Photos by Jeff Vorva
The final game at Queen of Peace in late January was sad (bottom photo) but things were a lot happier at the historic first girls basketball game at St. Laurence on Nov. 28 (top photo).
Many sports outcomes are judged by wins and losses.
This one, however, is judges by tears and smiles.
When Queen of Peace officials shocked the south suburbs in January by announcing the school was closing, the basketball team was going through one of its best seasons in school history. The team was hit hard by the news and during its final home game ever against Kennedy, I took photo of underclassmen on the bench during a Senior Night speech and the players were crying and looking as miserable as you could look.
I still feel bad every time I see it.
Well, 11 months later, we have come full circle.
Neighboring St. Laurence opened its doors to girls for the first time and many players on coach George Shimko’s final team at Queen of Peace are now on his first team at St. Laurence. They switched from green and white to black and gold. They went from being the Pride to proudly being the Vikings.
After playing a handful of games at a Thanksgiving tournament in Beecher, the Vikings played their first home game in their new gym on Nov. 28.
And then came the full-circle moment.
It didn’t come on the scoreboard as the team dropped a 48-41 decision to DePaul Prep in front of a few hundred fans.
It came before the opening tipoff.
It actually came a few seconds after the National Anthem and a few second before the starters were announced.
With Alan Parsons Project music in the background a la’ the Chicago Bulls and public address announcer Pat Griffin was yelling at the crowd to go crazy, the players on the bench were smiling and yukking it up.
Yep – full circle.
“It doesn’t matter if we won or lost –we were together,” senior Erin Foley said. “All during school, I pictured myself at Peace and it was weird coming here after school and this being our home gym. The fans were really welcoming and it thought it was a really good turnout. ‘’
Foley scored 12 points and had four rebounds and two assists in the home debut. Ashley Murphy had 12 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Ashley Kevin added eight points and four rebounds.
Kevin said that she appreciates the “support and love” from those who helped her and her teammates make this unexpected transformation. A year ago, no one saw this coming.
“It’s definitely crazy,” she said. “If you asked me a year ago what I would be doing senior year, I would not have expected this.’’
Here are a few photos from the first St. Laurence girls basketball home game: