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Lancers looking forward to state tournament debut

Manitowoc Lutheran plays Melrose-Mindoro on Thursday in the state tournament.

MANITOWOC (WLUK) -- Manitowoc Lutheran will play its first state tournament game Thursday when the Lancers play undefeated Melrose-Mindoro in the Division 4 girls state basketball tournament at the Resch Center and this is a team not afraid to dream big.

During the regular season the Lancers talked about reaching this point and even if Lutheran is not the so-called favorite in Thursday night's late game it doesn't care.

"We're the underdogs, we definitely need to be humble about it," junior guard Grace Melso said. "We have a chip on our shoulders. I know we can play with any team."

Lutheran (21-4) proved a lot in its sectional final win, taking on Milwaukee Academy of Science and the state's leading scorer, Shemera Williams. After winning its first three postseason games by a combined nine points, Lutheran beat MAS, 71-57, despite 42 points from Williams.

That may be why the Lancers are not afraid of what lies ahead of them on Thursday. Melrose-Mindoro has won 23 of its 26 games by double digits and its top five leading scorers (two juniors and three sophomores) average between 11 and 14 points per game.

While the Lancers have talked about state all season, now the conversation has changed to something bigger.

"The first goal was to get there," coach Mike Behnke said of making the state tournament. "Now that we're there the goal has shifted to you can bring home much bigger and better things, so we're going to be talking about it.

"We're not going shy away from it, just like we didn't shy away from the state talk all year, because we want our kids to live in that moment, be ready for it, step up to the plate and see what they can do."

Up to this point, the Lancers have done a lot.

Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay

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