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Xavier hoping to go one step further this time

Xavier plays Ripon on Thursday in a Division 3 boys basketball state tournament game at the Kohl Center. (File photo)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- Reaching the state basketball tournament is no easy task, but how about doing it three straight seasons?

That's exactly what Xavier has accomplished as the Hawks will once again play for a Division 3 state title this week, tipping off with a state semifinal game against undefeated Ripon on Thursday at the Kohl Center.

Xavier, like Ripon, is 26-0, and while no team ever looks ahead the Hawks are thinking about finally winning a gold ball.

"That's our big goal, but first we have a game Thursday to get us a chance to make the championship," junior Sam Ferris said. "I think that's been our goal all year. That's been one of our major goals, especially going through conference first, get that conference championship and then looking to state."

Xavier lost two years ago to Brown Deer in the final and last season the Hawks fell by one point to Waupun when a shot at the buzzer didn't fall after Xavier missed a free throw to tie the game in the final seconds. Not to say last year's loss is driving this year's team, but Xavier hasn't lost since last season.

This postseason has been real impressive for Xavier, which has won three of its four postseason games by at least 25 points and in two of those games the Hawks have topped 100 points.

"We're playing as well as we have played all year and that's ultimately the goal, to continue to build throughout the year and I think that's something we're probably most impressed with and most proud and this group has continued to work, has continued to get better, hasn't been complacent, hasn't taken a few games off," coach Matt Klarner said. "As well as we played during the regular season, we've played better now in the postseason."

Xavier has reached this point behind Bay Conference player of the year Hunter Plamann (21.3 ppg.), Ferris (14 ppg.) and Nate DeYoung (11.8 ppg.), but the Hawks do have five players who average more than nine points per game. That's why Xavier is second in the state in scoring at 83 points per game.

Despite losing key players from last year's team like Sam Burkart, Matt DeYoung and Zach Simons, this year's team might be in the best position to win a state title in this three-year run.

Said Ferris: "I think coming into the year we had a good group of guys and I think many set the standard high of what we wanted this year and many of us put that goal of being undefeated this season, so that's what we are working for this year."

An undefeated record would equal a state title.

BOYS BASKETBALL STATE TOURNAMENT

Thursday

Division 3

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

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

Saturday

Championship game, 2:30 p.m.

Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay

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