For the past four seasons, it has been one heartbreak after another for the Ripon College men’s basketball team in the Midwest Conference Tournament.

   It lost in the first round (semifinals) of the competition each time, including a 58-55 defeat to Carroll last year in which it had an open 3-pointer at the buzzer, but could not get the shot to fall.

   All of those bad memories were forgotten last week Saturday.

   For the first time in 15 years, the Red Hawks can call themselves Midwest Conference Tournament Champions as they  defeated Lake Forest 81-72 at the Kress Events Center in Green Bay.

   With the win, they also earned an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, which begins this weekend. They will play Washington University-St. Louis Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Hope College in Holland, Mich.

  “It’s extremely gratifying,” Ripon head coach Ryan Kane said of winning the tournament championship. “Maybe less so for myself and more so for the players, just because I know how hard they’ve worked and some of the disappointments we’ve had over the years. I’m excited that they can be mentioned in the same breath as some of those other great teams that we’ve honored here in years past.”

   Senior Ty Sabin added some of the past failures made them better.

   “I think it kind of had to happen,” he said of the prior tournament losses. “We had to go through the tough parts to get through it and it made it feel so much better to finally be able to do it.”

Read the full story, which includes information on how the Red Hawks' season nearly came to an end again in the semifinals and who played the hero, in the March 2, 2017 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.