Mavericks’ home weekend features Saturday showdown with Enid

BATTLE FOR THE TITLE:  The Shreveport Mavericks begin their last regular-season homestand tonight, but Saturday’s contest with Enid is the main attraction, matching division-leading teams.

JOURNAL SPORTS

With only a couple of weekends left in The Basketball League’s Central Division schedule, it’s simple to circle Saturday night as the “Game of the Year” in the loop.

The Shreveport Mavericks and the Enid (Okla.) Outlaws lead the Central with 17-3 records. They meet Saturday night at 7:05 in the Gold Dome on the Centenary campus.

There’s a tuneup required, however, with a matchup tonight at 7:05 against the woeful Waco Royals (1-17) starting the SMavs’ last regular-season homestand.

Shreveport has an eight-game win streak after trouncing Sugar Land and Beaumont in a Texas swing last weekend. Barring an upset of epic proportions Friday night, Saturday’s game shapes up as the decisive contest to settle the regular-season division title and the top seeding for TBL playoffs.

The Mavericks enter tonight’s game 5-0 all-time against Waco, including a 138-93 rout in Texas on May 7. Ruston Hayward leads the Royals with 24.5 points per game.

Saturday will be the first time the Outlaws have played the Mavericks this season. Ricardo Artis II guides the Outlaws with 19.6 points per game. Daylon Guy ranks second on the Outlaws with 19.5 points per game and leads the team in assists with 8.3 per game.

The Mavericks will host their final game day youth clinic on Saturday. For more information contact Cedric Ellis at (318) 840-4629.


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Junior City Amateur tourney this weekend

ON THE BIG STAGE:  Benton’s Noah McWilliams advanced to the next qualifying stage for the 122nd U.S. Open Championship when he shot a 5-under 67 at the Anna, Texas, qualifying event earlier this week.

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports

If you’re wanting to play in the 2022 City Amateur Golf Championship next month, you’ve got an opportunity to qualify this weekend.

The Greater Shreveport Medal Play and Junior Championships will be held this Saturday and Sunday at Huntington Park Golf Course. The lowest two-round total by a junior golfer (high school age or younger) will be the 2022 Junior City Amateur Champion.

The junior golfers will also be in contention for the City Am Championship, which will take place at Huntington Park June 17-19. They will play from the same tees as those individuals in their respective flight. The first- and second-place junior golfer will be the 3 and 4 seed in the match play championship in June.

The top 15 scores from the (first round) Medal Play Tournament this weekend will automatically be placed in the City Am.

Deadline for entering this weekend’s Medal Play and Junior Championships, which is open to all male amateur golfers, is 5 p.m. today. The $100 entry fee covers a practice round green fee, tournament green fees, carts, lunch Saturday and prizes. Tee times will be Saturday a.m. and Sunday p.m.

Registration forms can be picked up at Huntington Park. For more information, call 318-673-7765.

Golfers can also qualify for next month’s City Am on the set qualifying days of June 4-5, or June 11-12. Tee times and pairings will be assigned at the golf shop. Amateurs not wanting to play in the Championship Flight do not have to qualify. Just turn in your entry form with the USGA Handicap and the tournament officials will flight you.

If you do not have a USGA Handicap, you will have to qualify by playing in this weekend’s Medal Play Championship or by playing The City Am Qualifying round.

McWilliams moves on — If Benton’s Noah McWilliams were in town this weekend, he would probably be playing in the Medal Play and Junior Championships. Instead, he’ll be in Dallas playing some practice rounds in preparation for the next stage in qualifying for the 122nd U.S. Open Championship at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., June 16-19.

McWilliams, the 2021 LGA Player of the Year, shot a 5-under 67 to finish in a tie for fourth place at the local qualifying event held earlier this week at Hurricane Creek Country Club in Anna, Texas. The top eight finishers out of the 132-player field moved on to the next stage of qualifying.

McWilliams — who was one only three amateurs to advance out of the Anna, Texas, event – will tee it up on Monday in the next qualifying stage that will be held at Lakewood Country Club and Royal Oaks Country Club in Dallas. Golfers will play 36 holes in one day at the two courses.

“I would have to play very well and probably shoot 10-under or so to make it,” said McWilliams, “because it will mostly be pros there.”

Local qualifying, conducted over 18 holes at 109 sites in the United States and Canada, takes place between April 23-May23. Those who advance out of local qualifying will join a group of locally exempt players in the final qualifying. A total of 8,880 players are competing for 530 final qualifying spots.

Photo by JOHN PENROD


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Tech’s Murphy struggles in final round of NCAA regional

CAPPING HIS COLLEGE DAYS:  Louisiana Tech’s Sam Murphy contended for a spot at the NCAA national championships, but faded from contention Wednesday at the regionals.

JOURNAL SPORTS

NORMAN, Okla. – Louisiana Tech golfer Sam Murphy faded from contention Wednesday and finished tied for 23rd in the 2022 NCAA Norman Regional, shooting a 76 (+4) to end the tournament at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club.

Murphy had his toughest day in the closing round, carding a final 70-71-76 (217) three-round series in the regional. He notched just two birdies in his final round on a hot and humid afternoon. 

The front nine was a tough stretch for the fifth-year senior.  He was 4-over after seven holes, following a double bogey, and afterward managed only two birdies while picking up two more bogies.

Murphy played the last seven holes at -1 with the birdie coming on the 594-yard Par 5 No. 13 when he made it on the green in two after hitting his three-wood second shot 289 yards into the wind. 

“It was tough to watch Sam struggle,” said coach Matt Terry. “You are going to make mistakes and fail.  Other than a couple of shots early and one swing on the back nine, he hit it really well today. Overall, the tournament was fantastic for him.  He presented himself well on a national stage.”

Murphy was disappointed with the closing round but proud of being tied for eighth entering the final day, and his overall finish.

“I was not very good today.  I hit it about the same as I did yesterday, but I made some mistakes early,” he said. “I was too worried about what the end result was going to be instead of just hitting the shot.  It was good to learn from it.  I hated this round being the last of my college career.  Tying for 23rd in that kind of field is not terrible. All in all, it was a great experience.”

Photo by KANE McGUIRE, Louisiana Tech


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Lang’s Locks: Nice momentum entering PGA Championship

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

Another week, another profit. We’re on a nice roll (plus-8 units over the past month), and man we are so close to hitting a big win ticket (Hideki Matsuyama almost got us home last week).

As usual, we’re Top 20 heavy at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills, but we also hit the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Major League Baseball. 

Good luck!

Notes

All bets are measured in units. For instance, if your normal bet on a game is $100, that is one unit. If the bet is listed as .2 units, it’s a $20 bet.

Best line (as of Tuesday) is listed in parenthesis. Find the best price, one key to being a successful sports bettor! Shop around!

Sportsbook legend

CAE: Caesar’s

FD: Fan Duel

MGM: Bet MGM

DK: DraftKings

BS: Barstool

LANG’S LOCKS

Last week recap: Plus-.55 units

THIS WEEK’S SELECTIONS

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

Win bets

Sebastien Munoz, .1 unit, +15000 (MGM)

Maverick McNealy, .1 unit, +16000 (FD)

Top 20 Bets

Lanto Griffin, .7 units, +900 (DK)

Si Woo Kim, .5 units +550, (DK)

Aaron Wise, .4 units +550 (DK)

Mito Pereira, .4 units, +470 (FD)

Dean Burmester, .3 units, +1400, (DK)

Cameron Davis, .3 units, +900 (DK)

Kramer Hickok, .3 units, +2000 (DK)

Carlos Ortiz, .3 units +1400 (DK)

Thomas Pieters, .3 units, +700 (FD)

Tom Hoge, .3 units, +500 (DK)

Brian Harman, .3 units, +550 (DK)

Rikuya Hoshino, .3 units, +1400 (DK)

Laurie Canter, .2 units, +2000 (DK)

Major League Baseball

Wednesday’s games

Cardinals-Mets, 1 unit, under 7 runs

NHL

Wednesday’s Games

Rangers, 1 unit, +145 (DK)

Oilers, 1 unit, +140 (DK)


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For decades, Hewlett has kept horses healthy at Louisiana Downs

AT THE START:  While keeping thoroughbreds healthy in over 40 years working as an equine  veterinarian at Louisiana Downs, Dr. Robert Hewlett has helped bring countless foals into the world.

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

The little boy growing up northwest of Waco, Texas, had no idea his love of riding horses would turn into a career of caring for horses.

“My grandparents were in the Hill Country — that’s where I was born — and I was riding horses when I was four and five years old,” Bobby Hewlett said. “My parents couldn’t wait to get away from the farm. My brother and I both went back to farms. We like farms. I liked horses. I used to run barrels and poles on them when I was four and five years old.”

“Bobby” is now 67 years old, and known as Dr. Robert Hewlett. An equine veterinarian, his job is the same as your doctor’s job. The only difference is, what Dr. Hewlett sees in his “office” has four legs, a tail, and a lot of teeth.

“It’s very rewarding for me and for my clients,” Dr. Hewlett said. “That’s what drives all of us as veterinarians — to provide the best care possible for our patients.”

In practice more than 40 years, Dr. Hewlett has treated horses at Louisiana Downs. But he mostly sees patients at two training centers in Benton. Long ago, horses brought the Texas A&M graduate to northwest Louisiana, and he hasn’t left.

“I was working in a practice in College Station, and one of my professors called me up and knew I was interested in working with horses and said, “There’s a man in Shreveport that wants a full-time veterinarian to take care of his (200) mares and (eight) stallions.”

That man was an oil man. But when the oil industry went bust, Dr. Hewlett was out of a job.

“I remember it well. (Oil) was $40 a barrel and it dropped to $8,” he said.

But Dr. Hewlett liked the area so much he stayed. He and his wife own Holly Hill Farm Equestrian Center on Old Plain Dealing Road in Benton.

“There’s something about the human-animal bond,” Dr. Hewlett said. “We have people come to our farm and they have thoroughbreds that are off the track. They just love to come brush — brush the horse. Get away from the real world.”

Dr. Hewlett says thoroughbreds are no different than any other horse when it comes to staying healthy.

“Good food. Good training. That all makes a huge difference. Exercise. Taking care of all their little physical ailments that can happen to any horse. Good legwork. Wrapping their legs and picking their feet. Shoeing them on time, not letting their feet get too long. Feed is important. They do get a bit nervous and upset sometimes. They can be a little bit finicky about their food. These are all little things, but easy to deal with. Very easy.”

But there are hard days for Dr. Hewlett—the days he has to put down a horse.

“It’s not easy at all. It’s not easy. Everybody is upset. Everybody. I’ve had people get so emotional that they just break down. It’s never easy to put any animal down … sometimes it has to be done. A horse can injure himself really easily. Or, they can be old, and you can see they’re not going to make a winter. It would be just terrible for them to get cold and die. It has to be done. It’s part of the job. Nobody likes it, though.”

Something like a broken leg can be painful and inconvenient for a person. For a horse, its life is likely over.

“There’s no blood supply,” Dr. Hewlett said. “All horses have these long, spindly legs. They break a bone — it’s too hard to immobilize them. A foal? I’ve seen them heal very nicely. But not an adult horse.”

According to Dr. Hewlett, thankfully, the number of horses dying because of injury is not what it used to be.

“It’s something that’s happening less and less on the racetrack. We’ve tightened up the rules for the safety of the horse. The AAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners) is doing a wonderful job of taking care of the welfare of the horse. It is constantly being discussed, and new procedures are being addressed.”

During his career, Dr. Hewlett has seen horse care, and human care, intersect.

“We’re using regenerative medicines so much now. Not just steroids, which reduce inflammation and help pain. They put it in people all the time. But now, we’re using stem cells and platelets,” he said. “It has exploded in the last five or six years. I’m talking regenerative (medicines) that help repair body parts, cartilage, bone. All of that. It’s unreal.”

But what is real is Dr. Hewlett’s love and compassion for horses. Love and compassion which he found as a boy, and practices as a man.

MrMenu-MikeWhitler

Mr. Menu is an advertising company that produces in-house and take-home menus for locally owned restaurants statewide. The menus are full color, printed on heavy stock paper and provided to the restaurants at no charge. The menus cycle every three to four months and they allow advertisers to speak to the customers of popular locally owned restaurants.

Mike Whitler became the owner/operator of Mr. Menu in 2006, and has since grown the business to include dozens of menus and hundreds of advertisers across the state of Louisiana.


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Shreveport wins two on road to set up big final home weekend

By LEE HILLER, Journal Sports

Shreveport took to the road over the weekend and came away with two crucial wins at Sugar Land and Beaumont in The Basketball League action.

The Mavericks led wire-to-wire in defeating the Sugar Land Imperials in Alvin, Texas Friday night 140-118.

Shreveport extended a 34-28 first quarter lead to 77-66 at the half and led by 111-98 after three quarters to cruise to their 16th win on the season.

From there the Mavericks hit the highway on over to Beaumont for a Saturday night clash with the Panthers. The road woes took a little bit of a toll as the Mavericks trailed 52-42 at the half before recuperating for a 109-101 win.

The two wins give Shreveport a 17-3 mark and the Mavericks are still tied with Enid at the top of the Central Standings of the TBL.

Shreveport returns home for its final two regular season games at Centenary’s Gold Dome. Friday the Mavs will face Waco setting up Saturday’s big showdown with Enid.


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Killer Bs highlight Saints, Cowboys home schedules

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

 Tom Brady, Joe Burrow and the reigning Super Bowl champions will face both the New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys this fall.

The full NFL schedules were released Thursday night. Burrow and his Cincinnati Bengals, and Tampa Bay’s Brady, will visit both the Caesar’s Superdome and AT&T Stadium early in the season.

In Week 2, the Cowboys will host Cincinnati for Sept. 18 affair. Burrow makes his return to the Superdome, site of his National Championship victory with LSU in 2020, in Week 6 – Oct. 16 at noon.

The season-openers are doozies for both squads. For the second year in a row, the Cowboys kick off the season in primetime against Brady and the Buccaneers. This time it’s on a Sunday night (Sept. 11) in the Metroplex.

The Saints open with Atlanta. Enough said. 

The Falcons will host the noon affair on Sept. 11.

New Orleans travels to Tampa Bay in Week 2 and will host Brady and the Buccaneers on Monday night in Week 13 (Dec. 5). The Saints host one other Monday Night Football matchup – Week 9 (Nov. 7) against Baltimore.

The Saints play just one other primetime game, Week 7 at Arizona, but will travel to London to play Minnesota in Week 4 (Oct. 2). The defending champion Los Angeles Rams visit the Big Easy on Nov. 20.

New Orleans’ longest homestand is three games (Weeks 4-6). The Saints will spend Christmas Eve in Cleveland in Week 16 and finish in the Dome against Carolina on Jan. 8.

The Cowboys play five primetime games, including three Sunday night games. Dallas plays five home games before its Week 9 bye. One of the early road games is a trip to SoFi Stadium to play the Rams in Week 5 (Oct. 9).

Dallas travels to Lambeau Field (Nov. 13) following its bye week. It will be Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy’s first trip to Green Bay since he left as the Packers head coach. 

The annual Thanksgiving game features an NFC East showdown with the New York Giants.

The Cowboys’ only Monday night affair comes in Week 3 (Sept. 26) at the Giants.

New Orleans Saints 2022 schedule

 Sept. 11, at Atlanta (noon, FOX)

Sept. 18, Tampa Bay (noon, FOX)

Sept. 25, at Carolina (noon, FOX)

Oct. 2, Minnesota (at London, 8:30 a.m., NFL Network)

Oct. 9, Seattle (noon, FOX)

Oct. 16, Cincinnati (noon, CBS)

Oct. 20, at Arizona (7:15 p.m., Prime Video)

Oct. 30, Las Vegas (noon, CBS)

Nov. 7, Baltimore (7:15 PM)

Nov. 13, at Pittsburgh (noon, FOX)

Nov. 20, Los Angeles Rams (noon, FOX)

Nov. 27, at San Francisco (3:25 p.m., FOX)

Dec. 5, at Tampa Bay (7:15 p.m.)

BYE, Week 14

Dec. 18, Atlanta (TBD)

Dec. 24, at Cleveland (noon, CBS)

Jan 1, at Philadelphia (noon, FOX)

Jan. 8, Carolina (TBD)

Dallas Cowboys 2022 schedule

Sept. 11, Tampa Bay (7:20 p.m., NBC)

Sept. 18, Cincinnati (3:25 p.m., CBS)

Sept. 26, at New York Giants (7:15 p.m.)

Oct. 2, Washington (noon, FOX)

Oct. 9, at Los Angeles Rams (3:25 p.m., FOX)

Oct. 16, at Philadelphia (7:20 p.m., NBC)

Oct. 23, Detroit (noon, CBS)

Oct. 30, Chicago (noon, FOX)

BYE, Week 9

Nov. 13, at Green Bay (3:25 p.m., FOX)

Nov. 20, at Minnesota (3:25 p.m., CBS)

Nov. 24, New York Giants (3:30, FOX)

Dec. 4, Indianapolis (7:20, NBC)

Dec. 11, Houston (noon, FOX)

Dec. 18, at Jacksonville (noon, FOX)

Dec. 24, Philadelphia (3:25 p.m., FOX)

Dec. 29, at Tennessee (7:15 p.m., Prime Video)

Jan. 8, at Washington (TBD)

Photo courtesy National Football League


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Mavericks make two Texas stops as stretch run begins

JOURNAL SPORTS

After thrashing the Dallas Skyline on Tuesday night in a key battle of teams near the top of The Basketball League Central Division standings, the Shreveport Mavericks will head to southeast Texas for two games this weekend.

Shreveport will take on the Sugar Land Imperials tonight in Alvin, Texas, at the Upside SportsPlex, and visit the Beaumont Panthers Saturday. Six games remain in the regular season, and only one is at home for the SMavs.

The Mavericks (14-3) are riding a five-game winning streak and trail only Enid (15-3) in the Central Division race.

The Mavericks shot nearly 60 percent Tuesday night in the Gold Dome on Centenary’s campus as they plastered the Skyline 138-117.

All-Star guard Paul Parks paces the Shreveport offense with 24.8 points per game. He leads the team in steals and is second in the league with 2.7 per game. He also leads the team and tops the league in 3-pointers made with 6.6 per game.

Paul Harrison is next in scoring with 18.9 points per game and leads the team in rebounding, averaging 8.6. Point guard PJ Meyers tops the team in assists (6.7 pg) and stands sixth in the league.

The Imperials (8-7) are led by John Mouton, one of the TBL’s top scorers with a 28-point average. The Panthers (6-9) rely on Lyle Hexom with 21.2 points per game.

TBL Central Standings

1. Enid Outlaws 15-3

2. Shreveport Mavericks 14-3

3. Potawatomi Fire 14-4

4. Dallas Skyline 12-4

5. Sugar Land Imperials 8-7

6. Beaumont Panthers 6-9

7. Rockwall 7ers 4-13

8. Little Rock Lightning 1-16

9. Waco Royals 1-16


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Blue Goose Soccer Club takes US League 2 debut, home again next Saturday

SOLID OPENER: The local Blue Goose semi-pro soccer team had a successful debut Wednesday.

By DAVID ERSOFF, Journal Sports

After scoring season-opening 3-0 win, the semi-pro LA Blue Goose Soccer Club is home again next Saturday, May 21, against Texas United at Mayo Field on the Centenary College campus.

Blue Goose won its debut game at home Wednesday night over the Little Rock Rangers. Goals were scored by Juri Schlingmann, Adam Morris and Guilherme Bittencourt, with assists from Gerardo Martinez and Nicolas Theberge.

The game day rosters in this league are limited to 18 players, with the professional substitution rule – when a player is substituted out of the game, he cannot return.

It was a hot and humid evening, with no breeze to speak of for any type of relief. It was even more sticky in the stands as the 300-plus fans cheered on their newest hometown team. The heat was a factor for both teams, along with a short run-up to the opener for Blue Goose.

“Since so many of our players attend college, we were only able to have three days to prepare for this first game. Our fitness was the area in which we suffered the most,” assistant coach Rafa Muniz said. “But we had a solid game plan and the players were able to gel quickly. (It was) a solid win against one of the better teams in our division.”

Both teams began a little reserved, as they were getting themselves used to the conditions and the atmosphere. The Rangers took a direct approach looking to play the long ball to their fast forward. The Blue Goose defense was more than up for the early challenges.

In the 15th minute, Blue Goose defender Martinez took a throw-in deep in the Rangers’ defensive third to the feet of Schlingmann, who turned and fired the ball into the back of the net, putting Blue Goose up 1-0.

The Rangers’ biggest threat came when their right wing sent a ball toward goal. Blue Goose keeper Brett Ekperuoh struggled with the setting sun as the ball hit the far post. Ekperuoh was able to collect the loose ball just before a Ranger was poised to tap it in the goal.

Blue Goose controlled the ball the majority of the final 20 minutes of the half. They were able to double their lead in the 28th minute, when Martin Weinitschke took a free kick from 40 yards out that deflected off a Rangers defender to the feet of Morris, who calmly slotted the ball in the net past the outstretched arms of the keeper.

The game got chippy after halftime, with foul after foul being called by the center referee, including eight yellow cards issued.

The play was fast, with Blue Goose dominating possession and opportunities throughout the half. In the 83rd minute, Theberge centered a pass to the feet of Bittencourt, who hit a no doubter to finish the score line at 3-0. Little Rock pressed hard for the final 10 minutes, including five minutes of added time. Keeper Ekperuoh came up big late with a couple solid saves and a punch out on a cross that went 30 yards downfield. He finished the game with eight  saves.

“We played at a very high level, but we have plenty of room to get better,” said Theberge, a Quebec native, who currently plays for MidAmerican Nazarene College in Kansas.  “As we play longer together, the better we will be. It was great to start off the season with a win.”

Theberge was clearly the crowd favorite, with repeated cheers for his never-ending effort as he played the full 90 minutes.

Byrd High School standout Brennen Nguyen, at 16 the team’s youngest player, subbed in with 25 minutes left. He held his own with the much older and more seasoned players on the field. 


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I Bowl’s flag football event provides nearly $5,000 for local charities

JOURNAL SPORTS

The Independence Bowl Foundation helped raise $4,468 for nine different charitable organizations with its recent second annual 1st & Give Charity Flag Football Tournament.

Nine teams took part this past Saturday at Independence Stadium, with each team playing on behalf of a different non-profit organization. Each charity was donated $350, which was the entrance fee for each team.

Community Support Programs brought home the title for the second consecutive year, and as a result, their organization received $1,668 in donations.

“In just the second year of this event, we are so proud of the progress we have made and more importantly – the impact we have been able to have on different charities throughout the area,” said Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl Executive Director Missy Setters. “The tournament grew by two teams this year with players of all different ages and backgrounds from 14-years-old and up, and we were able to give out almost $2,000 more in donations. We believe this event has tremendous potential, and we are excited for it to continue to grow so that we can give even more to local non-profit organizations.”

The nine teams that participated in the tournament and their charities were KTAL News 6 (Gingerbread House), Willis Knighton Health System (D&D Academic Foundation), Cintas (Christian Services), Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Coca-Cola Bottling Company (Roy’s Kids), Community Support Programs, Barksdale Air Force Base (Humane Society of NWLA), the Shreveport Police Department (Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club) and the Tigers (Christ Fit Gym).

Photo courtesy of the Independence Bowl


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‘Eye candy’ helps local 17-year-old make hockey history

SPECIAL K:  Kason Muscutt, 17, became the first area hockey player, and likely the first born in Louisiana, to earn a spot in the USA Hockey U-17 camp.

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

One year after one of the biggest disappointments of his young hockey career, Kason Muscutt used a little ‘eye candy’ to make history.

Tuesday, Muscutt learned he was selected to participate in the 2022 USA Hockey Boys Select 17 Camp, where the best 60 players in the country will showcase their talents to the top junior hockey organizations and college programs.

Muscutt, 17, is believed to be the first Louisiana-born player to make the camp. He’s certainly the first from Northwest Louisiana, where there is just a single sheet of ice (George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum) — and it’s not available 12 months a year.

“It’s cool to probably be the first from Louisiana, but I want to be looked at as more than just a kid from Louisiana. I want to be known as a legitimate hockey player,” Muscutt told The Journal.

The Select 17 camp is set for June 22-27 at the Northtown Center & Daemen University in Amherst, N.Y. A group of those players will be selected to remain in Amherst for a camp (June 27-29) that will determine the final U.S. roster for the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, a U-18 international hockey tournament in Edmonton this summer.

“This is a really big opportunity for him and he’s worked hard to get it,” said Kason’s father, Scott Muscutt, the general manager for the Shreveport Mudbugs. “Everybody hopes to have this for their kid. He’s getting to skate with the best in the nation.”

Kason Muscutt thought he did enough to make the national camp last year, but the Bossier City forward was gutted when the final roster didn’t include his name.

“It hurt quite a bit last year, I really expected to make it,” he said.

Instead of sulking, Muscutt got better. He believes his work with Matt Merry and D1 Training in Shreveport made a big difference entering this year’s tryout.

“I came into this year way more prepared,” the 5-foot-10, 160-pound Muscutt said. “My body is in the best shape it’s ever been. I believe my speed, strength and power set me apart. I had more eye candy this year.”

Muscutt has had many opportunities to practice with the Mudbugs over the years. Things were different on the ice this season.

“Last year I could keep up, but all I could do is keep up,” he said. “Now I feel like I fit in. I had a little swagger and felt comfortable in my skates.”

The USHL – a Tier-I junior league – is the top goal for the 2022-23 season. However, the NAHL – a Tier-II league – could be an option. 

Would Kason Muscutt consider playing in Shreveport?

“One hundred percent – a million percent,” he said. “I feel like stepping in front of the crowd I’ve been watching from for a very long time, and to give a bunch of kids high-fives, that would be the coolest thing in the world.”

Scott Muscutt was the first player signed by the franchise for its inaugural season. After playing three years, Muscutt became the team’s head coach and won a 2011 President’s Cup championship. He has been Shreveport’s general manager since the Mudbugs were reborn as a junior hockey franchise in 2016.

However, don’t expect dad to try and twist his son’s arm.

“This summer is full of growth, maturation and commitment. He needs to keep putting on weight, keep getting stronger and faster. Could he play here? Absolutely. He could also play in the USHL,” Scott Muscutt said. “Kason has been making his own decisions about hockey since he was 11 years old. He’s decided where he was going to go and who he was going to play for.”

Submitted photo


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After $4.5 million renovation, Expo Hall will be indoor sports venue

CONVERSION PLANNED: The City of Shreveport is preparing to reconfigure Expo Hall into a multi-sport indoor public use facility. 

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

A “new” multi-sports venue is coming to Shreveport.

The Journal has learned that Expo Hall, located downtown and built in 1978, will be repurposed to host events such as basketball, volleyball, and pickleball tournaments. City officials hope the facility will generate tax dollars from out-of-towners, as well as bring in rental money from locals wanting to use the facility.

“I think it makes us really competitive for these types of events that go to other communities,” said Shelly Ragle, Director of Shreveport Public Assembly and Recreation (SPAR). “Ruston just recently opened a sports complex. They spent, I think, $30 million — something crazy — on it. This gives us an opportunity in that amateur sports market to bring in more events, which means more money for our city.”

Construction is expected to start within 10-15 days, at a cost to the city of approximately $4.5 million dollars. Work by DBI Construction, headquartered in Bossier City, is expected to take 12-18 months.

“It’s going to be a really nice facility,” Ragle said.

The venue will accommodate as many as six basketball courts (four NCAA-regulation size and two middle school courts), and 15 pickleball stations. “It will have a center court, so you could do a tournament, then have one big, final game in the center,” Ragle said.

Until the Shreveport Convention Center opened in 2006, Expo Hall was the city’s main building for hosting large events. When the movie industry increased production in the Shreveport area, Expo Hall was turned into a soundstage. However, the building has been mostly vacant for approximately six years, briefly housing a downtown unit of the Shreveport Police Department.

“The city was trying to figure out what is the best use of this facility,” Ragle said.

Those discussions began prior to the pandemic, but slowed. Then came last year’s snow and ice.

“This building was affected by the winter storm,” Ragle said. “The heat was on really low. Our fire alarm system froze and busted. We had tons of damage. That set us back some more.”

In recent months, the project has moved forward. The Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau paid for an engineering study. Also, a group of city and tourism officials visited other cities to see similar-type venues. Those officials were impressed with — and decided to model the facility after — The Duncanville Fieldhouse, in Duncanville, Texas.

“It will have all-new glass fronts, and just renovated so it can be used for anything done on hardwood,” Ragle said. “Tumbling, wrestling, cheerleading, drill team competitions. Anything you can do on a hard court, you can do on this.”

While tourism was a significant reason for turning Expo Hall into a multi-sports venue, consideration was also given to increasing the quality of life for locals.

“We’ll set it up where you can have birthday parties,” Ragle said. “The guys that might normally jog on the riverfront, they can rent a basketball court for the lunch hour. There are all kinds of things you can do.”

In addition to generating tax dollars and naming rights fees, Ragle hopes the venue will bring more people downtown.

“It anchors one end of the riverfront. This will make (the riverfront) alive and viable again. That’s important to our downtown. It’s important that when visitors come to downtown, they see, hopefully, a very attractive riverfront with a mixture of young and old people.”

Photo by LEE HILLER


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Tennis roundup: Shreveport’s Weaver making his mark at A&M

YOUR INVOLVEMENT WELCOMED: The Northwest La. Community Tennis Association is always looking for volunteers to be able to continue its support of the local tennis community.

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports

Shreveport native Mark Weaver has already led the Texas A&M women’s tennis team to its most successful season in school history and it’s not over yet.

Weaver, a Caddo Magnet graduate, played on the Aggies’ men’s tennis team from 1990-1994 and is in his seventh season as the women’s head coach. The Southeastern Conference champion Lady Aggies (32-1, 13-0 SEC) will host Vanderbilt in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday at the Mitchell Tennis Center in Bryan-College Station.

The No.7-ranked Lady Aggies are in their third straight Round of 16 and eighth overall in program history.

“I’m very proud of our group,” says Weaver, who started as a volunteer assistant in 1999 and served as both an assistant coach and associate head coach before taking over as head coach in 2015. “We’re a far better team right now than we were back in January. That’s kind of one of our big mottos all throughout the season. I think the team may get tired of hearing it, but it’s ‘Let’s get better today.’ I think we’re really showing it right now.”

Time to step up — With May being National Tennis Month, there is no better time than now to step up and help promote the sport in our community.

An excellent way to pitch in is to become a volunteer at the Northwest Louisiana Community Tennis Association. The CTA is a volunteer organization that supports and provides programs which pulls the community together by promoting and developing the growth of tennis.

The purpose of the NWLACTA is to make a positive impact on the tennis community by providing support and resources in the development of programs, events, leagues, and facilities promoting tennis as a lifetime healthful sport within North Louisiana to all ages and skill levels.

All members of the United States Tennis Association are automatically grandfathered into the CTA. Also, any tennis enthusiast who is willing to devote time and energy and who will bring constructive ideas and suggestions is welcome to be a part of any or all CTA meetings.

For information, check out the CTA website at www.playtennissb.com.

Querbes confirms event – What was once tentatively scheduled is now confirmed. In a unique event, Querbes Park is offering a clinic to introduce kids and adults to two lifetime sports: golf and tennis.

On Saturday, May 28 from 2:00-4:30 p.m., participants can take part in a one-hour introduction to each sport. Tennis director Chris Dudley will get things started at the Tennis Center, followed by golf director Nathan Barrow at the Golf Course. Cost is $25 per participant.

Other activities scheduled for Querbes Tennis Center include an afternoon of fun playing and competition (May 21 from 1-4 p.m.), a Spring Mixer (May 21 from 4-7 p.m.), and “Oldsters and Youngsters” where juniors will play with seniors (May 27 from 9-11 a.m.). For information on  upcoming events, contact Michael Schaff at 318-673-7787 or michael@querbestenniscenter.net.

Photo courtesy of NWLACTA


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Go deep, to the brush piles, for post-spawn crappie

“OK,” said Matt Loetscher, “we’re on top of the brush pile. Drop your shiner straight down and you ought to get a bite.”

Loetscher’s comment was directed at me and I did exactly what he suggested. The shiner had no sooner descended to the brush pile when I felt the bite. Setting the hook, I hauled the chunky crappie to Loetscher’s waiting landing net.

This was one of more than 40 crappie our party of four outdoor communicators hauled aboard in little more than two hours of fishing Toledo Bend a couple of summers ago.

We were there at the invitation of Johnny Wessler, Executive Director of Louisiana North, a marketing coalition for 29 parishes in north Louisiana. Our trip to Toledo Bend was the final leg of our four-lake excursion across north Louisiana.

We visited lakes Claiborne, Caney, and Caddo in October with Toledo Bend scheduled next on the docket. However, flooding rains postponed our trip to the Bend until the following year and thanks to Living the Dream guide service, Loetscher in particular, we were exposed to one of the hottest tickets in this part of the country — catching Toledo Bend crappie hand over fist.

Loetscher is one of eight full-time guides working for Living the Dream and he is one of the best. We fished over planted brush Loetscher had placed in strategic locations around the lake and at each stop, the crappie were cooperative.

“Generally throughout the summer, the brush piles will produce for us. We cut a bunch of trees, willows and sweet gums in particular, and the fish really relate to this cover we provide. These two species of trees have plenty of foliage and provide cover and shade for the crappie. The brush draws bait fish and this concentrates the crappie into small areas,” said Loetscher.

The brush piles are not randomly dropped into the lake, which would require incidental location of the piles. Each tree is lowered into the lake anchored by a concrete block with empty plastic jugs at the top of each tree to cause it to stand upright. A GPS (global positioning system) mark is put on each top so that guides can put clients right on top of each brush pile.

“Some folks like to use Christmas trees as cover to attract crappie, and these work OK. However, the trees we use – we’ll build as many as 200 brush piles a year – have lots of natural foliage which tends to stay on the brush for a long time,” Loetscher said.

The trolling motor Loetscher uses has a GPS system built into it and while the guide is busy keeping hooks baited and netting fish, the trolling motor keeps the boat on top of the brush pile.

How does Loetscher know where to place his brush piles? Are they dropped randomly into the lake with the outside chance crappie will find them?

“I do lots of research, spend hours studying topographic maps and I spend time graphing with my sonar and imaging to find areas more likely to attract fish. If I find a spot where there are some fish hanging around natural cover such as stumps or brush, I’ll enhance that spot with the brush I plant there,” Loetscher said.

In spring, crappie are attracted to shallow water where spawning takes place. However once the spawn is done, the fish migrate to deeper water looking for shade and shelter where there is plenty of forage to help them recover from the rigors of the spawn.

Loetscher and the other guides at Living the Dream guide service work hard to provide a good fishing experience for clients. It must work because the previous year, Toledo Bend gave up 45,000 crappie credited to clients served by the guide service.

To get in on the action, contact Living the Dream at www.ltdguideservice.com.


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SPOTLIGHT: Consultant says Sports Commission’s posture threatened CVB’s culture

BACK FOR MORE: The U.S. Women’s National Team, which began its run to an Olympic Gold medal in Bossier City, will be back late this month for an international competition assisted by the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission.

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

The Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission is segregated from the rest of the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau, which “is a point of great concern for the culture and stability of the entire organization.”

That is according to an eight-page organizational assessment conducted by a Washington State-based consulting firm.

The report by Fired-Up! Culture is part of a $34,500 contract with the Bureau, which includes other services and “multiple visits to the market for on-site training,” said Bureau President and CEO Stacy Brown.

“The leadership of the sports development team is not best served in segregation from the rest of the organization,” the assessment reads. “This has caused significant distance and lack of equity and understanding between the sports team and the rest of the organization.”

Brown agreed. The Commission is a division of the Bureau.

“In recent years, it (sports commission staff) has become more segmented, where other staff members were really not participating in that,” Brown said. “What we’re doing is realigning to be able to use all of the staff more efficiently. For instance, we’ve had basically just one person working on sports marketing, out of a team of people that work on marketing. They all need to be integrated together so that sports is a part of all the marketing that we do.”

March 31, almost a month before the assessment was complete, the Bureau eliminated the Commission’s executive director position. Kelly Wells had been in that role for 12 years. Sara Nelms now has the title Director of Sports, Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission.

“Somebody has to own it,” said a nationally-recognized sports tourism expert, referring to the need for a point person when it comes to sports-related events. The expert reviewed the assessment at the Journal’s request. The expert requested anonymity, so as not to jeopardize any current or future projects.

“Especially in a destination like Shreveport that has such a rich history in sports,” the expert said. “(Shreveport) has a lot of great assets and has been doing (sports) a long time. It would be really hard to have a hybrid person in the (Convention and Visitors Bureau) that says ‘Oh, I dabble in sports as a director, and I’m over here doing this other stuff.’”

The assessment includes 15 recommendations for the Bureau and Commission to implement.

The first is for the Bureau to do an analysis of the cost, and return on investment, for each segment of business development, including sports.

“Our cost per sports delegate is higher than the norm,” Brown said. “So, we’re spending more money to get a sports delegate here than a lot of other communities are. So, looking at how we make sure we maximize our return on investment is very important.”

The expert said spending more money on sports is not a negative.

“Whatever the sports commission is driving compared to the other markets — leisure, conventions, meetings, those type things — it should get that percentage back as far as in support. That’s a huge thing. We see that a lot in small markets, where sports drives the ship, but then they’re an afterthought as far as budgetary concerns.”

Other recommendations include conducting a professional study to determine if the Bureau is paying a fair and competitive salary. Brown said that work has already started.

“Part of what we’re looking at is how we are positioned within the market,” Brown said, “but also, how are we positioned within our competitive set—which is other bureaus that are likely to steal from us.”


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Lang’s Locks: After nice profit on the links, we dabble on the diamond

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

Thanks to a couple of nice Top-20 hits at the Wells Fargo, James Hahn at 12-1 and J.T. Poston at 7-1, we collected a profit of more than 4 units last week. We’ve definitely hit our stride on the golf course, and this week the PGA Tour heads to Dallas. Naturally, we have some Euro action, too.

We also make our Major League Baseball debut this week, with four total plays on Wednesday’s games.

Good luck!

Notes

All bets are measured in units. For instance, if your normal bet on a game is $100, that is one unit. If the bet is listed as .2 units, it’s a $20 bet.

Best line (as of Tuesday) is listed in parenthesis. Find the best price, one key to being a successful sports bettor! Shop around!

Sportsbook legend

CAE: Caesar’s

FD: Fan Duel

MGM: Bet MGM

DK: DraftKings

BS: Barstool

LANG’S LOCKS

Last week recap: profit, 4.4 units

THIS WEEK’S SELECTIONS

PGA Tour

Byron Nelson

Win bets

Hideki Matsuyama, .1 unit, +3025 (CAE)

Seamus Power, .1 unit, +5455 (MGM)

Top 20 bets

Seamus Power, .5 units, +250 (FD)

Kramer Hickok, .4 units, +1200 (DK)

Mark Hubbard, .3 units, +600 (DK)

Adam Schenk, .3 units, +1200 (DK)

Tom Hoge, .3 units, +350 (DK)

European Tour

Soudal Open

Win bet

Lukas Nemecz, .1 unit, +9900 (MGM)

Top 20 bets

Julien Guerrier, .4 units, +500 (CAE)

Clement Sordet, .4 units, +480 (FD)

Sean Crocker, .3 units, +750 (FD)

Santiago Tarrio Ben, .3 units, +550 (FD)

Zander Lombard, .3 units, +700 (FD)

Niall Kearney, .3 units, +600 (CAE)

Benjamin Hebert, .3 units, +600 (FD)

Major League Baseball

Wednesday’s games

Blue Jays-Yankees, 1 unit, under 7.5 runs

Rockies-Giants, 1 unit, under 7.5 runs

Rays-Angels, 1 unit, under 7 runs

Astros-Twins, 1 unit, under 8 runs


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It’s opening night for local Blue Goose semi-pro soccer club

By DAVID ERSOFF, Journal Sports

Semi-pro soccer returns to Shreveport-Bossier tonight on the Centenary College campus when LA Blue Goose Soccer Club hosts the Little Rock Rangers at 7 o’clock.

Blue Goose SC is the newest expansion team in the Mid-South Division of the Southern Conference of the US League Two. This league is two levels below MLS, or in baseball terms, the equivalent of minor league Double A.

Blue Goose will be playing home games at Centenary’s Mayo Field, with an artificial surface that will allow for games to be played regardless of rain. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students.

Blue Goose is coached by Will Awagu. Awagu is the founder of Elite Soccer Training and the Director/Founder of Elite Soccer Club, both here in Shreveport. Assistant coaches are Che Walcott, Rafa Muniz and Ari Mausavizadgan. Walcott is a staff coach at Elite Soccer club, as well as the assistant coach of the Centenary Women’s Soccer team. Muniz, who be a player-coach, is a Brazilian who has played in the region at different levels of semi-pro. His latest role was regional manager for the UPSL Soccer League. Mausavizadgan will be the goalkeepers coach. He played and coached in Virginia before moving to the Shreveport area two years ago.

The roster is filled with players from around the country and international players from Brazil, Australia, Europe, Africa and Canada.

The youngest player on the team is Byrd High School standout Brennan Nguyen.

”The first few practices I was really nervous and intimidated, but once I got to know some of the players, and we just started playing soccer, I felt much more comfortable,” said the 16-year-old.  “I am just looking forward to learning from the high level of talent (that) I would never have been exposed to without taking a chance and trying out.”

Other local players competing for game day rosters and play time include Bruno Palmeri (Loyola, ETBU), Jayson Frink (Byrd, Converse University), Athan Cosse (Byrd, Lehigh) and Aaron Burrell (Parkway).

One of the strong recruits is Alexos Rodriguez, starting mid fielder for Division I Saint Francis (Pa.) University. He is going into his senior year this fall for the Red Flash. Rodriguez plans to graduate in December with a business degree, but is learning a little new geography in the deep South.

“I heard US League was expanding, and wanted to get involved to keep my skills sharp for my senior year. I got in contact with Coach Awagu and was drawn in by the commitment to competiton that was expressed to me, so here I am,” said Rodriguez. “My role here will be central midfield (in soccer terms the ‘8’), to assure the middle is ours, to distribute to forwards and aid in transforming defensively.”

American players include Gerardo Martinez ( LSUS and Jarvis University), Diego Martinez (Georgetown), Brendan Koplin (Adams State), Shae Writ (Presbyterian College) and Ibraham Mohamed (Dakota County, Mich., Technical College).

European players include Adam Morris, Samuel Scarth and Luke Sowerby from England; Juri Schingmann and Martin Weintschke from Germany; Marc and  Gerard Feliu  from Spain; Brett Ekperuoh (Sweden), Kidamu Lasaunu (France), Emmanual Fakoyede (Ireland) and Matthew Beaton (Scotland).

Players from Brazil are Rafa Muniz, Fabio Lyra, Guilherme Bittercourt and Palmeri.

The rest of the international players are Ahmed Nossier (Egypt), Inzwi Zunga (Zimbabwe), Marco Izurieta and Nicholas Atkinson (Australia), along with Canadians Ishak Chelloug and Nicholas Thebege.  

CUTLINE – POLISHING FOR TONIGHT:  The new local semi-pro men’s soccer team, LA Blue Goose Soccer Club, practiced on its home field at Centenary preparing for the season debut tonight. Several local high school players are on the roster.


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Sharp-shooting Mavericks dominate Dallas

By LEE HILLER, Journal Sports

Shreveport came out shooting lights out the first half and never let up in a 138-117 rout of the Dallas Skyline in The Basketball League action at the Centenary Gold Dome Tuesday night.

The Mavericks, who have now won five straight, hit 59 percent of their first half shots and finished the game shooting 56 percent.

Tyrone Jordan and Paul Harrison led the Mavericks with 26 points each. Jordan and PJ Meyer both delivered eight assists. Paul Parks hit for 22 points and led the Mavericks, who had 14 3-pointers, with four behind the arc. Meyers had 14 points, Tavin Cummings 12 and DeAndre McIntyre 10.

Leading Dallas in scoring was Logan Hicks with 31, which included six 3-point makes, Alex Cooper scored 23 and gave out 10 assists. Terry Maston had a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds.

Shreveport took a 41-28 lead after the first quarter by shooting 62 percent.

Shreveport improved to 15-3, tied with Enid for first place in the Central Division of the TBL. Dallas slipped to 12-5.

Dallas defeated the Mavericks 112-109 in Dallas on April 23 to snap a seven-game win streak, the last time Shreveport lost a game.


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SPOTLIGHT: Parks brings added value to Mavericks franchise

PRODUCTIVE PLAYER: Paul Parks has not only been tough to stop for Shreveport Mavericks opponents, but his efforts to help build the roster and promote the team have been relentless. Shreveport is home tonight at 7:05 against Dallas.

By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports

Little did the Shreveport Mavericks know that when they brought in Paul Parks near the end of the 2021 season, they were bringing in more than a shooting guard.

They were also bringing in a “general manager.” Plus a “public relations” specialist.

And, as it turns out, an All-Star.

The 6-foot-4 Parks seems to have done it all for the Mavericks, both on and off the floor in the 2022 season. Not only is he one of the leading scorers in The Basketball League, he also helped assemble a team that is 14-3 as it prepares to take on the Dallas Skyline (13-3) tonight at the Gold Dome. Game time is 7:05 p.m. for a matchup of Central Division title contenders.

“I kind of helped Coach build the team this year,” Park says. “I knew a lot of players who were looking for job opportunities who could get the job done. Coach (Steve) Tucker trusted me with that and that was my role.”

Another role has been putting the ball in the basket and Parks made it clear pretty quickly that he was up to that challenge. He is the 10th leading scorer in the TBL and leads the league in 3-pointers made (62).

“We have a lot of options but I feel like I am the go-to guy,” Parks says. “But there’s a lot of us that do different things. We are just one together. I believe in all my teammates. Without them, there’s no me.”

Last month, he was chosen for the TBL All-Star Game, which brought in players from all six divisions.

“The All-Star game is quite an accomplishment for what I have been able to do and my teammates have been able to do,” he says. “But that’s not the biggest accomplishment we are trying to achieve. We want to bring the championship back to Shreveport.”

And he wants people to know about it, which is where the PR part of it comes in.

“I’ve been doing a lot of groundwork with the team trying to get the word out,” he says. “People are starting to see that we are for real and entertaining to watch. I just want to keep building that.”

A native of Georgia, Parks signed with Cleveland State out of high school but quickly returned home. He took more than a year off before enrolling at Carver Bible College and then moving on to Point (Ga.) University.

He has spent plenty of time playing minor league basketball before coming to Shreveport.

“Some guys from Atlanta told coaches about me,” he says. “They were looking for a scorer and they brought me in. I was there for the last part of the season and made an impact for the Mavericks. Coach Tucker liked what I brought to the team and just bonded from there.”

One of the things he brought to the team was a 51-point performance against Wichita last May. He was 18 of 31 from the field, including 10 3-pointers. “I couldn’t miss,” Parks says. “I didn’t even play fourth quarter. I think I could have scored a lot more.”

Parks will turn 32 years old next week and he hopes to keep things going with the Mavericks.

“It’s been a great experience,” he says. “I love being in Shreveport. I’m looking to finish my career here. I like the community and the feedback we are starting to get. More people are starting to learn about the team.”


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Forgetful? Not John McGary, 30-year veteran Louisiana Downs announcer

ON THE CALL:  John McGary provides the voice you hear, and 30 years of expertise, describing a race with accurate places for the horses at Louisiana Downs.

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

“What did you have for dinner last night?”

“What did you do yesterday?”

For those of us in our 50’s, some things are just hard to remember.

But not for Louisiana Downs track announcer John McGary.

“If we have a 12-horse field, I can memorize them in 3 or 4 minutes,” the 56-year-old said.

“If it’s a 6-horse field, a minute or two.”

McGary has turned his excellent short-term memory into a 30-year race-calling career. The Fountain Valley, California, native is in his eighth year as the voice of Louisiana Downs. Between racing seasons, McGary packs up and moves west, calling the action at Zia Park in Hobbs, New Mexico.

“I happen to have been a fan of horse racing my entire life, and it’s worked out pretty good,” McGary said. “Being a fan helps. If you enjoy what you do, you bring a passion to it. It’s better.”

Much like a horse moving to the outside mid-stretch, McGary made a bold move in order to get his first career start.

“Like only a young guy can do, I walked right up to the general manager (of Pompano Park in Florida) and said, ‘Hey, if your guy ever gets sick or takes some time off, I can do this.’ He said, ‘Let’s get you some press credentials and have you go upstairs and practice into a tape recorder.’”

A year or two later, McGary was filling in for the track’s regular announcer once a month. Since then, McGary has worked full-time at 12 tracks, from Michigan to California, Ohio to Texas. Add in his part-time work, and McGary’s voice has been heard from more than 25 tracks across the country.

“I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve worked pretty much steady for the past 20 years. I’m very thankful for what I have, and I still enjoy going to work every day.”

McGary gets to his booth high atop Louisiana Downs about two hours before the first race. But it’s not until the post parade for each race that McGary starts his prep work.

“I have to see the horses. It doesn’t matter what it says in the program. I have to see the horses, because they don’t always have the same (jockey) silks. When the horses come onto the race track, I will write the silks down on the program page. I will then just put the silks to the horse’s name.”

McGary uses this example: “My name is John McGary. If I see Blue, and John McGary, I will look through the binoculars and say ‘Blue is John McGary. Blue is John McGary’ … If there’s more than one of the same (color) silks, then I will go to the (jockey’s) cap and then (his or her) sleeves. ‘OK, red with a black cap is Louisiana Downs. Red with a yellow cap is Secretariat.’ I just say that out loud. I keep repeating it out loud while looking through the binoculars, while the horses are heading toward the starting gate doing their warmups, until I have it down.”

Once the horses have crossed the finish line, McGary — in an ironic twist — has to quickly become forgetful.

“As soon as the race is over, you empty it out, rinse, and repeat.”

When you’ve done something for three decades, you’re bound to have made a mistake. McGary is not too proud to admit he’s called the wrong winner just twice in three decades.

Not a bad right-to-wrong ratio.

“I try and go out on a limb, but I try and protect myself. Like, ‘Tony on the inside, John on the outside. John, I believe, by a nose.’ Or ‘Maybe.’ Or ‘It’s close.’ You try to tell the fans who won the race, but if you’re not sure, you always want to hedge.”

McGary’s wife of six years, Julie, lives in Las Vegas. While working at Louisiana Downs, McGary tries to fly home every three to four weeks.

“It’s the sacrifice you make to do what we do,” McGary said, “to do a job you really have a passion for, that you really enjoy. You have to make sacrifices in this life. It’s a sacrifice that I and many other announcers make. God willing, I will continue to make it until it’s time for me to retire.”

McGary says that won’t be any time soon. He still has a lot of races to call.

And a lot of horses to memorize — in a matter of minutes.

Louisiana Downs races Saturday through Tuesday, through Sept. 27. First post time is 3:05 p.m.

Mr. Menu is an advertising company that produces in-house and take-home menus for locally owned restaurants statewide. The menus are full color, printed on heavy stock paper and provided to the restaurants at no charge. The menus cycle every three to four months and they allow advertisers to speak to the customers of popular locally owned restaurants.

Mike Whitler became the owner/operator of Mr. Menu in 2006, and has since grown the business to include dozens of menus and hundreds of advertisers across the state of Louisiana.


TODAY’S SCHEDULE: Shreveport Mavericks host Dallas Skyline

Tuesday

Pro Basketball (The Basketball League)

Dallas Skyline at Shreveport Mavericks, Gold Dome, 7:05 p.m.

College Baseball

ULM at Northwestern St., 6 p.m.
Stephen F. Austin at Grambling State, 6 p.m.
Southeastern La. at LSU, 6:30 p.m.

College Softball

SWAC Tournament in Gulfport, Miss.

Grambling St. vs. Alabama State, 9:30 a.m.

SLC Tournament in Hammond

Northwestern St. vs. Incarnate Word, noon

Sun Belt Tournament in Mobile, Ala.

ULM vs. Coastal Carolina, 10 a.m.

Wednesday

College Softball

SWAC Tournament in Gulfport, Miss.

Grambling St. vs. TBD

SLC Tournament in Hammond

Northwestern St. vs. McNeese St., 11 a.m. (if NSU wins on Tuesday)

Sun Belt Tournament in Mobile, Ala.

ULM vs. La-Lafayette, 10 a.m. (if ULM wins Tuesday)

SEC Tournament in Gainesville, Fla.

LSU vs. Mississippi State, 11 a.m.

Note: The above schedule is subject to cancellations or reschedule


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Toms’ run at PGA Champions Tour win falls a shot short

JOURNAL SPORTS

DULUTH, Ga. – David Toms knew the club he wanted for the shot he needed.

But it wasn’t in his bag Sunday. Instead of a 5-wood, he had a little-used gap wedge, and the Bossier City native couldn’t take the shot he knew he could pull off on the 18th hole, down one stroke, Sunday at the PGA Champions Tour Mitsubishi Electric Classic.

Instead of going for the green over a water hazard at TPC Sugarloaf, Toms reconsidered using a hybrid on a 236-yard shot at the pin, laid up and didn’t convert his last two shots at birdie, wedging to 18 feet and leaving the putt a foot short.

That left him tied for second at 10-under, a nice pay day but not what he had in mind.

The final wedge shot was from 103 yards, a distance very appealing to Toms.

“The (last) time I had that yardage today, I hit it (to) about a foot on No. 10,” he said, “so I felt like it was an easy shot and just didn’t hit a very good one.”

He usually has a five wood in his bag (famously, that was the club he used for an ace in the third round of his 2001 PGA Championship victory at the Atlanta Athletic Club, just a couple miles away from TPC Sugarloaf). But looking at the course earlier last week, he thought a gap wedge would be more useful. It came out of his bag once in his 206 shots. The five wood was made to order for his second shot on the final hole Sunday. It just wasn’t among the 14 clubs he was using.

Toms shot 7-under in Friday’s opening round, in tough afternoon conditions. He held the lead into the back nine on Sunday, stretching it to as many as three shots in mid-round, but while he hung in at 11 under, other players charged. After a couple of solid par saves, Toms finally couldn’t avoid a bogey at the 14th hole, with one of the game’s more reliable short-range putters missing back-to-back six-footers (for birdie at 13, and par at 14).

Eventual champion Steve Flesch kept ringing up birdies in a final round 64 that made him the clubhouse leader at 11 under.

Toms, who carded a two-under 70 on Sunday, shared second with Fred Couples and Padraig Harrington.

Toms is obviously in fine form as the Champions Tour is about to stage two of its major championships this month. The Regions Tradition is this weekend in Hoover, Ala., in metro Birmingham, and the Senior PGA Championship is two weeks later.

Toms, a 2018 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame inductee, won the 2019 U.S. Senior Open.


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