It's a well-thought theory in Wisconsin's small school basketball circles that the Whitefish Bay Dominican boys don't suffer from graduation, that they just pull another set of superstar kids up from their deep roster and cruise to another state title with little problem every year.
An argument could have been made for that theory on March 19 as the Knights made history by becoming the first Wisconsin high school basketball team to win five WIAA state titles in a row when they knocked off previously-unbeaten Cameron, 62-43, at the Kohl Center in Madison for the D4 championship.
But Dominican coach Derek Berger would argue vehemently against the idea that these Knights just manufactured this particular crown out of whole cloth.
That's part of the reason why Berger got the WIAA to allow his entire team to come into the press room and eat up a few of the back row seats during the postgame press conference.
He wanted everyone on his team to hear how important they were to this particular title.
"This was a special day," he said, "because the kids worked their tails off.
"You hope that this is something that can go on and on because it's now become our standard. We've been fortunate enough and blessed enough to be able to do this.
"When I started this (it is his fourth year), I was just looking to get through each day until the end of my first year. But with this group, you started to see guys mature and improve their work ethic.
"We talked about this (the fifth title), and we gave each kid five goals to achieve. To see this group's improvement from summer ... wow. It was just astronomical. That's why all 14 guys are sitting here (in the press room). They all had a part, and we couldn't have asked for anything more."
Above, in photos: Boys basketball: 2015-16 Dominican championship season
Staff photo by Peter Zuzga.
The Knights improved to 27-1 on the season, while Cameron fell to 26-1. In setting this mark, the Knights broke a record they shared with Randolph, which won four D4 titles in a row from 2002-2005.
And the kids were aware of the situation, too. The special T-shirts the team made for state said "Make History" on one side and had a big number "5" on the back.
If they were feeling the pressure of the situation, they didn't show it.
"We were loose the whole week," said junior guard Jake Bennett, who came within one of tying the class record for 3-pointers in a game with seven en route to a game- and career-high 25 points. "We wanted to embrace it and have fun with it, and in the end, we got the goal we've wanted since the beginning of the season."
"We've played some close games this year," said 6-9 senior Kostas Antetokounmpo, who had 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocks and whose back-to-back dunks late in the first half helped break the Comets' back, "but we knew that we could do something great. We were ready to make history."
The game itself was like many of the Knights' games this season, though the Comets, with senior all-state forward Peyton Dibble and his hot shooting front-line partner Max Verdegan (17 points each), presented them with problems.
Cameron, making its first appearance in the state finals, took a few early leads, but a 9-3 run midway through the first half, keyed by Bennett's second 3-pointer of the game, put the Knights ahead for good at 18-13 with with 8:27 left in the half.
The Comets committed all out to stopping the inside play of Antetokounmpo and 6-8 junior Will Jelacic by playing a 1-3-1 zone.
"If they were going to beat us, they were going to have to beat us from the outside," said Comets coach Troy LaVallie, "but give them credit, they hit shot after shot. You just had to tip their hat to them."
"I just got hot," said Bennett, who hit seven of 10 3-point attempts. "Honestly, I'm usually not that open, but having such a dominating inside presence like we have, I love to see zones because I can get lost in them and find an open spot."
The advantage was 35-26 at the half, and a 13-5 run to open the second half gave Dominican a 48-31 advantage with 11:33 left. That push all but put the Knights' names down in permanent ink in the history books.
The lead never dropped below 11 after that point.
Cameron knew what it was up against and couldn't stop the Knights from rewriting the WIAA record books.
"You just have to give them credit because they answered every run we made," Dibble said.
A total of nine Knights got on the scoring ledger. Jelacic was next with six for the Knights, but everyone made a contribution in Berger's eyes.
Again, he made the point that this title was earned, not just laid on a silver platter for the Knights.
"This was an extremely difficult challenge," he said, "because every team is different each year. Even a team where you return most everybody, the dynamic is different.
"But we graduated seven seniors and four starters off of last year's team. We had a few returnees, but this was a relatively new team. The game experience we gained this summer (in high-level playground leagues) was something.
"We got our butts whipped, and we won just occasionally, and in the fall league we played in at Brookfield Central, there were five of those teams up here in Madison this weekend.
"Playing (and losing) to those bigger schools did nothing but make us better."
And put the Knights in the history books.