Just two weeks after losing to rival La Salle in the Division I Championship, the Bishop Hendricken basketball team would get its revenge and top the Rams 67-61 in the State Championship at the Ryan …
Just two weeks after losing to rival La Salle in the Division I Championship, the Bishop Hendricken basketball team would get its revenge and top the Rams 67-61 in the State Championship at the Ryan Center on Sunday evening.
The two teams exchanged leads in the first half but the Hawks would dominate the third quarter and mount a 10-point advantage heading into the fourth.
The Rams fought back, though, and would inch within three points with less than three minutes to play.
Hendricken senior point guard Mike Paquette would catch fire and drill two 3-pointers from there to help the Hawks hold onto the lead and secure its 21st championship.
“Just stay together, play with love for one another. I just love my teammates and we didn’t want to let each other down. We just had to stay connected and give our best effort all game,” said Paquette of the team’s mindset late in the game. “The defense was collapsing on Eze (Wali) and Azmar (Abdullah) and driving in. So I just moved to the open spot, my team trusted me and I hit the open shots.”
Paquette was later named MVP for his performance as he finished with 15 points, going 3-for-3 from beyond the arc.
La Salle’s size advantage was key in its win in the Division Championship as it was able to defend the paint with ease and force the Hawks to rely on the deep ball, which ultimately did not work out for Hendricken as the Rams won on a fourth-quarter buzzer beater.
Hendricken forward Matthew Brock had his best game of the winter, finishing with 17 points and going toe to toe with the Rams in the paint all night. Abdullah was also productive, finishing with 15 points scored while Wali picked up eight.
Strength and conditioning was also key for the Hawks, according to Paquette.
“We wanted this really bad. We work out before practice, after practice, all summer I worked out with the guys. I don’t think another team in the state spent as much time in the gym as us. And credit to our coaches who prepared us all week,” said Paquette. “Credit to La Salle, they’re a very talented team, great players. We knew it was going to be close, they went on some runs. We were just able to pull away, it could have gone either way. We were able to pull it out.”
Consistency was also important this time around, as the Hawks let a halftime lead slip away against the Rams in the last meeting.
“It was just a complete game. We had some lulls in the first game. I thought for the most part we started out strong, we didn’t have too many ups and downs, we stayed consistent,” Paquette said,
The Hawks will now flip the page to next winter and are set to graduate their entire starting lineup.
Paquette, who transferred to Hendricken prior to last year from Cranston West, was just excited to finish his career on top and to make an impact on the biggest stage.
“I didn’t really know what to expect (when I transferred), I just knew that I was going to give my best effort and do whatever I (could) to help the team win,” said Paquette. “I knew they had a winning history so I’m just glad to help keep it going.”
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