Charles Allen and Joe Savoie: One-time rivals, long-time friends

Published 10:03 am Saturday, March 11, 2023

Sixty years ago, Joe Savoie of Reeves and Charles Allen of Holden faced off in the Class C state championship basketball game in Shreveport.

Their lives have been intertwined ever since, with the two reconnecting a year later as teammates on the freshman team at McNeese before each became educators in the area, Savoie at McNeese and Allen as principal at F.K. White.

Over the past decade, the duo have served as team hosts at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association state basketball tournament.

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In their high school days, they took different routes to the state tournament in Shreveport. Allen’s Holden team was a heavyweight, going 46-2 on the season.

“We expected to be there,” Allen said.

Reeves was not.

“We were a Cinderella team,” Savoie said. “We had a good team, we were 33-10, but not elite. We played in 10 tournaments and finished first or second in each of them. We beat Forest Hill and Maurice, who was the top team around here. We hit a hot streak at the right time, that’s all there is to it. We barely got by Sikes in the semifinals. We were not playing well in that game, but we were working hard. Our coach, Willis Fournet Jr., said it took a good team to win when you weren’t playing well. We had a work ethic that carried us through when we needed it to.”

In the championship game, Holden had too many weapons.

“The advantage for me was we had four guys scoring in double figures in that game,” Allen said. “Our top guy had 17, another had 15. I had 14 and another guy had 12. We were so balanced. We knew Joe was good. He had 19 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists.”

Savoie said the loss didn’t linger.

“Losing hurt for a little bit, but by the time I had my shower and gotten dressed, I was a happy camper because I knew we had done much more than people thought we were going to,” he said. “Losing to a team like Holden, there is no shame in that.”

Allen claims to not have taunted Savoie about the result during their year together at McNeese.

“But, if anyone asked, I would let them know who won the game,” he said.

Savoie says the result might have come up a tad more than Allen admits.

“He made sure I remembered,” Savoie said.

Shared values soon led to a friendship that became a lasting one.

“He’s a good man,” Savoie said. “I admire his strong Christian faith. He has a good family, I had his daughter in one of my classes at McNeese. He had great standing in the community.”

“It’s been a very good friendship,” Allen said. “We both came to McNeese, then reconnected when Joe came back to work at McNeese in 1985 and have really gotten close in the past 10 years being involved with this.

“When I got to know him that freshman year at McNeese, I saw what kind of man he was. A Christian man, a man of great integrity. As we’ve moved on through the years, all of that has just been re-established. He is great with the teams here and with the kids.”