Sarah and Rebekah Schumacher grew up just a couple doors down from Keri Carollo.
Brooke Trewyn lived just a short walk away.
Now all together within the UW-Whitewater women’s basketball program, the four of them are hosting quite the block party.
The Warhawks won the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular-season title and backed it up by winning the league tournament Saturday. And they’ll host first- and second-round action in the Division III NCAA Tournament beginning Friday.
“It’s just really neat to be able to have that opportunity to be an influence in their lives, since we did get a chance to watch them grow up,” said Carollo, now in her 16th season as UW-W head coach. “It’s been fun.”
The reunion was a bit unexpected, though for Trewyn and Carollo, working together is old hat at this point.
Trewyn, a standout for Whitewater High who helped the Whippets reach WIAA Division 3 sectional play as a senior in 2014, joined the UW-Whitewater women’s program when it was coming off back-to-back Final Four runs.
The transition was difficult. UW-W went through a bit of a rebuilding year in 2015, finishing .500 in WIAC play and overall.
“For our whole senior class, it’s great to see all the hard work they put in as freshmen and hanging in there when times were tough, now pay off,” Carollo said. “Back-to-back Final Fours, the level of expectation with that, and (for Trewyn) with staying home and playing in your hometown ... it’s a challenge.”
Now the Warhawks are headed to the DIII tournament for the third straight year. And this season, Trewyn eclipsed 1,000 points for her career. She’s averaging 13 points per game as a senior to go along with 66 assists and 23 blocks—all three marks lead the team—in 27 games.
Trewyn also played a key role in reuniting with the Schumachers.
Sarah Schumacher was in the class behind Trewyn at Whitewater High and helped lead the Whippets to an undefeated season and D3 state championship her senior year. Rebekah Schumacher, Sarah’s younger sister, was a sophomore who scored a team-high 14 points in the state championship game victory over Kettle Moraine Lutheran.
Sarah Schumacher went on to sign with Division II Quincy (Illinois) University. Two years later, it appeared Rebekah would join her, as she also signed a letter of intent last spring to play for Quincy.
But the sisters later decided it was time for a change. Sarah, who averaged 7.6 minutes as a freshman, worked her way into starting nine games and averaging 4.6 points as a sophomore. Quincy won just five games that year.
“Quincy just wasn’t really working out,” Sarah Schumacher said. “I just didn’t fit into the program as well as I wanted to. And I knew I would always love playing for the Carollos (Keri and assistant coach Joe).
“So we (Rebekah and I) just started talking about what we wanted to do.”
And some of those talks led to conversations with Trewyn, who was intrigued about the possibility of reuniting with her former teammates and neighbors.
“Me and Sarah were just kind of talking back and forth,” Trewyn said. “Coach was definitely excited when I told her (about our talks), but to not break any NCAA rules, she obviously couldn’t do anything about it at the time.
“So she (Sarah) got her release forms from Quincy and talked to Coach, and it was done just like that. It’s definitely awesome to have her, and to get Rebekah as a package deal was awesome.”
Sarah Schumacher has played in all 27 games this season and has started the last 10. She scored in double figures in each of the WIAC Tournament games.
“She’s earned that opportunity to start,” Keri Carollo said. “There definitely is a myth out there that Division I and Division II are so much better than Division III, and they (transfers to DIII) will instantly have an impact. But there’s definitely a process of learning, understanding and being respectful of the level of play in our conference.
“Sarah has done a fantastic job growing all year ... and is playing really well right now.”
Rebekah Schumacher is more of a face of the Warhawks’ future, but she has averaged 8.6 minutes in 17 games played.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Schumacher said. “But definitely a transition from playing in high school.”
“She has got so much skill-set, just as far as her knowledge of the game, the way she anticipates passes and sees the floor, her athleticism,” Carollo said. “She has a lot of qualities a coach can’t teach. Once we get her on the path to stronger decisions, she’s going to be amazing.”
For now, the Schumachers and Trewyn are embracing the few minutes they get to play together.
They were all on the floor together for a short stretch late in the first half of Saturday’s win over UW-Oshkosh. In a matter of seconds, the Schumacher sisters worked together to dig out a loose ball for a turnover, and at the other end, Trewyn found Sarah Schumacher on a cut to the basket and a layup that put the Warhawks up 24-18.
“There’s definitely some chemistry there,” Carollo said. “They’re used to each others’ movements on the court and their strengths and weaknesses. And they have the ability to help each other through tough times and cheer each other on when they do things well.”
They’re all hoping for more of the latter as they attempt to put together one last postseason run.
“We get kind of a second chance to accomplish some really big goals together,” Sarah Schumacher said.
This UW-W team is already the first in program history to win the WIAC regular-season and tournament titles in the same year. Trewyn would love nothing more than to make a deep NCAA tourney run.
“Me, Malia (Smith) and Andrea (Meinert) haven’t really gone deep in the tournament before,” Trewyn said, referencing her senior teammates. “The furthest we’ve gone is the second round. We’re focusing on each game, one by one, but we’re excited to see how far we can go.”
A whole city—and one neighborhood, in particular—will be watching.
Eric Schmoldt is sports editor of The Gazette. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org