Park girl's fans champions, tooBy Gery Woelfel Journal Times March 16, 1997
MADISON - They're state champions. As for the Park High School girls' basketball team's fans, you'd have to call them champions, too.
Park put the finishing touches on the first-ever WIAA state title by a Racine girls' basketball team with a 59-31 victory over three-time defending Division 1 champion Milwaukee Washington Saturday night in the University of Wisconsin Field House.
Park junior forward Amy Zelinger, left, and Milwaukee Washington's Markeisha Morris chase down a loose ball during Saturday's WIAA Division 1 state championship game in the University of Wisconsin Field House in Madison. Zelinger scored nine points and Park beat three-time defending champion Washington 59-31. The WIAA basketball championship is the first-ever by a Racine girls' team.
Vesna Franklin, a seventh grader at Mitchell Middle School, made the trip to Mad Town for the state tournament and enjoyed every minute.
Franklin was part of a contingent that included her mother, Armintta, her sister, Laquisha, and cousin, Chavela Velasquez.
Franklin had a vested interest in being here: cheering on Krisey Sanders, a starting guard for Park.
"I'm a friend of Krisey Sanders and I wanted to cheer for her," Vesna said. "She was great; they were all great. Everything about being here was exciting."
While Franklin's interest in Park's team grew as did the Panthers' success this season, Kathy Jaworski has been on the Panthers' bandwagon from start to finish.
The Cudahy resident, who has affectionately been dubbed the Panthers' "Adopted Mother," attended nearly all of Park's regular-season games and all their tournament games.
"They're a great bunch of kids," Jaworski said. "They worked together as a team all season. You got stars on this team and yet they were always willing to pass the ball to the others. It wasn't just a one-way street.
"And they seem so close off the court. They do a lot of things together. There's no animosity among them. Like I said, they're a great bunch."
That bunch consisted of seniors Tricia Anderson, LaTonya Sims, Nicole Peasley and Samantha Waid, juniors Nicole Francis, Andrea Foster, Amy Zelinger and Karen Radewan, sophomores Desario Turner, Mandy Fidler, Julie Christensen, Carissa Barrera, Jackie Peasley and Sanders.
Jaworski said one of the key factors for Park's successful season was the positive influences from others.
"They have coaches who really give a darn about them and they have a nice bunch of parents who give a darn about them," Jaworski said. "They're just a nice group of people."
And one heck of a basketball team.
* Sims heads the WIAA All-Tournament team. Also named to the team were Gilman's Vanessa Schley, Washington's Myesha Bledsoe and Jerica Watson, North Fond du Lac's Elizabeth Dudley and Kristin Seffern, Bangor's Mandy Korn, Kimberly's Kristy Loiselle, Hudson's Corrin Von Wald and Sun Prairie's Tonya Crum.