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Kara Shimko Named Regional/Reporter Girls Basketball Player of the Year
Kara Shimko, Queen of Peace senior basketball player, sensed something was up when she stopped by her dad’s office on Jan. 24.
Based on the demeanor within the office, she guessed the news out of the recent coaches’ meeting was that Peace would be closing at the end of the year. George Shimko, the athletic director and girls basketball coach, told her to focus her energy on that night’s game against Joliet Catholic Academy.
Shortly after she helped lead Peace to a 58-22 victory, a mass e-mail confirmed the school’s impending closure.
The Pride went 5-3 after the announcement, but they still set multiple records to close the school’s history book. Shimko set numerous individual school records with her strong, balanced play, which helped her earn the Reporter/Regional Girls Basketball Player of the Year award for the second straight season.
“Playing the last few weeks was emotional, especially since it’s senior year and you’re not going to be able to come back and walk through the gym and remember all those good memories,” she said. “It’s hard, but it’s something we had to go through. It was definitely an unforgettable season and unforgettable memories that we’ve created together.”
Shimko, who had her number 14 retired during an emotional senior night, paced the team with 16.6 points per game and was second in total assists (120) and steals (107). She was third on the team with 4.9 rebounds per game despite standing at just 5-foot-4.
She helped lead Peace to its best record (28-4) in the school’s 55-year history. With all five starters returning, the Pride won its second consecutive regional title, marking the program’s first back-to-back regional titles since 1994.
“Once they announced (the closure), I saw in Kara even more passion to finish as strong as we possibly could to leave a mark at Queen of Peace,” George said.
Shimko broke the Queen of Peace career scoring record of 1,214 points set by Shelby Elstner in 1994. She scored 1,407 points in just three seasons at Peace after playing her freshman year at Plainfield North.
She broke her own school record for 3-pointers made (92) and free-throw shooting (91 percent), both of which she originally set in 2016.
Shimko will continue playing basketball at Cardinal Stritch, a NAIA school in Milwaukee so she will still play close on occasion when her team visits St. Xavier University and Trinity Christian College.