COLUMBIA – Seven Kickapoo seniors got to close their basketball careers with a win.
Kickapoo (26-5) defeated Chaminade 89-78 in the third-place game of the 2017 Class 5 boys basketball playoffs at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. Less than 24 hours after a 58-57 loss to Webster Groves in the semifinals, Kickapoo rebounded to end the season with a win.
Five Chiefs players scored in double figures, led by Cameron Davis with 29 points.
“I got emotional out there because I know this is one of the biggest parts of my life, for sure, but we ended it the right way,” Davis said.
Xavier basketball signee Jared Ridder scored 19 points in the final game of his high school career.
“It was a pride game. We just wanted to come out and get the win and end our seasons on a win,” Ridder said. “I just wanted to go out and play for my teammates because of all of the stuff that they’ve done for me.”
Kickapoo coach Dick Rippee didn’t see the second half of the game. Rippee was assessed two technical fouls in a span of nine seconds of game time in the 15th minute of the game and was ejected.
“As a coach, you never want to—the thing that hurts me the most about what happened to me personally, it’s not about me, was that I didn’t get to be out there with my guys the last half of their careers,” Rippee said. “That’s disappointing. I didn’t think it was deserving.”
Rippee received the first technical for protesting a foul called against Ridder, who was battling for position on the blocks as a Chaminade player shot a free throw.
“I just thought it was a ticky tack foul and so I said as much, and never used any curse words or anything like that,” Rippee said. “I just asked for an explanation, ‘Come over and tell me what I said,’ and that’s when he ejected me for asking for an explanation.”
Rippee has been a high school basketball head coach for a total of 12 seasons, and Saturday was the first time he has ever been ejected from a game.
With assistant coach Brad Brummel calling sets, Kickapoo went to the locker room at halftime trailing by a point.
“It kind of fired us up to see (Rippee) fight for us like that,” Ridder said.
Rippee had no way to watch the second half, so he turned to his daughter, University of Arkansas volleyball player and Kickapoo graduate Rachel Rippee. The coach estimates he received about 100 text messages in the second half.
“I was getting continual updates,” Rippee said. “My daughter is a text machine, I can tell you that. She’s texting away, adding little quips in there with her play-by-play.”
The Chiefs poured down 48 points in the second half. Donyae McCaskill finished with 11 points, senior Isaac Blakeslee scored 10, and Rutgers football signee Travis Vokolek scored a career-high 18 points.
“My daughter kept texting me, ‘Travis with a dunk. Travis with a dunk,’” Rippee said.
Kickapoo showed the sort of offensive balance Rippee believed in and felt went overlooked all season.
“There’s been a lot of attention on individuals and rightly so, I’m not saying they’re not deserving. I just think people missed out on the opportunity to get to know our team, because it’s a special team,” Rippee said.
In the past four years, Kickapoo’s boys basketball record stands at 100-18.
“It’s special for sure. We’ve been with these guys for four years, longer than that for some of us. A hundred wins? That’s incredible for a high school career,” Davis said.
Kickapoo’s seniors are Davis, Ridder, Vokolek, Blakeslee, Mitch Closser, Jackson Auer and Corey Dye. Davis hopes his class of seniors helped continue a proud tradition of basketball. He remembers watching the Chiefs play under Hall of Fame coach Roy Green as a youngster.
“I feel like we’ve created a standard here at Kickapoo that was set before we got here. As fourth-graders, we saw what they were doing and we wanted to be just like them. I feel like we added to the legacy of Kickapoo basketball,” Davis said.
Chaminade (24-7) carries a tradition with it as well. Under Drury University graduate Frank Bennett, the Red Devils have been to the semifinals for three years in a row and defeated Kickapoo in the state championship final in 2016. Reggie Crawford, a senior committed to play football at South Dakota, scored 41 points for Chaminade in his final game.
Bennett attributed key performances in the third-place game to seniority.
“The biggest thing is when players become seniors, something happens. They just—they want to win,” Bennett said. “Cameron Davis is a man. He’s a senior, and he played like it as well, and same with Jared Ridder.”
High school boys basketball Class 5 third place game
Kickapoo 89, Chaminade 78
At Mizzou Arena, Columbia
Kickapoo—Cameron Davis 29, Jared Ridder 19, Travis Vokolek 18, Donyae McCaskill 11, Isaac Blakeslee 10, Mitch Closser 2
Chaminade—Reggie Crawford 41, Luke Kasubke 9, Jericole Hellems 9, Dylan Branson 6, Keyyaun Batchman 4, Karrington Davis 4, Liam Courtney 3, Jadis White 2.