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Heart River has many returners with hope of making noise at regionals

Press File Photo Heart River senior guard Karli Northrop, left, goes up for a shot against a pair of Hettinger-Scranton defenders during last year’s District 13 Tournament on March 1 in Bowman.

The Heart River girls basketball team’s roster this season is extremely similar to last year.

However, the Cougars did graduate one big piece — guard Mary Hlebechuk.

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Hlebechuk ended her high school basketball career as the Region 7 athlete of the year, all-Region 7, all-District 13 and District 13 senior of the year. She averaged 13.1 points per game including 15.3 during the District 13 Tournament and 19 in the Region 7 Tournament.

“Mary was a great player and what she brought to the team was her leadership,” Heart River head coach Kelsey Boedeker said. “It was done in a way that the girls feed off of her, our players picked up on what she did and I think we’ll follow right in her footsteps perfectly.”

Nonetheless, the Cougars have high expectations and return 13 players including three seniors who received substantial playing time as juniors.

“We lost two players to graduation and one player transferred,” Boedeker said. “We have a great group of girls, especially younger girls that are showing a lot of great things throughout the first week and a half of practice. We’ll rely a lot on our two seniors.”

The three seniors are Alex Poland (5-5, guard) and Karli Northrop (5-4, guard).

Heart River has a host of juniors returning with Jada Mattson (5-3, guard), Katlyn Binstock (5-10, center), Addison Olson (5-4, forward), Mikayla Raskin (5-9, forward) and Jessica Praus (5-7, forward) and Gracey Gross. Mattson, Olson and Praus saw plenty of varsity minutes.

The sophomore class includes Mara Obrigewitch (5-3, guard), Laynee Kudrna (5-3, guard), Brittni Krance (5-6, forward) and Adreana Marschner (5-10, center).

Heart River finished last season with a 6-16 record after losing in the first round of the Region 7 Tournament to Hazen. The Cougars averaged only 37.1 points during the regular season, but upped their performance in the postseason. Heart River averaged 40.3 points in four games — three at the District 13 Tournament and one at the Region 7 Tournament.

Boedeker said with the new format for the Region 7 postseason has already shined bright for Heart River during the volleyball season. The Cougars knocked off No. 1-ranked Beach in the quarterfinals and nearly took Beulah to a fifth set in the semifinals.

“It was fun to watch during the volleyball season, because the girls learned that every night you have to show up and have to compete,” she said. “That makes it fun and something is on the line in every game. We are a pretty tough region and we have some teams that we are going to have to show up for — there’s no doubt about it.”