Photo by Jeff Vorva
Assistant coach Alex Shimko hugs his sister, Kara, as Erin Foley and Kelly Mason sadly look on after Queen of Peace lost the final game in school history Monday night. The school is set to close after this school year.
In light of the school closing after this semester, the happy ending would have been for Queen of Peace’s basketball team to go out and win the Illinois High School Association Class 3A girls basketball state championship.
But that didn’t happen. Simeon, the third-seeded team in the De La Salle Sectional, knocked off second-seeded Queen of Peace, 50-39, Monday night in De La Salle’s field house in the sectional semifinals. It was still one of the best seasons in Queen of Peace’s history.
Another happy ending would be if the eight varsity players left on this 28-4 team would all find a home together next season. With St. Laurence going coed next school year, outside speculation is that they will all head next door with Pride coach George Shimko leading the way.
But that might not be the case.
“We don’t know what the situation is with everybody,” Shimko said. “We’re going to just let the players breathe now. We don’t know the St. Laurence side of things. It would be great if we all stuck together and went there – or anywhere – as a team.
“Being fair to St. Laurence, they have a tough situation, too. It’s brand new and they have to figure out how everything is going to work. They need time to breathe, too.’’
Shimko said if a job opens at St. Laurence, he would be interested.
Meanwhile, the players are not sure where everyone would end up.
“I would love to play with all of them again, but I don’t think we will end up at the same place,” said junior Ashley Murphy, who led the Pride with 13 points against Simeon. “I really wish we would but people have to do what’s best for them. Queen of Peace was the best fit for all of us but there is not a second school that is good for all of us.’’
Senior Kara Shimko, who added 12 points, said that the mid-January news that the school was going to close because of finances “was like getting hit by a bus.’’
The players are still in shock.
“I think it will always be there,” Murphy said. “At the end of the year when we realize we will not be coming back, it will be just as sad as they day we found out.’’
Simeon grabbed an 18-2 lead and while the Pride was able to cut the deficit to 25-21 at halftime, it was never able to take a second-half lead.