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1953 Basketball Team (2003)

Boasting six current Hall-of-Famers, the 1953 Heavyweight Basketball Team is no stranger to high times. Fueled by high-octane scorers George Bon Salle (17.9 ppg) and Paul Krucker (15.3 ppg) and groomed by venerable Head Coach Ken Wiltgen, the '53 cagers carved an impressive 18-5 record (12-2 in conference play) to seal the North Section championship and a first-round playoff tilt with St. Ignatius. Following a 3-1 non-conference November, the Heavies braced for the St. George Holiday Tournament. Against St. Patrick and Weber in opening-round play, Krucker erupted for 20 and 22 points, respectively, in one-sided victories. In the semi's, Bon Salle poured in 38 points as the Ramblers crushed defending city champion St. Rita, 87-50. The subsequent title game saw an inspired Fenwick team grab a first-quarter 11-point lead it nursed to a 71-58 crown. The North Section chase began 2-and-0 (wins over Weber and stubborn rival St.George) when the Ramblers lost a foul-marred game to DePaul, 59-52. That loss awakened in the team a sense of urgency, for it rattled off a seven- game win streak. With 18 points apiece, Bon Salle and Krucker dismantled Fenwick, 61-42. Then, riding an unbeaten league record of its own onto the Lake Shore campus, St. Ignatius fell, 65-49. The following week's free scoring match with St. Philip left the Gaels on the short end of a 76-63 drubbing, Krucker paving the way with 21. Loyola later pummeled Holy Trinity, 66-38 (Krucker, 23) and Weber, 83-41 (Bon Salle, 30). With a squeaker over St. George, 48-41, Loyola secured its hold on first place, due principally to the outside shooting of guards Bob McCarthy (15 points) and Jack Stanton (14 points). DePaul Academy's upset bid one week later fell short, 52-49, Bon Salle's 16 points pacing the Ramblers. The run ended at Fenwick, where the Friars presided, 57-52. Bon Salle, however, righted the ship in successive wins over St. Ignatius (13 points) and St. Philip (23 points). In their final conference game, the Heavies smashed Holy Trinity, 42-24, behind Stanton's 16 tallies. Alas, in the opening-round playoff game vs. St. Ignatius at De La Salle, our North Section champs -- playing without the services of Bon Salle -- lost 67-57. Guided by co-captains Paul Krucker (All-North Section and CCL; Hall of Fame, 2002) and Bob McCarthy (CCL Honorable Mention), anchored by George Bon Salle (All-North Section, CCL, and City; Hall of Fame, 1999), and steadied by Jack Stanton (CCL Honorable Mention) and Tom Kelly, the 1953 Basketball Team showcased power, balance, and court savvy. A resourceful bench, moreover -- comprised mainly of junior Ken Jansen and sophomore Len Jardine (Hall of Fame, 1985) and completed by juniors Terry Ryan and Phil Prassas and underclassmen Joe Mulvaney (Hall of Fame, 2001), Tom O'Connor (Hall of Fame, 1985), Jim Gorman, and Bill Graf (Hall of Fame, 2000) -- solidified the team that tonight celebrates the 50th anniversary of its golden season. Along with managers Jerry Schoen and Rich Klingbeil, the 1953 Heavyweight Basketball Team, grounded as much in celebrity as in success, assumes its place among Loyola elite.

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