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Archive for March, 2013

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Alex Hall scored 33 points and Drury’s Panthers are headed to the NCAA-II Final Four for the first time in the program’s history after defeating South Carolina-Aiken 84-75 in the national quarterfinals Thursday night at Freedom Hall.

And who awaits the nationally seventh-ranked Panthers (29-4) in Saturday’s national semifinals but a prime motivator – defending national champion and fourth-ranked Western Washington (31-2), which defeated Drury 72-69 in Las Vegas on Dec. 18 in the South Point Classic that WWU hosted at the South Point Hotel and Casino.

Coach Steve Hesser‘s Panthers reached that elite status behind a quick start fueled by Hall, a rally after falling behind briefly early in the second half, and then making the big stops and key buckets down the stretch.

It added up to a 21st consecutive victory for Drury, most in the program’s history and pulling these Panthers out of a tie with the 1977-78 DU squad that won 20 straight at the NAIA level.

Hall hit five more 3-pointers – giving him 114 now for the season, another DU mark after he topped the 112 by Matt Miller in 1999-2000. Hall now holds the trifecta of school records for single game (9), season and career (378) – but more importantly, has the Panthers in Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. (EST) semifinal at Western Washington in a game that will be shown nationally on CBS College Sports and locally in Springfield on KOZL.

This marks the first time since 1983 that the four semifinal qualifiers were all ranked in the top seven of the final NABC Top 25 poll. Third-ranked Metro State will play top-ranked West Liberty in Saturday’s first semifinal at noon (EST). The two survivors on Saturday will advance to Atlanta, Ga., for the national championship game on Sunday, April 7 at Philips Arena.

But Hall wasn’t the solo star despite cracking the 30-point barrier for the seventh time this season.

Drury bolted out of the gates to a 17-4 on its way to a 42-36 halftime advantage, but watched the Pacers (25-8) make their first four 3-pointers to open the second half and grab a 50-46 lead with 15:51 left.

Momentum clearly had shifted. But a large Drury contingent in the famed Freedom Hall – largest of the eight teams to reach the national quarterfinals – seemed to lift up the Panthers, and roared when sophomore Cameron Adams‘ slam capped a 7-0 DU run and put the Panthers back up 53-50 with 13 minutes left.

SC-Aiken never led again. A 9-0 run by Drury pushed the lead out to 11 (68-57) with 7:06 remaining – capped yet again by another Adams dunk – and DU never let the Pacers closer than five from there.

“I’m sitting up here right now because of these two young men and their commitment,” Drury coach Steve Hesser said in the post-game press conference, referring to Hall and senior point guard Brandon Lockhart. “We talk about at the end of the year, it’s about players stepping up and making plays. That’s March Madness. (Alex) stepped up and made some 3s, B-Lock split the defense and made the key layup late … you have two four-year starters here who make me a lot smarter as a coach.”

A final, massive Adams alley oop dunk off a Hall pass – the combination that closed out the regional title game against Bellarmine nine days ago – put the exclamation point on once again with 47 seconds left, giving the Panthers an 80-69 advantage and their fans finally able to think about sticking around Louisville for another couple of days.

Lockhart added 15 points – including a pivotal layup with 1:10 left to push the DU lead back to seven points – and seven assists, Teddy Simniok went 7 for 7 from the field and added 14 points and Adams matched Simniok with 14 points and tied Drake Patterson with a team-high seven rebounds.

Drury turned it over just 12 times while forcing 18 miscues by Aiken, which received a team-high 20 points from Ronald Zimmerman (including a 6-for-11 showing from 3-point range).

Nelson added 16 points and 10 assists despite battling foul woes that sent him to the bench for eight minutes in the first half.

“I thought once we settled down, we were able to get some things going,” Aiken coach Vince Alexander said, referencing the Pacers’ early 13-point deficit. “But very quickly, Re’mon picks up two fouls, and then a third … it’s tough for us to play without him being on the floor.”

SPRINGFIELD — Missouri State head football coach Terry Allen was all
business during Thursday’s morning practice at Plaster Field, the Bears’
third session of the week and first in full pads.

“It was a long first week because of the weather,” said Allen. “Today was by
far our nicest day and gave us a chance to just walk through some things.”

Monday’s scheduled practice was postponed due to frigid conditions and ice
on the surface at Plaster Field. The Bears practiced in helmets Tuesday and
shells Wednesday before running two-and-a-half hours in full pads Thursday.
The last 40 minutes Thursday were conducted in controlled scrimmage
situations with progress made on both sides of the ball, according to
Offensive Coordinator Rob Christophel and Defensive Coordinator D.J.
Vokolek.

After taking the weekend off for the University’s spring holiday, the Bears
take the field for four sessions next week. MSU will reach the halfway point
in its spring practices with afternoon sessions Tuesday, Wednesday and
Friday before the clubs’ first spring scrimmage, Saturday at 9:30 a.m.  The
scrimmage is free and open to the public.

Allen has 42 returning lettermen and 73 returning squad members in camp this
spring. NCAA Division I regulations permit 15 spring practice dates.

Next Week’s Schedule
Tue., April 2 Practice #5 3:10 p.m.
Wed., April 3 Practice #6 3:10 p.m.
Fri., April 5 Practice #7 3:10 p.m.
Sat., April 6 Scrimmage #1 9:30 a.m.

JUPITER, Fla., March 28, 2013 – The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have reached agreement with All-Star pitcher Adam Wainwright on a new five-year contract from 2014 through 2018.  It is the largest contract in franchise history for a pitcher.

 

“Adam represents everything the Cardinals look for in a player,” stated Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt, Jr.  “He is an elite pitcher with a tremendous work ethic, a great teammate and leader, and a winning, championship caliber player. He has the highest personal qualities and personifies the Cardinals tradition of excellence.”

Wainwright, a two-time National League Cy Young Award finalist (2009 & 2010), owns a career mark of 80-48 with a 3.15 ERA since making his Major League debut with the Cardinals in 2005.  During his rookie campaign in 2006, the 6 foot -7 inch right-hander quickly earned a prominent place in Cardinals lore by securing the final out in series-clinching wins against the Mets in the National League Championship Series and the Tigers in the World Series.

“Knowing that Adam Wainwright will be the centerpiece of our rotation for years to come is something that we are thrilled about for many reasons,” said Cardinals Senior Vice President/General Manager John Mozeliak.  “Adam has certainly proven to be a true staff ace, and the leadership and mentoring that he provides will continue to be an invaluable asset to the organization.”

Wainwright, 31, enjoyed banner seasons in 2009 and 2010, posting a league-best 19 wins to lead the Cardinals to an N.L. Central title in 2009.  He won a career-best 20 games in 2010 and finished 2nd in the N.L. in ERA (2.42), earning his first All-Star selection.

Since becoming a full-time starter in 2007, Wainwright ranks 5th among active pitchers in ERA (3.14) and he stands 10th in both wins (78) and winning pct. (.624; 78-47) even though he missed the 2011 season due to elbow surgery.  “Waino” is the career wins leader (44) at Busch Stadium III and he owns the 3rd-best ERA (2.70) in stadium history.   Adam is ranked among the Cardinals all-time top-10 career leaders in strikeouts (908-9th) and winning pct. (.625-6th).

The Georgia native won the Rawlings Gold Glove award in 2009 and he was voted by his teammates as the Darryl Kile award recipient in 2008.

WASHINGTON (AP) — No list of great NCAA championship game moments is complete unless Keith Smart’s jumper for Indiana in 1987 is on it.

Known by Hoosiers fans to this day as “The Shot,” and known in much less complimentary terms by Syracuse faithful, that 16-foot jumper from the left side with 5 seconds to play is a film clip staple throughout March.

The memory of “The Shot,” which gave Indiana a 74-73 victory, is still with Smart, now the coach of the Sacramento Kings, while Jim Boeheim, still the coach at Syracuse, revisited it every day for 16 years.

“It’s pretty much every day,” Smart said Wednesday when asked how often he thinks about the jumper that made him a hero in Bloomington and a villain in Syracuse. “Probably every other day something happens. I’ll go somewhere to eat, or when we travel, I check into the hotel and somebody sees the name tag on the bag and they’ll mention something about `The Shot’ then. Very seldom does a week go by without something that happens.”

Boeheim knew exactly how long it took for him to stop thinking about Smart’s play on a regular basis.

“We played very well in the game. When you lose a game like that, you really almost never get over it. I got over it in 2003,” Boeheim said, referring to the Orange’s first national championship, played in the same building – the New Orleans Super Dome. “I probably thought about it for those 16 years most of the time.

“I never think about it anymore. Coach (Bob) Knight was good after the game. He told me we would get back and win it, he just didn’t tell me it would take 16 years. He’s smart, just not that smart.”

“The Shot” has been summoned from the archives even more than usual this week because Indiana and Syracuse will meet in the East Regional semifinal Thursday night, their fourth meeting since the national championship game, but the first in the NCAA tournament.

“Probably this year more than anything, you had more people talk about its significance,” Smart said. “Even when I saw the brackets, I said, `The possibility of them coming together is pretty high.’ And lo and behold it came into play. You hear a little bit more conversation because of that now, because it happened against Syracuse.”

A great championship game came down to the final minute. With 38 seconds left, Syracuse’s Howard Triche – the uncle of current Orange guard Brandan Triche – made the first of two free throws for a 73-70 lead. Six seconds later Smart scored to cut the lead to one. Four seconds later, Syracuse freshman Derrick Coleman, who finished with 19 rebounds, missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Boeheim had taken his players off the lane, conceding the rebound. Smart got the rebound. The play was supposed to go to Steve Alford, the current coach at New Mexico, who had already made six 3-pointers in the first NCAA tournament played with a 3-point line.

“It was designated for Steve, of course, but we moved the ball around,” Indiana’s Daryl Thomas said that Monday night. “It came to me and I kicked it out to Keith and he hit the basket.”

Smart, one of the first junior college transfers to play for Knight, summed up the play at the postgame news conference.

“Tonight was my turn. … I thank Daryl for not taking the last shot and passing out to me. … It was a wise decision on his part.”

Twenty-six years later Smart is still talking about “The Shot” because people keep asking him about it.

“I understand it. Every person, boy, girl, man or child, they want to talk about the moment or what they were doing when it happened,” he said. “I don’t know this person and this person comes up with all this excitement, what am I supposed to do? `Nah, nah, I don’t want to talk to you?’ Nah. That’s your moment and if you want to talk about, let’s talk. It’s going to be brief anyway. I won’t rain on their parade or anything like that.”

Smart is quick to recall the first time he spoke with Boeheim about it.

“When we were getting ready for the draft, kind of doing some background on different players, I called Jim Boeheim because I was looking at Dion Waiters. I called to get some information on Dion,” Smart said, referring to the Syracuse guard who went on to be the No. 4 overall pick by Cleveland last June. “I called him. I said, `Coach, this is a name from the past.’ He answers the phone and says, `A name from the past?’ I said, `This is Keith Smart. Coach Smart.’ He said, `Keith Smart, Keith Smart, Keith Smart. Let me tell you: it took me a long time to get over that.’ I said, `Coach, I would not have called you if you hadn’t won one. I’d have had somebody else give you a call.’ We had a good conversation after that.”

Brandan Triche said he and his uncle haven’t spent much time talking about the game.

“I have seen him play, but I haven’t seen the actual whole game,” said Triche, who said he gets called Howard on occasion. “I think watching, it was like a missed assignment. I haven’t directly talked to him about it.”

As with all plays that decide a championship there are the two sides and their reaction.

“It’s always difficult when you lose in the championship game, the last game of the year and the last shot,” Boeheim said. “That’s always a difficult thing.”

Smart said his current players and family are proving his college coach correct.

“They replay it all the time, every year,” Smart said of his players. “They all went to college and when Indiana gets beat somewhere, they’re always like, `Oh, Indiana lost or this or that.’ But I’ll always have the last laugh. I played at Indiana and I won.

“That’s what Coach Knight said to us after the game, `You guys have no idea what you’ve done. Sure, you’ve won a championship. But it won’t really sink in until it’s 25 or 30 years from now, when your kids see it. That came to fruition about 15 years ago, my son was probably around 10. We were waiting for the tournament to come on, and they showed `The Shot.’ My son goes, `Dad, look at you!’ I was like, `Wow, cool.’ Just like Coach said after the game that night. It came true.”

BY JIM O’CONNELL
AP BASKETBALL WRITER

AP Sports Writer Antonio Gonzalez in Sacramento, Calif., contributed to this report.

     SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) – Chris Getz went 6 for 6, James Shields pitched five strong innings and a Kansas City Royals split squad and the Chicago Cubs played to a 9-9 tie in 10 innings Wednesday night.
     Getz doubled, tripled and drove in two runs, raising his average to .450. Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon homered for the Royals, who are 23-7-2.
     Shields, who will start Monday against the Chicago White Sox on opening day, held the Cubs to three singles and two runs over five innings, walking one and striking out four while throwing 37 strikes in 57 pitches.
     Cubs right-hander Scott Feldman gave up seven runs on 12 hits. Feldman, who is penciled in as the Cubs’ No. 4 starter, has an 11.25 ERA in six spring training starts, allowing 25 runs and 38 hits, including seven home runs, in 19 innings.
     PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Reggie Evans grabbed a career-high 26 rebounds and matched his career high with 22 points, and the Brooklyn Nets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 111-93 on Wednesday night.
     It was the Nets’ 20th road win of the season, matching a franchise best. Brook Lopez added 28 points for the Nets, who built a big lead early and stretched it to as many as 30 points.
     LaMarcus Aldridge led Portland with 24 points despite rolling his right ankle in the first half and briefly leaving the game.
     Most of the Nets starters had retreated to the bench before Portland pulled within 101-87 on Luke Babbitt’s 3-pointer with six minutes remaining. The starters returned, and Portland couldn’t get closer.
 
 By ANNE M. PETERSON
 AP Sports Writer

Today’s West Plains High School JV/V Baseball game against Ava has been postponed until Thursday at 4:00pm in Ava.

Here is the Lady Eagles update for March 27th.

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     LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – Mauro Bondi embraces the challenge of following two Nebraska kickers who combined to make 84 percent of their field goals over the past five seasons.
     Bondi will go into his sophomore season with a lock on the job and will have it for three years unless someone beats him out. He also is auditioning to punt.
     He says he’s eager to show off the strong leg that made him a scholarship recruit out of Boca Raton, Fla. Special teams coach Ross Els said he hopes Bondi doesn’t get caught up in trying to outdo predecessors Alex Henery and Brett Maher.
 
 By ERIC OLSON
 AP Sports Writer