MILWAUKEE — Championship Sunday of the 55th annual Padre Serra Tournament was worth every penny and more of the $4 admission fee at Mount Mary College. The final day of the tournament was filled with so many highlights, it could have created its own ESPN Top 10 list.
In the boys’ bracket, the championship game was between overall tournament favorite Christ King, Wauwatosa, and Blessed Savior, Milwaukee, a top contender.
The lead changed hands several times, with Blessed Savior poised for the upset as it held a 10-point lead. With less than a minute to play, the Wildcats led 27-24.
Christ King’s Ryan Coffey hit a 3-pointer, but it was waved off by the officials because a timeout had been called by the Cavaliers’ head coach Chris Coffey, father of Ryan, before the shot.
Immediately after the timeout, Ryan Coffey made another 3-pointer, tying the game with 15 seconds left. After a Blessed Savior turnover underneath its basket, Christ King had .9 seconds to win the game, but Ryan Coffey’s tip shot clanked off the back of the rim, taking the game into the first two-minute overtime.
Blessed Savior’s Damon Jackson found Tyler Young who nailed a jump shot, giving the Wildcats a 2-point lead. With 10 seconds left, Christ King missed the game winning 3-pointer, but Ryan Coffey put back the rebound to tie the game at 29, and taking it into a second overtime.
Jackson kept control of the ball for more than a minute by dribbling around Cavalier defenders. But after a missed shot by the Wildcats, the Cavaliers called timeout with less than a minute left.
Coming out of the timeout, the Wildcats double-teamed Ryan Coffey, allowing Ben O’Connell to hit a wide open 3-pointer with 16 seconds left. The Wildcats final shot was off, giving Christ King the championship, 32-29.
“It’s probably the greatest game I’ve ever seen at the grade school level,” Chris Coffey said. “Blessed Savior is the toughest team we’ve played all year. They’re very well coached, they got a great point guard…. I knew it was coming down to the horn.”
He said this team has been preparing for four years to win this game and that it meant a lot to each of them.
“They practice their butts off,” Chris Coffey said.
Ryan Coffey finished with 18 points and was named tournament MVP, while O’Connell finished with 10 points. For the Wildcats, Damon Jackson scored 13 points and Marcellus Jackson had 12.
The girls’ championship game matched the top teams, St. John Vianney/St. Mary Visitation, Brookfield/Elm Grove, against St. Leonard, Muskego.
The game was almost a blowout as the Shamrocks were up 18-3, but St. Leonard closed the gap to 18-8 by halftime.
From the beginning of the second half St. Leonard’s defense was smothering, causing countless turnovers. Going into the fourth quarter, the Trojans trailed 28-27.
The teams traded baskets and the Shamrocks tried to pull away, leading 34-33 with 16 seconds left, but St. Leonard had the ball.
With the crowd on its feet, the Trojans took a shot and missed with less than 10 seconds left but got the rebound and kicked it out to Taylor Simkowski who banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer for St. Leonard’s 36-34 victory.
“We drew up a play from the sideline and the girls tried to run it but it didn’t work,” St. Leonard head coach Dave Schnittka said. “(Simkowski) has been a great outside shooter for us all year and we were very fortunate we got the ball to go down. It could’ve gone either way.”
Schnittka said the game looked “bleak,” but the girls never gave up.
“We told them in the locker room at halftime, this game is far from over,” Schnittka said. “They bought into that and came out swinging in the second half.”
Schnittka said the season has had some ups and downs; they had played the Shamrocks twice and lost both times.
“They’re an excellent team,” Schnittka said. “We knew if we faced them it was going to be a real battle.”
Simkowski finished with 10 points and was the tournament MVP. Coach Schnittka’s daughter, Lexi, had seven points. For the Shamrocks, Jennifer Wandt had 14 points and Amanda Miller and Victoria Kost scored five each.
The girls’ consolation game featured Holy Apostles, New Berlin, and St. Sebastian, Milwaukee.
With the game tied at 27, St. Sebastian hit a jump shot to take a 29-27 lead with less than a minute to go. Holy Apostles came down and missed the shot to tie but fouled St. Sebastian who was in the bonus but was only able to make one free throw, making the score 30-27.
Coming out of a timeout, with 30 seconds on the clock, Holy Apostles worked the ball until the final second when the Chargers hit a desperation 3-pointer, sending the game into overtime. However, St. Sebastian prevailed, 35-32.
In the boys’ consolation game, St. Joseph, Big Bend, downed St. Alphonsus, Greendale, 32-24.
Bob Roloff, Padre selection committee member, said this tournament was one of the best in years, and that the tournament had never had a day with so many tight games.
“I thought there was a lot of excitement,” Roloff said. “You’re hoping there’s a lot of close games, some buzzer beaters, but it just seems like there were more this year.”
The gym was packed for every game on Sunday.
“It seemed like we had bigger crowds,” Roloff said. “We gain more interest and more people with each passing year.”
Feedback about the way the tournament was run, and the respectful crowd behavior was almost all positive, said Roloff.
“I’m really sad when the season comes to an end,” he added.