No grumps were allowed at the Hluchnik household this weekend.
The Oak Creek girls basketball team may have lost its WIAA state D1 semifinal to eventual runner-up Mukwonago on Friday, March 11, in Green Bay, but Knights coach Steve Hluchnik did a very fine job of putting on a pleasant face Saturday and Sunday.
He needed to, if he wanted to stay on the good side of his freshman daughter, Emma, who attends school at New Berlin Eisenhower and who was a feisty guard for both the Lions freshmen and junior varsity teams this season.
She's also a very happy fan of the powerhouse Lions varsity, which staged two dramatic wins in the state D2 tournament in Green Bay and came away state champions.
The family watched both the D2 and D1 games, while Steve grilled steaks on a lovely early March evening.
'We made it a fun night,' he said, '... and I'm fine.'
It had concluded a week of satisfying basketball-centered meals for Hluchnik as the team went out to Trattoria di Carlo's in Oak Creek on March 9 and then the Settingsgaard family hosted a team event on March 10.
Mukwonago went on to fall to Verona in the state final that Saturday night (March 12), which was small consolation for the Knights, who looked to win their second state title in three years.
'Our goal was to win it all, and to lose on the first night is a little disappointing,' Hluchnik said. 'We had a good talk in the locker room afterward, that we'll all feel better about all we accomplished in about a week or so.'
He was very happy for the seven seniors, especially center Nicky Widenski, who had the unenviable task of trying to guard 6-5 all-state center Morgan Glatczak. Widenski was able to pull her out from under the basket a few times, where Glatczak is a defensive force, and she also scored a team-high 15 points for the Knights to go along with eight rebounds.
'I think that was the best game of Nicky's career,' Hluchnik said. 'It was a nice way for her to end it all.'
Both Widenski and senior forward Madison Hart (12 points and eight rebounds) put on brave faces amidst a few tears at the postgame press conference as they closed out another successful Southeast Conference championship season.
'We weren't expected to be here,' Widenski said. 'We came here as an underdog ... and though we weren't able to win it all, it was still a great way to finish. We have seven seniors, and we've been playing together for 10 years.'
'Getting here has been a goal of ours since the beginning of the year,' Hart said. 'A lot of people hadn't expected us to be here, but we did, and I'm very proud of everyone on the team.'