No one expected the South Shore High School girls' basketball team to be playing this late in the season when arrangements were being made last year to send the school's band to Seattle.
Located on Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin, South Shore's entire enrollment numbers 42 students. Of the 11 girls on the basketball team, nine also play in the 14-piece band. Because the Cardinals won't be able to put five players on the court to start a sectional semifinal game today in accordance with Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association rules, the team was forced to forfeit. Mellen High School, the team South Shore defeated in the regional finals, will advance instead.
South Shore's tournament run included a fourth-quarter rally from 12 points down to eliminate Winter, the number-one seed in the regional. When the Cardinals faced Mellen last Saturday night, all but two of the band members on the team had already boarded a train for the West Coast. Playing with only one reserve on the bench, South Shore won the championship handily, 65-53.
Wearing many hats is common at South Shore. The school's superintendant/principal/director of education Clendon Gustafson, whose sophomore daughter Emily plays basketball and the flute, said in the wake of Saturday's game, "We have the regional championship plaque, and we're hoping we don't have to give it back."
WIAA director of communications Todd Clark told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he couldn't recall another basketball team forfeiting a trip to sectionals for lack of enough players.
"It was really hard to find out that we didn't have the opportunity to play at sectionals after all our hard work," team member Andrea Tuura told Journal Sentinel reporter Meg Jones. "It was just really hard and upsetting, but we're glad we made it that far, because that was a big deal for us."