Newman High basketball among best

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 2, 2000

Mention Newman High, and automatically people think football, or more specifically Peyton and Eli Manning. But Isadore Newman High is actually better known for its basketball.

The Greenies have won nine state championships in boys basketball and head coach Billy Fitzgerald has led Newman to five of those in his 27 years at the New Orleans school.

&uot;Football has been big here since the Manning’s came,&uot; Fitzgerald said.

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Newman faces Ferriday High today at 7 p.m. in a second round Class 2A playoff game.

Ferriday upset Opelousas Catholic, while Newman defeated Catholic-New Iberia 52-33 in the first round.

&uot;They put up a good fight, but we played solid defense and ran enough offense to get the win,&uot;&160;Fitzgerald said.

Newman, 21-9, tied West St. John for the District 9-2A championship, both with 11-1 records.

Ferriday entered the playoffs as a wild card team out of District 3-2A.

Opelousas Catholic was the District 7-2A champion.

Last year, Newman finished in second place in its district, but lost in the first round of the state playoffs against Pine.

Newman is known for its ball-control offense, usually taking a minute to take a shot.

&uot;I just think it’s important to teach kids shot selection,&uot; Fitzgerald said. &uot;It’s just our philosophy that you can get a good shot if you are willing to work for it. The percentage of good shots that go in and the percentage of bad shots that go in – there’s no comparison. If you take better shots, you have a better chance of winning.&uot;

The last time Newman won a state championship was in 1993. Newman’s nine state championships ranks among the top three in the state.

The quest for No. 10 continues at Vidalia High’s gym because Ferriday’s has a tendency to sweat when high humidity inside mixes with cool air outside.

Ferriday plays its home games at the seventh grade gym because the high school gym is small and inefficient.

When Vidalia and Ferriday High played in Ferriday in late January, the humidity was high enough inside that players were slipping on the floor.

The game was stopped at one point as officials discussed what could be done.

A powder was used on players’ shoes to prevent as much slipping.

Newman’s gym was built in 1983.

It has a gymnastics room, swimming pool on the lower level, weight room, coaches’ offices, locker rooms and an indoor track facility above the court.

When the stands, which are about 15 feet from the sideline boundary (Vidalia and Ferriday’s are about a foot) are pushed back, they give way to volleyball courts.

Newman’s gym seats 800.

The Vidalia gym seats about the same amount, but doesn’t have near the luxuries.

Vidalia High principal Rick Brown told Ferriday principal Tony Moore that he was more than glad to help.

Brown even put one more football twist on the meeting.

&uot;If we had won in the second round and Newman had won, they would have come here,’ Brown said. &uot;So now we’re finally getting them on our campus.&uot;

Some day it would just be nice if Vidalia and Ferriday could both brag of a facility comparable to Newman’s.

Joey Martin is sports editor of The Democrat. He can be reached by calling 446-5172 ext. 232 or at