If it sometimes looks like the West Hancock girls basketball team can read each other’s minds on the court, it is because at this point, they basically can. The Eagles' five starters, Rachel Leerar, Amanda Chizek, Mahayla Faust, Riley Hiscocks, and Madison Eisenmann, have been playing together since fourth grade, and have had a lot of success in that time.
“When we were younger, we won nearly every tournament,” Leerar said. “We had Amanda, who has been tall since fifth grade, so that makes it a lot easier. We won all of our tournaments, so we strived for harder ones.”
Each of the girls brings very different, but complimentary skills. Chizek comes in at 6 feet tall, and is one of the state’s most potent threats down in the post, with 306 rebounds. Leerar was named Top of Iowa Conference West Player of the year, and is sixth in the state in total points. Eisenmann leads the team with 45 3-pointers on the season.
With the Eagles at 25-1 so far this season, and playing in the state championship game Saturday evening, coach Paul Sonius sees that the tight-knit attitude has gotten the team far. He challenges the girls throughout the year with physical, hard practices, preparing them for the rigors of the state tournament.
“There are not many fouls called in our practices,” Sonius said. "That’s the way we play, because we know that down here that is the way it’s going to be. You’ve got fight through it and keep going at it. This group, has been working for this for a long, long time.”
For the five starters, the basketball court is just an extension of their family-type atmosphere. Leerar and Chizek agree that the the team is basically sisters.
“We hang out all the time,” Leerar said. “We have team bonding, but then it’s not just us, it’s the whole team. We have sleepovers, dinners before like every game. Christmas sleepovers, breakfasts. It’s a really great atmosphere to be in.”