Walker: St. Paul’s basketball turns ‘playing for the pack’ mantra into 30-1 record _lowres

Members of the St. Paul's boys basketball team that posted a 30-1 regular-season record. Stoping down is Timothy Bedford. Standing from left are: Owen Waguespack, Parker Edwards, Chandler Owenby, Harrison Prieto, Jacob Broussard, Skyler Herbet, Lucas Schmidt, Luke Andrews, Devonte Allen, Keifer Napolitano and Tyler Babcock.

Collectively, the St. Paul’s soccer and basketball teams have played 62 games over the past few months.

They’ve lost just two of them.

One loss was by the soccer team; the other by the basketball team.

The soccer team’s success isn’t a surprise. The basketball team, however, has raised a few eyebrows across the state at a school not known for basketball.

“We’re the third cousin twice removed,” Phil Williams said jokingly about where his basketball program stacks up in the sports pecking order at St. Paul’s.

It’s an incredible two-sport run that the folks at St. Paul’s hope can continue a little longer.

The soccer team, which has a 27-1-3 record, goes for its third straight state championship against Acadiana on Saturday at Tad Gormley Stadium.

Meanwhile, the basketball team (30-1) needs five more wins to claim its first state championship. The basketball Wolves begin their playoff quest Friday at home, also against Acadiana.

“It’s really exciting to have two teams doing so well at the same time,” said Karen Hebert, public relations director at St. Paul’s. “Things are much better around school when everybody’s winning.”

And that’s exactly what’s been happening around St. Paul’s this school year.

That doesn’t even include the football team, which went 9-2 and the wrestling team, which was dominant as usual.

The soccer team’s success isn’t shocking. They’re just a year removed from ending the season ranked No. 1 in the country.

They’ve built a dynasty. So much so they are back in the state championship match Saturday despite losing 14 seniors and eight starters off last year’s squad.

“Talent wise, I thought we could get to the top four, the semifinals, and then have a two-game season,” Wolves soccer coach Sean Moser said. “We’re peaking at the right time and got good draws in the bracket and things have fallen in place.”

But things seem to always fall into place for the St. Paul’s soccer team, which is going for its fourth state title in six years.

The basketball team, though, has been jaw-dropping. They are riding an incredible 30-game winning streak. Their lone loss came in the season opener with three starters missing.

They’ve been on a roll ever since, winning at a school not really known for its basketball prowess.

The 30-game win streak is the school’s longest, surpassing the 29 straight games it won way in 1968. Now the Wolves are closing in on the school record for wins in a season, set 10 years ago when they went 33-6.

They’ve made it look easy, even when it wasn’t. They trailed Ponchatoula by 17 points at halftime before rallying to win.

Williams, in his seventh season as head coach, knows that wouldn’t have happened two years ago.

“Two years ago we were very selfish,” Williams said. “You didn’t see guys on the team high-fiving with each other.”

It was so bad that Williams almost walked away from coaching basketball.

“I was calling it quits,” he said. “We had made a mess of everything.”

Now the mess is fixed, and the basketball Wolves are fitting in just fine with all the other teams at the school.

The starting five of Harrison Prieto, Timothy Bedford, Parker Edwards, Skyler Herbet and Davonte Allen can stick their chests out too now, just like the other athletic programs at the school.

“It’s always been ‘we are not a basketball school,’ ” Williams said. “The thought was that we are a country club sports school. But I think the seniors are very proud that we can now compete in anything. We knew we could compete with anybody if we kept putting the work in. We knew if we kept building the culture around here, we could have a pretty good team.”

Williams calls the new attitude, the unselfishness, the winning attitude “playing for the pack.”

But now the Wolves basketball team is not only playing for the pack, but playing with the rest of the St. Paul’s pack.