Tournaments not so exciting anymore?

Sitting here staring at my all-tournament trophy from the 1975 Rockdale Tournament for a little inspiration, I was struck by something that Rockdale Coach Dusty Loewe said about remembering how important the tournament used to be.

Or just tournaments in general. Where have the big tournaments gone?

In the early days of the Rockdale Invitational, 24 teams would play.

If would probably shock most players or fans today to know that Del Valle used to host what may have been the best tournament in the state back in the 1970s.

Eccentric Cardinal Coach Dennis Kaman would bring in the best teams from all over the state, including his own.

In 1975 the Tigers faced Waco High, Killeen, Austin LBJ, Pflugerville and whipped Austin Travis for consolation, which back then meant third place.

Behind future Green Bay Packer Barry Joyner, the Tigers fell 55-54 to Killeen in the first round on a last-second shot.

Ron Sanfillipo Ron Sanfillipo In 1974, the Tigers fell to Killeen 66-63, again in the first round then again won four straight (including a defeat of San Antonio Southside) for consolation again.

The 1975 Rockdale Tournament was special because of the stir it caused by the appearance of a well-publicized baller from Round Rock.

Ron Sanfilippo had just moved in from New York City and the 6-foot-4 postman with the playground moves and the Prince Valiant haircut was the talk of the basketball world after regularly scoring in the 40s.

The Austin paper had done a big spread about the transport the week he was to make his appearance in the Rockdale Tournament.

Now that year in the preseason rankings, there were four teams from good ol’ District 12-3A ranked in the top 20—Rockdale, Round Rock, Del Valle and Lockhart.

The Tigers had just walked off with the Round Rock Tournament and in their first exposure to Mr. New York, held him to 16 points—half his average.

That’s what happens when you have 6-foot-3, 225-pound Ray Locklin impeding your path to the basket.

In the first round of the Rockdale Tournament, Sanfilippo gave the early morning packed house at Tiger gym what they wanted, delivering 44 points and the Dragons needed every one of them in a 69-67 victory over Dime Box.

The Dragons defeated Sammy Koudelka’s Moulton squad in the second round without Sanfilippo who had badly sprained his ankle against Dime Box and sat out.

He was ready to go against Rockdale in the finals—or at least he thought so.

Sanfilippo did finish with 22 points, but only seven in the second half as the Tigers easily dumped the Dragons 60-40.

The Tigers dominated Round Rock and their New York import all season long, defeating them by an average of 20 points in four games.

And Sanfilippo never got past 22 points in any game.

So much for the hype.

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2009-12-10 digital edition

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