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Breaking down the boys state basketball tournament

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Hunter Plamann and Xavier play in a Division 3 state semifinal Thursday against Ripon. (File photo)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- Three area basketball teams are chasing a gold ball this week as Xavier and Ripon have qualified for the Division 3 state tournament and Roncalli will be competing in Division 4.

Xavier has won a silver ball the last two seasons, while Ripon is making its first state appearance since 2003 and Roncalli is making its sixth state trip since 2005.

Here's a look at each local team entering the state tournament:

XAVIER (26-0)

The Hawks have been rolling all season, but more so in the postseason where the Hawks have won three of four games by at least 25 points. Xavier has topped 100 points twice in the postseason and held Little Chute to 26 points in a sectional semifinal. The Hawks will need to play at a high level Thursday when they play undefeated Ripon at 3:15 p.m. at the Kohl Center and expect them to as Hunter Plamann has been special. The junior guard and Bay Conference player of the year averages 21.3 ppg. and has made 46 of 108 3-point attempts (43 percent). He's not alone as far as being a threat from beyond the arc as Cal Christensen (45 made threes) and Sam Ferris (40; 14 ppg.) also have made at least 40 threes this season. Xavier likes to run and playing on the college length court (10 feet longer than high school) could play to its advantage. How the Hawks win state: Continue to shoot it well from distance and keep the tempo fast.

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RIPON (26-0)

The Tigers are led by a trio of players -- Bennett Vander Plas (committed to Ohio University; 19.5 ppg. and. 12.3 ppg.), Eddie Muench (Division II interest; 23 ppg) and Melvin Lee (12.3 ppg) -- who can take control of games. Vander Plas, the son of coach Den Vander Plas, is 6-8 and the two-time East Central player of the year, while Muench has drilled 80 threes this season and Lee is the floor general. Ripon beat defending state champ Waupun three times this season, including in a sectional semifinal as Lee hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to win 53-50. Ripon has been strong on defense this season as only one team has scored 60 or more points against the Tigers (Waupun, 64) and will need that defense against Xavier in a semifinal. How the Tigers win state: The "Big Three" has to play well and the Tigers' defense has to continue to be stingy.

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RONCALLI (13-13)

The Jets are the only team in the state tournament with more than five losses and they have way more than five losses. Roncalli opened the season 3-10 and entered the postseason 9-13, but got hot at the right time and is 10-3 in its last 13 games. The Jets, who placed fifth in the Eastern Wisconsin Conference with a 6-8 record, are led by Mitchel Schneider, who averages 18.8 ppg. and has hit 74 threes at a 46 percent rate. Also, Chombi Lambert averages 16.7 ppg and has hit 44 threes (39 percent). Roncalli plays Destiny (24-1) in a semifinal and will need Chombi and Lambert to play well from the perimeter. How the Jets win state: Roncalli needs to hit shoot well and build momentum early in games and once that happens it will believe it belongs despite the record.

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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) - 3:30 p.m.

Division 4

Cameron (23-3) vs. Darlington (26-0) - 6:35 p.m.

Roncalli (13-13) vs. Destiny (23-1) - 8:15 p.m.

FRIDAY

Division 5

McDonell Central Catholic (24-3) vs. Shullsburg (25-2) - 9:05 a.m.

Columbus Catholic (25-2) vs. Barneveld (24-3) - 11 a.m.

Division 2

La Crosse Central (24-2) vs. Waunakee (24-2) - 1:35 p.m.

Cedarburg (24-2) vs. Milwaukee Washington (22-4) - 3:30 p.m.

Division 1

Stevens Point (22-4) vs. Madison Memorial (23-3) - 6:35 p.m.

Arrowhead (21-5) vs. Brookfield Central (24-2) - 8:30 p.m.

SATURDAY

3-Point Challenge - 9:30 a.m.

Division 5 Championship Game - 11:05 a.m.

Division 4 Championship Game - 1 p.m.

Division 3 Championship Game - 2:45 p.m.

Division 4 Championship Game - 6:35 p.m.

Division 1 Championship Game - 8:30 p.m.

Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay


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