Mike Krajcer, the head basketball coach at John Curtis School, raised the eyebrows of his District 9-5A coaching peers and beyond on Jan. 6 after his team lost a league game to Archbishop Rummel, 73-71.
While Rummel head man Troy Holley praised his Raiders for defeating, “a team like Curtis,” Krajcer, a De La Salle alumnus who lettered on the Johnny Altobello-coached Cavaliers’ baseball and basketball teams, did not acknowledge his opponent’s victorious effort.
“(Rummel) didn’t win the game,” Krajcer was quoted by the New Orleans Advocate as having said, “We lost the game.”
I’ve known Krajcer since he was a high school student back in the day. That statement doesn’t sound like the kid I watched grow into a capable coach because his team missed a few free throws. But I doubt that he was misquoted.
For a coach who once suggested that the “Catholic League” might refer to itself as the “Christian League,” when his school joined the historic and well-respected league three years ago, downplaying the Raiders’ work to prepare themselves for a tough game and win it, was, shall we say, less than gracious in defeat.
Hopefully, he realizes that gaffe hardly conforms to Catholic League coaching demeanor standards.
Rummel is not one of the district’s leading contenders for a title, but the Raiders have won 14 of 20 games, most of which were played before a few football players joined the team. And they have won their first two district games.
Krajcer’s Patriots, also with the recent gift of football players trading uniforms, began the third week in January with a 5-11 record.
But, be that as it may, Curtis lost the game bec
ause Rummel scored more points.
It’s difficult to judge the caliber of teams in the Catholic League. All seven members are well-coached, but the seven teams are hardly stocked with D-1 talent, just young men who play the game well. How that pans out when the regular season ends is difficult to say. But everyone makes the playoffs, and that will be the test.
Entering the second week of district play, Rummel is 2-0. Jesuit (12-3) and Brother Martin (11-7) have won their first district games.
St. Augustine (11-8) and Holy Cross (11-6) have split their two district games, while Curtis and Archbishop Shaw (3-10) are 0-2.
Jesuit is playing the best ball of the bunch right now.
The best of the area Catholic schools may not be in this district.
St. Paul’s and De La Salle are Nos. 1 and 2 from what we have observed.
The District 6-5A-leading Wolves, champions of the 64th Allstate Sugar Bowl/CYO Classic, seem to have the most talent at the most positions.
Coach Stephen Dale’s team is the tallest among the area Catholic teams and can score from the perimeter or inside with equal proficiency.
With a 14-5 record entering the week, St. Paul’s will face its biggest district challenge from Slidell, which handed the Wolves a 62-54 defeat in a recent tournament at St. Paul’s. Slidell has an impressive 15-4 record.
De La Salle, carrying a 10-8 record into District 10-3A play,
may find defending its Division II championship quite difficult.
The champion Cavaliers have the No. 4 power rating in their division, while their main rival, Lusher Charter (12-2 record), is ranked No. 3 behind state powers St. Thomas More and University Lab.
De La Salle hasn’t backed away from competition, having played Edna Karr, Catholic High, Landry-Walker, St. Paul’s and St. Augustine, and has Country Day and a rematch with Karr in future non-district games.
The Cavs’ 10-3A opponents include Lusher, St. James (9-8), St. Charles Catholic (6-9) and Donaldsonville (5-13).
Don’t let Archbishop Hannan’s 4-12 record be of grave concern. It doesn’t help that standout junior guard Norris Williams is walking around with his right arm in a sling.
The 2017 Clarion Herald Elite Team selectee suffered a dislocated shoulder during a recent tournament game and will be out of action for a few weeks.
What is positive is that the Hawks have a winner in new coach Errol Gauff, who guided St. Thomas Aquinas to eight consecutive district titles during his tenure at the Hammond school, and they are playing in a district stocked with under-performing teams.
Upcoming rivals Loranger, Albany, Bogalusa and Jewel Sumner have a combined record of 13 wins, 53 losses.
Hannan’s four wins are surpassed only by Loranger’s six among its district peers.
Dominican is champion of a Sugar Bowl-sponsored basketball tournament played last week at the Alario Center.
And Coach Ryan Reuter’s girls won that Silver Division honor by defeating archrival Mount Carmel, 36-32, in the final round.
The Cubs have dominated Dominican in District 9-5A play in recent years, but the outcome of the title game may have signaled a change of status between the two.
Dominican has won its last 12 games, including four in the tournament, and posts a 20-1 record. Its only loss was a seven-pointer to Chalmette on Dec. 7 in a game that may live in infamy in the minds of the Dominican players.
In winning the tournament’s division championship, Dominican defeated Helen Cox, Edna Karr and Ben Franklin to set up a title match with its nemesis.
Mount Carmel (12-4) gained a berth in the finals by downing Martin Luther King, 66-33; Walker (La.), 55-51, in overtime, and Terrebonne, 59-36.The two open District 9-5A play on Jan. 22, with Dominican visiting Archbishop Chapelle, and Mount Carmel hosting John Curtis.
Three other local Catholic schools participated in the Jan. 3-6 Classic.
Cabrini won two of three Gold Division tournament games, beating Hahnville, 54-44, and South Terrebonne, 60-43, before losing to Lafayette Christian, 60-43.
The Crescents (8-9) begin single-round play in District 10-4A on Jan. 18. Their five opponents will be New Orleans Military and Maritime, Carver, McDonogh 35, Ben Franklin and Lake Area New Tech.
Chapelle and St. Katharine Drexel Prep also competed in the Silver Division tournament.
Chapelle (14-8) dropped its first-round game to East Jefferson, 41-37, before defeating Higgins, 45-19, and Drexel Prep, 55-43, in consolation bracket games. Drexel (4-8) also lost to Walker, 49-30.
Ursuline Academy (13-3) had a nine-day layoff before resuming play on Jan. 9.
The Lions open defense of their District 10-3A crown on Jan. 16 at home against St. James.
Ron Brocato can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.