Last year certainly wasn’t a rehearsal. But now that it’s over and that Beaver Dam’s prep girls basketball team is headed back to the WIAA Division 2 state tournament, last year can be looked at through that lens — as a diagram of what worked, what didn’t work and the best course of action moving forward as a result.
After all, paying attention to the little details netted a big reward — the program’s first-ever state title — so using 2017 as a template probably isn’t such a bad idea.
“Pretty much,” Chase said when asked if the plan — the travel itinerary, the practice schedule, where the team is staying, etc. — is the same this year as it was 12 months ago. “You do have to make adjustments year to year, though, depending on your kids and where you’re at.”
Where Beaver Dam (23-2) is at, specifically, is in the driver’s seat, as the No. 1 seed in the tournament headed into Friday afternoon’s semifinal game vs. fourth-seeded Hortonville (20-6) that’s scheduled to tip off at 1:35 p.m. at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon.
And considering the Beavers’ only two losses this year are to elite teams from out of state and they’ve defeated every team from Wisconsin — last week’s 43-41 win over Milwaukee Vincent in the sectional semifinals notwithstanding — by 13 points or more, their prospects for capturing the checkered flag are pretty good.
Ninety-nine point nine percent of the work is done. Now it’s just a matter of staying mentally sharp, getting good rest, and then executing.
“One of the things is you just try to keep the kids fresh. You don’t want to do too much,” Chase said. “You get to this time of year, you want to be fine tuned, you want to be confident. But you don’t want to overdo it. You’re not going to make huge strides in the last week of the year, so you just have to keep on doing what you’re doing and stay focused and do it.”
It’s that kind of resolve and trust in the process that has made Beaver Dam into one of the more composed teams in the state, which was on display in the narrow win over Vincent in a game where a less composed team might have been rattled by the fact they were being pushed to the brink in a season mostly void of such circumstances.
And the same kind of composure was on display in last year’s state title game, when Beaver Dam fell behind 10-0 in the first four minutes but kept on trucking and ultimately defeated Cudahy 52-33 to finish off a perfect 28-0 campaign in which they defeated every comer by double digits.
So the routine and way Beaver Dam goes — and has already gone — about things this week leading up to the state tournament is rightly similar to in 2017.
But there are a few differences.
For one, Monday’s snowstorm canceled all after-school activities, meaning the team couldn’t practice.
“So that kind of bit us in the butt,” junior forward Tara Stauffacher said. “So it’s been a little tougher, but at the same time, it’s gotten us more prepared I guess.”
More prepared from the standpoint of not getting complacent – of knowing that even their best laid plans can go awry in the blink of an eye.
“We definitely don’t want to get too comfortable because we know any team can knock us off,” Stauffacher said.
The Golden Beavers’ diet will also be different come tonight when they get up to Northeast Wisconsin.
“We have a group of parents that got a house up there (to stay in for the weekend), so they’re going to make us some meals so we don’t have to eat Jimmy John’s five times like we did last year,” Chase said.
Like their followers, the Beavers are hoping to cook up something good as well.
But if they do, it will have its own unique personality and place in school history.
“Each year kind of creates its own legacy and I think that’s what this group is trying to do,” Chase said when asked about the similarities and differences between last season’s team and this one. “All you can do is prepare yourself and go. This group has done a ton of things right, and I’m just happy that they’ve gotten this far and gotten the opportunity.”