Belton announces plans to run for Louisiana Attorney General

John Belton is pictured during his swearing in to a second term as Third Judicial District in December of 2020.

By T. Scott Boatright

John Belton, District Attorney for Louisiana’s Third Judicial District overseeing Lincoln and Union parishes, announced Monday that he intends to run for Louisiana Attorney General in 2023.

“I am acting on the advice and encouragement from district attorneys as well as other law enforcement officials across our state to run for the Louisiana Attorney General position,” Belton said while speaking to the Louisiana District Attorneys Association on Monday. “I am running for the open position that will be created when Jeff Landry runs for governor.”

A press release from Belton said he feels he has an advantage as a statewide candidate because he has both south Louisiana and north Louisiana roots and support.

Belton grew up in Evangeline Parish, played college football at McNeese and received his law degree at Southern.

He married his wife Alana in 1991 and they moved to north Louisiana later that year, when Belton began his career as a prosecutor working with law enforcement as an assistant district attorney in the Third Judicial District

In 2014 Belton was elected as district attorney in 2014 and was re-elected in 2020 without opposition. He is the past president of the Louisiana District Attorneys Association and is vice president of the National District Attorneys Association.

“My goals as a candidate for attorney general are a reflection of my values, values that are shared by the overwhelming majority of Louisiana citizens,” Belton said in his release. “As a No Party elected official, I have worked successfully with Democrats, Republicans, Independents and No Party citizens and elected officials to achieve common goals.

“I share with the majority of Louisiana citizens these common values -– I am pro-life, pro-family, pro-law enforcement and pro-Second Amendment. I will fight to protect our personal freedoms provided by our constitution, including our freedom of speech, our freedom of religion and our right to keep and bear arms.”

Belton focused on freedom of religion in his press release.

“My father and mother taught me the importance of our freedom of religion,” Belton said. “They taught me not to use obstacles as excuses but to work hard through faith to achieve my goals. I would not be here today if it were not for my walk of faith. As I begin this quest to be the next (Louisiana) Attorney General, I ask for your prayers and your support.”

Belton has a wealth of administrative experience in both the public and private sectors. He is a member of the Board of Directors for First National Bank, the Lincoln Health System Foundation, and the Eddie G. Robinson Museum and he and his wife own The Belton Companies which holdings include real estate, restaurants, legal services, and a sports training facility

He is also is associated with numerous community and civic groups (past and/or present), including the Greater Grambling Chamber of Commerce, Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, Union Parish Chamber of Commerce, Boys and Girls Club of North Central Louisiana, Boys Scouts of America, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Methodist Children’s Home, North Louisiana Legal Aid Council, United Way of Northeast Louisiana, Jaycees of America, Domestic Abuse Resistant Team (DART), and Council for a Better Louisiana. Belton also serves as the chairman of the Eddie G. Robinson Museum Commission, and has served as an adjunct professor at Grambling State University.

Robert Finley to perform at Daq’s on Thursday

Courtesy photo

By T. Scott Boatright

Daq’s Wings and Grill in Ruston has announced it will begin hosting live music events on its patio on the first and third Thursday of each month, beginning with singer Robert Finley performing an acoustic set at 8 p.m. this Thursday.

Finley, who was born and raised in Bernice, followed a stint in the Army by returning to Louisiana, where he worked as a part-time street performer, leader of the gospel group Brother Finley and the Gospel Sisters, and as a carpenter.

He was later determined to be legally blind and was forced to give up his career as a carpenter, but that didn’t slow his love for music.

In 2015, Music Maker Relief Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports aging blues musicians, discovered Finley busking before a gig in Arkansas. That began a musical comeback that saw Finley featured on packaged tours with acts like Robert Lee Coleman and Alabama Slim.

Finley released his debut studio album “Age Don’t Mean a Thing” in September of 2016, and while Finley started as a bluesman, his record producer Bruce Watson keyed in on more of his soulful compositions for that recording.

His second album, “Going Platinum,” was produced and co-written by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and released in December of 2017.

The following year Finley joined Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound Revue tour followed up with a series of headline shows around the world.

In 2019 Finley probably received his most attention when he made it all the way to the semifinals as a contestant during the 14th season of the “America’s Got Talent” television show.

Finley has announced Finley his next album “Sharecropper’s Son,” which centers around Finley’s upbringing on a crop share here in north Louisiana, will be released on May 21.


Piney Hills Pressbox: Remembering Bobby Aillet, Sr.

By T. Scott Boatright

I’ll never forget the name. Not only is it emblazoned on the one of the Lincoln Parish football stadiums I so dearly love, it’s also part of wonderful memories I have of my youth into young adulthood.

Bobby Aillet, Sr., the son of Louisiana Tech coaching legend Joe Aillet, namesake of Louisiana Tech University’s football stadium, passed away at his Shreveport home on Monday at the age of 93. He was a widower since the death of his wife Dorothy in October of 2015.

The younger Aillet was a standout quarterback for both Ruston High School and for his father at Tech. But he was probably best known for his 36-year-career serving as a referee for 450 football games on both the high school and collegiate football levels.

It was in college football where Bobby Aillet’s name became an almost fixture during Saturday afternoon telecasts.

Aillet climbed his way up the referee ranks to become a top official for the Southeastern Conference, being chosen to work in eight post season bowl games and a national championship contest along the way.

Starting in 1956 Aillet worked high school football, including four state championship games, before moving up to ref in the all-Louisiana Gulf States Conference.

In 1966 he became an SEC official until his retirement from the gridiron in 1986. He was the SEC’s chief of officials from 1978-82, and spent three years in pressboxes serving as an observer of officials after leaving the playing field.

Aillet refereed 276 SEC games and eight bowls games, the biggest being Oklahoma’s Orange Bowl win over Penn State to win the national championship in 1985.

He was someone I learned about as soon as I became old enough to watch and understand football.

Growing up, it became a family challenge within the Boatright household to try and beat my father — he was called Tommy while he was growing up in Ruston — at announcing (yelling actually) that a former Louisiana Tech or Grambling player had been mentioned during television broadcasts of NFL games.

“He’s from Grambling” or “He’s from Tech,” or even LSU or Tulane, was heard hundreds if not thousands of times in our den while I was growing up in New Orleans, where my father worked for 34 years for Louisiana Power & Light/Entergy before returning to Ruston upon his retirement in 1991.

Bobby Aillet didn’t play in the NFL. But he became a major component of the Boatright household name game as we watched college football broadcasts. He was one of the few times, “He’s from Tech,” was shouted out during an SEC football game, save for an occasional Billy Brewer sighting. And for the record, as a young fan of the New Orleans Jazz, I learned right off the bat that Scotty Robertson was from Tech, too, and that Aaron James was from Grambling.

Aillet was just as successful off the field, co-founding Aillet Fenner Jolly & McClelland, Inc., an engineering firm in Shreveport and being named the Louisiana Tech Alumnus of the Year in 1989, and was enshrined into the Tech Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998.

In September of 2018, Louisiana Tech President Les Guice talked about Aillet in his weekly online blog/update at

“One of my most enjoyable visits this week was from Bobby Aillet and his grandson Noah (Huckaby) who is a new student from Houston,” Guice wrote in that blog released on Sept. 29 of 2018. Bobby is the son of Joe Aillet and is a legendary athlete and engineering alumnus. “Bobby and his family have been special friends of mine throughout my professional career. They are such an integral part of Louisiana Tech’s history and culture, and their loyalty to Tech is second to none. As founding principal of Aillet, Fenner, Jolly and McClelland, Bobby hired many Tech engineering graduates and led many engineering projects on Tech’s campus and across the region.

Jack “Britt” Brittain, Jr.’s father Jack Brittain Sr. and Aillet were Tech teammates in the 1940s and the Brittain and Aillet families remained close over the years.

“We all had a lot of respect for Mr. Bobby,” Brittain said. “He was a class act and one of the finest persons we ever knew. I never heard Mr. Bobby say an unkind word about anyone and I never heard anyone say an unkind word about Mr. Bobby.

“It was an honor to have him in our lives.”

Bobby Aillet, Sr. — “He was from Tech!” — and it was an honor for Tech nation to have him in our lives, too.

Natchez man facing monetary instrument abuse, drug charges

Photo of Jason Bullock courtesy of the Lincoln Parish Detention Center.

By T. Scott Boatright

Jason Bullock, 30, of Natchez, Mississippi, remained in the Lincoln Parish Detention Center on Tuesday on charges of monetary instrument abuse, possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

His bond was set at $75,000.

On Saturday afternoon a Ruston Police Department officer responded to Malone Polaris, located at 1716 Celebrity Drive, responded to a call about someone trying to make a purchase of a four-wheeler and lawn mower with a fraudulent check.

Bullock’s arrest affidavit says that upon arrival, the RPD officer was told Bullock was the male suspect and that the RPD officer then advised of his Miranda rights. Bullock, along with the driver of the vehicle that Bullock arrived at Malone Polaris in, were both transported to the Ruston Police Department.

The affidavit said that upon further inspection of the checks at the police station, they were determined to be fraudulent cashier’s checks.

A search warrant was then issued for a backpack Bullock said he was. Inside it deputies reported finding 2.9 grams of suspected meth along with a smoking device.

Bullock was then transported to the Lincoln Parish Detention Center and booked on the three charges.

Ruston strong at “Hoss” Garrett Relays while Cedar Creek also makes its marks

Ruston High School’s Dyllon Nimmers set a new venue record in the Boys 800-meter Run Friday during the “Hoss” Garrett Relays on the Dave Anderson Track.

By T. Scott Boatright, LPJ Publisher/Managing Editor

Ruston High School fittingly dominated the “Hoss” Garrett Relays on Friday as both the RHS boys and girls track and field teams turned in championship performances at the newly dedicated Dave Anderson Track..

Arguably the biggest showing of the day came from Ruston’s Dyllon Nimmers, an LSU signee, who set a venue record by taking first in the Boys 800-meter run with a time of 1:54.90.

Ruston senior Ke’Travion Hargrove took first in the Boys 100m Dash with a time of 11.00 while the Bearcats had two of the top three finishes in the Boys 200m Dash with senior Demarrion Rhone taking first with a time of 21.90 and junior Andrew McClinton finishing third at 22.99.

RHS sophomore Joshua Anding placed first in the Boys 400m Dash while Cedar Creek senior Michael Feduccia finished third with a time of 52.29.

The Ruston boys finished 1-2-3 in the Boys 800m run with Nimmers’ record setting finish, junior Caleb Babineaux’s second-place showing at 1:57.52 and sophomore Josiah Whitaker taking third place with a time of 1:57.52.

Ruston had a pair of top three finishers in the Boys 1,600m Run and 3,200m Run. In the 1,600m event, sophomore Cole Maestrini finishing second at 4:43.65 and junior Nelson Blackburn coming in third at 4:44.30 while in the 3,200m race, sophomore Jeff Weatherford placed second at 11:00.03 and senior Jakevion Poe finished third at 11:00.52.

Bearcats junior BJ Green finished third in the 110m Hurdles at 15.41 and second in the 300m Hurdles with a time of 39.54.

Ruston took first in the Boys 4X200 Relay with a time of 1:29,76, and also finished first in the Boys 4X400m Relay with a time of 3:25.23

In the Boys High Jump, Ruston senior Jamarion Reed took second place with a mark of 6-00.00 while Green finished first in the long jump at 22-05.00.

RHS senior Samuel Adams placed second in the Boys Discus with a throw of 116-4.50 while Cedar Creek sophomore AJ Thomas placed third with a mark of 106.00.50.

Ruston had a pair of top three finishes in the Boys Javelin with junior Jed Allen spearing first place with a throw of 151-04.00 while junior Jordan Gilmore was third after a 141-07.00 toss.

On the girls side, Ruston junior Jada Williams placed second in the Girls 100m Dash with a time of 12.31 while RHS senior Tyra Fields won the Girls 200m Dash with a time of 24.78.

Williams took first in the Girls 400m Dash with a time of 56.18.

Lincoln Parish had a top three finish in the Girls 800m Run with RHS freshman finishing first at 2:25.62, junior teammate Kiona McCallister taking second place with a time of 2:26.75 and Cedar Creek senior Lauren Osafo placing third at 2:40.74.

The Lady Bearcats had a pair of athletes in the top three of the Girls 1,600m Run as junior Anna Naff took second place with a time of 5:48.24 and senior Destiny Tatum finishing third at 5:51.51.

Ruston sophomore Lily Garrett won the girls 3,200m Run with a finish of 11:56.94.

RHS senior Corlasia Scott placed in the top three of both hurdles events, finishing second in the Girls 100m Hurdles with a time of 15.71 while winning the Girls 300m Hurdles with a time of 44.86.

The RHS girls finished in the top three of all three relay events. Ruston placed second in the Girls 4X400m Relay with a time of 50.85, first in the Girls 4x200m Relay with a school-record time 1:39.46, and second in the Girls 4×400 Relay with a time of 4:21.60.

In the field events, Ruston sophomore Tyana Jackson placed first in the Girls Long Jump with a mark of 15-10.50 while Cedar Creek freshman Rileigh Geis took third at 15-04.75.

Cedar Creek freshman Lauren Entergin finished third in the Girls Pole Vault with a jump of 5-06.00.

Lincoln Parish won all three top spots in the Girls Triple Jump, with Geis capturing first place at 32-06.00 followed by Ruston sophomore Jayda Butler in second with a mark of 32-05.50 and sophomore Faith Miller finishing third at 32-04.00.

For complete results from the 2021 “Hoss” Garrett Relays, click on the following link:

Homefield happiness for Tech softball as Bulldog baseball readies for UAB’s visit

C-USA Hitter of the Week Madie Green delivered a two-run single to pad the Techsters’ lead in a 3-0 win over Northwestern State on Tuesday. Photo by DARRELL JAMES.

Staff Writer

Playing at home Tuesday was sweet for the Louisiana Tech softball team, while the nationally-ranked Bulldogs baseball squad prepared to welcome Conference USA foe Alabama-Birmingham to rebuilt J.C. Love Field beginning Thursday evening.

SOFTBALL: After spending the last three and a half weeks on the road, Louisiana Tech was eager to play a home game at Dr. Billy Bundrick Field.

LA Tech (10-13) got that opportunity on Tuesday and made the most of it, securing a 3-0 win over regional foe Northwestern State (15-8).

The combined three-hit shutout by Audrey Pickett and Bre Hernandez snapped the Lady Demons’ nine-game winning streak that has them atop the early Southland Conference standings.

“Audrey was in control the whole game and that gave our offense a lot of confidence to have her back and find a way to score three runs, said Tech coach Bianca Duran. “Defensively, we were in control as well. I am really proud of the team for bouncing back. Midweeks are not easy to play.”

Pickett allowed only two hits and two walks while striking out four in 6.0 innings of action. Offensively, LA Tech broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth inning when Amanda Gonzalez knocked a run-scoring double to deep right centerfield.

The home team added to its lead the following inning when a two-out single by Madie Green drove in a pair of runners. Hernandez entered the game in the circle in the top of the seventh, earning her first save of the season.

C-USA HITTERS OF THE WEEK: The day before outfielder Madie Green helped the Lady Techsters top the Lady Demons, she was named the Conference USA Softball Hitter of the Week for her performance at Tulsa over the weekend.

The Keller, Texas, native batted .556 with five hits (two home runs, one triple), two runs scored and four RBI while leading LA Tech to a pair of victories over Tulsa.

Earning C-USA Baseball Hitter of the Week honors was Steele Netterville. The Shreveport-Byrd product slugged at the plate with a .368 batting average, tallying eight RBIs, two doubles, two home runs and scoring five runs as the Bulldogs took three of four from preseason favorite Southern Miss in Hattiesburg.

The Bulldogs (17-6, 3-1), ranked as highly as 17th nationally, host Alabama-Birmingham at 6 p.m. Thursday, Friday in a 2 p.m. doubleheader and at 1 p.m. Saturday.

GOLF: Louisiana Tech concluded action at the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate in Awendaw, South Carolina on Tuesday as the team placed 16th with a +33.

“The effort was there this week,” Tech coach Matt Terry said. “We, as a team, just had a bad outing. We made too many errors and did not have enough birdies.”

Tech’s best round of the tournament came on Monday when the Bulldogs shot a +8 (296). The Bulldogs were led on Monday by sophomore Lake Juban who registered a -1 (71) after finishing his last nine holes at or under par.


Grambling unleashes on ULM; Fobbs, Tigers stay active in shutdown

Grambling graduate student Joseph Gunn blasted two home runs in Tuesday’s 15-3 blowout victory over ULM. Photo by TAY TAPES/Courtesy of

Staff Writer

Midweek college baseball games don’t often feature frontline pitchers.

Tuesday, Grambling got a frontline pitching outing, and feasted on six of Louisiana-Monroe’s mound crew in a 15-3 romp on Wilbert Ellis Field at R.W.E. Jones Park. James Cooper’s club won for the sixth time in eight games.

The Tigers (6-14) cracked three homers, two by Joe Gunn among their 12 hits, and took advantage of three errors by ULM.

The G-Men jumped to a 4-0 lead on Gunn’s first boundary blast, a two-run shot in the bottom of the second, and the Tigers added a Keylon Mack solo shot in the third.

It turned into a rout in the fourth, as Grambling rolled up four runs for a commanding 9-0 advantage over a Warhawks team that has wins over two ranked foes (Ole Miss, Oklahoma State) and recently battled ranked Louisiana Tech to a 9-7 margin in Ruston.

Gunn’s second homer, also with one on, made it 14-1 in the sixth.

Antoine Valerio (2-1) struck out five while working the first seven innings, grounding the Warharks (10-11). He didn’t pitch in the weekend non-conference home series against Tennessee-Martin, but after his best outing in six appearances this season and second straight effective outing in extended innings, could be a factor this weekend.

The Tigers return to Southwestern Athletic Conference play Friday (3 p.m.), Saturday (2 p.m.) and Easter Sunday (1 p.m.) at UAPB. Grambling is 3-3 in the SWAC and UAPB is 2-5 (2-13 overall).

FOOTBALL: Grambling’s football team is shut down by COVID-19 issues, restricted from any workouts until at best, about April 10. But the Tigers’ program is not at a standstill.

Broderick Fobbs and his coaching staff have used their idle time productively in recruiting. Tuesday, the Tigers offered scholarships to 10 standouts from Lake Charles College Prep, which has rapidly emerged as a LHSAA Class 3A powerhouse, which lost an epic 43-42 battle last December with Union Parish in the state semifinals.

Meanwhile, on campus, a lot of Tiger players have picked up their cleats to work out on their own, trying to maintain conditioning as the G-Men hope to finish their truncated spring season in Shreveport on April 17 against Southern, test results permitting. Practice is slated to resume at the outset of game week, said Fobbs.

Grambling football personnel are tested Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Fobbs said there’ve been no additional positive tests since results in the middle of last week showed COVID-19 infections for a receiver, a running back and a linebacker. But nobody’s relaxing.

“The worst thing you can do is think you’re out of the woods on this, and then other people, coaches and staff test positive. We’re doing all we can do to limit a spread,” he said.

Fobbs’ wife is spearheading a push to get Grambling players vaccinated, after the state began making the shots available to anyone 16 and over Monday.

Among the calls he’s made, Fobbs spoke with Louisiana Tech’s Skip Holtz, who went through more than his share of COVID-19 shutdowns last summer and fall.

“It’s about continuing to stand your ground. There’s nothing we can do right now except have Zoom meetings with our players and be vigilant masking and social distancing. It’s mind boggling, but you have to figure it out, some kind of way. There’s no excuses,” Fobbs said. “There’s not a minute I’m not thinking about how to make this football team better, and thinking how to get this team back out on the field working.”

Amid the frustration, Fobbs has been able to reconnect with March Madness, cheering Louisiana Tech’s NIT success and bemoaning the end of the NCAA Tournament run by Loyola-Chicago, his Cinderella team. He’s watched his daughters dance and play softball. This weekend, he’ll have a long-overdue crawfish feast.

It has allowed him time to temporarily restructure staff responsibilities, accounting for departures of offensive coaches Mark Orlando and Kendrick Nord. Fobbs is already well into the process of finding replacements.

There’s clarity in the quarterback film room after Geremy Hickbottom entered the transfer portal, leaving Elijah Walker as the only passer who has taken a snap for the Tigers. And there’s time to shape the game plans for the always-huge matchup against Southern.

“We will always take a positive approach,” Fobbs said.



Bearcats, Cougars, Aggies, Lady Aggies post wins; Prep roundup

Staff writer

Ruston’s baseball Bearcats got back on track and Choudrant’s Aggies remained on a roll, while Cedar Creek cruised by Simsboro as top storylines for parish prep sports so far this week.

RUSTON BASEBALL: After West Monroe swept the opening District 2-5A series from the Bearcats over the weekend, Monday evening’s non-league matchup with D’Arbonne Woods got RHS back in gear. A 7-0 win was built on pitching by Dyson Fields (five innings, three hits, nine strikeouts) and Jackson Powell (no hits, three strikeouts finishing the last two frames).

Joshua Miller drove in three runs. Miller, Cade Patterson and Jack

Whitaker each had two of the nine hits for the Bearcats (13-8), who meet district foe West Ouachita Friday (6 p.m., there) and Saturday (home, 1 p.m.). Ruston stands 16th in’s Class 5A state power ratings, second in the district only to West Monroe.

CEDAR CREEK-SIMSBORO BASEBALL: Simsboro struck first Monday evening, but Cedar Creek struck right back, and in a big way against the visiting Tigers, ringing up 11 first-inning runs and rolling to a five-inning 16-1 triumph.

J.T. Stephens doubled and tripled and drove in three to lead the Cougars’ 14-hit attack. Jack Mitcham also had a pair of hits, including a double. In the first frame, Cedar Creek sent 17 batters to the plate.

The Cougars (10-8, 15th in the GeauxPrep Division IV rankings) began a seven-game homestand with the win. They host Ouachita Christian at 6 p.m. Thursday and Bossier at 6 p.m. Friday.

Simsboro actually led, getting an RBI single from Hayden Rabo in the top of the first. The Tigers (3-11, 26th in GeauxPrep’s Class B rankings) host Red River at 6 p.m. Thursday at 6 and go to Bossier for game that will start at 6 p.m. Friday.

CHOUDRANT BASEBALL: The powerhouse Aggies are red hot and rolling on a 15-game winning streak after Monday’s closer-than-it-looks 13-3 win at LaSalle. Choudrant actually trailed 2-1 entering the fifth inning, but erupted for five in that frame, four in the sixth and three in the seventh.

A bases-loaded walk by B. Carter tied it, then Eli Watson’s two-run single put the Aggies on top to stay and Bryce McGuire followed with an RBI base hit, all with no outs. Watson had a sac fly and McGuire doubled in a run in the sixth, and a two-run error by the Tigers did more damage.

Choudrant (18-3, No. 1 in GeauxPrep’s Class B rankings) goes to Maurepas Friday and Saturday for the Class B Bash.

CHOUDRANT SOFTBALL: A 14-8 win at Class 5A Parkway on Monday lifted the Lady Aggies to 15-8. They stand ninth in the GeauxPrep state power rankings.

A nine-run second inning made the difference for Choudrant. Grayson Pylant had a team-high three RBI on a pair of singles, both in the second, the first opening the scoring. Mattie Johnson doubled in a run in the outburst, helped by three Panthers errors.

Choudrant (15-8) is ninth in the GeauxPrep power rankings.

SIMSBORO SOFTBALL: The visiting Lady Tigers pushed across the tiebreaking runs in the fifth inning Tuesday evening to dump Downsville 12-10 and complete a sweep of a doubleheader.

A bases-loaded, two-out walk drawn by Kayla Mitchell put Simsboro (11-11-1, 23rd in the power rankings) on top and Jacoya Lewis followed with a single to pad the margin.

In the Lady Tigers’ 8-7 victory in the first game, VaShanti Sproulls’ two-run double broke a 4-all tie in the third inning and ignited a five-run uprising. Winning pitcher Carlei Wheeler also doubled and drove in a pair.

RUSTON FOOTBALL/TRACK: Junior B.J. Green announced on Twitter Tuesday that he received a football scholarship offer from Louisiana Tech.

The Bearcats’ cornerback is one of the country’s top triple jumpers and has a wide range of offers from Power 5 programs and others in track and field as he aims for his third state championship in his specialty in May. He will compete Saturday in the Mobile (Alabama) Challenge of Champions.


Tech’s Lofton Jr. garners national spotlight with NIT performances

Photo of Kenneth Lofton, Jr. by ROGER STEINMAN

Staff writer

“I give that big freshman a lot of credit. He dominated the game.”

“It is hard to believe that kid is a freshman. He is a matchup problem. I have a lot of respect for his game. He is a monster.”

“He is a terrific young player. He is such a unique player and is a load inside.”

Those powerful words spoken by head coaches from Ole Miss, Memphis and Colorado State were about Louisiana Tech’s freshman phenom, Kenneth Lofton Jr.

The forward was an unstoppable force of nature during the four games of the National Invitation Tournament, showcasing his talents in front of a national audience on ESPN.

In the first-round matchup, the Rebels chose not to double-team him. They probably regret that decision as Junior poured in 22 points to go along with seven rebounds in leading LA Tech to a 70-61 victory.

“It was my time to shine out there,” Lofton Jr. said. “I showed them what I have and what I can do.”

After the Bulldogs used some strong perimeter shooting –- 11 3-pointers to be exact -– to get past Western Kentucky, 72-65, to advance to the Final Four, “Junior” shined yet again versus an SEC opponent.

Despite the 84-62 setback against Mississippi State, he put up an impressive stat line with 20 points, 10 rebounds, four steals, three blocks and three assists.

“The result is not what we wanted. We were looking forward to playing for a championship,” Lofton Jr. said. “Playing for third place, it was an opportunity to end the season on a good note.”

That they did. Down 11 with 8:30 to go versus overall No. 1 seed Colorado State, LA Tech made its largest comeback of the season and defeated the Rams, 76-74.

The Bulldogs capped off the season with their 24th win and a third-place finish in the NIT. Lofton, Jr. capped off his freshman campaign with his best individual performance yet.

He played a career-high 34 minutes and dominated for much of it, recording a career-high 27 points to go along with 13 boards. He played bully ball, especially on his game-winning field goal with 0.3 seconds left.

“The play is how Coach (Eric Konkol) drew it up,” Lofton Jr. “He told me to rip it and go to the goal.”

Lofton Jr. was one of five players selected to the NIT All-Tournament Team along with Landers Nolley II (Memphis), Lester Quinones (Memphis), DJ Stewart, Jr. (Mississippi State) and Iverson Molinar (Mississippi State).

Among everyone who played four games in the tournament, he led all scorers in points (20.0) and field goal percentage (58.3). He was just as impressive defensively too, ranking in the top two in rebounds (9.3), blocks (seven) and steals (10).

Not bad for a freshman.

2nd Amendment, Gun Rights Poised to Return to Supreme Court

By Royal Alexander

The latest legal challenge concerns a New York law governing licenses to carry concealed handguns in public but there are potentially a host of others as well.

The U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to strengthen and expand 2nd Amendment rights after a decade of no action on the issue. The Court has several current opportunities to further address the scope of its Heller decision that generally pose one legal question: how far may states go in restricting the individual right to carry guns outside a home.

These various legal challenges have worked their way up to the Supreme Court and now require at least four members of the Court to vote to grant the application to hear the cases.

These challenges include the New York law as well as multiple other cases nationally presenting distinct legal issues.

The Supreme Court has not directly addressed the issue of gun rights since its landmark rulings in 2008 and 2010. The 2008 Heller decision held that the right to keep and bear arms was both a collective (military and law enforcement) right as well as an individual right. The 2010 McDonald decision simply held that the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment extended to the states and municipalities the 2nd Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms.

Several months ago, the Court considered a different prohibition by New York City that kept gun owners from transporting firearms to ranges or second homes outside of the city but then decided not to hear the case after NY City officials repealed that prohibition, rendering that case moot.

During its 10-year break, the Court’s inactivity allowed a number of questionable gun laws and regulations to be passed and then remain law. These included, for example, a suburban Chicago ban on semi-automatic weapons, a variety of prohibitions across the country against carrying guns in public, age limits for carrying guns in Texas and requiring citizens to disable or lock up guns when not in use in San Francisco.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, as a federal appeals court judge, dissented from a 2019 opinion that banned convicted felons from owning a gun. That Kanter case involved a man, Rickey Kanter, who had pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud. Judge Barrett wrote in her dissent that the gun ban went too far because it was being applied to someone who had not been convicted of a violent crime, only mail fraud.

In her dissent, then-judge Barrett wrote that “history is consistent with common sense: It demonstrates that legislatures have the power to prohibit dangerous people from possessing guns. But that power extends only to people who are dangerous. Founding-era legislatures did not strip felons of the right to bear arms simply because of their status as felons.”

Still other gun rights issues now pending before the Supreme Court involve a Pennsylvania man who pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in 2005 who is challenging the ban on purchasing or owning a gun. In another, a Pennsylvania woman who pleaded guilty to making a false statement on her tax returns sued over the ban. Also, the frequently reversed U.S. 9th Circuit recently upheld a Hawaii gun regulation that limits the ability of citizens to openly carry guns in public.

Further, in yet another New York State case, two residents sought a license to carry guns outside their home but were denied because they supposedly didn’t meet the state’s requirement that they have a “special need for self-protection” above and beyond what’s required by the general public. (That standard is so broad I doubt many of us could meet it but undoubtedly our right to self-defense is a “special need” for millions of us!).

Our Constitutional rights are rights that are “fundamental to the Nation’s scheme of ordered liberty and deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.” None of those rights are more important than the 2nd Amendment and the Court should strive to further enshrine and protect it.

Tech physics program offers emphasis to students interested in medical field

Louisiana Tech University Communications

Louisiana Tech University’s Physics program is offering a Medical Physics emphasis for students who love physics and are interested in a career in the medical field.

Students who pursue a physics degree with a medical physics emphasis at Louisiana Tech will learn problem-solving, experimental skills, mathematics, and computing and will receive additional training in chemistry and biology to develop the skills required to enter medical fields. Successful completion of the program will make them eligible for medical school and careers in medical physics as well as careers in other physics-related fields.

The interdisciplinary medical physics curriculum drew freshman Landen Nguyen to the program.

“Medical Physics brings my two passions, physics and medicine, together,” Nguyen said. “It’s a very unique field, in my opinion, and I didn’t want to have to sacrifice one for the other. I chose Louisiana Tech because of the University’s reputation for engineering programs, and, at the time, I planned on double majoring in electrical engineering and physics. However, once I began digging into the physics curriculum, I saw the Medical Physics emphasis and changed course. Until then, I had no idea Medical Physics was an option.

“Once I graduate, I plan on pursuing graduate school, although I’m not sure yet whether that will be medical school or an advanced degree in astrophysics. That’s one of the benefits of the Medical Physics emphasis at Tech – it allows me to experience both medicine and physics and see which I like more so that I can decide which path to take after I earn my bachelor’s degree.”

Louisiana Tech has a collaboration agreement with the Willis-Knighton Cancer Center. Students who enroll in the Physics program and choose the Medical Physics emphasis work on a medical physics-related research project as part of the curriculum, collaborating with professionals at the Willis-Knighton Cancer Center. Other research options provide students with opportunities to participate in internationally-recognized research projects in biophysics, biostatistics, radiation physics, and nuclear physics.

Jobs in the medical physics sector of the economy are in high demand and are well paid. Medical physicists work in health care and apply their knowledge of physics to the development, design, and calibration of medical radiation and diagnostic devices and work with medical doctors to personalize patient treatments. Medical physicists can pursue careers in therapeutic medicine, diagnostic medicine, and nuclear medicine.

Medical physicists can expect a median salary of $119,000 with many jobs currently available, and more are expected to become available due to demand from new and expanding facilities. The American Institute of Physics (AIP) predicts a 14% job growth in medical physics between 2016-26.

“The addition of the Medical Physics emphasis to the Physics curriculum adds flavor to what our program has to offer,” said Pedro Derosa, program chair and professor of physics at Louisiana Tech. “More importantly, it gives students a path to a successful and well-paid career where there is an increasing need for qualified personnel. We created the Medical Physics emphasis to provide the chemistry and biology content required for a postgraduate degree in medical physics. Still, it also contains all the elements required to enter medical school. The emphasis offers all of this without sacrificing the quality of the training in physics and mathematics that are necessary for all other fields in physics.”

GSU partners for Minority Contractor Institute

GSU Communications

Grambling State University has partnered with the Small Business Administration (SBA), City of Ruston, Louisiana, Crossmark Financial Services, and the Zion Traveler Community Development Corporation to launch a Minority Contractor Institute.

The first of its kind, the initiative is part of the Real Change in Ruston Project that will build 20 new homes for first-time homebuyers on the old fairgrounds on the north side of Ruston. The City of Ruston made a commitment to utilize minority contractors to assist in the construction of the houses. In addition, contractors enrolled in the program will be prepared to participate in the rehabilitation of adjudicated properties throughout Lincoln Parish.

The Small Business Association will lead the classes that will include sessions on licensing requirements for contractors that include managing risks through insurance; access to bonding; bid, performance, and payment bonds available through SBA’s Surety Bond Guaranty Program; financial assistance (what’s important to the lender, developing the loan proposal, addressing credit requirements); proposal preparation; and project management.

Classes will be held in a hybrid format with online and in-person offerings at Grambling State and the Zion Traveler CDC.

“This is an excellent opportunity to get minority contractors involved in this building effort,” said Jo Ann Lawrence, Deputy District Director for SBA. “We commend the collaboration between the cities of Grambling and Ruston to come together to make this economic development and entrepreneurial development opportunity a reality for the contractors in their cities.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. SBA is honored to be a part of this development effort as we continue our mission of helping businesses participate in the free enterprise system of the United States and Louisiana. We pledge our best efforts to continue the work with Grambling State University, the cities of Grambling and Ruston, and the small business community in this area. We are here for you.”

“I feel humbled when other organizations step into a partnership role with Real Change in Ruston, and we are thankful and excited to be able to work with the Small Business Administration,” said Ruston City Planner John Waltz. “The dots are connecting, the table is growing, and the Lord is providing the opportunity for us to love our home even more.”

Pastor Maurice White of Zion Traveler Baptist Church noted, “it was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize address who said, ‘There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we have the resources to get rid of it.’ I am truly thankful for the Small Business Administration for partnering with the Zion Traveler Community Development Corporation by supporting our Minority Contractors Program as we seek to bring “Real Change in Ruston.”

“We understand that Grambling State University must play a role in the growth of the local economy; not only with the city of Grambling and Ruston but Lincoln Parish as well,” said Marc Newman, Vice President for Advancement, Research, and Economic Development at Grambling State. “From the hosting of national events like the NAIA National Championships and the minority contractor institute, Grambling State is taking the lead on economic development opportunities in the area. When you look at what our neighbors at Louisiana Tech are doing coupled with cyber and other initiatives at Grambling State, the area is ripe for economic growth.”

Recently, Grambling State submitted an application in partnership with Southern University, SU-Shreveport, and the city of Grambling hosted the first HBCU-led Minority Business Development Administration (MBDA) Center in the US.

The application has letters of support from Louisiana Economic Development, Louisiana Department of Insurance, and ExxonMobil. If awarded, it would be the only such network in Louisiana that provides a tool for federal contracting and would position Grambling State as the lead in north central/east Louisiana partnerships with small minority businesses.

Classes are slated to begin May 1 of this year. Interested contractors can sign up for the program at


St. Jude Radiothon final tally announced

Courtesy photo

When the 2021 St. Jude Radiothon closed at 6 p.m. Friday at Super 1 Foods, the total raised stood at $74,000. Station Z107.5 then broadcast another hour, and the final total grew to $76,016. Pictured at the event (from left) are  Super 1 manager Tim Hurt; and members of the co-sponsoring organization, the Zeta Rho chapter of Epsilon Sigma Alpha, Nancy Darland, Jennifer Patterson and Barbara Lewis.

The Unsinkable Ship

By Brad Dison

It was the largest ship afloat.

At more than 800 feet in length, nearly three football fields long, it was a floating city. Its engineers used cutting edge technology in every facet of its design. It was considered to be the fastest and safest ship afloat.

Each officer aboard the ship was hand-picked based on his prior service record and on a rigid seamanship examination which focused on sea currents, tides, geography, and wind.

Its crew was also hand-picked based on the strictest of criteria. The ship boasted two brass bands, two orchestras, and a theatrical company. It had a company of physicians and firemen in case of emergencies.

Engineers designed the ship with 19 water-tight compartments which could be closed in thirty seconds by simply turning a single lever. Engineers designed the doors of the water-tight compartments in such a way that they would close automatically if they came into contact with rushing water. The ship could stay afloat even if as many as nine of the 19 compartments flooded. Many people, including its designers, builders, and owners, considered the ship to be unsinkable.

Engineers designed the ship specifically for passenger traffic with every known convenience and comfort imaginable. Every possible amenity was made available to first-class passengers, fewer amenities for second-class passengers, and even fewer for third-class. The likelihood of the ship being destroyed by fire was unimaginable because the ship would not transport combustible cargo. Due to all of the ship’s safety features which rendered it practically unsinkable, the ship carried only 24 lifeboats, the number required by law.

Cumbersome lifeboats detracted from the travelers’ views of the ocean. Similarly, the ship carried only the number of cork life jackets required by law. Only about two dozen circular life-buoys decorated the decks of the ship. The buoys were almost considered decorations rather than life-saving devices.

Engineers determined that the ship was safest when traveling at full speed whether in calm waters, in fog, or during storms, for at least four reasons.

First, if the ship struck another vessel, the force of the impact would be distributed over a larger area if it was traveling at full speed. Due to the strength of the ship’s construction, the other vessel would sustain the brunt of the damage. Second, due to the ship’s speed, weight, and construction, it would almost certainly destroy the other vessel, probably cut it in two, if traveling at full speed while only receiving damages that could be easily remedied with a paint brush. Traveling at only half speed, the ship would sustain more damages to its bows.

Third, at full speed the ship could more easily steer itself out of danger than at half speed. And fourth, in case of striking an iceberg, the ship’s bows would only be crushed a few feet further at full speed than at half speed. At most, only three of the water-tight compartments would flood, which left six to spare before the ship was in danger of sinking.

On a cold, April night, the ship sailed at full speed in a dense fog in the North Atlantic Ocean. In the bowels of the great ship, members of the black gang, crewmen who garnered the nickname because they were covered with sweat and coal dust, moved coal by shovel and cart into one of the numerous furnaces. The passengers, oblivious to the workers toiling away below, enjoyed a variety of music, food, and other forms of entertainment. Some passengers sat in steamer chairs along the decks in the chilly, salty air.

In the crow’s nest, the highest lookout point on the ship, a single crewman struggled to spot any sign of danger in the thick fog. Most of the passengers were well asleep by this point. “All’s well,” the crewman shouted from the crow’s nest at exactly 1 a.m. At 2 a.m., the crewman in the crow’s nest called out “All’s well,” again. He yelled the same at 3 a.m.

A few minutes after 3 a.m., the crewman in the crow’s nest yelled that there was something ahead that he was unable to make out. In the thick fog, the crewman could only make out the faintest outline. He yelled to officers below that it must be another ship. The crewmen tried to turn the ship to avoid a collision, but it was too late. Then the crewmen saw that it was not another ship but a large iceberg.

The ship made only a slight shudder when it struck the iceberg. Most of the passengers were unaware that they had struck anything. The ship’s crew was only slightly concerned because the ship was unsinkable.
Conditions on the ship quickly spiraled out of control. Water quickly filled one water-tight compartment after another. The ship began to list. Passengers were awakened by the numerous sounds of plates, glasses, and a host of other items as they crashed to the floor. They scurried to the ship’s decks to see what had happened.

Few passengers donned life jackets, and even fewer made it into the less-than-adequate number of lifeboats. The ship sank slowly into the frigid waters of the north Atlantic Ocean. Most of the passengers and crew perished in the sinking of the unsinkable ship.

People around the world know the story of the Titanic, and how the ship sank after it struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean with an enormous loss of life. However, the story you read above was a work of fiction, a novella by Morgan Robertson.

The name of the ship in Robertson’s novella was not the Titanic. The fictional ship he created was called the Titan. His book, originally entitled “Futility,” seemingly recounted the events of the wreck of the Titanic.

However, Robertson’s “Futility” was published … in 1898, 14 years before the Titanic sank.

Source: Robertson, Morgan. Futility. Rahway, N.J.: The Quinn and Boden Co. Press, 1898.

Notice of Death — March 30, 2021

Gregory Carter
May 16, 1965 – March 25, 2021
Visitation: Friday, April 4, 2021 at King’s Funeral Home; 3 – 5 p.m.
Service: Saturday, April 5, 2021 at Trinity United Methodist Church.

Theresa Kaye Davis
January 24, 1952 – March 30, 2021
Arrangements have not yet been set.

Rebekah Allyson Hensarling
October 29, 1990 – March 28, 2021
Visitation: Wednesday, March 31, 2021 at First Baptist Church in Marion; 5-7 p.m.
Service: Thursday, April 1, 2021 at Roark Cemetery.

Herbert Dabney Maxwell Jr.
January 7, 1950 – March 27, 2021
Memorial Service: Wednesday, March 31, 2021 at Trinity United Methodist Church; 11 a.m.
Funeral Service: Thursday, April 1, 2021 at Webb Sumner United Methodist Church in Webb, Mississippi.






Ruston’s O.K. ‘Buddy’ Davis to be part of Grambling Legends 2021 induction class

Pictured are Lincoln Parish Journal publisher/managing editor T. Scott Boatright (left) and O.K. “Buddy” Davis showing off Louisiana Sports Writers Association awards they received in 2014.

By T. Scott Boatright

Famed late Ruston sports writer O.K. “Buddy” Davis will be one of the people inducted to the Grambling Legends Sports Hall as part of the seven-member Class of 2021.

This year’s Grambling Legends ceremony will be held virtually in what Grambling Legends, Inc. President Howard Davis and Grambling Legends Hall of Fame Director Ruby Higgins termed “an abundance of caution due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was no 2020 induction because of the pandemic, so this year’s ceremony will officially induct the Grambling Legends Class of 2020 and 2021.

Joining Davis in the Class of 2021 are Robert Barber (football), Lee Fobbs (football), Dwight Scales (football), Willie Williams (football), Wilmer Sigler (baseball), and Kenneth Simpson (basketball).

The Grambling Legends Class of 2020 consists of Andrew Glover (football), Michael Moore (football), Carlos Pennywell (football), Albert Hartwell (basketball), John Jeter (baseball), Vergie Broussard (contributor) and Daniel Washington (contributer).

This summer’s induction ceremony will be conducted via Zoom on July 10 and will include all of previous induction component parts with the exception of a meal.

Davis was was a trailblazer covering other trailblazers in the heart of the civil rights movement. In the 1960s and ’70s, Davis was willing to do what few other white sportswriters were willing to do — cover Historically Black Colleges and Universities with the same passion he wrote about other Lincoln Parish sports.

As many friendships as Davis, who passed away in 2019, made in Grambling over the years, it was that relationship with Coach Eddie G. Robinson that may have shined brightest. They were more than friends. Robinson was a pallbearer at the funerals for each of Davis’ parents. Simply put, Davis and Coach Rob were family. And Robinson said just that in a 1996 Sports Illustrated article on the GSU team as he neared the 400-win plateau.

“When Coach Rob talked to Davis after Friday’s practice, he put two fingers in the waistband of Davis’s dungarees and said to a bystander, ‘I raised this man, this is my son,” that article said.

Robinson’s grandson Eddie Robinson III said he’s excited to see Davis become a true Grambling Legend.

“To honor Buddy’s memory this way is wonderful … tremendous,” Robinson III said. “Buddy was the ultimate gentleman and was considered one of the top sports writers around. I knew of his fondness for my grandfather and certainly how very, very fond my grandfather was of him. That relationship itself was something really special. Buddy told the world all about my grandfather and Grambling as a whole.”

While he loved covering Grambling during the turbulent 1960s into the ’70s, Davis admitted during an interview a few years ago that not everyone appreciated the attention he gave to Grambling athletics.

“Some people didn’t like it, but it was a great story — look at what Rob had done,” Davis said. “I mean, he had accomplished so much and Grambling was nationally known, so why not cover them. “Yeah, there were some people I’d catch flak from. They’d ask, ‘What are you doing writing about the Blacks? Why are you doing that?’ Particularly when we ran photos. That really unnerved some people.”

But as someone who followed Grambling athletics while growing up in Ruston, Davis didn’t concern himself with the way others thought.

“I’d hear so much about players like Tank (Younger) growing up,” Davis said during that interview. “And Fred Hobdy coached Willis Reed and other greats to the 1961 NAIA national championship when I was in high school. Ruston and Grambling were kind of different than many towns in the South in those days because while it was obviously still there, there didn’t seem to be quite as much of the open, hateful racism that you saw in other areas. There were many people in Ruston who had friends in Grambling.”

Doug Williams, the first Black quarterback to win a NFL Super Bowl and a current vice president of the Washington Football Team, was one of those Grambling athletes Davis shined an early spotlight on.

“He’s been a legend from day one,” Williams said of Davis. “Since I was at Grambling — a long time ago, 43 years ago — Buddy was right there. Anything that came out about Grambling, Buddy knew it ahead of time. Buddy was always on top of whatever happened at Grambling no matter who it was. I didn’t realize for a long time that he covered anybody else.”

“Think about it, we’re talking about a white guy covering Grambling back in the day where that kind of thing just usually didn’t happen,” Williams said. “That was before my time. I know he was a big help to (famed Grambling sports publicist) Collie J. (Nicholson). Collie J. got it out there to all the Black newspapers and media, but Buddy kept it out there in front of white folks, too, that would read about what was going on at Grambling. Buddy always knew the right guys and girls to write about and the right words to write.”

Former Grambling Associate Athletics Director and College Baseball Hall of Fame Coach Wilbert Ellis established a lifelong friendship with Davis during their journey together.

“Buddy was there for us, for Grambling, back in the day where it was not popular for him to be that way,” Ellis said. “Buddy would travel with football and baseball, all of it. He and Collie worked together very close. Buddy was always trying to help promote the athletes, not only in Grambling but anywhere he found an athlete who needed people to know about them. Buddy was always ready to do it. There was only one O.K. Davis, and Grambling can never thank him enough. He was one of the ones that helped put Grambling on the national — the worldwide — map.

“But more important for me personally, Buddy was family. He was always there.”

RHS Track dedicated in Anderson’s name

Pictured from left to right are Pat Garrett, Loyce Garrett and Dave Anderson. The Garretts are the children of L.J. “Hoss” Garrett, the former Bearcats coaching legend that the Ruston High football stadium is named for.

By T. Scott Boatright

Ruston High School finally got the opportunity to dedicate its track in name of former head coach Dave Anderson on Friday before the start of the “Hoss” Garrett Relays hosted by the Bearcats.

Between 1991 and 2012, Anderson guided Ruston to nine state titles, including the first ever girls title in school history.

He led Ruston boy’s cross country teams to Louisiana state titles in 1992, 1995, 1997, and 2000. In 20 years at Ruston, his athletes established what was then 39 out of a possible 42 school records.

In giving thanks before the Relays events started, Anderson closed things out by thanking some of those he loves and who love him most.

“I want to thank the students athletes I’ve coached. Even with all of those awards and certificates on the wall, it was never a ‘me’ thing, it was a ‘we’ thing.” Anderson said. “From Cinnamon Square to Squire Creek, from Grambling to Choudrant, we had kids from all parts of Lincoln Parish that we invited into this family we call Ruston Track and Field and Cross Country. They became brothers and sisters in the group and to this day they stay in touch.”

USA Travel Plaza opens on Highway 33

By T. Scott Boatright

One of Ruston’s newest businesses — USA Travel Plaza on La. Hwy. 33, just off the Interstate 20 westbound exit, held a ribbon-cutting on Friday to celebrate its grand opening, complete with the initial raising of the giant grand on flag flying 100 feet overhead.

The new venture, which is open 24 hours a day, features the Cajun Grill, which offers homelike cooking and a Happy Hour from 4 – 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, a giant convenience store and discount liquor store selling beer and wine, and restrooms along with showers and laundry for truckers traveling along I-20 who might need a quick break for refueling and more.

Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker thanked USA Travel Plaza Laddie Aulakh during Friday’s ceremony.

“You’ve done a great job and we appreciate this investment and other investments that you’re going to make in our city and I if I can ever help, you have my number,” Walker told Aulakh.

Then came time for Aulahk, who also owns the USA truck stop in Calhoun as well as Calhoun Grocers, to speak.

“I want to thank everyone,” he said. “This has been about a 10-year project in my head. I met Ronny Walker three years ago and he asked me to think about putting a travel plaza in Ruston. So we thought about it and found a spot. That was three years ago. And now we’re here. It took a long time — three years, but we’re there. I appreciated everybody and want to thank all my friends, family, my employees and managers, and I’d like to thank the mayor. Without him, this wouldn’t have been possible. He helped us a lot.”

Aulakh then had Walker join local Boy Scouts in raising the giant America flag that will fly over the travel plaza.

“This means a lot to me … I’ve invested a lot of money in this flag,” Aulakh said. “I want to prove my point about a lot of things. I think this will be a great thing for Ruston. And I want to thank my wife. She’s been a lot of help and a big part of all this for the last 24 years.”

21st-ranked Bulldogs clip Golden Eagles in C-USA opening weekend

Tech baseball file photo by TOM MORRIS

Staff writer

Historically, Southern Miss does not lose at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg.

Just ask the public address announcer at Southern Miss’ home ballpark who time after time bellows about the Pete Taylor Park “magic” over the mic.

However, this weekend, Louisiana Tech pulled its own magic show as the Bulldogs (17-6, 3-1 C-USA) won three out of four in the opening weekend of Conference USA play.

Tech won 3-2 in Friday’s opener, took the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader 4-0 behind Cade Gibson’s complete-game gem and then rallied from four runs down on Sunday for an 8-7 win. USM won 14-6 in Saturday’s first game.

“I’m very proud of this group,” said Bulldog skipper Lane Burroughs. “It’s the first time we have played four games in a conference series and to do it on the road in one of the toughest places in this league to play says a lot about our team. We found a different way to win each time.

“To bounce back Saturday after getting out teeth kicked in, I was just proud. Even (Sunday) we are down 4-0 and I never felt like we blinked or flinched. We held the rope and stayed steady. When you have a mature team, for me as a coach, it’s a confident feeling. We know our guys won’t back and down and we will be in every game.”

Tech, ranked 21st in the country heading into the weekend, did something no other league school has done to Southern Miss (14-9, 1-3) in Hattiesburg in more than a decade. The Golden Eagles haven’t lost three home games of the conference series since UCF handed them three losses back in 2010.

“They don’t lose very many series at home period,” said Burroughs. “For us to go in there and win three was a great way to start league play.”

The wins didn’t come without some stressful moments. With Tech leading 3-2 on Friday night, USM had runners on second and third with only one out in the ninth inning. Enter Landon Thompkins _ a young man who hasn’t pitched in three weeks.

Back-to-back strikeouts by Thompkins sealed the win.

After dropping the 14-6 decision in Saturday’s first game, the Bulldog bounce back was in full display as Gibson blanked USM 4-0. Just another ho hum complete-game shutout by the Ruston native.

Then on Sunday, Tech trailed 4-0 after two innings. Hard to believe it, but these Bulldogs had them right where they wanted them. The Bulldogs scored seven straight runs and even after USM rallied to tie the game at 7-7, the Bulldogs plated a run in the seventh and picked up the 8-7 victory.

“We are down 4-0 and I felt like we had a number of calls go against us … yet we find a way to win,” said Burroughs. “We talk about the make-up of our team and our character all the time. With this group, I feel like we are going to win every game regardless of the score.”

Tech returns to action Thursday, Friday and Saturday in a four-game home series against UAB.


Bulldogs get NIT consolation satisfaction with Lofton, Jr.’s game-winner

Tech’s Kenneth Lofton Jr. flexes vs. Colorado State Sunday. (Photo by ROGER STEINMAN)

Staff Writer

FRISCO, Texas – A year ago, Louisiana Tech ended the season on a win and it was miserable.

The sudden shutdown of college basketball made it so.

Fast forward to 2021 and LA Tech ended the season on yet another victory.

It was a mass celebration this time around as the team swarmed Kenneth Lofton, Jr. who scored the game-winning bucket with 0.3 second left to lift the Bulldogs to a 76-74 victory over Colorado State on Sunday in the NIT consolation game inside the Comerica Center.

The burly freshman capped off an incredible tournament, pouring in a career-high 27 points to go along with 13 rebounds.

He was unstoppable. He was relentless. He was playing bully ball, especially on his 10th and final made field goal.

“That is how Coach drew it up,” said Lofton, Jr. who was voted to the NIT All-Tournament Team after averaging 20.0 points and 9.3 rebounds over the four games. “He told me to rip it and go to the goal.”

Rip it, he did.

With the game tied at 74-74, the Bulldogs had the ball with 14 seconds remaining. Amorie Archibald dribbled half of that off the clock, then dumped off a bounce pass to Lofton, Jr. at the elbow. The forward went one-on-one with his defender, knifed through traffic down the middle of the lane and finished strong with his left hand.

“It was a great win for our team,” said coach Eric Konkol. “I am so proud of our guys. Their mental resolve and competitiveness really showed coming off yesterday’s loss. We had to quickly regroup and get ready to face a very good Colorado State team. We kept chipping away and found a way to come away with a great win to end the season.”

LA Tech (24-8) played from behind for almost the entire game and had its back against the wall down 64-53 with 8:41 to go after a 9-0 run by the overall No. 1 seed CSU (20-8).

The ‘Dogs needed to dig deep, playing in their third game in the past four days and their 32nd overall of the season. When Isaiah Crawford sank a floater in the lane, the momentum began to sway.

After Lofton, Jr. netted a free throw and a layup at the rim, LA Tech went to the perimeter to continue the run. Kalob Ledoux drained back-to-back triples to tie it up at 64-64, then Archibald swished a corner three in front of the team bench to give the Bulldogs their first lead of the game with 5:03 to go.

Ledoux and Archibald continued their offensive scoring, combining for seven more points to build a 74-69 advantage at the 1:55 mark. The Rams, who went 17-of-23 from the foul line, made three of them down the stretch and tied it up when they took advantage of the ‘Dogs’ 16th turnover and got a game-tying fastbreak layup to go.

Konkol called a timeout with 14 seconds, drew up the play for Lofton, Jr., and the rest is history.

“After yesterday’s loss, I felt like we had another chance to show what we have and end the season on a good note,” said Lofton, Jr. “We wanted to end the season on a good note, for our seniors especially, and that is what we did.”

“Through this whole season, I was grateful for the opportunity to play basketball and enjoyed every moment with my teammates,” said Archibald. “Getting this far was an amazing accomplishment for us.”

It was the largest comeback of the season, eclipsing the 10-point comeback against Ole Miss in the first round. Archibald and Ledoux each had 14 points and Crawford added 13. The team shot 50.0 percent from the field (30-of-60).

It soothed the frustration of Saturday’s 84-62 loss in the semifinals to Mississippi State.

And it provided a fitting finish for one of Tech’s better basketball teams.

Softball, track, tennis sparkle on the road; LA Tech sports roundup

Tech softball file photo by DARRELL JAMES

Staff Writer

There was plenty of success away from home this weekend for Louisiana Tech aside from the baseball and men’s basketball teams, much of it in Tulsa. Meanwhile, the nationally-ranked bowling team tuned up and awaited its postseason plans to be issued on Wednesday.

For the second straight weekend, Louisiana Tech went on the road and took two out of three games against an American Athletic Conference foe.

The Lady Techsters (9-13) defeated Tulsa (9-7) 3-2 and 10-2 on Saturday before falling 8-0 in Sunday’s series finale.

Madie Green had a stellar weekend at the plate for Tech, recording five hits, including two home runs, a triple and driving in four runs. Green recorded all three RBI in Tech’s 3-2 win, including a seventh inning triple that plated the winning run.

Tech will host Southland Conference unbeaten (15-7, 9-0) Northwestern State Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Dr. Billy Bundrick Field.

TENNIS: Two days after falling 4-0 to North Texas in Denton, the Lady Techsters handed Oral Roberts a 4-0 defeat at the Bernis Duke Tennis Center in Tulsa.

LA Tech (7-9), which lost to ORU last season, dominated the match, winning the doubles point with two convincing set victories and three straight-set wins in singles.

“We really fired on all cylinders,” said Tech coach Amanda Stone. “It was not easy, but we really stuck with it on all courts and it paid off.”

LA Tech returns to action on Wednesday, April 7 in a home matchup versus Tyler Junior College. First serve is set for 2:30 p.m. at the LA Tech Tennis Complex.

TRACK AND FIELD: Louisiana Tech opened the outdoor season with a strong showing at the Victor Lopez Classic hosted by Rice at Wendel D. Ley Track in Houston.

In the first outdoor meet since 2019, Tech recorded three first-place finishes and 11 top three finishes.

The Lady Techsters 4×100 relay team of Ma’Asa Gay, Jada Branch, Claudasha Watson and Taylor Shaw took home first place in Saturday’s meet, clocking in with a time of 46.01 seconds.

Watson also exceled in the women’s 100-meter dash, notching a first-place finish with a time of 12.13 seconds.

The Bulldogs dominated in the men’s javelin throw with three Tech throwers finishing inside the top five. Henry Terral recorded a first-place heave of 67.18 meters. Tripp Marcus and Tyler O’Con placed second and fourth, respectively, to round out the dominant performances for the Bulldogs.

BOWLING: As Louisiana Tech awaits its national postseason fate on Wednesday, the Lady Techsters – fresh off a runner-up finish in the Southland Conference Bowling Championships – recorded a third place finish at the SWIBC IV in Shawnee, Oklahoma.

Sunday’s event consisted of six traditional matches with the winner being decided by total pins. Wichita State won the event with 6,446 total pins followed by No. 16 Stephen F. Austin with 6,330. No. 6 Louisiana Tech (6,224), Newman (5,901) and West Texas A&M (5,812) rounded out the top five team scores.

Senior Kaitlyn Eder led LA Tech individually after finishing third with an average of 222.83 to earn a spot on the all-tournament team.

Selections for the 2021 National Collegiate Women’s Bowling Championship will be announced on Wednesday via web stream at 3 p.m. on The 2021 championship will be hosted April 7-10 at the AMF Pro Bowl Lanes in North Kansas City, Missouri.

Soccer sweeps on the road, softball succeeds at home; GSU roundup

Grambling soccer’s Kailey Pena – photo by TAYTAPES870, courtesy

Staff Writer

With football sidelined by COVID-19 complications, baseball and softball provided hometown entertainment over the weekend for Grambling fans, while the Lady Tigers soccer team swept a pair on the road in conference play.

BASEBALL: Pivoting quickly after having the scheduled Southwestern Athletic Conference series against Prairie View postponed due to the Panthers’ COVID-19 issues, Grambling got Tennessee-Martin to visit for a three-game weekend series Saturday and Sunday.

The Skyhawks (9-10) took two of three, with Grambling prevailing 5-2 in Sunday’s first game. UTM rolled 18-4 on Saturday and pulled out a 12-inning 6-5 decision Sunday afternoon to capture the series win.

Rafael Ramirez drove in three runs and scored on a wild pitch for a fourth in the win by Grambling (5-14). Kerry Boykins Jr. tossed a two-hitter while striking out six for the Tigers, facing one over the minimum in a complete-game (seven inning) triumph, needing only 78 pitches.

In the third game, the teams traded three-run 11th innings before the Skyhawks won it on a sacrifice fly in the 12th.

SOCCER: Kailey Pena scored twice Sunday to continue her roll as Grambling won its third straight, jolting Jackson State 3-0 on the road. The Lady Tigers (5-2-1, 5-1-1) mashed Southern 4-1 on Friday in Baton Rouge.

The junior upped her season total to 11 goals while Britt Vernees saved seven shots in goal to earn the shutout.

At Southern, the Lady Tigers allowed an early goal but bounced back for a 2-1 halftime lead on goals by Kameron Powell six minutes afterward and Paula Burillo-Blasco in the 17th minute. Haylee O’Leary and Macy Ramsey found the net early after halftime and Rachel Pugh made four saves in goal for Grambling.

SOFTBALL: Near home but off campus, Grambling didn’t bring its best Friday at the Ruston Sports Complex, getting blasted 10-2 by Mississippi Valley State. But with water system repairs completed on campus, the Lady Tigers (6-8, 3-2) returned home Saturday and swept the visitors 11-1 and 5-1 to capture the SWAC series.

Freshman pitcher Payton Shells threw both ends of the Saturday sweep, striking out nine and scattering a total of 13 hits, seven in the second game. Valley (3-12) managed only four extra-base hits in the twinbill.

Grambling rang up 11 hits and took command with a five-run third inning in Saturday’s opener.