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Back at state, Valders looking for that elusive gold ball

Jake Beimborn (11) and Valders will play in their first state tournament since 1984. (Doug Ritchay/WLUK)

VALDERS (WLUK) -- When the final second ticked off the clock in Saturday's sectional final win over previously undefeated Xavier, Valders did something that hasn't been done in a long time in the boys basketball program -- qualify for the state tournament.

The Vikings ended Xavier's 53-game winning streak and halted the Hawks' attempt at back-to-back state titles.

Fans stormed the court and the celebration ensued, but now the Vikings must regroup as they have more work to do. Thursday, No. 1-seeded Valders (23-3) plays No. 4 Kettle Moraine Lutheran (22-5) in a state semifinal.

"We talked about it the other day we have to bounce back, just like we bounce back after losses, we got to bounce back after a big win and refocus in because we have other goals to accomplish," coach Trevor Schwoerer said.

That goal is to win a gold ball. From 1982 to 1984, Valders won three straight silver balls, but after beating the favorite to win the state title in a sectional final Valders is now the favorite to hang a state championship banner.

"That's all we want right now," senior Treyner Sundsmo said. " We're working as hard as we can to get one up there."

"That would be awesome to get the first state championship for Valders basketball," senior Kyle Tuma said. "That'd be really cool, but we have to stay focused as a team, the whole team stay focused all week long and get good practices in and be ready."

Beating Xavier has given Valders more confidence. Now it just has to wait until 1:35 p.m. Thursday when the game tips off.

"I can't wait," Tuma said. "We've gone down (to state) and watched all three years, so we somewhat know what it's like, but we don't know what it's like playing so it's going to be really fun. I can't wait."

Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay

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