In its 41st year, St. Paul’s basketball tourney rekindles traditions

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Sunday, February 24, 2013

— Brandon Davis spent the weekend with an old flame.

No, not an old girlfriend, but something with an even more powerful pull: His old elementary school.

Davis joined hundreds of other kids, coaches, parents and alumni at the 41st annual Janesville Lutheran Invitational Tournament. The event is hosted by St. Paul’s Lutheran School. The school’s nickname? “The Flames.”

The tournament features eight middle school teams, including one from St. Paul’s, four from northern Illinois and three from Wisconsin.

It’s about more than basketball. It’s about tradition and fellowship, said St. Paul’s School Principal Kevin Hendrikson.

The event brings such people as Davis back to Janesville every year. He’s a 1994 graduate of St Paul’s Lutheran School and is now athletic director of St. Paul Bonduel School in Bonduel.

His family still attends church here, and he remembers playing in the tournament when he was young.

Almost 20 years later, he recalls how much he and his classmates wanted to play in the tournament. Davis wants to pass that along to his students, too.

“It’s about creating a tradition,” Davis said. “I want the kids to feel the same way about it.”

Across the gym, Eric Everts, a 1990 graduate of St. Paul’s, was coaching the team from First Immanuel in Cedarburg.

“My brother played with Brandon,” Everts said. “I remember him coming over to my house.”

Everts and Davis went to college to become teachers at Lutheran schools. Both are committed to carrying on the educational and athletic traditions they recall from their childhood years.

“The first person I saw when I came in the door yesterday was my sixth-grade language arts teacher,” Everts said.

It takes hundreds of volunteers to make the tournament successful—ticket takers, people to work in the kitchen and concession stands, play-by-play announcers and video-graphers, and dozens of other jobs.

“The whole church body is committed to the tournament,” Everts said.

On Saturday night, the church has contemporary services for the players and visiting families.

Today, play resumes at 1 p.m. The championship game is at 4 p.m.

St. Paul’s, Janesville, will face St. John’s of Lombard, Ill. in the championship game. Both schools have been participating in the tournament for 41 years.


Play in the 41st annual Janesville Lutheran Invitational Tournament continues today at St. Paul’s Lutheran School, 210 S. Ringold St., Janesville. The first game will be at 1 p.m. The championship game will be at 4 p.m.

Tickets are $4 for adults, $2 for students and children younger than 5 years old are admitted free.

Last updated: 8:08 am Monday, April 29, 2013

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