The Bishop Hendricken boys basketball team wrapped up its 2020 season with a 53-45 Sweet 16 win over Tolman last week in the open state tournament.
Sebastian Thomas capped off his stellar campaign with a game-high 17 points, while Justin Perez added 15 points and David Lynch nine. Leandro DePina led Tolman with 13 points in the loss.
The top-seeded Hawks were next slated to take on No. 9 Cranston West in the Elite Eight, however, the recent COVID-19 outbreak forced the Rhode Island Interscholastic league to cancel the remainder of the tournament, ending Hendricken’s historic season.
“We were anticipating it, we had an idea that something was probably going to have to happen, so when they heard the news they were disappointed. This group of young men was amazing. They loved each other, played hard for each other, had strong character, and it showed in the way the played,” said Hendricken coach Jamal Gomes.
Despite not being able to finish the job, the Hawks still enjoyed one of the program’s best seasons ever.
Hendricken rolled to a 17-1 regular season record, then earned a Division I championship by beating powerhouse North Kingstown.
Gomes emphasized the team’s success and reminded his players of all that they accomplished, including defeating the second-seeded, high-flying Skippers twice throughout the course of the winter.
“I reminded them that maybe 10 years ago, before they changed to (the open state tournament) format, the Division I title was the state title. I told them that they should be very proud, they won their last game, won the division title, and that is something to be very proud of. I was able to meet with them one last time and I got to thank them, tell them how grateful I was to be their coach and work with them. I told them that we all love basketball, but there is something going on that is bigger than basketball and has to be taken care of. They showed great maturity,” said Gomes.
The Hawks will now flip the page to next season, and are bracing for some big losses as six seniors are set to graduate in the spring.
“We lose six seniors. We lose Angel Sanchez which is big, he is one of the toughest football and basketball players, and one of the greatest athletes in the state of Rhode Island. We’re losing Helio Sousa, who is another tough, team player that worked his tail off every day. We lose Sebastian Basilio who came off the bench and showed great leadership this year. We then graduate three more great players in Jeremy Mazzulla, Rocco Zarra and Robert Whalen,” said Gomes.
Despite the expected roster turnover, Gomes is confident in the core that is set to return, including Thomas, who was among the state’s best guards this season.
“I’ll expect a lot. I told them that once we reconnect, we can start planning for the offseason. When we left our meeting last week, I told the seniors, ‘Next year, we are going to play for you. We are going to compete as hard as we can for the seniors who didn’t get to finish their season,’” said Gomes. “We have a good group coming back. Obviously Sebastian Thomas, who is one of the best, if not the best player in the state. We have some good size in Cam Hughes and Jason Onye, we have Justin Perez, David Lynch and Andres Andujar. Our freshmen and JV teams won state titles, so we’ll also expect some of those guys to step up and carry on the legacy moving forward.”