HANOVERTON In United Local's gymnasium, there is a banner that hangs behind one of its hoops. The banner reads "United Lady Eagles Basketball Dynasty: Inter-Tri County League Champions, Five in a Row."
With a school-record 24 victories this past season, winning is no longer a luxury for the Golden Eagles it has become a way of life. After winning its second consecutive Division III district championship, United will move to a stage it is intimately familiar with regionals.
"It's awesome," United senior Courtney Hydrick said. "It make us feel great. With all of the hard work we've put in, and getting to see the banner up there. We've all played together since AAU ball in fifth grade."
With six seniors, United has a core of experienced players who are looking to advance beyond league titles. Last year, United fell to Smithville 45-29 in the regional semifinals, finishing with a record of 21-4.
"It only drives us even harder," senior Emily Zehentbauer said. "There's no room to be nervous or anxious."
Second-year head coach Sam Mathias credits the experience of losing in regionals last year to the team's inspired play this year.
"We have six seniors and one junior on the team," he said. "Five of those girls were at the regionals last year. This year we had a focus on getting back to that stage."
As United prepares to face fourth-ranked Orrville (23-2) in their regional semifinal, the Golden Eagles will take all the experience they can get.
One of the seniors who was not on the team last year is Hydrick. After missing last season with a knee injury, Hydrick is ready to help her team try to advance.
"I feel like my size and length could be a big factor this year," she said. "They have a lot of size and speed, but I think we match up well. We don't play a lot of teams that match up with us heightwise."
Still, the Golden Eagles are thankful for what has become their winningest season ever.
"I'm so fortunate. These girls are like my sisters," Zehentbauer said. "To know that I will be able to look back at this one day and realize what I was a part of, it's awesome."
United will take on Orrville at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Cuyahoga Falls High School.