St. Louis Catholic boys basketball coach Rick LeBato is pictured with his 2018-19 seniors Kevin Collins, Carrington Guillory and LHSAA Academic All-State honorees Benji Chatters and Preston “Trey” Blanchard.

Not only did the St. Louis Catholic boys basketball team advance all the way to Marsh Madness to conclude the 2018-19 season, but senior captains Preston “Trey” Blanchard and Benji Chatters gave the Saints something even more to be proud of on Wednesday.

Blanchard, who transferred from Hathaway this year, and Chatters were named to the 2018-19 LHSAA Academic All-State Boys’ Basketball Composite Team, presented for exemplary academic achievement by maintaining the highest GPA among all athletes during their academic career while participating in varsity high school athletics.  St. Louis Catholic is the only school with two honorees on the list of 22 basketball players with perfect 4.0 GPAs.

“These two were our captains this year and led this group through a lot of obstacles,” said coach Rick LeBato.  “It was difficult, but they stayed positive.  Basically the core of our team came in late, so we got off to a slow start.  This group was able to turn it around; they didn’t hold their heads down.  And to make it all the way to the Final Four was a huge deal.”

Chatters said prioritizing homework and studying along with athletics has been crucial throughout his journey at St. Louis Catholic.  He and Blanchard both took inspiration for their success in school from their families, specifically their older sisters.

“A lot of people don’t think you can balance the two (sports and academics),” Blanchard said.  “But I would tell people it can be done.  It takes a lot of sacrifice; you don’t have as much free time as you want, you can’t go out on the weekends all the time, but if you want to do it, you can go out and get it.”

Both student athletes said they knew their basketball careers soon would end, so focusing on their academic success was a no-brainer.  Blanchard plans to study accounting in college and become a CPA, while Chatters just earned acceptance to the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s combined six-year undergraduate/medical school degree program.

“They took someone and modeled themselves after someone older than them, and the other common denominator was being unselfish and having the ability to give of themselves,” LeBato said.  “That’s rare – only a few teams can do that, and these two were definitely our leaders in that.”