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Former Chargers, Little Giants coach Curt Allen was a hoops enthusiast

It started at Southmont, where he graduated in 1980, and traveled with him to MacMurray College in Jacksonville, IL, where he played collegiality for the Highlanders.

Curt Allen had ties to Montgomery County basketball at the high school and collegiate level, and there was no doubt that he brought a passion and dedication to the sport.

Allen, 60, passed away recently in Florida, but his hoops ties go back to graduating from Southmont, through playing in college to coaching at Wabash and then at North Montgomery, before moving to Florida and winning there.

“I was shocked and saddened when I received the news of Curt’s passing,” former Wabash College coach Mac Petty said. “We had a great ride together. RIP Curt.”

Allen had a passion for basketball.

It started at Southmont, where he graduated in 1980, and traveled with him to MacMurray College in Jacksonville, IL, where he played collegiately for the Highlanders.

He took the “student” part of “student-athlete” seriously as well, as he was named the Academic Athlete of the Year in both 1983 and 1984. He graduated magna cum laude from MacMurray.

Playing basketball might have been over, but Allen took his passion for the sport to the sidelines, where he was successful as a coach.

Before the coaching career, though, came some stops that make sports junkies envious, as he worked at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center, for the Indianapolis Colts, and behind the scenes for the Pan Am Games in Indy in 1987. He also managed to land a spot in the movie “Hoosiers.” He was a member of the ‘Dugger Bulldogs’ team in that hoops classic.

Allen got back to Montgomery County basketball in 1993, when he joined the Little Giants staff under Petty.

A five-year trek with Wabash saw the team go from two seasons with losing records to ‘96-97, where the Little Giants went 24-5, and won a first-round game in the NCAA Div.3 tournament over Lawrence University after winning the ICAC Tournament.

They were just as good the next season, as they went 22-5, won the ICAC regular season and the tournament title, qualified for the NCAA tournament again, and won another first-round game (over Aurora).

“I was very fortunate to have him (Allen) as my assistant during those years,” Petty noted. “His personality meshed so well with the players. I will never forget those times and our time together.”

Allen took his basketball chops to North Montgomery after that last spring with Wabash, taking over the boys program.

While his first team finished with a losing record, they came together at the right time, winning the school’s first sectional in 15 years.

They were 7-12 heading into the sectionals, and facing Western Boone, who had run the table against all the county schools that season, including a 67-62 win over the Chargers.

“Curt had a passion for the game of basketball,” his varsity assistant Kurt Schlicher said. “His leadership helped us to the sectional championship that season.”

After upsetting WeBo 40-39 in the semifinals, the Chargers cut the nets down with a 66-54 championship game win over Seeger.

They would go on to lose to Monrovia in the 2A regionals, but a sectional title is never forgotten.

The next season, which turned out to be Allen’s last, the Chargers finished 6-15.

“I was Curt’s freshman coach his first season and JV coach his second,” said Tom Lutz, long-time basketball name at North. “He was very passionate about coaching and teaching basketball. That sectional championship was the first (for the Chargers) since ‘84, and he did a great job getting that team ready for the tournament. He had the guys playing their best basketball at the end of the season, which is exactly when you want that to happen.”

After those two years at North, Allen left for Florida, and he took his basketball passion along.

He became the head coach at North Port High School in 2007, and chalked up over 100 wins in seven seasons. He was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame last year.

He leaves behind a basketball story and a legend.

His face on film and his name on a trophy.

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