State championship rings for Holden, 50 years later

By By Warren Arceneaux / American Press

Charles Allen’s shooting stroke helped Holden win the 1963 Class C state basketball championship. Fifty years later, Allen

and his teammates finally received championship rings.

The team received the rings at a ceremony in December, when they were honored at a reception.

Allen was an all-state guard for the Rockets before moving on to play at McNeese.

“We were very good,” Allen said of the title team.

“We got upset in the quarterfinals the

year before that, we probably should have been in state that year. We

were Class C,

had 315 students in the school, K-12, 20 in my graduating class.

We knew we were going to be pretty good, we only lost one

senior from the year before. All we did was play basketball back

then, no other sports. Our coach, Alton Leggette was a fanatic.

We played our best every day. We probably got chewed out more not

because we won or lost, but on how well we played. If we

were not doing our job, he really got on our case. He demanded

perfection - no whining, no complaining and no excuses.”

Allen said the team generated some attention by winning a prestigious tournament in Baton Rouge.

“You had to get invited to it, they waited until November and if you were doing well you get invited,” he said.

“We played Port Allen, a Class 2A

school, and beat them. We played Baton Rouge High in the semifinals and

beat them by 10

or 12. We played Istrouma, the big dog in that day, and beat them

in double overtime. That was almost as exciting as winning

state. We were the little country boys, that is the write-up we

got in all the papers. That put us on the map. People knew

who we were then and would come watch us play.”

At the state tournament, the Rockets beat a couple of familiar names.

“In the state semifinals, we beat

Lisbon,” he said. “They had Glynn Saulters, who played at Northeast

Louisiana and the Olympic

team (in 1968). We beat them 62-60, they were the only team to

score 60 on us all year. In the championship game, we played

Reeves. Dr. Joe Savoie from McNeese was their mainstay. We beat

them by about 20 in Shreveport. Probably everybody in Holden

was there. When we got back to Holden, the whole town was there

again, in the gym.”

Allen averaged 16 points a game that season. Teammate Ed Green also made all state. The duo decided to go to college together.

“We were 12 miles from Southeastern,”

Allen said. “Maybe they assumed we were going there, I don’t know. We

came McNeese visited,

and Ed said ‘I kind of like it over here.’ We chose to come here. I

got to play some, I wasn’t a star.”

Allen earned a degree in education and became a teacher.

“I taught at LaGrange High and helped

coach there, was an assistant,” he said. “I was a math teacher. I taught

Mayor Randy

Roach one of my first years. Those were great days back at

LaGrange. We had a successful JV team, we were undefeated one year,

22-0. I have had a lot of success in athletics. I enjoyed teaching

other people skills. (At Holden) We did fundamental drills

the day before the state championship game. If you have that with a

little ability, you can play. I enjoyed the teaching part

of basketball more than anything else.”

Allen then became an administrator, serving as vice principal and principal at F.K. White. He said he relied on lessons from

basketball as an administrator.

“I used a lot of principles I learned from my coach, about teamwork, every one having a role on the team,” he said. “I applied

those throughout my career. Everyone has a role, we all do our part, we all do our best every day.”

Allen received a call in August

informing them that the ‘63 basketball team could be getting rings to

commemorate their championship.

“A guy (Sherman Mack) was a freshman when we were seniors, his son, Sherman played at Holden in 1990,” he said.

“The son became an attorney and became a

state representative a year ago. He came up with the idea and bought

the rings. When

I got the invitation to the reception on Dec. 17, I was really

excited to see my buddies and coach,” he said. We had a lot

of fun, we had a good reception and told a lot of stories. We were

good in ‘63, we was amazing in 2013. It is funny how much

better we were in those stories. He emceed the program and talked

about growing up with his dad telling stories. It was neat

of him. That was exciting to go back. It was amazing how many

people were there that remembered us and traveling to watch

us. That made you feel good, people knowing who you were 50 years

later. They were as much a part of it as anyone else.”

Allen still plays basketball in a friendly game at F.K. White every Friday. He said the game can teach valuable life lessons.

“First, you learn how to work with other people,” he said.

“I still say that a good basketball

team, every one has a role to play, even if you are a sub and don’t get

to play much.

You have a role, you accept that, and you are important. On a

team, it teaches you to take responsibility for wherever you

are, and your role, and you do your best in that role. Everybody

is not the boss. Some of have to go out to work every day,

do a job and do it well. Basketball teaches you that, it is one of

the most team-oriented sports. You can see it when you

watch these teams play, how they know where everyone is going to

be and how well they work together.”

Allen spent the past week working as a volunteer at the girls Top 28 state basketball tournament. This week, he will be a

team host for the boys tournament.

Allen takes a point of pride in the fact that all 13 members of the team at the reunion were still married to their first

wives.

“I think that is because of our coach,” he said. “He instilled in us that we were going to make things happen. He instilled

in us hard work. I was as excited about that as much as the reminiscing. I have been married 46 years. That’s why I stayed

in Lake Charles, my wife Beverly was here. Those guys all worked hard and are all doing well in their fields. All that is

a tribute to our coach.”

Warren Arceneaux writes a weekly column on interesting people in Southwest Louisiana each Monday. Have a story idea about

someone in Southwest Louisiana? Call him weekdays at 494-4087. Email him at warceneaux@americanpress.com.