Fearing that they may lose their starting spot to a freshman, Loretha Massey's older teammates told her she was not to shoot under any circumstances.
When Loe Dunn (the former Loretha Massey) was asked to stop by the Daily Enterprise office after she got off work, she knew something was up. None of the thoughts that raced through her head that afternoon were even remotely close to the surprise in store for her.
As seniors at Delta High School in 1971, Dunn and Jess Corkern (Jess Sims at the time) helped the Lady Mustangs to a state runner-up finish. On the bus ride back from the Sweet 16 Tournament in Alexandria, Delta coach Mary Dale Scoggins informed Dunn and Corkern that they had made the All-State team. There was no fanfare. Neither player received anything to commemorate their accomplishments until recently.
Corkern's brother, George Sims, wanted to do something special for his sister's 60th birthday. Verifying that his sister had indeed made All-State (Sims was stationed overseas as a U.S. Marine and never saw Corkern play at Delta), he had plaques made up for both Corkern and Dunn. Sims, who now resides in Wyoming, had his daughters, Maggie and Jenny, deliver Dunn's plaque to the Enterprise.
Naturally, the much-appreciated gift sparked a flurry of memories for Dunn, who also earned All-State honors as a junior at Delta.
Dunn's high school career got off to a humble start. As a freshman at the old Union High, she started the season in a mismatched jersey.
"The upperclassmen wore red uniforms," Dunn recalled. "Three of us were in gray suits."
Aware of Dunn's talent, her older teammates wanted to make sure she continued wearing gray.
"The upperclassmen knew I could outplay them and didn't want a freshman showing them up," Dunn laughed. "All the seniors told me to never shoot the ball, so I never shot. One game, some of our starters fouled out and I was the last one left, so coach Geraldine Walker put me in the game. I was wide open and started toward the basket. Since the seniors had told me to never shoot, I just stopped. Coach called timeout and asked me why I stopped. I told her I stopped because the seniors had told me to never shoot. In front of the whole team, she said, 'If anybody tells you not to shoot again, they're off the team.'"
As it turned out, there was one red jersey left, after all. Dunn was soon issued No. 25.
"I wore a red top and gray bottoms the rest of the year," Dunn said.
A natural athlete, Dunn honed her skills by playing in boys' pickup games with her older brothers while growing up in Collinston. This was in an era when girls weren't normally welcome to join in boys' games.
"One day, the boys had an odd number of players and somebody said, 'We'll take Loe,'" Dunn said. "From then on, when they picked sides, it was 'We've got Loe,' instead of 'We'll take Loe.'"
Dunn played her first organized basketball at Collinston Central Elementary.
"We played Ridgeway, Morehouse, Johnson, Bonita and Carver, which was the newest elementary school at the time," Dunn said. "We were very competitive."
Upon receiving the green light to shoot, Dunn emerged as the team's primary scoring source at both Union and Delta.
"Payne Montgomery taught me to shoot a jump shot and how to go across the zone and play the post," Dunn said.
But it was Dunn's speed rather than her jump shot that led to her unappreciated nickname, which pops up occasionally to this day.
"Super Chicken, that was my nickname back then, and I hated it so badly," Dunn smiled. "We played a team in Arkansas and I was real fast. There was a cartoon called 'Super Chicken,' and the main character made a certain chicken noise.
"When I first moved back, coaches Ivory Smith, Billy Rabon and Payne Montgomery started calling me, 'Super.'"
Dunn was a junior when Louisiana's public schools were integrated in 1969-70. Students from the white high schools in eastern Morehouse Parish — Mer Rouge, Collinston and Oak Ridge — joined the black students at Union High (Bonita remained a separate high school at the time). Though accounts of the National Guard being called in to maintain order as schools were integrated throughout the south have been well-publicized, Dunn says no such problems were experienced at Delta.
"It was a wonderful time," Dunn said. "We shared and we cared. The teachers started preparing us for integration the year before. They told us we had to be nice (to the white students), which wasn't a problem because we were nice to each other anyway. I can't recall a single fight."
As she accepted her plaque, Dunn's thoughts drifted back to her former teammate and fellow All-State honoree.
"I have so many memories about Jess. She was our salutatorian and Dr. Tim Spires was our valedictorian," Dunn said. "Jess was a team player. Her parents (Hubert and Louise Sims) rooted for me as much as my dad (James Massey) rooted for me. Mrs. Sims was our biggest cheerleader. You could see her in the bleachers sitting in her certain spot as we made our way onto the court."
An all-around athlete, Dunn also excelled in track and played softball.
Upon graduating from Delta, Dunn enrolled at Northeast Louisiana University (now ULM) and briefly continued her hoops career at a time when women's sports were in the startup stage.
"I made NLU's first team in 1973," Dunn said. "Coach Betty Faught scouted me. We only played a couple of schools. There just wasn't a future in women's basketball at that time, so I went into business."
Dunn, however, has never lost her love for the game.
"I have always dreamed of coaching a team," Dunn said. "I would love to coach a team of high school girls."
Upon receiver her business administration degree with a minor in education, Dunn married and spent time in Texas and Germany.
Following the death of her father, Dunn returned to Morehouse Parish 34 years ago and has been employed at the same place ever since. During her tenure at the Bastrop vocational school, Dunn has served as a teacher, department chair and director. The vo-tech school is now a satellite campus of Louisiana Delta Community College.
In addition to her work at the school, Dunn and her brother, Osie Massey, operate Po Folks.
"It's a ministry," Dunn said. "We sell used furniture and household items. We don't want people to have to rent furniture."