Cars packed every crevice of the hills leading up to Kellenberg. Every seat in the gym was occupied, and fans cheered and chanted until the stands shook.
They cheered for that tall kid, that kid who used to ride the bench. The point guard. The thing is, a year ago, no one knew the names of the current stars of this Firebirds team, but now the stands chant "Swaggy Steve" when Steve Torre makes a shot. And Kellenberg, which kept its hope for first place alive in a 67-60 win over rival Holy Trinity (8-3) Wednesday night, is making a very real name for itself in CHSAA.
"We knew we didn't have any stars this year," Torre said. "I was on the team last year and didn't play."
"I wasn't a starter," added point guard Kyle Quinn.
"And I wasn't a starter," said Mike Torre, Steve's brother.
"We came so far from last year," Quinn said. "It's completely different."
The road hasn't been smooth for a team that graduated most of its squad, and Wednesday night was no exception. Kellenberg (8-3) controlled the pace of the game until late in the first half, when Jimmy Golaszewski's left baseline trey gave Holy Trinity the 31-30 lead with 1:26 left. Golaszewski's draining right-wing three with 26 seconds left, and Khalil Jones' two free throws gave the Titans a 36-30 lead going into the break.
The Firebirds retook the lead midway through the third quarter, capped by Steve Torre's layup for a 38-36 lead with 6:26 left. The game seesawed for the next three minutes, until Mike Torre's basket tied it at 43, igniting an 8-0 run and giving them the lead until midway through the fourth quarter.
The Titans eventually drew to three on Golaszewski's layup with 43 seconds left, but a Mike Torre layup and the typical slew of late-game foul shots put it away. Steve Torre led Kellenberg with 25 points, and Mike had 16 points and 12 rebounds. With Wednesday night's win and a win Friday, the Firebirds have a chance to catch up to first-place St. Mary's (9-3).
"This is probably the biggest win we've had all year," Steve Torre said -- particularly because Holy Trinity beat them by six earlier in the season. "We played good defense and turned it around this time . . . we were running and gunning and played good defense."
Added Quinn: "This means a lot. Our goal is always to get to Hofstra."
If they make it, the entourage will follow-- cheering those well known names the whole way.