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Who's That Manager?

This is the 1966-7 Crusader varsity basketball team. Nick Revon's last St. Aloysius quintet finished 20-9 but did not make the State Playoffs. They won the Chalmette Tournament and finished third in the CYO Tournament. They led District 5-AAA in scoring with 67 ppg.

Basketball Team 1966-7
Recognize the manager wearing his letterman sweater? That's Father Paul Hart (BM '70) of the Archdiocese of New Orleans who frequently presides at school and alumni liturgies at Brother Martin. An ardent Crusader fan, Paul sometimes says the pregame Mass for the football team.
Streak Ends
The Brother Martin Crusaders won their first four basketball games of 1970-1, defeating South Terrebonne twice, East Jefferson, and Warren Easton.
  • Since the team went 36-0 in 1969-70, these W's moved the winning streak to 40.
  • However, the McDonogh Trojans dealt Andy Russo's squad a 50-48 loss in the Crusader Gym to stop the streak. 6'8" Trojans C Bill McDaniels led all scorers, while Glenn Masson's 14 topped the home team. Martin shot poorly and committed 17 turnovers.

Unfortunately, BM lost another two-point game in the next outing, 70-68 to New Iberia in the USL Tournament in Lafayette.

  • Again an opposing player, this time Oliver Mitchell with 22, led all scorers. Masson and Gabe Williams each tallied 20 for the Crimson and Gold.
  • In the last half minute of the contest, the Yellow Jackets had the ball in a tie game. Tommy Smith deflected a pass into the back court and sprinted to retrieve it. But an opponent beat him to the ball and Tommy, unable to stop, ran into him. The two free throws sank the Saders.
The team took out its frustration on Abramson 117-58 on Elysian Fields the following week.
Tommy Smith
Tommy Smith (10) in action while Gabe Williams (44) and Jay Trapani (20) look on.

Semifinal Upset
Nick Revon
Nick Revon

The 1947-8 St. Aloysius Crusaders roared through the regular season undefeated in 14 games to easily cop the City Champ­ionship. The only close call came in a home game on January 13, a 50-48 squeaker over Holy Cross on Lou Bravo's bucket. However, Lou was not eligible for the second half of the season since he had played the eight semesters allowed by state rules.

Johnny Altobello's second Crimson team entered the state tournament at LSU as heavy favorites to repeat as champions. The starting lineup featured Nick Revon at F with "Red" Per­ret, Bravo's replacement, freshman sensation Dick Brennan at C, and guards Kirk Drake and Bobby Chighizola.

The Knights dispatched Redemptorist 38-27 in the opening game at LSU as Brennan led with 14. Then came the shocker. The Holy Cross Tigers, whom SA had defeated 48-27 at the Tiger Den during the second round, turned the tables on the cold Saders 55-42. Brennan tallied 11 and Revon 10 in the first loss of the season. In the consolation game, Altobello's crew belted Brother Ralph's Catholic High Bears 62-25 as Perret scorched the nets for 40. Holy Cross won the championship in the finale.

Brennan and Perret made the All-Tournament team which at that time was considered the All-State squad. Surprisingly, Revon did not after two years on the illustrious list.

The Crusaders bounced back in 1949 to get their undefeated season and third state championship in school history.

Personal note: In separate interviews with Nick and Johnny, I asked each if he remembered the 1948 heartbreaking loss to HC. Neither did. I suppose when you won as many as they did, you forget the losses.

Johnny Altobello
Johnny Altobello
Clarion Herald Team of the Decade

D. J. Augustine (USA Today)

Ron Brocato of the Clarion Herald recently [4/09] added to his list of All-Decade Catholic prep basketball teams with his selections for 2000-2009. Two Crusaders made the seven man squad. Neither is a surprise.

  • D. J. Augustine (2003-5), Most Oustanding Player of the decade
  • Ryan Brock (2002-5)

The others on the team are: Tim Bush, Archbishop Shaw; Brandon Dyson, Archbishop Hannan; Kevin Anderson and Trey Rubin,De La Salle; Dwight Lewis, Archbishop Rummel.

Ryan Brock
Ryan Brock
Three Straight JV Titles
Tommy Smith & Derek Collins
Coach Tommy Smith with Derek Collins

The 1980-1 Crusader JV basketeers won the district championship for the third year in a row.

  • They sported an impressive 25-1 mark.
  • That brought Coach Tommy Smith's five-year record to 113 wins against only 11 losses.
  • Derek Collins led the team in scoring.
  • Juan Sorapuru topped the squad in rebounding.
  • Byron Alexander was the leader in assists.
  • Many of these JV players were mainstays of the Final Four team two years later.
JV Basketball 1981
Joel Price and Chris Fontenot
guard an East Jefferson cager.
Fifth Time's the Charm
Oliver & Robey
Leroy Oliver vs Felton Young as Rick Robey watches

Donald Newman
Donald Newman

The 1973-4 Crusader basketeers met Holy Cross five times. Three of the meetings were for championships.

Tom Kolb returned to Elysian Fields from a brief sojourn as head coach at Jesuit. He was greeted by four returning lettermen: 6'11" C Rick Robey, G Jimmy McCulla, F Leroy Oliver, and F Rodney Montgomery. They were joined by Donald Newman in a formidable starting five. The Tigers were coached by Don Maestri, who has been the head coach at Troy University since 1982. His star was C Felton Young, who later played at Jacksonville University and was drafted by the Buffalo Braves of the NBA. (Young's 6'8" son, Thaddeus, attended Georgia Tech and now plays for the Philadelphia 76ers.)

  • The teams began district play with a 64-59 Sader victory at Holy Cross.
  • Finishing the first round with identical 6-1 records, the teams met in a playoff at Tulane. This time, the Tigers prevailed 65-57.
  • The teams played the very next game to start Round Two. The Crusaders protected their home court, 61-59, on their way to a perfect 7-0 second round mark.
  • So the two round winners took the court at Tulane again. Oliver and Robey sparked a late surge that won the district title, 58-57.
  • Each team won four games in the playoffs to reach the finals in Alexandria. After a shaky first half, the Crusaders prevailed 67-56 to win the school's third state championship in its five years of existence.

Robey completed an outstanding senior year.

  • He made All-District, All-City, and All-State and was selected the best player in the Top Twenty tournament.
  • Rated as one of the top four seniors in America, he signed with Kentucky where he played four years before going to the NBA.
Jimmy McCulla
Jimmy McCulla

Rodney Montgomery
Rodney "Snake" Montgomery

Another Crusader in Prep Hall of Legends
Ron Brocato has announced the names of 17 more athletes added to the Prep Hall of Legends on display in Ye Olde College Inn. Congratulations to O.J. Lacour (SA '62) for being included in that number.

Here is Ron's paragraph on O.J. in the Clarion Herald (10/25/14).

O.J. LACOUR - An All-State guard for St. Aloysius' basketball team in 1961 and 1962, Lacour led the Crusaders to the 1961 CYO championship. He was named to the 1962 Top 20 championships' All-Tournament team.

O.J.'s most memorable game is commemorated in the following article.
Fantastic Finish

O.J. Lacour in acation
O.J. Lacour in action


Billy Deris

On February 9, 1962, St. Aloysius met De La Salle at Loyola Field House. (SA had a small gym, and DLS had no gym. So the schools agreed to play their district games at Loyola to accommodate larger crowds.)
  • Both Ernie Smith's Crusaders, the champions of the annual CYO Tournament, and Johnny Altobello's Cavaliers were 3-0 in second round play.
  • DLS had won the first round despite losing to Aloysius in the final game, 46-36. (The schedule called for the five schools in the Catholic League to meet each other twice in each round.)

3,500 fans watched the Cavs jump out in front in Q1.

  • Behind the sharp outside shooting of Frank Donaldson and Sal Lisotta, DLS led 18-8 after the opening eight minutes.
  • But Aloysius began to control the boards to exactly turn the tables in Q2 and leave the floor tied at halftime 26-26. The Crusaders also benefitted from their 10-of-11 accuracy at the foul line.
  • The third period didn't break the tie as each side scored 8.

That set the stage for an exciting final quarter.

  • The Cavaliers seemed to finally take control of the game, forging a 50-46 lead with less than a half minute to play.
  • That's when Lacour took over the game. The Crusader captain drove in for a layup with 13 seconds on the clock.
  • Then he intercepted the inbounds pass and dropped in another basket, getting fouled on the play.
  • He sank the FT to give SA a 51-50 lead. It took a moment for everyone to realize that they had just seen someone score 5 points in 4 seconds!
  • A desperation DLS shot fell short at the buzzer.

Lacour and Jerry Brewer led the Crusaders with 16 each while Billy Deris threw in 9.

As in the 1957-58 season, the Cavaliers and Crusaders met seven times during 1961-62. In the last meeting, De La Salle won 38-35 in Shreveport for the AAA State Championship.

Coach Ernie Smith with O. J. Lacour and Jerry Brewer
JV 26-1
JV Coach John Anderson
Coach John Anderson
The 1976-7 Crusader JV dribbled their way to a 26-1 overall mark, winning the District 11-AAAA championship with a 14-0 record. Coach John Anderson (SA '66) credited an "explosive fast break offense and a pressing man-to-man defense" as the keys to the team's success.
  • The only loss was to Chalmette in the CYO Tournament.
  • The team was led by the consistent shooting of Danny Zibilich, Clarence Guillory, and Ronald McAlister.
  • Roderick Price, Mike Alvarez, Mark McCulla, and Brian Flotte contributed stalwart defense.
  • Some of the wins were by incredible scores for 32-minute JV games. The team reached its peak in the last two games of the season, blasting De La Salle 96-56 and Shaw 80-50.

The 8th-grade Saders also enjoyed an excellent year at 15-2. The basketball program was on the upswing under new varsity coach Johnny Vitrano (also SA '66). The best of the sophomores, Eric Alexander, didn't even play JV, instead playing a key role on the varsity.

Mark McCulla 1976-7 JV
Mark McCulla wins a jump ball.
First Home Loss
On January 15, 1960, the Crusaders lost to Jesuit 54-47. So why are we talking about a Crimson defeat? Because this was the first game that Coach Ernie Smith lost in the St. Aloysius Gym in two and a half seasons at the helm after 32 straight home wins.

Coming from St. Stanislaus, Ernie continued the great Crusader basketball tradition of the 1940s and '50s. He waged numerous epic battles with Johnny Altobello. Smith's first team, 1957-8, played the seven game "World Series" with De La Salle ending with a defeat in the State Finals. Included were two victories over the Cavs at the Esplanade Enclosure. Smith's second squad were co-champions of the Catholic League.

The '59-60 aggregation, Ernie's youngest so far, featured the guard play of Captain Gary Albrecht and Ed Burgard and the strong rebounding of Henry Arceneaux and Bill Krummel. The team went 21-6 and finished second behind the Cavaliers. DLS's lone league loss was 46-44 in the Sader gym in the first round.
1959-60 St. Aloysius Crusaders
Crusader Basketball Squad 1959-60
Unblemished Slate

The St. Aloysius JV cagers won all 20 games in the 1965-66 season. The only close games for John Arms' team were 63-57 over Jesuit and 64-59 and 59-56 over De La Salle.

JV Basketball 1965-6

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