Hawks upset Purple to claim 20th title

Posted 3/16/22


The Bishop Hendricken Hawks are the 2021-22 Rhode Island State Champions.

The Hawks beat the Classical Purple 71-68 in overtime on Sunday evening in the title game at the Ryan …

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Hawks upset Purple to claim 20th title



The Bishop Hendricken Hawks are the 2021-22 Rhode Island State Champions.

The Hawks beat the Classical Purple 71-68 in overtime on Sunday evening in the title game at the Ryan Center.

Hendricken, who had previously lost to Classical in all three of their meetings this season, fought back from an early 14-point deficit and brought home the gold.

The highest scorer in the contest was Hawks junior guard Eze Wali, who registered 29 points.

“We played with love,” Wali said. “That’s what we talked about all season. We knew if we stuck together and stuck to the game plan, and did not panic, we’d get back in this game. We knew it was a rough start. They were a pretty good team, but we’ve been in this situation before, so we weren’t worried or scared.”

David Lynch, a senior who brought home the Co-MVP Award for Hendricken, finished second in scoring for the Hawks with 18 points, while Mike Paquette, a junior, chipped in ten points.

“We just stayed calm,” Paquette said. “We had to weather the storm. We knew it was going to be a long game, so we were focused and we knew we could fight back.”

Classical was led by sophomore Azzy Harrison, who tallied 28 points and Purple senior and Co-MVP Marquis Buchanan, who contributed 19 points, while Alex Delguidice and Evenson St. Franc, scored 11 points and ten points, respectively.

Buchanan started the scoring when he made a mid-range jump shot, which led to an 18-4 Classical run.

The Hawks were able to get within 22-12 by the end of the first frame, thanks to Wali, who buried back-to-back treys during a 6-2 spurt.

Hendricken continued where it left off, starting the second quarter with a 7-0 run, where Paquette sank a couple buckets before Lynch registered a layup, and a 3-ball, which got the Hawks within 22-21.

Shortly after, Lynch made a 3-pointer and gave the Hawks their first lead of the game at 26-25.

That lead was short-lived, however, because St. Franc put the Purple back on top, at 27-26, when he slashed through the lane and made a layup.

Next, Hawks sophomore Rushaune Vilane scored with a putback, and then Wali sank a jumper, which put the Hawks on top 30-27.

With 1:53 remaining in the first half, Harrison made a trey and tied the score at 30.

After that, Wali scored with an old-fashioned 3-point play, and then Buchanan answered with a pair of free throws, and the Hawks headed into halftime holding a 33-32 advantage.

St. Franc started the third quarter with a putback and it put the Purple on top at 34-33.

Wali made a free throw after that, which evened the score at 34, but then Buchanan stole the ball and drove in for a two-handed slam before Harrison buried a trey, and that had Classical leading 39-34.

Classical upped its margin to nine midway through the third when Delguidice made a layup.

The Purple held a 52-44 buffer after three quarters.

With just 2:10 remaining in the fourth frame, Buchanan buried a jumper and gave the Purple a seven- point cushion at 62-55.

But the Hawks were far from done, thanks to some scrappy defense.

“We had to because if we didn’t play defense we weren’t going to win the game,” Hawks head coach Jamal Gomes said. “We’ve been in a lot of tight, and a lot of close games all season long. So, we were accustomed to having to try to fight and come back and try to win those games and I think that experience in the regular season helped us in the postseason.”

Lynch responded with a runner, and then Wali added a pair of free throws and that got the Hawks within just three.

After that, the Hawks got another stop, and then Lynch buried a 3-ball with just 37 seconds left and deadlocked the score at 62.

So, the squads went into a 4-minute overtime to decide a champion.

There, St. Franc scored the first bucket.

Then, Cam Chinn answered with a 3-pointer and put the Hawks up 65-64.

Wali extended the Hendricken buffer to 69-65 when he made four free throws during the next minute and a half.

With 5.2 seconds left, Harrison buried a 3-pointer and pulled the Purple within 69-68.

Next, Harrison intentionally fouled Paquette with 1.8 seconds left, and the junior made a couple of clutch free throws and extended the Hawks cushion to 71-68, and that’s how it would end.

Classical may have had the Hawks number all season and during the Division I playoffs, but Hendricken got the job done when it mattered most.

“They gave us a tough first three games, but credit to the coaches, they prepared us all week and my teammates believed in me, so it helped me finish the game,” Paquette said.

And the Hendricken head coach and Athletic Director, couldn’t have been more satisfied with the way his team battled.

“I’m so proud of our guys,” Gomes said. “So, proud of their resilience, their effort, their teamwork, their togetherness, and most importantly, their love for one another.”

Prior to the Championship game, Hendricken snuck by La Salle 69-66 on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Wali during the Final Four Round.

Wali, again, topped the Hawks in scoring, this time with 18 points, while Lynch added 17 points and Abdullah, 12 points.

Kelvin Odih led the Rams with 19 points, while Raphel Awa had 17 points, and Dimetri IaFrate, 16 points.

With 1:25 to play in the contest, Hendricken held a 66-61 advantage, but then things got interesting.

Dante Iafrate sank a 3-ball fifteen seconds later, and after that, Dimetri Iafrate stole the ensuing inbound pass and sank a baseline runner, tying the score at 66.

Then, with just 5.4 seconds left, Wali accepted an inbound pass from Lynch and buried the 3-point dagger from the top of the arc, with a defender in his face, and as the buzzer sounded, and the Hawks rejoiced at mid-court with the walk-off 69-66 victory.

“His game and his progress, he has improved so much this year,” Gomes explained. “And he’s tough. He was playing with a banged up leg. He went out there and gave everything he had. I’m so proud.”

Without that shot, Hendricken may never have made it to the championship game.

“First of all, La Salle is a great team,” Gomes said. “A great program. Extremely well-coached with great players. This was one heck of a high school basketball game tonight.”

“As far as my guys go, I’m so proud, I’m so happy for them, and how far they’ve come,” Gomes continued. “Our season came down to the last five seconds. And they showed great love for each other, and that’s what it’s about in my book.”

“A memory that I’ll always remember,” Wali concluded after winning the title on Sunday. “It feels great. It’s wonderful.”

Hawks, basketball


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