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Former Cajuns: Foote – 1964 Fatima Warriors delivered mighty upset win

Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, May 31, 2015


Former Fatima head coach Bob Adamson, former Daily Advertiser sports editor Charles Lenox and former Fatima guard Oliver Blanchard meet to relay old memories of Fatima’s 48-45 upset of East Beauregard back on Feb. 24, 1964, the same night Cassius Clay upset Sonny Liston.(Photo: Photo by Dr. T. Michael Maher/UL department of communications)

It’s something old sports fans and athletes have done for years – remembering the glory years.

A few months ago, a couple of old friends were talking about all-time great upsets.

Almost immediately, their minds went back to perhaps the biggest one in these parts that hardly anyone ever discusses.

For that matter, it’s an upset the vast majority of sports fans in this area never even heard about.

I’ve been covering prep sports in this area for 32 years and I don’t remember ever hearing about it until being approached about it in recent weeks.

Ironically, this great upset took place on the evening of Feb. 25, 1964.

Around the world, the shock came the still-infamous upset victory by Cassius Clay over Sonny Liston for the heavyweight championship of the world.

In Lafayette on that same night, however, the Fatima Warriors were stunning the East Beauregard Trojans 48-45 in the state regional round.

East Beauregard was in the second year of consolidation. In that first year, the Trojans were 49-0.

Due to an LHSAA rule that consolidated schools couldn’t compete in postseason play in their first season, though, East Beauregard wasn’t the defending Class B state champions.

They were, however, 47-1 coming to Blackham Coliseum that night to meet coach Bob Adamson’s Warriors, who had just won the school’s first-ever district title in any sport with a 28-8 record.

That lone loss was the Fair Park in the finals of the Shreveport Times Tournament earlier that season.

“We were obviously huge underdogs,” Adamson said.

Five decades later, Adamson still remembers a few factors giving him hope going into that contest.

For one, the Warriors were running Beryl Shipley’s shuffle offense, which was unfamiliar to East Beauregard.

Second, Adamson said the Trojans relied heavily on fullcourt pressure, and he was confident that his squad, led by elite ball handler Pat Theall, could consistently break that pressure.

Also, there was the Blackham Coliseum factor. The game was moved there to accommodate a large crowd. But Adamson said the court had dead spots even way that back and it was a much larger arena than the Trojans were used to shooting in.

Don Keely led Fatima with 18 points, while Theall had 14. Several of Keely’s baskets came in the fourth period, as he attempted to exchange punches with Trojans’ hot shot Keith Andrews, who finished the game with 27 points.

Oliver Blanchard also hit a key basket in the fourth period and finished the game with six points.

Other starters for Fatima were Roy Cosse, Fred Rhymes and Pat Duffy.

East Beauregard led 29-25 at the half, led by as much as eight points during the third quarter and the score was tied 35-35 going into the final quarter.

Some of the other details from that great win had understandably faded when Adamson, Blanchard and then-Advertiser sports editor Charles Lenox enjoyed that little trip down memory lane.

But the conversation sparked a research project to rekindle some of those old recollections, as well as the idea to bring it to the attention of sports fans in our area, before it faded away forever.

As it turned out, the Blackham factor certainly played a huge role in the upset win. East Beaureguard only made five of 15 free-throw attempts, while Fatima hit on 12 of 18.

As Lenox wrote on that memorable night, “Two stunning upsets rocked Lafayette sports fans Tuesday night, and it’s hard to say just which one pulled the biggest – Fatima or Cassius Clay.”

Clay obviously became Muhammad Ali, arguably the best heavyweight champion of all time.

Unfortunately for Adamson’s Warriors, the Cinderella story didn’t gain any more momentum.

Fatima took on St. Joseph’s of Chauvin in a road quarterfinal game three days later and lost. Like so many coaches, Adamson certainly remembers many of the details from that loss.

“They had a 6-8 center named Zeringue who went to McNeese and we just couldn’t get him out of the lane,” said Adamson, who later coached at Lafayette High before getting into administration and later playing a huge role in getting the Top 28 Tournament to the Cajundome as a member of the Blue Coats. “I got two technical fouls trying to get them to call three seconds in the lane and they never would.”

On this one special night over five decades ago, though, Adamson and his upstart Warriors delivered one of the most significant postseason knockout punches by an underdog this area’s ever seen.

Athletic Network Footnote by Ed Dugas
Robert Adamson, popular Lafayette area high school coach and principal, has always been a leader in community activities.

Oliver Blanchard went on to become Associate Athletic Director at UL (82-95) and Golf Coach (82-83), as well as HPE (Kinesiology) faculty member. Click here for Golf team photo with Coach Blanchard.  

Charles Lenox was a long time staff member of The Advertiser and later served as Director of Student Publications at UL.