March madness has officially come to Wisconsin with the opening of the 55th annual Padre Serra Tournament.
The most thrilling game in the opening round in the boys bracket occurred March 10 when St. Francis Borgia, Cedarburg upset St. Sebastian, Milwaukee, in a double-overtime victory, 42-41. It was the second win of the weekend for St. Francis Borgia; the first, a 42-22 win over St. Charles, Hartland, on March 7.
St. Francis Borgia is the only team to have won twice in the opening weekend this tournament. The Knights await the winner of Holy Apostles, New Berlin, and St. John Vianney, Brookfield, on March 14.
The tournament continues the weekends of March 14-17, 21-24 at Mount Mary College, Milwaukee.
During the first weekend on the boys’ side, St. Joseph, Kenosha, defeated St. Mary, Burlington, 44-26, and moved on to play Christ King, Wauwatosa, a team that is undefeated in conference play, March 14.
Other winners from the boys’ tournament include Messmer Preparatory, Milwaukee; St. Mary, Hales Corners; St. Lucy, Racine; St. Mary, Elm Grove; St. Boniface, Germantown; Holy Family, Whitefish Bay; Brookfield Academy, Brookfield; and St. Charles, Burlington.
It was a rough weekend for Menomonee Falls teams. St. Anthony, Menomonee Falls, defeated Port Washington Catholic, 36-29, but lost to University School, Milwaukee, 37-28. St. Mary, Menomonee Falls, defeated St. Joseph, Kenosha, 42-30, but lost to St. Joseph, Big Bend, 47-31.
On the girls’ side, there were several close games.
St. Joan of Arc, Nashotah, beat Christ King, Wauwatosa, 15-13. Prairie School, Racine, defeated St. Robert, Shorewood, 23-20. St. Charles, Hartland, defeated St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Sheboygan, 27-24.
Other winners from the girls’ tournament include Waukesha Catholic; Divine Mercy, South Milwaukee; and St. Joseph, Wauwatosa.
St. John the Baptist, Plymouth topped St. Charles, Burlington, 53-9. The Jaguars move on to play St. Matthias, Milwaukee, on March 17.
For the second time in three years, the number of girls’ teams had to be reduced from 40 to 24. Padre officials say there are a number of reasons for the change, including merging teams, lack of interest and overall team record.
“We took as many teams as we could,” Bob Roloff, Padre Serra Tournament selection committee member, said.
Roloff said despite the smaller amount of girls’ teams he expects to see some competitive games.
“There’s going to be some barn burners,” he said.
Overall, Roloff said, there are a lot of good teams this year and the tournament is “deeper than in past years.”
“Even the teams seeded a 6 or 7 are good enough to give teams at 3 or 2 a good game,” Roloff said.
Tony Gahn, co-director of the Padre Serra Tournament and a member of the Serra Club, which sponsors the tournament, said the main purpose of the tournament is to promote vocations.
“We’re eternally grateful for the teams and the stature that the tournament has brought,” Gahn said. “But the real goal here … this is a vehicle for everybody in the archdiocese to come to these games, participate and be spectators and support vocations. Because that’s where the money goes.”
Gahn said the tournament doesn’t happen without the volunteers from the Serra Club.
“It’s amazing to me the time and effort that a lot of these people put into it,” Gahn said. He called it a hand-in-hand situation.
“We’re grateful to put that tournament on and we’re grateful that it’s embraced by so many people in the archdiocese,” Gahn said. “They charter buses from Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, and Racine and who knows from where else, to bring their kids, their fan base, over to Mount Mary to see them play.”
Last year the championship games of the boys’ and girls’ tournaments were streamed online and got more than 1,000 views each. Gahn said it is unclear if the games will be streamed online this year, but if they are, it will be for the championship games.