Senior leaders help Notre Dame High School to success

It's two successful seasons in a row for Notre Dame High School's basketball team, and much of the credit goes to the team's four seniors.

Leading Notre Dame to back-to-back district titles was the team's two top scorers, Madeline Ronshausen and Sydney Kremer. Notre Dame defeated Lutheran South 68-54 for the district championship March 3, but lost in the sectionals round of the state championships March 8 to Mary Institute-St. Louis Country Day School 65-45. For the second year in a row, Notre Dame exited the playoffs courtesy of MICDS. Notre Dame finished 16-12 on the season.

Ronshausen led Notre Dame in scoring, averaging nearly 20 points a game, while Kremer averaged more than 12 points a game. Ronshausen, who will play next season at Rockhurst University, set the career record for points at Notre Dame, with Kremer, a Lindenwood-Belleville University recruit, in third place for points. Both players topped the 1,000-point mark for a career.

Ronshausen said the seniors were motivated to see how far they could take the team this season. They lost in district finals their freshman and sophomore years, but gained experience and realization of the hard work it takes to win, Ronshausen said. "We wanted it really bad because we knew how it was to lose in district finals after coming that far," the guard said. "When we won last year, we knew how that felt and we worked just as hard to get that far again."

The team focused on defense a little more this year, which helped. The coach, Megan Brady, stressed keeping opponents under 40 points.

Kremer, who also plays guard, said Notre Dame's schedule was tough, which helped the team prepare for districts. "We've really come together this year. Especially since we start four seniors, the experience is definitely there. Teams that we weren't beating freshman and sophomore year, we are now beating," Kremer said.

She and Ronshausen embraced their leadership, she said, a role that came with time. "We were kind of thrown into it freshman year. That was like getting our feet wet, but now we're able to take the team on our back."

Kremer believes the team's younger players have learned from the seniors' example, and "they'll definitely step up."

The school is welcoming, a home away from home, said Kremer, a member of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish. She's uplifted when she sees teachers and students smiling and having a positive attitude.

The seniors appreciate how their team incorporates the Catholic faith, praying the "Hail Mary" before games, for example. Ronshausen, a member of St. Gabriel Parish, says a quick prayer during a tough moment of a game to keep herself calm. Kremer said that as a team from a Catholic school, the players try to be good sports, positive and Christ-like in their actions and words on the court.

When asked how long they've played together, Ronshausen and Kremer answered "fifth grade" in unison. They played together, with Notre Dame senior forward Lil Corzine, on the Runnin' Rebels Basketball Club, established by Tom and Megan Brady. (The other senior on the team is Anna Sodemann.)

"Madeline's always been there, and we have that communication. She looks at me, and I know what she's going to say or needs to say," Kremer said.

Mark Bayens, athletic director at Notre Dame, said the four-year starters "turned around the basketball program in what they've accomplished the last four years. They've been a very valuable part of the program here."

Meghan Bohac, president of Notre Dame, said "they help bring their team together and inspire the underclassmen." 

Just Madness

March is the time for high school and college basketball tournaments, and there’s a couple of creative ways to join in the fun of alternative “brackets.”

• Every March, Brackets For Good hosts a single-elimination, bracket-style fundraising tournament in multiple cities that raises much-needed funds and awareness for nonprofit organizations of all sizes in each community. Nonprofits participate at no cost and retain 100 percent of the donations raised during the tournament, regardless of advancement. The tournament champion in each city will also receive a grand-prize donation from the title sponsor.

Organizations still “alive” in the brackets as of March 9 included several Catholic agencies or organizations with Catholic ties: St. Patrick Center, Guardian Angel Settlement Association, Affton Christian Food Pantry, Beyond Housing and Team Activities for Special Kids. St. Francis Cabrini Academy, Almost Home and other Catholic groups also took part. Visit www.bfg.org.

• The archdiocesan Office of Communications and Planning has organized saints in the 2016 Saintly Madness bracket based on parish names across the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Check back each week to vote for your saint. Votes will be tallied to determine which saint reigns supreme. Visit www.stlouisreview.com/bq8.

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