**This is the first of eight previews of the eight teams participating in the second annual Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic Basketball Tournament at the Alario Center in Westwego January 19-21.
John Curtis coach Mike Krajcer discusses the tournament with sportsNOLA's Darrell Ashley
Any conversation about John Curtis Christian athletics begins and ends with its storied football team.
J.T. Curtis surpassed 500 wins and has won more games than all but one coach in the history of high school football in the United States. Curtis has claimed 24 state championships, including the 2A title in 2011.
Some are aware that Curtis has won six baseball state titles as well, most under J.T. and some under Johnny Curtis.
What many are not aware of is the outstanding nature of the 2011-2012 John Curtis basketball team.
The Patriots are off to a perfect 17-0 start, led by superb shooting guard Malik Morgan, who has signed to play at LSU. The Patriots have won tournaments hosted by Lusher, Country Day and Holy Cross. Curtis has notable wins over St. Thomas More, Salmen, O. Perry Walker, Country Day and Newman (twice).
The fact that Curtis is very good this season is not a surprise.
The 2010-2011 Patriots reached the 2A regional round, losing to Ville Platte (83-79) and returned many excellent players this season. The difference this year is that the Patriots have more balance, according to head coach Mike Krajcer.
"The big key is we are playing like a team," said Krajcer. "Malik's average has dropped down from 30 points per game which he averaged last season. We have two others averaging double figures. We are much more balanced than a year ago. We have been very fortunate rebounding-wise to be able to rebound with most teams which has been another key to our success thus far."
Richard Durant and Isaac Banks are both averaging around 12 points per game while Dillon Gordon is chipping in with six points per game. Raekwon
James has played well has played well, also. Gordon and James were stars on the Curtis football state championship team.
The Patriots are without shooting guard Patrick Morton, who is out for the season after suffering a knee injury during the football season as the starting quarterback. Morton had surgery.
Morgan averages 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists per game. Morgan tweaked an ankle a couple of weeks ago but has fully recovered from it.
"He is a better overall player this year," Krajcer said. "Malik is a total team player, committed to winning."
Krajcer is excited about his team participating in the 2nd Annual Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Basketball Classic at the Alario Center in Westwego January 19-21.
"It's big to be in this event because we get to face some very quality teams and you get to see just how good you are," Krajcer said. "It's a fun opportunity. That's the way I am approaching it with the kids. It is great to be involved with a prestigious tournament sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl."
It is quite possible that the two best teams in Louisiana in 2A reside in the same district (10-2A), including Curtis and two-time defending 2A state champion Riverside.
Curtis plays Riverside twice in district play, with the first meeting on January 24 in River Ridge. The Patriots travel to Reserve for a rematch with the Rebels on February 10. The two could meet prior to then in the Sugar Bowl event. "If we have to play them in the tournament, we will deal with it, rise up and meet a big challenge," said Krajcer.
In the meantime, the Patriots plan to distinguish themselves well in the Sugar Bowl Classic, showing everyone that John Curtis athletics is not just about football.