Savoring final trip to state: Beach’s 6 seniors close out their high school careers at the Class B state basketball tournament
Beach girls basketball head coach Bob Waldal has a wealth of stories.
Beach senior guard Chantel Fulton sank the lone free throw.
“It was against a pink team, that’s all I remember. They were called the Stars I think,” she said with a laugh.
The seniors on the Beach girls basketball team haven’t had many disappointments since the 60-point loss.
The No. 7-ranked Buccaneers are making their fifth straight appearance to the North Dakota Class B girls state tournament beginning with No. 2-ranked Thompson at noon today in the Fargodome.
“It’s really special to go to the state tournament any year, but five times is really special,” said Beach senior guard Hailee Farstveet said, who averages 14.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. “I just hope to we go to state and do what we know we can.”
For three of the six seniors, this will be their fifth trip to the state tournament.
Those three seniors, who were also named to the all-Region 7 team, are Farstveet, Bailey Waldal and Cid Stedman. Farstveet was named Region 7 senior athlete of the year.
The other three seniors have played in at least one or more state tournaments. They are Fulton, Paige Rising and Megan Benes.
Waldal, who leads the team with 16.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, said the team hasn’t taken anything for granted during the past five seasons.
“It’s been amazing,” Waldal said. “It’s been a really fun experience and we’ve all worked our hardest. We’re not a selfish team.”
Stedman couldn’t agree more.
“I think some people would take it for granted, but everyone on our team knows how much this means to us,” said Stedman, who averages 9.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. “Our ultimate goal for the entire year has been to get to state.”
This will be Benes’ second trip to the state tournament. She said what has helped the most during her high school career is the team has had the same head coach.
Bob Waldal started his third stint as the head coach of Beach in 2006-07. He has helped lead the Buccaneers to all three state titles — 1989, 1990, 2010 — and is the all-time leading scorer at Dickinson State men’s basketball with 1,832 points, which he set in the ’60s
“I’m just really lucky I have a really good team,” Benes said. “I get to go twice and some people don’t even get to go once.
“(Bob Waldal) pushes us really hard, but I know it is for the best.”
Rising, who has played in all but one of Beach’s 24 games this season, said the team has been together for so long it didn’t take long for the chemistry to sink in.
“It’s a huge honor to be part of team that’s been so consistent,” she said. “It’s fun to be part of that team that has a lot of energy and excitement.”
Bucs meet Tommies again
When the Buccaneers won the state tournament in 2010, their first-round opponent was Thompson.
Beach needed overtime to defeat the Tommies. At the time, Thompson had three eighth-graders on the floor at the same time, and Bob Waldal said his thoughts were “Wow, who wants to play this team when they are seniors?”
Thompson is 23-1 with its lone loss against top-ranked and defending Class B state champions Minot Ryan on Dec. 13. The Buccaneers are 22-2 on the season.
“I called around and everyone has an awful lot of respect for them,” Waldal said. “They have good team speed and I know they will play hard.”
Shannon Galegher, a 5-foot-10 senior forward, leads the No. 2-ranked Tommies (23-1) with 16.8 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. Senior guard Karleigh Weber supplies 13 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
This isn’t the first time Beach is playing the underdog in the state tournament.
In 2012, the Buccaneers played then No. 2-ranked Kindred in the first round at state. Beach used a strong second half to win 52-48 and advance to the semifinals.
Bailey Waldal said the team is using its prior experience to realize any team can be beat, but said the Buccaneers are going to need a great overall effort.
“(Thompson) is an aggressive team,” she said. “We heard quite a bit about them. We are just going to have to play really aggressive. I just hope that we can play the best we can and whether we win or lose, we are still a team.”
More than just points
The Buccaneers aren’t just relying on the six seniors that score 43.7 of the team’s average 62 points.
Beach’s six seniors are also assisting the underclassmen every day in practice.
The Buccaneers have a knack for upperclassmen helping mold underclassmen.
When the Farstveet, Stedman and Bailey Waldal were eighth-graders, the three practiced every day against Brittany Dietz, a sophomore forward at the University of Mary, Abby Weinreis and Jill Rising. Dietz, Weinreis and Rising started for the Buccaneers during the 2010 state championship season.
“They did do a lot to make us all better,” Stedman said. “We know that we are making a good impact on the young kids and we want to push them to their full potential too.”
One of Beach’s underclassmen is Brooklyn Zachmann, who has been playing at the varsity level since her eighth-grade season and was an all-Region 7 player this year as a sophomore. The forward averages 9.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. The rest of Beach’s roster is made up of three juniors, two sophomores, a freshman and two eighth-graders.
For the six seniors, the state tournament is the last chapter in their high school careers. Paige Rising wants the team to be playing its best basketball in the next three days.
“(Bob Waldal) said it’s the last year on my contract, so I want go out with a bang,” she said. “I really have high hopes for our team and I hope we play to best of our ability no matter what bracket we are in.”
Beach being honored
The Buccaneers’ 1989 team, which was the first state championship team in school history, is going to be honored during the North Dakota Class B state tournament.
Bob Waldal said the players from that team are traveling to Fargo — some are flying in — to celebrate the honor. Many of the players and coaches have moved away from North Dakota, but two have remained in Beach — Jackie Farstveet and Carey Waldal, who are the mothers of Hailee and Bailey, respectively. Their father is Bob Waldal.
“It’s going to be a nice weekend for the team coming back and reuniting together,” Bob Waldal said. “They were quite a group of kids. They were pretty feisty and they had a lot of fun. I’m happy for them. What’s nice is one is coming from Wisconsin, one’s coming from Phoenix and they are kind of spread out now. It’s important enough to them for them all to come back.”