1982 Basketball Team (2007)
Schooled in the gospel of fundamental basketball, the 1982 Boys Basketball Team embraced the traditional virtues of team defense, court balance, ball movement, and hard work. Though stocked with young men of impressive ability, this team played as it was coached to play - not as a loose collection of individual talent, but rather as a coordinated, cohesive force. Its game was rooted in selfless teamwork and disciplined execution. The result was a season to remember, as the 1982 team rolled to a 21-6 record and cemented its place among the greatest basketball teams ever to take the floor for Loyola Academy. Guided by Head Coach Jim O'Donnell (Hall of Fame, 2003) and Assistant Coach Tom Fitzgerald, the 1982 team proved itself a power to be reckoned with from the get-go. Boasting three future Hall-of-Famers in the starting five, it brought to the court a tenacious man-to-man defense, aggressive rebounding, and a precision half-court offense. Four seniors led the charge. The high octane offense was fueled by peerless forward Mike Cenar (22.5 ppg), a prolific scorer both inside and outside who dominated the court with his all-around game. At the other forward ranged Joe Flanagan (11.7 ppg), a perimeter jump-shot artist with great range and an exquisite touch. Orchestrating the Rambler attack was masterful floor general Tom Tonelli (14.3 ppg), a playmaker with shooting credentials, a press-breaker, and a defensive shut-down artist. The inside post was manned by junior center Kurt Feiereisel (6.3 ppg), a defensive presence in the paint and a hardnosed rebounder. Rounding out the starting five was junior guard Mike Flanagan (3.5 ppg), a capable and dependable ball-handler, shooter, and defenseman. A deep and indispensable bench was led by junior guard Bob Doherty, junior forwards Al Connor and Pat Shea, and junior center Joe Klauke. They, along with fellow reserves Nigel Casey, Joe Auer, Tom McElligot, Tony Florek, Kevin Stineman, Pat Craddock, and Dan Hagedorn, offered stability and dependability when called upon. It was an early season wake-up call that launched the Ramblers on their way to a 20-win season. Undefeated after six games, the Ramblers were beaten badly at Mendel. Thereafter, they went on a tear, putting together a string of victories highlighted by a title at the Niles West Thanksgiving Tournament (on Tonellis last-second shot) and the consolation championship at the prestigious Kankakee Christmas Tournament. Their credentials as a powerhouse now established, Loyola rolled through the rest of the regular season toward a hard-earned runner-up finish in the tough CCL. A definitive moment for this Hall-of-Fame team came in the home showdown with unbeaten and top-ranked DeLaSalle. Extra bleachers in the gym balcony made their appearance for the first time, the band played, and a jam-packed Loyola gym rocked with excitement. The game did not disappoint, nor did the Ramblers. A point behind with time running out, Tonelli found under the basket a wide-open Feiereisel, who grabbed his own rebound after a missed layup and scored the game-winner with a second remaining. Post-game euphoria built anticipation of a playoff run to the Elite Eight. However, the post-season proved unkind. After tallying their third successive win of the season over New Trier in the first round of the IHSA Regional, the Ramblers lost a tough game to a good Glenbrook North team in the Regional championship, closing the books on a brilliant campaign. Mike Cenar (Hall of Fame, 1984) and Tom Tonelli (Hall of Fame, 1999) were named to the All-Catholic League team, while Joe Flanagan (Hall of Fame, 2002) was named to the All-CCL North Section team. Season-ending disappointment notwithstanding, the 1982 Ramblers justly celebrate a season of aspiration and attainment, of selfless devotion to a common cause and the fraternal bonds of those engaged in pursuing it. Twenty-five years later, the 1982 Boys Basketball Team celebrates a glittering 21-6 record and a remarkable season of team and individual accomplishment, staking its claim to a place among Loyola's basketball elite.