That crazy tipped pass for a long game-winning touchdown is now the second-most stunning and improbable play of Auburn’s wild season.
Yes, the Tigers found a way to top “The Immaculate Deflection.”
Chris Davis returned a missed field-goal attempt more than 100 yards for a touchdown on the final play to lift No. 4 Auburn to a 34-28 victory over No. 1 Alabama on Saturday, upending the two-time defending national champions’ BCS hopes and preserving the Tigers’ own.
“We’re a team of destiny,” Davis said. “We won’t take no for an answer.”
He delivered a play that deserves its own nickname. Say the Happiest Return? Or the saddest, depending on which side of the Iron Bowl you sit. Think of some of the most memorable plays in college football history — maybe Stanford-Cal, “The Band is on the Field” or Hail Flutie. This one by Auburn now has a place on that list.
Davis caught the ball about 9 yards deep in the end zone after freshman Adam Griffith’s 57-yard attempt fell short. He then sprinted down the left sideline and cut back with nothing but teammates around him in a second straight hard-to-fathom finish for the Tigers (11-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference).
“I knew when I caught the ball I would have room to run,” Davis said. “I knew they would have big guys on the field to protect on the field goal.
“When I looked back, I said, ‘I can’t believe this.’”
Auburn clinched a spot in the SEC championship game with the stunning victory over the powerhouse from across the state. The Crimson Tide (11-1, 7-1) several times seemed poised to continue its run toward the first three-peat in modern college football, but couldn’t put the Tigers away.
Asked if it was the biggest win of his career, Tigers coach Gus Malzahn said: “It ranks right up there.” But he said he’d “probably” still celebrate just like he has since his high school coaching days: With a Waffle House meal.
“That’s what you coach for, that’s what these kids play for, to get a chance to win the SEC championship,” Malzahn said.
The Tigers put it away just when overtime on tap. The public address announcer in the stadium had already declared the game 28-28 at the end of regulation.
But Alabama got 1 second restored and one more play after a review of T.J. Yeldon’s run to the Auburn 39.
That gave the Tide coach Nick Saban a chance to try the long field goal — and now he probably wished he never did, given the stunning result.
“It was a great game,” Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron said. “Sometimes luck just isn’t on your side.
“It’s one of those crazy plays. It’s almost like a video game. That’s something you do on Madden or NCAA. It’s just a wild play.”
The entire field looked like a sea of orange shakers as the celebration continued long after the climactic finale of one of the biggest Iron Bowls in the bitter rivalry’s 78-year history.
It lived up to the billing — and then some. According to NCAA records, it was only the fourth time that a missed field goal was returned for 100 yards.
This finale even one-upped Auburn’s last-gasp win over Georgia two weeks earlier. A deflected 73-yard touchdown pass from Nick Marshall to Ricardo Louis dubbed “The Immaculate Deflection” with 25 seconds left set up only the second top-five Iron Bowl matchup and first since 1971.
A team that went 3-9 last season and had been destroyed by Alabama 91-14 combined the past two seasons will play for an SEC title and perhaps a trip to the BCS championship game.
Undefeated Ohio State, which was third in the BCS standings this week and figures to move up to second behind Florida State, will have something to say about which teams play for the national title, too. No doubt the Buckeyes, who won their own thriller against Michigan earlier in the day, were celebrating Auburn’s win almost as much as the Tigers.
But the Tigers were already making a case to jump the Buckeyes.
Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs told reporters it would be “a disservice to college football” if a one-loss SEC champion was left out of the national title game for Ohio State.
On the final play, Alabama turned to Griffith to replace Cade Foster, who had missed three field goals, with a potential clinching 44-yarder going low and getting blocked in the final minutes. Griffith was only 1 of 2 all season with a long of 20 yards.
“We told our team that this is like March Madness,” Saban said. “Coming into this game that if you want to keep playing in the tournament you have to keep winning. I was really proud of the way our guys competed out there today, but the fact of the matter is that we did not make plays when we needed to.”
Marshall had tied the game with a 39-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Sammie Coates with 32 seconds left after Auburn blocked a low field goal attempt. The Tigers moved 65 yards in 2 minutes all on the ground with Mason until that play.
Marshall raced toward the line with two defensive backs coming after him. Then he pulled up just in time with the ball tucked in his left hand, deftly switching it to his right and lofting the pass to Coates standing all by himself.
McCarron, a Heisman Trophy candidate, had staked Alabama to a 28-21 lead with a 99-yard pass to Amari Cooper for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The Tide had a few chances to put the game away, but couldn’t convert a fourth-and-short deep in Auburn territory, had four missed field goals — one after a false start penalty negated a make — and a dropped potential TD in the end zone by Cooper.
McCarron might have had a Heisman moment with his pass to Cooper from the end zone, when Cooper shook off a defensive back on his way to the end zone.
The quarterback, who is 36-3 as a starter, completed 17 of 29 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns.
Marshall was 11-of-16 passing for 97 yards but also rushed 17 times for 99 yards.
Head Coach Yancy Walker discussed the team’s performance after the game, saying that it was a great team win:
The Grizzlies were up by 16 at half time and will start the Coffeyville, KS Elite 8 Tournament on Thursday.
WAYNESVILLE, Mo. One of the area’s best players to watch this year, wears the Orange and Black at Waynesville.
Juwan Morgan towers over the Waynesville Tigers. The 6’7″ athletic forward is turning a lot of heads and is destined in two years to join a Division-I basketball program.
“We feel like we got one of the best players in the state,” Waynesville coach Chris Pilz said. “Our strength is going to be getting (Morgan) the ball; he’s our first option and our third option.”
“(Morgan) makes everyone else around him much better,” Pilz added, “he’s an intelligent player.”
Last year as a sophmore, Morgan averaged 19-points and ten rebounds per game. As a junior, this proud member of a military family says he still has a lot of work to do.
“I want to pick up my rebounding game and become more of a defensive threat,” Morgan said.
Over the summer, Juwan was the lone junior on a senior packed AAU team of Missouri and Kansas players.
For the MO-KAN Elite, Morgan led his team in rebounds with 6.5 per game and was the fourth leading scorer.
“The experience was great,” Morgan said. “It was another level of play. Guys are six to seven inches taller, and have 50 pounds on you. You’re playing with someone going to the NBA everynight.”
And that exposure already has colleges interested; Missouri State has already offered while Kansas, Kansas State, Tulsa, Creighton and even Harvard.
“The time is finally here; the time has been put in,” Morgan said. “It’s a dream come true almost”
“One thing I’d like to say to the younger players, believe you can do something and put the work into it and it’ll come true.”
Juwan’s also very proud of his Tigers. A deep squad, he believes, has all the makings of a team, that can advance deep into the playoffs.
“I think we should make a pretty good run ito the playoffs,” Morgan said. “I’m nterested to see what the future will hold for us.”
“I’ve coached a lot of teams,” coach Pilz said. “We’ve got a lot of good players. But I think as a group, this team is coming together, and possibly could be the best team I’ve coached in high school.”
40th annual induction ceremonies set for weekend of Jan. 31-Feb. 1
Standout student-athletes from six different sports whose careers were dotted with All-America recognition and NCAA championship competition comprise a six-member induction class for 2014 into the Missouri State University Athletics Hall of Fame. The group will take the stage as the shrine’s 40th annual induction unfolds the weekend of Jan. 31-Feb. 1, 2014.
The 2014 MSU Hall of Fame induction class includes volleyball player Sabrina Apker Scifres (2002-05), baseball player Matt Cepicky (1997-99), football player Michael Fox (1989-90), track and field athlete Yves-Rose Jerome Stewart (1992-96), basketball player Tara Mitchem Glassgold (1998-01) and soccer player Mark Modersohn (1997-00). All six honorees will be in attendance for their inductions.
The new inductees will be enshrined at a ceremony to be held Saturday, Feb.1, in an 11:00 a.m. brunch in the main arena of Hammons Student Center. Inductees will also be recognized in halftime ceremonies in that weekend’s Missouri State basketball games in JQH Arena. The Lady Bears will host Evansville Friday, Jan. 31, at 7:05 p.m., and the Bears will meet Bradley Saturday, Feb. 1, at 2:05 p.m.
The 2014 MSU Athletics Hall of Fame induction brunch is open to the public and reservations may be made through Monday, Jan. 27, by calling Missouri State Athletics Development (417) 836-4143. Tickets are $25 per person.
The six new inductees will bring the total membership in the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame to 353. The original Hall of Fame for men’s sports was established in 1975 by Director of Athletics Aldo Sebben with 179 people enshrined in the first 22 induction classes. Director of Women’s Athletics Dr. Mary Jo Wynn established in 1981 a shrine to honor participants in women’s sports, and the 18 subsequent induction classes into that Hall of Fame saw 76 people enshrined. The two previous groups were combined into a single shrine in 1999 and this year’s induction will be the 16th for the combined hall.
The new induction class into the shrine joins all previous honorees in the sixth year of permanent public recognition of the Athletics Hall of Fame. An interactive video listing of the entire membership of the Hall of Fame is a part of the Legacy of Competition which opened in 2008 in the east entry lobby of JQH Arena. Photos and profiles of all Hall of Fame members are now on permanent display and the 2014 shrine class will be added to the display for Hall of Fame weekend.
2014 Missouri State Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Class:
Sabrina Apker Scifres, volleyball, 2002-05 (Kenosha, Wis.): Apker earned American Volleyball Coaches Association all-region and All-America honorable mention in 2004 for the Bears of coach Melissa Stokes. She came to Missouri State from Kenosha, Wis., also received all-Missouri Valley Conference first team honors as both a junior and senior as well as academic all-conference honors two seasons. A standout middle blocker, she logged spots in the top five in Missouri State blocks, block assists and blocks per game, and is the MSU career leader in blocks per game. She ranked sixth in NCAA blocks/set in 2005 while setting a school record in that category. She also ranks second all-time in MSU hitting percentage at .338. She helped MSU to a first, two seconds and a third in regular season MVC competition with one MVC tourney title and two NCAA tournament appearances in her four seasons playing for MSU. She is also a 2013 Kenosha Sports Hall of Fame honoree.
Matt Cepicky, baseball, 1997-99 (St. Louis, Mo.): Cepicky was a slugging outfielder whose spectacular junior season in 1999 for the Bears of coach Keith Guttin brought Cepicky consensus All-America selection when he slammed 30 homers, drove home a school record 100 runs and batted .414. A St. Louis native, he was the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year as he led NCAA Division I in home runs, runs batted in and runs scored. The MSU 1997 Rookie of the Year, he was voted Most Valuable Player of the 1999 NCAA Fayetteville Regional Tournament despite the fact the Bears didn’t win the tournament. Cepicky finished his three-season Missouri State career with 51 home runs and 183 RBI’s. He was drafted and signed by the Montreal Expos after his junior season at MSU and reached the major leagues with the Expos in 2002. Cepicky played parts of five seasons in the organizations of the Expos/Washington Nationals and Florida Marlins.
Michael Fox, football, 1989-90 (Meridian, Miss.): Fox was a two-year starting defensive end for the Bears of coach Jesse Branch in 1989 and 1990 on Missouri State’s only two NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoff teams. The Bears also claimed the school’s only two Missouri Valley Football Conference titles with season records of 10-3 in 1989 and 9-3 in 1990, and reached the second round of the NCAA playoffs 1989. A native of Meridian, Miss., who came to the Bears after two seasons at Garden City (Kan.) Community College, Fox earned MVFC all-conference first team selection both his seasons at MSU. He equaled the Missouri State single season record in sacks as a junior with 16 and finished his MSU days tied for third in career sacks. He also led the Bears in forced fumbles and blocked kicks as a junior and in forced fumbles as a senior, and was second among the Bears’ defensive linemen in total tackles both his Missouri State seasons.
Yves-Rose Jerome Stewart, track & field, 1992-96 (Chicago, Ill.): Jerome was a star sprinter for Coach Ron Boyce’s Bears for four seasons and Jerome won all-Missouri Valley Conference honors in league indoor championship meets three times and captured all-league laurels four times in the MVC outdoor championships. She was a seven-time MVC championship event winner and was named to the Valley All-Centennial team in 2007. Jerome qualified for the NCAA indoor national meet three times and the NCAA outdoor meet four times. Jerome set school records in the 55 and 200-meter dashes indoors and the 100 and 200-meter dashes outdoors, as well as running on a pair of record-setting relay teams. She captured Valley championships in all four of her individual events in the league indoor and outdoor meets her senior season. A native of Chicago, Ill., Jerome reached the semifinals of the 100-meter dash in the NCAA outdoor championship in 1996.
Tara Mitchem Glassgold, basketball, 1998-01 (Springfield, Mo.): Mitchem transferred to Missouri State from Ohio State as sophomore and played on three straight NCAA tournament teams for the Lady Bears of Coach Cheryl Burnett, including the memorable Final Four team Mitchem’s senior season in 2001 as MSU posted a 29-6 record. A native of Springfield, Mitchem was a two-time all-Missouri Valley Conference scholar-athlete with all-league first team playing honors as a junior and all-MVC honorable mention her senior season. She finished with 1,139 points over the course of her 99 MSU career games to become the first Lady Bear to top a thousand points in a three-year career. Mitchem was an 83% career free throw shooter who scored 40 points vs. Toledo in ’01 NCAA opener, a point total which was fourth-best in NCAA Tournament history at the time of her accomplishment. Mitchem averaged 13.5 points and 5.4 rebounds a game in 2001, scoring in double figures in 27 of 35 games.
Mark Modersohn, soccer, 1997-00 (Des Moines, Iowa): Modersohn was a four-year starting goalkeeper for the soccer Bears of coachJon Leamy. Modersohn ended his MSU playing days with school career records in games (81), saves (290), shutouts (26), goals against average (0.88), goalkeeper wins (51) and minutes in goal (7,730). A product of Des Moines (Iowa) Roosevelt High, he was a four-year all-Missouri Valley Conference selection, the 1997 MVC Newcomer of the Year, 1999 MVC Defensive Player of the Year and three-time all-region selection from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. Modersohn’s goalkeeping helped Missouri State to MVC regular season championships and NCAA tournament berths in both 1997 and 1999 and the Bears were a combined 52-20-10 in Modersohn’s four seasons in goal. He logged the four best single season averages on record at MSU for fewest goals against, and had the Bears’ two best single-season totals for shutouts.
NEW YORK (AP) — Jason Kidd dropped more than a soda in an attempt to delay a game. He ended up dropping $50,000 for the stunt.
The NBA fined the Brooklyn Nets coach on Thursday, saying he intentionally spilled his drink on the court as an unusual stall tactic.
Kidd bumped into Brooklyn reserve Tyshawn Taylor with 8.3 seconds left in the Nets’ 99-94 loss to the Lakers on Wednesday, causing his drink to spill. A video of the fumble showed Kidd appearing to tell Taylor to ”hit me” as the guard walked toward the bench, and the resulting delay while the floor was being cleaned allowed the Nets, who were out of timeouts, to diagram a play.
Kidd denied any intent after the game, joking that he had ”sweaty palms” and was ”never good with the ball.”
”In the heat of the battle you’re trying to get guys in and out of the game, and the Coke fell out of my hand,” Kidd added.
The NBA didn’t believe it and punished Kidd for the second time in his first month as a coach. He was suspended the first two games of the regular season after pleading guilty in a drunken driving case.
Kidd and the Nets are off to a 4-11 start.
Sao Paulo (AFP) – Two workers were killed Wednesday when a crane collapsed at a stadium set to host next year’s World Cup opener, raising fresh doubts about Brazil’s ability to finish work for the tournament on schedule.
Andres Sanchez, operations director at the Arena Corinthians site, said the workers, aged 44 and 42, were crushed to death when a crane hoisting a 500-ton metallic piece to the top of the roof collapsed.
He said the cause of the accident was not yet known but was under investigation.
He insisted that the overall structure was not affected.
The accident came amid a scramble to meet a December 31 set by football’s governing body FIFA to complete work at the venue.
A third worker was rushed to hospital with injuries after the accident, which brought a shocked response from FIFA president Sepp Blatter and condolences from the Brazilian ministry of sport.
“I’m deeply saddened by the tragic death of workers @Corinthians arena today,” Blatter said on Twitter. “Our heartfealt condolences are with the families.”
Work on the site has been suspended for three days of mourning until next Monday, after which 30 percent of the site will be closed to assist the investigation.
Jair Paca de Lima, the civil defense coordinator, said the accident might have been caused by “an error in the operation of the crane or by the weight of the structure which was being lifted.”
But construction giant Odebrecht, which is in charge of the project, said the crane was operated properly.
“The crane is capable of lifting three times the weight” of the structure, said Frederico Barbosa, the operations manager at the site.
FIFA, which has faced recent scrutiny over worker conditions at under-construction venues for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, later said safety standards for workers were “a top priority.”
Arena Corinthians is one of 12 World Cup venues planned for the tournament, for which Brazil has been struggling to overhaul its creaking infrastructure.
In addition to the opening of the Cup, the stadium will host five other games, including the semi-final, while the final will be played in Rio’s iconic Maracana stadium next July 13.
The reported $11 billion cost of staging the event has aroused public protests.
One site worker, Jose Mario da Silva, 48, told the G1 news portal the accident happened as most workers were having a lunch break.
“I had walked underneath this structure to go and have lunch. If it had happened at a different moment, many more people could have died — I could have died myself.”
Da Silva added that the accident occurred as “a crane was lifting the last and heaviest piece of the stadium roof.”
FIFA’s secretary general Jerome Valcke also expressed his shock and sadness in a tweet.
“Extremely shocked by the news from Sao Paulo,” Valcke said. “Our thoughts are with the families of the victims of this accident. We are currently awaiting further details from the authorities, who are investigating this tragic accident.”
“The safety of workers is the top priority for FIFA, the LOC (the Cup’s Local Organizing Committee) and the federal government,” FIFA said in a statement. “We know the safety of all workers has always been paramount for all the construction companies contracted to build the 12 FIFA World Cup stadiums.”
FIFA set a strict December 31 deadline for completing all 12 host venues amid fears Brazil will struggle to be totally ready.
Earlier this month, Odebrecht said the Corinthians arena was 94 percent complete, with the roof’s steel structure already mounted and the pitch laid.
About 1,500 employees are currently working around the clock to ensure the 68,000-seat stadium is finished on time.
Wednesday’s accident is not the first to hit preparations.
Work was temporarily suspended in the southern city of Curitiba after a labor court ruled that there were various safety breaches and a “serious risk of workers being buried, run over and of collision,” as well as being hit by construction material.
In June 2012, a constuction worker was killed in a fall at the new stadium in Brasilia and, last March, another worker fell to his death at the Amazonia Arena in Manaus.
A safety engineer at the World Cup stadium where a giant crane collapse killed two workers allegedly warned his supervisor of possible problems with the operation, only to have his concerns brushed aside, a labor union leader charged Thursday, as sniping over the accident heated up.
The incident has fed worries about Brazil’s capacity to host next year’s showcase tournament, as well as the 2016 Olympics, though authorities insist they will be ready for both.
Sao Paulo’s Arena Corinthians was slated to be completed by the end of December, and workers have suggested that speed was a top priority on the construction site, with many working 12-hour shifts and skipping vacations.
The stadium was initially scheduled to be part of the Confederations Cup earlier this year, but world football’s governing body FIFA scrapped the venue from the warm-up tournament because of financing problems before construction even started.
Antonio de Sousa Ramalho, president of Sao Paulo’s civil industry workers’ association, told The Associated Press in a phone interview that supervisors pressed ahead with the operation to finish the roof despite several rainy days that soaked the soil. He said the engineer warned his supervisor that it appeared the ground was not stable enough to support the 500-ton piece of roofing.
”To his surprise, he was told by the supervisor that nothing was wrong and work should continue,” said Ramalho, who declined to provide the worker’s name for fear of possible reprisals. ”They discussed the matter for a while but in the end the supervisor’s decision stood.”
Odebrecht, the powerful Brazilian construction company behind the stadium project and three other World Cup venues, strongly denied the claims, and a civil defense official said an initial inspection of the construction site a day after the accident showed no evidence the ground was unstable.
”Odebrecht and Sport Club Corinthians clarify that there was no warning previous to the accident,” the statement said. The company added that Ramalho’s union does not represent most of the workers involved in the crane operation.
Following a visit to the site Thursday, the civil defense official in charge of the inspection said there were no obvious signs that the ground was unstable.
”When we looked at it, it didn’t seem like the ground shifted, maybe just a few millimeters,” Jair Paca de Lima said in a television interview. ”Maybe after an analysis with the equipment we will know more.”
According to Brazilian media reports, investigators are also looking into human or mechanical error as possible reasons for the collapse.
Lima said only the area where the accident happened will remain closed, but work can resume at most of the stadium as soon as Monday, when a three-day mourning period ends. Constructors will be allowed to clear the crane and the metal structure after getting clearance from civil defense authorities, which is expected to happen soon.
The labor ministry later Thursday said constructors were prohibited from using the other nine cranes at the site until they can show ”safety measures are in place and there is no more risk of accidents.”
Ramalho, the union leader, said workers had been pulling long hours for quite some time in an effort to get the stadium completed on time, a point confirmed Thursday by loader Sergio Almeida, who told the AP typical shifts were 12 to 13 hours long.
Besides the Sao Paulo stadium, Odebrecht was involved in construction of the Fonte Nova stadium in Salvador and the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, both of which were delivered for this year’s Confederations Cup. It also renovated Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium, which will host the World Cup final.
A small part of the roof at Arena Fonte Nova collapsed in May from weight of accumulated water from heavy rainstorm. At the time, officials denied any structural problems with the project and blamed a mistake by a worker who inspected the roof.
FIFA said earlier Thursday it was waiting to learn more about the extent of the damage from Wednesday’s accident. FIFA officials and other global soccer personalities are due in Brazil next week for the high-profile World Cup draw in the resort city of Costa do Sauipe.
FIFA leaders have said repeatedly that there is no Plan B for next year’s tournament – particularly since nearly 1 million tickets to the matches have already been sold.
”It is too premature to make any detailed assessment on the situation of the Corinthians Arena as we are still awaiting the technical report to be able to evaluate the scale of the damage,” FIFA said in a statement sent to The Associated Press. ”We will be able to provide an update earliest next week following the FIFA Organizing Committee of the FIFA World Cup.”
Jose Maria Marin, the president of the local World Cup organizing committee, said he lamented the accident but was confident it would not significantly affect the opener in Sao Paulo on June 12.
”I’m certain that the stadium will be ready for the start of the World Cup,” he told Brazilian media.
Blake Leeper is a U.S. Paralympic athlete. The 24-year-old uses prosthetic blades and has competed internationally since 2009. He won a silver and bronze medal in the 2012 Paralympic Games and three silvers and a gold in the 2013 IPC World Championships. He was born without his legs below the knees. He also happens to be a huge Bo Jackson fan. But when Leeper appeared on The Arsenio Hall Show Monday night, he had no idea he would come face-to-face with the person he credits for being his inspiration.
Leeper began the interview with Hall explaining to the talk show host how the former two-sport star was his hero growing up. Leeper added that the 1985 Heisman Trophy winner was his favorite athlete even before Jackson’s hip injury that ended his NFL career. But it was Bo’s comeback in baseball — with a prosthetic hip — that truly motivated Leeper. The two met briefly in 1993 and Leeper asked anyone who met him thereafter to call him “Bo”. So when Hall asked that Leeper’s blades be brought out to the set, the young man was stunned to see who was doing the honors: none other than Jackson himself (cue to the 3:15 mark on this clip for the priceless moment). Jackson later revealed Leeper is the same age as his youngest son and said the pride he feels for the young athlete is the same he would feel as if it was his own child. With his sights set on Rio 2016, Leeper is attempting to become the first disabled American to compete in the Olympic Games.
By Israel Potoczny
Expectations are high for the 2013-2014 West Plains Lady Zizzers after going 27-2 and capturing a Missouri Class 4 district championship a year ago.
The Zizzers will have to replace three seniors, including starters Andi Haney and Hannah Riggs. Haney, now the starting point guard at Harding, averaged 19.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 4.7 steals per game as a senior and earned All-State, All-Conference, All-District, All-Ozark Conference honors.
However, head coach Scott Womack says the cupboard isn’t bare as West Plains returns three starters and has a host of players chomping at the bit awaiting their turn.
Leading the way is all-district and all-conference performer Cassidy Johnson. A 5-foot-7 junior guard, Johnson is a standout perimeter player that made 62 3-pointers last season and averaged 13.6 points per game. Johnson didn’t start the first nine games of her freshman season, but has been a starter ever since and has averaged double-digit scoring both years.
“We are counting on her to lead us this year and step up her game to replace some of that scoring that we are losing in Andi Haney,” Womack said. “(Haney) will be a big hole for us to fill, but we feel like these girls being a year older, as a group, we can fill that void.”
The Zizzers also return a pair of players that earned honorable mention All-Ozark Conference honors in Shelby Acklin and Kelli Bowen.
Acklin is a 5-foot-9 senior guard that averaged six points and five rebounds last season, while Bowen was the Zizzers’ sixth man off the bench last season. Bowen is a 5-foot-8 junior that averaged eight points per game during conference play.
“(Bowen) really came on late in the year,” Womack said. “She is a difference maker because she is so athletic. She is one that we really need to step up and make a major contribution this year and she started showing signs of that last year at the end of her sophomore year.”
Also back is returning starter Breanna Harris, a 5-foot-8 senior. Harris averaged 4.5 points per game last season. Kendra Warren, a 5-foot-10 senior, is a returning letterman that will compete for time in the post. Junior guards Kelsey Collins, 5-foot-6, and Rachael Corsey, 5-foot-7, give the Zizzers an outside scoring threat.
Womack said 5-foot-7 freshman Payton Richards will start at the point this season. A talented player, Richards has already drawn interest from several college programs.
“She has played a lot of AAU basketball and traveling basketball and has played big-time ball and we are really excited about what she is going to bring to the table for us,” Womack said. “She has had a really good start of the season and is picking up on everything really well.
“I think she is who we are turning it over to to handle the ball and get us in our offense.”
Womack said several other players could compete for playing time off a junior varsity squad that went 13-3 last season.
“I know we lost a lot with those two senior starters, but we feel like the cupboard isn’t bare,” Womack said. “It is going to go back to how good our defense is and if we play hard at the defensive end, I think we’ll have a chance to be in a lot of games and be competitive.”
Senior Ashley Mason earns a third consecutive first-team honor
St. LOUIS – Three Missouri State volleyball players were honored Tuesday by the Missouri Valley Conference for their performance on the court and in the classroom. Senior Ashley Mason earned her third consecutive MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team nod, while and juniors Olivia Brand and Kaitlin Jaeger are repeat honorable mention selections following a vote of the league’s sports information directors.
Mason joins former MSU greats Cara Hackmann and Michelle Witzke as the only players at Missouri State to be voted to the first team in all three years of eligibility. The senior from Granby, Mo., carries a 3.91 GPA in business education and is a four-time MVC Defensive Player of the Week in her career, including twice this season, as she averages 4.82 digs per set on the year. That average ranks fifth in school history for a single season, as do her 545 total digs. Mason also ranks second in school history with 1,698 total digs, and first with 4.05 per set average.
Brand is an honorable mention pick for a second consecutive season with a 3.62 GPA as a child and family development major. The junior from Springfield leads Missouri State with 274 total kills, averaging 2.61 per set with a .209 efficiency from the outside. She leads the Bears with 13 matches of at least 10 kills, with a season high of 19 kills against Illinois State.
A Capitol One Academic All-District VII selection, Jaeger makes the honorable mention squad with a 3.79 GPA in political science. The MVC Player of the Week on Sept. 3 of this season and a second-team all-league choice in 2012, Jaeger ranks ninth in the conference with a .284 hitting percentage. The Webb City, Mo., native averages 2.01 kills and 0.59 blocks per set, and has led the Bears in kills four times this season with five double-figure matches.
A total of 38 student-athletes were nominated for the Valley’s scholar-athlete team. The criterion for the honor parallels the CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) standards for Academic All-America voting. Nominees must be starters or important reserves with at least a 3.20 cumulative GPA (on a 4.00 scale). Also, students must have participated in at least 75 percent of the regular-season matches. Student-athletes must have reached sophomore status in both athletic and academic standing at their institution (true freshmen and redshirt freshmen were not eligible).
Morgan Dall, Indiana State
Kaitlyn Early, Illinois State
Chelsey Feekin, Wichita State
Kelly Feigh, Loyola
Elizabeth Field, Wichita State
Shelby Kintzel, UNI
Sarah Madden, Drake
Ashley Mason, Missouri State
Taylor Pippen, Southern Illinois
Katie Reilly, Wichita State
Ashley Ring, Evansville
Ashley Rosch, Illinois State
Rachel TenHoor, Evansville
Alise Tupuritis, Bradley
Macy Ubben, UNI
Kathleen Vogel, Loyola
Amy Angelos, Bradley
Olivia Brand, Missouri State
Ashlyn Driskill, Wichita State
Brooklyn Hlafka, Illinois State
Kaitlin Jaeger, Missouri State
Katie Klages, Evansville
Molly Murphy, Indiana State
Amanda Platte, Drake
Lauren Zerante, Bradley