Mound Westonka boys basketball headed to state for first time in 48 years

March Madness isn't limited to the collegiate level — in Minnetrista, the White Hawks of Mound Westonka are going to the boy's state tournament for the first time since 1974.

The road to state wasn't easy as the white hawks started the year an even 7-7, but since then they've reeled off 14 wins in 15 games, including Thursday night's win over a bitter rival to punch their ticket to Williams arena next week.

"It's an amazing feeling just like all the hard work we put in the offseason together, it's just so rewarding," senior forward Tyler Von Bank told Fox 9. 

Head coach Andre Phillips was hired in 2017 to help turn around a program that struggled to find success. The White Hawks have since won four conference titles under his watch and he's headed back to Williams arena where he once served as a student manager under then head coach Tubby Smith.

While there's still work to be done, Phillips can't help but ponder the potential full-circle moment of winning a state title at the barn.

"You can't help but have those boyhood dreams, even as a coach that's what you want and so we won't say it out loud, but definitely in the process of going to sleep last night, you're thinking about those moments and you'd be a fool not to." Phillips said.

Some of the players have played alongside each other since sixth grade and they believe team chemistry is what separates them from the rest of the field.

"I've always had a feeling that we've had something special since I got here in sixth grade; we just clicked," senior forward Jason Spaeth said. "I've known these guys my entire life, and it's just been so much fun playing with them all and it might not be about the wins and losses but just playing and having fun."

Representing their community the right way is an important part of the program and coach Phillips says that won't change as the White Hawks are dancing all the way to state.

"Let's embrace who we are and what we are as a culture and try to put that on display," he said.