List of local boys basketball playoff games

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MAIS AAAA Div. 1 State Tournament Round 1

2/20 – Oak Forest Academy vs. Jackson Prep at Presbyterian Christian (Hattiesburg, MS)

LHSAA 1A

2/23 – No. 18 Kentwood @ No. 15 South Cameron: time TBA

2A

2/23 – No. 21 Franklin @ No. 13 Amite: time TBA

2/23 – No. 19 MLK Charter @ No. 14 Independence: 6 p.m.

2/23 – No. 20 St. Helena @ No. 13 East Feliciana: time TBA

2/23 – No. 18 Delhi Charter @ No. 15 Doyle: 6 p.m.

5A

2/23 – No. 32 Ponchatoula @ No. 1 Natchitoches Central: time TBA

2/23 – No. 17 Covington @ No. 16 Denham Springs: time TBA

2/23 – No. 29 Sulphur @ No. 4 Walker: time TBA

Div. I

2/20-27 St. Paul’s on two round BYE

Div. III

2/27 – No. 10 The Church Academy @ No. 7 St. Thomas Aquinas: time TBA

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OFA Boys end regular season with win over PCA

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GETTING BUCKETS- OFA senior forward Chris Backa scored 14 points against Pontchatrain Christian. Photo by Matthew Roy.

By Jesse Brooks 

AMITE- The Oak Forest Academy boys basketball team defeated Pontchatrain Christian Academy 74-25 to close out the regular season with a 19-8 overall record. Junior shooting guard La’Vell Scott led all scorers with 17 points.

PCA opened the first quarter with a 7-2 run, but things flipped quickly after the Yellow Jackets went into a full court press to score off of three straight steals and gain a 8-7 advance in less than a minute.

“We saw a weakness and we went after it and went into our 2-1-2 full court press for about 8-10 minutes,” OFA Coach Curtis Matherne said. “We built a comfortable lead and then we were able to work on some things we would like to do against Jackson Prep in the playoffs.”

OFA ended the first quarter on an 18-2 run, mostly a result from getting points off of turnovers with senior point guard Janero Porter, who totaled 10 points, directing traffic. Braxten McGovern (10 points total) and senior forward Chris Backa were scored most of the layups in the final minutes of the first quarter to result in a 20-9 score.

Both teams appeared to come out cold in the second period, but OFA found a spark when Backa’s second block of the evening turned into a fast break layup for Porter on the other end over two defenders. The Jackets closed out the first half on a 12-3 run that included two 3-pointers by Backa inside of the final minute. Backa was the team’s second leading scorer with 14points.

“Chris was giving us his his all, but I don’t think we had him in the right position to succeed,” Matherne said. “We moved him outside where’s more comfortable handling the ball, shooting and making things happen off of the bounce. Since that happened, he’s been a completely different player.”

The Jackets set the tone in the second half with senior Carter Blanchard scoring on a fast break layup coming right out of the gate. Later in the game, Scott hit two 3-pointers, and Jon Jovi hit one from beyond the arc to command a 58-22 lead in the fourth quarter.

“La’Vell had to miss eight games for personal reasons, but we’re bringing him off the bench now and he’s playing and practicing hard,” Matherne said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked of him. Not only does he make us better overall, he’s given us a spark off the bench that we’ve been missing.”

The MAIS AAAA Div. 1 State Tournament playoff system will begin next week on Tuesday, February 20 at Presbyterian Christian, and the Jackets are scheduled to face Jackson Prep in the first round.

“We want to thank the home crowd,” Matherne said. “We’ve had unbelievable home crowds this and it has to be fun for the guys to play in front of them. We thank you for the support. We’re going to go up to Hattiesburg next week and hopefully make Oak Forest even more proud of these guys.”

 

Local LHSAA girls basketball winners from last night

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Local girls basketball first round playoff winners:

LHSAA 2A
No. 15 Amite 77
No. 18 MLK Charter 66

Lady Warriors will play No. 2 Lake Arthur on the road in the second round. Date and time TBD.

3A
No. 6 Albany 80
No. 27 Green Oaks 46

Lady Hornets will host No. 11 Kaplan on Monday, February 19 in the second round at 6:30 p.m.

No. 2 Loranger 77
No. 31 Bogalusa 39

Lady Wolves will host No. 15 Jennings in the second round with date and time TBD.

5A

No. 23 Hammond 61
No. 10 Walker 33

Lady Tors will host No. 7 Nachitoches Central in the second round with a date and time TBD.

No. 2 Ponchatoula 66
No. 31 Parkway 36

Lady Wave will host East St. John in the second round with a date and time TBD.

List of local girls basketball playoff games happening today

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LHSAA 1A

No. 26 Kentwood @ No. 7 Elton: 7 p.m. Away

2A

No. 15 Amite vs. MLK Charter: 6 p.m. Home

No. 24 Independence @ Winnfield: 6 p.m. Away

No. 25 St. Helena @ No. 8 French Settlement: 6:30 p.m. Away

3A

No. 2 Loranger vs. No. 21 Bogalusa: 6 p.m. Home

No. 6 Albany vs. No. 27 Glenn Oaks: 6:30 p.m. Home

No. 32 Jewel Sumner @ No. 1 South Beauregard: 6 p.m. Away

5A

No. 2 Ponchatoula vs. No. 31 Parkway: 5:30 p.m. Home

No. 23 Hammond @ No. 10 Walker

 

Sources indicate Lafayette area episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown is in production

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BOURDAIN IN CAJUN COUNTRY- Sources indicate television personality Anthony Bourdain was in the Lafayette area filming an episode of his CNN show ‘Parts Unknown’ during Mardi Gras. Photo: Screenshot of Bourdain in the Southwest Louisiana on the episode “Cajun Country” for his previous show ‘No Reservations’.

By Jesse Brooks 

Over last weekend and through Mardi Gras, sources online have indicated that production is underway for an Acadiana focused episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown on CNN. 

On Sunday, February 11, Madonna Broussard, owner of Cajun and Creole style restaurant Laura’s 2 in Lafayette, posted a photo of herself with Bourdain and explained that she hosted the renown chef for a segment of the show.

Bourdain, who is in production of his 11th season of his current show that first aired in 2013, is no stranger to South Louisiana. Bourdain has been known for his claims that New Orleans is one of the greatest food cities in the world, and featured the city on his previous television show No Reservations on Travel Channel. He returned to the Boot State on No Reservations a second time in the episode “Cajun Country” to film his first ever visit to the Lafayette area. In that episode, Bourdain participated in a traditional Cajun boucherie.

Herman Fuselier, a music and entertainment writer for The Daily Advertiser newspaper in Lafayette, also confirmed that he participated in segments that were being filmed for the show this week with a Facebook post seen here.

Fuselier is a Opelousas native and has dedicated a strong portion of his career to preserving the history and culture of Cajun zydeco, blues and R&B music of the region. His book Ghosts of Good Times: Louisiana Dance Halls Past and Present was released in October of 2016 and chronicles the stories of the venues that gave life to zydeco music.

Fuselier’s social media announcement indicates that the episode in production will feature Cajun Dance Halls like El Sido’s Zydeco & Blues Club and their fight to stay open through changing cultural landscapes.

Through social media, Bourdain himself confirmed that he was in Mamou, Louisiana on Tuesday to participate in Courir de Mardi Gras, a traditional Cajun version of the regional holiday. Here is a photo he posted of himself in full garb on Instagram.

A date for the premiere of Parts Unknown Season 11 has not yet been announced.

Why I go to Waffle House on bad days

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ALWAYS OPEN- When life feels out of control, the Waffle House is a center for consistency. Photo by Jesse Brooks.

By Jesse Brooks

Last week, after a couple of days of dreary weather, I was not feeling at my best mentally, physically and emotionally.  Hours past a period of procrastination, I eventually forced myself to leave my home for a cure.

I went to my nearest Waffle House.

If you are a resident of the The South, you are more than likely familiar with the yellow roadside glow radiating from the signs of a diner that promises to always keep their lights on. If you’re planning a visit and you’ve missed your exit, don’t worry, you’ll have another opportunity at the next exit on your road trip. Chances are, another one will be there.

Aside from jokes that may refer to Waffle Houses reproducing like peaches on the branches of Southern trees, the chain is classically American. Waffle House, created in 1955, is like taking the classic diner experience and matching it with the industrial nature of the assembly line. They are food factories. Always in operation and always in flow. Feeding fuel to the road runners.

Waffle House seems to have the mightiest presence in transient or college towns. Hammond, Louisiana, in the center of the I-55 and I-12 cross-section, and home to Southeastern Louisiana University, is both of those things. Naturally, Waffle House is well represented here in my hometown.

Today, there is five franchise locations in our town with a population of 20,019, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. There is a sixth location in the neighboring town of Ponchatoula. So my personalrelationship with Waffle House is a close one.

Normally, I am not a regular consumer of chain restaurants that are not locally owned and operated, but there is a certain reliability that comes with a one or several Waffle Houses in your community. They offer a menu that has mostly gone unchanged since their beginning and they keep their prices relatively low no matter what era of time we are currently in.

The set up is simple. You can order items individually or order a breakfast meat, or sandwich, that comes with some kind of combo of eggs, grits, hash-browns and toast. The All-Star Special costs $7.50 on average, and it includes everything mentioned before, plus a waffle. The whole meal process, including the service, is fast, friendly, efficient and fulfilling.

Familiarity is comforting. That’s why I find it reassuring that no matter how much our world may seem out of control and overwhelming, operations at Waffle House are usually pretty much the same. The food is hot and made to order in a process that unfolds before your eyes.

My father introduced me to Waffle House for while I had to be held out of school for a visit to the doctor for the first time in grade school. In the early 1990s, breakfast locations were limited as this was a time period before hipsters gentrified the concept of brunch. Being mostly a novice to breakfast restaurants, Waffle House was about to blow my mind.

Upon entering the establishment as a child, I immediately experienced a sensory overload. The sound of the chatter, the clinking of the dishes stacked together and the smell of bacon from the grill made me forget about my ear infection. It was the first time I saw cooks in a restaurant make meals professionally without the petition of a wall. It made me conscious of creation. The truckers planning routes with their maps, business folks in suits and accents from other regions I had never heard before…what were they all doing here?

From a young age, it was apparent to me that Waffle House is more than just a food joint. It’s a place where you rest, reset and make plans. I like to think when our younger selves chose this place after a night out on the bar scene that it’s not only because we craved buttery and savory comfort food. We went there to navigate and discuss the journey of life and its social pressures.

As you get older, the situations change but trying to understand your role in existence does not. On days when I am not at my best, I find myself alone at Waffle House. Not alone in the gloomy sense, but physically alone to mentally focus on the inner self. Like the fellow truckers and travelers in the same establishment, I am on a road also.

How long will I live in this town? What’s next in my career? When are we starting a family? Do we have enough money for rent and utilities? 

The coffee, in the same style of diner mugs they have always been, is bottomless and it gives me life.  The wheels turn in my mind and I can solve my problems here, sipping on real hot coffee in a mug to warm my insides. No frappes, mochas or foam art placed on top of a bad blend here. Just a warm cup of joe that refills itself as many times as I need it to.

I also appreciate that Waffle House stays true to a successful model and doesn’t try too hard to adopt modern trends. While some customers see it as a retro business, I do not. It bothers me when new diners try to look old.

Why is it that everyone that attempts to start a diner any year after 1959 runs their business model as a 50s nostalgia theme with a tacky flea market memorabilia feel? Waffle House doesn’t do this. They simply set a standard when they began and never changed anything. This doesn’t make them nostalgia driven. Their business model is simply timeless.

There is an argument to be made that Waffle House has been detrimental to the true original American diner, killing off those locally owned and operated. As a diner fan, I sympathize with the concern, but the town diners were dying off long before the arrival of Waffle House in your community due to the interstate systems driving traffic away from the main streets of towns.

Waffle House, aimed to please in road efficiency rather than ambiance but the funny thing is, they indirectly succeeded in both. That’s why it works. I am glad there is one, or several, where I live.

It’s always been ready and available for all lost travelers to find their way back on the road again.

REPORT: Loranger punter Luke Colona signs with Southeastern Louisiana

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LION UP- Loranger senior Luke Colona, who received honors as a punter and wide receiver, has signed with Southeastern Louisiana University. Photo by Matthew Roy.

By Jesse Brooks

Now under Head Coach Frank Scelfo, Southeastern Louisiana is looking to boost their special teams units with the addition of local punter Luke Colona.

A member of Loranger’s 2018 class, Colona was a two-time LHSAA 4A All-State pick and was selected to the 2017 Louisiana Sportswriter’s Association Class 3A All-State list.

Colona also thrived as a wide receiver for the Wolves, who won the District 7-3A Championship this season with a 4-0 record (7-6 overall). He received First Team honors as an All-District selection as a punter and a receiver.

The 6’3 and 175 lbs. senior chose Southeastern over Louisiana Tech and Southwestern Oklahoma State University. He made a public announcement via Twitter on Saturday, February 10.

 

Amite boys top Tigers to claim District 9-2A Championship

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DISTRICT CHAMPS- The Amite Warriors top Independence 54-30 in the championship round of the District 9-2A Tournament. Photo by Matthew Roy.

By Jesse Brooks

On Wednesday, February 8, the Amite boys basketball team earned the title of District 9-2A Champions after defeating rival Independence 54-30 in the final round of the district tournament. The Warriors now stand at 16-10 overall going into the LHSAA 2A playoffs.

Warrior center Tyrus Wheat led all scorers with 18 points and looked nearly unstoppable as a threat in the paint. Wheat was especially dominant in the third quarter when going on a 10-4 scoring run with Tigers himself and boosting the Warriors’ lead up to 37-18 with 2:09 left to go in the period.

Amite Coach Ronald Cox’s game plan appeared to mirror the one he used in the last meeting between the two teams as their swarming defense was responsible for positives in transition scoring.

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Warriors guard Dereon Edwards. Photo by Matthew Roy

 

Defense was present early on as the Tigers held a slight 6-5 advantage at the end of the first quarter, but Warriors guard Dereon Edwards flashed a sign of things to come by nailing a 3-pointer inside of 12 seconds on the clock to end the first period.

In the second quarter, junior forward Devonta Lee scored on back-to-back transition layups and a jumper from the elbow to jumpstart a 15-4 Warrior run that resulted in their 21-10 halftime lead. Lee ended his night with a total of 14 points.

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Warrior forward Devonta Lee. Photo by Matthew Roy

De’Angelo Gaines and Genrod Perry both knocked down 3-pointers for the Tigers in the fourth quarter, but neither moments could held them get far out enough of 20-point deficits.

With under four minutes left in regulation, the Tigers were down 49-28. Senior Tiger forward Melvin Baker scored a total of eight points, as did guard Michael Otkins.

The game was the fourth meeting between the two teams this season, and the Warriors emerged as the victors three out of out the four.

Prior to Wednesday night, Independence was the No. 10 team in the LHSAA 2A Power Rankings. They will finish the regular season with an 18-4 overall record. Three of their four losses were to Amite.

Amite was last ranked No. 13 in the LHSAA 2A Power Rankings.

 

St. Helena ATH Troy Hurst officially signs with Memphis

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MEMPHIS SOUL- St. Helena ATH in the LHSAA 2A State Championship. Photo by Jesse Brooks.

By Jesse Brooks

On Wednesday, February 7, St. Helena athlete Troy Hurst officially signed with the University of Memphis. Hurst stayed true to his original verbal commitment made to the program on August 23, 2017 despite recruitment from several SEC programs.

Hurst praised Memphis for their openness in their recruiting back in August and came away with an understanding that they would evaluate his position on the field after he officially started practices.

“I may end up playing both sides of the ball at safety, wide receiver and running back,” Hurst said back in August. “The environment and movement is lovely there. I feel I would fit into their system.”

Hurst was a Swiss Army knife for the St. Helena Hawks, coached by Brandon Brown, who used him in multiple positions on the field. At any given moment in any game Hurst seemed like he was the best linebacker, best secondary player, best receiver, best running back and even best quarterback between the two teams. Whenever his number was called, Hurst produced.

Hurst helped lead the Hawks to a District 9-2A Championship, and his team finished 13-3 overall, falling short to No. 1 Welsh in the LSHAA 2A State Championship.

 

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REPORT: Kentwood OT Eric Dunn signs with LA Tech

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NEXT LEVEL- Kentwood offensive tackle Eric Dunn signs with Louisiana Tech. Photo by Janice Jackson. Submitted by Delane Wilson.

By Jesse Brooks

On Wednesday, February 7, Kentwood offensive tackle Eric Dunn signed with Louisiana Tech for a full ride athletic scholarship. Dunn is a four-year for the Kangaroos, and appeared in two LHSAA 1A State Championships with the program. In 2015, the Roos defeated Haynesville 40-7 to claim the state tile, and this season Dunn’s team complied a 14-2 overall record, failing short of the title 20-14 at the hands of West St. John.

Dunn chose Louisiana Tech, a Conference USA member in Division I FBS, over offers from SWAC members Alcorn State and Prairie View A&M.

“First of all, I’d like to than God for putting me in this position,” Dunn said in a signing day press conference. “I’d like to thank my family for being there, and I’d like to thank my school. Without none of y’all, I wouldn’t be here.”

Much of the success for the Roos in the last few years can be attributed to their combination of speed and size up front. The 6-foot-4 and 255 lbs. senior is a Louisiana Sportswriter’s Association selection at offensive tackle, and he received similar honors in the all-district honors.

In joining the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs roster, Dunn will become teammates with former Amite quarterback Elijah Walker. Former Loranger running back Evan Johnson also competes in Conference USA as a member of the University of North Texas’s Mean Green.

 

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