A banner honoring the late coach Arthur Prudhomme, Sr. hangs in the Opelousas High School gym during a basketball tournament named in his honor Monday evening.
By: Kevin Foote
Special to the Daily World
Opelousas High boys basketball coach Jamie Rollins said he decided over a year ago that it needed to be done.
The official ceremony took place Sunday and the play really began to heat up under the name of the late coach Monday at Opelousas High.
From now on, the annual Opelousas High basketball tournament will be known as the Arthur Prudhomme Holiday Classic.
Prudhomme was the girls basketball coach at Opelousas High when he died on the bench in February of 2005 during a game in Breaux Bridge.
"He died doing something that we all love to do," Rollins said. "He meant a lot to OHS and basketball in the area. I just felt like we had to do something to honor him."
Prudhomme came to Opelousas, where he graduated, in 1995 and led the Lady Tigers to the Sweet 16 in his second year.
It was actually his second trip to the Sweet 16, taking Washington High to the semifinals in his first year as a coach back in 1983.
From there, he went on to coach the boys at Port Barre, leading the Red Devils to the Top 28 in 1992 and again in 1993, losing to Randy Livingston and powerhouse Newman in the finals.
"I'm glad they decided to do that," St. Landry Parish Athletic Director and former Port Barre Athletic Director Donnie Perron said. "Arthur was a fine fellow and a good coach. He related very well to the players, both black and white. He spent a lot of time with them."
Sunday's ceremony recognized Prudhomme's wife, Linda, and her late husband's accomplishments and impact on basketball at OHS and throughout St. Landry Parish.
Rollins said he had great personal significance to him as well. Prudhomme was already the girls coach at OHS when Rollins took over the boys program.
Rollins said some perceived that there was tension between the two, assuming that Prudhomme had thoughts of being the boys coach, but "none of that stuff was ever true. We got along very well."
In fact, Rollins said that Prudhomme helped him move in and paint his new home and helped tutor him as a coach in his early years.
"He was a great guy and a great coach and he deserves this," Rollins said.
And the field that Rollins put together for the inaugural Arthur Prudhomme Classic would have done Prudhomme proud.
The field consists of O.P. Walker, Peabody, Westgate, Alexandria, Northwest, Opelousas and H.L. Bourgeois.
The tournament finals are scheduled for 8 p.m. tonight at OHS.
Arthur Prudhomme Holiday Classic
(At Opelousas High)
Peabody def. O.P. Walker
Alexandria def. Westgate
Northwest def. Opelousas
Peabody def. Alexandria
H.L. Bourgeois vs. Northwest
Westgate vs. Opelousas
O.P. Walker vs. Game 5 loser
2 p.m. Alexandria vs. Game 7 winner
3:30 p.m. Peabody vs. Game 5 winner
5 p.m. Game 6 vs. Game 8 winners
6:30 p.m. Third Place Game
8 p.m. Championship Game
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