Ranger girls revel in state tournament opportunity

Gray Hughes
Editor’s note: Interviews were conducted before the South Dakota High School Activities Association postponed the state tournament
For the first time in 23 years, the Hill City Rangers girls basketball team is going to the state tournament.
While the team hasto wait to play its games until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, the team is loose but focused as it preps.
“We’re in uncharted territories, for me,” said Wade Ginsbach, head coach. “I’ve never been to a state tournament, so how to run practice, when to have practice, when not to have practice’ it’s all new.”
When the final buzzer went off in Kadoka March 9 after the Rangers defeated the Crow Creek Chieftains 45-43, Ginsbach said he was happy.
He said he was happy for his team but especially senior Emily Siemonsma, the lone senior on the team.
Getting to the state tournament was really big for her, Ginsbach said, but it was also big for the team.
“It’s been two-and-a-half years of hard work that we put in,” he added.
The team has been resilient, Ginsbach said, which was evident by its upset over Crow Creek in the SoDak 16. Crow Creek was the third seed in the SoDak 16 while Hill City was the 14 seed.
The Rangers, too, lost to Crow Creek 76-48 during the regular season Feb. 15. However, the Rangers completed a 15-5 regular season, which saw them as the second seed in Region 8 play, where they defeated Hot Springs 58-12 on March 2 and defeated
Belle Fourche 61-54 in overtime March 5.
As the team preps for the state tournament, Ginsbach said its philosophy is to get better every day.
“It’s all about little things at this point,” he said. “If our defensive rotations run, a team of this caliber, we’ll make you pay for it. We’re kind of working on honing our skills a little bit.”
When and if the state tournament does eventually tip off, the Rangers will face top-ranked Winner High School.
In order to beat them, Ginsbach said his team needs to be consistent and under control.
“They’re going to try to hurry you up, and they’e long and they’re athletic,” he said. “They are going to hit our shots so we just need to be able to be consistent and under control and play our game. I think every game is going to be a challenge, but we made it. We’re there. We’re going to show up and try to win. We’re not going to try to keep it close.”
His team from last year has matured quite a bit, Ginsbach said.
The team had a “great summer,” he added, working out and in the gym every day.
They all grew up in their own right, Ginsbach said.
“It hasn’t been surprising, because we know what they’re capable of, and they are starting to show it,” Ginsbach said. “Stepping up is relative because I think we’re pretty balanced, and I think that’s what makes us kind of tough because they can’t focus on one single person.”
Siemonsma has been great this year stepping into the senior leadership role, Ginsbach said.
She is calm, cool and collected and does her role and her job, he added, filling in the role of floor general.
“She’s really smart on the floor and is able to direct traffic a little,” Ginsbach said. “Taking leadership on defense and being in the right spots. She’s always locked in. You can tell her something and she will do it. She is always is always going to be locked in, and that's kind of where she kind of leads us, being that consistent presence.”
For Siemonsma, getting to the state tournament was a big step for the team.
She said she is proud not only for her team but also for the community.
Siemonsma said she has stepped into the role of big sister for the team, but the team is close, and they’re all friends.
They all play together, she said.
She said she welcomes the Rangers’ underdog roll.
They still have a chance to do well in the state tournament, and she said she knows they are good enough to place high.
“We are all very excited,” she said. “We hope it goes well.”

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