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The IHSA Boys Basketball State Tournament will crown a champion this weekend for the first time in three years. The event was postponed in 2020 because of COVID-19, and the virus also prevented a postseason tournament from being played last year.

Several Chicago-area schools are making the trip down state, including DePaul College Prep who plays Nashville in the 2-A Semifinals this afternoon at 4 p.m.

Tom Kleinschmidt’s Rams finished 3rd at State in 2019, and were the top ranked team in Illinois last season.

DePaul has replaced its entire starting lineup from that squad, with a group of young men who waited patiently for their time to shine.

“It’s been a tough two-year stretch, they only really got half a year in,” Kleinschmidt said. “So they overcame some adversity and it kind of translated on the court individually. We have five kids who are new starters, we’ve gotten better along the year, we’ve hit some bumps in the road but they’ve really accepted their role. We’ve seen great improvement the last month-and-a-half and it’s gotten us on a nice run here.”

“We’ve been here all four years, worked really hard, lot of 5 a.m. wakeups,” said DePaul Prep senior center Dylan Arnett. “So it would mean a lot to us, since freshmen we’ve always dreamed of putting a banner up there.”

“It’s a lot of emotions, excited to be here, waited four years behind a lot of great guys, looking to keep the legacy going on and make some history and hopefully bring back a championship,” said senior guard Alex Gutierrez.

“I’m very excited, we get to do it with a group of guys, we’ve been waiting four years so very excited to take advantage of this opportunity,” added senior guard Trevon Thomas.

“I’m very excited, we’ve been there before freshman year, so another chance to go there and have some fun, but we are also very serious, focused and take it as a business trip,” senior guard Julian Green.