Family ties push Menahga Girls' Basketball

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MENAGHA, Minn. (Valley News Live) -- On any team you’ll often hear the players refer to themselves “like family”.

At Menahga on the girls’ basketball team they don’t have to refer to themselves “like family” they are family.

Megan Hendrickson and her sister Tara are both on the varsity team, younger sister Janelle plays on the C-team.

Megan is older than Tara by one year.

“We’re like best friends. We’re like the same size and play the same position too,” Megan said.

The Hendrickson family isn’t the only last name you’ll see multiple of on the Braves roster.

Another three sisters are represented. Alyssa and Martha Peterson both play on varsity, while younger sister Lela is on the junior varsity.

But it’s more complicated than that.

“I’m second cousins with the whole Hendrickson side so that would be Megan, Tara, Kate, who else is there?” Alyssa Peterson said.

We’ll let Megan try to explain.

“Ok so, my dad and Alyssa, Martha, and Lela’s dad, they’re first cousins. And then Maren Pinoniemi, her dad is also first cousins. So my grandpa and both of their grandma’s are siblings.”

Three last names. One family. Got it? There’s a quiz later.

Their coach, Cody Pulju, might feel a bit like a dad at times getting the right name to the right person.

“As they get older and they start looking more like each other its tough and I’ve had some already graduate so I start calling them older names,” Pulju said. “It’s a good problem to have because they all come from great families.”

Regardless of who he calls what -- he can call them historical.

Last season the girls completed a perfect regular season and became the first team ever from Menahga to qualify for the state tournament in any sport.

This year, they are eyeing a return trip to the cities with better results.

“Definitely our nerves got to us at the state tournament, playing in that big environment and all the pressure of having an undefeated season. I feel like we’re a lot more prepared this year,” Alyssa Peterson said.

“They work for the person next to them every single day and it’s really fun to see them work hard and see that hard work,” Pulju added.

It’s a little easier to do when the person next to you is family.

Menahga is currently on a 17-game winning streak this season and has won its' last 46 regular season games.