The St. Martin de Porres (SMDP) Saints won the Pennsylvania State CYO Boys Basketball Tournament on Sunday, April 3rd in Erie, PA. The team brought home the crown after three back-to-back winning games and were honored during a rousing pep rally and victory parade this week that shut down West Lehigh Avenue in front of the school.
Members of the 76ers drum line led the parade, and Temple University Men’s Basketball Coach Fran Dunphy spoke to the supporters and students who were on hand for the celebration that was covered by Philly.com and KYW Newsradio 1060.
The Saints did not seem to be likely contenders for such a sweeping victory. For starters, SMDP, an Independence Mission School located in North Philadelphia, doesn’t even have a real gymnasium. The boys have developed their skills using a portable basketball hoop in the school’s auditorium, playing in the school yard during lunch, in competitive games at other city schools, and at the Mercy Vocational High School gym. Just a few short weeks before heading to the state championship games, the Saints lost their starting center to an injury.
Despite these setbacks, the team handily defeated St. Elizabeth of Allentown by a score of 53-41 in the Friday, April 1st game after driving nearly eight hours in a bus earlier the same day. The Saints advanced to the second round to take on St. Clare/St. Paul from the Diocese of Scranton in a closely contested match that was tied 26-26 at the end of the first half. The SMDP Saints rallied to win 55-45. In the final game, the Saints triumphed over St. Bernadette School from the Diocese of Pittsburgh, 53-41. Shortly after winning, the team boarded the bus at 6:55 p.m. and arrived back in Philadelphia at 1:40 a.m.
This is the first time that the Saints have won the state championship, but perhaps it’s not so surprising after all. Students at St. Martin de Porres live by the principle “Stand Up and Stand Out.” Before they ventured to Erie, the team promised, win or lose, to stand up and stand out, on and off the court. By all accounts, they took that to heart