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Basketball: Rippee tabbed as new Bentonville boys coach

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BENTONVILLE -- Dick Rippee has become very familiar with Northwest Arkansas over the past few years, and now he'll get the chance to become even more acquainted with the area.

The 49-year-old Rippee was chosen to become Bentonville High's new boys basketball coach, pending board approval. The announcement was made Wednesday afternoon by athletic director Scott Passmore, who will recommend his hiring during a May 1 school board meeting.

At a glance

Dick Rippee Coaching Record

at Springfield (Mo.) Kickapoo

Season^Overall^Conf.

2009-10^17-11^6-3

2010-11^24-4^8-1*

2011-12^20-8^7-2

2012-13^22-7^8-1

2013-14^21-6^8-1*

2014-15^24-5^8-1*

2015-16^29-3^9-0*

2016-17^26-5^9-0*

Total^183-49^57-6

*— share or won outright conference championship

NOTABLE The Chiefs finished third among Missouri’s Class 5 teams this season after a state runner-up finishes the previous season … Previous to his tenure at Kickapoo, Rippee served as an assistant coach at Evangel University, an NAIA school in Springfield, and also served four years at Springfield Parkview, where his teams compiled a 67-42 record and won a conference championship in 2001.

"My family loves the area down there," Rippee said. "Bentonville is a great job and a great community, and I'm looking forward to having the opportunity of working down there and making better players, as well as better men."

Rippee has been the head coach at Springfield (Mo.) Kickapoo for the past eight years, where his teams compiled an impressive 183-49 record (.789 winning percentage) during that time. The Chiefs just finished a 26-5 campaign this year that included a third-place finish among Missouri's Class 5 teams, and they went 29-3 and finished as state runner-up the previous year.

Passmore said he had hoped to have a replacement in three weeks after Jason McMahan resigned on April 7 to pursue similar opportunities in the African country of Mali. He didn't need that much time as Rippee was chosen out of 20 applicants, four of which were interviewed.

"We had outstanding candidates for the job," Passmore said. "We were excited about the process. At the end, coach Rippee came out as our number one choice, and we have a guy that is a seasoned coach with great experience in the state of Missouri.

"He's proven himself as a successful coach, but the most important thing, that he's a man of great character and great morals. I think he will bring those aspects to our program, and he'll continue what coach McMahan and his staff have started. They did an outstanding job, and I think coach Rippee can bring some characteristics and keep the program going in the right direction."

Rippee's familiarity with area basketball comes from bringing his Kickapoo teams to the Bulldog Classic in Fayetteville in previous years, but volleyball also has played a big role. He made a number of trips for his daughter Rachel to play club volleyball in the Ozark Juniors program and continued those trips this fall while she played at Arkansas.

He was also a finalist for the Bentonville West job last season, but he took his name out of consideration for personal reasons, saying the timing for such a move wasn't right. Now he inherits a Bentonville team that finished 16-11 overall and 12-2 in 7A-West Conference play with a share of the league title. It will include two returning starters in rising senior Asa Hutchinson IV and rising junior Michael Shanks.

"I feel I'm leaving one of the top public jobs in Missouri," Rippee said. "Add to that the fact Kickapoo is home. I'm a Kickapoo alum, my wife is a Kickapoo alum and so are my kids.

"But I feel we are called to do this. As I toured the high school and was getting to know some of the people, I sensed what a great amount of pride people have there -- for their building, their high school, their district and their community. It's an exciting opportunity for me and my family."

Rippee said his Kickapoo teams liked to play an up-tempo style of basketball, and he plans on bringing the same style to Bentonville -- whether it's in practice or in game situations. He also stresses his teams to be fundamentally sound, well-prepared and ready to compete.

"I was blessed to have some great players at Kickapoo, but this is a team game," Rippee said. "That's important to me, and our players bought into it. I'm hoping the players at Bentonville will do the same thing."

Sports on 04/20/2017

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