Hawks enjoy big weekend

Posted 3/15/23

We had a few big games this past weekend at Beacon Communications as we wind down the winter season.

Bishop Hendricken enjoyed a successful few days, as the basketball team won the Open State …

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Hawks enjoy big weekend


We had a few big games this past weekend at Beacon Communications as we wind down the winter season.

Bishop Hendricken enjoyed a successful few days, as the basketball team won the Open State Championship over rival La Salle after falling to the Rams in the Division Championship just two weeks prior. The hockey team also pulled off a huge 2-1 comeback win in the Frozen Four semis over Warwick to punch its ticket to this weekend’s state title game against La Salle.

After watching the Division Championship loss against the Rams, I have to admit, I was a bit worried for the Hawks entering Sunday’s game at URI. The Rams were bigger, stronger, dominated the paint, and had enough flash to get the wild win over the Hawks when they squared off at RIC.

The Hawks adjusted for Sunday’s game, though, and would pick up yet another title.

Although Hendricken used a number of bigs to neutralize the La Salle forwards, the hero of the game for the Hawks was MVP Mike Paquette, who transferred to Hendricken last year from Cranston West.

Paquette is an undersized guard that thrives on grit and playing with a high motor. I remember his sophomore year for the Falcons, he seemed like he was going to have a bright future as an upperclassman.

He then jumped to Hendricken. I also remember doing a season preview for the Hawks prior to the year last season, and coach Jamal Gomes told me something to the effect of, “We hope he finds a way to contribute.”

By season’s end last year, he was the team’s starting point guard and was key in winning the title. This year, he took another step forward and became one of the best point guards in the state.

Sidenote: Between Paquette, Johnston’s Derek Salvatore and West’s Marcus Chung, we had a ton of talent at the point guard position this year.

Paquette put on a show at URI on Sunday, finishing with 15 points and scoring two key 3-pointers in the final three minutes to put the game away for the Hawks. He was a solid passer, perimeter defender, tone setter, he did it all on Sunday and deserved the MVP.

Eze Wali and Azmar Abdullah scored all the headlines for the Hawks throughout the season, and deservedly so. Each of them is a multi-time champion, 1,000 point scorer, and will certainly be named all-state. They were the two biggest reasons why the Hawks took the floor on Sunday.

Well, on Sunday, it was Paquette as well as Matthew Brock, who exploded for 17 points, who carried the team to yet another title.

Next year will be fascinating for the Hawks. If we’re being honest, Hendricken was not the most talented team in the state this year, it was La Salle. Even last year, the Hawks probably on paper should not have won the way they did.

They will be losing Wali, Abdullah, Paquet, Brock, Devin Lynch. It’s going to be a totally new starting five, a new roster, a complete reset. As crazy as it may seem, I still bet on the Hawks to find a way into the championship mix, they always do.

Then, in hockey.

The Warwick co-op was enjoying a big bounce back year after winning just one game last winter. It took the fourth seed into the playoffs and dealt the Hawks their lone loss of the season.

It looked like the Militia was going to repeat that feat midway through the third period when they held the 1-0 lead. Hendricken’s championship experience shined through in the final minutes though, getting a pair of goals to skate away with the shocking win.

Before we dig into the Hawks, let me give one last shout out to Warwick. I spoke on this last week in my column, but this team is so, so important for the city.

As the numbers continue to dwindle for Warwick public schools, it is becoming increasingly clear that co-ops are the likely solution moving forward. Some sports are just fine, but many are not.

As much as we all love inner-city rivalries, we should also embrace unity and seeing what the two schools can accomplish when they work together. In just two seasons, this co-op went from being a bottom feeder to a full blown contender.

Warwick could have absolutely won on Sunday and had it got the job done, anything could have happened from there. Not to mention the roster will still have plenty of kids returning. The Warwick co-op is just getting started.

Then the Hawks, wow.

As you can probably tell by now, I am a huge believer in experience. Talent is important, as is depth, but experience at the high school level is paramount.

Warwick performed extraordinarily well for such a young team, but the difference in the third period was experience. The Hawks never worried and were laser focused. They knew the exact plays they were going to run and how they had to be executed. The Militia just seemed to be caught off guard a bit, it just struggled to regain control when the pendulum swung back the other direction.

Up next is La Salle, who should have been in the championship last season but fell short. On paper, this matchup is a pick em’, but again, I’m going with big game experience, so I am going Hendricken. 

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