SACRAMENTO, CA – As the St. Patrick-St. Vincent boys basketball team converged at center court at the Golden 1 Center to celebrate their Division IV State Championship, it was the culmination of an outstanding year marked by ups and downs, of a trio of seniors who had played four years together, of a school with State Championship wins by two teams in the same year, and of a coach filled with gratitude to bring a whole lot of pride back to his city.
St. Patrick-St. Vincent defeated Helix, 59-46, Saturday afternoon at the Golden 1 Center to capture the CIF Division IV title and first ever State Championship. BJ Standley scored a game-high 16 points, and Tavian Henderson, Marquel Johnson, and Romeo Mays scored 12 points apiece in the win. Henderson grabbed seven rebounds and Standley had seven rebounds and five assists. The Bruins outscored the Highlanders 25-7 in a decisive third quarter.
“We went through a lot this season, we could have easily been broken but I have a tough group of kids,” St. Patrick-St. Vincent coach Derek Walker said. “They stayed together, fought together, won together, lost together. That’s the beauty of being on a team.”
Helix’s four-star recruit Miles Norris had 11 points and 10 boards, but was limited in the second half due to foul trouble. With him on the bench for the last 4:17 of the third quarter, St. Patrick-St. Vincent turned a 29-24 lead into a 44-27 advantage to start the fourth. Henderson, Johnson, and Standley spearheaded the quarter-ending rally, which included the last nine points by either team.
“Let’s give credit where credit is due,” Helix coach John Singer said. “We don’t make excuses and we’re not going to make excuses now.”
St. Patrick-St. Vincent (28-7) led the entire first half until Dylan Lee’s bucket with 2:25 remaining capped a 10-2 run and gave Helix a 20-19 edge that would hold at the half. The Bruins missed 14 straight shots at one point in the sluggish second quarter.
“To only have 19 points at the half, we knew that wasn’t us,” Walker remarked. “We had to keep pushing, the shots would fall. We said we need to give Tavian the ball a little bit more, and it happened to be that Norris was guarding him and it worked out for us.”
“It was a great experience and I’m sad we didn’t come out with the win but at the same time we could have played way better,” Jaylen Arnold remarked. The senior forward tallied 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Helix (31-6) won the San Diego Section title this year and were seeded second in the State playoffs after missing the them altogether last season.
St. Patrick-St. Vincent lost the TCAL Championship in overtime to Salesian, then fell to lower-seeded Lick-Wilmerding in the NCS playoffs. But in the State playoffs, the No. 3 Bruins got their revenge against Lick-Wilmerding in the Regional Semi-finals, then surprised top-seeded Palma in the Regional Final to pave the way to Sacramento.
Standley, Henderson, and Mays all were freshmen on a St. Patrick-St. Vincent squad that experienced a high level of success—26 wins, and appearances in semifinals of both the NCS and CIF State runs. That season the trio averaged a combined 12 points per game. In the next couple of seasons, they would make a NCS final but not get past the second round of the State playoffs.
This season the trio averaged 40.8 points per game, and got a boost from Johnson, a senior who in addition to contributing 14 points per game was one of several Bruins to also play on the 2016 State Champion football team. Both Walker and Johnson noted that it helped the basketball team.
“It’s good to be a Bruin,” Walker beamed. “I’m from Vallejo so I couldn’t be happier. It really hasn’t sunk in, I’m still pinching myself.”