Tag: Leah 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 takes down Murray State in overtime

JSU Sportswire
JSU Sportswire

The JSU women snapped their two-game conference losing streak by beating Murray State Saturday afternoon in front of the home crowd at Pete Mathews.

The win gave the Gamecocks an 11-5 overall record with a 2-2 conference record and left the Racers of Murray State with still no wins in the OVC. However, the win did not come easy for JSU as they were forced to fight in overtime for their 78-73 victory.

Murray State jumped out to the early lead as JSU would only have two lone points before they took an impressive 13-2 run and claimed the lead for themselves. Once JSU caught up to the Racers, the game would go back-and-forth between the two teams until the tie at 22 with 8:29 left in the half. After a missed three-pointer from MSU, the Gamecocks made a three-point shot on the arm of Gretchen Morrison. The shot put JSU up by three and prompted an 18-8 run by the Gamecocks over the last part of the half. They would go into the locker room with a 43-30 lead over the Racers.

The 43 points that were scored by the Gamecocks in the first half is the most in a half for Rick Pietri’s team.

Despite JSU’s success in the first half, the MSU Racers were not out for the count. They came out ready to fight the Gamecocks to the bitter end.

By the time nearly four minutes had dwindled off the second half clock, JSU had a 20-point lead and what seemed like the upper hand. But, MSU was not finished. After Leasia Wright made a three-pointer at 16:28, the Racers would go on an 18-2 run and cut Jacksonville State’s lead to one with 9:43 left in the game.

Another three minutes ticked away and JSU had managed to push their lead back out to 11 with a 67-56 score.

The Racers scored 11 unanswered to tie it up at 67 and send the game into overtime after the final two minutes dwindled down without another score.

The Gamecocks and the Racers would battle for the lead for the most of overtime before JSU grabbed a three point lead with 1:40 left. Briana Benson nailed two free-throws and successfully put JSU ahead by five with 17 seconds left. Despite attempts made by MSU, they could not score again and the Gamecocks would win 78-73.

Candace Morton shined in overtime as seven of the 11 JSU points that were scored belonged to her. Benson and Morrison had six three-pointers made between the two of them, while Leah Strain made both of the ones she took. Morton also led the team in scoring as she had 21 points on the night. Benson was next with 15 and Destany McLin had 12.

The Gamecocks will play Southeast Missouri next on Jan. 14 at Pete Mathews.

Rebekah Hawkins
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