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(West Plains) – Area basketball fans took one last look at some of their favorite senior high school players Saturday afternoon, April 19, at the Grizzly All-Star Classic at the West Plains Civic Center arena.
Hosted by the Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball program, the annual event gives these student athletes an opportunity to display their skills on the court one more time.
“We were thrilled for the opportunity to honor these seniors one last time as members of their high school basketball teams,” Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker said. “Without a doubt, we had two competitive games. The girls’ game was close with a minute left before the girls Dark Team spread the lead just out of reach. The boys’ game was very exciting, with the Dark Team coming back to tie the game and then win convincingly in overtime.”
In the girls game, the Dark Team defeated the Light Team 68-57. Scoring for the Dark Team, coached by Doyne Byrd of Bakersfield, were Sarah Cook, Seymour, 18 points; Betsy Minkler, Bakersfield, 12; Brianna Walters, Koshkonong, and Sam Kuk, Bakersfield, each with 10; and Taylor Emberton of Couch, Alicia Bland of Bunker, and Jessica Storm of Licking, each with 6. Kody Smith, Bakersfield, also was a member of the team
Scoring for the girls Light Team, coached by Norman Hollis of Alton, were Alex Mills, Alton, 19 points; Lakin McDaris, Hartville, 13; Shelby Acklin, West Plains, 8; Sydney Cremer, Houston, 7; Brianna Strain, Gainesville, 3; Kianna Frieze, Alton, 2; and Chandra Hollis, Alton, 1. Jordyn Edwards, Alton, also was a member of the team.
In the boys game, the Dark Team tied the contest at 117 at the end of regulation before pulling away to a 137-124 victory in overtime. Scoring for the Dark Team, coached by Pat Rapert, Gainesville, Darrien Dickey, Iberia, 31 points (8 in overtime); Seth Hensley, Hartville, 24; Hunter Simmons, Hartville, 22; James Denton, Mtn. View-Birch Tree Liberty, 15; Harley Taylor, Gainesville, 14; Zach Voss, Gainesville, 8; Jacob Womack, West Plains, and Eric Honeycutt, Alton, each with 5; and Josh Foster, Couch, 4.
Scoring for the Light Team, coached by Matt Pitts, Thayer, were Shade Piper, Hartville, 39 points; Justin Washington, Crane, 30; Levi Hargrove, Thayer, and Chris Lewis, Norfork, Ark., each with 16; Kyndal Smith, Salem, Ark., 9; Chad Sturdefant, Seymour, 4; and Austin Mays, Winona, 3. Jacob Foley, Thayer, and Cody Whitaker, Salem, Mo., also were members of the team.
Sarah Cook of Seymour and Darrien Dickey of Iberia were named MVPs of their respective games.
The event also included a slam dunk contest for the boys and a 3-point shooting contest for both boys and girls. Alicia Bland, Bunker, and Seth Hensley, Hartville, took home the 3-point shooting contest trophies, and Dickey won the slam dunk contest. Walker pointed out Hensley hit the 3-pointer for the Dark Team that sent the boys game into overtime. He also offered his congratulations to each for their respective individual honors.
“The neatest thing about this year’s event was that I saw several of our all-star game alumni in the stands watching,” Walker said.
Walker said organizers of the all-star games would like to thank the sponsors from each of the players’ communities that supported their respective players, as well as the event’s corporate sponsors, Screen Shots Printing and Design, Rebecca Simmons Photography, Colton’s Steak House and Grill, and the West Plains Civic Center.
“We had a great crowd, and that is very fitting. It is admirable how our local communities support their athletes,” Walker said. “I also want to thank our sponsors. I received several thank yous for continuing to host these games, but we couldn’t do it without the support of our sponsors.”
(Washington) (AP) – Albert Pujols smiled as he explained why he felt the need to apologize to his wife for hitting homer No. 500 so quickly after No. 499.
She had planned to be there in person once he got within one of the milestone.
He didn’t give her the chance.
Pujols became the first major leaguer to get his 499th and 500th homers in the same game, connecting twice Tuesday night and driving in five runs in the Los Angeles Angels’ 7-2 victory over the Washington Nationals. He’s the 26th player in big league history to reach 500.
“I went and made a phone call and I called her, and she was doing her nails. And everybody in the salon, I guess, was telling her, `Congratulations!’ And she was like, `Did you just hit your 500th?’ I was like, `I’m sorry,’” Pujols said with a laugh.
“She would have loved to be here with my kids and my family. She drives me every day to try to be a better person, a better player,” he added. “I would have loved to share this moment with her here.”
Hitting like the Pujols of old, the three-time NL MVP delivered a three-run homer in the first inning and two-run drive in the fifth, both off Taylor Jordan (0-3).
“I knew this year, it was going to happen, whether it was tonight, tomorrow, two months from now,” Pujols said.
He also hit his 400th homer at Nationals Park.
“I admire his ability and the way he goes about playing the game, and I have for some time,” said Washington manager Matt Williams, who played against Pujols. “I just wish he’d do it against somebody else.”
About three months past his 34th birthday, Pujols is the third-youngest to get to 500; Alex Rodriguez and Jimmie Foxx were 32.
Pujols has eight homers in the past 13 games and leads the Angels with 19 RBIs.
“That’s the Albert I’m used to seeing,” Angels outfielder Mike Trout said.
The 500th homer went to left-center field on an 89 mph pitch with the count at 1-2. The ball was grabbed – and later given to Pujols – by a man who identified himself as Thomas Sherrill, a 29-year-old Air Force staff sergeant from Pomona, Calif.
“That pitch was supposed to be low and away,” Jordan said, “and I guess I tried too hard to get it there.”
Pujols clapped his white batting gloves together a few strides before reaching home, then pointed both index fingers to the sky. Fans gave Pujols a partial standing ovation, and he tipped his red batting helmet as he approached the dugout. After heading down the steps, he came back out for a curtain call.
“That’s something you tell your kids when you get older. I don’t know the next guy who’s going to hit 500,” said Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs (2-0). “Nobody knows how to react. You don’t see it too much.”
Teammates said Pujols told shortstop Erick Aybar before the game he was going to hit two homers.
“Albert’s Albert. If he tells you something, he’s going to do it,” Trout said. “I’m not surprised he said that, because I’ve seen it before.”
After a couple of down-for-him years with the Angels following 11 transcendent seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Pujols appears ready to reclaim his spot among the game’s elite hitters. He homered Friday and Saturday at Detroit to lift his total to 498, and now he’s reached the round number of 500 – a total that remains hallowed despite losing luster lately because so many players surpassed it.
Of the 26 members of the 500-homer club, 11 reached the mark in the last 15 years, according to STATS. Gary Sheffield was the previous player to do it, hitting No. 500 in April 2009.
“You don’t see 500, obviously, every night,” Pujols said. “It’s been a great career.”
The Cardinals selected him in the 13th round of the 1999 draft, and Pujols won a batting title in 2003, NL MVP awards in 2005, 2008 and 2009, and World Series titles with the Cardinals in 2006 and 2011. Pujols was the first player to hit 30 homers in each of his first 12 seasons and the second – after Al Simmons in 1924-34 – to reach 100 RBIs in each of his first 10.
A nine-time All-Star, Pujols hit 455 homers with the Cardinals.
“I’m so excited for him. He’s a great friend of mine and a great teammate of mine over the years,” Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright said. “Nobody deserves it more than he does, `cause he works so hard.”
After his decade-plus of excellence in St. Louis, Pujols signed a 10-year deal worth $240 million with the Angels following the 2011 season. Almost immediately, the 6-foot-3 slugger appeared to be slowing down. He hit .285 with 30 homers in 2012 – impressive numbers for most players, but career lows at that point for Pujols.
Things got worse in 2013. Injuries limited Pujols to 99 games and he hit .258 with 17 homers and 64 RBIs.
But not surprisingly, Pujols’ bat did not stay quiet for long.
Sitting at a news conference with the balls he hit over the fence Tuesday resting near his left elbow, Pujols smiled as he said: “Now we’ve got to start on the next milestone, I guess.”
(Chicago) (AP) – Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs, marks the 100th anniversary of its first game on Wednesday with a matchup against Arizona. The ballpark that opened as Weeghman Park on April 23, 1914, has hosted millions of fans and been the scene of some of baseball’s most indelible moments. Some stars who graced its friendly confines offer their memories:
Mike Ditka has a question.
“Can you name another championship that was won there?” he asked.
Well, an iconic Chicago franchise won its share at Wrigley Field, and it’s the one that Ditka played for and coached.
The last time a team won a major title at Wrigley Field, Ditka was a star tight end and the 1963 Bears knocked off Y.A. Tittle and the New York Giants 14-10 in the NFL championship game.
“Papa Bear” George Halas was the man in charge. Hall of Famer Bill George led the defense back then. And in that final game, Ed O’Bradovich set up the go-ahead touchdown with an interception and Richie Petitbon sealed it with a pick in the end zone in the closing seconds. That gave Chicago its eighth and final title under Halas.
The Bears also won NFL championship games at Wrigley in 1933, 1941, 1943, and Ditka was the head coach when the 1985 team won it all, with Walter Payton, Jim McMahon and that dominating defense. The team was long gone from the old ballpark by then, having moved to Soldier Field in 1971. But Ditka has fond memories of the old home, quirks and all.
“It was a great place,” he said. “The fans were close to you. They did a great job with it. It was what it was. It was a baseball stadium. It was fine. The accommodations in those days, the locker rooms, everything in those days was fine. There was not a problem with it.”
It was just, well, different. The gridiron was wedged in a north-south direction from left field toward home plate with no room to spare.
The south end zone was cut off in one corner by the visitor’s dugout, which was filled with pads for safety, and was only 8 yards deep instead of the regulation 10. One corner of the north end zone came almost right up against the left-field wall, another hazard for the players.
The locker room was hardly spacious for a baseball club let alone a football team. In that sense little has changed at Wrigley, although newer clubhouses have been constructed since the Bears moved out.
“We had 40-some players at that time so it wasn’t quite as hard – and five coaches,” Ditka said. “It wasn’t like you had a staff of 20.”
There’s something comforting to Mike Veeck every time he goes to a baseball game in Chicago, whether it’s on the North Side or South Side.
He feels a connection to his past, to his dad and grandfather.
“To be able to sit in the bleachers where your dad did something and where relationships that lasted more than a lifetime where forged, it’s quite a feeling,” Veeck said.
The Veeck family has strong ties on both sides of town, with his dad, Bill Veeck Jr., having owned the White Sox on two occasions after working for the Cubs, and his grandfather having served as president of the National League club.
As Wrigley Field turns 100, it’s worth noting that the Veecks played big roles along with the Wrigleys in shaping the way the game was marketed and presented. Whether it was cleaning up the ballpark and creating a more family-friendly atmosphere or embracing the idea of broadcasting games on radio, they helped transform the fan experience.
Then there’s the ivy. That was Bill Veeck Jr.’s idea.
He had it planted at the base of the new brick outfield walls in 1937, the same year the Cubs replaced the ground-level bleachers with elevated brick bleachers and installed the famed scoreboard above them.
“He worked for the Wrigley family, and there wasn’t much that he and the Wrigleys could agree on after my grandfather died,” Mike Veeck said. “The one thing they could really agree on was the horticultural display that now is arguably one of the most famous.”
P.K. Wrigley “loved the vines, supported it, and Dad got a chance to install the scoreboard.”
Bill Veeck Jr. went on to own the Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Browns in addition to the White Sox, and Mike Veeck went to work for his father on the South Side in the 1970s.
“One of the things that’s been so magical all these years is beautiful Wrigley Field,” Veeck said. “When I was with the White Sox in the late `70s, we never worried about marketing vs. the Cubs. Actually, we were back then outdrawing them. But what did always worry us was beautiful Wrigley Field even though Comiskey was older, built in 1910.”
The White Sox left Comiskey following the 1990 season. Wrigley, however, remains.
“Wrigley spent a great deal of money on that ballpark,” said Mike Veeck, a minor league team owner and executive. “Comiskey fell into disrepair many times, and that didn’t happen, Wrigley knew what he had. They understood it’s just a comfortable bandbox to watch a ballgame.”
Even so, he wants to make a few things clear.
He only goes to Cubs games when his friend and business partner Bill Murray drags him. Mike Veeck is a White Sox fan, and he jokes his memories of Wrigley Field “aren’t so warm and fuzzy.”
One other thing. Harry Caray leading the fans in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch? That started at Comiskey Park – not Wrigley Field – in the 1970s with Bill Veeck Jr.’s encouragement.
“Ninety-seven percent of people interested in revisionist history because of the super channel (WGN), and because of Harry’s larger-than-life personality, think that (it) started on the North Side, which of course it didn’t,” Mike Veeck said. “It started at Comiskey. Sometimes revisionist history works in your favor.”
Steve Stone has memories of Wrigley Field, both as a pitcher who played there for and against the Cubs, and as a broadcaster, sitting in the booth next to Caray for years and later next to Caray’s grandson, Chip.
He learned about the wind the hard way, watching helplessly as batter after batter sent his pitches over the fence. “I once gave up five homers in 2 1-3 innings,” he said.
A student of the game, Stone knew the record was six homers, so when manager Jim Marshall came to take him out, he joked that since it was only the third inning he knew that if he stayed in the game he could shatter the record. Marshall had seen enough and lifted Stone.
As a broadcaster, he saw firsthand what a huge Cubs fan the elder Caray was when, upon his return to the booth after suffering a stroke in 1987, Caray got a call from President Ronald Reagan while he was on the air.
Just as Reagan launched into a story about his wife, Nancy, and her connection to Chicago, Caray cut him off to say that Bobby Dernier had just hit a bunt single. Then, said Stone, “He hung up the phone. Because of a bunt single by Bobby Dernier.”
For Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, the most important event at Wrigley Field did not occur between the foul lines. It happened in the center field bleachers.
Ricketts and his siblings were at a game against the Braves in July 1991 when his life changed forever. He met his wife, Cecelia.
“All my siblings were with me,” he said. “We used to hang out there all the time. We were just making small talk, and we were talking about Omaha, where I grew up. And my wife was with all of her friends from Creighton, which is in Omaha, where she went to college. We just kind of started talking. Twenty years and five kids later …”
So when Ricketts talks about the connection fans have to the ballpark, he speaks from personal experience. He lived across the street in an apartment at the corner of Addison and Sheffield with his brother Peter.
His bond with the Cubs really started to take hold as a freshman at the University of Chicago in 1984, when the team ended a playoff drought that dated to 1945 and launched a legion of bleacher bums who made Wrigley the place to be. A quarter of a century later, the Ricketts family purchased controlling interest of the team from the Tribune Co.
“All the years we hung out as single guys in the bleachers, those were great years,” Ricketts said. “I think just walking about and talking to people and just knowing how much the ballpark means to them, it’s really special. Everybody has a story. I think it’s just a unique place with unique memories.”
Ryne Sandberg took a seat in the visitors’ dugout at Wrigley Field, and that was a little odd. But just a little.
“This is a home for me,” he said.
The Hall of Famer was back at Wrigley for the Cubs’ home opener this year, managing the visiting Philadelphia Phillies and reliving a flood of memories.
He thought back to the playoff run in 1984, to the charged atmosphere that developed around the ballpark. And, yes, he recalled the game that put him in the spotlight. Cubs fans simply refer to it as “The Sandberg game.”
Chicago beat St. Louis 12-11 in 11 innings on June 23, 1984, and what Sandberg did was nothing short of eye-popping. He had five hits and drove in seven runs, crushing tying home runs against Bruce Sutter in the ninth and 10th innings.
“That was a special game for sure, for the team and for me personally as far as taking my game to a different level and changing my expectations of myself as a player with power,” Sandberg said. “(Manager) Jim Frey talking to me that spring training about driving the ball and hitting a home run every now and then and adding power to my game. That game really told me that I could do that. It was really a different mindset that game gave me, and it was something I wanted to live up to the rest of that year, which led to the MVP and also brought new standards for me each and every year.”
He won the NL MVP award with a .314 average and 19 homers after hitting just eight the previous season. He made the first of 10 All-Star teams and won the second of nine gold gloves.
From the historic to the strange, Billy Williams saw it all at Wrigley Field during his Hall of Fame career.
“The ballpark’s 100 years old; a lot of stuff has happened,” he said.
He thinks back to 1969, when the Cubs looked like they were on their way and maybe in position to end their championship drought, only to get caught down the stretch by the New York Mets.
He recalls Willie Smith kicking off that season with a game-winning homer against Philadelphia in the 11th inning at Wrigley. He mentions Ken Holtzman tossing a no-hitter against Atlanta that August, a gem that got preserved when a gust of wind knocked down what looked like a home run by Hank Aaron in the seventh. Williams made the catch against the ivy in left.
About that ivy …
“Some of the strangest things have happened with the vines,” he said, whether it was balls getting stuck or Jose Cardenal hiding stuff in them.
Williams remembers Cardenal, the right fielder, hiding balls in the ivy during batting practice. During games, Cardenal would on occasion pull one of them out and throw it back to the infield.
What stands out most to Williams is how Wrigley – and Boston’s Fenway Park – have stood the test of time.
“A lot of stuff has happened here,” he said. “The history has stayed here. That’s what I like about it. That’s why we’re celebrating the 100th anniversary.”
Ernie Banks remembers it was a scorching day in 1967 at Wrigley Field. He walked into the clubhouse and saw a bunch of teammates dreading the heat when he delivered three famous words.
“Let’s play two!” he bellowed.
The way Banks recalls it, everyone in the room thought he’d lost his mind.
“Everybody was there – all the players, the writers,” he said. “I said, `Boy, it’s a beautiful day! Let’s play two!’ And they all looked at me, `This guy’s crazy. It’s 90, 100 degrees out there. He’s talking about playing two games.’ That kind of stayed with me.”
Kind of stayed with him? That’s kind of an understatement.
It’s a statement that came to define Banks and his enthusiasm for the game. And for Wrigley: Banks wanted to live at the ballpark.
Bob Lewis, the club’s traveling secretary, lived in an apartment near the home players’ entrance along the left-field side that now houses the stadium’s catering operation. Banks wanted to stay there. Instead, he lived in an apartment elsewhere.
“It was a place that I didn’t want to leave,” Banks said.
(Los Angeles) (AP) – After Patrick Marleau’s fourth career playoff overtime goal silenced Staples Center for maybe the next-to-last time this season, the veteran San Jose Sharks forward attributed his knack for postseason heroics to one simple trait.
“Well, you just try to shoot it on net,” Marleau said. “This one was not a hard shot by any means, but you just get it to the net.”
That’s how good things happen for Marleau and the Sharks, who weathered the Los Angeles Kings’ best game of the series and emerged on the brink of advancement.
Marleau scored 6:20 into overtime, and the Sharks beat the Kings 4-3 on Tuesday night to take a 3-0 first-round series lead.
Rookie Tomas Hertl tied it with 10:43 left in regulation for the Sharks, who had to grind out a nail-biting victory after two blowout wins in San Jose. But the Sharks have won five straight overtime playoff games and 10 of their past 11, with Marleau repeatedly delivering the decisive blow.
“For Patty Marleau to come up with that goal, it’s just huge for us,” captain Joe Thornton said. “It was just going back and forth.”
The Kings largely controlled overtime until Marleau’s shot banked off Kings defenseman Slava Voynov’s stick on its way past Jonathan Quick, who made 36 saves in his third straight loss. Marleau’s goal was his third of the series.
“They had the bat in their hands, and they were going to swing it,” San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. “They had us on our heels, but sometimes it goes that way. We will take that break.”
Matt Nieto got his first career playoff goal for the Sharks, and Brent Burns also scored. Antti Niemi stopped 28 shots for San Jose, winning three straight in the matchup of Stanley Cup-winning goalies.
Game 4 is Thursday in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles has slipped to the brink of first-round elimination just two years after its Stanley Cup title run. The Kings were the NHL’s best defensive team during the regular season, but they’ve allowed 17 goals in the first three games of this series.
Only three teams have ever rallied to win a best-of-seven NHL playoff series after trailing 0-3.
“It was a better effort,” said leading scorer Anze Kopitar, who doesn’t have a goal in the series. “We had some chances, but it wasn’t enough. We’re going to have to come back in a couple of days and throw everything at them.”
Jeff Carter tipped in a tiebreaking goal for Los Angeles on a power play early in the third period, but Hertl evened it right after a power play expired. San Jose dominated the third, but Quick made 23 saves to send the Kings into their first overtime playoff game at home in three years.
Marian Gaborik scored and Jarret Stoll ended his 29-game playoff goal drought for the Kings, who stumbled back home after opening the series with two disastrous games at the Shark Tank.
The Kings’ nervous fans got quiet early on when Burns partly whiffed on a wrist shot and produced a knuckling puck that sailed past Quick just 10 seconds into a Sharks power play.
Stoll evened it with his first playoff goal in two years early in the second period. Stoll hadn’t found the net in the postseason since his series-clinching overtime goal against Vancouver in 2012.
Gaborik then put the Kings ahead all by himself, lugging the puck from the opposite blue line and beating Niemi with a vicious backhand.
“I think our better players were better,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “That was noticeable. That will give us a chance next game.”
San Jose evened it 1:18 later when Nieto, from nearby Long Beach, scored into an open net. Quick had been knocked to the ice by Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr moments earlier.
Carter capitalized in the waning seconds of a power play by tipping Anze Kopitar’s shot in front for his first playoff score since Game 2 of last season’s Western Conference finals, ending a personal 393:34 drought.
Hertl converted his own rebound midway through the period to even it again, scoring on the rink where a knee-on-knee hit from Dustin Brown sidelined the Czech rookie for 45 games earlier this season.
(Chicago) (AP) – This one looked like it was slipping away from the Washington Wizards. Then, in a flash everything changed.
Bradley Beal came on strong late in regulation to finish with 26 points, Nene scored six of his 17 points in overtime and the Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls 101-99 Tuesday to take a 2-0 lead in their first-round series. Game 3 is Friday at Washington.
“We’ve got to come out like we’re down 0-1 or 0-2,” said Beal, who scored 11 in the fourth quarter. “We’ve got to have that sense of urgency and just that drive and that motivation like we did early. We’ve got to be able to maintain that lead. We’ve got to continue to stay poised.”
The Wizards couldn’t maintain a 17-point first-quarter lead and had to rally from 10 down in the fourth.
Nene scored the first six points in overtime after being held in check by Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah in regulation, and the Wizards hung on after Kirk Hinrich failed to convert at the foul line in the closing seconds of overtime.
Noah had just hit two free throws when Beal missed a jumper with 18 seconds left. Jimmy Butler got the rebound and Chicago called time.
Hinrich, a 76 percent free throw shooter this season, had a chance to tie it after getting fouled by Nene on a drive with 2.4 seconds left. But his first attempt hit the rim. He deliberately missed the second, and Trevor Ariza grabbed the rebound to seal the win for Washington.
“I went up there thinking I was going to knock them down,” Hinrich said. “Tonight, I just couldn’t do it. However, I really felt that I should’ve made the layup.”
D.J. Augustin led Chicago with 25 points but cooled off late in the game with Ariza guarding him. Taj Gibson had 22 points and 10 rebounds. Noah added 20 points and 12 boards, but the Bulls find themselves in a huge hole after dropping two at home.
They blew a 13-point lead in Game 1 and couldn’t hang on after rallying in this one. Both times, they struggled in the fourth quarter, and coach Tom Thibodeau bristled when asked if he might switch up his late-game rotation.
“We look at everything,” he said. “Unreal.”
John Wall had 16 points and seven assists for Washington.
The Bulls appeared to be in good shape when they were leading 87-77 five minutes into the fourth. They were still leading, 91-85, when Beal shot the Wizards back into the game.
He nailed a 3-pointer that made it 91-88 and added a floater to make it a one-point game. Then, with a chance to put Washington ahead, he hit 1 of 2 free throws with 52.9 seconds left to tie it at 91.
Both teams had opportunities to win it in the closing seconds but couldn’t convert.
“I think we did a great job staying calm and composed,” Wall said. “Early in the season, we would get rattled and guys would try to make plays one on one on their own. Tonight, we trusted in our offense like we’ve been doing.”
The Bulls were leading 87-77 after a driving layup by Noah and two free throws by Butler with 6:59 left regulation. But with Beal going off, the Wizards made a run.
“I can’t take a lot of credit for the fourth quarter,” said Beal, who scored 11 in the fourth after quiet second and third quarters. “I think we got a lot of offensive rebounds and kickouts, and John hit me on a couple. I was fortunate to be able to knock down some, and I just stayed with it.
Jenrry Mejia pitched four-hit ball into the seventh inning, David Wright delivered another key hit and the New York Mets blanked St. Louis 2-0 Monday night.
Lyons (0-1) lost in his first major league game of the season. Promoted from Triple-A Memphis earlier in the day to take the rotation spot of injured Joe Kelly, he allowed two runs and six hits in six innings.
“There were good things, there were things definitely to build on,” Lyons said. “Just got to eliminate some of those other miscues.”
A 26-year-old lefty with a big-breaking slider, Lyons struck out seven. He’s another in the long line of tall, homegrown pitchers developed by the Cardinals, and went 2-4 last year in his first big league season.
Lyons struck out the first two batters in the third before Eric Young Jr. singled for the Mets’ first hit. Slumping Curtis Granderson was hit by a pitch and Wright singled for a 1-0 lead.
Lyons’ throwing error on a tapper set up another run in the sixth. Daniel Murphy walked, later stole third and scored on a single by Travis d’Arnaud.
“Overall it was OK, but it was tougher to swallow when you do couple those things where you kind of beat yourself,” he said.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny liked what he saw from Lyons.
“He did a nice job and got into a tough spot there and had to work himself out,” he said.
“The non-plays, the free bases, they get us. That’s all there is to it. When we’re not hitting, they really glare,” he said.
Wright lined an early RBI single that extended his hitting streak to 12 games and Kyle Farnsworth earned his first save as the New York’s newest closer.
On an evening when the Mets debuted new camouflage tops to salute the military, they looked sharp. The Cardinals lost for the third time in four games, and have been shut out three times this season.
Mejia (3-0) bounced back well from a torn blister on his right middle finger that limited him to five innings in his last start. The 24-year-old righty began the game by getting Matt Carpenter to look at three straight strikes, and rarely was in trouble.
Mejia struck out seven in 6 2-3 innings and walked three. Scott Rice and Carlos Torres each got two outs before Farnsworth entered.
Mejia escaped his biggest jam in the sixth when, with runners at the corners and one out, he retired Matt Holliday on a popup and Matt Adams on a grounder.
The previous inning, the Mets backed Mejia with a sweet double play. Shortstop Ruben Tejada dived to stop Jon Jay’s grounder up the middle and flipped to Murphy, and the second baseman made a barehanded catch and spun quickly for the relay.
The Chicago Blackhawks needed a rebound game from their goaltender, and he delivered in a big way.
Crawford made 34 saves in his third career postseason shutout, and the Blackhawks got back into their playoff series with the St. Louis Blues with a 2-0 victory in Game 3 on Monday night.
“I’m just going shot by shot,” Crawford said. “It’s all I could do the whole game was worry about the next one and focus on the next shot and stop that. I don’t want anything else going through my mind through that hockey game.”
Jonathan Toews and Marcus Kruger scored as the defending Stanley Cup champions bounced back after a pair of overtime losses in St. Louis. Toews’ 21st postseason goal was only the second score by a Blackhawks forward in the series.
“Three games in a row. It’s been a very intense series and extremely close,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.
Ryan Miller shook off another slow start and finished with 23 saves, but Toews’ shot at 4:10 of the first went through the goaltender’s legs and was the only score for most of the game.
“It’s not a good goal. We’ll leave it at that,” Miller said.
It was quite a turnaround for Crawford, who was upset with his play after Saturday’s 4-3 loss. Barret Jackman’s winning goal in Game 2 went through Crawford, prompting the goaltender to say he had to play better for Chicago to win.
Quenneville met with Crawford on Sunday, and he responded with one of the best games of his career.
“We have a lot of one-on-one meetings throughout the season, but we get ramped up at playoff time,” said Quenneville, a former NHL defenseman. “I generally stay away from the goalies. We chatted. Basically I was commending him on accepting that responsibility (for the loss).”
Crawford drew chants of “Co-rey! Co-rey from the capacity crowd at the United Center. He was helped by a sound performance by Duncan Keith and Chicago’s defensemen, who stepped up without the suspended Brent Seabrook.
The Blackhawks killed three St. Louis power plays, while the Blues’ penalty-kill unit went 4 for 4, including a 5-on-3 disadvantage in the second.
“We knew this was going to be a long series, but we really played hard, we really played well,” St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We did a lot of the things we needed to do to win the hockey game, but you’ve got to give their goaler credit. He was good, especially late.”
The Blues, who scored tying goals late in regulation in each of the first two games, pulled Miller with 57 seconds left, but the Blackhawks held on. Kruger stuffed home an empty-netter in the final seconds.
Game 4 is Wednesday night.
Each team was without a key contributor after Seabrook wiped out Blues center David Backes with a big hit in Game 2. The five-minute major and game misconduct penalty for Seabrook led to Vladimir Tarasenko’s tying power-play goal with 6.4 seconds left.
Seabrook was suspended for three games by the NHL, putting Sheldon Brookbank in the lineup for the first time in the series. Playing with Keith, Brookbank turned in a solid performance in his 19th career playoff game.
While Backes was out with an upper-body injury, center Patrik Berglund returned for the Blues after missing three games. Berglund, who had 14 goals and 18 assists this season, skated behind the net for a nice wraparound opportunity in the first period, but was turned away by Chicago defenseman Nick Leddy.
Seabrook’s hit on Backes, and at least one knee-on-knee blow by Bryan Bickell, increased the tension between Central Division rivals. But Game 3 was surprisingly civil, with each team wary of another penalty that could swing the series. There was a lot of chirping from each side, and that was about it.
Looking for a spark, Quenneville put Toews, Patrick Kane and Bickell on the same line for the start of Game 3. The trio had a lot of success in the Blackhawks’ run to the title last year.
The move worked.
Toews connected from the top of the left point in the first, beating Miller with a shot that took an unusual bounce. Bickell also created a couple of quality chances with some slick passing.
“If that’s how it’s going to go in, then we’re doing a good job of taking care of the clean chances and the easier ones for them,” said Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who was right in front of Toews on the goal. “We just have to keep going.”
He is Ngor Barnaba, a 6-foot, 9-inch, 230-pound forward from John Marshall High School in Rochester, Minn.
“Ngor has a great future ahead of him,” Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker said. “He is very skilled for his size, and he uses his body very well on both ends of the floor. In addition to being very hard to score on, he has a nice touch from 15 feet and from the block.”
Barnaba averaged 11.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.6 steals per game and was a three-time varsity letter winner at John Marshall. He also was a two-time all-conference honoree and helped lead his team to the Minnesota Class AAAA Academic Championship. The team also won an award for having the highest grade point average in the state.
Barnaba said he chose Missouri State-West Plains because of the relationship he developed with Assistant Coach Bryan Bender during the recruiting process and West Plains’ hometown feel, which is similar to Rochester. “The people in the community that I met and the players and staff were all very nice, and I really liked the gym,” he said, referring to the Grizzlies’ home court in the West Plains Civic Center arena. “I’m excited to play in front of everyone in the community.”
Grizzly fans will see “a high energy guy who can score the ball and stretch the floor” in Barnaba next season, he said. “I am an inside/outside player who also can block shots and rebound,” he added. “As a player my goal is to bring it every day and play well, and as part of the team, my goal is to help make it to the national tournament and win a championship.”
“It’s a great thing to see our coaches and players build strong relationships during the recruiting process and then have it culminate with a young man deciding that our program and our institution is what is best for his future,” Walker said.
Barnaba said he would like to thank all of his coaches through the years, including high school coach Kirk Thompson and AAU coaches Ben Davis and Clinton Dixon. Barnaba also thanked all of the college coaches who showed interest in him and recruited him the past two years.
For more information about the Grizzly Basketball team, including complete statistics from the games, visit wp.missouristate.edu/grizzly/bb/.
(Boston) (AP) – With security tight along the 26.2-mile course, nearly 36,000 runners set out from the Boston Marathon starting line Monday in a “Boston Strong” show of resilience a year after the bombing that turned the race into a scene of carnage.
To the delight of many in the crowd, an American won the men’s division for the first time in more than three decades, dominating a field that included many athletes who were prevented from finishing last year.
“I showed up, I’m back, and I am going to finish what I didn’t finish last year,” said Mary Cunningham, 50, of St. Petersburg, Fla., who was stopped a mile short of the finish line by the explosions on April 15, 2013.
The two pressure-cooker bombs that went off near the finish line killed three people and wounded more than 260 in a hellish spectacle of torn limbs, smoke and broken glass.
Police were deployed in force along the route, with helicopters circling above and bomb-sniffing dogs checking through trash cans. Officers were posted on roofs.
Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray said it had been a long and difficult year.
“We’re taking back our race,” he said. “We’re taking back the finish line.”
A total of 35,755 athletes were registered to run – the second-largest field in its history, with many coming to show support for the event and the city that was traumatized by the attack on its signature sporting event.
“I can’t imagine the number of emotions that are going to be there,” said Katie O’Donnell, a doctor at Children’s Hospital who was stopped less than a mile from the end last year. “I think I’m going to start crying at the starting line, and I’m not sure I’ll stop until I cross the finish line.”
Buses bearing the message “Boston Strong” dropped off runners at the starting line in the town of Hopkinton. A banner on one building read: “You are Boston Strong. You Earned This.”
Among the signs lining the end of the route was one paying tribute to 8-year-old Martin Richard, the youngest of those killed in the bombing.
“No more hurting people. Peace,” read the sign. A photograph of Martin holding a poster he made for school with those words was published after his death.
Among the spectators cheering runners near the finish line was Jeff Bauman, who lost his legs in the bombing. It was the first time he had returned to the area since the attack.
“It feels great” to be back, he said. “I feel very safe.”
Joe Ebert, 61, of Hampton, N.H., was cheering on his son-in-law near the spot in downtown Boston where the bombs went off. He was in the same area last year at the time of the attack.
“I wanted to be in this spot,” said Ebert, who wore a jacket and medal from when he ran the race in 2010. “Just wanted to let them know that they can’t beat us down. I think it makes us all stronger when something like that happens.”
Sabrina Dello Russo, 38, of South Boston, was running her first marathon for a good friend, Roseann Sdoia, who lost her right leg in the bombing.
“She is my inspiration from day one last year when I saw her in the ICU. Every run I do, she is in the back of my head, and she will be keeping me going today,” Dello Russo said.
While Gov. Deval Patrick said there had been no specific threats against the race or the city, spectators at the 118th running of the world’s oldest annual marathon had to go through tight checkpoints before being allowed near the starting and finish lines.
Fans hoping to watch near the finish line were encouraged to leave strollers and backpacks behind. Police set up checkpoints along the marathon route to examine backpacks, particularly outside subway station exits. And runners had to use clear plastic bags for their belongings.
More than 100 cameras were installed along the route in Boston, and race organizers said 50 or so observation points would be set up around the finish line to monitor the crowd.
Runner Scott Weisberg, 44, from Birmingham, Ala., said he had trouble sleeping the night before.
“With everything that happened last year, I can’t stop worrying about it happening again. I know the chances are slim to none, but I can’t help having a nervous pit in my stomach,” Weisberg said.
Race organizers expanded the field from its recent cap of 27,000 to make room for more than 5,000 runners who were still on the course last year at the time of the explosions, for friends and relatives of the victims, and for those who made the case that they were “profoundly impacted” by the attack.
Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo won the women’s race in a course-record 2 hours, 18 minutes, 57 seconds, defending a championship from last year. She had been hoping this year for a title she could enjoy.
“It was very difficult to be happy. People were injured and children died,” she had said of last year’s marathon. “If I’m going to win again, I hope I can be happier and to show people, like I was supposed to last year.”
American Meb Keflizighi, a former New York City Marathon champion and Olympic medalist, won the men’s title in 2 hours, 8 minutes, 37 seconds. Cheers rose up as word of the first American man to win in Boston since 1983 spread through the pack of runners.
Keflizighi had the names of last year’s victims written in black marker on the corners of his race bib.
Other runners were expected to remain on the course for several hours after the winners crossed the finish line. Last year, the bombs went off at 2:49 p.m., as spectators crowded around the finish the line to cheer the still-arriving runners about five hours into the race.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, is awaiting trial in the attack and could get the death penalty. Prosecutors said he and his older brother – ethnic Chechens who came to the U.S. from Russia more than a decade ago – carried out the attack in retaliation for U.S. wars in Muslim lands.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died in a shootout with police days after the bombings.
One runner Monday, Peter Riddle, a 45-year-old Bostonian, said he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder from being at the finish line last year.
“I did a lot of talking this year, but running has helped me resolve a lot of things in my head,” he said. “Running the marathon this year and running down Boylston Street will help me find peace and help me move forward.”
(New York) (AP) – Mike Woodson had the Knicks on top of their division and in the second round of the playoffs, destinations that had become unreachable and practically unimaginable in New York.
A year later, he was out of job.
Phil Jackson fired Woodson and the entire coaching staff on Monday, making his first big move since becoming team president in March and saying in a statement that “the time has come for change throughout the franchise.”
The dismissal comes shortly after the Knicks completed a 37-45 season that began with their belief they were a serious contender.
Instead, they started poorly, making Woodson’s job security practically a season-long distraction. A late surge wasn’t good enough for a postseason spot or another year for Woodson.
It was a stunningly swift fall for Woodson, whose .580 winning percentage with the Knicks ranks behind only Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy, and who finished third in the NBA’s Coach of the Year voting after going 54-28 last season.
He and the staff were informed of the decision Monday morning by Jackson, the man the Knicks originally wanted to replace Woodson as coach but preferred to run the team’s front office.
Jackson has won an NBA-record 11 championships as a coach. He has repeatedly said he’s not interested in returning to the bench, so he will have to hire someone before he turns his attention to the roster. The team said the coaching search begins immediately.
Jackson said he has a “tremendous amount of respect” for Woodson and his staff, which included longtime Knicks assistant Herb Williams. Jackson called this an “extremely difficult” season and said “blame should not be put on one individual.”
“But the time has come for change throughout the franchise as we start the journey to assess and build this team for next season and beyond,” he added.
Jackson has said he won’t insist the Knicks run the triangle, the offensive system he used in Chicago and with the Lakers, but has made clear his belief in it. TNT analyst Steve Kerr, who played for Jackson with the Bulls but has never been a coach, has repeatedly been mentioned as a top candidate.
Jackson was expected to speak with reporters later in the week.
Woodson, a former Knicks first-round draft pick, was hired as an assistant coach before the 2011-12 season, then engineered an 18-6 finish after replacing Mike D’Antoni on an interim basis the following March to capture a playoff spot. Given a multiyear deal two months later, Woodson then led the Knicks to their first Atlantic Division championship since 1994.
New York then beat Boston in the playoffs, its first series victory since 2000, and general manager Steve Mills picked up next season’s option year on Woodson’s contract before this season began.
But the Knicks were saddled with some early injuries, including center Tyson Chandler’s broken leg, and lacked the veteran leadership they enjoyed last season. Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan was already considering replacing Woodson by December, when he met with Jackson at a holiday party and talked to him about coaching the team.
Carmelo Anthony praised his coach Thursday and even offered to back him publicly if necessary. But it was probably a clear sign Woodson wouldn’t be back a few minutes later when Amare Stoudemire said the coach hadn’t taken part in the exit meetings with players that Jackson and Mills held.
Woodson previously coached six seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, leading them to the playoffs in his final three seasons. He has a career record of 315-365.
Woodson went 109-79 with the Knicks, who hadn’t even made the playoffs since 2004 before he led them there in 2012. But he lost one of his biggest supporters within the organization when general manager Glen Grunwald, Woodson’s college teammate at Indiana, was surprisingly fired last September.
Players and fans sometimes grumbled during the season about Woodson’s strategies as the defense regressed and the offense was inconsistent beyond Anthony, who plans to become a free agent in July. Chandler said there probably was some “disconnect” and “misunderstanding” at times.
“Coach Woodson put together a game plan for us on the basketball court and there were times we didn’t totally buy into it,” Stoudemire said last week.
Still, the Knicks nearly rallied to make the playoffs by winning 16 of their final 21 games. But Woodson, who said he and Jackson had only brief chats in Jackson’s first month in charge, said before the season finale he knew the coach often takes the blame.
“Everyone in this franchise owes a great deal of gratitude to what Mike and his staff have done,” Jackson said. “We wish him the best.”