LABC honors state’s best Saturday night

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Kenneth Lofton, Jr.
Kenneth Lofton, Jr. had a game-high 19 points and 13 rebounds in the win (Photo: Sadie Patton).

BATON ROUGE, LA — A national championship-winning coach, along with a former long-time sports information director, were the major honorees at Saturday’s 48th Annual Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches Awards Banquet.

Inducted into the Louisiana Basketball Hall of Fame was former Loyola University coach Jack Orsley.

The other major honoree was former Northwestern State University sports information director Doug Ireland, who received the LABC’s Mr. Louisiana Basketball award. This award is given annually to someone who has made a significant, long-term contribution to the game of basketball at any level in the State of Louisiana.

Also honored at the banquet were Louisiana’s major college, small college, junior college and high school basketball players and coaches of the year, along with the top pro player from the state.

Orsley coached Loyola from 1939 to 1949, winning 173 games and losing only 73, for an amazing 70.3% career winning percentage, which included seasons where his teams went 25-5, 22-11, 21-3, 21-9, 14-2 and 15-5.

But it was the 1945 and 1946 seasons in which Orsley secured himself coaching immortality. He led the Wolf Pack to two consecutive appearances in the Final Four of the NAIA National Tournament, including the 1945 national championship where it upset heavily-favored Pepperdine in the title game. Orsley passed away in 1996 at the age of 91 and will be inducted posthumously.

Ireland retired from Northwestern St. in 2019 after a distinguished 30-year career as the school’s sports information director. In that position, he coordinated publicity efforts for the Demons’ men’s basketball program and its 13 other intercollegiate sports teams through local, regional and national media outlets in print, broadcast, television and internet. He also served as a men’s basketball radio announcer for many years.

Ireland has been the chairman of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame since 1990, during which time he has helped to make Louisiana basketball a prominent part of that hall of fame. He also helped lead the efforts to build the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Museum in Natchitoches in 2013.

The LABC also presented the Pete Maravich Memorial Award, honoring Louisiana’s Major College Player of the Year, to sophomore forward Kenneth Lofton, Jr. of Louisiana Tech. This season Lofton was a first team All-Conference USA and NABC All-District selection and was named to the C-USA All-Tournament team. He averaged 16.5 points and 10.5 rebounds (1st in C-USA and 10th in the nation), which included 17 double-double games (also 1st in C-USA and 10th in the nation). His single game highs were 36 points, 18 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals and 4 blocked shots.

Coach Eric Konkol of Louisiana Tech received the Tommy Joe Eagles Memorial Award as Louisiana’s Major College Coach of the Year. He led the Bulldogs to a third place finish in the West Division of Conference USA and to the finals of the C-USA Tournament with a 24-10 record. This is the third straight year that Konkol has received this award.

The Bob Pettit Award, which is given to Louisiana’s Professional Player of the Year, was presented to guard Cam Thomas of the Brooklyn Nets. In his rookie year in the NBA, the former LSU star averaged 8.5 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists and had an 82.9% free throw percentage. He scored 20 or more points in 10 games and had single game highs of 30 points, 8 rebounds, 4 three-point field goals made and 4 assists.

Senior guard-forward Zach Wrightsil of Loyola received the Louisiana Small College Player of the Year award after being named the NAIA National Player of the Year. He was also the Southern States Athletic Conference Player of the Year and was named to the NAIA and SSAC All-Tournament teams, while averaging an SSAC-leading 18.7 points and 8.8 rebounds and shooting 62.0% from the field.

Coach Stacy Hollowell of Loyola, who was named the Louisiana Small College Coach of the Year, directed the Wolf Pack to the Southern States Athletic Conference regular season and tournament championships and to the NAIA national championship with a 37-1 record. This was Loyola’s first national title since 1945 and Louisiana’s first men’s collegiate national championship in 61 years. Hollowell also earned national and conference coach of the year honors.

Isaiah Payne and Coach Byron Starks of LSU-Eunice were honored as the Louisiana Junior College Player and Coach of the Year, respectively. Payne, a sophomore guard, averaged 17.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists and was the Louisiana Community College Athletic Conference Player of the Year and a NJCAA All-Region 23 selection. Starks led LSU-Eunice to the LCCAC championship and to its first semifinal appearance in the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament with a 19-7 record, while earning LCCAC Coach of the Year honors.

2022 LABC Honorees:

Louisiana Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee: Jack Orsley, Loyola

Mr. Louisiana Basketball: Doug Ireland, Northwestern St.

Bob Pettit Award for the Louisiana Professional Player of the Year: Cam Thomas, Brooklyn Nets

Pete Maravich Memorial Award for the Louisiana Major College Player of the Year: Kenneth Lofton, Jr., Louisiana Tech

Tommy Joe Eagles Memorial Award for the Louisiana Major College Coach of the Year: Eric Konkol, Louisiana Tech

Louisiana Small College Player of the Year: Zach Wrightsil, Loyola

Louisiana Small College Coach of the Year: Stacy Hollowell, Loyola

Louisiana Junior College Player of the Year: Isaiah Payne, LSU-Eunice

Louisiana Junior College Coach of the Year: Byron Starks, LSU-Eunice

Louisiana High School Players of the Year:
Class AAAAA: Jalen Bolden, Zachary
Class AAAA: Solomon Washington, Carver
Class AAA: Percy Daniels, Madison Prep
Class AA: Chris Lockett, Newman
Class A: La’Bree Williams, Jr., Calvary Baptist
Class B: Jordan Crawford, Simsboro
Class C: John-Paul Ricks, Jehovah-Jireh

Louisiana High School Coaches of the Year:
Class AAAAA: Josh Carlin, Northshore
Class AAAA: Mack Jones, Huntington
Class AAA: Errol Gauff, Hannan
Class AA: Dimario Jackson, Port Allen
Class A: Harold Boudreaux, Southern Lab
Class B: Micah Rasberry, Lacassine
Class C: Isaac Fontenot-Amedee, Family Christian

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