 titles.