Saint Paul’s guard Reece Seicshnaydre sunk a go-ahead free throw with 0.4 seconds remaining, sealing a 1-point victory for the Saint Paul’s Basketball Wolves over their rival Mandeville High Skippers in front of a rowdy crowd at the Gene Bennett Sports Complex on January 14, 2023.
There is no rivalry on the Northshore like Saint Paul’s and Mandeville. The basketball games in particular are both highly anticipated and heavily contested annually, and this year’s tilt was no exception.
Many students filed into the student section around 7 p.m., which was supposed to be when a scheduled Senior Night ceremony began. However, students instead were greeted with the end of the junior varsity matchup between Saint Paul’s and Mandeville, which had run late due to several stoppages in a tight affair.
While the student section initially sat lackadaisically as the junior varsity game finished up, the atmosphere changed dramatically shortly thereafter. Saint Paul’s and Mandeville were tied at 30 in the game’s waning seconds before Saint Paul’s drained a buzzer-beater shot as time expired, giving the junior varsity squad the win. The entire student section erupted as the ball dropped through the hoop, and it set the stage for the varsity game to follow. The student section was now ready and energized to cheer on the Varsity Basketball Wolves, even long before tipoff.
Before the varsity contest, there were rows of students unable to get a seat in the student section, as it had reached its capacity. Saint Paul’s Athletic Director Sam Francis was impressed with the showing of Wolf Nation: “The atmosphere in the Gene Bennett Sports Complex was electrifying. It was one of the largest crowds Saint Paul’s has had in a long time. As a player, you dream of playing in a game that has the energy that both student sections brought.”
Following a heartfelt Senior Night ceremony, the rivalry game was finally underway.
Throughout the first quarter, both teams struggled to get a basket. Mandeville led 6-4 after 12 minutes of play. Saint Paul’s senior Ben Owenby, who was the leading scorer for the game with 13 points, chalked up the team’s first-quarter woes to the size of the moment: “It was our first game of the year with that big of a crowd, so it took us some getting used to. We used the break to recuperate as a team and got back into our rhythm.”
After this short break, Saint Paul’s entered the second quarter as a new team. The Wolves took the lead in the second quarter and entered the half with a 21-17 lead, which was created by multiple steals from junior Max Derbes and a precise three-point shooting effort from Owenby.
Going into the second half, the student section was ready to give the team the energy it needed to finish the game. Saint Paul’s senior Christian Cowley, who also won the school’s “Fan of the Week” award against Mandeville, described the energy that the student section had going into the third quarter: “When the second half rolled around, we took the home-court advantage to the next level. We were ready to win and [knew] we were going to win. We affected the game in a way I have never witnessed at Saint Paul’s, and I don’t think any other school’s student section could top it. You had to be there to know.”
Accordingly, the Wolves maintained their lead in the third quarter, playing strong defense throughout a frame that resembled the low-scoring first quarter. Although the Wolves were up 6 points, nobody in the building was ready for the stress the final quarter would bring.
The Skippers outscored the Wolves in the fourth quarter by 6 going into the final possession. The game was tied, and the Wolves received the ball with 30 seconds remaining. The Wolves demonstrated expert possession play, and Head Coach Stephen Dale called the team’s final timeout with only 7 seconds remaining.
Instructions for the final play appeared to be simple: give the ball to Seicshnaydre, and let him get a bucket.
As the 6’3 star guard received the ball from the inbound near mid-court and dribbled it down until the final seconds, he drew a shooting foul on the Skippers, leading to two free throws for the Wolves with 0.4 seconds remaining.
Seicshnaydre stepped up to the line, and the Mandeville student section tried its best to make it impossible for him to focus. However, as cold as ice, Seicshnaydre drained the first free throw, putting the Wolves up 42-41 and the Skippers’ hopes to rest.
Wolf Nation stormed the court as the Saint Paul’s Wolves defeated the Mandeville High Skippers. Despite its contested nature not being unique in this heated Northshore rivalry, this was a game that will not soon be forgotten by those in attendance.