The first time since 1975, the Haven girls basketball team has placed third in the state tournament. The season started out stronger than years past, and this gave the team hope of making it to the state tournament.
“We have never been ranked in an entire season like we were this year,” Dwight Roper, high school girls basketball coach said. “We had high expectations. We started the season off 10-0 and had a lot of confidence.”
Coach Roper, as well as the girls eagerly anticipated going to state.
“You hope your team plays up to their capabilities,” Roper said, “I believe we did.”
For senior Emmiley Hendrixson, this moment was one of a lifetime.
“Making it to state is a dream come true!” Hendrixson said. “Everyone wants to make it to state, but actually making it is indescribable. There are no words for the joy and excitement you feel during that moment.”
This year’s team has focused on their leadership and bonding together as a family.
“We have strong leadership and a belief in one another,” Roper said. “We are closer to a family than a team. This season, we stayed together through good times, bad times, and sad times.”
“This year’s team is truly a family,” Hendrixson said. “We went through tough times and good times, but we stuck together. We pick each other up and we don’t leave anybody behind. The team is a great family and I’m glad I was able to be a part of something so special.
Leading this years team to the state tournament was four seniors, and eight experienced players that helped the lead the Junior Varsity team to their 16-0 record.
“We defeated Scott City, lost a close one to Garden Plain, and defeated Thomas More Prep,” Roper said. “Those three teams had a total of 7 losses between them on the season. That was an impressive finish to a great season.”
Another great accomplishment was Hendrixson being chosen for the 3A Sports in Kansas All-Tournament Team.
“Making it on the 3A all-state team is amazing,” Hendrixson said. “However, I never could have done it without my teammates. My teammates make me the player I am.”
The team has tons of support from the community, and that helps keep the spirit up and give the team an even stronger sense of family.
“We are blessed with great parents and a strong community that supports us,” Roper said.
Roper’s coaching philosophy is to “play for each other. Play hard every day.”
“We want to be the best,” He said. “That means you can’t take plays or days off. Respect the game.”
His advice to parents with athletic children is as follows.
“Do not specialize in one sport,” Roper said. “It has been proven the best athletes are well rounded and participate in multiple sports. Whichever season it is, let the athlete be focused on that season. Parents are burning kids out having them play sports 7 days a week. They need time to be kids. Less than 1% are going to be professional athletes. Support them and let them enjoy their high school careers.”