(COVINGTON, La) — This season, The St. Paul’s varsity basketball team has taken a dramatic turn in the direction of a potential state championship. So far, the Basketball Wolves have won 22 consecutive games following a tough early season loss, which currently leaves the team at 23-1.
This record sets the current team apart from past teams significantly. In fact, from 2010-2015 the team’s record has stagnated, the average being 15.3 wins and 14.8 losses. This year’s record, so far, has been the most formidable in all of Head Coach Phil Williams’ career, far surpassing his first season’s record of 8 wins and 23 losses.
This sudden development of the team can be attributed to an augmented student leadership role. This respective role has been snatched by senior Harrison Prieto.
Prieto was elected team captain at the beginning of the season, but after accomplishing the feat of scoring his 1,000th point, the 6’7″ fiend of the court was observed as more than a usual senior team captain. His teammates look up to him as a separate, superior entity, and see him as someone who acts as a coach, plays as an athlete, and is as approachable as a counselor.
“I think Harrison is a great leader, a great senior, and great brother,” sophomore basketball player Chandler Owenby said. “He motivates us and sets a better example for us in practice, as a captain should… I definitely look up to him.”
Prieto has built something that the team has lacked in the past: unity. His lack of selfishness and personal strides effectively establish a model.
“He’s very good at sharing and building camaraderie, and he’s a great leader,” Coach Phil Williams said. “He’s developing the younger guys as well; there’s not a selfish bone in him.”
In regards to unifying this year’s team, Williams said, “He is our most experienced player, and he has shared responsibility for the leadership of the team with key guys, which has really galvanized the rest of them.”
According to Williams, Prieto lacks condescension. He does not lead with an iron fist, but promotes Lasallian values by being inclusive in his headship role.
Williams said, Prieto is not an elitist who would say things like “This is my team, and y’all are welcome to it.” He’s been the opposite, acting as though “This is our team, and I’m gonna show you how it is ours.”
When asked about his leadership role and tenure as a St. Paul’s basketball player, Prieto doesn’t take credit for being a sole leader.
“In my freshman year and my sophomore year, we were really selfish,” Prieto said. “We had great individual talent, but couldn’t operate as a unit.”
“Last year, we began to change the mindset bit by bit, and, obviously, didn’t get as far as we wanted to,” Prieto said, “but this year is totally different. There has been a new feel in the program; all of us have begun to play more as a team. What can I say, I have to thank my coach.”
The St. Paul’s varsity basketball team plays again tomorrow, Jan. 29, at Northshore High School. For more information on the season, visit the varsity basketball scoreboard page.