When members of the Beaver Dam girls basketball team were reminiscing earlier this week about the last two games they played — in the sectional semifinals against Milwaukee Vincent and then in the sectional finals against West De Pere on Saturday — it was causing quite a stir.
When it was described that junior Tara Stauffacher was still shaking the morning after defeating the Vikings last Thursday, the room erupted in laughter — to which Stauffacher retorted.
“Ok, who wasn’t shaking the next morning?” she said.
It can be like that with the entire team, which will now be facing Hortonville Friday at 1:35 p.m. in a WIAA Division 2 state semifinal game at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon.
“We like to make fun of each other, but we take it (too),” Stauffacher’s classmate Paige Schumann said. “We know it’s just out of love.”
The team describes itself as having a lot of inside jokes with one another, which goes to show you how close the Golden Beavers are not just on the court but off it as well. It’s because for the most part they’ve all grown up together and have built a special bond.
“Individually, we all have a special friendship with one another,” senior Afton Bartol said. “Some of us are closer with each other and some of us aren’t quite as close, but all us have inside jokes. We all laugh together and when we have hard times we cry together.
“It’s really special to have friends and teammates that support you as much as these girls do.”
The support Afton describes shows on the bench, with seniors Kirsten Storhoff, Kaylee Miller, juniors Grace Scharfenberg and Rachel Uhrich, sophomore Carley Burchardt and freshman Paige Hodgson all being rocks for their fellow teammates who are on the floor more regularly.
“I think (the picture that appeared on the front page of the paper Monday) captured that,” Storhoff said. “I think it’s more exciting on the bench than it is playing.”
That photo was from when Beaver Dam played West De Pere and the Golden Beavers got going in the second half after only leading by three heading into halftime. The support the bench showed the players out on the court provided an added boost of confidence, which helped fuel the way to lopsided second half and a 70-49 dismantling of the Phantoms.
“That’s something special that they’ve kind of created a little bit,” head coach Tim Chase said. “They’ve created it to have that fun atmosphere. I think it’s great. It’s high school sports, it’s supposed to be fun and I’m really excited when they get into it and do those things.”
The team’s cohesiveness also is reflected in the Golden Beavers’ play on the court.
Chase has been lucky over the past four years to get to coach a group that has for the most part all played together since they were in third or fourth grade. There are four seniors, five juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen on the roster and all have in some way, shape, or form been teammates for quite a few years now.
The seniors – Bartol, Miller and Maryn Ferron – have spent the last four seasons playing together for Chase and have had the chance to see the juniors – Stauffacher, Aly Van Loo and Paige Schumann – shine as well once those three got to varsity, too.
Those five have provided the foundation for a team that added now-sophomore Jada Donaldson for last year’s state title run and then freshman Maty Wilke and Natalie Jens for this year’s repeat bid.
The scary part for other teams is that anyone on the team can get the hot hand and just go off, because Beaver Dam is the type that shares the ball early and often. Often, their unselfishness allows the Golden Beavers to simply overwhelm their opponent.
“That’s awesome,” Chase said. “That makes it really difficult for the other team when you have a lot of kids that can (take over a game). That’s what’s awesome is a coach can be able to coach a team like this just because it could be anybody on a given night that could step up and make the big play. I think that’s what makes our team special.
“I think that’s what makes any basketball team special is when you have multiple (talented, unselfish) players.”
Chase described the situation he’s in as star NBA players joining forces on one team to form a super team like when LeBron James joined forces with his friends Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami from 2010-2014, going to four NBA Finals and winning two.
“That’s why a lot of people kind of frown upon it in the NBA where all these guys go to a super teams, but they understand they can’t all do it by themselves all the time,” Chase said. “They want to have that help from their teammates, they want to play with other good players that will make them better. Not that some players don’t like to have that special nights. That’s what I always tell the kids, is over the years you’re going to have those games that you feel pretty good about. Then there will be some other games you won’t feel great about.
“But to be able to play this way and share it like we do, it helps us a lot more in case one player doesn’t have a great game.”