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Undefeated Ripon looking forward to state tournament

Ripon has qualified for the state tournament for the first time since 2003. (WLUK)

RIPON (WLUK) -- The Ripon boys basketball team is having one of those dream seasons and this week it has a chance to really make it memorable.

The Tigers have qualified for the Division 3 state tournament at the Kohl Center in Madison and based on their 26-0 record they have high aspirations.

"It's a good feeling," senior Bennett Vander Plas said. "I'm excited to go out on the Kohl Center and compete down there with my teammates."

"Dream come true, everything I could've imagined," senior Eddie Muench said. "At the school we can just tell the atmosphere is just different. Really looking forward to it and looking forward to Thursday."

Ripon had the look of a state tournament team from the start with Vander Plas (committed to Ohio University), Muench (Division II interest) and Melvin Lee

"It was always a goal of ours, I think, as a team to get down there. This tear, we've been working hard every day and we get a chance to go down there and see what we're made of."

With talented players like East Central player of the year Bennett Vander Plas (19.5 ppg. and 12.3 ppg.), Eddie Muench (23 ppg.) and Melvin Lee (Milwaukee Riverside transfer; 12.3 ppg.), Ripon seemed destined to reach the state tournament, but the team never talked about it.

"We didn't even talk about it," coach Dean Vander Plas said. "We thought we had really good kids, we thought we had some good potential and wanted to get better every day. It became surreal on Saturday night (sectional final) when we finally knew were going to play on the Kohl Center floor. We're just looking to get better, stay humble and hungry."

Ripon will play fellow undefeated Xavier, and these teams used to be in the same conference when the teams resided in the Eastern Valley. That league disbanded two years, but now they see each other in a state semifinal game.

Bennett Vander Plas smiles when he talks about this season and what it's been like.

"It's been awesome, having my best friends play along with me," Vander Plas said. " All 15 guys on the bench being in it every day. It's been a lot of fun."

BOYS STATE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

Thursday

Division 3

Prescott (23-3) vs. Lake Mills (24-2) - 1:35 p.m.

Xavier (26-0) vs. Ripon (26-0)*

Saturday

Division 3 Championship Game, 2:30 p.m.

Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay


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