The following text and photographs, republished from from the 1948 Regian, recap the magical 1947-1948 Regis Varisty basketball season.
The final whistle of the Eastern States Catholic Invitation Tournament at Newport on April third brought to a close the most successful season ever to be put into the record book by a Raider quintet. Twenty-two straight wins tacked on to fifteen regular season wins of last year! A new team scoring record! Jesuit Tourney champs for the third successive year! Third successive appearance in the ESCIT at Newport! First Raider team to win the ESCIT trophy! More victories than any other team at Regis!! The 1947-1948 season was by far the greatest in Regis court history! Victory was our goal and we achieved it completely.
The Crimson and White ran rough-shod over all opponents; we subdued them with one of the most powerful scoring machines seen in high school competition in recent years. Scoring well over fifteen hundred points for the season in a twenty-eight game schedule (which includes play in the Jesuit and ESCIT tourneys) the ’48 Raiders easily topped the all-time scoring record set by “Buddy” Talbot and Co. in 1946, and also set a new game average mark.
At the outset of the season the Regis juggernaut rolled to easy victories over Drake, Tottenville and the High School of Music and Arts. Making their debut in Madison Square Garden on December 6th, the Raiders overcame a third period deficit to subdue a determined St. Ann’s quintet led by Bart Lavin to the tune of 49-35. After crushing St. John’s, the Crimson and White returned to the Garden to face St. Francis Prep and big “Zeke” Zawoluk. In one of the most stirring games of the season, the Raider five, sparked by Joe Breen and Barry Sullivan, came from behind in the last four minutes to edge out the Terriers, 41-36.
After taking over Manual Training and St. Peter’s of New Brunswick rather handily, the Raiders returned in early January to annex the Jesuit Metropolitan High School trophy and championship at St. Peter’s College, Jersey City. Topping Fordham Prep and Loyola School by towering margins, we went on to face and overrun the Xavier Kaydets in the finals. This year for the first time not one, but two, most valuable players were selected—our cracker jack forwards, those twin bolts of greased lighting, Gerry and Jack Rooney. These two along with Joe Breen knocked off three berths on the All-Tourney Five.
Next on the list of victims were Curtis High of Staten Island, De La Salle and Immaculate Conception of Montclair, N.J., and the victory skein was steadily growing. Again the Raiders met and conquered Xavier by a still greater margin, Barry Sullivan and Gerry Rooney leading the team to a 52-34 triumph.
Adelphi and Brooklyn Prep added to our victory string before a return match with St. Ann’s almost snapped it in a hair-raising battle at the Twelfth Regiment Armory. The determined, hard-fighting Stanners came from behind in the last few minutes and tied the score with seven seconds to go. In the overtime, however, a quick jump shot by Mike Woods and a short set by Barry Sullivan put the game on ice. Shortly after wins over Seton Hall of New Jersey, Poly Prep and Bayside continued our unbroken string to twenty-two and raised the hope of an undefeated season in many Regis hearts.
The hopes were smashed, however, and the taut thread broken, when a strong Columbia University Freshman team edged out the Raiders in a heart-breaker on February 21st, 49-47. Slightly stricken with stage fright, the Raiders were very, very erratic at the outset, and found themselves on the short end of an 18-6 count at the close of the first quarter.
Their excellent floor play was countered by exceptional weakness from the foul line. Regis missed twenty-three out of thirty six free throws.
Catholic Central of Troy, N.Y., out last regularly scheduled opponent, proved an easy victim to the tune of 50-30. Thus ended the regular season. On March 21st the Raiders returned to New Brunswick for a benefit game. Our opponent was Highland Park of New Jersey, Stage Finalists and Champions. The Crimson and White, leading all the way in a slow game, came out on top, 49-44.
The Red Raiders were again invited to the Eastern States Catholic Invitation Tournament at Newport, R.I. Determined to better their previous records, the Regis five met and overwhelmed in the opener St. Joseph’s Cathedral High School of Manchester, New Hampshire, 66-22. In the semi-finals our opponent was LaSalle Academy, a New York City rival. Our defense worked to perfection, as the Crimson and White rolled to a 39-25 victory.
History repeated itself as LaSalle College High School of Philadelphia was once more our opponent in the finals. But this time the fighting Raiders turned the tables on the Willie Penn boys and, with the defense functioning flawlessly, marched to a 35-19 win. John Rooney was justly awarded the Outstanding Player Ward, while Barry Sullivan and Gerry Rooney received All-Tourney team berths.
The superiority of the Kennedy-led hoopsters is easily seen from the list of great victims left in their wake. Among these are St. Francis Prep of Brooklyn, CHSAA victors of the Metropolitan area; La Salle Academy, Bronx-Manhattan CHSAA victor and runners-up to St. Francis in the play-off; Highland Park High School, New Jersey State Champs; Catholic Central of Troy, N.Y., city champions, and runner-up in the Albany Diocesan League; St. Joseph’s Cathedral of Manchester, New Hampshire, New England State champions; Immaculate Conception of Montclair, N.J., finalists and runner-up in the Glens Falls Tourney; St. Ann’s Academy (our victim twice), winner of the Reilly Memorial; and LaSalle College High School, city and Catholic champions of Quakertown.
Finishing the season with a record of 27 wins and 1 loss, the ’48 Raiders ho down in history as, by far, the greatest basketball team Regis has ever had.
Above: Team photo of the 1948 Regis Varsity Basketball Team. Kneeling: Gerry Rooney, Jack Rooney, Mike Keane, Don Fitzgerald, Gerry Murray; Standing: Don Kennedy, Coach; Barry Sullivan, Joe Breen, John Cardwell, Mike Woods, Jim McMahon, Fr. Joseph J. Parrell, S.J., Moderator
Above: The 1948 Varsity Basketball Team record
Above: Photographs from the ECIT Championship Game
Above: Statistics from the 1948 Varsity Basketball Team's Record