FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) While most schools in the Interior are set to tip-off the new season as soon as next week, the Hutchison Hawks basketball programs will have wait until the calendar turns to 2020 to step on the court. Let's take a look at the Class 3A Hutchison Hawks, of the Aurora Conference.
A familiar face will returning to the sidelines for the Hutch girl's program. Previously a coach for 10 years, leading the Hawks to multiple conference titles, Jenny Benson is back at the helm, taking over a young Hutch squad. Many players on the roster will be receiving the first varsity minutes of their career this year, as the Hawks graduated several players. Hutch will be looking to make a return to the state tournament after missing out the last three seasons. Coach Benson touched on what it is like to be back on the sidelines where she belongs.
"This is my home and basketball is my life, so it feels really good to be back doing what I love doing," Benson said, who coached the Hawks in the mid-2000's. "With leaving and coming back, the whole feel is different, so we are working to make it the same as it was, and we will see how long it takes to get there."
One of the few returners with varsity experience is Bri Majors, who will look to lead this team as she prepares for her senior year.
"I am feeling pretty good, even though this year is like a big rebuilding year, we are all giving a lot of effort," Majors said at practice Friday. "We are really just going to have to work hard in practice every day, coming into a rebuilding year, we have to."
"What they lack in skill, they make up for in heart," Benson said of the underclassman and new additions. "They have great desire, they want to learn, they want to be better, we just need to have patience and hopefully we will get there soon."
Their season will get underway January 4, when they host Effie Kokrine at 2:30 p.m.
The Hawks return to the court after falling in the conference tournament last season. They will be guided by Head Coach Shane Johnston, who is returning to the bench once again. Hutch will try to replace Ross Matherly, their leading scorer from last season that went on to play collegiate ball at Ozark Christian College. This year's squad will be looking for their first state tournament appearance since 2009, when they won the 3A state championship. According to Coach Johnston, the adjustments from last year to this year have gone well thanks to the leadership of the upperclassmen.
"We have a pretty smooth transition this year, because we have got a blend of everybody, from freshman to seniors," Johnston said. "The three seniors that we have, have really shown maturity in bringing those young guys along."
One of those three seniors returning is Mason Young, who sees no trouble with the team's chemistry this year.
"It is great, all of us are pretty close, we are all good friends, so we know each other pretty well and we know how each other play," Young said ahead of Hutch's scrimmage with Delta on Friday. "It is good to just rely and count on those other players."
"We have large numbers this year, compared to years in the past and the energy in here has been really high," Johnston added. "The more we work, the hungrier they seem."
The boy's team will also have to wait until 2020 to take the court. They will take on Effie Kokrine at 4 p.m. January 4 at Hutchison High School.