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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Thompson players are no strangers to the state tournament experience

THOMPSON — The bundle of nerves Karleigh Weber felt in her first state tournament experience is still a vivid memory.

Weber was one of the five Thompson players trotting onto the court during pregame introductions of starting lineups during the 2010 North Dakota Class B girls high school basketball tournament. “It was pretty nerve wracking,’’ Weber said.

“I was a little eighth-grader out there. You go onto the court and see all the people there, the big building, finally getting to state – so many things running through your mind.’’

That was Weber’s first state tournament experience. Since then, she’s played in three state fastpitch softball tournaments, one state volleyball tournament and, this week, will be making her third state basketball appearance.

Through all those experiences, some things haven’t changed for the Tommies senior.

“The nerves will be gone,’’ Weber said. “But the excitement is still there. Getting to play at a state tournament is always exciting.’’

After winning the Region 2 tournament, Thompson will be in the Class B state basketball tournament for the second straight season and third time in the past five seasons.

Thompson’s first-round opponent at the Fargodome at 1 p.m. Thursday is Beach – a team that edged the Tommies in overtime in the quarterfinals of the 2010 tournament en route to the state title and an undefeated season.

For several Tommies regulars, the state tournament experience has become commonplace.

Averi Olson has competed in state events in volleyball, track and cross country as well as basketball. Several have competed at state in three sports – Weber, Emily Overby, Bethany Ivesdal and McKenna DeMoe in basketball, volleyball and softball, while Shaice Marx has been to state in track, volleyball and basketball.

“That says that we’re all-around athletes,’’ Weber said. “We’re pretty competitive. We concentrate on the sport we’re in at the time, then you do the same for the next season and the next.’’

Shannon Galegher is a two-sporter, having played at state in volleyball and basketball. She also was in track, but a foot injury not derailed her in that sport a few years ago.

“I like playing different sports,’’ Galegher said. “It seems like when you do different sports, you can get a break, taking your mind off one sport for awhile when you switch to another. Then you re-focus for the next season.’’

Galegher, Weber lead way

While Thompson has a number of scoring options, the big offensive threats have been Galegher and Weber.

Weber, who has signed to play basketball at Mayville State, averages 13 points. Galegher, who has made a verbal commitment to play basketball at Moorhead State, averages 16.8 points and 9.7 rebounds.

Weber has 1,418 points for her career. Galegher is at 1,504 points and 1,064 rebounds for her career.

“We focus on balance,’’ Tommies coach Jason Brend said. “But they seem to be the two who have consistently scored for us.

“This group has always been able to score. This season we’ve really stepped up our defense. I think they’ve focused on it more. They’re older. They understand the defensive concepts better. And our strength has really improved. That’s been a key to better defense.’’

Ivesdal (7.1 ppg), Overby (7 ppg) and Marx (6.9 ppg) round out the starting five. Weber (3.7 steals per game), Marx (3.4 spg) and DeMoe (2.1 spg) lead a pesky, aggressive defense.

It is one of the most athletic groups Brend can recall in his 10 years at Thompson. But success has been about more than just athleticism.

“They’re good athletes, and they’ve cared about getting better,’’ Brend said. “They’ve put in the time in the weight room. They’ve worked at all their games in the offseason. These girls don’t take anything for granted.

“And they’re competitive. They push each other. We’ve had practices that have been more competitive than some of our games.’’

And there have been a lot of practices together.

While Weber started as an eighth-grader, Galegher, Ivesdal and DeMoe were the top three reserves that season. Olson was added to the mix the next season. They also were all together for three seasons of varsity volleyball.

“You’d think we’d get sick of each other,’’ Galegher said. “But it hasn’t happened yet. We’re pretty tight, friends on and off the court.

“Being seniors, it put more meaning into every game all year long. We’ve played together for many, many years. It will be sad for that last game. But we do have the state tournament and three more games. We’re thankful for that.’’

Thompson at a glance

  Coach: Jason Brend.

  Record: 23-1, Region 2 champion.

  Class B state tournament opener: The second-seeded Tommies meet unseeded Beach in a 1 p.m. quarterfinal game Thursday at the Fargodome.

  State tournament history: The Tommies are making their second straight state appearance, finishing third last season. Thompson is making its third state appearance in the past five seasons and fifth appearance overall.

  Starting lineup: 5-10 sr. F Shannon Galegher (16.8 ppg, 9.7 rpg), 5-9 soph. F Emily Overby (7 ppg, 3 rpg, 3.4 apg), 5-7 sr. F Bethany Ivesdal (7.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.3 apg), 5-8 soph. G Shaice Marx (6.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 3.4 spg), 5-4 sr. G Karleigh Weber (13 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.7 spg, 2.8 apg).

  Top reserves: 5-9 jr. Samantha Hegg (5.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg), 5-11 sr. Averi Olson (3.1 ppg), 5-6 sr. McKenna DeMoe (4.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.1 spg).