The St. Paul’s Lutheran School Bears returned to Fort Wayne from the 65th Annual Lutheran Basketball Association of America’s National Tournament with a third-place trophy in hand.
The Bears—coached by Jerry Ratzburg, Andy Whirrett, and Rob Dillman—were the Indiana State Champions and finished the season with a record of 35-4. The Lutheran National Tournament is held every year at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana. Thirty-two teams are invited out of the more than 800 Lutheran middle-school teams across the nation. This year, the teams—state champions and at-large bids—came from 16 states.In the first round, the Bears defeated the Michigan champs, Trinity from Utica, 47-29. In the second round, the Bears faced Our Redeemer from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, and won 47-38. In the third round, the Bears started the game with a 13-0 run and finished off the top-seeded Missouri state champs, King of Glory from St. Louis, 62-47.The Bears then moved on to the final four where they faced St. John from Chaska, the Minnesota state champs. The Bears led 28-27 at the end of the third quarter, but St. John rallied to win 47-39.
The Bears then played the Nevada champion, Faith from Las Vegas, in the third-place game. St. Paul’s broke away from a 17-all tie in the third quarter to win 45-28.St. John, Chaska, undefeated all season long, went on to win the National Championship, topping Rockford (Illinois) Lutheran School in the final game. Written by Andy WhirrettSt. Paul’s Athletic Directoramwhirrett@yahoo.com