Independence boys advance first round, face Many Tuesday on the road

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CLOSE IT OUT- Independence guard Genord Perry celebrates as the Tigers advance past the LHSAA 2A first round playoffs with a wild 62-60 finish over MLK Charter. Photo by Matthew Roy.

By Jesse Brooks

The Independence boys basketball team advanced past the first round of the LHSAA 2A playoffs on Friday, February 23 after defeating MLK Charter 62-60 in a game that went down to the wire.

Inside of a minute of the fourth quarter, the Tigers were tied with the Jags 60-60 despite once holding a commanding lead in the third quarter. After the Jag’s 11-4 run, the ball was inbounded to junior De’Angelo Gaines who set up the offense and fed senior forward Melvin Baker who won the battle for inside position in the paint. Without hesitation, Baker got off a turnaround one-handed runner to take a 62-60 lead with just under 30 seconds left to play.

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Senior Melvin Baker’s game winning shot. Photo by Matthew Roy

 

The Tigers were able to get the ball back through a steal and possibly seal the game when freshman Jaden Howard was sent to the line, but two missed free throws would give MLK Charter one final chance. The Tigers opted to defend the length of the floor which resulted in an altered shot by a Jaguar that rolled off the rim as time expired.

“I thought we had pretty good defense for them to have to take a fall away runner considering we missed two free throws to give them the opportunity to take that shot,” Misita said. “Defense was great in the first quarter and then we kind of figured them out. Then they figured us out. So it turned more into a shootout in the second half.”

The game started as a low scoring affair, ending with an 11-9 lead for the Tigers after the first quarter. That changed halfway through the second quarter when Howard nailed back-to-back 3-pt. shots that helped launch a 15-3 run for the Tigers. With 1:22 remaining in the first half, the Tigers held a 28-23 lead. Right before the half ended, Howard grabbed a steal and missed a shot, but Baker was there for the clean up. Tigers would lead 30-23 at half time.

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Freshman guard Jaden Howard. Photo by Matthew Roy. 

The Tigers turned in their best quarter in the third as they commanded a majority of offensive possessions. On consecutive defensive possessions, Baker, who led the Tigers with 18 points, grabbed defensive rebounds and led fast breaks the other way to assist streaking scorers. The Tiger went into the fourth quarter leading 51-43.

Gaines also connected on a 3-pointer, and Perry got a eurostep layup to fall in to go up 56-49 with 4:33 left in regulation, but MLK Charter was not done. Three straight three pointers would be what tied the game up for the Jaguars.

“In the last two minutes, our backs were against the wall and we found a way to win the game,” Misita said. “I was really proud of that.”

Misita also praised his squad for stepping up when the defense was focused on slowing Baker down. Gaines was the Tigers’ second leading scorer with 15 points. Michael Otkins contributed 11 points, and Howard totaled 10 points.

On Tuesday, February 27, Independence will take on No. 3 Many on the road in the second round at 6:30 p.m. Many has an overall record of 20-8.

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OFA shortstop Caleb Cleveland signs with Bossier Parish CC

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MOVING UP- Oak Forest Academy senior shortstop Caleb Cleveland signs his letter of intent to play for Bossier Parish Community College with his family and Coach Tony Salim present. Photo by Jesse Brooks.

By Jesse Brooks

Bossier Parish Community College now officially has a second Oak Forest Academy Yellow Jacket joining up with the program as senior shortstop Caleb Cleveland signed his letter of intent on Friday, February 23.

“I know the division Bossier is in is pretty competitive so I’m looking forward to it,” Cleveland said. “It’s near Shreveport which isn’t too far from home so I think that’s pretty good.”

Cleveland has attended OFA for four years and is a native of Amite.

“I played varsity ball all four years and we won district every year,” Cleveland said. “I never used to be a strong hitter when I was younger. I always liked the glove so I kind of showed that off. Hopefully I carry that over to college.”

Cleveland credits OFA Coach Tony Salim and his staff for improving his swing, and building a group of young batters every year capable of significant offensive outputs. He says personal improvement each year at OFA has been the key to earning honors like All-District and All-State in in sophomore and junior seasons.

“Caleb is an extremely hard work and can play anywhere on the field. Catcher, shortstop, you name it,” Salim said. “It was him very valuable to this program. I was just thinking…He’s played every position on the field for us at some point in these past four years and he’s really good at all of them.”

Salim also said that he sees Cleveland being able to carry his career past the two-year JUCO level through a combination of hard work and talent.

“The goal, of course is D-I,” Cleveland said. “I was to improve and improve the best I can.”

Cleveland also says as a team he thinks the current Jacket squad can reach State and win, and is looking forward to hard work, but also having fun with his teammates.

 

 

Matherne gets 100th career win as coach, OFA to Face MRA in second round tonight

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OFA Head Coach Curtis Matherne.

By Jesse Brooks

Oak Forest Academy’s Curtis Matherne reached his 100th win career win as a head coach on Tuesday, February 20 as the boys basketball team defeated Jackson Prep 65-49 in the opening round of the MAIS AAAA Div. I State Tournament. Matherne is currently in his fifth year with the Yellow Jackets.

In the regular season, OFA was competitive with, but unable to defeat district opponent Jackson Prep, going 0-2 in a season series. However, last Tuesday the Jackets turned in arguably their best performance of the season to advance to the second round.

Four different Jacket players scored in double-figures as part of their most balanced attack of the season. Junior guard La’Vell Scott led OFA in scoring with 19 points, and sharp-shooting freshman Jaden Collura was second in command with 17 points. Senior forward Chris Backa,  who has shown a tremendous amount of improvement late in the season, provided 15 points, and senior point guard Janero Porter also contributed 13 points.

The Jackets will take on Madison-Ridgeland Academy tonight at 6 p.m. on the campus of Presbyterian Christian Academy in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. If OFA advances, they will compete in the championship round. Teams that lose in the second round will play a third place qualifying game. Both the championship and third place games will be held tomorrow at PCS.

OFA baseball ends Sonic Classic in dramatic fashion

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EYE ON THE BALL- OFA Senior Mario Campo gets ready to take a swing. The Jackets scored over 40 runs in the Oak Forest Academy Sonic Classic on February 16-17. Photo by Matthew Roy.

By Jesse Brooks

Oak Forest Academy baseball opened up their season on February 16-17 by hosting the Sonic Classic, and the Yellow Jackets closed out the weekend with a dramatic win.

On Saturday, February 17, Centreville put together a rally to take a 12-11 lead in the top of seventh inning, erasing a previous 11-8 lead for OFA. In the bottom of the inning, Centreville walked two runners on base. Trevor Robinson hit a long ball that allowed Caleb Cleveland to come home and tie the game up at 12-12, leaving a runner on third.

Sensing a win, sophomore Carson Hoover came out swinging early in the count and hit a single that sent a runner home for the 13-12 win.

“We swung the bats well the whole weekend,” OFA Coach Tony Salim said. “We scored a lot of points. I think we scored close to 40 runs in four games.”

Against Centreville, the game was one of rallies. OFA faced an early 3-0 deficit in the top of the first, but it was as soon as the bottom of the inning they would take their first lead. Robinson got the Jackets on the board by hitting a long ball that would bring two runners home while he stayed on third. With the bases loaded, Robinson scored when the next batter was walked to take OFA’s first lead of the game with a score of 4-3. The Jackets increased their lead as much as 6-3 in the bottom of the first after freshman Cole Adams stole home.

The two teams were all even again going into the bottom of the fifth inning with an 8-8 score. Layne McLin went to base with runners on base and got a hit in the middle of the lineup to send Cleveland home for another scored run. McLine was next sent home by Robinson who again pulled off a big hit. Hoover’s hit would send Robinson home as OFA took an 11-8 lead mid-game.
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OFA senior pitcher Caleb Manduni. Photo by Matthew Roy.

“Offense was obviously one of our strong suits over the weekend,” Salim said.
“We have a couple of guys that are out right but but once our pitching staff is at full strength I think we’re going to be really good and we have some high expectations this year.”

OFA went 2-2 over the weekend, beating Silliman Institute on Friday, February 16 with a final score of 13-9 and dropping a game against Central Private and another to Silliman.

OFA will enter the St. Stanislaus Tournament on Saturday, February 24 in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi and will host Copiah Academy on March 2.

OFA baseball senior Layne McLin signs with Bossier Parish CC

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MOVING ON- Oak Forest Academy senior Layne McLin signs his letter of intent to play for Bossier Parish Community College on Saturday, February 17 with his family and Coach Tony Salim and staff present. Photo by Jesse Brooks.

By Jesse Brooks

After two strong seasons with Oak Forest Academy baseball, senior Layne Mclin, who plays the infield positions and at pitcher, will play for Bossier Parish Community next season after officially signing a letter of intent on Saturday, February 17.

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“I had one more solid strong offer, but the reason why I chose Bossier was so I could go with one of my best friends, short-stop Caleb Cleveland,” McLin said.

Cleveland is also a senior at OFA, and is expected to play a big role for the Yellow Jackets this season.

“It was just an offer that I could not pass up,” McLin said. “I’m looking forward to spending time with new baseball players and rooming with my friend. As far as the future, I just want to keep moving up in baseball and go until I can’t go anymore.”

OFA Head Coach Tony Salim praised his ability as a hitter, saying that the power McLin provides in the middle of the line up is “something you really can’t coach.”

“One night we scored eight runs and tonight we scored 13,” Salim said. “We scored a lot of runs this weekend and a large part of that was having him in the middle of that order.”

McLin has been an exceptional player throughout his career. Last season he was an All-District selection in MAIS AAAA Div. I, and he received All-District 9-2A honors and All-State Honorable Mention at his previous school, Doyle High in Livingston.

McLin will join a Bossier Parish squad that went 21-29 last season under Head Coach Bobby Gilliam. The program was home to 30 players that went on to play for professional organizations. Bossier Parish is a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association.

“I fee like if I hadn’t played ball at Oak Forest I wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in today,” McLin said. “Coach Tony prepares us well if we’re able to take the next step. Anything you need help with, you name it, and he’ll take the time to help you figure it out.”

Salim said that several of his layers are currently being recruited while three of them have already made verbal commitments to college programs. He also said he expects the OFA senior class to have six or seven players to sign letters by the end of the season.

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

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.