Parish prep sports plan to play on despite COVID surge

By T. Scott Boatright

A day after the Louisiana Department of Health reported a record 9,378 new COVID cases, Gov. John Bel Edwards — joined during a virtual press conference by a group of health care professionals — urged all Louisiana school districts to implement mask mandates.

The governor and other officials spoke about new outbreaks related to extracurricular activities and urged schools to suspend sports, club, and other non-academic activities.

Edwards did not announce a mask mandate, but said one could be reinstated if functions at state hospitals start to be affected by the surge.

Thursday’s new record of 9,378 new cases reported overnight shattered the previous record of 7,548 cases reported on Aug. 13 as Louisiana faced a surge in Delta variant COVID cases.

Lincoln Parish Schools Superintendent Ricky Durrett said that he won’t be issuing a mask mandate at this point but will instead leave that decision to students and their parents.

“We’re just going to highly recommend everybody wear masks, but we’re not going to issue a mandate right now,” Durrett said. “We highly recommend people wear one while this new strain is going around, but it will still be a parent’s choice. Those who want to and feel better with it will have their children wear masks, and some will probably not.

“I do kind of expect coming back (from Christmas break) we’ll have more that want to wear masks, and will do that because of the current surge.”

Ruston High School Principal Dan Gressett said right now plans are for RHS to keep moving forward when the Christmas break ends and students return to classes next week, but that a close eye will be kept on the ongoing situation surrounding the surge in reported cases of the virus.

“Right now we are continuing with all athletics,” Gressett said. “We will handle each sport on a case by case basis. If we see that there’s a need to shut down a sport for a week or so, we will. The safety of our students and staff remains at the forefront, and we will continue to monitor the situation.”

Durrett echoed Gressett’s feelings about athletics right now.

“We’ll deal with it sport-by-sport, and if we have a spike in a sport we’ll shut that program down for a week or two just as we’ve done before,” Durrett said. “We’ll just take it as it comes and respond if and when we need to.”

Lincoln Preparatory School Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Gordan Ford said no decision has been made about how his school will respond to the governor’s request as of Thursday night.

“I’m aware of what the governor and officials said, but we have not yet had a chance to meet and talk about it,” Ford said. “We’ll continue to keep a close eye on things and will respond accordingly at the proper time.”

Cedar Creek Director of Athletics and head football coach Matt Middleton said the Cougars plan on continuing athletic activities next week.

“It’s unfortunate where we are with the pandemic,” Middleton said. “I was hoping we were turning the corner. Obviously we want our kids to continue to play. These kids deserve the right. We know that we can’t control what people do or who they are around when they aren’t at school. But to think that shutting down sports or other extracurricular things is going to stop this is a falsehood. We are around kids every single day in ‘school’ business, and they won’t stopping congregating outside of school. It hasn’t stopped and it won’t stop, but to try and shut down sports or blame it on that is a travesty.”

During his press conference Edwards said he will not yet restrict gathering sizes for events like the Saturday’s Sugar Bowl in New Orleans Saturday, but he did urge state residents to follow his plans of only hosting intimate family for today’s and tomorrow’s New Year’s celebrations. 

GSU’s Robinson arrested by the LPSO

From Staff Reports

Grambling State guard Chanse Emil Robinson is currently in the Lincoln Parish Detention Center after being arrested at 1:37 p.m. Wednesday by the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office.

The affidavit obtained from the Lincoln Parish Detention Center on Thursday states “Bench Warrant Failure to Appear.”

Robinson, who transferred to Grambling State after originally signing at the University of Buffalo following a decorated prep career at Lincoln Prep, was awaiting a Jan. 11, 2022, hearing on the original charges stemming from allegations in December of 2020.

Robinson was originally arrested on Dec. 19, 2020, and charged with three felony counts of second-degree kidnapping and one felony count of aggravated assault upon a dating partner.

With the Jan. 11 hearing only weeks away, Robinson – a current member of the Tigers men’s basketball team – was practicing with the team and had not played in a game. However, following the publicity of Robinson seeing his first action of the season in Grambling State’s Dec. 21 loss at TCU in Ft. Worth, Robinson was arrested.

Attempts to discover specifics on if Robinson violated restrictions of his original arrest by leaving the state for the TCU game have been unsuccessful so far.

The LPJ also made attempts to contact officials at Grambling State for comment and clarification on the situation, but at press time those calls were not returned.

The Grambling State campus has been the site of a number of unrelated shootings over the past few months with a number of students being victims in these shootings.

Not only did the decision by Grambling State administrators and coaches to allow Robinson to play have resulted in plenty of questions on social media and in the media over the past few days, but it appears to have somehow led to his most recent incarceration.

The Grambling student-athlete handbook only addresses criminal convictions, and not pending cases leaving this in the hands of the school administration. The University Student Code of Conduct only addresses actions committed by individuals during their time as a GSU student. There is no mention of actions committed prior to becoming a Grambling student.

Robinson signed with the University of Buffalo and began his freshman season in the fall of 2020 before leaving the program on Dec. 6, 2020 – 13 days before he was arrested on the original charges in Ruston.

The three-star point guard and two-time Class 1A all-state selection while at Lincoln Prep was the fourth-ranked point guard in Louisiana for the class of 2020.

Dusty McGehee: Thank You from The Camp

Currently, I’m in the middle of nowhere in Yazoo County Mississippi with my two boys.  It’s a 12×32 little tin can of a camp; it’s a glorified metal building equipped with a single bedroom, living area (with futon and couch), tiny kitchen, and the smallest bathroom any of you readers have ever seen.  It’s equipped with a window unit for the hot days, and I drilled a hole through the floor and have a 2-burner propane heater for the cold ones.  My kids think it’s a mansion, but I just call it heaven.

We are on a mission out here.  There is some unfinished business between a big buck and us.  While most of you want a great story, I hate to disappoint you.  I’m a tad busy and will be lucky with these kids running around and my phone propped up in the window to try and get a hotspot signal for this to even get out to you.  Just know the buck is big.  Real big.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you.  The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and to tell you the truth, a bit surprising.  I’m still not even sure how I am writing these things.  I still question why anyone asked me to write articles for the LPJ, but it’s been an honor.  I haven’t written a word since my 300 level Technical Writing English class at Louisiana Tech, but someone out there thought this redneck would be a good fit.

When I was asked to do this, I was a bit shocked.  I hesitated for a while and almost decided to opt out.  I have a wife, three kids and a full-time job.  The free time I do have, I didn’t want to sacrifice for writing articles but heck I’m always up for a challenge.  I figured I would write one and see how it went.  If I didn’t like it, I could quit, and nobody would even bat an eye.

Now it has snowballed into something I never thought possible.  While I’m relatively new to this, I’ve heard from many of you on “you won’t ever be able to top this story”.  For my wife, it’s the story of Ridge and his first deer.  Anders’ favorite is about Stoney and his dog Maggie tracking deer.  Ridge didn’t know I was doing this and informed me we never even read “his story” to him … whoops.  And Mae, well she couldn’t give a rip.  For many of you out there, it’s my most recent “The Dougie Buck”.

I don’t necessarily have a favorite to this point.  To be honest, when I hit send, I think all my stories stink.  Therefore, I depend on you, the reader, to give me feedback.  Sure, it’s great to hear the positive things and I appreciate it, but I’m just as concerned with hearing the negative feedback you may have.  If you don’t think my article is good, let me know why and what you’d like to read about.  Constructive criticism is just as important, if not more, than the positive.

So, here’s to the New Year!  I hope 2022 is amazing for each and every one of you.  I’m racking my brain on how I’m going to come up with 52 stories for next year.  Like I said, I’m up for a challenge.  Thank you all, once again, for making me feel like I’m a half decent writer.  I hope I can entertain you for many more weeks and maybe years.  Your feedback is what keeps me going so keep it coming.  Inevitably, I’m going to write a dud. Maybe this is my first.  Just let me know.

Happy New Year!


Dusty McGehee is a native of Downsville and a 2006 graduate of Louisiana Tech University with a bachelors in wildlife conservation. He is currently employed by WestRock and serves as an environmental engineer at the Hodge Mill. Dusty is an avid hunter and crappie fisherman, fishing crappie tournaments with his son when he is not in the woods. He and his wife Rachel have three young outdoorsmen/women: Anders (9), Ridge (7) and Mae (5). If you have a story idea or question about the great outdoors, you can reach Dusty at

High speed pursuit nets one arrest

A Bastrop man is in the Lincoln Parish Detention Center after reportedly fleeing a state trooper on Interstate 20 at speeds topping 130 miles per hour.

At about 8:30 a.m. Monday, Louisiana State Trooper James Pelley was parked in the median at milepost 78 in Lincoln Parish when he clocked a silver Lexus westbound at 86mph.

The trooper activated his lights and siren, but the driver continued west on I-20. At about the 75 milepost, the driver threw two objects out his window and sped up to 100mph.

As the driver entered Bienville Parish, the vehicle’s speed was about 130mph. The Bienville Parish Sheriff’s Department joined the pursuit. At about milepost 56, the driver attempted to pass a vehicle by traveling in the median. After entering the median, the driver lost control, crossed both westbound lanes, and crashed on the north shoulder of I-20.

The driver, identified as JarJar L. Mays, 42, of Bastrop, was taken into custody. He told officers he was “looking for a safe place to pull over.” He also admitted not having a driver’s license. 

Mays was booked into the Bienville Parish jail and then transferred back to Lincoln Parish to be booked for speeding, aggravated flight from an officer, littering, and no driver’s license. He is being held in lieu of $51,500 bail.

Ruston woman arrested for Medicaid fraud, other charges  

A Ruston woman wanted by the Office of the Louisiana Attorney General has been arrested. 

Cortrina Hood Price, 47, of Ruston, was taken into custody Monday by Lincoln Parish Narcotics Enforcement Team officers for multiple charges including five counts Medicaid fraud, one count money laundering, and one count racketeering. 

On Tuesday, Price was also booked on two warrants from Union Parish for failure to appear in court on charges of violating bottle club operating hours and keeping a disorderly place.

She is no longer in custody at the Lincoln Parish Detention Center. She has been transferred to the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison. Bail has been set by the 19th Judicial Court on the Medicaid fraud charge at $3,000. Bail has not been set on the money laundering and racketeering charges.

‘Potlikker’ key to the new year

By Wesley Harris

He called me “potlikker.”

I was not quite eight when my paternal grandfather died. I don’t have many memories of him but the ones I have are vivid. When I think of the traditional foods we eat to celebrate the coming of a new year, I remember that nickname.

He called me potlikker, a countryfied sobriquet for pot liquor. I heard it as “pot licker.”  Like licking the spoon when my mother made a cake. Or the whole bowl. But I never licked a pot, so what I recognized as a term of endearment confused me.

I cannot recall when I discovered “potlikker” was the delicate, savory juice left in the bottom of the pot after cooking greens. I remember Grandaddy holding forth a pot of turnip greens at the dinner table and asking if I wanted more pot liquor. I declined, unsure what he meant. 

Most likely, a clear explanation of the term came from my maternal grandmother offering some more pot liquor for the cornbread she served at every meal.

My memories of potlikker come to mind because New Year’s Day approaches and the liquid Huey Long said could feed the nation should be an integral part of the celebration of the coming year.

For those who have no idea what I’m referring to, pot liquor (or potlikker or pot likker) is the liquid left behind after cooking greens like collards, mustard, and turnip greens or beans. Seasoned properly, a delicious liquid is created suitable for sopping your cornbread in.

According to popular folklore, eating certain foods on New Year’s Day guarantees good luck throughout the year. And when you think about it, they all revolve around potlikker.

Peas and beans symbolize coins or wealth. Southerners choose the traditional black-eyed peas seasoned with pork, but lentils or beans work, too. While not as delicate as potlikker from greens, the liquid from the peas is still great with cornbread. When you eat peas, don’t dish them onto your plate with a slotted spoon. Use a solid spoon to get plenty of potlikker to sop up with the cornbread.

Greens represent cash money. Green, leafy vegetables ensure financial fortunes for the coming year. Southern favorites include turnip greens, mustard, collards or boiled cabbage. Whatever green you choose, you must flavor it with chunks of pork and the right combination of salt and pepper to achieve proper potlikker.

Pork is considered a sign of prosperity in some cultures because pigs root forward. Many Southern New Year’s Day dishes contain pork which was usually more plentiful among households in my grandparent’s day than any other meat. Potlikker without pork is not nearly as tasty.

Cornbread might symbolize gold with corn kernels representing coins. Cornbread provides an essential complement to black-eyed peas and greens, so incorporating all three into your first 2022 meal can triple your luck. And whether you are a “dunker” or a “crumbler,” cornbread is the preferred medium for transferring potlikker to the mouth.

In his 1933 autobiography, Every Man a King, Louisiana Governor Huey Long defined “potlikker.” As a U.S. Senator, Long described potlikker during a lengthy filibuster speech. 

He called potlikker “the juice that remains in a pot after greens or other vegetables are boiled with proper seasoning. The best seasoning is a piece of salt fat pork, commonly referred to as ‘dry salt meat’ or ‘side meat.’ If a pot be partly filled with well-cleaned turnip greens and turnips (which should be cut up), with a half-pound piece of the salt pork and then with water and boiled until the greens and turnips are cooked reasonably tender, then the juice remaining in the pot is the delicious, invigorating, soul-and-body sustaining potlikker … which should be taken as any other soup and the greens eaten as any other food.

“Corn pone is made simply of meal, mixed with a little salt and water, made into a pattie and baked until it is hard. 

“It has always been the custom to eat corn pone with potlikker. Most people crumble the corn pone into the potlikker. The blend is an even tasting food. 

“But, with the progress of education, the coming of “style,” and the change of the times, I concluded that refinement necessitated that corn pone be “dunked” in the potlikker, rather than crumbled in the old-fashioned way. So I suggested that those sipping of potlikker should hold the corn pone in the left hand and the spoon in the right, sip of the soup one time, then dip the corn pone in the potlikker and bite the end of the bread. My experience showed this to be an improvement over the crumbling.”

Long advocated vegetable gardens in the rural South and the consumption of potlikker to improve health. 

Food writer John T. Edge, who wrote his graduate school thesis on potlikker, explains the broth “is more than the sum of the juices at the bottom of a pot of greens. It may be one of the more plebeian of Southern culinary creations, but never let it be said that potlikker is without import. Enshrined early in the pantheon of Southern folk belief, potlikker was prescribed by doctors and conjurers alike for ailments as varied as the croup and colic, rabies and fatigue. Though claims of its curative qualities may be farfetched, potlikker is indeed packed with nutrients, for, during the cooking process, vitamins and minerals leech out of the greens, leaving the collards, turnips, or mustards comparatively bereft of nutrients while the vitamins A, B, and C as well as potassium suffuse the potlikker.” 

Potlikker is a Southern delicacy with a rich history. My grandaddy obviously loved it. I wish I had known back then at age eight what that nickname truly meant.

Furry friends and fireworks: Helping distressed canines cope

By T. Scott Boatright

Many Lincoln Parish residents love celebrating the New Year with fireworks, especially at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

But furry family members don’t always like, or even understand, what all the “flash and bang” is about, and could even become stressed or dismayed by what is happening around them this time of year.

Sharon St. Andre, Puppy Pre-School Coordinator and Trainer at Ruston’s Sexton Animal Clinic, said that one way to keep dogs calm while fireworks are going off around them outside is to use a pet tranquilizer.

“One thing to do in severe cases is go to your vet and have him prescribe something for the dog to kind of help take the edge off,” St. Andre said.

St. Andre said that creating a safe haven, preferably in a room without windows, for a dog to stay in while fireworks are being shot is probably a better option for many dogs.

“Put your dog in a quiet room that can block out a lot of outdoor noise by keeping the windows shut,” St. Andre said. “Make the room extra inviting by doing things like giving the dog treats, their favorite blanket or bed, and toys. You could even give them a brand new toy with a squeaker to help distract them from the sounds of fireworks they might find scary.

“Turning up the television or playing music to drown out the noise from the fireworks could be helpful, too.”

St. Andre added that if the dog sleeps in a kennel or crate of some kind, then that is considered a safe place they might feel more comfortable in.

But first and foremost, said St. Andre, is for dog owners to make sure they don’t accidentally cause the stress and fear animals might feel. 

Many animals pick up on our non-verbal body language. If an owner is scared and stressed out, their dog is likely to sense this right away. 

“The best thing you can do for your dog in these cases is kind of step out of their way and let them learn how to deal and cope with the stress on their own,” St. Andre said. “In lots of dogs’ cases with fireworks and the loud booms and bangs, the rumbling and all of that causes some anxiety but especially in a young dog.

“If you foster that fear and scoop them up and tell them, ‘It’s going to be OK’ and give in to that with them, it kind of locks in that mindset with them. And that behavior will just continue and grow.”

St. Andre said another important thing to consider is keeping your dog inside for the night if at all possible, even after you think the fireworks have ended.

“If it’s a fearful dog, I would not let them out even after the owner is done popping fireworks,” St. Andre said. “Because you don’t know what else might go off and cause them to run. That’s one of those nights they probably need to be inside unless they’re used to fireworks.”

Bulldogs cruise; Techsters falter

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications


Bulldogs 79, Marshall 56

Louisiana Tech opened up Conference USA play in impressive fashion, defeating Marshall by a final score of 79-56 inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.

It was arguably the best defensive performance by LA Tech (10-3, 1-0 C-USA) this season, holding an up-tempo, high-powered Marshall (7-7, 0-1 C-USA) team to a season-low in points and just 29.4 percent shooting.

“I thought it was a total team effort,” said Tech head coach Eric Konkol. “That is the type of response you want when you have some adversity.  It was an opportunity for somebody to step up and I thought Kenny Hunter did a remarkable job.  He provided a lot of energy and really ignited our team. 

“Once we got some stops, we were able to get in transition.  I thought Cobe Williams, Amorie Archibald, Keaston Willis, their floor game of taking care of the basketball and finding good looks for our team really got us going to build that lead.”

The Herd had the upper-hand though early in the game, scoring 10 straight points to build an early 10-2 lead.  And with that eight-point lead just three minutes into the nationally-televised contest and the Bulldogs leading scorer Kenneth Lofton, Jr. forced to sit due to two fouls, things were looking up for the visiting team.

However, the rest of the team took their game to another level and then some.  Trailing 16-9, the Bulldogs went on a 17-0 run.  The lead ultimately grew to 42-27 at the midway point behind strong play from Cobe Williams (career-high 22 points), Keaston Willis (20 points) and Kenny Hunter (seven points and a career-high 12 rebounds).

Knowing the Herd can score in bunches, Willis came out on fire in the second half by hitting four three-pointers in less than five minutes to put the game away for the Bulldogs who won their 16th straight home game.

Tech hosts WKU Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Thomas Assembly Center.  

Marshall 62, Lady Techsters 44

HUNTINGTON, W.V. – The Lady Techsters fell to Marshall, 62-44, despite a game-high 21 points by Keiunna Walker Thursday night in the conference opener inside the Cam Henderson Center.

The Lady Techsters fall to 8-4 on the year and 0-1 in conference play, while Marshall improves to 6-4 overall and 1-0 in the conference.

After surrendering the first points of the game to the Thundering Herd, the Lady Techsters used an 8-0 run to take an early 8-2 lead just four minutes into the game. Sophomore Anna Larr Roberson sparked the surge with a layup, her 600th point of her career, before Walker converted a three-point play and nailed a three-pointer from the wing.

A layup by freshman Kate Thompson and a pair of free throws by Walker pushed Tech’s lead out to seven at 14-7 moments later, but a three by Marshall’s CC Mays cut the Lady Techsters advantage down to 14-10. Tech led 16-10 after the opening frame as sophomore Robyn Lee connected on a jumper from the short corner.

Marshall turned their defense up a notch in the second quarter, forcing six Tech turnovers leading to 15 points. The Thundering Herd used a 9-0 run to take a 19-16 lead with 7:00 left in the half. The Lady Techsters battled back-and-forth with Marshall through the remainder of the period before a three and a layup by Marshall’s Savannah Wheeler put the Thundering Herd up 32-24 at the break.

Marshall extended their lead out to as much as 16 at 44-28 in the third quarter, behind a 10-0 surge that spanned two minutes of action. Sophomore Salma Bates connected from long range, cutting the deficit to 44-31 entering the fourth quarter.

A 7-2 run by the Lady Techsters, featuring five points from Walker, cut Marshall’s lead down to eight at 46-38 with 7:58 left in the game. The Thundering Herd answered, pushing their lead back out to 15 at 55-40 with 2:23 remaining. Forced to foul, Marshall knocked down four free throw and a three to claim the victory 62-44.

Walker extended her streak of games in double figures to 13, one of only four players in C-USA to score in double figures every game this season.

Tech fell to 6-5 all-time against Marshall with eight of the 11 games coming in Huntington.

The Lady Techsters return to the court on Saturday when they open the new year at Western Kentucky. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green.

Man arrested after chase

A Honduran man living in Ruston was arrested Wednesday night after a brief pursuit by a Lincoln Parish deputy.

At about 11:45 p.m. Wednesday, Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Deputy S. Carr clocked a vehicle at 75 miles per hour in a 45mph zone on Louisiana Highway 33 near the Ruston city limits.

Carr activated his lights and siren, but the vehicle did not stop, turning on Frazier Road and then into the Tall Timbers Mobile Home Park. Once the vehicle stopped, Carr saw the driver jump into the back seat with other passengers.

The driver, 31-year-old William Martinez, was arrested. Through a translator, Martinez admitted he did not have a driver’s license and that he was from Honduras and in the U.S. illegally.

Martinez was booked for speeding, flight from an officer, no driver’s license, and possession of alcoholic beverages in a motor vehicle. Bail was set at $6,000.

Ponderings by Doug

How did you do with your 2021 New Year’s Resolutions? My resolutions are shipwrecked by the time I ask the philosophical question. “Do resolutions begin on January 1 or January 2? Could I delay my resolutions until after football season?” I am like many of you; resolutions are made and not kept. My unofficial preacher survey reveals that only ¼ of us even think about resolutions. So, this year, I’m introducing a new word into my spiritual vocabulary, repent. Repentance will replace resolutions.

The first time Jesus appears, in the first gospel, the first instruction He gives is “Repent.”

From then on, it’s His most consistent message. In all times and every situation, His advice is to repent. Not just the scribes and Pharisees, not just the powerful — he tells even the poor and oppressed that repentance is the key to eternal life. …

Talk of repentance makes modern-day Christians nervous. We are embarrassed by the stereotype of old-fashioned preachers hammering on sin and making people feel guilty. We rush to assert that Jesus isn’t really like that, He came out of love, He wants to help us. He knows us deep inside and feels our every pain, and His healing love sets us free.

This is one of those truths that runs out of gas halfway home. The question is, what do we need to be healed of? Subjectively, we think we need sympathy and comfort, because our felt experience is of loneliness and unease. Objectively, our hearts are eaten through with rottenness. A hug and a smile aren’t enough. …

Repentance is the doorway to the spiritual life, the only way to begin. It is also the path itself, the only way to continue. Anything else is foolishness and self-delusion. Only repentance is both brutely-honest enough, and joyous enough, to bring us all the way home.

This is what I’m pondering for 2022. And you?

The Year in Review — 2021 at Louisiana Tech 

The Dec. 22 episode of Beyond 1984 is our “Year in Review” special, a highlight of some of the many things the Louisiana Tech Family has celebrated, weathered, and accomplished. Here are just a few of Tech’s top stories from a challenging but rewarding 2021 that was filled with success stories. 

Rankings continue to recognize Tech excellence 

U.S. News & World Report again ranked Tech as a Top Tier National University and second among public universities in Louisiana in its 2022 Best Colleges list. Tech’s ranking of 140 moved the University up 30 spots from last year. Rankings are calculated by reviews from students and alumni, along with analysis of academic, admissions, financial, and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education. 

Forever Loyal 

The year started off with a financial bang as the Forever Loyal campaign was completed. The goal was $125 million, which was met within a year of the campaign’s opening — and the final amount donated was $171 million. 

For the third year in a row, alumni, friends, students, and staff donated more than $1 million on Tech’s annual Giving Day, proof that donors continue to support the vision for the University’s future. This is despite the on-going challenges of the tornado two years ago and the pandemic. Faculty and staff continue to invest in themselves as giving from those two groups is at an all-time high, an encouragement to those now off-campus to remain forever loyal. 

Financial Support Helps Build Tech’s 21st Century Campus 

The new student housing on Tech Drive is ongoing and more than just a place to study and sleep. Living spaces have been created so the Tech Family can share community, intramural, study, dining, and recreational areas. 

The gateways to the University are being improved, but there’s also an ongoing re-invention of the campus interior, illustrated by more accessible walkways, more Noble Trees, lots of breathable green space, and the biggest (and newest) lighted art in Lincoln Parish, Aspire, a sculpture designed to evoke the power and inclusivity of higher education. 

A new complex to house LTRI — the Louisiana Tech Research Institute — is nearing completion in Bossier City at the Cyber Park in Bossier City. LTRI’s mission is to provide preeminent interdisciplinary research and integrated education capability to government and industry sponsors to solve complex emerging problems facing our nation. The University is also preparing to begin construction on Tech Pointe II in the Enterprise Campus in the near future. 

21st Century Campus Athletic Facilities 

One thing the University did with its generated funds was plan and build J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park at the Origin Bank Baseball Complex and both Dr. Billy Bundrick Field and Robert Mack Caruthers Field at the Origin Bank Softball and Soccer Complex Soccer on the north end of campus along Tech Drive. The Diamond Dogs ignited Ruston in late May and early June by hosting both the Conference USA Tournament and the city’s first ever NCAA Ruston Regional, one of the most dramatic and memorable two weeks of fun in a packed ballpark in Tech’s rich athletic history. 

Earlier in the year, the Dunkin’ Dogs finished strong with a buzzer-beater victory over Colorado State to finish third in the NIT. Then in the summertime, Bulldog Kenneth Lofton Jr. and Team USA won gold in Latvia in the 2021 FIBA World Cup; in the finals, Junior scored a team-high 16 points to go along with seven rebounds, two assists, and one steal to help Team USA complete an 83-81 come-from-behind victory over France. 

Grant-sponsored research 

A picture of Tech’s culture of working together, 2021 was another year of successful collaborative interdisciplinary research that brought in lots of grant dollars to the University. 

The Newman Lab at Tech, Grambling State, and LSU Health Shreveport (LSUHS) — fueled by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation — teamed with local organizations like GSU’s Foster Johnson Health Center, TechCare, and The Health Hut to provide the opportunity for high quality testing and viral genome sequencing for minority and marginalized communities. Through these collaborative efforts between local researchers and health care providers, along with community participation and engagement, progress is being made in gathering data that allows scientists to better understand how COVID-19 and variants might impact public health. 

Dr. Julie Rutledge is another boots-on-the-ground example of how research on the Tech campus impacts health and wellness and improves equity for health outcomes in our area. Rutledge, Associate Professor in Human Ecology, is the director of the Education and Research in Children’s Health (ENRICH) Center, a program that educates young students, especially those in low income areas, on healthy eating so that the children can positively impact the way their families eat. 

How do we make materials stronger? To research the answer, Tech will receive $3.517 million of a five-year, $20 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish the Louisiana Materials Design Alliance (LAMDA) and transform research and education in advanced manufacturing and materials throughout the State. Besides Tech, LSU, Southern University, Tulane University, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette are involved in the project. 

Not only does research at the University break down borders and spread nationwide and worldwide, it also reaches into space. Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Dr. Gergana Nestorova has helped develop a one-step gene sampling tool that integrates with the existing Cepheid PCR instrument on the International Space Station to provide a faster and more efficient method for genetic screening of biological specimens. In other words, Tech is helping the human race to understand how to grow plants in space. 

More opportunities for student engagement 

Established through the generosity of alumni, the student-managed investment fund is managed by undergraduate students and involves “real money.” Thanks goodness because the fund not only gives finance students hands-on experience, but also has seen annual gains of 37 percent through the pandemic. 

Besides increasing the number of leadership and service organizations, the University has created the Career Closet, a collaborative initiative between the Career Center, Fashion Merchandising and Retail Studies, the School of Human Ecology, the College of Applied and Natural Sciences, the College of Business, and the College of Engineering and Sciences with the goal of providing current students who are preparing for their careers with knowledge of appropriate professional dress and access to professional dress at no monetary charge. 

Many Tech students have internship opportunities, but this is a new one. Shelby Gifford is 2021 graduate of the School of Design who served a summer internship with Chip and Joanna Gaines at Magnolia in Waco, Texas. The Gaineses are stars of the “Fixer Upper” TV show. 

There’s almost always something new on campus 

Louisiana Tech students in all areas of the health sciences began benefitting from yet another unparalleled, collaborative educational experience in the fall with the opening of the Justin and Jeanette Hinckley Virtual Anatomy Lab in Carson-Taylor Hall. The heart of the lab is the Anatomage Table, the most technologically advanced 3D anatomy visualization and virtual dissection tool for anatomy and physiology education yet created. It works on an operating table form and combines radiology software and clinical content to offer students opportunities to learn at every level, from dissection to studying the body at a single-cell level. The table contains digitized versions of actual humans who donated their bodies to science. 

Tech also began a Student News Bureau, a partnership between the Office of University Communications (UC) and the School of Communication that has become an experiential learning opportunity for students interested in careers in journalism, public relations, or communication. Through producing stories for the bureau, students who previously produced strong work in their classes will now have opportunities for having their work be visible in print, audio, and TV outlets. 

Now, onward — together — to making the dreams of 2022 come true. 

Weekend events 

Each Monday and Friday, the Lincoln Parish Journal will post a list of upcoming events happening in the parish. If you would like to add your event to this list, please email us at

Saturday, Jan. 1
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Grit and Grace trade days 
1 p.m.: Louisiana Tech Men’s Basketball vs. WKU (Thomas Assembly Center)

Monday, Jan. 3
5:30 p.m.: Ruston City Council meeting 
5:30 p.m.: Grambling Women’s Basketball vs. Prairie View A&M
7:30 p.m.: Grambling Men’s Basketball vs. Prairie View A&M

Notice of death — Dec. 30, 2021

Lillie Mae Jackson 
March 6, 1940 – Dec. 20, 2021 
Visitation: Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, 3-5 p.m., King’s Funeral Home, 1511 W. California Avenue, Ruston 
Funeral service: 2 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, King’s Funeral Home, 1511 W. California Avenue, Ruston 
Burial: Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, Mt. Calvary Cemetery, Arcadia 

Murder suspect’s bail set

Bail has been set for Jatavious Carroll who was arrested Tuesday in connection with the first of two shootings on the Grambling State campus during last fall’s homecoming festivities.

Bail was set at $1,300,000.

Carroll was arrested at a Delhi residence Tuesday by Louisiana State Police with the assistance of other agencies. He was transferred from Richland Parish to the Lincoln Parish Detention Center Wednesday.

Warrants had been issued for Carroll, also known as “Rabbit,” in connection with the October 13 shooting on the GSU campus that injured a 16-year-old juvenile and led to the death of 19-year-old Damarius Murphy, both of Rayville. 

The warrants allege Carroll committed one count of second degree murder, one count of attempted second degree murder, and one count of possessing a firearm/weapon on school property.

GSU decision to let Robinson play comes under microscope

From Staff Reports

Only a little more than one year after being arrested on kidnapping and assault charges related to an incident with an ex-girlfriend, Chanse Robinson suited up for the Grambling State basketball team and played 13 minutes in a loss to TCU on Dec. 21 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Although Robinson has not even gone to trial, the decision by the Grambling State administration has come under a microscope on social media, especially in light of recent shooting incidents on campus.

Robinson, a native of Grambling, was arrested on Dec. 19, 2020, and charged with three felony counts of second-degree kidnapping, one misdemeanor count of battery of a dating partner and one felony count of aggravated assault upon a dating partner, according to booking documents at the Lincoln Parish Detention Center and an affidavit obtained through the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Robinson’s next hearing is scheduled for January 11.

The Grambling student-athlete handbook only addresses criminal convictions, and not pending cases leaving this in the hands of the school administration. The University Student Code of Conduct only addresses actions committed by individuals during their time as a GSU student. There is no mention of actions committed prior to becoming a Grambling student.

The 6-1, 175-pounder originally signed with the University of Buffalo and began his freshman season there in the fall of 2020 before leaving the program on Dec. 6, 2020 – 13 days before he was arrested in Ruston.

The three-star point guard and two-time Class 1A all-state selection while at Lincoln Prep was the fourth-ranked point guard in Louisiana for the class of 2020.

Robinson averaged 20.8 points, 3.5 steals and 3.2 assists per game in three seasons at Lincoln Prep. He was the 41st-ranked point guard in the nation in 2020.

Robinson saw action in only one game at Buffalo, playing 10 minutes with no points, one turnover and three personal fouls against Bowling Green on Dec. 6, 2020, the same day he reported to have left the team.

Ruston High cheer takes on nationals again

By Cheyanne Admire

In 2020, Ruston High School’s cheerleading squad was crowned National Champions in Orlando, Florida. In February of 2022, they are heading back to the Walt Disney World Resort and hoping to achieve the same goal. 

Earlier this month, the competition cheerleading team was named UCA Regional Champions after their competition in Hammond. Their performance earned them a bid to the UCA Nationals.

According to Varsity, the host of the event, the team will not be able to participate in any other cheerleading event that is promoted as a national or international competition because they are competing in this specific event. This means they get one shot each year, which forces them to work hard to achieve their dream. 

The team has practices every day at school and even on their personal time. Members of the squad shared that they are always exhausted after practice, which is understandable considering that they have to prepare a performance routine and a game day division chant. 

Sometimes, the squad will get together just to do bonding exercises to make the girls closer; therefore, more trusting of each other when doing tricky stunts. One example of this would be when the girls got together after practice to make “family bracelets” with the word “together” engraved on them. 

Additionally, the Ruston High Competition Team likes to offer events, such as its cheer clinic, for free. This way, anyone can participate without the worry of spending money. Therefore, donations for the squad are appreciated. 

The cheerleading team is currently a four-time national champion and a seven-time Louisiana state champion.

Hoops Game of the Week: LP wins rematch over Rayville

By T. Scott Boatright

COLUMBIA — Last week a sluggish third quarter cost the Lincoln Preparatory School boys basketball game at Rayville.

In a rematch played Tuesday night at the Caldwell Tournament, Lincoln Prep struggled again in the third stanza, but this time the Panthers walked away with a 53-52 win over Rayville to climb to 14-5 on the season. 

Lincoln Prep trailed 14-10 at the end of the first quarter but outscored the Hornets 19-10 in the second period to take a 29-24 advantage into the locker room at halftime.

But Rayville threatened once again to race away with a strong third quarter, outscoring the Panthers 20-9 in the stanza to hold a 44-40 lead heading into the final eight minutes of play.

Lincoln Prep coach Antonio Hudson was determined to make sure his Panthers didn’t let this one get away — and they didn’t with a strong fourth quarter, especially on the defensive end.

“The score is kind of deceiving about what all happened,” Hudson said. “We were actually in control most of the game. It was just like it was when we played them for the first time. We just had a real slow third quarter. 

“All I told them was to make sure that we get back to our kind of basketball and what got us the lead – don’t turn the ball over for big and easy shots, and make sure we contested their shooters, because they have multiple good shooters. Once we were able to get back to doing what we had been earlier on, we fought right back into it.”

Ja’Kyren Montgomery led the way for Lincoln Prep with 15 points, eight rebounds and an assist. Hudson said the 6-1, 160-pound senior is becoming more and more of a force for the team in his first season as a Panther.

“He’s a senior and I really wish I would have had him more than just this year,” Hudson said about Montgomery. “He came to us from Bastrop. His aunt (Joyce Montgomery) is like a pillar in the community in Grambling and she wanted a change of scenery for him. So he came to us last year but had to sit out. He’s worked his tail off and continues to get better. He’s actually riding a series of about three or four games in a row that he’s put together and been one of our top guys. It’s just another element — a different athlete that brings something at least a little different. Ja’Kyren can score the ball and he’s getting better and better defensively.”

Bralyn Mayfield double-doubled for the Panthers with 14 points, 13 rebounds, an assist and a blocked shot while D’Mitry Payne chipped in with 13 pts, seven rebounds, seven assists and a blocked shot.
“D’Mitry is just who he is — a helluva athlete,” Hudson said. “He kind of runs the show out there. But the good thing is our depth — it’s more than just him. And it’s more than just Bralyn. If you look at it, we’ve had three or four people scoring in double figures every game. And it’s different people at times. 

“Emmanuel Bryant brings a lot to the table for us. Ja’Kyren Montgomery and Brandon Heard have been key players for us. Heard has actually made things easier on D’Mitry because Heard is good at handling the ball, too. It’s just a great group of role players we have. The list does on — Darrell Jackson, Stephen Burks III … I could just go one and on. It’s been a total team effort for us so far.”

The Panthers will now take a break before returning to action on Jan. 3 at home against Carroll.
“It’s a good time for a little break right now,” Hudson said. “At small schools, when you share athletes like we do with the football team, the month of November is kind of null and void. We haven’t had all that many practices with double digit players after the football players got to hit the court. We’re just blessed that some of those guys have played for me before and know the system. They just meshed right in.

“That 14-5 record is a good thing heading into January. And there’s a couple of those losses that could have gone either way. We’ve played a couple of overtime games, so we’re well-tested. I’m just glad to finally get a break to rest up and work on pulling things together tight.”

Dogs open league action at home tonight

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletics Communications

Conference USA action is here.

Louisiana Tech opens up league action tonight when the Bulldogs host Marshall at 8 p.m. at The Thomas Assembly Center.

This nationally televised matchup on ESPN2 and ESPNU will be the second straight season the Bulldogs and Thundering Herd start league play against one another.

The game can be heard on the LA Tech Sports Network on 107.5 FM with the pregame show starting at 7:30 p.m. Fans can also access the audio through the LA Tech Athletics app.

LA Tech (9-3) wrapped up the non-conference portion of its schedule a week ago with a 99-56 home victory over Crowley’s Ridge, extending its home winning streak to 15.  The Bulldogs dominated inside, scoring 62 paint points.  They ended up shooting 79.1 percent from two (team is shooting 57.7 percent from two this season, currently the highest ever in the three-point era).

Amorie Archibald scored a game-high 20 points, becoming the fifth Bulldog this season to register at least 20 points in a single game.  The fifth-year senior has scored in double figures nine times this season and is averaging 17.5 points over his last four games (averaging 13.6 for the season).

LA Tech ranks third in C-USA and 32nd in the country in scoring offense at 80.7 points per game.  They also rank first in the league and 37th in the nation in assist/turnover ratio at 1.38.

Marshall (7-6) comes into Ruston having lost three straight games, falling to Ohio, Northern Iowa and Toledo.  The high-scoring Thundering Herd were averaging 83.1 points during their first 10 games, but have averaged just 62.7 points during their three-game losing skid.

The Herd rank second in the country in blocks per game, averaging 7.2 per contest.  They are also the No. 1 rebounding team in C-USA with an average of 40.54 boards per contest. 

Junior Taevion Kinsey anchors Marshall, averaging 19.7 points per game, which ranks second in C-USA and 28th in the country.  He has scored 20+ points in nine games this season while having played all 40 minutes seven times.

LA Tech leads the all-time series against Marshall, 8-5.  The Bulldogs won the first six meetings in the series, but the Herd have won five of the last seven.  LA Tech has lost only three times at home since the 2018-19 season and two of those were to Marshall.

The Bulldogs are 7-1 all-time in C-USA openers and are a perfect 4-0 when the openers are at home.

Teens found, dozens arrested by US Marshals in New Orleans sex crimes operation

NEW ORLEANS – The United States Marshals Service working in conjunction with several law enforcement agencies in south Louisiana found five teenagers who were missing and endangered and arrested 30 people, including 17 sex offenders as reported by Osama Ayyad of

Although none of the victims are directly tied to Lincoln Parish, the LPJ feels its important to publicize the news with the increase in sex trafficking and other sexual crimes within our state and country.

According to a statement from the U.S. Marshal’s Service, the arrested and recoveries were a results of the New Orleans Task Force’s annual Operation Boo Dat.


A missing 16-year-old Marrero girl

One of the teens recovered was a 16-year-old girl who ran away from her Marrero home by allegedly stealing a family member’s car and handgun.

Known to have ties to Bourbon Street and Chef Menteur Highway areas in New Orleans, the Marrero runaway teen was found in a Little Woods home in the 7900 block of Benson Street.

“(The teen) was located living with several adults to include an adult female strip club dancer,” U.S. Marshals report said.

A 17-year-old girl wanted for human trafficking

A 17-year-old girl who has been missing for some time was arrested in Hammond on a felony human trafficking warrant out of Tangipahoa Parish, according to the report.

The 17-year-old girl was also wanted on a warrant out of Natchez, Mississippi for stealing a vehicle.

She’s known to have prior ties with several other runaway girls from the New Orleans area as well as organized crime, the report said.

A 14-year-old girl found with possible sex trafficking ties

A 14-year-old girl with possible ties to sex trafficking was recovered in a motel room near Read Boulevard in New Orleans East alongside two other teenage girls, a 17-year-old and a 15-year old.

The motel room smelled of marijuana, the report said.

The girls told investigators they were in a different motel room with men from Baton Rouge who abandoned them. The men left because a cousin got shot.

A 15-year-old girl with prior sex trafficking issues in Baton Rouge

A 15-year-old girl who ran away from home in East Baton Rouge Parish and had prior connections to sex trafficking there was recovered after her pimp had been murdered.

She was found living with her 17-year-old boyfriend and one of his relatives in New Orleans East, near I-10 Service Road and Bullard Avenue.

“Information was also developed that the female was regularly leaving the apartment to meet with adult males in New Orleans East,” the report said. “The case is also possibly associated with an armed robbery that occurred in the same area.”

Sisters, 15 & 16, missing from St. Tammany Parish & Baton Rouge

The fourth and fifth recoveries were of two sisters ages 15 and 16, missing from Baton Rouge and St. Tammany Parish respectively.

“Both females may be victims of adult(s) felony criminal sexual activities and they were recovered at an apartment in Baton Rouge,” the report said.


Sex offender faces charges of raping a 12-year-old girl

Lorenzo Oliver, a Tier 3 sex offender was arrested on Dec. 10 on a felony warrant from the New Orleans Police Department on allegations of first-degree rape of a 12-year-old girl.

Oliver is accused of raping the girl in an abandoned home in Algiers.

Oliver was arrested in 2013 for trying to rape a woman after following her into a bathroom at a Westwego library, the report said.

“(Oliver) was convicted in 2015 of Attempted Forcible Rape and Sexual Battery in Jefferson Parish and must register as a sex offender for life,” the report said.

Sex offender arrested for unreported international travel

U.S. Marshals reported the arrest of a sex offender for the alleged Failure to Report International Travel to Ethiopia to the St. James Parish Sheriff’s Office as required by Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).  

“His original 2004 Pierce County, Washington conviction was for Molestation in the Second Degree (2 Counts) involving a 12-year-old female with molestation allegations dating back several years prior,” the report said.

He was arrested in Gonzales, LA, on Oct. 19.

Wanted sex offender found using a false name at a homeless shelter, arrested

Wanted on a Texas Department of Corrections Parole warrant from November of 2019 based on a prior Failure to Register as a Sex Offender conviction, James Sorrell was found staying in a New Orleans homeless shelter under a false name.

He was arrested on Oct. 25.

Sorrell also had active Austin, Texas PD and Dane County, Wisconsin warrants for Failure to Register as a Sex Offender. 

“His original 1987 conviction in Idaho involved a 7-year-old female victim,” the report said.

Sex offender arrested after living in Tangipahoa Parish for 2 years without registration

Originally convicted of molesting a 9-year-old girl in Baton Rouge, David Douglas Smith was wanted for failing to register as a sex offender in Jackson, Mississippi in 2019.

Smith was arrested on Oct. 26 in Hammond.

“He was found in the Hammond, LA area in late October 2021 based on a collateral lead from USMS Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force (Southern Mississippi USMS Office). SMITH had been living in Tangipahoa Parish for over two years without SORNA compliance,” the report said.

Fugitive wanted for aggravated sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl in Texas arrested in New Orleans home

Lamonte Versill Morris was arrested on Oct. 29 in a home in the 3800 block of D’hemecourt Street in New Orleans.

He was wanted on a San Patricio County, Texas warrant from June 2021 for the alleged Aggravated Sexual Assault on a known 14-year-old female victim.

“Morris had gone on the run knowing that he was wanted,” the report said. “He was located by the USMS New Orleans Task Force at a residence in the 3800 block of D’hemecourt Street New Orleans.”

Man on parole for enticing teens into prostitution arrested

Wanted on a parole violation, James E. Muse was arrested on Nov. 8.

“He was on parole for an Enticing Persons Under 17 into Prostitution in Orleans Parish,” the report said. “There have been reoccurring allegations reported to law enforcement of him being involved in sex trafficking.”

Muse had been an Operation Boo Dat 2020 arrest related to the alleged 2020 charges of an Aggravated Battery of a teen using a cigarette lighter.

Man convicted of 1997 forcible rape arrested for failing to register as a sex offender

A tier 3 sex offender, Anthony Roberts was arrested in Metairie on Dec. 7 on a 2019 Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office warrant for failing to register as a sex offender.

“Roberts was originally convicted in 1997 of Attempted Forcible Rape and must register for life,” the report said. “He received a 20 year LA DOC sentence for the original conviction.  He was located residing at an apartment on Tabany Street in Metairie, Louisiana.”

Sex offender wanted in connection with November shooting arrested

A tier 3 sex offender, Kuimar Stephens was arrested on Dec. 22 at a New Orleans East home as he tried to run away by jumping out of a window.

Having what investigators believed was Ecstasy while being arrested, Stephens was wanted on a 2020 Orleans Parish Criminal Court warrant for failing to appear in court on a failure to register as a sex offender charge.

He hadn’t updated his registration since at least 2020, the report said.

“Stephens was also wanted on a New Orleans Police Department warrant from November of 2021 alleging that he was in possession of a rifle on Nov. 21,” the report said. “This stems from a November 21st, 2021, shooting incident in the 3400 block of Pleasure Street where it is alleged that person(s) shot at Stephens over one hundred times. An AK-47 variant rifle was recovered by New Orleans Police Department at the scene of the shooting.”

Announce your engagement with LPJ

The Lincoln Parish Journal is publishing engagement announcements for couples who reside in the parish, who have relatives in the parish or who are getting married in the parish. Students who are enrolled at Louisiana Tech or Grambling State but who do not live in the parish will also be able to submit. These announcements will be published Monday and Thursday. 

This move by the Journal allows couples to showcase their announcement on social media outlets. 

“This is a fabulous way for couples to have a traditional engagement announcements and reap the benefits of the digital age by posting it on social media,” said Judith Roberts, publisher of the Journal. “As the Journal continues to expand and increase its reach in the community, this will allow more people to see your happy announcement.”

Information for engagement announcements can include any or all of the following: 

  • Digital photograph of the couple 

  • The couple’s names 

  • The couple’s hometowns 

  • High school and/or college of the couple 

  • Parents’ names and/or grandparents’ names 

  • Ties to the parish 

  • Wedding time, date, and place 

  • An interesting fact about the couple 


“We all love the happy news of an engagement, and this is a great outlet for that positive information,” Roberts said. “I still have copies of my own engagement announcement and wedding announcement. I’m so glad we’re able to offer this service to couples today.” 

To submit information for publication, please email

Techsters on road for C-USA play

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications

HUNTINGTON, W.V. — On the road for the holiday once again.

For the second straight year, Louisiana Tech will celebrate the New Year on the road as the Lady Techsters open up Conference USA action tonight at Marshall.

Tipoff from the Cam Henderson Center is at 5 p.m. and the game can be seen on ESPN+. Fans can also hear the broadcast on the LA Tech Sports Network on 97.7 FM with the pregame show starting at 4:30 p.m. The broadcast can also be accessed through the LA Tech Athletics app.

The Lady Techsters (8-3) have won four of their last five games, entering the contest with an 8-3 overall record. Tech has picked up win over the likes of McNeese State, Sam Houston and Boise State, but have suffered hard fought losses to undefeated Colorado, one-loss Ole Miss and UL-Lafayette.

The Lady Techsters are led offensively by junior Keiunna Walker (16.3 ppg). Walker has filled the stat sheet all year, ranking sixth in scoring and eighth in field goal percentage (39.6 %) in Conference USA.

Sophomore Anna Larr Roberson has been a force on the defensive end of the floor for Tech, ranking second in rebounds (9.6 rpg), fourth in blocked shots (1.5 bpg), while contributing on the offensive end of the floor with 12.6 points per game.

Defensively, Tech ranks as one of the best defense teams in C-USA. The Lady Techsters rank first in blocked shots (4.45 bpg), third in points allowed (55.4 papg), third in steals (10.3) and sixth in opponent field goal percentage (37.2 %) in C-USA.

Marshall (5-4) has wins over Radford, Morehead State and Oakland. The Thundering Herd have challenged themselves with tough road losses at Purdue and (RV) Michigan State.

The Thundering Herd is led by the reigning Conference USA Player of the Week, sophomore Savannah Wheeler. The Preseason All-Conference selection is averaging a league best 20.1 points per game after dropping 40 points in their win against Oakland on Dec. 20.

Graduate Student Kennedi Colclough is the only other Marshall player averaging in double-figures, while senior Brianah Freby and freshman CC Mays are each contributing 8.0 points per game. Junior Lorelei Roper leads the Thundering Herd with 7.0 rebounds per game.

Marshall averages 73.2 points per contest and yields just 62.6 points per game. The Thundering Herd shoots 41.1 percent from the field, including 28.5 percent from three and 74.4 percent from the free throw line.

Louisiana Tech leads the all-time series against Marshall 6-4 in a series that has been mostly played in Huntington. Following Thursday’s game eight of the 11 meetings between the two programs will have been played inside the Cam Henderson Center.

The two teams met three times last season with the Lady Techsters claiming two victories over the Thundering Herd. Tech defeated Marshall 61-51 in overtime while the Thundering Herd won the next night 61-57 to open conference play last season. The Lady Techsters won the last meeting between the two schools 50-48 in the first round of the C-USA Tournament last season. 

Zeta Rho-ESA collects two international awards 

Ruston’s Zeta Rho chapter of the service group Epsilon Sigma Alpha has received two awards from the organization’s international council. 

One is the Above and Beyond Award, which is given to an individual or chapter whose activities and accomplishments have surpassed ESA’s normal expectations. The other spotlights chapters whose educational programs ranked in the Top 10 worldwide. 

The awards were presented to the chapter at state and international conventions, respectively, and resulted from work done throughout the past ESA year. 

Mary Anne Sayer, then president of Louisiana ESA, nominated the Zeta Rho chapter for the Above and Beyond Award based on activities successfully pursued during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“This chapter is really creative and has a positive outlook,” she said. “All year their chapter engaged in mastering Zoom so that they continued to meet each month, and this allowed them to plan and hold several fundraisers despite the pandemic.” This ability to function in the virtual world also led to Zeta Rho’s helping ramrod a statewide Zoom rush event. 

Sayer cited the chapter’s role with local St. Jude Radiothon activities as well. In addition to working with the traditional phone banks that operate during the event, she said, “They have partnered with the local universities to do on-site fundraising at local businesses during the event. This shows heartfelt enthusiasm for our cause.” 

Members also regularly participated in the international president’s Coffee Chat Zoom meetings held every two weeks during the worst part of the pandemic, “which speaks to Zeta Rho’s interest in learning from other states about ways to make even more of a difference in the world,” Sayer said. 

The Above and Beyond Award was presented to the chapter by the current ESA international president, Robin Bussey, at a statewide convention in Morgan City. 

Norlyn Hyde, Zeta Rho-ESA secretary, sees a special meaning in the award. “Customarily, this honor goes to a single individual recognizing their dedication and hard work on behalf of ESA,” she said. “I felt the award was particularly meaningful to Zeta Rho because it’s a testament to all of our members and the extraordinary work that we did during a COVID pandemic.”

Another longtime Zeta Rho-ESA member, awards and philanthropic chair Nancy Darland, noted that the values of ESA include education, leadership and service and that constraints imposed by the pandemic last year forced the group to think outside the box to fulfill goals in these areas. “I’m pleased that our chapter was able to carry on providing educational programs, developing new skills and serving our community despite the challenges and am honored to have received such recognition,” she said.

The Top 10 Educational Award was presented at the group’s international convention in Louisville, Kentucky. Zeta Rho’s educational program series, “Faith, Hope and Love: Looking Back to Inspire the Future, was chaired by Sallie Rose Hollis and Jennifer Patterson. This tied in with the chapter’s theme for the year, “Faith, Hope and Love,” and also to Sayer’s statewide theme that dealt with roots: “Legacy of Kindness Rooted in Friendship.” 

Nine educationals were presented throughout the year.  

Hollis explained the local theme: “‘Faith’ and ‘Hope’ referred to, among other things, the ways that we in our area have approached – and continue to face – consequences from natural disasters that have affected the area. ‘Hope’ dovetails directly with St. Jude’s mantra. And ‘Love’ relates to the love we have for our ESA brothers and sisters, plus the people we are helping, as well as all our fellow human beings.” 

As Zeta Rho-ESA president, Hollis said if there are those interested in joining the group’s philanthropic activities, the door to membership is always open. For more information contact her at