The New Orleans Advocate: Sugar Bowl CYO tourney brings back familiar face
De La Salle to compete in four-day, 16-team boys basketball tournament
One of New Orleans’ premier high school basketball events, The Allstate Sugar Bowl CYO Basketball Tournament, tips off Wednesday for the 60th time.
For the first time in at least five years, an old familiar face is back in the mix.
De La Salle returns to the field this year to compete in the four-day, 16-team tournament.
“We are excited to be back in it,” De La Salle coach Paul Kelly said. “We feel like this is one of, if not the best showcase tournament, in the city of New Orleans. We feel like the best programs in the city participate in it. And our aspirations are to one day to be considered one of the strongest programs in the city.”
De La Salle opens against Newman on Wednesday. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. at Brother Martin. Newman, the defending tournament champion, beat Jesuit 58-57 in the 2012 championship game to win its first CYO tournament title.
De La Salle is going for its eighth title in the tournament. The school won the tournament, which began in 1950, five of the first 15 years. The Cavaliers last won it in 1988 when Jay Fazande was named Most Valuable Player.
“We’re glad to have De La Salle back,” tournament director Armand Bertin said. “They haven’t played since around the storm because they dropped in enrolment and in classification. This will be the first time all the Catholic schools will be reunited in the tournament.”
To win it this year, Kelly is relying on a team that will start two freshmen. De La Salle is off to a 2-2 start, beating McDonogh and Shaw and losing by three to Holy Cross and by eight to Karr.
“We are still a work in progress right now,” said Kelly, in his second season. “We are very young, and we are trying get our football players back in the swing of basketball. But we have great kids, and they play hard and those are our biggest strengths.”
Senior guard Luke Kelly, the coach’s son, leads the Cavaliers. Kelly averaged 15 points per game last season on a team that finished 18-12 and lost in the first round of the playoffs.
He is joined by senior guard Ronnie Briggs, senior wing Lawrence Allen and freshmen Troy Nisby and Dashawn Wright. Kelly’s other son, sophomore Stephen Kelly, normally starts, but is recovering from mononucleosis and will miss the tournament.
“We are looking forward to seeing how we stack up against some of the big boys,” Paul Kelly said.
The tournament ends Saturday and will be played at Brother Martin, Hannan, Jesuit and Holy Cross. The semifinals are scheduled for 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday at Jesuit, with the championship game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Brother Martin.
Former Redemptorist standout Donald Gunalda, who was tournament MVP in 1961, will be honored during this year’s event.
Other schools in the tournament are Brother Martin, Country Day, East Jefferson, East St. John, Hahnville, Hannan, Holy Cross, Jesuit, Lusher, Rummel, St. Augustine, St. Paul’s, St. Thomas Aquinas and Shaw.
Some of the top players in the tournament include: Brother Martin guard Jordan Cornish (Tennessee signee); Country Day forward Scott Plaisance (Louisiana-Lafayette signee); St. Aug forward Bryce Washington (Louisiana-Lafayette signee); East Jefferson guard Shaquille Preston (UT-Chattanooga signee); and Holy Cross guard Greg White-Pittman.
“It’s probably the strongest field we’ve had in a while,” Bertin said.
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