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Hanover girls capture Div. 2 title


KSHSAA Covered 

As if playing for a perfect season wasn’t enough motivation for Hanover, an added incentive of redemption might have fueled the Wildcats more than anything. 

Last fall, the Hanover volleyball team saw its bid for a third straight championship denied by Lebo in the state final.

Saturday’s Class 1A Division 2 basketball championship featured largely the same cast of the characters. Only this time, both teams were putting undefeated seasons on the line. 

Asked how much the Wildcats had been discussing the volleyball team’s loss in the final, Ceegan Atkins’ eyes lit up. 

“Talk about it? That’s been our motivation all season,” the Hanover senior said. “We were cheering for Lebo all year to get to this point. I think in our minds we knew we needed a rematch. 

“That volleyball game was not a show of our athleticism whatsoever.”

That athleticism was on full display Saturday. 

The Wildcats broke away from the Wolves early in the battle of unbeatens to secure the program’s third state championship in a 59-34 win at Barton Community College. 

“We showed how we can play as a team, play for Hanover,” Atkins said. “It’s been an exciting year.”

Hanover thrived in transition and in the post to secure a 25-0 season. The Wildcats scored the first bucket 11 seconds into the game and never trailed, opening up a 16-point lead by halftime. 

“These girls are special,” said Hanover coach Chris Beikmann. “Not only did they never have a blemish on the season, but to come out here and play a Lebo team that ended their volleyball season the way they did, that was the chip on their shoulder. They wanted Lebo, and that was proven in the first eight minutes of this ballgame, the way we came out with the focus level that we did.”

Hanover sophomore Anna Jueneman scored a game-high 20 points while senior Massey Holle notched a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Atkins added 12 points. 

Lebo was within five midway through the second quarter until Hanover unleashed a 16-5 run to close the half and take a 32-16 lead into the break. 

“We talked a whole lot this week about trusting each other, and especially because we do go deep in our bench,” Atkins said. “Our seniors are a big part of the team, but those underclassmen stepped up. I am beyond proud of our sophomores and beyond proud of juniors. It wasn’t just a one-person show, it was everybody working as a team.

“That was really important when we went into that second quarter, picking everybody up and trusting each other – everything we’ve been talking about all season.”

Hanover out-rebounded the Wolves 37-17 and enjoyed a 30-6 advantage in points in the paint.

“Our post presence has been our big thing all year,” Beikmann said. “When you’re fourth post is Ceegan Atkins with her ability to do what she does, anybody in that state would say that’s pretty dang scary.”

Lebo (24-1) was unable to make a run in the second half, never getting closer than the 16-point halftime deficit. The Wolves shot 32% from the field and struggled to find a rhythm against Hanover’s length. 

“We weren’t able to hit shots early,” Lebo coach Patrick Gardner said. “We had opportunities to make them pay early and there were about three or four of them that we just missed. Then they were able to stretch us out a little bit.

“We didn't have the touch we needed to around the basket or even on the outside tonight. It’s hard to simulate a team like that and the length that they have. At times, we handled it well, but it’s hard to play from behind against a team like that.”

Senior Brooklyn Jones and junior Audrey Peek combined for 29 of the Wolves’ 34 points. Jones scored 16 on 7-of-13 shooting while Peek added 13. Sophomore Saige Hadley had Lebo’s other five points. 

Despite finishing one game short of their ultimate goal, Gardner said the Wolves will take pride in what they accomplished this season. 

“To come in here going 24-0 and have an opportunity to go 25-0, pretty special group with the effort that they’ve been able to give,” Gardner said. 

“With the year and the career that Brooklyn Jones has had, obviously that’s pretty phenomenal. Losing her is going to hurt, so we definitely have some work to do. But awfully proud of our girls throughout the season.”

Four seniors went out on top for the Wildcats – Atkins, Holle, Taeben Stallbaumer and Aliyah Sinn. 

After winning the program's first two state titles back-to-back in 2017-18, the Wildcats lost to Central Plains in 2019 in the Class 1A Division I title game. They reached the semifinals in 2020 before the rest of the tournament was canceled, and also made the semis last year before losing to Central Plains. 

Atkins, who has started since she was a freshman, said her career has come “full circle” with the championship. 

“My brother (Thomas Atkins) was a part of state title teams and I promised myself I’d never live in his shadow,” she said. “That’s the mindset I came in with my freshman year, earned a starting spot and then the opportunity got taken (with the cancelation of the end of the 2020 tournament). After that, I’m like, 'I’m never going to take another state tournament for granted. Every time, I’m here I’m going to give everything.'

“This one hurt a little, knowing that I won’t ever play this sport again, and this is a sport that has my heart. Ending it with a state title is the perfect ending.”
Beikmann, whose 2017 and 2018 titles came in his first two years as head coach, said he’s savored every moment of this season. 

“I took those first two for granted, I did,” Beikmann said. “I enjoyed every moment of this. I enjoyed every game. Never overlooked any of those games. This was a great one.”

BUCKLIN 56, BELOIT ST. JOHN’S 51 (3RD) – Freshman Emmerson Kirk scored 18 points and Sydnie Jones notched a double-double to help power the Red Aces to third place.

Bucklin trailed by two at halftime before using a 21-14 third quarter to take control. The Red Aces hit 9 of 14 shots in the third frame and later opened up an 11-point lead with just under five minutes remaining. 

Kirk went 7 of 14 from the field, 2 of 5 from 3-point range and 2 of 3 from the field.

Jones finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 5 steals for Bucklin, which finished 21-5, bouncing back from a semifinal final loss to Lebo. 

Senior Halie Feikert joined Kirk and Jones in double figures with 10 points. 

Beloit-St. John’s-Tipton (20-6) was led by Carlie Brummer’s 18 points. Emma Jones added 10. 

The Bluejays shot 43.2% from the field (19-44) while Bucklin went 23 of 46 for 50%, hitting 16 of 24 shots after halftime. 
Hanover 15 17 16 11---59 

Lebo 8 8 11 7---34 

HANOVER (25-0) – Lohse 1-3 0-0 3, Holle 2-3 8-9 12, Atkins 5-8 1-1 12, Jueneman 6-12 8-8 20, Sinn 0-0 1-2 1, Stallbaumer 0-2 1-2 1, Schotte 0-4 0-0 0, Jueneman 1-2 0-0 2, Schlabach 0-1 0-0 0, Klipp 4-4 0-0 8, Totals 19-39 19-23 59. 

LEBO (24-1) – Aud. Peek 4-9 3-4 13, B. Jones 7-13 2-2 16, Ott 0-3 0-2 0, A. Jones 0-3 0-0 0, Hadley 2-11 1-4 5, Milan 0-0 0-1 0, Crouch 0-1 0-0 0, Totals  13-41 5-13 34. 

3-point goals--H 2-9 (Lohse 1-2, Atkins 1-1, Atkins 0-2, Stallbaumer 0-1, Schotte 0-3). Lebo 3-18 (Peek 3-7, Ott 0-1, A. Jones 0-2, Hadley 0-7, Crouch 0-1). Rebounds---H 37 (Holle 11), L 17 (Hadley 4, Peek 4). Assists---Hanover 4 (Lohse 2), L 9 (Peek 3, Ott 3). Turnovers---H 16, Lebo 12. Fouls---H 14, L 18

Beloit-St. John’s 8 13 14 16 ---51

Bucklin 8 11 21 16---56 

St. John’s (20-6) – Wiles 3-7 2-2 9, C. Brummer 6-15 3-7 18, J. Gengler 2-5 0-0 5, Brummer 1-5 0-0 2, E. Jones 6-10 2-5 14, Ellenz 1-2 0-0 3, Totals 19-44 7-14 51. 

Bucklin (20-5) – Jones 5-11 1-3 11, Bowman 3-3 1-2 8, Feikert 4-8 2-4 10, K. Evans 1-3 0-1 2, Kirk 7-14 2-3 18, B. Evans 0-0 1-2 1, Stout 2-4 0-1 4, Scott 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 23-46 7-16 56. 

3-point goals---BSJ 6-14 (C. Brummer 3-7, Wiles 1-1, J. Gengler 1-2, Ellenz 1-2, K. Brummer 0-2). B 3-11 (Kirk 2-5, Bowman 1-1, Jones 0-4, Stout 0-1). Rebounds---BSJ 29 (Wiles 6), B 31 (Jones 10). Assists---BSJ 11 (C. Brummer 3, J. Gengler 3), B 11 (Jones 3, Feikert 3, Kirk 3). Turnovers---BSJ 23, B 19.  Fouls-- BSJ 16, Bucklin 16.