Brother Martin reached the final of the Allstate Sugar Bowl CYO Basketball Tournament the past two years.
Can the Crusaders get back for a third straight year and this time win the championship of the 61-year-old tournament that begins Wednesday and ends Saturday?
It’s probably too early to tell.
Brother Martin has played just one game this season (a loss to Gulfport, Miss.) and hasn’t played since Nov. 24.
The team just had its first practice with a full squad as nine players returned from the football team, whose season ended Friday night.
“This year is more different than any other year as far as going into the CYO Tournament having played just one game,” said Crusaders coach Chris Biehl. “This is basically our first game, and we are playing against teams who have already played six or seven games.
“The competition in the CYO is as good as any other tournament.”
Brother Martin lost to East Jefferson in last year’s CYO championship game and to Newman the year before that.
If they are to get back to the title game again, they will have to do so without four starters from last year’s team. One of those starters was Jordan Cornish, who is now playing at UNLV after averaging 21.2 points and 10.2 rebounds last season.
“The one thing you don’t know as a coach is where the points are going to come from,” Biehl said. “It probably won’t be one guy, but will be a lot of guys. We are meshing a bunch of juniors and sophomores. The chemistry is really good.”
Senior guard Venjie Wallis is the lone returning starter for the Crusaders.
“Venjie is a guy the kids will rally around,” Bielh said. “You need to have a guy like that who you are comfortable with having the ball in his hands late in the game.”
Brother Martin plays its tournament opener at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday when it hosts Covington. Hahnville and St. Stanislaus (Miss.) will play in the 6 p.m. game at Brother Martin.
Other first-round games will be played Wednesday at Jesuit, Rummel and Hannan.
At Jesuit, John Curtis will play Holy Cross at 6 p.m. followed by Newman and Jesuit.
At Rummel, East St. John plays De La Salle at 6 p.m. followed by Rummel vs. St. Thomas Aquinas.
At Hannan, Shaw plays St. Augustine at 6 p.m. followed by St. Paul’s at Hannan.
The championship game is set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Brother Martin.