Courtesy St. Paul School
Girls from Sacred Heart in Medford huddle after winning the Tournament of Excellence championship, which brought together teams from Catholic schools across the state.

Courtesy St. Paul School

Girls from Sacred Heart in Medford huddle after winning the Tournament of Excellence championship, which brought together teams from Catholic schools across the state.

EUGENE — St. Paul School here hosted 14 teams from Catholic schools around the state to participate in its 44th annual basketball Tournament of Excellence this winter. Girls and boys teams hailed from St. Paul and O’Hara here, Blanchet in Salem, Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s in Medford, St. Mary in Stayton, and a combined team from St. Francis in Banks and Visitation in Forest Grove. The teams spent the weekend competing on the basketball court and bonding off the court. 

“It’s about building a greater community within our Catholic schools, giving students an opportunity to shine through the sport of basketball,” said Kelli Braud, St. Paul principal.

The Tournament of Excellence features a variety of activities for the student athletes, including: opening ceremonies, free-throw and 3-point shooting contests, a dance social, Mass, a player breakfast, and closing ceremony. Players also had the opportunity to hear from WNBA player Jillian Alleyne, who discussed the importance of hard work, faith and persistence. Teams spent the weekend cheering on their peers and celebrating each other’s accomplishments. 

“This is about the joy of the game; there is a lot of competition and a lot of fun for these kids,” said Marty Hopkins, tournament director. “Everything we do throughout the tournament is Christ-centered.”

After a well-fought weekend, the O’Hara boys team and the Sacred Heart girls team won first place, followed by the St. Paul boys and the O’Hara girls in second. The St. Mary girls and the Sacred Heart boys teams were awarded the Sportsmanship award, voted on by the referees. The coaches and tournament officials also chose one player from each team to represent their school as a tournament all-star, rewarding them for their impressive play throughout the weekend.