Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Crusaders’ coach challenges team to stay hungry


Advocate sportswriter

In past seasons, the word “transition” referred only to how the Christian Life Academy boys basketball team executed a fast break.

That all started to change last spring when the Crusaders’ string of three straight Class 1A state titles ended with a loss to eventual champion Metairie Park Country Day in the semifinals.

Then, over the summer, coach Todd Foster opted to leave CLA to build a new junior college program at Baton Rouge Community College.

The changes, including the addition of coach Carlo Maggio, meant the Crusaders entered the 2009-10 season a couple of weeks ago with some questions to answer.

Going into tonight’s nondistrict game at Class 4A Belaire, it is fair to say CLA has had all the right answers so far, compiling a 6-0 record. Varsity game time is approximately 7:15 p.m.

“This is a senior-oriented group that experienced a lot of success at a young age,” Maggio said. “So I’ve challenged them to stay hungry. They can’t take anything for granted.”

The highlight for the Crusaders so far was winning the Ballin’ on the Red tournament held in the Shreveport area prior to Thanksgiving.

Maggio came to CLA from Central Louisiana-based Plainview High. The 30-year-old self-professed gym rat is a Vinton native and has known Foster, the former CLA coach and a Lake Charles native, for years.

The fact that senior standouts Langston Galloway and Patrick Robinson both played on Maggio’s AAU team over the summer also helped make the coaching transition seamless.

“Coach Foster and I have known each other for years and we share a lot of the same philosophies,” Maggio said. “So basically, we didn’t change a lot of things the team did.

“The seniors, like Langston and Pat, have been great leaders. They’ve done everything I’ve asked and they’ve worked hard.”

Both Galloway and Robinson secured their college futures as the season began.

The 6-foot-3 Galloway, who is currently averaging 24 points per game, signed with St. Joseph’s of Philadelphia earlier this month.

Robinson (6-6) adds 17 points per game.

Both players were instrumental in the Shreveport area tourney as Christian Life ousted Class 5A Airline, Bossier, last year’s 4A runner-up, and Riverside Academy, a team made up of players who previously starred for Class C power Reserve Christian.

Kaleb Knight (6-6), Corey Self (5-10) and Avery Prince (5-10) complete the CLA lineup that begins a crucial part of its schedule this week.

After tonight’s game at Belaire, the Crusaders close out the week with a local tournament, the Zachary Invitational.

“I’ve challenged them to play to their capabilities in every game,” Maggio said. “We don’t know a lot about Belaire. But we expect every game to be a challenge.”

Courtesy of Baton Rouge Advocate

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