Season of Milestones

2000-1, John Lavie's second season as Brother Martin head coach, featured a number of milestones.

  • The Crusaders defeated St. Augustine for the first time in 14 years, 60-46, at St. Aug. no less. (The Purple Knights returned the favor in the second round, 69-64.)
  • Lavie's boys crushed Salmen 71-45 when the Spartans were ranked in the Top Ten in the state.
  • The Saders upended another Top Ten squad, Grace King, 62-57, with future NBA star Danny Granger patrolling the court for the Fighting Irish.
  • BM nearly upset Shaw's defending state champions, losing 53-48 in the Conlin Gym after grabbing a 12-point Q3 lead.
  • Needing a win to make the playoffs for the first time since '95, Martin won at Rummel 66-62 to halt the Raiders' five-game winning streak. The victory gave the Saders 21 wins, the most since 1988.
  • The Crusaders hit the road for the first round, facing Tara in Baton Rouge. Charles Scarborough's 3-pointer in the final two seconds provided the victory margin, 49-46.
  • The memorable season ended with a 68-59 home loss to West Jefferson.

Last but not least, the first year of the new millennium saw the birth of the Conlin Crazies, the student section behind the home bench that helped create a big-time basketball atmosphere that had long been absent.

2001 Varsity Basketball Squad
Too Much Pettit

Dick Brennan
Dick Brennan

Art Franz
Art Franz

Johnny Altobello's 1949-50 St. Aloysius cagers won the prep championship for the fourth straight season.

  • A mid-season loss to Fortier broke the school's 39 game winning streak.
  • Junior F Dickie Brennan led the league in scoring with 225 points.

The Crusaders entered the state tournament in Hammond with high expectations of defending their AA championship from 1949.

  • The Crusaders won their first two games over Istrouma and Lafayette, the latter coached by Bill Arms ('42).
  • That brought the Saints to the finals against Baton Rouge, led by 6'7" Bob Pettit.
  • The Bulldogs brought an unimpressive 20-9 record, but most of the losses occurred early in the season when Pettit was sidelined by the mumps.
  • BRHS had bounced two other New Orleans schools, Fortier and Holy Cross, on their way to the finals.

The Saints would have had a tough time even at full strength, but illness made the task even more daunting.

  • Brennan played despite being sick and weak. Fellow juniors Hal Cervini and Art Franz also suffered spells of the same condition but stuck it out.
  • Pettit dominated with 23 points, mostly on hook shots and tip-ins. The future LSU great and NBA Hall of Famer also controlled the backboards.
  • The score was tied at 22 after two periods, but BR outscored the Saders 17-7 in Q3 to take control on their way to a 54-41 victory.
  • Brennan led with 11 while Cervini threw in 10. Other scorers were Franz with 6, junior Dick Treuting 4, junior Eddie Bravo 3, junior John McDermott 2, sophomore Bobby Delpit 2, senior Clint Hagans 2, and junior Thomas McMahon 1.
  • Brennan, Cervini, and Franz joined Pettit on the 8-man All-State team. Several years later, Brennan, Cervini, and Delpit would face Pettit again while playing for Tulane.

With so many juniors returning, Aloysius was odds-on favorite to take the crown back in '51 and that's what they did.

Bob Pettit, NBA All-Star
Bob Pettit, NBA All-Star

Harold Cervini
Hal Cervini

Last Aloysius Basketball Games - 1. The Other Shreve Game

Billy Roniger 1969
Billy Roniger

Dale Valdery 1968-9
Dale Valdery

Glenn Masson 1968-9
Glenn Masson

St.Aloysius-Shreve 1969
Butch Fourroux shoots against Shreve

The last St. Aloysius basketball team made the state playoffs with a 28-3 record.

  • Having lost the District V-AAA Championship game to De La Salle 56-46, the Crusaders had to take the road for the opening round.
  • They beat the South Terrebonne Gators in Houma by the exact same score, 56-46.
  • Traveling for the first game brought the benefit of hosting the next round against another group of green Gators from Captain Shreve.

Billy Wiggins' team implemented a ball-control style similar to Johnny Altobello's at De La Salle.

  • The Gators boasted good size, with 6'3" junior Mike Harrell, the school record-holder for most points in a season (446 for 16.6 ppg) and another 6'3" junior in Jeff "Honey" Sudds.
  • The remaining starters were 5'11" junior Shelby Houston, 6'3" senior Don Ashley, and 6'4" senior Jerry Blanton.

Russo countered with this quintet.

  • 6'6" senior Butch Fourroux
  • 6'4" junior Ernest "Skip" Brunet
  • 6'2" senior Billy Roniger
  • 6'2" sophomore Glenn Masson
  • 5'11" sophomore Dale Valdery
 St. Aloysius - Shreve 1969
Skip Brunet fights Honey Sudds for the ball

The crowd that overflowed the Cor Jesu gym for what would be, win or lose, the last St. Aloysius basketball game in New Orleans saw a thriller.

  • The teams felt each other out during the nip and tuck first period which ended with the visitors in front 15-13. The Gators big men controlled the boards to prevent the Crusaders from starting their patented fast break.
  • SA finally broke loose in Q2. An 11-2 run sparked by Valdery's steal of an inbounds pass and score at the end of the break, produced a 24-17 lead. At halftime, the Crimson led 37-29.
  • Any thoughts of an easy cruise to the Final Four in Alexandria were erased when the Gators stormed back in Q3. Hitting the boards again, they outscored the Saints 21-7 to take a 50-44 lead into the final eight minutes.
  • Roniger sparked a comeback, hitting a long looping shot with 6:41 left to tie the count at 52 and tallying a three-point play at the 5:28 mark to move the lead to 59-54.
  • With 1:53 left, Blanton fouled out, joining Ashley on the bench. Prospects looked rosy as Brunet hit a FT to produce a 64-60 lead.
  • But a Shreve basket cut the margin to two. Then, with just seconds remaining, Harrell dribbled just past the midcourt line and sank a jump shot to send the game into OT. Fortunately, there was no three-point arc in 1969.
  • The teams traded baskets until Brunet tipped in a stray shot with 50 seconds left for a 70-68 lead. The basket tied Skip with Harrell for game high with 26.
  • The Crusader D clamped down and denied the visitors any more points.
  • No one would have guessed that the same two teams would meet the following season in the finals in another OT classic.

The victory continued alligator season for the Saders as they prepared to face the LaGrange Gators.

Continued below ...

Last Aloysius Basketball Games - 2. Another Gator Foe

The 1968-9 Crusader squad traveled to Alexandria to face the LaGrange Gators in the AAA semifinals Thursday, March 6. Andy Russo's 30-3 quintet had the "hat" put on them as favorites to take the championship.

  • LaGrange boasted a strong bench. Rotating ten players, Jack Fraser had his boys press continuously. Russo stressed to his team that the Gators would force turnovers but to stay calm.
  • The opponents relied on Ronnie Scott and David Wallace for the brunt of their offense.
  • The victor would take on Woodlawn of Shreveport, a 56-45 winner over Lafayette the previous evening.
Opening Tap vs LaGrange 1969
Butch Fourroux battles for the opening tap against LaGrange

The pressure rattled the Crusaders at first.

  • The Gators jumped to a 14-9 lead at the end of the opening period as Aloysius failed to score over the last 3:51. Five times, the Crusaders went down court and missed shots.
  • SA was equally cold at the foul line, missing eight of their first ten attempts. Since he insisted each player shoot 100 FTs every practice, Andy could not have been pleased.
  • The Saints found the range at the outset of Q2, canning four baskets in a row to build a 17-14 lead.
  • Late in the half, a three-point play by G Billy Roniger bulged the lead to 32-25 before LaGrange hit five FTs in a row to cut the lead to two points, 32-30, at the break.
 Butch Fourroux fouled by LaGrange
(L) Fourroux fouled by LaGrange; (R)
Tommy Smith
Tommy Smith
Glenn Masson passing against LaGrange
Glenn Masson passes against the Gators.

The Crusaders lost a point off their lead in Q3 but finally pulled away.

  • Sophomore Tommy Smith answered the call when fellow soph Dale Valdery got into foul trouble and finally took a permanent set on the bench early in Q4. Tommy was the only sub Russo utilized in the contest.
  • The teams battled on even terms into the final 8 minutes until the FTs starting falling for the Saders. Skip Brunet canned 6-for-6 as the Crusaders finally began to pull away.
  • SA forged its first double-digit lead at 63-53 at the three-minute mark on the way to a 73-61 victory.
  • Aloysius outrebounded the Gators 33-29 to offset a deficit in turnovers, committing 20 to the Lake Charles crew's 15. SA sank 25 FTs to just 17 for their foe.
  • The Saints featured a balanced scoring attacked as C Butch Fourroux led with 16 while Roniger added 14, F Skip Brunet 12, and F Glenn Masson 11.
  • As expected, Scott topped LaGrange with 20 followed by Wallace with 12.
 Skip Brunet drives against Jesuit
Skip Brunet drives against Jesuit.

The Saders avenged a defeat handed to them by the Southwest Louisiana team in the first Top Twenty Tourney in Shreveport in 1961, 58-50.

  • The Crusaders would be making their second appearance in the Top Twenty championship game, having lost to De La Salle 38-35 in 1962.
  • Crimson and White followers envisioned the state crown capping the 100-year history of the school, which had won six titles between 1941 and 1952.

Continued below ...

Last St. Aloysius Basketball Games - 3. Devastation

The 1968-9 St. Aloysius basketball team faced the Woodlawn Knights of Shreveport for the AAA state championship.

  • Both quintets employed fast-breaking attacks. They also shared the fact that each finished as runner-up in its district.
  • Woodlawn was trying to add the basketball crown to the one it captured the previous fall when QB Joe Ferguson (future Arkansas and NFL signal-caller) led the Knights to the gridiron title. The last school to win both the football and basketball championships in the same school year was Lake Charles in 1955.
  • Larry Davis and Melvin Russell, "two lads who like to drive in for shots or hit on the short jumpers" (to quote John Joly of the TP), led the Knights. Davis had canned 20 and Russell 18 in the 56-45 semifinal victory over Lafayette.
1969 St. Aloysius-Woodlawn Finals - 1 
Bill Roniger controls the ball as Dale Valdery (far left), Skip Brunet (12),
and Glen Masson (22) move into position.

A record crowd of 12,640 in the Rapides Parish Coliseum in Alexandria, anticipated a sizzling duel and were not disappointed.

  • A three-point play by Glenn Masson 44 seconds into the game got the Crusaders off to a good start. Davis kept Woodlawn close with a 20' jumper and, a little later, a FT.
  • Skip Brunet's 20-footer from the left side pushed Aloysius out to a 10-4 lead, but Russell took command for the Knights, who cut the margin to 18-15 at the end of Q1.
  • Brunet scored the first bucket of the second period on a 12' jump shot off a pass from Dale Valdery. But two FTs by Russell and a backhand layup by Davis shrank the lead to one, 20-19, with 6:06 left until halftime.
  • Woodlawn pulled ahead 22 seconds later on a driving layup by Mike McGovern. But SA answered right back when Butch Fourroux took a Valdery pass and put in a layup to make it 22-21 Crusaders.

With the score 26-23 Aloysius, Woodlawn went on an 11-2 run that ultimately proved the Crusaders' downfall.

  • Russell scored on an underhanded layup, then another on a fast break.
  • McGovern pitched in a basket from the left baseline to make it 29-26 with 2:37 on the clock.
  • After Russell sank the first of a one-and-one, Brunet hit two FTs to interrupt the run. But Russell countered with two freebies of his own to make it 34-28 at halftime.

Aloysius won the third quarter but by only two points.

  • Masson opened with an 18' jumper, and Roniger followed with 23-footer from the right side to pull within two.
  • After a three-point play by Wayne Barrett, Masson drilled three FGs in a row to give the Crimson a 38-37 lead three minutes into Q3.
  • The teams swapped goals, then a three-point play by Elton Odom and a follow-up by Davis pushed Woodlawn in front 44-40. They maintained that margin, 50-46, when the period ended.

With each coach giving his starters no rest, the last eight minutes would be an endurance test.

  • Davis took command, scoring four baskets and two charity shots, to withstand every Crusader thrust.
  • SA pulled within one point three times, but each time Davis countered with one of "his soft and deadly shots."
  • Valdery, his hands full guarding Russell, fouled out late in the game.
  • When the clock reached 0:00, the scoreboard showed Woodlawn 62, St. Aloysius 59.
1969 St. Aloysius-Woodlawn Finals - 3 
Valdery passes to Brunet.

The loss was devastating for the Crusaders and their legion of fans because it was the last game in the illustrious history of the school before it merged with Cor Jesu to form Brother Martin the following September.

Here is the box score of the final St. Aloysius basketball game.

Woodlawn    St. Aloysius
Player FG FT Pts Player FG FT Pts
Davis 11 4 26 Masson 8 2 18
Russell 5 6 16 Brunet 4 3 11
Odom 3 1 7 Fourroux 5 1 11
McGovern 4 0 8 Roniger 7 5 19
Barrett 2 1 5 Valdery 0 0 0
Hollingsworth 0 0 0 Smith 0 0 0
        Furlan 0 0 0
Totals 25 12 62 Totals 24 11 59





1969 St. Aloysius-Woodlawn Finals
St. Aloysius-Woodlawn action


Butch Fourroux shoots a jumper.
Butch Fourroux shoots a jumper.


Coach Andy Russo 1968-9
Coach Andy Russo addresses his troops.

Final St. Aloysius Basketball Team
1968-9 St. Aloysius Basketball Team
Early Basketball
Times Picayune March 8, 1919
St. Aloysius-Jesuit Basketball March 8, 1919

Aloysius players that can be identified are: Salvadore Razza ('19), Maurice Couturie ('21), Francis Schumacher ('20), Francis Tarantino ('20), and George Smith ('22). The "Y. M. G. C." was the Young Men's Gymnastics Club in the French Quarter. In 1929, when the club moved to its Rampart Street building, it was renamed the New Orleans Athletic Club (NOAC). In 1919, "Jesuits" was still located on Baronne Street next to Immaculate Conception Church.

Lock Him Out!
St. Aloysius met Holy Cross on Sunday, January 16, 1944, at the Aloysius gym in the opening game of the Prep season.

The contest pitted the defending city and state champion Tigers against the Crusaders, the Southern AAU champions after being ruled ineligible for the 1943 state playoffs.

Here's Hap Glaudi's article on the game in the New Orleans Item.

They had to lock the doors to Aloysius gymnasium last night, and today the Holy Cross Tigers are probably wishing that Anthony Chetta had been included among those who were unable to gain admittance to the court.
Chetta, the veteran Crusader athlete, finally came into his own yesterday evening, turning in his peak performance as an Aloysian to spark the Saints to a 34-to-26 victory over the defending city and state champion Crossmen. An overflow audience estimated at 1400 was witness to Chetta's brilliant effort in the opening game of the Preppers' cage season.
The curly-haired Crusader center was pure poison to the Bengal basketeers. He accounted for very nearly half of his team’s point total, hitting with six fielders and three free throws for 15 markers. It was he who smothered a mild Holy Cross uprising in the third period by slinging a quick pair of baskets which enabled the Crusaders to continue well in front of their downtown rivals. In addition to his ability to hit the nets, Chetta also turned in a fine floor game. All in all, it was the sort of an effort everyone had been expecting of this promising Crusader quintet for the past two years. Last night the Crusaders had the better ball handlers, floor game, sharper shooters and the most poise and points.

Anthony Chetta 1943-4
Anthony Chetta

St. Aloysius 1943-4 Starting Five
"Ray Hoffman" is actually Roy Hoffmann, and "Emile Lagarde" is M. L. Lagarde,
who later served as head basketball and baseball coach at his alma mater.
Tourney of the Teche
Coach Don Landry
Don Landry
Richie Fritsch
Richie Fritsch
Centerville LA is located just off Highway 90 west of Morgan City and Patterson in St. Mary Parish. Centerville High hosts an annual basketball tournament known as "Tourney of the Teche."

The St. Aloysius Crusaders under first-year coach Don Landry won the 1963 Tourney of the Teche.

  • Interrupting Catholic League play on February 1-2, the Knights began by beating Erath 64-58. Senior G Bobby Buisson led the scoring with 18.
  • The next afternoon, Buisson's 17 again topped all scorers in the 81-62 romp over host Centerville.
  • That night, the Saints raced past Maurice 82-65 in the championship game. Senior Richie Fritsch won high-man honors with 19, one more than Buisson, and two more than sophomore Bruce Lacour.
  • Buisson earned Tournament MVP. Fritsch and junior Art Troncoso made the All-Tourney team.

The '62-3 Crusaders finished in a tie with De La Salle for the runnerup spot in district behind Jesuit.

  • The Saints beat the Cavaliers 36-33 at Loyola Field House in the playoff for second place. Buisson's two FT with 10 seconds remaining settled the issue.
  • Aloysius traveled back to central LA to play Lafayette in the state playoffs. The Lions eliminated the Crimson 53-48. Missing 11 of 23 foul shots cost the Crusaders dearly.
  • All in all, it was a fine debut for Coach Landry.
G Bobby Buisson
Art Troncoso
Art Troncoso
Andy Threw the Bench

Andy Russo 1970
Andy Russo

Gabe Williams




Glenn Masson

Andy Russo, coach of the 34-0 Brother Martin Crusaders, agreed with Clarion Herald writer Andy Kreutz to keep a diary during his team's trip to the 1970 Top Twenty Tournament in Alexandria.

  • The entire student body gathered in front of school on Wednesday, March 4, to see the team off.
  • The convoy departed in station wagons packed to the gills with luggage, equipment, and people.
  • Andy noticed omens right away.

I knew it was going to be a weird day when we stopped at the gas station and the attendant gave me an extra $13 change - and I gave it back. Gabe Williams [Crusader C] is a mechanical genius. He changed a blowout in a record ten minutes flat. So we're off again to Alex and heading straight for the coliseum.

My fantastic luck continues. I find a dollar bill just lying on the floor of the coliseum. This time I'll keep it.

The team attended the semifinal game between Captain Shreve and McDonogh.

I'm impressed with Shreve's shooting ability but not much else. They look like they were firing at washtubs out there. The kids left at the half to go back to the motel. Didn't want them to see too much. McDonogh had a pretty lousy night, anyway.

After the game, I find a silver dime in the lobby of the motel. Who's trying to bribe me, anyway?

The Crusaders disposed of Bastrop 76-67 Thursday night to set up the dream matchup the entire state craved.

Friday entries from Andy's diary:

This is the toughest day. There are so many things going on it would be easy for these kids to get distracted. But I'll say this - they're hell-bent on winning that championship.

This afternoon I did it again. Found a change purse full of pennies. Probably some old lady's life savings.

35-0 Brother Martin vs 35-1 Captain Shreve

  • An announced attendance of 15,567 packed the Rapides Parish Coliseum Saturday night for the AAA final.
  • Almost all the fans from the two earlier title games stayed, forcing the Crusader and Gator fans to sit in the aisles and stand in open spaces around the court.

Andy's diary for Saturday:

Got to our dressing room at 7:30 and we don't play until nine. ... Okay, let's go. We're ready ... we're really ready. A good warm-up, we're moving, hitting the nets. That's good, keep slapping it in there.

To this day, no one can explain the Saders' poor play in the first half.

  • When you suffer from cold shooting, a ripple effect runs through the game. The other team rebounds the misses and takes off on fast breaks for easy baskets.
  • As a result, Shreve jumped out to an astounding 36-20 lead. The 20 points was bad enough, but never had the vaunted Crusader D surrendered 36 points in the first half.
  • Martin scored the last four points to leave the court down 12.

Andy's diary:

In the locker room, I exploded. Didn't mean it. Told them I didn't think they had the character or the guts to get off the floor and come back. I told them to find a hole they could crawl into with their heads between their legs.

I don't know how I got hold of that bench. But I just picked it up and threw it across the locker room. Then I walked out. Told them to find their own way back into the court.

Whatever was said or done, nothing had more impact than the decision to switch to the 1-3-1 zone trap just before the first half ended.

  • Even though the Crusaders had used that D many times, Shreve wasn't prepared for it.
  • Holding the Gators to just 8 points in Q3, the Saders cut the deficit to one.
  • The lead seesawed between the teams throughout the final eight minutes. Glenn Masson's jump shot tied the game at 0:45.
  • Shreve held for the last shot, but a charging call with nine seconds left sent the game into OT.

That OT period is the most famous in Louisiana basketball history.

  • When the Crusaders won the tip, Andy gave the thumb down signal, which meant only layups or foul shots.
  • A few seconds later, senior F Skip Brunet, either not seeing the signal or ignoring it, launched a jump shot from the elbow. Swish.
  • Shreve missed its shot, and the Crusaders hit another basket, then another, and another, plus foul shots.
  • Martin made every field goal it attempted in the OT and grabbed every rebound, outscoring the Gators 16-0 to complete the dream season.
  • Williams, with 23 points, made the Top Twenty All Tournament team. Brunet added 18 in his final game and Masson 17.
  • The victory pushed the 36-0 Crusaders past the 35-0 LaGrange Gators of 1967-8 for the best record in Louisiana history.

And now you know the secret to the comeback. It was the bench.

Fabulous Crowd


Brother Martin, S.C.
Brother Martin, S.C.

Brother Ralph, S.C.
Brother Ralph, S.C.

Sammy Trombatore
Sammy Trombatore

Milton "Whitey" Jackson
Whitey Jackson

Our sale is very good. My own office alone has sold 1400 tickets, and so I think that we'll have 3000 people if not more at our game.

The speaker was Brother Martin, S.C., athletic director at St. Aloysius.

  • The game he referred to was the Prep Basketball Championship playoff against Holy Cross to be held at the Municipal Auditorium on Sunday, March 2, 1941.
  • Brother Emmett, the Holy Cross AD, also reported sales going well. The students made their returns today, and from the figures I have it looks as though we'll have a wonderful crowd.
  • The three downtown box offices also experienced heavy action. Maison Blanche ran out and ordered more while Holmes and Dunlap's Sporting Goods both indicated good sales.
  • Pregame prices were the same as for the regular season: 15 cents for students and a quarter for everyone else. The cost jumped to 50 cents for everyone at the gate.
  • At a time when the largest high school gyms held 500-600, Brother Martin's prediction was quite optimistic.

The Crusaders, under first year coach Brother Ralph, S.C., had defeated the Tigers in both rounds of the regular season.

  • However, Aloysius lost to Jesuit both rounds whereas the Crossmen didn't stumble against anyone else.
  • That set up the playoff game at a neutral site, the 11-year-old auditorium on Rampart Street within walking distance of St. Aloysius.
 St. Aloysius-Holy Cross Playoff 1941
The Crusaders are wearing the striped socks.
The prediction of 3,000 fans was way off - on the short side.
  • A record-shattering throng of 5,261 paying customers jammed into every seat.
  • Times-Picayune writer Stanford Opotowsky called the contest "a suitable climax to the most thrilling title race the loop has seen in a decade."

Despite playing without starter Tony Cotogono, at home sick, the Tigers got their revenge.

  • After the opening period ended 7-7, HC jumped ahead for good by outscoring the Saints 13-8 in the second stanza.
  • They increased their margin to 26-15 early in Q3 before Aloysius staged a comeback, cutting the margin to 31-25 entering the final eight minutes.
  • Sparked by G Sammy Trombatore's team high 12 points, the "Crimson-clad gladiators" came within a point, 32-31, with less than five minutes to go. Opotowsky: The crowd leaped to its feet, giving forth deafening bedlam as the great climax was reached.
  • Mike Smith fouled SA star Whitey Jackson who was in the act of shooting. But with an opportunity to put his team ahead, Jackson bounced both shots off the rim.
  • Holy Cross scored the final six points to win 38-31 and claim the crown.
The Crusaders still made the state tournament in Baton Rouge, where they won the school's first LHSAA championship six days later. Holy Cross lost in the semifinals to finish third.




Season of Milestones

Too Much Pettit

Last Aloysius Games - 1. The Other Shreve Game

Last Aloysius Games - 2. Another Gator Foe

Last Aloysius Games - 3. Devastation

Early Basketball

Lock Him Out!

Tourney of the Teche

Andy Threw the Bench

Fabulous Crowd


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