High school basketball is the last pure platform of the sport. Where the NBA and even college ball are “just a business,” high school basketball is played for school, community, family, friends and love of the game.
Directed by Marc Levin (the 1998 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner “Slam”), PRAYER FOR A PERFECT SEASON is a gripping account of the 2010-11 boys’ basketball season at St. Patrick High School, located in a hardscrabble neighborhood of Elizabeth, NJ. This feature-length documentary chronicles the extraordinary effort of coach Kevin Boyle and his players, whose journey ends in a winner-take-all showdown for the mythical national championship with archrival St. Anthony of Jersey City.
PRAYER FOR A PERFECT SEASON captures the intersection of two forces – the soaring media interest in the big game, and the decline of Catholic school programs – while illuminating the real-life issues players and coaches confront during the season.
Coached by Kevin Boyle, the St. Patrick Celtics’ 2010-11 team was loaded with talent and plagued by distractions. Star player Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (now a freshman at the University of Kentucky) was one of the nation’s top performers and his elite skills had cast him in an unrelenting spotlight since eighth grade. When Kidd-Gilchrist was just two and a half years old, his father was murdered, and he also lost his uncle at the beginning of his senior year of high school. Complementing Kidd-Gilchrist, senior shooting guard Derrick Gordon (ticketed for Western Kentucky University) must live with his twin brother’s incarceration for aggravated assault.
PRAYER FOR A PERFECT SEASON follows the roller-coaster ride of a team on the brink of history, at a 100-year-old inner-city school with financial challenges, where the journey to the top of the polls is inspiring, but the future is filled with uncertainty. The quest for the perfect season comes down to the March 9 title game, a prime-time match-up on the campus of Rutgers University before an overflow crowd, as St. Patrick (26-0) confronts archnemesis St. Anthony (29-0), led by Basketball Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley Sr..
Marc Levin’s previous HBO credits include “Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags,” the Emmy®-winning “Thug Life in D.C.,” “Protocols of Zion” “Gang War: Bangin’ in Little Rock” and “Gladiator Days.”
PRAYER FOR A PERFECT SEASON is a Blowback Production in association with Overbrook Entertainment; directed by Marc Levin; produced by Karl Hollandt, Ben Selkow and R. Binky Brown; editor, James Lester; director of photography, Daniel B. Levin. For HBO: executive producers, Shelia Nevins and Rick Bernstein; senior producers, Nancy Abraham and Joe Lavine.