Most who have been around east central Illinois high schools for roughly the previous two decades are aware of La Salette’s boys’ program.
Leading into this school year, the Georgetown-based, all-boys boarding school was one of two area institutions unable to compete in any IHSA postseason activity, along with Arthur Christian School.
La Salette has been considered an IHSA associate member for a portion of its 16-year existence, able to compete in regular-season events and tournaments with other IHSA schools but unable to contest for state hardware.
That changed at last Monday’s IHSA Board of Directors meeting, at which time the group approved a recommendation to give La Salette full IHSA membership.
Lions boys’ basketball has produced some solid teams in recent years, guided by the likes of Alex Anderson and John Spezia. The squad regularly battles local Class 2A opponents and sometimes jumps into the 3A/4A pool to face the likes of Urbana and Danville.
“Now the students have something to look forward to at the end of their season, be it (in) chess, cross-country, basketball, scholastic bowl (or) speech,” Spezia said in an email. “Very special thank you to (IHSA Executive) Director Craig Anderson and (associate executive director) Kurt Gibson for listening and helping with this process.”
La Salette also offers rugby, but that is not an IHSA sport or activity.
Among La Salette’s most noteworthy wins on the court came at the beginning of the 2015-16 season, when the Lions topped St. Joseph-Ogden 50-44. The Spartans would go on to win that season’s Class 2A state championship.
La Salette is well known for the atmosphere at its home gymnasium, the James R. McMahon II Memorial Coliseum.
“If you ever want to see true school spirit,” Spezia wrote in his email, “come check out a game at the coliseum and watch and hear the Coliseum Crazies in action.”
Among the Lions’ 2021-22 basketball schedule are involvement in tournaments hosted by Schlarman, SJ-O and Watseka, as well as a pair of games against Danville. La Salette didn’t play during the 2020-21 school year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.