SMALL SCHOOL'S IMPROBABLE POST-SEASON
Mike Fields, Herald-Leader Staff Writer
Bishop Brossart basketball coach Willie Schlarman was as popular as onion breath a couple of months ago.
It seemed everybody in the small Catholic school in Campbell County turned their heads when they saw
"Nobody talked to me in the hall, and nobody smiled at me," he said. "I was not a popular guy."
His sin was that he had meted out penance to his team coming off a loss to Nicholas County in the All "A" regional playoffs. He
called for rough-and-tumble 7 a.m. "boot camp" practices, and then really shook things up by starting his junior varsity players
for two straight games.
"It was not a happy time," Schlarman said.
Oh, how times change.
When Bishop Brossart won its first-ever regional title last week, Schlarman probably could have
been elected Pope.
And when the Mustangs upset Graves County 47-40 in the first round of the Sweet Sixteen
yesterday, Schlarman admitted to thinking about an even higher calling.
"We just went above Cloud 9," he said giddily.
Bishop Brossart, the second smallest school (enrollment: 398) in the state tournament, played
out a huge fantasy just by getting to Rupp Arena, the home of the Mustangs' beloved UK Wildcats.
"It's just a dream to play out there on that floor," said a dewy-eyed senior Jeff Clark.
Playing out there was enough; winning wasn't supposed to be part of the experience.
Graves County, which has about 1,000 more students than Bishop Brossart, was making its fifth Sweet Sixteen appearance in
eight years, and it had lost only one game to a Kentucky opponent this season. Coach Allan Hatcher's Eagles were well-disciplined
and fundamentally sound.
But the Mustangs had the same assets, plus a little more quickness than Graves County, and perhaps a little more magic.
Schlarman said his team suffered "heartbreak" in February with a series of narrow defeats, and it lost five of its last six
regular-season games. But once the district tournament came around, everything changed.
"Sometimes when you figure out what it takes to win ball games, the magic keeps repeating itself," Schlarman said.
Yesterday the Mustangs' magic included rallying from a seven-point halftime deficit to take the lead
early in the fourth quarter. Nick "Zig" Ziegler, a 5-foot-6 junior guard, came off the bench to hit
a pair of three-pointers to spark the comeback.
Once Bishop Brossart got the lead, it protected it as if it were gold, using a patient,
Chris Ryan's layup off a nifty feed from Justin Seiter put the Mustangs ahead to stay at 36-35, and
Scott Ruth scored on an out-of-bounds play to push the lead to 38-35.
Seiter's rebound basket on a blocked shot stretched the advantage to 40-35, and green-clad Bishop
Brossart was feeling confident about playing today on St. Patrick's Day.
Graves County's Tyler Wiles briefly kept his team's hopes alive with a three-pointer to make it 40-38
with 2:40 left, but the Eagles wouldn't score again until the closing seconds.
The Mustangs, on the other hand, stayed in stride, with Ruth and Clark taking it to the basket to seal their team's 20th win of the
"You won't hear any excuses from us," Hatcher said. "(Brossart) played really well the second half and took it to us.
"This is a tough loss for us. We thought we'd win this game."
Hatcher thought the turning point came in the opening minutes of the second half.
"Our first five possessions of the third quarter, we had three transition chances we didn't capitalize on," he said. "That was the big
difference in the game because they got the momentum."
Ruth led Bishop Brossart with 16 points and six rebounds. Clark had eight points. Seiter added six points, eight rebounds, four
blocks and three steals, not to mention some tough defense on Graves' Wes Johnson in the second half.
Johnson finished with 15 points and eight rebounds for the Eagles.
And so Bishop Brossart's unlikely post-season continues as it takes on Russellville in tonight's quarterfinals.
Who would've thought so a couple of months ago when the Mustangs and their coach were at odds with one another.
All that's forgotten now, though, as the team has given its school a special way to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
"I think they like me again," Schlarman said with a smile.
BISHOP BROSSART (47)
NAME mi fg-a 3-pt ft-a rb a pf tp: Ziegler 23 2-3 2-3 0-0 0 0 3 6, Lloyd 10 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 3 0 0, Ruth 32 5-5 2-2 4-6 6 0 1 16,
Ryan 26 3-13 0-5 0-0 1 2 1 6, Clark 24 3-7 0-0 2-2 3 2 2 8, Luschek 5 0-0 0-0 1-2 0 0 0 1,
Enzweiler 9 2-2 0-0 0-0 2 0 3 4, Seiter 31 3-10 0-2 0-0 8 2 2 6, Totals 160 18-40 4-12 7-10 24 9 12 47
GRAVES CO. (40)
Elliott 16 2-7 2-5 0-0 2 1 0 6, Wiles 17 1-5 1-5 0-0 4 1 3 3, Hatcher 32 2-6 0-1 0-0 4 3 2 4,
Manning 27 1-4 0-1 0-0 2 5 1 2, James 12 2-3 0-0 0-0 3 0 2 4, Wilkerson 21 2-8 0-0 0-0 2 0 0 4
Johnson 32 6-6 0-0 3-6 8 1 4 15, Hatchell 3 1-1 0-0 0-1 0 0 0 2 Totals 160 17-40 3-12 3-7 26 11 12 40
Bishop Brossart 9 7 14 17--47 Graves Co. 12 11 8 9--40
Field-goal shooting: Bishop Brossart 45.0, Graves Co. 42.5. Free-throw shooting: Bishop Brossart 70.0, Graves Co. 42.9.
Technicals: none. Turnovers: Bishop Brossart 12 (Ruth 4, Clark 3, Seiter 3, Ziegler 1, Ryan 1), Graves Co. 16 (Hatcher 6,
Manning 5, Elliott 1, James 1, Wilkerson 1, Johnson 1, Hatchell 1). Blocked shots: Bishop Brossart 4 (Seiter 4), Graves Co. 3
(Johnson 2, James 1). Officials: Roger Cross, Jerry Hurley, Bruce Morris. Attendance: 12,364.
Records: Bishop Brossart 20-12, Graves Co. 27-4.
* Next: vs. Russellville (27-5), 7 tonight
|The morning after our improbable win over Graves County in the opening round of the 2000 "Sweet Sixteen" the
Mustangs were greeted by a quarter page picture of then-sophomores Michael Eten, Chad Bertke, and Brandon Seiter
celebrating our win on the front page of the Lexington Herald-Leader Sports Page accompanied by the following article.
One of my favorite memories of that morning are that as the team passed through Cracker Barrel to be seated for
breakfast several tables of State Tournament fans gave us a round of applause, and many stopped over to congratulate
us and wish us well in our quarter-final game against Russellville later that night.
Senior Captain Justin Seiter was quoted as saying, "We Are Being Treated Like Gods"
and for that particular morning, gods they were.