After one of the best basketball seasons at St. Paul’s, coach Phil Williams has decided to go out on a high note.
The longtime St. Paul’s coach announced his retirement at the school’s basketball banquet Wednesday night.
“It was just the right time for me,” Williams said. “Wrapping up my eighth season as the head coach, and 31st year overall at St. Paul’s, I have qualified for my pension from the school. I feel like me retiring is the right move for my family and our future. My main goal is to help relieve my wife of some stress now.
“Our seniors really helped lead this squad, and I think as a coaching staff it is just great to see kids you had as freshman develop into the kind of young men they are today. The talent of this team is outstanding, and I truly believe I have left this program in better shape than when I got it. For me, I’m playing for a new team now, my family.”
After losing their first game Nov. 17 to Parkview Baptist, the Wolves went onto win a school-record 31 consecutive games. Their season ended after a 71-68 loss in the second round of the Class 5A state playoffs to East Ascension.
“I wouldn’t say it is one of my biggest regrets, but I truly believe that this year’s squad had the chance to make the Top 28 state tournament,” Williams said. “The senior leadership and overall talent of the team had the chance to make a special run. We just ran into an East Ascension team that was better than us that day.
“The future at St. Paul’s is bright and the talent for next year’s team may be even better. They are going to have to replace some senior leadership, in particular Harrison Prieto. If they can do that, then I expect them to be successful again next season.”
Named the Most Outstanding Player in District 6-5A, Prieto said he was happy to have played for a coach like Williams.
“I’m happy he (Williams) is leaving on his own terms,” Prieto said. “He is leaving a happy man, and we as a team went out with a bang this past year. I couldn’t be happier for him. He is a great person, and I know somehow he is still going to be involved in the game of basketball.
“The great thing about coach Williams is he led by example. Along with the assistant coaches, there isn’t another person on this planet that I could imagine doing more for me and my teammates than coach Williams.
“He was there for us for everything. People see him on the court being demonstrative at times, but what people don’t see is how good of a role model he was for us. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to be my basketball coach for my four years at St. Paul’s.”