(COVINGTON, La.) — The St. Paul’s varsity basketball team has had its greatest season thus far under Coach Phil Williams, currently holding a 21-1 record. With the team also winning its first ever CYO tournament earlier this season, the varsity basketball Wolves have the students and their coach talking about State.
“It is science, ” Williams said. “We have a highly competitive biological makeup. Our starters have size (6’8″, 6’5″, 6’4″, 6’3″, and 6’1″) and talent. We have good chemistry; our team interacts with each other off the court, as well as on.”
While the team as a whole contributes to every win, there are usually a couple of players who stand out the most, which are Parker Edwards, Timothy Bedford, and Harrison Prieto — who recently scored his 1,000th point at the home game against Covington High on Jan. 12, 2015. With a pool of young talent on the varsity lineup, each member brings something to the table.
“Our seniors — Harrison, Luke Schmitt, Jacob Broussard, and Skyler Herbet — have set the tone. We want to win, and we’ll play any role we need to help us have success,” Williams said.
With the upper classmen paving the path for the lower classmen, the SPS community should look forward to continued success on the court.
“They have invited TJ, Parker, Devonte, Tyler, Owen, Kiefer, Luke Andrews, and Chandler to do the same. I’d say that the younger guys have accepted the commitment to team that the seniors laid out,” Williams said.
At the end of a win or a loss, the coaches tell the team, “Kaizen,” which is their motto. This word comes from Toyota and means “continuous improvement.”
“We are trying to build a basketball culture committed to continuous improvement — pushing each other, being competitive with each other, but also loving each other,” Williams said.
As the season continues, and the team becomes better with every game they play, the coaches and players are planning to stamp their ticket to State.
“(Former) Coach Bobby Thomas gave me some advise, and I’ve taken it: mark the State Championship on your calendar — March 12, 2016, at the Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles,” Williams said.
During the past few months, students have questioned whether this might be Williams’ last year at SPS. At the end of last year’s season, it was actually rumored that Williams would not coach this year.
“I’ve talked about retiring as an option,” Williams said. “The why has to be for the greater good. I’m not sure what I am going to do. Staying here would be easy because it is such a great place. I grew up here; I was 25 years old when I started.”
Phil Will, as he is known on campus, and his entire coaching staff want St. Paul’s basketball to reflect on the culture of the school. They involved the players in setting forth their shared vision, based on the ABCs: (A) Always play for the pack. (B) Be Lasallian. (C) Constantly strive to improve. (D) Develop toughness.
This mindset has been an evolving process for Williams.
“When I came here, I was trying to find my place in the world and was trying to earn a living for my family,” Williams said. “I was not very goal-oriented yet. In the last two years, with the help of Coach Doug Saylor and Coach Greg Waguespack, I’ve become much more goal-oriented.”
Whether or not Williams retires, SPS and this team will always hold a place in his heart. According to Williams, his favorite trait about this year’s team is, “They like each other and look out for each other.”
Next, the Wolves face the Mandeville Skippers at Mandeville on Friday, Jan. 22 at 7:15 p.m.