Parents of 2 Loyola-Chicago players from Blue Valley Northwest ready to cheer on sons in Final Four

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Here's a basketball fairy tale that keeps getting better.

Two close friends from the same Overland Park high school are still teammates and inching ever closer to winning a national championship for their Chicago-based college.

The Custer family from Overland Park has a lot to be excited about since their 22-year-old son, Clayton, is one of the NCAA Tournament's biggest stars. He and his former Blue Valley High School teammate, Ben Richardson, have Loyola-Chicago two wins from a national championship.

Clayton Custer and Ben Richardson

The Ramblers (32-5) advanced to the Final Four on Saturday after beating Kansas State (25-12) in the tournament's South Regional Finals.

Custer's parents, Galen and Terri, have been there since the start, watching him suit up for the first time at only eight years old. Clayton is the youngest of the Custers' three children, and he and Richardson were teammates on that youth league team all those years ago.

"We're really proud of them," Terri Custer told FOX4. "We just go one game at at time. We're not thinking about the last game. We're thinking about the next game."

Clayton Custer and his parents.

Fourteen years of travel for tournaments has formed a bond between the Richardsons and the Custers, building a blended family of sorts. Ben and Clayton were part of AAU and USSSA teams that traveled across the country from Overland Park, competing in numerous youth tournaments.

"We've spent countless days in hotels and traveling and all through high school. We've known them well for a long time. That game Ben had against K-State was unbelievable," Galen Custer said Monday.

In the win over K-State, Richardson poured in 23 points for the Ramblers and Custer chipped in with seven of his own. Loyola-Chicago is attempting to win the school's first national championship since 1963.

Humble beginnings for Richardson and Custer are a hot topic around Overland Park.

Ben Richardson and Clayton Custer in their youth league days

Kevin Gerke, athletic director at Blue Valley Northwest High School, told FOX4 students are buzzing about their famous alums, who are serving as an inspiration for present-day students at the school.

That early youth league team that featured Custer and Richardson, which was formed in 2004, boasted a leader who was also in it for the long haul. Ed Fritz, who later became head coach at Blue Valley Northwest, coached the boys when they were only eight years old. Fritz has since led the Huskies to four state championships, including back-to-back Class 6-A titles in 2013 and 2014.

On Monday, Fritz recalled that team of youngsters and how leading their families to AAU tournaments in Las Vegas and Fort Wayne, Indiana, are memories he cherishes.

"It's the time you spend away from the court -- going to the movies or go-kart racing or having family picnics or whiffle ball games. To be able to do that as a group, and not just the kids, where nobody was worried about anything but having fun and getting better," Fritz said.

Terri Custer said the family sent Clayton off to Loyola with a finance degree in mind. They never dreamed he and Ben would make it to the Final Four, and the surprise makes this moment priceless.

Ben Richardson, center, with his family

"We're so happy for Clayton and Ben and the whole team. They've always worked hard. Chicago has rallied around them and supported them. Kansas City has been so nice to Clayton and Ben. We are so grateful," Terri Custer beamed.

David Richardson told FOX 4 News he also enjoys the special connection his family shares with the Custers. The Richardsons and the Custers plan to leave for the Final Four in San Antonio, Texas, this Thursday.

Loyola-Chicago meets Michigan, the opening game of the Final Four, at 5 p.m. Saturday. The winner of that game will face the winner of the Villanova-Kansas game on Monday night for the National Championship.