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Hortonville looking forward to second chance

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HORTONVILLE (WLUK) -- Hortonville remembers it all too well; last year's Division 2 state semifinal loss to Cudahy.

The Polar Bears didn't have their best day and fell short in its first trip to state in 30 years.

Fortunately, for Hortonville, it has a second chance as the Polar Bears have once again qualified for the state tournament this week. Hortonville (20-6) plays defending state champ Beaver Dam in a semifinal Friday at the Resch Center, and while the Beavers (23-2) have not lost a game to an in-state team since 2016, Hortonville is going to try to make the most of this second chance.

Watch Friday's game live at 1:35 p.m. on CW 14 and streaming at fox11online.com.

Hortonville's return to the state tournament could not start with a tougher opponent -- Beaver Dam, the defending state champ that has not lost to an in-state team in two years. Nonetheless, the Polar Bears are not backing down.

"Beaver Dam's a great team but I feel like there's no reason why we shouldn't go into that game fearing them we should back down," senior guard Shay Frederick said. "We can beat anyone. Obviously, we're there for a reason, too."

"They're really good, so there' going to be tons of hype about them," sophomore Macy McGlone said. "They're just another team, they're not immortal, unbeatable. We just need to focus on ourselves and think we can do this, we can win, and they need to worry about us just as much as we need to worry about them."

Hortonville has been impressive this postseason winning every postseason game by double figures, including a sectional final win over Onalaska. The Polar Bears might just be playing their best basketball of the season.

"I feel like our team's playing really, really well," coach Celeste Ratka said. "I kind of said after that (sectional final) game I wish we could play tomorrow because the kids were playing really well and firing on all cylinders. We beat a really good Onalaska team and I feel very confident."

Hortonville's playing well and it also has last year's disappointment to feed off. Maybe that will be enough to propel the Polar Bears into their first state championship game.

"I think about that game a lot and how it was such a great opportunity," Frederick said of last year's state semifinal loss. "Not many teams get a second opportunity to come back and perform or get the opportunity to play another game at the Resch Center, so I'm not going to just take it for granted and soak it all in. Hopefully we put on a better performance."

Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay

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