By Ella Brockway - Shore Sports Network contributor

*Update: Mater Dei Prep announced it has hit its $1 million target to keep the school open on Thursday. 

WALL - The final handshakes of the Shore Coaches’ Association Senior All-Star Game on Wednesday night at Wall Township High School closed the chapters to high school careers and memories that had been created over the past four years. The last buzzers ended a season of Shore Conference basketball to remember.

But for the two athletes from Mater Dei Prep playing in the game, Wednesday night had extra special meaning.

For seniors Katie Viscardi and Tysaun White, this winter season was one of wins, losses and one bombshell that shook their school community.

In early February, the news was announced that Mater Dei Prep would be closing at the end of the school year due to financial difficulties. As word traveled up and down the Jersey Shore, the huge fundraising effort now known as “Save the Seraphs” began with the goal of raising the $1 million needed to keep the school open.

As Mater Dei Prep nears its fundraising goal to keep the school open, it was a proud and optimistic night at the SBCA Senior All-Star Games for Tysaun White and Katie Viscardi, who were joined by Seraphs' boys basketball coach Bob Klatt, who coached the West all-stars. (Photo by Ray Richardson)

More than a month later, and with about three weeks to go until the April 15 deadline, the Seraphs campaign has raised $992,000, nearing the goal faster than many anticipated. Despite the possible distractions off of the court, the focus of the Seraphs on the hardwood did not wander, according to boys’ head coach Bob Klatt, who coached the West all-stars on Wednesday night along with Pinelands coach John Tierney, a Mater Dei Prep alumnus.

“We had a meeting when the news first came out, and I just said that we had to stay focused in what we were doing,” said Klatt, in his nineteenth year at Mater Dei. “They did a great job staying focused.”

Prior to the recent developments in fund-raising, Viscardi and White had the potential to be the last two players to ever represent Mater Dei in a basketball game. Viscardi, a guard who led the Seraphs with 75 assists and had five points on Wednesday night, saw the All-Star Game and the season as a whole as an opportunity to represent Mater Dei, and what the school means to its students, to the Shore Conference.

“It was so amazing this season,” said Viscardi, who is already committed to Wagner College for soccer. “We’re about to reach our fundraising goal, and it just shows how strong of a school we are, and it’s awesome to be a part of that.”

The Lady Seraphs finished 16-7 on the season, led by their seniors—Viscardi, Lindsey Florio, Brooke Trotta and Julia McCarthy.

On the boys’ side, the Seraphs were pleased with the 9-5 finish in Class B Central, where they faced the likes of division co-champions St. Rose and Point Beach. White was named to first team All-Division by the coaches this season, and he agreed with his fellow classmate on the importance of focus and dedication throughout the season.

“[The season] was good because I had great teammates,” said White, who was also a sensation at wide receiver for the Seraphs on the football field. “This season was just a really good experience.”

As the calendar flips to April, all eyes will be on the Seraphs, and on what the future holds for them. For Klatt, he and the team are already looking forward to next year’s basketball season.

“I haven’t seen my guys in about a week or so, but I can’t wait to get back to them in the summer,” he said. “We’re excited about the future.”

Just two weeks ago, the Senior All-Star Game marked the possible end for Mater Dei basketball. The game instead symbolized hope and what comes next for the Seraphs.

“I’m just so proud of my school,” Viscardi said. “We’re about to reach our fundraising goal, and that shows how strong of a school we are, and it’s awesome to be a part of that.”