ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: State boys basketball preview

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The State Boys Basketball Tournament tips off Thursday in Madison and a couple of area teams will be making repeat appearances, McDonell Central in Division 5 and Cameron in Division 4. Chance Dickman has a preview with the Macks and Comets in our Osseo Automotive Athlete of the Week.

2016 ended golden for McDonell Central as they won their first ever state title. And now in 2017, the Macks get a crack at defending their Division 5 crown down in Madison.

"It means a lot to be honest," senior guard Wes Benish said. "I'm a little emotional about it and hopefully we can get it and shed the tears afterwards."

"It's definitely special," senior forward Grayson Knowlton added. "I don't think any us really thought about this when we were coming into high school that we could do something like this. I think it would be really awesome to get that back-to-back."

"It was great. It's something that I've been thinking about all year and wanted to do it again as a senior," senior forward Alex Ohde explained. "I'm hoping that we can do it again."

McDonell's road to the Kohl Center had its bumps along the way, but with one goal in mind, the Macks got back on track.

"We had to work hard to get it done both offensively and defensively. We weren't just going to win games because we showed up," head coach Archie Sherbinow said.

"We just had to focus on this year and not listen to what other people were saying about how good we were supposed to be," Ohde added. "We just had to focus on our game and take it one game at a time."

"After that beginning to the season, we were able to really lock in on what we needed to do. I think towards the second half of the season we were able to see the changes we did make and how well they worked out for us," Knowlton said.

And in Division 4, Cameron will also be making its second straight trip to Madison. The Comets qualified for the State Tournament for the first time in school history last season, and they're pumped for another chance to play at the Kohl Center."

"It feels great after all the work we've put in over the offseason and summer and all the way through this season," junior guard Gunner Wilder said. "It's great to be able to show them what we've got."

"It's just an amazing experience. I mean last year was really special being the first time, but this year is just as special," head coach Troy LaVallie added. "This group of kids really came together throughout the year. We've just really come together as a team."

After beating Amherst in the semifinals last season, the Comets fell to Dominican in the title game. A silver ball finish was great, but they've got their eyes on a different prize this time around.

"We'd love to get a gold one, of course," Wilder said. "That silver one kind of stung last year to the five-time state champs, but we think we have what it takes to be able to get that gold one this year."

"Silver is great and all, and it's sitting in the trophy case reminding me every day of how well we did last year," senior forward Josh Koenecke explained. "Gold is the ultimate goal and I think it would be incredible to pull away from Madison with that."

Reporting for SportScene 13, I'm Chance Dickman.

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