Tag: Courtney Strain

Golden-Hearted Families: Leas and Strains return to Jacksonville to help those in need

By Chris Allen Brown/Associate Editor

Justin Lea, Courtney Strain and Leah Strain all were born and grew up hours away from Jacksonville. But major life milestones over the years have made Jacksonville State home for the trio.

For Courtney, it was meeting current fiancé Dalton Screws, who was a teammate of Lea under Bill Clark and John Grass, on top of countless basketball games played inside Pete Mathews Coliseum. For Leah, it was the friendships and memories created, joining the nursing program and, like her older sister, the time spent on the now ruined hardwood of Pete Mathews Coliseum. For Justin, JSU gave him an opportunity to continue playing the sport — football — he loves; a sport he hopes will continue giving in the future with a professional opportunity.

So, it’s easy to understand why they took the initiative to come and lend a hand … more specifically 100 hands.

Courtney, now a science teacher and coach at Handley High School, and her dad, Larry, brought 41 student-athletes from Roanoke, a city an hour and 18 minutes from JSU’s campus, to assist Lea and his brother, Jay, cutting and clearing trees from the yard of Jamie “Red” Etheredge, who has been a strong supporter of JSU student programs, and the area surrounding the Alumni house.

“I just know Red does a lot for JSU athletes … He’s one of the biggest supporters we have,” said Lea. “My hometown was hit in 2011 and we saw a lot of people come from out of town to help us, so I just wanted to find a way to come out and help.

“I give credit to my parents and grandparents and those who raised me when I think about the man I am today and to think about yourself last and if someone needs help, go help them.”

For Larry, who is the head coach at Handley, it was a no-brainer to bring some of his athletes to Jacksonville and help.

“There is no better team-building exercise than helping others,” Larry said. “It was actually about 10:30 Wednesday night when I decided we needed to do it. We got to school yesterday and the first people I called were my principal and superintendent and they were more than supportive about the idea. The kids knew nothing about it yesterday, so when I asked this morning, all their hands went up.

“I knew it was the right thing to do. As a team, we need to learn to help other people when they need help.”

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Thursday morning, both Courtney and Leah reached out to get in touch with JSU athletic director Greg Seitz, who pointed Larry in another direction before he was able to connect the EMA and get the OK to help.

According to Larry, his initial intentions were to help clean up JSU’s softball field, tennis courts and the rest of the spring sports venues. However, with the school’s campus closed to all non-essentially personnel until April 2nd, the near 50-person clean-up crew spend most of Friday morning in Red’s backyard moving parts of trees.

“It was a great two-in-one scenario,” Courtney said. “You’re helping a community that’s very near our families but also bonding as a team. I told someone this earlier, but these kids need to realize life isn’t always about them and their wants and their needs. They may not realize it right now, but one day they’re going to look back and realize you’re supposed to do things for other people because one day you may be in the same situation.”

Strain deserves credit for basketball expectations

By Chris Allen Brown/Associate Editor

Leah Strain didn’t have to continue playing basketball following her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear during the summer before the 2015 season.  

Strain, one of the most prolific prep basketball players in Alabama history, could’ve hung up her shoes and ankle braces to focused all of her time on being a nurse or member of the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority. 

She could’ve said that’s it, I’m done. 

But she didn’t. She continued to fight. 

Strain fought out of the shadows of her older sister, Courtney, who owns the state mark for career points. 

Strain fought the expectations of being an incoming freshman after helping Woodland High to its second consecutive state championship. 

Strain fought the lengthy rehab that came with the torn knee ligament.

Strain fought to be see time of the floor for JSU head coach Rick Pietri. 

Strain fought to be Leah Strain. She wasn’t going to give up and let people define her legacy. She took it upon herself to do that. 

When Strain throws on the red-and-white No. 2 Jacksonville State uniform over her 5-foot-4 frame Wednesday night against Belmont, it’ll be the 82nd game of her Gamecock career. It was a collegiate career that saw her score her first points during Jacksonville State’s upset win against SEC foe Alabama on Nov. 18, 2014. 

During the 2014-15 season, Strain set a career high in points with a 14-point outing against Mercer. Against the Bears, she went 5 of 10 from the field, including three 3-point baskets, and dished out six assists. For her performance, Strain was named the Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Week. 

Off the court, Strain earned 2014-15 OVC Medal of Honor and OVC Commissioner’s Honor Roll status after finishing the academic year with a 4.0 grade point average.

After redshirting during the 2015-16 season to rehab her ACL injury, Strain returned for the 2016-17 year. 

She scored 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting against Brewton-Parker, before turning in a season-high 11 points in 18 minutes against Nicholls State. She also scored nine points in 10 minutes in the final game of the season. 

As a redshirt-junior this season, Strain has played 373 minutes and scored at least one point in 22 of 27 games heading into JSU’s home finale against the Bruins. 

Strain will be remembered more for her resiliency than scoring while at JSU.

JSU Women falls in overtime on Senior Day

Despite a second chance to win the game in overtime, the Gamecocks could not keep up with the offense of Tennessee State and fell 74-66.

It was a rough overtime period as the Gamecocks struggled to get anything together offensively. They went 1-of-9 in shooting despite perfection from free throw shots.

Candace Morton led the night in total points with 20, while Courtney Strain was right behind her with 10. Morton also led in free throws making 8-of-10. The Gamecocks were overall 13-of-19 for free throws on the night.

The game opened with TSU jumping out to a fast lead before a tie at 15:41 that put the score at an even four. It was then the Gamecocks’ chance to lead the game, which they did manage to even the score two more times.

A 3-pointer by TSU’s Jemilah Leonard at 6:56 put the Eagles in the lead with the score at 15-13. The lead that they gained by that shot was one that they would hold onto for the duration of the first half. They led by as many as eight twice in the final five minutes.

It was on a three-pointer by Strain with 3:01 left when the Gamecocks cut the Eagles’ lead to five and seemed to gain momentum. The Gamecocks fought hard and broke the Eagles down to only a two-point margin by the end of the half with the score sitting at 25-23 after Miranda Cantrell hit a layup with nine seconds left.

As the second half opened, it didn’t take long for the Gamecocks to tie the score at 25. It was the first of six ties in the second half. Before the second tie, the score bounced back and forth between the two teams always within one. The second tie brought the score to 28 before TSU went up by two. A layup by Cantrell brought the teams to their third tie at 30.

Less than a minute later it was tie number four at 32. This time Tennessee State would manage to pull away from their opponent and keep the score just out of their grasp for around three minutes. It was Tyler Phelion who helped the Gamecocks to their fifth tie at 41 with 11:17 left in the game.

It was JSU’s turn to pull away from TSU. The Gamecocks took their lead out all the way to the 2:02 mark when the Eagles hit a jumper to put them up by one. They couldn’t hold their lead and JSU would send it to overtime with a three-pointer at the buzzer by Morton.

Unfortunately the Gamecocks fell apart in overtime. After TSU went ahead, the Gamecocks were able to tie it once more before the Eagles took full control and never let it go. They would go on to win the game by eight.

The Gamecocks have one regular season game left after their win Monday against Eastern Kentucky. They will play Morehead State Feb. 28.

Rebekah Hawkins
Staff Writer

JSU Women gets another double-digit victory with win over Tennessee Tech

JSU Sportswire
JSU Sportswire

The Jacksonville State women’s basketball team has won again, moving them up to 7-4 in the Ohio Valley Conference and 16-7 overall as they defeated Tennessee Tech 70-54 on the road Saturday evening.

Briana Benson dropped 20 points, energizing the Gamecocks as they ended the game with a total of 70 points. Senior Candace Morton dropped 12 points and senior Destany McLin scored 10.

JSU was quite successful in shooting from the field as they came out of the first half with 52 percent. However, Jacksonville State’s defense restricted Tennessee Tech to 11-of-29 from the field.

JSU began the second half with an eight point lead and was able to pick up 36 more points before the end of the game. Jacksonville State’s sturdy defense was able to keep Tennessee Tech back, so TTU was only able to score 28 more points in the second half. JSU was able to maintain a strong lead and soon reached the double-digits at the 9:43 mark after Courtney Strain scored a three-pointer.

Tennessee Tech tried to catch up quickly by giving JSU only a three point lead of 40-37, but JSU fought back by gaining 13 more points, giving the Gamecocks a 16 point lead.

Jacksonville State grew steady control of the game and eventually gained a 20 point lead after Morton made a pair of free-throws.

This will be the first double-digit win against Tennessee Tech for JSU since 2005. This is also the first time since the 2003-04 season that the women’s basketball team has recorded three double-digit wins in a row.

Tennessee Tech now falls to 2-9 in the OVC.

JSU finished the game with a shot percentage of almost 49 percent from the field. Tennessee Tech made only 35 percent.

The Jacksonville State women’s basketball team will play again on Feb. 11 in the Pete Mathews Coliseum at 5:30 pm against Belmont.

Lauryn Dawkins
Staff Writer

Five in a row for Women’s Basketball

JSU Sportswire
JSU Sportswire

JACKSONVILLE – The Jacksonville State women’s basketball team defeated Georgia Southern 78-52 to extend their win streak to five. With only one loss being the first game of the season to Texas Tech, the Gamecocks overall record is 5-1.

In their five-game winning streak, the JSU women have defeated Alabama, New Orleans, Wofford, Central Arkansas, and now Georgia Southern.

The win over Georgia Southern showed the balance of JSU as four Gamecocks scored in double digits. Courtney Strain led with a career-high 18 points and Candace Morton scored 14 points. Miranda Cantrell finished with 12 points and Briana Benson reached 11.

The Gamecocks defense was impressive as they forced 16 turnovers and 10 steals. Morton led with three steals, Tyler Phelion and Destany McLin both had two steals, and Destiny James, Leah Strain and Benson all recorded one steal.

Jacksonville State and Georgia Southern was in a tight game for most of the first half. Georgia Southern had a six-point lead with 13:24 in the first half. However, Georgia Southern would see the lead no more when Kelly Naughton hit a three-pointer to put the Gamecocks up two with 9:28 left in the first half. JSU would eventually pull away towards the end of the first half. Courtney Strain made a three-pointer to put the Gamecocks up 37-27 going into the half.

The second half was when JSU really pulled away. The Gamecocks went on an 11-0 run and then on another 16-2 run. The 16-2 run gave the Gamecocks their largest lead of the night at 30 with 2:21 left in the game. JSU eventually won by 26.

JSU women will have another home game on Dec. 5 where they will play Jackson State. The Gamecocks will be looking to keep their winning streak alive. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.

Marvel Robinson
Sports Editor