When spectators crammed into the Mount Mary University gym Sunday, March 23, they came to cheer for their favorite teams in the 56th annual Padre Serra Tournament, but also to possibly witness history.
“There has never been a boys’ and girls’ championship won by the same school in the same year,” Bob Roloff, tournament selection committee member, said.
St. Dominic, Brookfield, attempted to make Wisconsin eighth-grade boys’ and girls’ Padre Serra basketball history as both teams made it to the championship games.
The St. Dominic girls fell a point short of that milestone.
On the boys’ side, St. Dominic went head to head with Holy Apostles, New Berlin.
Holy Apostles wore warm-up shirts with the words “Yellow For Greg,” and the name Von Rueden on the left sleeve in memory of Greg Von Rueden, a 2012 graduate of Holy Apostles who died Jan. 20. His cousin Jack is a member of the Holy Apostles team coached by Jeff Barth.
In the student section, fans wore yellow T-shirts with the words “Yellow For Greg” on them and the team wore matching tie-dyed socks in the emotionally-charged game.
“This isn’t the first, but it’s been a while since I could recall a situation like this,” Roloff said of a school rallying around a student during the tournament.
During the national anthem, St. Dominic players stood in line with arms around each other, and in the pre-game opening huddle, Fr. Brad Krawczyk, associate pastor, prayed with the players.
After the first quarter St. Dominic led, 11-6, but a strong second quarter by Holy Apostles’ Bryce Miller, who scored nine of his 14 points in those six minutes, gave Holy Apostles a 19-16 halftime lead.
In the second half, the Knights’ Patrick Cartier contributed 11 points to the team’s 39-37 victory.
It was the second Padre Serra championship for St. Dominic head coach, Quentin Cartier. He won his first in 2012 with another of his sons on the team. This year, twins Patrick and Everett, joined their older brother, Dominic, as champions.
Cartier said the game wasn’t easy.
“We had to make sure we were playing tough ‘D,’ putting hands up and just relying on each other,” he said.
Cartier said they started the year undefeated but struggled through January, losing eight games.
“We really did come together as a team,” he said.
He noted it was important to include Fr. Krawczyk in team activities.
“We wanted to make sure we connect our faith with our performance,” he said. “It was really important to me and hopefully it rubs off on some of the kids.”
On the girls’ side, St. Matthew/Divine Mercy, of Oak Creek and South Milwaukee, respectively, held hands and swung their arms in synchronization during the national anthem.
Right before tip-off, St. Dominic’s starting five ran into the stands and high-fived their fans to get them pumped up for the game.
St. Matthew/Divine Mercy played St. Dominic, coached by Joe Pink, well, but led at the end of each quarter by only a few points.
Down 32-29 in the fourth quarter, Kathleen Hirsch of St. Dominic was fouled in the act of shooting a three pointer, and made one of three free throw attempts.
A last second, three-point basket by Nicole Pink wasn’t enough to put it into overtime, as St. Matthew/Divine Mercy won 35-34.
St. Matthew/Divine Mercy head coach Dan Lownik knew his team was in for a close game.
“St. Dominic’s is a great basketball team. We’ve played them a couple of times over the last few years; we have great battles every single time we play them,” he said. “They’re well coached, disciplined, they can shoot the three, they can drive, so we respect them.”
“These girls have been with me for four years; they’ve grown figuratively and literally,” Lownik said.