CRANSTON, R.I. – The St. Paul School Girls basketball team recently won its first Catholic Athletic League Division A1 State Championship, beating Providence’s Blessed Sacrament 33-31. This is the first time that St. Paul School in Cranston has won a basketball state championship in the 86 years of the school.
“I am extremely proud of my players,” said Coach Michael Patterson. “Through teamwork and dedication they accomplished something no other St. Paul’s basketball team has – an undefeated season and a state title. Like the Red Sox, the St. Paul’s Girls Team has ended its 86 year championship drought.” Patterson is in his 12th year coaching St. Paul’s girl’s basketball.
Jean Patterson, Coach Patterson’s wife and former St. Paul’s principal, started the Girls Team many years ago with the rule that every student who wanted to play would be allowed to. She refused to make roster cuts. This rule helped build a program that was more of family than a team. This past season, St. Paul’s had 20 girls, enough to sponsor two league teams, but due to a coaching shortage had to stay with just one.
The championship game was close from the first buzzer to the last. The St. Paul’s crowd was biting their nails as Blessed Sacrament rallied back from a six-point deficit with two consecutive 3-pointers, tying the game with less than thirty seconds to play. St. Paul then scored a lay up to go up by two. Blessed Sacrament made a valiant effort as the clock expired.
This team also excels in the classroom. Due to strict academic policies, students must remain in good academic standing throughout the season. This diverse group of fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth graders all maintained their eligibility the entire season. It is also important to note that every girl played in every game including the championship game. This was truly a team effort.
“The entire parish should be very proud of these talented young ladies,” said Principal John Corry. “The courage and determination they show on and off the courts is something I will never forget.”