Pioneers Down UVa-Wise 92-64

The Gilmer Free Press

The Glenville State men’s basketball team had six players score in double figures and shot red hot from the floor as they defeated the UVa-Wise Cavaliers by 28 points, 92-64, as they advance to the Second Round of the MEC Conference Tournament.

Glenville State and UVa-Wise would go back and fourth early however the Pioneers would go on a 14 point run at the 10:33 minute mark of the first half as they took a 19 point lead, 31-12. The Pioneers would head into halftime up big over the Cavaliers by 26 points, 46-20.

In the second half it would be all Glenville State as they had no problem with UVa-Wise as they went on to win big, 92-64.

The Pioneers never trailed in the game. Glenville State outscored UVa-Wise in the paint by 20 points, 40 to 20. The Pioneers bench outscored the Cavaliers bench, 37 to 14.

Donte Morales scored a game high 15 points for the Pioneers despite only playing 19 minutes. Sedric Nady scored 13 points and grabbed five rebounds in the win while Brett Morris also scored 13 points for GSC.

Luke Campbell, Brien Winston, and Juwan Wells all chipped in with 10 point each on the night. Winston also dished out a game high four assists.

UVa-Wise was led by Tyler Maggard as he scored 14 points, hitting four three-pointers on the night.

Glenville State (19-10, 15-8) will advance to the Second Round of the MEC Conference Tournament as they will now play #4 Charleston on Friday, March 06, 2015 at the Charleston Civic Center with tip-off set for 8:15 PM.

Official Basketball Box Score
UVA-WISE vs. Glenville State
03.03.15   7:30 PM  at Glenville, WV (WACO Center)
VISITORS: UVA-WISE 2-26 (1-22)

                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
01 Charles George…... *  2-4    1-2    2-2    1  1  2   1   7  0  2  0  0  24
02 Philip Owens II….. *  4-9    0-3    3-6    0  2  2   2  11  3  3  0  2  34
20 Tyler Maggard….... *  5-8    4-7    0-0    1  3  4   0  14  1  0  0  2  27
32 Brian Sydnor…..... *  5-10   1-4    2-2    0  3  3   2  13  2  2  1  0  27
33 Matt Day…......... *  2-9    1-5    0-0    0  4  4   3   5  0  1  0  0  23
03 Jordan Smith….....    2-6    1-5    0-0    0  1  1   4   5  1  0  0  0  21
14 Corey Dick….......    3-4    0-0    0-0    1  2  3   2   6  1  1  0  0  27
22 Oliver Thompson…..    1-6    1-6    0-0    1  1  2   1   3  0  0  0  1  17
   TEAM….............                         1  1  2             1
   Totals…...........   24-56   9-32   7-10   5 18 23  15  64  8 10  1  5 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half:  7-22 31.8%   2nd Half: 17-34 50.0%   Game: 42.9%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  3-14 21.4%   2nd Half:  6-18 33.3%   Game: 28.1%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  3-4  75.0%   2nd Half:  4-6  66.7%   Game: 70.0%    2

HOME TEAM: Glenville State 19-10 (15-8)

                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
01 Sedric Nady…...... *  4-5    2-3    3-3    1  4  5   2  13  2  2  0  0  21
03 Donte Morales….... *  5-6    3-4    2-3    1  3  4   2  15  1  0  2  2  19
11 Reggie Williams….. *  1-4    0-3    2-2    0  2  2   2   4  2  2  1  0  17
12 Luke Campbell….... *  4-7    2-5    0-0    0  2  2   1  10  3  0  0  0  31
23 Brett Morris…..... *  4-7    2-3    3-3    0  2  2   1  13  3  0  1  1  22
00 Brien Winston…....    4-7    0-2    2-2    3  3  6   3  10  4  0  0  0  26
22 Hunter Given….....    2-4    0-1    0-0    0  1  1   0   4  0  1  0  1   8
32 Juwan Wells…......    4-10   2-5    0-0    2  4  6   1  10  0  0  0  2  22
33 Alonzo Molina…....    1-2    0-0    0-1    0  1  1   0   2  0  1  0  0  12
34 Kalleone Moret…...    1-3    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   1   2  0  1  0  0   9
50 ED Newell…........    3-3    1-1    2-2    2  1  3   2   9  0  0  0  0  13
   TEAM….............                            4  4
   Totals…...........   33-58  12-27  14-16   9 28 37  15  92 15  7  4  6 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 19-29 65.5%   2nd Half: 14-29 48.3%   Game: 56.9%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  6-11 54.5%   2nd Half:  6-16 37.5%   Game: 44.4%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  2-2  100 %   2nd Half: 12-14 85.7%   Game: 87.5%    0
Officials: Brad Ross, Zach Tritt, Justin Qualls

Technical fouls: UVA-WISE-None. Glenville State-None.

Attendance: 901

Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
UVA-WISE…...................   20   44  -   64
Glenville State…............   46   46  -   92

Lady Pioneers Beat WV State 81-70 Advance to MEC Tournament Second Round‏

The Gilmer Free Press

Glenville State’s Keyanna Tate had a great game as she scored a game and career high 37 points as she helped lift the Lady Pioneers past West Virginia State in the First Round of the MEC Conference Tournament.

West Virginia State would get off to a hot start as they built a nine point lead over Glenville State, 13-4, with 15:24 left till halftime. However the Lady Pioneers would come back strong and tie the game up at 15 all at the 12:03 minute mark.

After that tie Glenville State would get on a roll and take an eight point lead into halftime, 41-33.

In the second half of action the Lady Pioneers would add to their lead as they extended it to 16 points, 49-33, with 15:55 left to play in the game. But West Virginia State would make a late run and cut Glenville State’s lead to five points, 64-59, with under 5:00 minute to play.

However the Lady Pioneers would weather the storm and hold off the late surge by West Virginia State as they went on to win by 11 points, 81-70.

There were three ties and two lead changes throughout the game.

The Lady Pioneers defense came up big in the game as they caused West Virginia State into 25 turnovers and converted them into 31 points. Glenville State also had the scoring advantage in the paint as they outscored West Virginia State 44 to 34 in the paint.

Glenville State was led by Keyanna Tate as she scored 37 points, going 14-for-20 from the floor, and grabbing a game high 10 rebounds finishing the night with a double-double.

Katrina Salins was the only other Lady Pioneer to score in double figures as she scored 16 points. Briauna Nix scored six points off the bench and grabbed seven rebounds in the win.

West Virginia State was led by Rachel Ward as she scored 21 points.

Glenville State (15-12, 13-10) will now advance to the Second Round of the MEC Conference Tournament. They will take on #2 Shepherd University on Thursday, March 05, 2015 (Today) at the Charleston Civic Center with game time set for 12:00 PM.

Official Basketball Box Score
West Virginia State vs. Glenville State
03.03.15   5:30 PM  at Glenville, WV (WACO Center)
VISITORS: West Virginia St. 8-20 (6-17)

                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
00 Rachel Ward…...... *  4-10   2-7   11-12   0  4  4   0  21  0  2  0  0  33
11 Deyahnna Styles….. *  6-10   1-3    2-4    2  3  5   4  15  4 10  0  2  40
24 Alexus Hobbs…..... *  8-13   2-5    1-2    1  3  4   1  19  0  3  1  2  40
32 Ashley Current…... *  0-3    0-0    0-0    0  2  2   1   0  1  3  0  0  17
34 Shealyn Shafer…... *  3-7    0-0    1-4    4  5  9   4   7  1  4  0  1  31
14 Autumn Ringen…....    1-3    0-1    0-0    0  4  4   4   2  0  0  0  0  14
23 Montrail Roberts….    2-4    0-0    2-5    0  2  2   4   6  2  0  0  0  13
30 Trina Current…....    0-1    0-0    0-0    1  1  2   1   0  0  0  0  0   5
42 Aurreshae Hines…..    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   1   0  1  3  0  0   7
   TEAM….............                         2  3  5
   Totals…...........   24-51   5-16  17-27  10 28 38  20  70  9 25  1  5 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 12-26 46.2%   2nd Half: 12-25 48.0%   Game: 47.1%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  3-8  37.5%   2nd Half:  2-8  25.0%   Game: 31.3%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  6-10 60.0%   2nd Half: 11-17 64.7%   Game: 63.0%    4
HOME TEAM: Glenville State 15-12 (13-10)

                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
01 Katrina Salins…... *  5-13   3-8    3-6    0  0  0   2  16  2  1  0  1  23
04 Keyanna Tate…..... * 14-20   0-0    9-14   5  5 10   3  37  0  4  0  0  20
12 Kayla Tibbs…...... *  0-6    0-4    0-0    1  2  3   1   0  0  0  0  0  20
25 Briana Smythe….... *  2-5    0-0    0-0    2  3  5   2   4  0  1  0  1  13
35 Julie Bishop…..... *  0-5    0-4    0-0    1  2  3   2   0  2  0  0  0  18
02 Paige Tuttle….....    2-2    1-1    0-2    0  1  1   1   5  1  1  0  2  18
03 Tayana Stewart…...    1-3    1-3    0-0    1  0  1   1   3  1  0  0  2  13
10 Skyy Lewis….......    1-2    0-0    0-0    2  0  2   0   2  1  0  0  3   5
13 Chanice Lee…......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  0  0  0  0   1
20 Briauna Nix…......    1-5    0-0    4-4    4  3  7   3   6  0  0  0  1  21
21 Kristin DesRocher…    0-2    0-2    2-2    0  0  0   0   2  0  0  0  1   6
24 Madison Martin…...    0-3    0-3    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  0  1  0  2  18
32 Brittany Jackson….    1-5    0-2    2-4    0  1  1   2   4  0  0  0  0  18
34 La’Shaughn Jones….    1-1    0-0    0-0    1  4  5   4   2  0  1  1  1   6
   TEAM….............                         4  2  6
   Totals…...........   28-72   5-27  20-32  21 23 44  23  81  7  9  1 14 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 17-44 38.6%   2nd Half: 11-28 39.3%   Game: 38.9%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  5-19 26.3%   2nd Half:  0-8   0.0%   Game: 18.5%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  2-6  33.3%   2nd Half: 18-26 69.2%   Game: 62.5%    7
Officials: Eric Stakem, Todd Pressman, Joshua Howell

Technical fouls: West Virginia St.-None. Glenville State-La’Shaughn Jones.

Attendance: 908

Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
West Virginia St…...........   33   37  -   70
Glenville State…............   41   40  -   81

Sports News   150305

The Gilmer Free Press

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Area High Schools Boys Basketball Regional Results

(Wednesday, March 04)

#8 Notre Dame 79     Tygarts Valley 42

<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Wednesday, March 04)

Final Score: (3) Duke 94, Wake Forest 51

Grayson Allen set a career high in the first half, netting 19 of his 27 points in the opening 20 minutes as No. 3 Duke rolled to a 94-51 victory over Wake Forest Wednesday night. Allen set his previous mark in his first career game, scoring 18 points in a 113-44 drubbing of Presbyterian. Tyus Jones posted 17 points and Justise Winslow added 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Blue Devils (27-3, 14-3 ACC), who have won 10 straight. Codi Miller-McIntyre led Wake Forest (13-17, 5-12) with 20 points.

Final Score: (12) Notre Dame 71, (16) Louisville 59

Demetrius Jackson led four Notre Dame players in double figures with 21 points to help the No. 12 Fighting Irish earn a tough 71-59 road win at No. 16 Louisville on Wednesday. Bonzie Colson scored nine of his 17 points in the final 10 minutes to help Notre Dame (25-5, 13-4 ACC) hold off a second-half comeback attempt from Louisville. The Fighting Irish also got 12 points and seven assists from Jerian Grant and 10 points from Steve Vasturia. Louisville (23-7, 11-6) received a game-high 23 points and 12 rebounds from Montrezl Harrell. Terry Rozier and Wayne Blackshear each added 11 points.

Final Score: (23) Ohio State 77, Penn State 67

D’Angelo Russell racked up 28 points and carried Ohio State in the second half as the 23rd-ranked Buckeyes rallied for a 77-67 victory over Penn State. The sensational freshman did most of his damage during a 29-6 swing that turned a 38-29 deficit into a 14- point Buckeyes lead just past the midway stage of the second half. Russell accounted for 17 points during the game- deciding burst, which helped Ohio State (22-8, 11-6 Big Ten) remain in the hunt for a double-bye in next week’s Big Ten Tournament. Ohio State, which hosts conference leader and sixth- ranked Wisconsin Saturday in its regular-season finale, used a similar formula to down Purdue three days prior. The Buckeyes overcame a 12-point halftime deficit in that one, with Russell tallying 17 of his 28 points after the break. D.J. Newbill eclipsed the career 2,000-point mark for Penn State (15-15, 3-14) in his final game at the Jordan Center, and finished with 17. Fellow senior Ross Travis posted 14 points and eight rebounds in defeat.

Final Score: (24) Providence 79, Seton Hall 66

LaDontae Henton scored 21 points with seven rebounds as No. 24 Providence used a dominant second half to top Seton Hall 79-66 on Wednesday. Ben Bentil finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds and Kris Dunn scored all 17 of his points during the second half for the Friars (21-9, 11-6 Big East), who have won four of their last five games. Providence will close out its regular-season schedule against No. 21 Butler on Saturday. Brandon Mobley and Isaiah Whitehead each netted 13 points and Sterling Gibbs returned from his two-game suspension to score 11 points for Seton Hall (16-13, 6-11), which has lost seven of its last eight games.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  LeBron James and the Cavs are now the favorite to win the 2015 NBA title

The Cleveland Cavaliers are on fire. They have won five of their last seven and are now the betting favorites to win the 2015 NBA title according to the latest odds from Bovada.

“The highest we had the Cavs was 5-to-1, right now they are at 11-5,” explains Kevin Bradley, sportsbook manager at “The Eastern Conference is just so weak compared to West that even when they had their bad spell beginning of year, even when LeBron took time off, we didn’t play into that. Now they are showing they are the clear front runners in the East even though they aren’t at the top of the standings.”

The Cavaliers’ current odds imply a 31.25% chance at winning a championship, which is an improvement over the 15-to-4 odds they had on February 3, 2015. Those chances also line up perfectly with their performance over that span using Neil Paine’s title odds formula:

  Probability of a championship = ~1 / (1 + EXP(5.5573404 – (0.5306148 * Offense) + (0.6129486 * Defense)))

It’s a delicate balance though. The Cavaliers are on a hot streak but have the ninth best net rating (difference between points scored and allowed per 100 possessions) in the NBA. So is the last month really indicative of where they are in the race for the championship? It is a tough one to answer (and why they can build billion dollar pyramids n the desert) but one thing is for sure: aside from Cleveland, there aren’t too many teams to take seriously as a title contender.

“In the NBA there is such a big gap who can actually win the championship, and the odds reflect that,” Bradley said. “There is a top tier group then teams that maybe can make the playoffs but still at huge odds then teams that have no chance.”

Oklahoma City is one of those teams with a chance — at least for now. They are now the third choice at Bovada, going from 16-to-1 to 7-to-1 odds in a month, and the second choice according to title odds over the last month.

njuries play a large role in the Thunder’s fluctuation.

“Before the season, before Durant was hurt, Oklahoma City were one of the favorites. But once Durant was hurt their odds started creeping up higher and higher and were as high as 30-to-1,” Bradley said. “We took a few decent bets on them then they went all the way down to 5-to-1 last week and now they have injury concerns. Oklahoma is one of those wired teams where injuries have really played into it. Probably more than any other team.”

A team at the other end of the spectrum is the Washington Wizards. They have won just one of their last eight games and keep seeing their championship odds dropping — a fall perhaps only Kevin Durant can stop.

“Up to a month ago they were down to 20-to-1 to win it all, they were doing pretty well in the East. Now, they are at 75-to-1 as of this morning – so they are drifting off,” explains Bradley. “For them to come back under 10-to-1, to be real contenders, yeah, a guy like Durant comes to Washington they become co-favorites in the East with Cleveland as long as they keep their team intact.”

►  NBA Game Results

(Wednesday, March 04)

Final Score: Indiana 105, New York 82

George Hill put up 21 points in 27 minutes to help the Indiana Pacers stay hot with a 105-82 drubbing of the New York Knicks. Hill finished 8-of-13 from the field and the Pacers went 10-of-22 from 3-point range en route to their ninth win in 11 games, a stretch that has vaulted last season’s No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference back into playoff contention. Rodney Stuckey added 17 points and C.J. Miles had 16 for an Indiana squad that never trailed in dealing the hapless Knicks a second lopsided defeat in as many days. Coming off Tuesday’s 124-86 home loss to Sacramento, New York trailed by as many as 30 in this one. Andrea Bargnani was the Knicks’ lone bright spot, matching a season high with 25 points.

Final Score: Phoenix 105, Orlando 100

Brandon Knight had 28 points, seven assists and three steals in the Phoenix Suns’ 105-100 win over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday. Markieff Morris added 23 points and six rebounds for the Suns, who snapped a two-game losing streak. P.J. Tucker tallied 19 points and five boards. Victor Oladipo ended with a career-high 38 points on 15-of-25 shooting for the Magic, who have lost four in a row. Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris contributed 18 and 11 points, respectively.

Final Score: Boston 85, Utah 84

Tyler Zeller scored at the buzzer to lift the Boston Celtics to an 85-84 win over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night. Marcus Smart’s inbounds pass over the top found Zeller under the basket, where the 7-footer pump-faked Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood and got a shot off the backboard before Rudy Gobert had a chance to block it. Zeller’s game-winner came after Hayward gave the Jazz a lead at the other end with 1.7 seconds remaining. Isaiah Thomas scored 21 points to lead the Celtics, who committed just three turnovers in the game and snapped a two-game losing streak, which included a 110-79 loss to LeBron James and Cleveland on Tuesday night. Jae Crowder added 18 points, Avery Bradley scored 13 and Zeller had eight points and 11 rebounds. It was Boston’s seventh consecutive home win over Utah. Trey Burke and Derrick Favors scored 16 points apiece to lead the Jazz, who had a three-game winning streak stopped. They were trying to win four in a row for the first time since March 25-April 1, 2013.

Final Score: Charlotte 115, Brooklyn 91

The Charlotte Hornets used a balanced attack in their 115-91 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday and gain an edge in a key game for an Eastern Conference playoff spot. The teams entered the night tied for the eighth seed in the East. For the fourth straight game, all five Hornets starters reached double figures, led by Al Jefferson and Gerald Henderson with 19 points each. Marvin Williams scored 18, and Cody Zeller added 13 off the bench. Mo Williams contributed 14 points and 14 assists and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist also posted a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. The Nets lost their two-game winning streak despite getting 12 points and six assists from Deron Williams. Mason Plumlee and Bojan Bogdanovic each scored 11.

Final Score: Cleveland 120, Toronto 112

LeBron James posted 19 points and 14 assists to help guide the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 120-112 win over the Toronto Raptors in a key battle for position in the Eastern Conference. All five starters and James Jones scored in double figures for Cleveland, with the latter hitting 4-of-7 from 3-point range en route to a season-high 14 points. Kyrie Irving had 26 and eight assists, and Kevin Love tallied 22 with 10 rebounds. The Cavs moved into second place in the conference behind Atlanta, which has already clinched a playoff berth, while Toronto slides back into third place. Three players did most of the damage for the Raptors. Jonas Valanciunas shot 12-for-17 from the floor for 26 points, DeMar DeRozan scored 25 and Lou Williams ouscored Cleveland’s bench by himself, 26-18. Williams shot 7-for-8 from the floor, made all four of his 3-pointers and all eight of his free throws.

Final Score: Memphis 102, Houston 100

Marc Gasol made a jumper with 0.1 seconds remaining to lift the Memphis Grizzlies over the Houston Rockets, 102-100, on Wednesday. Trailing 98-91 with 3:01 left, the Rockets scored seven straight points to tie things up. Terrence Jones and James Harden made jumpers around a Corey Brewer 3-pointer to make it 98-98 with 1:27 to go. Memphis guard Courtney Lee stopped the bleeding with two free throws. Jones responded with a hook shot, and Gasol missed on the other end. The Grizzlies got the ball back after Zach Randolph blocked Harden’s layup. Gasol followed with his game-winning shot to give Memphis a 2 1/2-game lead over the Rockets in the Southwest Division. Gasol ended with 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Grizzlies, who had lost three of four coming into the game. Mike Conley had 17 points and six assists and Randolph contributed 15 points and eight boards.

Final Score: Miami 100, LA Lakers 94

Dwyane Wade tallied 25 points and came up with two big assists down the stretch that helped the Miami Heat outlast the Los Angeles Lakers and record a 100-94 win. The Heat had a three-point lead cut down to one twice during the game’s waning stages, but Wade found Hassan Whiteside for pick-and-roll baskets on both ensuing possessions to help Miami pull out an important victory. Whiteside did his part as well, corralling a career-best 25 rebounds and adding 18 points and four blocks. Goran Dragic also made a big contribution for the Heat, scoring 21 points for a second straight game to go along with six assists. The Lakers fell for the 13th time in their last 14 road outings despite seven players scoring in double figures. Ed Davis finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds, Wayne Ellington also had 14 points, Jordan Hill posted 13 with 10 boards and Carlos Boozer ended with 13 points.

Final Score: Denver 100, Minnesota 85

Kenneth Faried finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds to power the Denver Nuggets past the Minnesota Timberwolves for a 100-85 victory on Wednesday. Will Barton netted 17 points, Danilo Gallinari scored 16 and Jameer Nelson tallied 12 points and nine assists off the bench for the Nuggets, who improved to 2-0 under interim head coach Melvin Hunt and won consecutive games for the first time since mid-January. Andrew Wiggins and Gary Neal scored 20 and 13 points, respectively, while Kevin Garnett had 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting in Minnesota’s fourth straight loss.

Final Score: New Orleans 88, Detroit 85

Anthony Davis made his return to the Pelicans lineup a memorable one. Davis, who missed the previous five games with a sprained shoulder, posted a massive line of 39 points 13 rebounds and eight blocks to lead New Orleans to an 88-85 win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday. Tyreke Evans added 21 points and nine assists and Alexis Ajinca, who benefited most from Davis’ absence these last few weeks, posted a 10-point, 11-rebound double-double off the bench. New Orleans, which is fighting for the eighth seed in the Western Conference, has won six of seven. Andre Drummond stuffed the stat sheet as well for Detroit, finishing with 13 points, 18 rebounds and six blocks. Greg Monroe gave 13 points, 15 boards and five assists and Reggie Jackson had his first double-double since joining his new club, going for 14 with 11 helpers in the setback.

Final Score: Oklahoma City 123, Philadelphia 118 (OT)

The only difference was the mask. Russell Westbrook scored a career-high 49 points and became the first player since Michael Jordan with four consecutive triple-doubles, leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 123-118 win over the Philadelphia 76ers in overtime on Wednesday night. Westbrook returned after missing the last game with a facial fracture and wore a clear piece of plastic over his face. Neither his vision nor his shot seemed to suffer, though he needed overtime to record another triple-double. He got his 10th assist on D.J. Augustin’s left-corner 3, which came 1:56 into overtime and gave the Thunder the lead for good. Westbrook made two foul shots with 6.3 seconds remaining to pass his previous career high in points set last month. He became the first player in at least the last 30 years with 49 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists in a game. He is the first with four consecutive triple-doubles since Jordan had seven in a row from March 25-April 6, 1989. The Thunder earned a sixth consecutive win at home and a 12th straight victory over Philadelphia. They are 5-2 with reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant sidelined because of foot soreness. Dion Waiters added 20 points and 10 rebounds and Augustin scored 17, both off the bench.

Final Score: San Antonio 112, Sacramento 85

Kawhi Leonard had 21 points, Tony Parker added 19 and the San Antonio Spurs routed the Sacramento Kings 112-85 on Wednesday night. Manu Ginobili, Danny Green and Marco Belinelli netted 13 points apiece for the Spurs, who have won three in a row on the heels of a four-game losing streak. DeMarcus Cousins provided 14 points to lead Sacramento, which has dropped four of its last six games.

Final Score: Golden State 102, Milwaukee 93

Steph Curry posted his 16th double-double of the season and Draymond Green scored a game-high 23 points with a full line as the Golden State Warriors had a big fourth quarter in their 102-93 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. Curry struggled to find the range over three quarters, but hit four triples in the fourth to help Golden State pull away for its third win in four games. Green added 12 rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocks in a tremendous all-around effort. Klay Thompson and Shaun Livingston gave 17 and 16 points, respectively, in the victory. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Michael-Carter-Williams had 16 points apiece to lead Milwaukee, which finished its four-game road trip winless. Zaza Pachulia and Ersan Ilyasova both had double-doubles in the setback.

Final Score: Portland 98, LA Clippers 93 (OT)

LaMarcus Aldridge had 29 points and nine rebounds as the Portland Trail Blazers rallied for a 98-93 overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers. The Blazers stormed back from a 10-point deficit with less than three minutes left in regulation and Nicolas Batum took over in the final minute of the extra session. Aldridge threw down an alley-oop pass from Batum to break a 93-93 tie with 59 ticks to go and Batum blocked J.J. Redick on a drive to the hoop at the other end. The Frenchman then sealed the outcome with a straightaway triple with 21.1 ticks left. Batum finished with 20 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Damian Lillard missed his first 12 shots from the field before tallying his first basket with 3:04 to go in OT. Lillard posted just five points, but pulled down a career-high 18 boards for the Blazers, who have won four straight games. Chris Paul tallied 36 points, 12 assists and six rebounds, Redick netted 26 points and DeAndre Jordan pulled down 19 boards for Los Angeles, which had its three-game winning streak snapped.

►  Pulse of the NBA

“James Harden uses national stage vs LeBron James to make MVP case”

“How James Harden clawed to the front of the MVP race”

“James Harden for MVP? It’s getting easier to say”

Those were the some of the headlines around the internet on Sunday after Harden and the Houston Rockets beat the James-led Cleveland Cavaliers, 105-103, in overtime.

James’ quest for a fifth MVP trophy took a big hit in my eyes as he missed two free throws with 4.2 seconds left in overtime with Cleveland down one point. I think it’s difficult to make the case anyway for James over Harden, with the Rockets being four games better than the Cavaliers despite injuries to two key players and playing in the much tougher Western Conference.

For me, it’s a two-man race between Harden and the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry.

I don’t think anybody would’ve envisioned the Rockets having the third-best record in the West (41-19) and being in the hunt for the Southwest Division title - they trail the first-place Memphis Grizzlies by 1 1/2 games - without having the services of Dwight Howard for 28 games.

But in Howard’s absence, the Rockets have managed to go 19-9, with one of those defeats coming in Tuesday’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks with Harden sitting due to a one-game suspension.

And on top of the Rockets missing their eight-time All-Star center for an extended period, they had to do without their starting power forward, Terrence Jones, for 43 games.

As for Curry’s MVP candidacy, I’m not quite sure the Warriors would’ve survived the loss of their second-best player, Klay Thompson, as well as the Rockets have done without Howard.

Curry has been the best player on the best team, and I could certainly see why he could get the nod, but I just think Harden has been more valuable to this point.

As for the aforementioned Jones, he started off very slowly when he returned in late January, but it looks like the Rockets power forward really is rounding into shape lately and showing how much he was really missed.

Coach Kevin McHale inserted Jones into the starting lineup on February23 and both Jones and the Rockets have prospered from the move.

Houston won the first four games after the lineup change, before dropping the contest in Atlanta without Harden.

Over those five games, Jones is averaging 18.4 points, 10 rebounds and 2.2 blocks and shooting a phenomenal 62.7% from the field.

Meanwhile, Jones’ and Howard’s absences have given third-year big man Donatas Motiejunas a chance to grow his game, and he’s had a bit of a breakout season. The 24-year-old 7-footer has a good low-post style, can shoot from deep and just seems to have a nice feel for the game.

Motiejunas is averaging 11.8 points and 6.1 rebounds and is shooting 51% from the field and 35.2% from 3-point range.

Obviously the Rockets miss Howard, but it seems their offense runs more smoothly with Motiejunas, due to his versatile skill set.

Over the last 16 games Howard has been sidelined, the Rockets are averaging 103.3 points per game.

If, and when, Howard returns, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of impact it has on the offensive end.


With Taj Gibson missing the last two games with a sprained ankle, rookie Nikola Mirotic has stepped up big time for the Chicago Bulls. The 24-year-old power forward had 31 points and nine rebounds on Sunday in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers and put up 23 points and eight rebounds on Tuesday in the Bulls’ win over the Washington Wizards. Mirotic’s playing time has been inconsistent, but in games when he’s played at least 25 minutes, he’s averaging 14.9 points and 7.9 rebounds, and is shooting 48.3% from the floor and 41.8% from 3-point range. The Minnesota Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins is a heavy favorite for the NBA Rookie of the Year award, but I think if Mirotic had gotten similar playing time, he would get the nod.

The Utah Jazz are 5-1 since inserting center Rudy Gobert into the starting lineup following the trade of Enes Kanter to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Gobert’s presence has really been felt on the defensive end with the Jazz allowing just 82.6 points per game over that stretch. The 22-year-old from France is averaging 12.8 rebounds and 3.3 blocks along with 10.6 points since becoming a starter, and pulled down a career-high 24 rebounds in Tuesday’s win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Pirates’ Cole, 20 others reach deals on 2015 contracts

The Pittsburgh Pirates agreed to contracts for the 2015 season with Gerrit Cole and 20 other players on Wednesday.

Cole, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft, was limited to 22 starts last season because of two stints on the disabled list. The 24-year-old right- hander finished with an 11-5 record and a 3.65 ERA.

Lefty Jeff Locke, young outfielder Gregory Polanco and infielder Jordy Mercer were among the other notable players to sign.

Locke, 27, was 7-6 with a 3.91 ERA in 21 starts last season after earning an All-Star nod in 2013.

The 23-year-old Polanco made his MLB debut in 2014, batting .235 with seven home runs and 33 RBI in 89 games.

Mercer, 28, hit .255 with 12 homers and 55 RBI in 149 games last season.

►  Tigers release injured Hanrahan

The Detroit Tigers have released pitcher Joel Hanrahan, who will undergo a second Tommy John procedure in less than two years.

Hanrahan signed with the Tigers last May while he was recovering from the elbow reconstruction surgery performed in May 2013, but the right-hander never appeared in a game for Detroit. He had soreness in the elbow during throwing sessions last summer and again last month.

After further exams, it was determined he needed another operation on the elbow. It has been scheduled for March 18 in Texas.

Hanrahan signed with the Boston Red Sox as a free agent in 2013 after two solid seasons as a closer for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He converted 76 saves in 84 opportunities during the 2011 and 2012 seasons with Pittsburgh, earning All-Star nods each year.

However, he struggled in his short time in Boston, appearing in just nine games while posting a record of 0-1 with four saves and a 9.82 ERA before being diagnosed with the torn ulnar collateral ligament.

Hanrahan owns a career record of 22-18 with 100 saves and a 3.85 ERA in 362 games, all but 11 as a reliever, during a seven-year career with Boston, Pittsburgh and Washington.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Wednesday, March 04)

Final Score: Ottawa 3, Winnipeg 1

Andrew Hammond turned aside 35 shots to lead the Ottawa Senators in a 3-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday. Kyle Turris had a goal and an assist while Bobby Ryan and Erik Condra also scored for the Senators, who have won six of their last seven. Michael Frolik scored the only goal of the game for the Jets, who have dropped four of their last six. Michael Hutchinson allowed three goals on 17 shots and was replaced with just over eight minutes to play in the second by Ondrej Pavelec, who stopped all three shots he faced.

Final Score: Detroit 2, NY Rangers 1 (OT)

Marek Zidlicky scored 1:09 into overtime to give the Detroit Red Wings a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers on Wednesday. Acquired by the Red Wings from New Jersey at the trade deadline, Zidlicky paid dividends with a power-play goal in the extra session. Henrik Zetterberg, who returned from a four-game absence due to injury, sent a short pass from the right circle to the front of the net for Pavel Datsyuk, who turned around and tried to jam the puck in. Cam Talbot made the stop, but the puck sat in the slot and Zidlicky was able to take a swipe at it, with the puck bouncing over Talbot and in for the victory. Justin Abdelkader scored the other goal while Jimmy Howard made 39 saves for the Red Wings, who have won three straight. Dan Girardi scored the only goal of the game for the Rangers, who had won five of six coming in. Talbot made 29 stops.

Final Score: Anaheim 3, Montreal 1

John Gibson was strong between the pipes once again as he made 37 saves to lift the Anaheim Ducks to a 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday Francois Beauchemin, Rickard Rakell and Cam Fowler all scored for the Ducks, who have won four straight games and seven of their last eight. Gibson is now 6-1-0 in his last seven starts. Alex Galchenyuk scored a late power-play goal and Carey Price stopped 30 shots for Montreal, which was coming off a 4-0 loss to San Jose on Monday.

Final Score: Colorado 3, Pittsburgh 1

Semyon Varlamov stopped 28 shots to lead the Colorado Avalanche in a 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday. Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and two assists while Jarome Iginla and Nathan MacKinnon lit the lamp for the Avalanche, who had lost two of three coming in. Evgeni Malkin had the only goal of the game for the Penguins, who had a four- game winning streak broken. Marc-Andre Fleury allowed all three goals on 22 shots in the loss.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Ivanovic, Errani advance at Monterrey

Top-seeded Ana Ivanovic and Sara Errani were both first-round winners at the Abierto Monterrey Afirme on Tuesday.

Ivanovic, who won the title in Monterrey last year, was a 6-1, 7-6 (7-4) winner over Nicole Vaidisova, while the second-seeded Errani blitzed past Lauren Davis, 6-0, 6-3, on the hardcourts of the Sierra Madre Tennis Club.

Third-seeded Caroline Garcia, the runner-up at last week’s Mexican Open, downed Karin Knapp, 7-5, 7-6 (7-5), and fourth-seeded Timea Bacsinszky needed three sets to send Yanina Wickmayer home in a 7-6 (10-8), 3-6, 6-4 victory.

Rain forced the postponement of four first-round matches from Monday. Fifth- seeded and three-time champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was scheduled for one of those matches, and she overcame a slow start in her 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 win over Anna Schmiedlova.

Seventh-seeded Daniela Hantuchova and eighth-seeded Magdalena Rybarikova both survived their first-round tests, while Tuesday’s biggest upset saw Vera Zvonareva pick up one of her most impressive wins in years as she knocked off sixth-seeded Alison Riske, 6-4, 6-0.

Among the others moving on were former French Open champ Francesca Schiavone and Timea Babos, who won this event in 2012. Urszula Radwanska, Lesia Tsurenko, Pauline Parmentier, Kristina Mladenovic, Johanna Larsson and Polona Hercog also advanced to the second round.

This year’s champ will earn $111,389.

►  BMW Malaysian Open Women’s Tennis Update - March 04

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Total Prize Money: $250,000


Jarmila Gajdosova (4) defeated Luksika Kumkhum, 7-5, 6-2
Kurumi Nara (6) defeated Magda Linette, 7-5, 5-7, 7-6 (8-6)
Julia Goerges (8) defeated Kateryna Kozlova, 6-1, 6-2
Alexandra Dulgheru defeated Duan Ying-Ying, 6-4, 6-1
Elizaveta Kulichkova defeated Yulia Putintseva, 6-0, 6-2


Caroline Wozniacki (1) vs. Lin Zhu
Klara Koukalova (5) vs. Carina Witthoeft
Su-Wei Hsieh vs. Misa Eguchi

►  Gajdosova, Nara advance in Kuala Lumpur

Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia and Japan’s Kurumi Nara were among the second-round winners Wednesday at the Malaysian Open tennis event.

The fourth-seeded Gajdosova battled through a tough first set and pulled away in the second for a 7-5, 6-2 win over Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum and will next play Nara in the quarterfinals.

Nara, seeded sixth this week, needed more than three hours to eliminate Polish qualifier Magda Linette, 7-5, 5-7, 7-6 (8-6).

Eighth-seeded Julia Goerges of Germany cruised into the quarters with a 6-1, 6-2 rout of Kateryna Kozlova of Ukraine. Goerges will next meet Romania’s Alexandra Dulgheru, who followed her upset of second-seeded Sabine Lisicki with a 6-4, 6-1 triumph over China’s Duan Ying-Ying.

Russian qualifier Elizaveta Kulichkova also moved into the quarterfinals with a 6-0, 6-2 pounding of Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva.

The remaining second-round matches will take place Thursday. Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki highlights the action against China’s Zhu Lin.

This week’s champion will collect $43,000.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  El Kabeir tops field for Gotham Stakes

Jerome Stakes winner El Kabeir heads a field of 10 3-year-olds for Saturday’s $400,000 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct.

The 1 1/16-mile stakes is the final local prep event for the $1 million Wood Memorial on April 4. The Gotham is worth 50 points to the winning horse under the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” qualifying system.

Trained by John Terranova for Zayat Stables, El Kabeir will start from post 4 with C. C. Lopez again in the saddle. This will be the third straight race Lopez will be aboard the gray colt.

El Kabeir won the Jerome at Aqueduct on January 3 as the 7-5 top pick by almost five lengths as he began his 2015 season. Five weeks later the colt, sent off as the 1-2 favorite, was second to Far From Over in the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct.

“We’ve been lucky in the fact we’ve gotten several races under him so far,‘ Terranova said. “He’s got a great foundation, so fitness is not a problem or an issue. We’ve had a couple of light days in between but we never want to force anything. We just wait for the track and him to tell us. Hopefully we’ll be good the next few weeks. So far this week, it looks like he’s coming into this race really well.“

El Kabeir broke his maiden by 10 3/4 lengths in his second start on August 30 at Saratoga. He was fourth in the slop in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park on October 4 and second in Aqueduct’s Nashua Stakes on November 2 in the mud. The colt went wire to wire to win the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs on November 29. El Kabeir has earned $438,892 from his seven career starts.

Classy Class, third in the Withers, is representing the barn of trainer Kiaran McLaughlin in the Gotham following the move of Ocean Knight to Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby. Owned by Cheyenne Stables, Classy Class has drawn post 3 with Junior Alvarado aboard the colt for the first time.

Classy Class was 7-2 for the Withers in his 2015 opener. The colt won his debut start last October at Belmont Park and was fourth in the Remsen at Aqueduct last November 29.

“We thought Classy Class ran very well in the Withers,“ said McLaughlin. “El Kabeir challenged him a lot earlier than we were expecting, and he ran on well. (In the Gotham), we’d prefer to see him come from off the pace; he doesn’t need to be on the lead.“

Classy Class has banked $90,000 in his three starts.

Here is the field for the Gotham in post position order: Combat Diver, Sheldon Russell; Dontbetwithbruno, Manuel Franco; Classy Class, Junior Alvarado; El Kabeir, C. C. Lopez; Lieutenant Colonel, Kendrick Carmouche; Tiz Shea D, Taylor Rice; Toasting Master, Angel Arroyo; Uninfluenced, Fernando Jara; Tencendur, Cornelio Velasquez and Blame Jim, Jose Ortiz. Dontbetwithbruno, Uninfluenced and Blame Jim are coupled.

The Gotham Stakes has an approximate post time of 4:50 PM ET.

►  Carpe Diem versus Ocean Knight in Tampa Bay Derby

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Carpe Diem, making his 2015 debut, and Ocean Knight, winner of the Sam F. Davis Stakes, will do battle in Saturday’s $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs.

The 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay Derby has drawn a field of nine 3-year-olds with 50 points available to the winning horse as part of the “Road to the Kentucky Derby Championship” series which determines the 20-horse field for the 141st Kentucky Derby on May 2 at Churchill Downs.

Carpe Diem is co-owned by Stonestreet Stable and WinStar Farm while Ocean Knight is wholly owned by Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stable. Carpe Diem is trained by Todd Pletcher and Kiaran McLaughlin trains Ocean Knight who originally was going to Aqueduct for Saturday’s Gotham Stakes.

“Barbara Banke and her team decided coming back to Tampa Bay Downs was the right thing to do, and I’m happy with the decision,“ said McLaughlin. “It’s a kind racetrack, the weather is supposed to be beautiful the next five days and he came out of the (Davis) real well, so we feel like going back to Tampa is a win-win for everybody.“

Carpe Diem will be ridden by John Velazquez from post 3 with Ocean Knight and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. to the immediate inside in post 2.

Carpe Diem won his first two starts last year, including the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland. The chestnut colt was the 9-5 favorite for the Juvenile at Santa Anita but finished second to Texas Red by 6 1/2 lengths. He begins the year with $709,800 in earnings.

Ocean Knight is undefeated in his two career starts with earnings of $156,000. The colt, who has only been ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., won the Davis on January 31 by a neck over Diving Rod as the 8-5 favorite. He won first time out on December 13 at Aquedcut.

“We are expecting the Tampa Bay Derby to be tougher (than the Davis), but we are up for the challenge. We have a lot of respect for Todd and Carpe Diem and if he beats us, he beats us, but we think we’re going there with a great chance,“ McLaughlin stated.

Here is the field for the Tampa Bay Derby from the rail out: Divining Rod, Luis Garcia; Ocean Knight, Irad Ortiz Jr.; Carpe Diem, John Velazquez; Ami’s Flatter, Luis Contreras; My Johnny Be Good, Antonio Gallardo; Souper Colossal, Joel Rosario; Great Stuff, Leandro Goncalves; Moonlight Bandit, Jose Lezcano and Danzig Moon, Julien Leparoux.

The Tampa Bay Derby has an approximate post time of 5:23 PM ET.

►  Shared Belief to face 12 in Santa Anita Handicap

Eclipse Award winner Shared Belief heads a field of 13 older horses for Saturday’s $1 million Santa Anita Handicap.

Shared Belief, trained and co-owned by Jerry Hollendorfer, is the overwhelming 3-5 favorite and will start the 1 1/4-mile Big ‘Cap from post 5 with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith again riding.

“I think there’s room for him to step up even a little bit more than he’s shown, so we’ll see what happens,“ Smith said. “He’s been training really well since, from what I hear, so all systems are go. We’re excited about it.“

Four weeks ago Shared Belief captured the San Antonio Invitational over 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome and has been made the 125 pound highweight for the race. The 4-year-old gelding is giving away from four to 11 pounds.

“I don’t think Jerry had any complaints,“ said Jerry Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward of the 125 assigned to Shared Belief. “The racing secretary told us Shared Belief is the best horse in the country,“

Shared Belief, the 2013 champion 2-year-old male, has won nine of 10 career starts for $2,332,200. After suffering his only defeat in November’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, the gelding won the Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita and was a finalist for the 2014 Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old male.

Here is the field for the Big ‘Cap in post position order: Cool Samurai, Aaron Gryder, 30-1; Diamond Bachelor, Martin Pedroza, 50-1; Sr. Quisqueyano, Joe Talamo, 10-1; Dynamic Sky, Corey Nakatani, 15-1; Shared Belief, Mike Smith, 3-5; Moreno, Santiago Gonzalez, 6-1; Patrioticandproud, Elvis Trujillo, 20-1; You Know I Know, Drayden Van Dyke, 30-1; Crimson Giant, Brandon Boulanger, 50-1; Imperative, Kent Desormeaux, 30-1; Bronzo, Tyler Baze, 10-1; Catch a Flight, Gary Stevens, 12-1 and Hard Aces, Victor Espinoza, 12-1.

The Big ‘Cap has an approximate post time of 8 PM ET.

►  Dortmund one to beat in San Felipe Stakes

Unbeaten 3-year-old Dortmund heads a field of 10 for Saturday’s $400,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park.

The San Felipe is the final local prep for the Santa Anita Derby on April 4. The race is worth 50 points to the winning horse toward a start in the 141st Kentucky Derby on May 02.

Last year California Chrome won the San Felipe on the way to winning the Santa Anita Derby, Run for the Roses, Preakness and being named Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old.

Trained by Bob Baffert for Kaleem Shah, Dortmund will start the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe from post 3 with Martin Garcia again in the saddle. Garcia has been aboard the chestnut colt for all four winning races.

Dortmund is coming off a victory four weeks ago as the 3-5 favorite in the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita and has 20 points in the Kentucky Derby points system.

“It was exciting, because I thought we were beat,“ Baffert said after winning the Lewis Stakes last month, “and when he came back like it made me really appreciate it a lot more. It makes it sweeter because going in I thought he was the best horse, then that horse went by him and I thought maybe he’s not as good as I thought.“

Dortmund won first time out last November 02 at Santa Anita and followed on November 29 with a 7 3/4-length victory in an allowance race at Churchill Downs. He defeated Firing Line in last December’s Los Alamitos Futurity by a head and has banked $449,400 from his four wins.

Making his first start of the year will be undefeated colt Ocho Ocho Ocho with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith leaving from post 2. Ocho Ocho Ocho is owned by DP Racing and trained by Jim Cassidy.

The 3-year-old won his debut last October at Santa Anita followed by wins in the Juvenile Turf Sprint at the track and Delta Downs Jackpot on November 22. Ocho Ocho Ocho has earnings of $693,600.

San Vicente Stakes winner Lord Nelson has drawn the rail for Saturday and will be ridden again by Rafael Bejarano. Lord Nelson, trained by Bob Baffert, is owned by Peachtree Stable with three wins in five starts for $249,571.

Hers is the field for the San Felipe from the rail out: Lord Nelson, Rafael Bejarano; Ocho Ocho Ocho, Mike Smith; Dortmund, Martin Garcia; The Gomper, Tyler Baze; Kenjisstorm, Agapito Delgadillo; Prospect Park, Kent Desormeaux; Bolo, Victor Espinoza; Pulmarack, Drayden Van Dyke; Sir Samson, Joe Talamo and Pain and Misery, Flavien Prat.

The San Felipe has an approximate post time of 6 PM ET.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Love named Presidents Cup assistant

United States captain Jay Haas named Davis Love III as one of his captain’s assistants for the 2015 Presidents Cup, it was announced on Wednesday.

Love was named U.S. Ryder Cup captain for a second time last week, but this will also mark his second stint as an assistant for the American Presidents Cup team. He was one of Fred Couples’ assistant captains at Muirfield Village in 2013.

Couples was already selected by Haas as a vice-captain for the event, scheduled for October 6-11 at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Songdo IBD, Incheon City, South Korea.

“I’m ready to help Jay and the team as much as I can as a captain’s assistant,“ Love said. “Jay and I were successful as assistants for the last Presidents Cup in 2013, and I am very excited to join him and the U.S. team in South Korea this fall. I love being in the team room and positively impacting the U.S. side anyway I can.“

International captain Nick Price tabbed Mark McNulty and Tony Johnstone as assistants to go along with the previously-named K.J. Choi. McNulty and Johnstone were assistants under Price in 2013.

The U.S. team has won the last five editions of the Presidents Cup.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  ‘15 Season Preview: Can new faces push Fire into playoffs?

Chicago Fire head coach Frank Yallop was very busy this offseason, and it wasn’t a surprise considering that the club failed to reach the postseason for the second successive year.

Yallop’s first season in charge of the Fire netted just six wins in 34 league games, a franchise low, and the former San Jose Earthquakes boss wasted little time in attempting to improve his team.

Not only did Yallop add three Designated Players to his side, but he also acquired a Trinidad and Tobago international defender as well as a former Southampton forward in the hopes of returning the Fire to the postseason for the first time since 2012.

The influx of talent includes a pair of forwards signed as Designated Players in David Accam and Kennedy Igboananike, while midfielder Shaun Maloney is also a DP and should help provide width for the Fire attack.

Defensively, Yallop added two potentially important pieces as well in Adailton and Joevin Jones.

The talent level in Chicago has certainly improved, but the other side of that coin is that Yallop will now have to hope his new pieces are able to assimilate quickly to Major League Soccer, and that they can fit well with the current group of players from last year’s team.

Goalkeeper Sean Johnson is one of the few certainties on the Fire roster and he will once again backstop the defense, while midfielders Jeff Larentowicz and Harry Shipp are reliable players in the middle of the pitch.

Outside of that, however, things are fairly wide open, with the additions of Adailton and Jones in the back potentially strengthening the unit.

The departures of both Bakary Soumare and Gonzalo Segares in defense have created a few openings, and Yallop believes that Adailton and Jones can upgrade an inconsistent unit from last season.

The 31-year-old Adailton arrives in Chicago from Brazilian side Bahia, and he brings a physical presence to the group at 6-foot-3, 187 pounds.

Adailton will also bring with him experience having featured in the UEFA Cup with Rennes as well as Swiss side FC Sion in the Europa League.

While Adailton could bring stability to the middle of the defense, Jones has been tipped to take over the left back spot and help shore up a unit that gave up 51 goals last season.

Shipp was one of the few bright spots for the Fire last season as he established himself as a future star by tallying seven goals and six assists in his rookie campaign.

And his presence, along with Larentowicz in midfield, gives Yallop a solid foundation around which to build his team.

Maloney, 32, is expected to play on the wing and he joins the Fire after three-plus seasons with Wigan. The Scotland international has also enjoyed time with Celtic and Aston Villa, making him a potential team leader as well as a valuable contributor.

The most interesting part of the team for Yallop to figure out will be up top as the coach must find the right combination of players to lead the line.

Quincy Amarikwa led the Fire with eight goals last season, and he returns along with veteran Mike Magee, who managed seven goals in 17 games in a season in which he battled injuries.

But with the additions of both Igboananike and Accam as Designated Players as well as former Southampton frontman Guly do Prado, Yallop has a wealth of options.

It’s hard to imagine the boss not giving his new DP’s every chance at getting regular minutes, while Do Prado is also an interesting option after he scored 23 goals in 118 appearances for Southampton while helping the club gain promotion to the Premier League.

Despite all the changes taking place in Chicago, team captain Larentowicz says that he is looking forward to the new season and relishing the chance at a fresh start, as are the rest of his teammates.

“It’s a cliche and a banal statement, but you start at zero and everyone else is starting at zero. Not only when you look at the standings but when you look at our team, everyone should feel like they’re starting from zero and that’s why the intensity of the camp has been so good, because everyone should feel like they’ve got a shot.“

ACQUISITIONS: Kennedy Igboananike (F), Joevin Jones (D/M), Eric Gehrig (D), David Accam (F), Adailton (D), Shaun Maloney (M), Jon Busch (GK), Guly do Prado (F).

LOSSES: Logan Pause (M), Robert Earnshaw (F), Patrick Ianni (D), Gonzalo Segares (D), Florent Sinama-Pongolle (F), Grant Ward (M), Bakary Soumare (D), Sanna Nyassi (M), Juan Luis Anangono (F).

OUTLOOK: With so many new faces to work into his team, Yallop’s side should not be expecting to get out of the blocks quickly. The coach will be using the first few months to sort out his options at striker, while newcomers like Maloney, Igboananike, Accam, Jones and Adailton will be adjusting to life in MLS. But as the season goes on, this team has the potential to come together and form a solid outfit capable of making a run at a postseason berth in the Eastern Conference. After finishing ninth out of 10 teams in the East and 13 points out of the playoffs, expect the Fire to be a much more competitive outfit this season.

►  ‘15 Season Preview: Rapids aim to be more defensive in 2015

If the Colorado Rapids are into making New Year’s resolutions for 2015, they undoubtedly would have to put improving their defense at the top of that list.

The Rapids gave up an MLS-high 62 goals in 34 games last season, and over the final few months of the campaign, they were particularly bad, yielding at least four goals in a game five times in their final 11 matches.

That defensive futility was a big reason why the Rapids finished eighth in the nine-team Western Conference last season, 18 points out of a playoff spot.

If the Rapids want to have any chance at contending for a postseason berth this year, head coach Pablo Mastreoni knows his team has to become stronger not only along the back line, but also in the goalkeeping department.

To that end Mastreoni acquired goalkeeper Zac MacMath from the Philadelphia Union on a season-long loan to compete with incumbent starter Clint Irwin and John Berner following the departure of Joe Nasco.

The Rapids got some downright terrible displays in goal last season that cost the team goals and points in the standings, and Mastreoni is pleased to have better options between the posts this season.

“Signing MacMath was about building depth in a position where I felt we could use it,“ said Mastreoni. “Zac has experience and he is coming off his best year so he’ll have a lot of confidence.

“But Clint Irwin is a great young keeper, Berner too. The more competitive we make this position, the better these guys will become.“

Irwin started 25 of Colorado’s 34 games in the league last season with mixed results, while the 23-year-old MacMath is coming off a strong season with the Union that saw him start 29 games and keep five clean sheets.

The back line is another area that could use some improvement from last season, but the club will have to do without two of its best defenders following the departures of Marvell Wynne and Chris Klute.

Mastreoni is left to rely on Drew Moor, Shane O’Neill and Marc Burch in defense, while Michael Harrington was added in a trade from the Portland Timbers in December.

Also in the mix in defense is the club’s first-round pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, 6-foot-7 central defender Axel Sjoberg.

Last season’s midfield was led by Nick LaBrocca as well as young talents Dillon Powers and Dillon Serna. However, there will be increased competition this year with the additions of MLS veterans Marcelo Sarvas and Sam Cronin as well as young Argentines Lucas Pittinari and Juan Ramirez.

The performance of the 24-year-old Powers, in particular, stood out as he tallied five goals and a team-high eight assists to establish himself as one of the top young talents in MLS.

He should have a bit more help this year with the arrivals of Sarvas and Cronin, who both know their way around MLS, while Pittinari and Ramirez are both young talents who Mastreoni will hope can develop quickly.

Deshorn Brown enjoyed a strong campaign last season for the Rapids as he led the club with 10 goals, and the 24-year-old will hope to take another step in his development by building on that performance this season.

Veteran Vicente Sanchez, 35, provided six goals alongside Brown, while the club will hope for improved production from Gabriel Torres, who managed just three goals in 23 appearances.

ADDITIONS: Michael Harrington (D), Bobby Burling (D), Zac MacMath (GK), Marcelo Sarvas (M), Sam Cronin (M), Lucas Pittinari (M), Juan Ramirez (M).

LOSSES: Brian Mullan (M), Edson Buddle (F), Thomas Piermayr (D), Tony Cascio (M), Danny Mwanga (F), Chris Klute (D).

OUTLOOK: After losing just once in their first six games to start last season, the Rapids fell off and begin their descent toward the bottom of the Western Conference due in large part to their poor defensive record. However, Mastreoni will hope the combination of MacMath and Irwin can provide a bit more stability in that area, with improved play coming from the defenders in front of the goalkeeper. The addition of Sarvas should pay immediate dividends in midfield as he is a nice addition alongside the talented Powers and steady LaBrocca. If both Powers and Brown are able to take another step forward, the Rapids will be a more dangerous team going forward, but it likely won’t be enough to get the side into the postseason in a tough Western Conference.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Benteke’s penalty rescues Villa

Christian Benteke converted a late penalty kick at Villa Park to hand Aston Villa three valuable points in Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat of West Bromwich Albion.

Villa opened the scoring in the 23rd minute when Benteke flicked Brad Guzan’s long ball into the path of Gabriel Agbonlahor, who finished off the move to claim his fourth goal of the campaign.

The Baggies, though, got back on equal terms in the 67th minute when Joleon Lescott headed a corner kick back across goal for Saido Berahino to nod home from close range.

It looked as though the two sides would split the points in the Midlands derby, but Ben Foster committed a needless foul on Matthew Lowton in the box with 30 seconds remaining in stoppage time to force a penalty, which Benteke converted with great assuredness.

The win lifts Villa out of the relegation zone, putting the club three points clear on 25 points.

Southampton moved ahead of Liverpool and into fifth place with a 1-0 defeat of Crystal Palace at St. Mary’s on Tuesday.

The Saints were made to wait until the closing stages for a goal as Sadio Mane’s 83rd-minute strike was the difference between the two sides.

Also on Tuesday, Dame N’Doye and Jack Rodwell exchanged goals in either half at the KC Stadium as Hull City and Sunderland played to a 1-1 draw.

►  Lloyd’s double leads U.S. women over Norway in Algarve Cup

Carli Lloyd netted a pair of goals in the second half to lift the United States women’s national team to a 2-1 comeback win over Norway in their opening match of the Algarve Cup.

The Americans nearly found the net after 33 minutes when Christen Press hit the post, while Alex Morgan had a chance a few minutes later after tracking down a through ball, but her effort was saved.

Just before halftime Norway took the lead against the run of play with a counter attack down the right wing that resulted in Ada Hegenberg beating goalkeeper Hope Solo with a header.

Lloyd evened the contest in the 56th when she took a pass from Press and turned with the ball before lashing a shot inside the left post from 20 yards.

The U.S. then grabbed the winning goal six minutes later from the penalty spot after a handball inside the Norway box. Lloyd stepped to the spot and hammered a shot into the roof of the net to help the Americans to a successful start in Portugal.

The team returns to action on Friday against Switzerland in the second of three group-stage matches.

►  Liverpool rolls past Burnley

Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge scored on either side of the intermission on Wednesday as Liverpool earned a comfortable 2-0 victory over Burnley at Anfield.

The Reds have been the in-form team in the Premier League since the turn of the year and the victory extends the club’s unbeaten run in league play to an impressive 12 games.

Coming off an outstanding 2-1 victory over defending champions Manchester City, the was some indication it may be a bit of a trap game for Liverpool as it is the club’s third contest in seven days.

But Brendan Rodgers’ side had the better of the play from the outset and took the lead in the 29th minute when Coutinho had a strike from outside the box blocked. The ball fell to Henderson, who blasted it into the side netting, leaving Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton with no chance for a save.

Henderson turned provider in the second half as he spotted a late run into the area from Sturridge and lofted it over the top. Sturridge ran onto it and nodded it past Heaton for his 10th goal on home soil in his last 11 league starts.

Burnley failed to produce many quality opportunities as Liverpool claimed all three points to remain in hot pursuit of Manchester United for fourth place and the final Champions League place.

Also in the Premier League on Wednesday, Manchester City bounced back from their loss to Liverpool on Sunday with a comfortable 2-0 victory over bottom- of-the-table Leicester City.

David Silva opened the scoring moments into the second half and James Milner sealed the points with a second goal two minutes from time.

Ashley Young’s 89th-minute strike held up as a last-gasp winner for Manchester United in a 1-0 win over Newcastle United at St. James’ Park. The result keeps the Red Devils two points clear of Liverpool.

Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez found the back of the net to hand three points to Arsenal with a 2-1 win over Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.

Charlie Austin pulled one back for QPR, but it wasn’t enough for the Hoops to get anything from the game.

Everton’s winless run in league play reached five matches after the Toffees fell to Stoke City, 2-0, Britannia Stadium. Victor Moses and Mame Biram Diouf found the back of the net for the Potters.

Nacer Chadli, Ryan Mason and Andros Townsend all found the back of the net as Tottenham-Hotspur came away with all three points with a tense 3-2 victory over Swansea City at White Hart Lane.

Leaders Chelsea maintained their five-point margin over second-place Manchester City on Wednesday with a 1-0 win over West Ham United at Upton Park.

The lone goal came in the 23rd minute as Ramires got free down the right flank and sent a driven cross into the area where Eden Hazard nodded it home to hand Chelsea the points.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Bills to acquire Cassel from Vikings

The Buffalo Bills announced Wednesday that they have a deal in place to acquire quarterback Matt Cassel from the Minnesota Vikings.

However, there appears to be confusion on the exact terms of the trade.

The Bills said they will acquire the 32-year-old veteran and an undisclosed draft pick in exchange for two undisclosed draft choices. Minnesota, on the other hand, said it is dealing Cassel for an undisclosed draft pick.

Regardless of the terms, the trade cannot become official until the new league year begins at 4 PM ET next Tuesday.

The news comes a day after the Bills reportedly agreed to a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles for former NFL rushing champion LeSean McCoy.

Cassel started the Vikings’ first three games this past season before breaking several bones in his left foot against the New Orleans Saints on September 21. He was placed on injured reserve three days later.

The USC product has completed 59% of his passes for 15,727 yards with 96 touchdowns and 70 interceptions during his 10-year career. He has started 71 games for New England, Kansas City and Minnesota since 2008.

►  Texans release C Myers

The Houston Texans released veteran center Chris Myers on Wednesday.

Myers, who was acquired by the Texans through a trade with the Denver Broncos in March of 2008, started all 112 games he appeared in for the Texans.

The 33-year-old Myers had been due $6 million in the final season of his contract. He carried a $8 million salary-cap hit.

“Chris has been a mainstay on our offensive line for the past seven seasons,“ said Texans general manager Rick Smith. “He has been a consummate pro during his time here in Houston. Chris, his wife, Jenny, and his entire family have represented our organization in the Houston community with class. We appreciate his contributions and wish him the best as he continues his career.“

A sixth-round pick of Denver in 2005, Myers has played in 153 games (128 starts) in his 10 NFL seasons. He holds the NFL’s longest active consecutive games played streak for an offensive linemen (153) and consecutive starts at center (128).

►  NFL Duo to Donate Brains to Trauma Research

New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford and former NFL receiver Sidney Rice both announced they will donate their brain to science research after their death.

Rice, who retired last July, estimated that he sustained eight to 10 concussions during his football career, the first of which he believes occurred when he was a child. Weatherford said he thinks he has sustained two concussions while in the NFL.

NFL claims concussions down 25% in 2014

Weatherford said he’s doing it “more to help generations after us.“

“You study [Rice’s] brain, by comparison to my brain. Just because you [haven’t] had traumatic head injuries doesn’t mean you don’t need your brain studied because they’re going to have brains to compare to other ones. For me, it’s about overall health right now, but you want to help the future and pay it forward,“ he said.

The Gilmer Free Press

ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York
CBSSN - CBS - College Sports Network
CSN - Comcast SportsNet
TCN - The Comcast Network
NBCSN - NBC Sports Network
NESN - New England Sports Network
MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
ROOT - Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Northwest, Rocky Mountain)
CST - Cox Sports Television
FCS - FOX College Sports
FS - FOX Sports Regional
RSN - Regional Sports Networks
CPTV - Connecticut Public Broadcasting
TVG - Horse Racing Channel
FS1 - FOX Sports 1
TWC - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
* - If Necessary

Major League Baseball - Spring Training
Milwaukee vs. LA Angels, 3:05 PM - FS-Wisconsin, MLB Network
Cleveland vs. Cincinnati, 3:05 PM - SportsTime Ohio, MLB Network
Los Angeles vs. Chicago White Sox, 3:05 PM - SportsNet LA, MLB Network
San Diego vs. Seattle, 3:05 PM - MLB Network
Toronto vs. Baltimore, 7:05 PM - MASN, MLB Network
Boston vs. Minnesota, 7:05 PM - FS-North, MLB Network
National Basketball Association
Oklahoma City at Chicago, 8:00 PM - TNT
Dallas at Portland, 10:30 PM - TNT
National Hockey League
Minnesota at Washington, 7:00 PM - FS-North, CSN-DC, DSS
St. Louis at Philadelphia, 7:00 PM - FSN, CSN-Philadelphia, NHL Network, DSS
Calgary at Boston, 7:00 PM - SNET-West, NESN, DSS
Toronto at Tampa Bay, 7:30 PM - SNET-Ontario, SunSports, DSS
Dallas at Florida, 7:30 PM - FS-Southwest, Florida, DSS
NY Islanders at Nashville, 8:00 PM - MSG+, FS-Tennessee, DSS
Vancouver at Arizona, 9:00 PM - SNET-Pacific, FS-Arizona, DSS
Montreal at Los Angeles, 10:30 PM - RDS, FS-West, DSS
College Basketball
Holy Cross at Bucknell, 7:00 PM - Patriot League Network
Navy at Colgate, 7:00 PM - Patriot League Network
Western Kentucky at Charlotte, 7:00 PM - FCS
Temple at East Carolina, 7:00 PM - ESPN U
Boston University at Lafayette, 7:00 PM - Patriot League Network
American at Lehigh, 7:00 PM - Patriot League Network
Arkansas at South Carolina, 7:00 PM - ESPN 2
Wisconsin at Minnesota, 7:00 PM - ESPN
USC Upstate at Florida Gulf Coast, 7:00 PM -
Lipscomb at North Florida, 7:00 PM -
OVC Tournament, 7:00 PM - OVC Digital Network
Southern Ill vs. Missouri State, 7:05 PM - MVC TV,
Southern Miss at Louisiana Tech, 8:00 PM - CBSSN
California at Arizona, 9:00 PM - ESPN
OVC Tournament, 9:00 PM - OVC Digital Network
Memphis at Connecticut, 9:00 PM - ESPN 2
VCU at Davidson, 9:00 PM - ESPN U
Colorado at Washington, 9:00 PM - FS1
Northwestern State at Stephen F. Austin, 9:00 PM -
Bradley vs. Drake, 9:35 PM - MVC TV,
CS Northridge at Long Beach State, 10:00 PM -
Stanford at Arizona State, 11:00 PM - FS1
Utah at Washington State, 11:00 PM - ESPN U
Women’s College Basketball
ACC Tournament, 11:00 AM - RSN,
UNC Asheville at Liberty, 12:00 PM -
Arkansas vs. Ole Miss, 1:00 PM - SEC Network
Campbell vs. Winthrop, 2:00 PM -
Virginia vs. Miami-Florida, 2:00 PM - RSN,
Morehead State vs. Tennessee State, 3:30 PM -
SEC Tournament, 3:30 PM - SEC Network
Gardner-Webb at Radford, 6:00 PM -
ACC Tournament, 6:00 PM - RSN,
Northwestern State at Stephen F. Austin, 6:30 PM -
Valparaiso at Oakland, 7:00 PM -
Georgia vs. Missouri, 7:00 PM - SEC Network
ACC Tournament, 8:00 PM - RSN,
Presbyterian vs. High Point, 8:00 PM -
SEC Tournament, 9:30 PM - SEC Network
International Soccer
Juventus FC vs. ACF Fiorentina, 2:40 PM - beIN Sports
Olimpia vs. Herediano, 8:00 PM - FS2
EUROPEAN - Africa Open, 7:30 AM - Golf Channel
PGA - WGC Cadillac Championship, 1:00 PM - Golf Channel

Sports News     150304

The Gilmer Free Press

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Area High Schools Boys Sectional Basketball Game Results

(Tuesday, March 03)

#7 Gilmer County 68     Calhoun County 26

#4 Robert C. Byrd 61     #6 Lincoln 41

#7 Ravenswood 63     Ritchie County 32

#2 Bridgeport 68     Grafton 57

►  Area High Schools Girls Basketball Game Results

(Tuesday, March 03)

#1 Morgantown 63     Parkersburg 24

Buckhannon-Upshur 57     #8 Jefferson 49

►  Area High Schools Boys Sectional Schedule - Wednesday

Class “AAA” Region 2, Section 2:

(6-14)Buckhannon-Upshur at (11-9)Lewis County, 7:00

Class “A” Region 1, Section 2 (at Doddridge County High School):

(11-12)Trinity vs. (10-12)Paden City, 6:00

(11-10)Valley Wetzel vs. (16-4)Saint Marys, 7:30

Class “A” Region 2, Section 1 (at Elkins High School):

(8-12)Tygarts Valley vs. (14-7)Notre Dame, 6:00

►  Area High Schools Girls Sectional Schedule - Wednesday

Class “AA” Region 1:

(12-11)Ritchie County at (21-2)Fairmont Senior, 7:00

Class “AA” Region 2:

(11-9)Frankfort at (17-5)Lincoln, 7:00

(15-7)Bridgeport at (20-2)Keyser, 7:00

The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Men’s Basketball Tournament: First Round Wrap-Up

(Tuesday, March 03)

#7 Notre Dame 98, West Virginia State 93 | Final Stats

Notre Dame College held off West Virginia State and came away with a 98-93 over the Yellow Jackets in the first round of the MEC Tournament at Murphy Gymnasium.

The Falcons (16-13) now advance to take on second-seeded Fairmont State on Friday at noon at the Charleston Civic Center.

NDC was paced by a 33-point, seven-rebound effort from Lawrence DeArmond. Tyree Gaiter and Will Vorhees each added 22 for the Falcons in the win.

West Virginia State (6-25) had 19 points apiece from Damion Harris and Dominic Phillips.

#8 Shepherd 63, #9 West Virginia Wesleyan 56 | Final Stats

Shepherd trailed by six points with under six minutes left, but closed the game on a 20-7 run to defeat West Virginia Wesleyan, 63-56, in the first round of the MEC Tournament at the Butcher Center.

The Rams (15-14) advance to take on top-seeded West Liberty on Friday night at 6 p.m.

Austin Cunningham led SU with 22 points to go with four rebounds and four assists on the night. Morgan McDonald scored 13 points and had five rebounds, and Ryan McTavish added 12.

Tanner McGrew had 20 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Bobcats (11-18). Anthony Richards contributed 14 points.

#5 Glenville State 92, UVa-Wise 64 | Final Stats

Glenville State shot 57 percent from the field and cruised to a 92-64 win over UVa-Wise in the first round of the MEC Tournament at the Waco Center.

The Pioneers (19-10) advance to take on fourth-seeded Charleston on Friday night at 8:15 at the Charleston Civic Center.

Six players reached double figures for GSC, led by 15 from Donte Morales. Sedric Nady and Brett Morris scored 13 each, and Brien Winston, Luke Campbell and Juwan Wells each netted 10.

Tyler Maggard led UVa-Wise (2-26) with 14 points. Brian Sydnore added 13.

#6 Wheeling Jesuit 100, Urbana 84 | Final Stats

Wheeling Jesuit shot a blistering 64 percent from the field on its way to a 100-64 win over Urbana in the first round of the MEC Tournament at the McDonough Center.

The Cardinals (20-9) also hit 13-of-21 from behind the arc (62 percent) in the victory. WJU now advances to take on third-seeded Concord on Friday afternoon at 2:15 p.m.

Justin Fritts led the way for Wheeling Jesuit with 20 points on the night. Chase Lawson came off the bench to score 19, and Eric Siefertfinished with 15.

Urbana (6-23) was led by 31 points from Matt Csuhran. Mike Newton had 19 points and Carlas Jackson had 18.

►  MEC Women’s Basketball Tournament: First Round Wrap-Up

(Tuesday, March 03)

#9 UVa-Wise 77, #8 Concord 59 | Final Stats

UVa-Wise raced out to a 15-point halftime lead and defeated Concord, 77-59, in the first round of the MEC Tournament at the Carter Center.

The Cavs (10-19) advance to face top-seeded West Liberty on Thursday afternoon at 6 p.m. at the Charleston Civic Center.

UVa-Wise had all five starters reach double figures led by 18 from Taylor Sandidge. Blair Harding, Katie Jo Dockery and Kehana Grayer each scored 14, and Kayla Carey scored 10 and pulled down nine rebounds. UVa-Wise shot 47 percent from the field and dominated the glass, 50-33.

Concord (8-21) was led by 21 points from Jacqueline Kestner. Kylie Molisee had 12 points to go with 12 assists.

#7 Glenville State 81, #10 West Virginia State 70 | Final Stats

Keyanna Tate went for 37 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to lead Glenville State to an 81-70 win over West Virginia State in the first round of the MEC Tournament at the Waco Center.

The Pioneers (15-12) advance to take on Shepherd on Thursday at noon at the Charleston Civic Center.

GSC forced 25 turnovers in the game and had 21 offensive rebounds. In addition to Tate’s scoring, Katrina Salins added 16 points.

Rachel Ward led WVSU (8-20) with 21 points and Alexus Hobbs added 19.

#5 Fairmont State 110, #12 Urbana 80 | Final Stats

Hailey Garrett scored 30 points and added12 rebounds to lead Fairmont State to a 110-80 win over Urbana in the first round of the MEC Tournament at Joe Retton Arena.

The Falcons (22-7) advance to take on Wheeling Jesuit on Thursday night at 8:15 p.m. at the Charleston Civic Center.

FSU also received 22 points from Emily Lohr, 20 from Hallie Gunnoe and 19 from Amanda Ruffner.

Kennedy Boggs led Urbana (1-28) with 20 points. Katy Barkley scored 14 points to go with nine rebounds.

#6 Notre Dame 76, #11 West Virginia Wesleyan 63 | Final Stats

Notre Dame closed the game on a 15-3 run to pull out a 76-63 win over West Virginia Wesleyan in the first round of the MEC Tournament at Murphy Gymnasium.

The Falcons (18-11) were led by 21 points and eight rebounds by MEC Player of the Year Martha Nagbe. Kim Cook scored 11 and Alyssa Kraus chipped in 10 points.

Adrian Cunningham scored 16 points and Mari Stewart added 14 points in the loss for the Bobcats (4-23).

►  MEC Announces Men’s Basketball Awards

West Liberty’s Seger Bonifant is the 2015 Mountain East Conference Player of the Year, Wheeling Jesuit’s Pat Moseh is the Freshman of the Year, and Concord’s Kent McBride is the league’s Coach of the Year.

Bonifant, a junior from Berlin, Ohio, helped lead WLU to a second-straight MEC regular season title by averaging a league-best 24.1 points per game. He is sixth in the country in scoring, and leads the nation in three-point field goal percentage knocking down 53 percent of his shots from behind the arc while making 3.9 threes per game. He’s reached double figures in scoring in all 27 games this season for the fourth-ranked Hilltoppers.

Moseh, a freshman from Springfield, VA, led all MEC freshmen in scoring averaging 13.7 points per game to go with five rebounds per game for the Cardinals. He finished the season strong for WJU scoring in double figures in nine of his last 10 games and averaging 17.3 points during that stretch.

Picked to finish 10th in the MEC preseason poll, McBride guided Concord to a 20-8 record and a third-place finish in the Mountain East Conference in 2015. The 20 wins this season are the most in his four years as the Mountain Lions head coach, and the first 20-win season at CU in over a decade.

In addition to the individual awards, the league also announced 2014-15 all-conference teams. Joining Bonifant on the first team were repeat selections Eric Siefert (Wheeling Jesuit) and Lawrence DeArmond (Notre Dame). Concord’s Mike Boyd and Aaron Miller, along with Nick Harney (Fairmont State), Tanner McGrew (West Virginia Wesleyan) and Donte Morales (Glenville State) also earned first team recognition.

WLU’s C.J. Hester and Devin Hoehn and Charleston’s Chris Evans and Jevonte Hughes were second team honorees, along with Justin Fritts (Wheeling Jesuit), Tyree Gaiter (Notre Dame), Markee Mazyck (West Virginia State) and Jamel Morris (Fairmont State).

The All-MEC teams are selected by a vote of the league’s coaches.

2015 All-MEC First Team
Name School Cl. Pos. Ht. Hometown
Seger Bonifant West Liberty Jr. F 6-7 Berlin, Ohio
Mike Boyd Concord Sr. G 6-0 Cincinnati, Ohio
Lawrence DeArmond Notre Dame Sr. G/F 6-1 Cincinnati, Ohio
Nick Harney Fairmont State Sr. F 6-8 Cleveland, Ohio
Tanner McGrew WV Wesleyan Sr. F 6-8 Buckhannon, WV
Aaron Miller Concord So. G 6-1 Stephens City, VA
Donte Morales Glenville State Sr. G 6-5 Virginia Beach, VA
Eric Siefert Wheeling Jesuit Jr. G 6-4 Reynoldsburg, Ohio
2015 All-MEC Second Team
Name School Cl. Pos. Ht. Hometown
Chris Evans Charleston Sr. G 6-3 Stamford, CT
Justin Fritts Wheeling Jesuit Jr. G 6-1 Mentor, Ohio
Tyree Gaiter  Notre Dame Jr. G 5-7 Cleveland Heights, Ohio
C.J. Hester West Liberty Sr. F 6-4 West Mifflin, PA
Devin Hoehn West Liberty So. G 6-0 Parkersburg, WV
Jevonte Hughes Charleston Jr. F 6-5 Kalamazoo, MI
Markee Mazyck WV State Jr. F 6-6 Washington, D.C.
Jamel Morris Fairmont State Jr. G 6-4 Gahanna, Ohio
2015 All-MEC Honorable Mention
Name School Cl. Pos. Ht. Hometown
Austin Cunningham Shepherd Sr. G 6-2 Belpre, Ohio
Terry Hopewell Concord Jr. F 6-8 Columbus, Ohio
Morgan McDonald Shepherd Sr. F 6-6 Inwood, WV
Reggie Williams Glenville State Sr. G 6-3 Virginia Beach, VA
Thomas Wimbush Fairmont State So. F/G 6-7 Lorain, Ohio
Player of the Year: Seger Bonifant (West Liberty)
Freshman of the Year: Pat Moseh (Wheeling Jesuit)
Coach of the Year: Kent McBride (Concord)

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Kansas fights off WVU in OT, wins Big 12 outright

An overtime nail-biter saw No. 9 Kansas win the Big 12 regular season title outright with a hard-fought 76-69 comeback victory over No. 20 West Virginia.

The Mountaineers led by eight with under two minutes remaining in regulation to put themselves on the verge of spoiling Kansas’ Senior Night, something no team had done in over 30 years.

But the Jayhawks (24-6, 13-4 Big 12), despite losing leading scorer Perry Ellis to an injury and missing all 15 of their 3-point attempts, battled back and survived to win their 32nd straight home finale. They finished 16-0 at home this season and have won 24 straight at Allen Fieldhouse.

Frank Mason III led Kansas with 19 points, Jamari Traylor added 14 points and nine rebounds, and Kelly Oubre Jr. and Devonte’ Graham combined for 22 points off the bench for the victors.

“I just felt like we had to make plays, guys were stepping up and we fought back,“ said Traylor.

Winning in Lawrence is tough enough, but the Mountaineers (22-8, 10-7) nearly pulled off the feat with leading scorer Juwan Staten (ankle) and starting guard Gary Browne (ankle) both sidelined. Staten hit the go-ahead shot in the final seconds against the Jayhawks two weeks ago.

“We just didn’t do enough at the end, but I thought our guys played hard,“ West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said. “We didn’t play very smart.“

The rematch was not pretty, with both teams combining for 38 turnovers and West Virginia shooting just 16-of-28 from the foul line compared to Kansas’ 34-of-43 showing from the stripe.

Jevon Carter, who scored 25 points in a loss to Baylor on Saturday, shot 0- for-10 from the floor and missed two big free throws late in regulation. Daxter Miles Jr. scored a team-high 23 points, while Jonathan Holton totaled 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Ellis did not get a chance at redeeming himself after missing a potential game-winner at the buzzer against West Virginia two weeks ago. The star forward suffered an apparent knee injury on a collision with a teammate near the end of the first half and did not return.

His injury compounded a miserable start for the Jayhawks, who went nearly nine minutes without hitting a field goal early on and trailed by 18 at one point.

The Jayhawks fell in a 22-10 hole because of their drought and faced a daunting 40-22 deficit after Tarik Phillip scored off the offensive glass with under two minutes to go before halftime. West Virginia pulled down an impressive 14 offensive boards in the first half alone and took a 40-26 cushion in the break.

It was West Virginia’s turn to go cold in the second half. Kansas took advantage and used a 9-0 run to pull within single digits, 42-35, following a Wayne Selden Jr. dunk less than five minutes in.

The Mountaineers still held a seemingly comfortable 57-49 lead with under two minutes left in regulation, but after Kansas’ Brannen Greene hit a pair of free throws, they threw the ensuing inbounds directly out of bounds. Traylor and Mason both hit buckets in the lane to pull the Jayhawks within two.

Carter went 1-for-2 at the free throw line on two straight trips around a Mason layup to keep the Jayhawks within two, and Graham tied things with two free throws after he was fouled away from the basket with 11.5 seconds left.

After Carter missed a straightaway 3-pointer, Landen Lucas blocked Nathan Adrian on the right block at the buzzer.

West Virginia turned it over three times and missed two more free throws in overtime, and the Jayhawks, who had not led since it was 6-4, took control with their suddenly deafening crowd behind them.

Traylor’s emphatic slam in transition gave Kansas the lead for good at 67-65, and Mason scored the team’s final eight points, including six from the foul line in the final minute.

Game Notes

Kansas earned at least a share of the Big 12 title for the 11th straight year ... Kansas only sports one senior on its roster in the seldom-used Christian Garrett, who was inserted into the starting lineup and got his name in the scorebook with an early foul ... The Mountaineers went 6-4 in true road games ... Kansas came in leading the conference in 3-point shooting at 39.7 percent ... Nebraska was the last team win in Kansas’ home finale, doing so on March 02, 1983.

<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Tuesday, March 03)

Final Score: (1) Kentucky 72, Georgia 64

Kentucky put a scare into Big Blue Nation, but Karl-Anthony Towns and the top-ranked Wildcats found a way to win another close game. Towns scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half and No. 1 Kentucky rallied past Georgia 72-64 in front of a raucous Stegeman Coliseum crowd to remain unbeaten. The Bulldogs had Kentucky on the ropes, leading by nine past the midpoint of the second half. But like it has so many times this season, the Wildcats flipped the switch at the right time. Aaron Harrison scored 16 points and his brother Andrew had 12 for Kentucky (30-0, 17-0 SEC), which will try to polish off a perfect regular season when it hosts Florida on Saturday. Nemanja Djurisic paced Georgia (19-10, 10-7) with 18 points, and fellow senior Marcus Thornton chipped in 14 on Senior Night.

Final Score: (4) Villanova 76, Creighton 72

Ryan Arcidiacono’s three-point play late in the game led No. 4 Villanova to a 76-72 victory over Creighton on Tuesday. Arcidiacono had 23 points, Dylan Ennis added 19 points and Josh Hart had nine points and five rebounds for the Wildcats (28-2, 15-2 Big East), who have won 11 straight and already secured the Big East title. Austin Chatman had 21 points and five rebounds, James Milliken added 12 points and Rick Kreklow donated 11 for the Bluejays (13-17, 4-13), who have lost their last two.

Final Score: (9) Kansas 76, (20) West Virginia 69 (OT)

An overtime nail-biter saw No. 9 Kansas win the Big 12 regular season title outright with a hard-fought 76-69 comeback victory over No. 20 West Virginia. The Mountaineers led by eight with under two minutes remaining in regulation to put themselves on the verge of spoiling Kansas’ Senior Night, something no team had done in over 30 years. But the Jayhawks (24-6, 13-4 Big 12), despite losing leading scorer Perry Ellis to an injury and missing all 15 of their 3-point attempts, battled back and survived to win their 32nd straight home finale. They finished 16-0 at home this season and have won 24 straight at Allen Fieldhouse. Frank Mason III led Kansas with 19 points, Jamari Traylor added 14 points and nine rebounds, and Kelly Oubre Jr. and Devonte’ Graham combined for 22 points off the bench for the victors.

Final Score: (10) Maryland 60, Rutgers 50

Dez Wells had 20 points and 10 rebounds and No. 10 Maryland held on for a 60-50 win over lowly Rutgers on Tuesday. Wells keyed an 8-0 Maryland run after Rutgers tied the score with around six minutes remaining in the game. His bank shot stopped a Rutgers flurry and his steal and breakaway dunk highlighted the Terrapins burst, which gave them a 53-45 lead. Rutgers scored the next five points, but Wells came through again with a tough layup despite lots of contact from Scarlet Knights forward Kadeem Jack, giving Maryland a five-point lead with just over a minute to play. Jake Layman added 14 points and Melo Trimble had 10 for the Terrapins (25-5, 13-4 Big Ten), who have won six in a row since a loss at Iowa on Feb. 8.

Final Score: (19) North Carolina 81, Georgia Tech 49

Joel Berry II scored 15 points and Justin Jackson added 13 as No. 19 North Carolina coasted to an 81-49 road victory over lowly Georgia Tech on Tuesday. The Tar Heels (21-9, 11-6 ACC) posted back-to-back wins for the first time in over a month and head into Saturday’s home showdown against rival Duke with a head of steam. Seven UNC players scored at least seven points, and Marcus Paige’s career-high six steals highlighted a defense that forced 18 Georgia Tech turnovers. Charles Mitchell and Demarco Cox scored 16 and 14 points, respectively, to lead the Yellow Jackets (12-18, 3-15), who finished their regular season on a four-game losing skid. They will be one of the bottom three seeds in the ACC Tournament next week.

Final Score: Georgetown 60, (21) Butler 54

D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera made two key free throws with 6.2 seconds left to help the Georgetown Hoyas hold off the 21st-ranked Butler Bulldogs, 60-54, on Tuesday. Butler pulled within 56-54 on Alex Barlow’s layup with 52.1 seconds remaining. Following an empty possession for each team, Joshua Smith missed the front end of a one-on-one. Kameron Woods came down with the defensive rebound but Smith-Rivera snuck up from behind for the steal. Smith-Rivera made both foul shots to give Georgetown a 58-54 edge. Tre Campbell then recorded another steal before making two free throws.

►  Wild week leads to changes across AP Top 25 poll

The stability of The Associated Press Top 25 these past several weeks blew up during a tumultuous week of big victories and upsets.

Kentucky, Division I’s only undefeated team, remained entrenched at No. 1 after two routs. The Wildcats (29-0) were a unanimous choice for the fifth straight week after receiving all 65 first-place votes from a media panel Monday.

Two more weeks on top and Kentucky will become the eighth team and first since UNLV in 1991 to go wire-to-wire in the AP poll. Virginia (27-7) held at No. 2 following two lopsided wins.

Then the fun begins. This was a week in which 15 of the 25 teams from the previous poll lost, including two that lost twice.

Gonzaga and Wisconsin both lost, so the next three teams behind them moved up: Duke one place to No. 3, Villanova and Arizona each up two spots. The Badgers fell to sixth after losing to Maryland and the Bulldogs dropped four spots to No. 7 after losing to BYU.

No. 8 Wichita State moved back into the top 10 after winning its Missouri Valley Conference showdown with Northern Iowa. Kansas dropped a spot to No. 9 after losing to Kansas State.

Maryland’s wins over Wisconsin and Michigan moved the Terrapins into the top 10 for the first time since 2003.

Northern Iowa’s first trip to the top 10 lasted one week; the Panthers were down to No. 11 after the loss to the Shockers. Notre Dame also fell out of the top 10, down three spots to No. 12 after losing to Syracuse.

Despite all the changes, the top seven — in various orders — have remained the same for seven straight weeks. It’s the first time that’s happened since the 1992-93 season, when the top seven held up for eight straight weeks.

Got all that?

And that was just the top 10.

The rest of the poll was just as chaotic, with only three teams holding steady from last week: No. 13 Utah, No. 18 Arkansas and No. 20 West Virginia. All three teams lost.

There’s only two weeks left until the final poll March 16, but with the conference tournaments coming up, quite a few more changes could be on the way.


TERRAPINS’ RISE: A founding member of the ACC, Maryland switched to the Big Ten this season and has quickly established itself among the conference’s best teams.

With their 59-53 win over then-No. 5 Wisconsin and a victory over Michigan last week, the 10th-ranked Terps moved into the top 10 this week for the first time being ranked No. 8 on February 4, 2003.

Maryland (24-5) finished 18-1 at home and was unbeaten there in Big Ten games after beating the Wolverines 66-56 on Saturday.

RACING RACERS: Murray State made a name for itself by climbing to No. 9 in the 2012 AP poll and finishing 12th. The Racers are back in the poll for the first time since then, thanks to a 24-game winning streak.

Murray State (26-4) finished its Ohio Valley Conference season 16-0 and heads into this week’s conference tournament as the No. 1 seed as it tries to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012.

RISING AND FALLING: The biggest move was by No. 14 Baylor, which rose five sports after defeating Iowa State and West Virginia. Iowa State had the biggest drop, down five spots to No. 17 after losing to the Bears and Kansas State.

No. 19 North Carolina, like Gonzaga, fell four places after losing to North Carolina State.


Ohio State returned to the poll at No. 23 to join Murray State as this week’s newcomers.

VCU dropped out from No. 22 after falling to Richmond and Dayton. San Diego State’s return to the poll lasted one week; the Aztec

►  Putting numbers to the NCAA tournament’s so-called ‘bubble’

With less than two weeks before the NCAA tournament selection committee unveils this year’s 68-team men’s basketball bracket, expect to hear a lot of talk about “the bubble”: Who’s on it? Who’s off it? Whose burst? ¶ But what does “the bubble” really mean? ¶ It would seem a quite amorphous term, particularly because it appears to be applied to nearly every team outside the AP top 25. But studying the history of at-large bids provides a much more rigid definition of the bubble; the flux involves the teams bouncing around it.

A look back at RPI profiles dating from the 2000 NCAA tournament illuminates a fairly consistent cutline and a strong correlation among at-large bids, total losses and ranking in the Ratings Percentage Index.

When tournament selection committee members are asked to justify their choices, two questions comprise a familiar refrain: “Who did you play?” and “Who did you beat?” With a formula that evaluates performance based on the location and quality of a team’s victories and emphasizes strength of schedule (75% is based off a team’s opponents and their opponents’ opponents), that’s precisely what the RPI does.

Since the tournament field expanded to 68 teams in 2011 (37 of them at-large bids until the American Athletic Conference automatic bid reduced that to 36 in 2014), a total of 147 at-large bids have been handed out.

Thirteen of them have gone to teams with 13 or more losses (8.8%). The 14-loss teams have earned 3.4% of those bids. In terms of the RPI, just two teams have cracked the field with a rank of 60 or worse. On the other side, 94.5% of teams ranked 50th or better have made the tournament one way or another since 2011. Still lingering in the 50s? You’re squarely on the bubble.

What’s all this mean for the 2015 bubble?

Here’s a look at the more curious cases as we approach Selection Sunday:

No team, from any conference with an RPI of 30 or better, has missed the tournament since 2011. Three teams could test the security of history this season: Colorado State, Tulsa and Boise State. But any loss from here out by those teams likely would bounce them out of the top 30, thus keeping this benchmark secure.
Outliers on the inside

Since 2011, the only eligible major conference teams in the top 50 of the RPI to miss the cut have been Missouri (No. 49) and Minnesota (No. 50) last season. Even after you add in the remaining conferences, a full 94.5% of the 200 teams in the top 50 from 2011 to 2014 made the tournament.

But 94.5% isn’t 100%. So who are the teams in peril in 2015? The top candidates:

Colorado State/Boise State: The Rams’ strength of schedule ranks 114th and impresses precisely no one. They have one big win over a surefire tournament team (San Diego State), with their next best coming at home against Boise State, another team fighting to stay in the bracket despite a strong RPI ranking (28).

Buffalo: Games against Kentucky and Wisconsin have helped keep the Bulls’ RPI ranking strong (31), but they have no wins against the RPI top 50 and likewise have no shot at an NCAA tournament spot unless they win the Mid-American Conference’s automatic bid.
The true bubble teams

Texas is just 5-12 against the RPI top 100 and already is guaranteed a losing conference record, but that conference (the Big 12) also is the nation’s best according to the RPI.

The Longhorns can’t afford to lose out, but a top 50 RPI entering Monday night’s game against Baylor and the 11th-strongest schedule in the nation will keep them in the conversation for the final few spots.

Three teams truly precariously perched entering the season’s final week all reside in the Big Ten: Indiana (RPI No. 44), Purdue (57) and Illinois (59). Purdue and Illinois play the last week of the regular season. That’s likely do-or-die for the Illini, but the Boilermakers can finish no worse than 11-7 in the Big Ten. The last time a Big Ten team posted a winning conference record and missed the tournament was Illinois in 2010, but that team had 15 losses overall.

Pittsburgh has two big wins (at home over Notre Dame and North Carolina), two bad losses (Hawaii and Virginia Tech) and no margin for error to end the regular season. The Panthers almost certainly need to knock off one of the ACC’s top teams in the conference tournament to get into the bracket.

Finally on the West Coast, UCLA and Stanford are trying to squeak in. The Bruins may have to bank on a strong strength of schedule (22nd in the nation). Stanford either has to upset Arizona in the regular season finale or hope no one notices its only top 50 RPI win is over a Texas team in rapid decline.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Mark Cuban will play the president on SyFy’s ‘Sharknado 3′

This summer’s “Sharknado 3″ will usher in the Cuban-Coulter administration.

The SyFy network said Monday that Dallas Mavericks owner and “Shark Tank” star Mark Cuban will play the president of the United States in the third installment of the goofy “Sharknado” TV movie series, set to premiere in July. Conservative commentator and author Ann Coulter will be his vice president.

The network previously said Bo Derek will have a cameo as star Tara Reid’s mother, Jerry Springer will play a tourist and ‘N Sync singer Chris Kirkpatrick will be a pool lifeguard.

This year the toothy storm terrorizes Washington, D.C., before moving down to Florida.

►  Jordan, other NBA owners join Forbes’ billionaire list

Michael Jordan and some other NBA owners have reached new heights, landing on Forbes world list of billionaires.

Forbes released its list on Monday and noted that Jordan’s net worth is estimated at $1 billion, thanks to his well-timed investment in the Charlotte Hornets.

Steve Ballmer, who recently purchased the Los Angeles Clippers, tops the list of sports-related billionaires with a net worth of $21.5 billion. The net worth of NBA franchise values increased this past year after Ballmer bought the Clippers for $2 billion.

Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander’s net worth is listed at $1.6 billion and Chicago Bulls’ owner Jerry Reinsdorf is worth $1.3 billion, according to the magazine.

Jordan and Reinsdorf are newcomers to the list while Alexander returns for the first time since 2007.

The 52-year-old Jordan, a Hall of Fame player who won six NBA championships with the Bulls, reached billionaire status last June, according to the magazine. This is his first year on Forbes’ annual list which typically is released in March.

Jordan acquired the majority stake in the Hornets in 2010 for $175 million. Forbes last June listed Jordan’s equity as owner of the Hornets is $416 million and his net worth outside of the team to be $600 million.

Among the other notables of sports-related billionaires is Seahawks owner Paul Allen, worth $17.5 billion.

Some other NFL owners to make the list include Stephen Ross (Dolphins, $6.5 billion) Stanley Kroenke (Rams, $6.3 billion), Robert Kraft (Patriots, $4.3 billion) and Jerry Jones, (Cowboys, $4.2 billion).

►  Nothin’ but Net: East playoff spots up for grabs

In an NBA defined recently by who DOESN’T want to make the postseason, there is a playoff race for the final two spots in the Eastern Conference over the final six weeks.

The Atlanta Hawks are on the verge of clinching a postseason berth and lead the conference by 9 1/2 games. I’d have to both get a shower and go to confession if I told you that was going to happen.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are in and would be the favorite right now. The Chicago Bulls and their MASH unit will go. The Toronto Raptors haven’t looked good in two weeks, but own a 12-game lead in the Atlantic Division.

The Washington Wizards, despite playing like the Washington Generals, will play into late April.

And, yes, the Milwaukee Bucks are going to the playoffs, despite having the worst record in the league last season, losing the favorite for NBA Rookie of the Year to a torn ACL, trading their fringe All-Star point guard at the deadline, and having a coach who was generally considered a joke about 13 months ago. It’s a funny world. It snows in March, Matthew McConaughey has an Oscar and the Bucks are in the postseason.

That essentially leaves two spots, assuming epic meltdowns don’t occur. Washington and Milwaukee are not playing well at the moment, but the Wiz are eight ahead of the eighth seed and the Bucks are 6 1/2 clear.

These final slots are wide open.

The Miami Heat, the four-time reigning Eastern Conference champions, own the seventh seed with a half-game lead over the Brooklyn Nets. Both are playoff- tested franchises with talent, but not enough to make them mortal locks come tax day.

The Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets, both playoff teams a season ago, trail Brooklyn by a half-game. The Boston Celtics are 1 1/2 games behind and the Detroit Pistons are 2 1/2 back.

I examined future schedules and data to best prognosticate who will get those two final spots.

As the seventh seed, the Heat are in the best position, but it’s tenuous. They made a sensational deadline deal to bring Goran Dragic, an All-NBA third- teamer last season, to Miami. It’s the kind of move that made most think the Heat would be a team no one wanted to see in the playoffs.

Then, Chris Bosh was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs. That’s an All- Star big man, who was having a strong season, done for the remainder of the docket.

The Heat have 23 games remaining, 13 are at home and 10 are away. They play 11 games against opponents with winning records, 12 losers. What really works in Miami’s favor is that the Heat close the season with a home game against the Orlando Magic and a road tilt versus Philly. That’s cupcake city.

How much does Erik Spoelstra need Dwyane Wade to make the postseason? Does Spo play him in games he should normally rest in order to get to the playoffs? Can Dragic get acclimated quick enough? All fair questions.

The Nets have 24 games left and their home-road split is best among contenders, or so-called contenders. Brooklyn has 15 games at the Barclays Center and nine on the road. However, with 11 home wins, does it matter?

What can the Nets get out of Deron Williams, who has looked good recently? They have 20 conference losses, which is a lot considering the weakness of Eastern teams. A huge problem on the horizon for the Nets is that seven of their last eight are versus winning teams, including two with Atlanta.

The Pacers are the most interesting team lurking. With 13 home games and 10 road tilts, that’s in their favor, but their last three are against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Washington and the season finale in Memphis. That’s not a great set-up if the Pacers desperately need those wins.

The biggest factor in any Indiana postseason run is the availability of Paul George. He’s ahead of schedule from that vomit-inducing leg break in the summer. He wants to come back in two weeks and could obviously be a huge difference maker. Head coach Frank Vogel won’t throw George into the mix 30 minutes a night, but getting one of the 15 best players in the league back in time for a playoff push is obviously a huge advantage. He’ll keep the defense strong and improve an offense ranked 24th in scoring, 23rd in field-goal percentage and 22nd in 3-point shooting.

Charlotte is in a similar position. They are waiting for Kemba Walker to get back from knee surgery and it could be another two weeks. Coach Steve Clifford is already planning on playing Walker and Mo Williams together. Williams has been crazy good since coming before the deadline.

The Hornets are scary when healthy because they usually defend. Williams won’t help that, but Charlotte has 14 of its final 25 versus teams with losing records. The Hornets have a west trip still on the docket, but it’s not overwhelming with stops in Utah, Sacramento and Minnesota.

The Hornets have to be a little concerned with three of their last four on the season as visitors. The home game is against the Houston Rockets, so that’s no bargain and two of the road opponents are Atlanta and Toronto, the top two teams in the conference, but will those squads have anything to play for by then?

Boston also has been aided by a trade deadline move. Isaiah Thomas has already won the Eastern Conference Player of the Week honor in his first week with the Celtics.

Boston has 14 road games as opposed to 11 home contests. The C’s last four opponents all have winning records. That doesn’t bode well, but the bigger question for the Celtics is, do they kill themselves to try to make the playoffs? They’d be better served missing the postseason and continuing Danny Ainge’s impressive rebuilding.

The Pistons have the tallest mountain to climb considering they’re farthest down in the standings. Their season turned around as soon as they showed Josh Smith the door, but when Brandon Jennings’ left Achilles turned into a fruit roll-up, their chances seemingly died.

Detroit has only nine home games left. The Pistons play only 10 games against opponents with winning records the rest of the way and five of their last six are against teams with losing records. Four of those five are versus Miami, Indiana, Charlotte and Boston and all four are at The Palace, so the Pistons won’t have any excuses if they’re still in it.

The easiest choices would be Indiana and Charlotte. Both teams are getting humongous pieces back that could easily sway the balance of power in the Eastern Conference.

Digging deeper, another reason to pick these two teams is that both rank in the top five in the NBA in opponents’ scoring. Indiana is fourth and Charlotte is tied for fifth, and contrary to what you might read or however cliche it might be, defense still wins in this league.

However, I’m only going with one of those teams and that’s the Hornets. Walker is much more of a sure bet when he returns than George. Williams is playing at an extraordinary level and offense is tough for a Hornets’ team ranked 27th in scoring.

I’m not convinced George will be able to give the Pacers enough. His comeback is a good idea because the Pacers could be a viable threat with George in the postseason, but that’s a brutal injury to return from, not just physically, but mentally. I have more faith in what Walker can provide the Hornets.

My other choice is Miami. The Heat have the most talented backcourt in the race and the secondary pieces have emerged. Hassan Whiteside has become a dominant big man, at least in the Eastern Conference. Luol Deng has to have some of that All-Star magic somewhere.

Dragic is a borderline star. Can he carry a team? I think so. His motivation has to be astronomical now that he forced his way out of Phoenix, or Phoenix forced him out. Depends on what side you’re on in this Ross/Rachel debate.

Wade can still contribute at a high level. However, the three reasons I like the Heat over everyone else are: They are one of the teams the Hornets are tied for fifth with in opponents’ scoring, young, enthused role players and Spoelstra.

Tyler Johnson scored 26 points on Monday. He won’t do that a lot, but Michael Beasley, yes, Michael Beasley, was a good signing. Mario Chalmers is more suited to a bench role.

And, Spoelstra is a fantastic postseason coach. It’s easy to dismiss him as someone who thrived with LeBron James, but he’s more than that. He maximized what he got from players along the way. This Heat team looks like a fifth- grade CYO group compared to the Big Three days, but Spo will get the most from his guys and knows what it takes down the stretch.

There are plenty of game left to decide everything and this battle for the final two spots lacks the sex appeal of Oklahoma City trying to blow up the Western Conference race.

In fact, with these six teams a combined 46 games under .500, this race lacks the sex appeal of a shoe. Remember, the Hawks took the Pacers to seven games as the eighth seed last season. Anything is possible and with the likes of a Wade or George in the mix, these squads could be mildly dangerous in the postseason.  ~~  Jim Brighters ~~

►  NBA Game Results

(Tuesday, March 03)

Final Score: Charlotte 104, LA Lakers 103

Al Jefferson had 21 points and 16 rebounds as the Charlotte Hornets held off the Los Angeles Lakers 104-103 on Tuesday night. Mo Williams posted 20 points and 13 assists, while Gerald Henderson added 21 points and five helpers for the Hornets, who have won two straight on the heels of a 1-6 stretch. Jeremy Lin tallied 23 points, eight assists and six rebounds off the bench and Carlos Boozer provided 15 points and 11 boards for Los Angeles, which has dropped nine of its last 12 contests.

Final Score: Cleveland 110, Boston 79

LeBron James scored 27 points with a full line and the Cleveland Cavaliers dismantled the Boston Celtics 110-79 on Tuesday. James silenced his critics with a dominant performance just two days after missing two crucial free throws late in an overtime loss to the Rockets. James missed 20 field goals and shot 3-for-11 from the foul line in that loss, Cleveland’s second in a row. Kyrie Irving returned from a two-game absence and added 18 points for the Cavs, while Kevin Love and J.R. Smith gave 12 points apiece. The Cavaliers made all 14 of their free throws as a team.

Final Score: Sacramento 124, New York 86

Rudy Gay supplied 25 points with seven rebounds in the Sacramento Kings’ 124-86 rout of the New York Knicks on Tuesday night. DeMarcus Cousins returned to the Sacramento lineup after missing the previous two games with ankle and hip injuries to score 22 points and grab 10 rebounds in the win. Ben McLemore had 20 points and Derrick Williams added 17 for the Kings, who snapped a two-game losing streak in the opener of a franchise record-tying eight-game road trip. New York had a tough time on the offensive end throughout the night, shooting 36.6 percent for the game as no starter scored in double figures. Alexey Shved led the Knicks with 15 points, while Jason Smith and Shake Larkin each tallied 13 points off the bench.

Final Score: Atlanta 104, Houston 96

The short-handed Houston Rockets gave their best Atlanta Hawks impersonation for three quarters on Tuesday. The fourth quarter, however, showed just how valuable James Harden really is. The Hawks rallied from 15 points down over the final 10 minutes and beat the Rockets, 104-96, to earn their fifth straight win and clinch the NBA’s first playoff berth. Jeff Teague scored 25 points, Paul Millsap finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds, and Al Horford added 18 points, including the go-ahead jumper down the stretch for the victors.

Final Score: Chicago 97, Washington 92

A pair of hustle plays led to a Chicago Bulls win Tuesday night. It’s something they’ll have to rely on without two of their stars for the next month. Nikola Mirotic had 23 points and eight rebounds, Pau Gasol added 20 points and 10 rebounds and the Bulls held off the Washington Wizards for a 97-92 victory. With Chicago clinging to a 94-91 lead in the final minute, Aaron Brooks lost the ball while going up for a reverse, but Mirotic won the race for a loose ball along the sideline and drew a foul with 35.5 seconds remaining. He sunk 1-of-2 foul shots to extend the margin to four and Otto Porter split a pair at the other end to again cut the deficit to three. The Wizards elected to play the Bulls’ ensuing offensive possession out and Tony Snell was off the mark on a right wing 3- pointer, but Gasol got position for an offensive rebound and was fouled. He made both free throws to seal the triumph with 8.5 ticks on the clock. The Bulls announced Monday that All-Star guard Jimmy Butler could miss 3-to-6 weeks with injuries to his left elbow suffered during Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers. The team, of course, was already dealing with the loss of former MVP Derrick Rose, who will miss up to six weeks after having surgery on Friday to repair a medial meniscus tear in his right knee. Brooks netted 22 points to go with eight assists and Joakim Noah supplied 14 points and 12 boards for the Bulls, who have won four of their last six games. John Wall tallied 21 points and 11 assists to lead free-falling Washington, which has dropped seven of its last eight contests.

Final Score: Utah 93, Memphis 82

Rudy Gobert scored 15 points and set a career high with 24 rebounds as the Utah Jazz defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 93-82 on Tuesday. Gobert pulled down 18 defensive rebounds in Utah’s third straight win—the first time it has done so this season. Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors each scored 21 points and Rodney Hood added 13 points off the bench in the win. Courtney Lee led Memphis with 18 points, Marc Gasol had 17 points with eight rebounds and Jordan Adams set a career high with 13 points.

Final Score: Denver 106, Milwaukee 95

Danilo Gallinari posted a season-high 26 points to lead the Denver Nuggets in a 106-95 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night in Melvin Hunt’s interim debut with the team. The Nuggets fired head coach Brian Shaw earlier in the day, citing that he ran out of time to turn the organization around. Shaw, who went 56-85 in Denver, had his trouble over his tenure with the Nuggets and even admitted earlier this season that he needed coaching books to help him with ways to handle the players. Ty Lawson finished with 16 points and 10 assists for Denver, which snapped a 10-game losing streak at home—including a six-game skid overall. Kenneth Faried netted 14 points with 14 rebounds in the win. Ersan Ilyasova led the Bucks with 21 points, Khris Middleton had 20 points with seven rebounds and six assists, and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 19 points with 11 rebounds. Milwaukee has lost three straight games.

►  Nuggets fire Shaw

The Denver Nuggets have fired head coach Brian Shaw.

Denver enters play on Tuesday with a 20-39 record this season, Shaw’s second at the helm. Overall, he was 56-85 as the team’s head coach.

“I want to sincerely thank Brian for his time with our organization,“ said Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly. “You won’t find a better guy than Brian and he is one of the brightest basketball minds I’ve ever been around. Unfortunately things didn’t go as we hoped, but we know with his basketball acumen that he has a very bright future ahead of him.“

Nuggets president Josh Kroenke added that Shaw just ran out of time to turn things around.

“This season our management staff has remained patient and supportive as decisions of this nature are never taken lightly,“ Kroenke said. “Patience is encouraged, as long as the organization continues to show progress toward a greater goal.

“However, competing for championships is our goal, and therefore we decided to make this decision now and look forward to conducting an extensive head coaching search upon the season’s conclusion. This has been a trying season for all of us, and we appreciate Nuggets fans continued faith and patience as we build our proud organization back to the NBA’s elite.“

Melvin Hunt has been named interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

Hunt was in his fifth season as an assistant coach with the Nuggets. He came to Denver after spending five years as an assistant coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers (2005-2010). Prior to that he spent one season as an assistant with the Los Angeles Lakers and five seasons in various capacities with the Houston Rockets.

►  Mavs sign James for remainder of season

The Dallas Mavericks signed center Bernard James for the remainder of the season on Tuesday.

James was originally signed to his first of two 10-day contracts on February 11.

Since joining the Mavericks, he has averaged 4.4 points and 4.4 rebounds in five games (two starts).

►  Heat sign Walker to second 10-day contract

The Miami Heat signed forward Henry Walker to a second 10-day contract on Tuesday.

Walker, who was originally signed to a 10-day contract by the Heat on February 21, has appeared in five games with one start, averaging 9.4 points and 3.2 rebounds.

Walker has appeared in 17 games for the Heat’s NBA Development League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, this season, averaging 15.1 points and 3.9 rebounds.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Ventura among 8 players signed by Royals

The Kansas City Royals agreed to contracts for the 2015 season with Yordano Ventura and seven other players on Tuesday.

Ventura, 23, was 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 30 starts and one relief appearance as a rookie with the Royals in 2014. He made four postseason starts, earning the win in Game 6 of the World Series against the San Francisco Giants.

Outfielders Reymond Fuentes, Terrance Gore and Paulo Orlando, infielders Christian Colon and Orlando Calixte, catcher Francisco Pena and pitcher Jandel Gustave were also signed, meaning every player on the 40-man roster have agreed to contracts for 2015.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top Shelf: Rangers go all in

The 2014-15 edition of the NHL trade deadline was short on dramatic moves designed to take a shot at the big prize.

One exception, however, involved the New York Rangers, a team that is left wanting more after its trip to the Stanley Cup Finals last spring.

On Sunday afternoon, about 24 hours shy of the deadline, Rangers general manager Glen Sather gave up a boatload to acquire Keith Yandle from the Arizona Coyotes. In theory, the move gives New York a missing ingredient, a dynamic offensive defenseman.

In order to land Yandle, who was finally dealt after being dangled as trade bait by the Coyotes for years, the Rangers surrendered a sizeable chunk of future assets, but it’s clear Sather is more focused on the next few months rather than the next several years.

New York sent the Coyotes defenseman John Moore, who played in 21 games for the Blueshirts during last spring’s playoffs, Anthony Duclair, a blue-chip forward prospect, as well as two draft picks—a 2016 first-rounder and a second-round selection at the upcoming draft.

In return, the Rangers received Yandle, defenseman Chris Summers, a 27-year- old who has played in only 64 NHL games, and a fourth-round pick in 2016. Obviously for Sather, it was all about acquiring Yandle, a player with enough offensive upside to make people look past his flaws in the defensive end.

One could argue New York didn’t need to do much at all in order to get back to the Cup Finals in 2015, but it’s obvious Sather doesn’t want to leave anything to chance. His team has weathered the recent storm without franchise goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who has been sidelined since early February with a vascular issue in his throat and neck but is due back in time for the postseason. The club also could have an eye on a Western Conference field that is strong but maybe not unbeatable as was believed to be the case just a few months back.

Although the defending Eastern Conference champions are tied for first place in the Metropolitan Division and flying high with a 9-1-1 mark over the last 11 games despite playing without the services of Lundqvist, the GM felt the club was missing a certain component in order to reach the top of the mountain. If he’s right, it could make the Rangers the team to beat in the East and possibly the entire NHL.

The Rangers had a handful of well-rounded blueliners before Yandle entered the picture, but the newcomer brings a puck-moving prowess that even guys like Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and Marc Staal sit back and envy. Yandle won’t be asked to equal those defensemen in terms of minutes and shut-down responsibilities. Instead, he’ll be tasked with improving the club’s transition game and finding better ways to get the disc up ice to New York’s stable of speedy forwards.

There also is the memory of last spring’s struggles with the man advantage. The Rangers made it to the Cup Finals to face Los Angeles in spite of their power-play unit, hitting on just 12.6% of their opportunities. The Kings, meanwhile, were at 23.5% for the postseason and potted seven more power-play markers in the playoffs than New York.

Sather initially thought he addressed this problem by signing veteran Dan Boyle to a two-year, $9 million contract last summer, but the 38-year-old blueliner has largely been a disappointment. Unlike Boyle, Yandle has never won a Stanley Cup and only has a fraction of Boyle’s playoff experience, but the ex-Coyote is a decade younger and hungry to prove he can be part of a winner.

Yandle was part of a victory in his Rangers debut Monday evening - a 4-1 triumph over the NHL-leading Nashville Predators. The new guy logged 19 minutes, 41 seconds of ice time and was active in the offensive zone, putting three shots on goal. Yandle did add another minus to his season stats, bringing his total to minus-33, a number that can be thrown out the window now that he’s left the dysfunctional Coyotes behind.

And it’s OK if Yandle continues to struggle on defense because he wasn’t brought in to be a shut-down guy. He was called upon to play that role in Arizona because of serious depth issues, but on Broadway there are plenty of other options who can limit the opposition’s scoring chances.

Yandle’s job is to make the Rangers even more dangerous on offense. They already possess a potent scoring attack, ranking second in the league with 3.11 goals per game, but offense has a funny way of drying up come playoff time. Yandle gives Sather’s head coach Alain Vigneault one more weapon just in case the scoring slows down when it matters most.

Sather knows he is giving up a great deal for what amounts to a one- dimensional player, but he did his homework on Yandle and believes he will be worth the cost.

“It’s a calculated risk whenever you do a deal,“ Sather said. “But this was the kind of player I wanted, the kind of player I was watching for a long time.“

Of course, the only way he’ll be worth it is if the Rangers can claim the Cup for their own. Barring a contract extension with his new club, Yandle has through the 2015-16 season to prove Sather’s gamble with the future was the right kind of risk.  ~~  Dan Di Sciullo ~~

►  NHL Game Results

(Tuesday, March 03)

Final Score: New Jersey 3, Nashville 1

Cory Schneider stopped 33 shots to lead the New Jersey Devils in a 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday. Adam Larsson, Eric Gelinas and Mike Cammalleri each scored a goal for the Devils, who have won their past two. Mike Fisher had the only goal of the game for the Predators, who have lost four straight in regulation. Carter Hutton allowed two goals on 23 shots in the loss.

Final Score: Calgary 3, Philadelphia 2 (OT)

Jiri Hudler’s marker at 1:23 of overtime sent Calgary past Philadelphia by a 3-2 count on Tuesday. Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund also tallied for the Flames, who improved to 9-3 in the extra session this season. Karri Ramo stood tall with 35-saves. Sean Couturier and Mark Streit scored for the Flyers, who have dropped three of their last four. Steve Mason stopped 23 pucks in defeat.

Final Score: Washington 5, Columbus 3

Alex Ovechkin scored twice and the Washington Capitals held off the Columbus Blue Jackets for a 5-3 win on Tuesday. Eric Fehr, Tom Wilson and Marcus Johansson also lit the lamp, Nicklas Backstrom and Jason Chimera each tallied two assists and Braden Holtby made 27 saves for the Capitals, who have won two straight games. Scott Hartnell posted two goals and an assist and David Savard also scored in the Blue Jackets’ seventh straight loss. Sergei Bobrovsky allowed four goals on 32 shots in his return to the ice after missing 17 games with a groin injury.

Final Score: Tampa Bay 3, Buffalo 0

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 28 saves for his first career shutout as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 on Tuesday. Vasilevskiy got the start after Ben Bishop suffered an injury in practice earlier in the day. Bishop was hit in the midsection with a puck about 10 minutes into practice and stayed down for a few moments before leaving the ice to see a trainer. Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan and Victor Hedman scored for the Lightning. Defenseman Braydon Coburn played his first game in a Tampa Bay uniform after being acquired from Philadelphia in the early hours of Monday. Anders Lindback stopped 32-of-35 shots in his first appearance for Buffalo since being acquired last month from Dallas. The Sabres, the worst team in the NHL with only 43 points, held a fire sale at Monday’s trade deadline. Buffalo shipped away forwards Chris Stewart, Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn and also dealt goaltender Michal Neuvirth. Buffalo received mostly prospects and draft picks in return, but got goaltender Chad Johnson in the Neuvirth deal.

Final Score: Toronto 3, Florida 2

The Toronto Maple Leafs scored two goals in the third period for a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, snapping a franchise-worst 16-game road losing streak. The Panthers? They spent part of the night wondering who their goaltender was going to be. It nearly was a coach. Roberto Luongo solved the problem, changing from street clothes back into his uniform to finish the third period for the injured Al Montoya. Luongo, who took a shot off his right shoulder late in the first period and didn’t return for the second, was forced back into duty after Montoya was hurt early in the third. Confusion reigned as Montoya skated off to the locker room, then returned twice in the third period. Amid the hubbub, Panthers goaltending coach Rob Tallas put on a uniform and took a seat on the bench under NHL Rule 5.3, which allows teams to dress any eligible player in a goaltender emergency. Nazem Kadri and Peter Holland both scored against Montoya in the first 5:28 of the third to give the Maple Leafs the lead. Tyler Bozak also found the back of the net for Toronto, which won on the road for the first time since Dec. 31 in Boston. Bernier finished with 40 saves. Brandon Pirri and Aaron Ekblad scored for the Panthers, who entered the game two points shy of Boston for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. They had a two-game winning streak snapped, falling to 2-2 on a seven-game homestand. Luongo made 19 saves and Montoya gave up three goals on 15 shots.

Final Score: Minnesota 3, Ottawa 2 (SO)

Charlie Coyle netted the shootout winner and Minnesota kept its recent run of success alive with a 3-2 decision over Ottawa at XCel Energy Center. Matt Dumba tallied twice in regulation for the Wild, who have won six of their last seven contests and improved to 14-2-1 since late January. Devan Dubnyk made a franchise record 21st consecutive start. The reigning NHL player of the month turned aside 31 shots for the win. Mika Zibanejad and Bobby Ryan scored for the Senators, who picked up a point for the sixth straight game but saw their five-game win streak halted. Andrew Hammond made 36 saves for the visitors.

Final Score: Dallas 3, NY Islanders 2 (OT)

Cody Eakin scored the deciding marker 2:18 into overtime as the Dallas Stars snapped a six-game skid and overcame some late adversity for a 3-2 win on Tuesday. The Islanders pulled Jaroslav Halak with over a minute to play and it paid off as Anders Lee took a failed clear and fired a shot on net from the left circle. His shot went off Stars defenseman Jordie Benn’s skate and into the net with 1.7 seconds showing on the clock. Dallas recovered during the extra session as Eakin finished off a 2-on-1 by snapping Jamie Benn’s feed past Halak for the game- winning goal. Brett Ritchie and Vernon Fiddler also lit the lamp and Kari Lehtonen made 35 saves in the Stars’ first overtime win at home since Feb. 26, 2012. Josh Bailey provided New York’s other goal, while Halak stopped 32-of-35 shots in defeat.

Final Score: Anaheim 4, Arizona 1

Andrew Cogliano scored twice and Jakob Silfverberg added a goal and two assists as Anaheim subdued Arizona by a 4-1 count on Tuesday. Ryan Kesler added the other marker for the Ducks, who have won three in a row and six of seven. Frederik Andersen backed up that effort with 29 saves. Tobias Rieder tallied for the Coyotes, whose first game since dealing defenseman Keith Yandle to the Rangers resulted in their 10th consecutive loss. Mike Smith stopped 31 shots.

Final Score: Los Angeles 5, Edmonton 2

Anze Kopitar and Trevor Lewis each tallied a goal and two assists as the Los Angeles Kings defeated the Edmonton Oilers 5-2 on Tuesday. Jeff Carter provided a short-handed marker, Matt Greene also scored and Jonathan Quick made 21 saves for the Kings, who ended a three-game skid. Luke Gazdic and Teddy Purcell each lit the lamp and Ben Scrivens allowed all five goals on 29 shots for Edmonton, which has lost four of its last five games.

Final Score: San Jose 6, Vancouver 2

Matt Nieto posted two goals and an assist to lead the San Jose Sharks in a 6-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. Logan Couture, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Chris Tierney and Melker Karlsson all scored for the Sharks, who have won their past two. Antti Niemi stopped 26 shots in the win. Henrik Sedin posted two goals and Daniel Sedin assisted on both of them for the Canucks, who had won three of four coming into the game. Jacob Markstrom’s first start of the year was short-lived as he gave up three goals on four shots in just under eight minutes of work. Eddie Lack stopped 23-of-24 shots in relief.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Wozniacki wins Kuala Lumpur opener

Top seed Caroline Wozniacki was an easy first-round winner Tuesday at the Malaysian Open tennis event.

The 2014 U.S. Open runner-up and former world No. 1 Danish star waltzed past Chinese qualifier Wang Yafan 6-3, 6-1 in 69 minutes on the indoor hardcourts at Bukit Resort.

Wozniacki will face another Chinese player, Lin Zhu, in the second round.

Upsets came when Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru tackled second-seeded former Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki, of Germany, 6-4, 7-5 and wild card Su-Wei Hsieh upended No. 3 seed Casey Dellacqua, of Australia, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3. Taipei’s Hsieh titled here in 2012.

Three other seeds joined Wozniacki in the round of 16, as No. 4 Aussie Jarmila Gajdosova handled Turkey’s Cagla Buyukakcay 7-5, 6-4, No. 5 Czech Klara Koukalova drilled Austrian Patricia Mayr-Achleitner 6-1, 6-3 and No. 8 German Julia Goerges got past Russian Alla Kudryavtseva 6-1, 7-6 (7-2).

Additional wins came for the aforementioned Zhu, Japan’s Misa Eguchi and German Carina Witthoeft.

This week’s champion will collect $43,000.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Harrington wins the Honda Classic in a playoff

Whether he was piling up majors or playing so poorly that he lost his PGA Tour card, Padraig Harrington never wavered from one goal in golf. Just get him anywhere near the lead with nine holes to play, and he would happily take his chances.

His caddie, Ronan Flood, reminded him of that Monday morning in the Honda Classic when Harrington was four shots behind at the turn.

“He said, ‘Look, would you have taken this on Thursday?’ And I said, ‘Yes, that’s what you want,‘” Harrington said. “You want to be in contention with nine holes to go, because anything can happen coming down the stretch. And it did.”

Not even Harrington could have written the script to his playoff victory at rain-soaked PGA National.

He ran off four straight birdies on the back nine to take the lead. He gave it back with a 5-iron into the water for double bogey on the par-3 17th. He made a 15-foot birdie putt to force a playoff. And given a shot at redemption, he hit 5-iron to 3 feet on the 17th to win on the second playoff hole when 21-year-old rookie Daniel Berger hit into the water and made double bogey.

Ten years after winning the Honda Classic for his first PGA Tour victory, Harrington won it again. It was his first PGA Tour victory since he won the 2008 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills for back-to-back majors.

Harrington lost his card last year and needed a sponsor’s exemption to get in the Honda Classic. Now he’s eligible for the Masters, The Players Championship and at least two World Golf Championships. He had fallen to No. 297 in the world. The 20th win of his career moved him to No. 82.

None of that mattered to him as he sat next to the trophy, Irish eyes smiling bright as ever.

“It’s not about what it means to my career or what it means going forward,” he said. “You don’t win that often. When you win, make sure you enjoy it.”

Harrington’s birdie on the 18th was the most meaningful putt he has holed since one from the same distance for par on the 18th at Oakland Hills. It gave him an even-par 70 and the second chance he needed in a playoff over Berger, the hometown rookie who finished birdie-birdie for a 6-under 64.

They finished at 6-under 274, the survivors of a day in which five players had a share of the lead at some point, and four of them found water at the worst time.

“It’s one of those golf courses where you get yourself in contention, it is a little bit uncomfortable,” Harrington said. “But that’s the way it is.”

That’s how it was for Ian Poulter.

He was staked to a three-shot lead going into the final round, which began Sunday afternoon because of rain delays. Poulter hit five shots into the water. One of them erased a three-shot lead. Another erased a two-shot lead. And when he hit two into the water on the 14th hole for triple bogey, he was done. Poulter finished birdie-birdie for a 75 to miss the playoff by one shot.

“It’s just bitterly disappointing to put myself in the position I have, to play as well as I’ve played … and a couple of loose shots has cost me this tournament,” Poulter said. “It’s a shame to hand tournaments away. I’ve handed one away this week.”

That’s how it was for Patrick Reed.

He matched birdies with Harrington on the 14th hole and they were tied at 7 under when Reed hit his tee shot into the water and made double bogey. He bogeyed the next two holes, shot 73 and finished three shots behind.

“I had three holes that kind of bit me,” he said.

And ultimately, that’s how it was for Berger. He had a 15-foot birdie putt to win on the 18th in a playoff and narrowly missed. Then, he watched Harrington hit 5-iron to within 3 feet on the 17th on the next playoff hole.

“He’s a great player, and that shot on 17 was kind of a dagger in the heart,” Berger said.

Paul Casey, who lost in a playoff at Riviera last week, was tied for the lead until a bogey on the 14th hole. He never caught up, missing a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th that would have got him into another playoff. He closed with a 68.

Casey tied for third with Russell Knox (68) and moved to No. 45, getting him into the World Golf Championship at Doral.

Phil Mickelson was four shots behind when the final round resumed Monday morning. He missed a 10-foot par putt at No. 9, didn’t make a birdie and shot 73 to tie for 17th.

Harrington was five shots behind when he pulled his tee shot at No. 11, so far left it was on a muddied patch of grass that had been trampled by the gallery. He hit 4-iron at the right flag, over the water, to 15 feet for a birdie and a three-shot swing when Poulter hit into the water for double bogey.

That was the start of four straight birdies. That one shot might explain one of the more complex minds in golf. In the lead with a good lie, he sees trouble. From behind and in trouble, he only sees opportunity.

“I’m not going to win the tournament unless I take it on,” he said.

With a one-shot lead on the 17th hole in regulation, he tried not to make a mistake and hit in the water. In a playoff on the 17th, he fired at the flag.

“Believe it or not,” he said with a smile, “when I get in contention I can still hit the shots.”

►  Olsen’s claims about Woods refuted, retracted

Dan Olsen, a onetime PGA Tour member, stated in a radio interview on Friday that Tiger Woods is serving a one-month suspension and is not injured. Olsen backtracked on that statement on Monday.

In an interview with 730 AM The Game in Lansing, Michigan, Olsen stated that he heard from a “credible source” that Woods had been suspended for one month for a failed drug test. Olsen said his source was an exempt tour player.

Olsen stated, “It’s not testosterone, but it’s something else. I think when it’s all said and done, he’s gonna surpass Lance Armstrong with infamy.“

Later in the interview, Olsen mentioned that Woods uses a “cheater ball.“

Both of those statements were denied on Monday.

“These claims are absolutely, unequivocally and completely false,“ said Mark Steinberg, Woods’ agent, in a statement. “They are unsourced, unverified and completely ridiculous. The PGA Tour has confirmed that there is no truth to these claims.“

“There is no truth whatsoever to these claims. We categorically deny these allegations,“ said Ty Votaw, executive vice president of the PGA Tour.

Woods’ longtime sponsor, Nike, also made a statement.

“Every ball Tiger has put in competitive play from Nike has been thoroughly tested and approved by the USGA and R&A in accordance with their governing rules,“ the company stated.

After Olsen’s claims were refuted, Olsen backtracked on his statements in a Monday interview.

“Everything I said on that radio interview was only my opinion and not based on any firsthand knowledge or facts,“ Olsen told “I want to make a full retraction to everything I said for the entire radio interview, and I apologize to Tiger, Nike, Phil (Mickelson), (PGA Tour commissioner) Tim Finchem and the PGA Tour.“

Olsen, 48, spent one full year on the PGA Tour in 2004, with his best finish being a tie for 12th at the Chrysler Classic of Tucson. He also spent two full seasons on the Tour, where his best finish was a tie for third at the Knoxville Open in 2005.

►  This Week in Golf—March 05-08

PGA/EUROPEAN TOUR - WORLD GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP-CADILLAC CHAMPIONSHIP, Trump National Doral, Miami, Florida - Following a Monday finish for The Honda Classic, the top-50 players in the world rankings move to Doral this week for the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

This event will mark the first tournament since the 2012 PGA Championship that all of the top-50 will be playing the same event.

Patrick Reed dropped four strokes in a three-hole span on the back nine at PGA National on Monday to cost himself the win, or at least a spot in the playoff at the Honda Classic.

Reed returns to Doral to defend his title. He closed with an even-par 72 last year and it was enough to hold off Jamie Donaldson (70) and Bubba Watson (68). It was Reed’s second win in seven weeks, and afterward declared himself one of the top-5 players in the world.

Reed has yet to reach that lofty status, but he did pick up his fourth PGA Tour win earlier this year at Kapalua.

The injured Tiger Woods will miss the event. It is just the second time in his career that he didn’t qualify for a World Golf Championship event.

Golf Channel will have coverage of all four rounds, while NBC will also have coverage over the weekend.


PUERTO RICO OPEN, Trump International (Puerto Rico), Rio Grande, Puerto Rico - While the best players in the world are at Doral, the rest of the PGA Tour will tee it up at the Puerto Rico Open.

Chesson Hadley picked up his first PGA Tour title at this event last year. Hadley birdied the final two holes to beat Danny Lee by two strokes. Hadley was the second straight and fourth winner in the last seven years that was a first-time champion.

Hadley had opened an early lead with three birdies in the first five holes, but he needed those late birdies. Lee, a former U.S. Amateur winner, birdied three of the last four holes to keep the pressure on Hadley.

With those two late birdies, Hadley set a new tournament scoring record with his total of 267. Scott Brown set the old mark of 268 in 2013.

Jarrod Lyle will be in the field as he makes his fifth PGA Tour start since beating cancer for a second time. Along with Hadley and Lyle, the field will have seven former major winners, including John Daly, David Duval, David Toms and Lee Janzen, who picked up his first Champions Tour victory three weeks ago at the ACE Group Classic.

Golf Channel will have tape-delayed coverage of all four rounds.

The PGA Tour will be in Palm Harbor, Florida next week for the Valspar Championship, where John Senden will defend his title.


AFIRCA OPEN, East London Golf Club, East London, South Africa - The European Tour remains in South Africa this week with the Africa Open. Last year, Thomas Aiken and Oliver Fisher were among several players to fire four rounds in the 60s.

Aiken and Fisher finished at 20-under-par 264. Aiken then birdied the first extra hole to beat Fisher and win for the third time on the European Tour. However, Aiken will not be on hand to defend his title as he is competing at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

Andy Sullivan won the Joburg Open last week. That was his second victory in eight weeks on the European Tour. He also won the South African Open, which was the first event of 2015.

Fisher and Sullivan will be joined in the field by the likes of former Open Champion Darren Clarke and George Coetzee as well as past champions Shaun Norris and Darren Fichardt.

Golf Channel will have coverage off all four rounds.

The European Tour shifts to Waterkloof, South Africa next week for the Tshwane Open, where Ross Fisher won by three strokes last year.


HSBC WOMEN’S CHAMPIONS, Sentosa Golf Club (Serapong Course), Singapore - The LPGA heads to Singapore for the HSBC Champions, where Paula Creamer had the shot of the year last year.

Creamer closed with a 3-under 69 to end alongside Azahara Munoz (70) at 10- under 278. They returned to the 18th for the playoff. Both players missed short birdie putts on the first extra hole.

They headed back to the 18th again. Creamer reached the green in two after Munoz laid up. Munoz played her third to nine feet, but never hit the putt. Creamer poured in a long, big-breaking putt for eagle and her first win since the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open.

Karrie Webb, the 2011 winner, was three strokes ahead with six holes to go, but she bogeyed three of the last six holes to fall from the lead.

The field this week includes 19 of the top-20 players in the world.

Golf Channel will have early morning coverage of all four rounds.

The LPGA Tour takes next week off then returns to action in Arizona with the JTBC Founders Cup, where Webb fired a 9-under 63 in the final round to rally past Stacy Lewis, Amy Yang and Munoz.


CARTAGENA DE INDIAS AT KARIBANA CHAMPIONSHIP, TPC Cartagena, Cartagena, Colombia - After a month off, the Tour returns to action with a new event, the Cartagena de Indias at Karibana Championship.

This will be the second straight event in Colombia for the Tour. It is the third of five consecutive events outside the United States to start the season.

The winners of the first two events - Mathew Goggin (Panama Claro Championship) and Patrick Rodgers (Colombia Championship) - are both in the field this week.

There is no television coverage this week.

The Tour heads to Sao Paulo next week for the Brasil Champions, where Jon Curran rolled to a 4-shot win with a tournament record score of 25-under- par 259 last year.

►  WGC-Match Play to move to Austin in 2016

The International Federation of PGA Tours announced on Tuesday that the World Golf Championships-Match Play event will be moved to Austin, Texas, in 2016.

This year, the WGC-Cadillac Match Play will be contested at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco from April 29-May 03. Next year, the tournament will have a new title sponsor in Dell, which is based in the Greater Austin Area. The championship will be renamed the WGC-Dell Match Play.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to welcome Dell as a sponsor of the World Golf Championships and, beginning in 2016, as the new title sponsor of the Match Play,“ PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said. “The Match Play has a tremendous future with Dell as the incoming title sponsor, the event’s move to Austin and the new round-robin format that is being introduced this year.“

This is the first time a tour-sanctioned event will be played in Austin since 2003-09 on the Champions Tour. The decision on a host course has yet to be made, but an announcement is expected in the near future.

In 2016, the WGC-Dell Match Play is scheduled to be played the week of March 21-27. The new sponsorship will run through 2019.

Played last season in Arizona as the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, the tournament was won by Jason Day, who defeated Victor Dubuisson 1-up in 23 holes.

►  Golf Tidbits: Tinkering never ends for Harrington

The golf game is a fickle one and the golf swing is the same. Like fingerprints, no two players have the same swing.

Padraig Harrington has always tinkered with his swing. Those changes have hurt him, especially over the last five years.

“I grew up with no practice range, so that’s why I’ve always been fascinated, obsessed with trying to swing the club and hit it better,“ Harrington said on Monday after winning The Honda Classic.

The Irishman rallied from five strokes off the pace to win for the first time since the 2008 PGA Championship. The victory came nearly five years to the day since his last top-three finish.

Ever in search of it, Harrington constantly tries to find the perfect swing. He also went through a battle with the yips.

“I was pretty keen on my own form, but I wasn’t delivering. Since 2012, I’ve played well, but putted very badly. I had the yips. It was tough after that,“ Harrington admitted. “But last week, I kind of found something. It’s a mental game, which is what’s been going wrong. I stuck with that this week and it worked half the time.“

Dating to the start of the 2011 season, Harrington had made 50 cuts in 77 starts. In that span, Harrington had only nine top-10 finishes. His best PGA Tour finish in that stretch was a tie for fourth at the 2012 U.S. Open.

His play started to turn around late last year when he won an event in Indonesia by two strokes.

“I won in Asia (in December). Believe it or not, when I get in contention, I can hit the shots,“ Harrington explained. “The problem has been the start of the week, middle-of-the-round shots, easy shots, I’ve just not hit them. When I’ve got tough shots, I can hit them.“

His results bare that out. He played all four rounds in just two of his first eight starts in the 2014-15 season. He entered last week ranked 76th in first- round scoring average, but tied for 201st in the second round and tied for 205th in the third round.

After missing four straight cuts, Harrington finally played all four rounds at the Northern Trust Open.

Harrington carried the little momentum gained from his finish at Riviera to The Honda Classic. He was 7-under par through two rounds and had his first 36- hole lead on the PGA Tour since 2010.

He waned a little in the third round, which he played in its entirety on Sunday after heavy rain and strong wind halted action on Saturday. As darkness neared Sunday evening, Harrington was struggling and had dropped three strokes in his first six holes of his final round.

Play was finally called for the day, and that was the reprieve Harrington needed. He practiced putting in the dark and “found” something to use on Monday.

As play resumed, Harrington opened with a couple pars and trailed playing partner and leader Ian Poulter by five strokes with 10 holes to play.

Harrington caught fire with four straight birdies on the back nine, while Pouter collapsed. Harrington needed one last birdie at the 18th to get into a playoff after he found water at 17 and walked off with a double-bogey.

He came through with a clutch 15-foot birdie putt to force the playoff with Daniel Berger.

“One of the things that helped change my putting around was if I had a 10-foot putt to win on the 18th green, actually a 15-footer as it turned out, I wouldn’t want anybody else to putt it,“ Harrington said. “So as much as I was struggling, I still would choose myself to read that putt and hit that putt. That gives me confidence.“

The playoff pitted Harrington, a three-time major champion and owner of 30 worldwide titles, against Berger, who was playing his 12th PGA Tour event. Harrington stuffed his tee shot inside five feet on the 17th before Berger folded as he found water with his tee ball.

The tinkering has hurt his game, but there is no way Harrington will stop. That is what helped him win all those titles.


The search always goes on for the next breakout star. Andy Sullivan has entered that category with his hot start on the European Tour.

After missing the cut in his first start of the season in December, Sullivan has three top-five finishes in six starts, including two wins, in 2015.

Sullivan isn’t new on the scene, as he enters his fourth season on the European Tour. He posted five top-10s last season, including a runner-up finish at the Trophee Hassan II.

That stood as his best tour finish until he won the South African Open. After shooting even-par in the first round last week at the Joburg Open, Sullivan went 18-under par over the final three rounds to win by two strokes.

He remained in South Africa this week and will try for his third win of the season.

Sullivan would have a big leg up toward making his first Ryder Cup team, but the European points have not yet started to accumulate.

That is the only downside to his game at this point.


* James Hahn and Padraig Harrington have won the last two PGA Tour events. At the start of those tournaments, both were ranked 297th in the world rankings. Steve Webster is No. 297 this week. Maybe he can continue the trend. If so, he’ll do it at the European Tour’s Africa Open.

* Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson may continue to grab attention on the LPGA Tour, but world No. 1 Lydia Ko should be getting more press. The 17-year-old claimed her 10th professional title on Sunday, giving her one more win than Wie and Thompson combined.    ~~  Kevin Currie ~~

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NASCAR falls flat in follow-up to Daytona 500

NASCAR did not have its finest weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where the follow-up to the Daytona 500 began with the theft of a race car and a parked SUV rolling into Denny Hamlin’s motorhome.

Qualifying was a debacle for the second week in a row, rain delayed the start of Sunday’s race and Jeff Gordon once again managed to crash into a concrete wall that lacked an energy-absorbing barrier.

By the time Jimmie Johnson took the checkered flag to close a cold and wet weekend, everyone was ready to get out of Atlanta.

It was a momentum-killing weekend for NASCAR, which had staged a strong season-opener one week earlier only to fall flat at one of the more historic tracks on the circuit.

Things went awry early when a trailer carrying the Team XTREME race car for Travis Kvapil was stolen from a motel parking lot early Friday morning.

While the team scrambled to figure out what it would do — with no car, Kvapil was forced to withdrawal from the race — Hamlin received a jolt when his motorhome was struck by a rolling SUV that had mistakenly been left in gear.

After those two off-track distractions were dealt with, attention turned toward the debut of the 2015 rules package. Only that was marred by the second embarrassing qualifying session in as many weeks.

Four series champions were among the 13 drivers who didn’t even get to make a qualifying attempt because their cars didn’t pass inspection before the session began Friday afternoon.

Among those stuck in the inspection bay were Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart.

Gordon, who needed two attempts to get his car through inspection, took the series to task after he failed to make a qualifying attempt in the debut race for new sponsor 3M.

“When you have this many teams having issues going through, there’s something wrong with this system or something wrong with the amount of time they’re allotted to get through,” he said. “There’s no way with this many good cars and talented people that they can’t figure out how to get these cars through inspection.

“I’m embarrassed for our series.”

It remains to be seen if the problem was that NASCAR, which a year ago dramatically reduced its team of officials as it streamlined its processes and began to use more technology and less human capital, didn’t have enough inspectors on site and didn’t allot enough time to clear 47 cars.

Sprint Cup director Richard Buck indicated the issue was with the way teams set up the cars in their first race with a new rules package.

“They’re pushing the limits,” Buck said. “That’s their job to get every bit they can get through (inspection). It’s our job that everyone gets a fair opportunity to get through there.”

Whatever the reasoning is for all those cars failing to make it on the track, it has to be fixed before this weekend’s race at Las Vegas. NASCAR can’t afford a third straight week of a champion being publicly “embarrassed” of the series.

But that didn’t even end up being Gordon’s biggest concern.

A week after Kyle Busch broke his right leg and left foot when he crashed into a concrete wall at Daytona, Gordon also managed to hit a wall that lacked a SAFER barrier.

Busch’s accident has spurred NASCAR and most of the racetracks to re-evaluate their safety standards, and Atlanta took steps to protect a large stretch that lacked soft walls.

If anyone is going to find an unprotected spot, though, it’s Gordon — he hit a concrete section at Las Vegas several years ago that forced the track to install a SAFER barrier there before NASCAR returned.

Gordon was visibly angry about his hit Sunday, as were many fans, who are as frustrated as the drivers are over a seemingly slow pace to get the barriers in enough spots at every track. NASCAR and its racetracks deserve credit for a sense of urgency toward addressing the issue, but it’s unsettling to see drivers continuing to find concrete walls.

Toss in the cold weather, it was 43 degrees when the green flag waved under low, thick clouds, and the decision to move Atlanta’s race date to the second weekend of the year seemed quizzical.

The realignment helped Atlanta sister property Bristol Motor Speedway secure a better spring date, but came at the expense of a once-proud track that seems lost on the NASCAR calendar.

The crowds were small all weekend, and any chance of a decent race-day walk-up was ruined by rain that delayed Sunday’s race an hour.

NASCAR now heads west for a three-race swing that begins in Las Vegas and ends in Fontana, Calif.,

One can only hope that each event goes a lot smoother than last weekend.

►  Kurt Busch to follow guidelines toward NASCAR reinstatement

Kurt Busch has agreed to follow NASCAR’s recommended guidelines to be eligible for eventual reinstatement.

The 2004 champion was indefinitely suspended February 20 after a Delaware judge said he believed Busch likely committed an act of domestic violence against a former girlfriend and there was a “substantial likelihood” of him doing it again.

Busch lost two rounds of appeals for reinstatement before the season-opening Daytona 500 and has missed the first two races of the season. Regan Smith has replaced him in the No. 41 Chevrolet.

On Monday, NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said Busch has “agreed to our terms and conditions that must be met before he is eligible for consideration for reinstatement of his NASCAR license.”

Stewart-Haas Racing, which on Monday said Smith would again drive the No. 41 this weekend at Las Vegas, said there is no timetable for Busch to meet NASCAR’s guidelines.

“Kurt’s willingness to embrace the conditions set forth by NASCAR is a positive step that we support,” SHR said in a statement.

The specific guidelines have not been disclosed, but Higdon said an unidentified NASCAR consultant helped create them. Higdon added that Busch would need to meet the requirements “to the satisfaction of both NASCAR and the expert.

“The expert administering the reinstatement can come back with a recommendation of return, but Kurt still must satisfy NASCAR’s expectations, as well,” he said.

NASCAR tailors its reinstatement programs to each individual and the offense. AJ Allmendinger, for example, had to complete a program overseen by Dr. David Black, who runs NASCAR’s drug-testing unit. Alllmendinger was suspended for failing a random drug test and eventually reinstated.

Jeremy Clements, who was suspended in 2013 for an inappropriate comment, was reinstated after completing a NASCAR-authorized sensitivity training program. The program was administered by sports sociologist Richard Lapchick and his staff at the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.

Higdon said a domestic violence expert will oversee Busch’s program, and NASCAR will not be part of the process.

Unrelated to the guidelines for NASCAR reinstatement are conditions placed on Busch by Family Court Commissioner David Jones, who granted a no-contact order for ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll. Jones wrote in his opinion that he believe believes there’s real possibility Busch will lash out again and has a propensity to lose control in response to disappointing or frustrating situations involving racing.

Jones ordered Busch to be evaluated to see if there is a “treatable mental health condition.” He also said Busch must follow any suggested treatment plans.

Busch is appealing Jones’ ruling.

►  Alonso to miss Australian GP

Fernando Alonso will not compete in the Formula one season-opening Australian Grand Prix after suffering a concussion during an accident in testing last month in Spain.

Alonso, a two-time F1 world champion, spent three days in a Barcelona hospital following his February 22 crash at Circuit de Catalunya.

McLaren issued a statement on Tuesday to confirm Alonso’s absence in the March 15 Australian GP. The team said that his doctors recommended “he should seek to limit as far as is possible any environmental risk factors that could potentially result in his sustaining another concussion so soon after his previous one, so as to minimize the chances of second impact syndrome, as is normal medical procedure when treating athletes after concussions.“

McLaren noted that Alonso’s doctors find him “asymptomatic of any medical issue” and “see no evidence whatsoever of any injury.“ Doctors also describe him as “entirely healthy from neurological and cardiac perspectives alike.“

Kevin Magnussen, the test and reserve driver for McLaren, will fill in for Alonso in the Australian GP. Magnussen competed in 19 grand prix for the team last year. He finished second in his F1 debut in Australia.

Alonso is expected to return to racing for the Malaysian Grand Prix, which is scheduled for the last weekend in March.

“Fernando’s doctors acknowledge that he feels fit and well, and that he regards himself as ready to race, and, that being the case, they are comfortable with the fact that he has already recommenced physical training, with a view to preparing for a return to the cockpit of his McLaren-Honda car for the Malaysian Grand Prix meeting on March 27th, 28th and 29th,“ McLaren said in its statement.

Alonso has not missed a F1 grand prix since he made his first career start in the 2001 Australian GP. He won his world championships in 2005 and ‘06, driving for Renault at the time. The 33-year-old Spaniard spent the past five years with Ferrari before returning to McLaren this season.

“It will be tough not to be in Australia, but I understand the recommendations. A second impact in less than 21 days ‘No’,“ Alonso tweeted.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Watch Jon Stewart dole out a very low blow to WWE superstar Seth Rollins

Host of “The Daily Show” and longtime WWE fan Jon Stewart killed it on “Raw” on Monday night. He also killed pro wrestler Seth Rollins’s junk with his finishing move, dubbed on Twitter as “The Daily Low Blow.”

Stewart’s finisher came after he doled out several minutes of excellent commentary, during which he schooled Rollins about his actual role in WWE (stooge of “The Authority”) opposed to the aggrandized role Rollins perceives he’s in (“The future of the WWE!”). He also sneaked in quite a good insult.

“How could I make a fool out of man dressed like a S.W.A.T. team stripper with Lady Gaga’s hair?” Stewart said, referring to Rollins’s trademark black and white hairdo.

Rollins, a most excellent heel who started the “feud” with Stewart two weeks ago, didn’t just let Stewart throw barbs at him, however; things eventually got physical, which led to Stewart’s swift kick between Rollins’s legs off a distraction by pro wrestler Randy Orton.

So is this the end of the feud that began two weeks ago when Rollins’s boasted he could do Stewart’s job better than him? Perhaps not quite, judging from Rollins’s tweet after the show.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  New Browns QB McCown barely knows Manziel

Josh McCown barely knows Johnny Manziel.

While the newest Browns quarterback isn’t walking into Cleveland’s quarterbacking quandary with any guarantees, he recognizes his obligation to help Manziel the way he would any teammate.

“It is easy,” McCown said Monday of taking on a mentoring role as well as competing for the starting position. “You’ve got to lead by example first and foremost.”

McCown said opportunities to teach teammates at the same position generally come naturally while preparing to play.

“You can use some of that time to share some of your experiences,” he said. “And hopefully guys can benefit from it.”

Manziel, currently in a rehab facility, was a flop in his rookie season after Cleveland chose him in the first round of the draft. McCown, 35 and heading into his 13th NFL season, signed a huge deal as a free agent last year with Tampa Bay following a strong fill-in performance for injured Jay Cutler in Chicago. But McCown went 1-10 for the Bucs, who released him last month.

The only time he crossed paths with Manziel was briefly when Manziel visited Tampa Bay before the 2014 draft.

“For me, it’s just come in and just like anybody on the team,” McCown said, “but you’re right, there’s a close connection because we play the same position and we’ll be in the meeting rooms together. To me it’s just to serve my team and help my team and any teammate as best I can, Johnny included.

“I’m looking forward to getting to know him.”

McCown will likely compete for the starting job, but if he doesn’t win it, he can serve as a mentor for Manziel and Connor Shaw. McCown was asked if he expects another quarterback to join the group; Cleveland has had 22 starting quarterbacks since 1999.

“No matter who joins us in that room or what that room looks like, the goal and my part at least is to help us come together and play good football,” he said. “As the veteran in there right now, it starts with me. I’m excited about that and I embrace that, and I look forward to helping that group play good football and going out and doing that myself, too.”

The Browns lost their final five games in 2014 to finish 7-9, the only AFC North team not to make the playoffs. They also are the only team in that division without an established starting quarterback.

McCown has been a starter only periodically in his career, and he comes off an awful season in which he was benched and the Buccaneers earned the top overall draft pick by going 2-14. He accepts some of the blame for that record, and sees it as an educational year.

“I don’t shy away from it,” McCown said. “In that situation, I wasn’t good enough to pull us out of that. It was an unfortunate thing to happen, losing an offensive coordinator (Jeff Tedford) the week before the season, and everybody busted their butt to try to pull together and get ourselves out of that. We just weren’t good enough.

“If anything, it just lights a fire to get that bad taste out of my mouth because that was not the way certainly I would have hoped to have planned for that season to go. I want to see it changed. … I think, too, I’m better prepared if that does happen because I sure did learn a lot.”

►  Eagles release CB Cary Williams

The Philadelphia Eagles released cornerback Cary Williams on Tuesday.

Williams, 30, was due to count for more than $8 million against the salary cap next season, which would have been the final year of a deal he signed during the 2013 offseason.

He started all 32 games in his two seasons with the Eagles, registering five interceptions.

A seventh-round pick of the Tennessee Titans in 2008, Williams earned a starting role with the Baltimore Ravens in 2011. He posted four interceptions in 2012, as the Ravens won the Super Bowl.

►  Extra Points: Eagles on fast track to dysfunction

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie once called his operation “kind of the gold standard.“

These days, it’s kind of a mess thanks to the distrust between coach Chip Kelly and his former boss, Howie Roseman. In fact, the gold standard has gone from zero to dysfunction faster than your average Corvette.

Kelly won a power struggle back in January, gaining full control of the personnel side and banishing Roseman back to the business end of the operation, where the ex-GM is supposed to be handling the contract negotiations of the players Kelly wants.

Yet the rift between the two is so deep that Roseman’s office at the team’s facility, which used to be two doors down from Kelly’s, was recently moved from the football operations end of the building to the business side, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Most who lose power struggles typically are shown the door but Lurie is hedging his bets here and trying to serve two masters, attempting to keep his indispensable right-hand man (Roseman) in case the flavor of the month (Kelly) turns out to be exactly that.

Roseman’s natural state is that of a shark, however, a take-no- prisoners operative in the mold of a Rahm Emanuel. At 39, he was the youngest GM in all of football and the list of executives who have lost power struggles to him is stunning: Joe Banner, Tom Heckert, Jason Licht, Ryan Grigson, Louis Riddick, and Kelly’s friend Tom Gamble.

And although he finally lost one to Kelly, Roseman is staying put for now and still swimming while playing the waiting game, hoping the extra rope Kelly has been given will be enough to hang the coach Howie had a hand in hiring.

Anyone who knows Roseman and what makes him tick understands his first love is personnel so having that aspect of the job taken away from him has been difficult despite the consolation prize of a fancy new title (executive vice president of football operations) and a few more zeros in his paycheck.

Roseman, though, understands Lurie couldn’t chose him over Kelly this early in the former Oregon coach’s tenure because the Eagles changed their entire culture to lure Kelly from the college ranks and his unconventional methods simply can’t be duplicated.

Roseman is now actively trying to speed up Kelly’s demise, speaking out about the coach’s perceived willingness to mortgage the future in an effort to reunite with his old college quarterback, Marcus Mariota.

The Eagles are scheduled to pick at No. 20 on April 30 and moving up to the top spot or even No. 2 in an effort to get Mariota is almost untenable unless Kelly is willing to risk it all, something Roseman seems to be secretly rooting for in the hopes it ultimately fails.

“When you’re looking at trading up, at some point, your board drops off so dramatically in terms of how you evaluate that player,“ Roseman recently said at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston. “But the history of trading up for one player, when you look at those trades, isn’t good for the team trading up and putting a lot of resources into it.“

If that sounds passive aggressive to you, give yourself a gold star. It’s almost as if Roseman is attempting to get his thought process on the record in the hopes Kelly does indeed ship multiple first-round draft picks and a big- name star or two to whomever in an effort to get a player Kelly and some draftniks seem much higher on than the rest of the league.

“I think Marcus will be successful whether he’s an NFL player, a banker, a teacher, a fireman, a policeman,“ Kelly said on a Philadelphia-area radio station when asked about his former recruit. “I’ve said it before about some other players, but if you can buy stock in a human being, you buy stock in that kid because he’ll always be successful in anything he does.“

Roseman offered a far different spin in Boston.

“If you’re hitting on 60% of your first-round picks, that’s a pretty good track record,“ Roseman said. “And then it’s dropping as you go through the rounds. So really, the more chances you get, the more tickets to the lottery you get, the better you should be doing.“

When Roseman was in charge, he practiced what he preached, amassing 48 draft picks during five years.

“At the end of the day, it’s about the player you picked,“ Roseman said. “You can go through each round of the draft on players on your team and see you have guys who are really good players from the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh round ... There’s always value.“

“You can kind of convince yourself of, ‘Who am I really going to get in the fifth or sixth round? Roseman continued. “I’m willing to give up that pick, because I really want this player in the second or third round. But it’s all about the evaluations and getting the right players into your building.“

You do need the right players in the facility but you also need the right front-office people and even if Philadelphia finds its next superstar QB in late April, it’s still going to missing one- half of that equation.  ~~  John McMullen ~~

The Gilmer Free Press

ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York
CBSSN - CBS - College Sports Network
CSN - Comcast SportsNet
TCN - The Comcast Network
NBCSN - NBC Sports Network
NESN - New England Sports Network
MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
ROOT - Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Northwest, Rocky Mountain)
CST - Cox Sports Television
FCS - FOX College Sports
FS - FOX Sports Regional
RSN - Regional Sports Networks
CPTV - Connecticut Public Broadcasting
TVG - Horse Racing Channel
FS1 - FOX Sports 1
TWC - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
* - If Necessary

Major League Baseball - Spring Training
Philadelphia at NY Yankees, 1:05 PM - MLB Network, YES
Chicago WSox at Los Angeles, 3:05 PM - SportsNet LA, MLB Network
Univ of Minnesota at Minnesota, 7:05 PM - FS-North
National Basketball Association
New York at Indiana, 7:00 PM - MSG, FS-Indiana, DSS
Phoenix at Orlando, 7:00 PM - FS-Arizona, Florida, DSS
Cleveland at Toronto, 7:30 PM - FS-Ohio, TSN2, DSS
Charlotte at Brooklyn, 7:30 PM - SportSouth, YES, DSS
Utah at Boston, 7:30 PM - ROOT-Northwest, CSN-New England, DSS
LA Lakers at Miami, 8:00 PM - Time Warner, SunSports, ESPN
Detroit at New Orleans, 8:00 PM - FS-Detroit, New Orleans, DSS
Memphis at Houston, 8:00 PM - SportSouth, ROOT-Southwest, DSS
Denver at Minnesota, 8:00 PM - Altitude2, FS-North, DSS
Philadelphia at Oklahoma City, 8:00 PM - CSN-Philadelphia, FS-Oklahoma, DSS
Sacramento at San Antonio, 8:30 PM - CSN-California, FS-Southwest, DSS
Portland at LA Clippers, 10:30 PM - CSN-Northwest, FS-Prime Ticket, ESPN
Milwaukee at Golden State, 10:30 PM - FS-Wisconsin, CSN-Bay, DSS
National Hockey League
Ottawa at Winnipeg, 7:30 PM - TVA, SNET, DSS
NY Rangers at Detroit, 8:00 PM - NBCSN
Montreal at Anaheim, 10:00 PM - SNET, RDS, FS-West, DSS
Pittsburgh at Colorado, 10:00 PM - ROOT-Pittsburgh, Altitude, DSS
College Basketball
Longwood vs. Presbyterian, 12:00 PM - Big South Network
Campbell vs. Gardner-Webb, 2:00 PM - Big South Network
Liberty vs. UNC-Asheville, 6:00 PM - Big South Network
Ohio State at Penn State, 6:00 PM - Big Ten Network
George Washington at George Mason, 7:00 PM - CSN-MidAtlantic, SNY, TCN-Phil
La Salle at Saint Joseph’s, 7:00 PM - CBSSN
UCF at South Florida, 7:00 PM - ESPN U
SE Missouri State vs. Morehead State, 7:00 PM - OVC Digital Network
Tennessee at LSU, 7:00 PM - SEC Network
Providence at Seton Hall, 7:00 PM - FS1
Notre Dame at Louisville, 7:00 PM - ESPN 2
Richmond at Massachusetts, 7:30 PM - American Sports Network
Houston at Tulane, 8:00 PM - ESPNews
St. Bonaventure at Saint Louis, 8:00 PM - FS-Midwest
Wake Forest at Duke, 8:00 PM - ACC Network,
Miami-Florida at Pittsburgh, 8:00 PM - RSN, ACC Network,
Purdue at Michigan State, 8:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Cincinnati at Tulsa, 9:00 PM - CBSSN
USC at UCLA, 9:00 PM - ESPN 2
TCU at Oklahoma State, 9:00 PM - ESPN U
SIU Edwardsville vs. Eastern Illinois, 9:00 PM - OVC Digital Network
Mississippi State at Vanderbilt, 9:00 PM - SEC Network
St. John’s at Marquette, 9:00 PM - FS1
Utah State at Wyoming, 9:00 PM - Mountain West Network
Air Force at Fresno State, 10:00 PM - Mountain West Network
Nebraska at Illinois, 10:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Boise State at San Jose State, 10:00 PM - ROOT-Rocky Mountain
Colorado State at Nevada, 10:00 PM - Mountain West Network
Oregon at Oregon State, 11:00 PM - ESPN U
San Diego State at UNLV, 11:00 PM - CBSSN
UC Santa Barbara at Hawaii, 11:59 PM - OCSports
Women’s College Basketball
Toledo at Northern Illinois, 12:00 PM -
Eastern Illinois vs. UT Martin, 1:00 PM -
Austin Peay vs. SIU Edwardsville, 3:30 PM -
Youngstown State at Cleveland State, 7:00 PM -
Illinois-Chicago at Wright State, 7:00 PM -
Buffalo at Bowling Green, 7:00 PM -
Auburn vs. Florida, 7:00 PM - SEC Network+
Detroit at Milwaukee, 8:00 PM -
Alabama vs. Vanderbilt, 9:30 PM - SEC Network+
International Soccer
West Ham vs. Chelsea, 2:45 PM - NBCSN
LPGA - HSBC Champions, 11:00 PM - Golf Channel

Sports News   150303

The Gilmer Free Press

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Area High Schools Boys Basketball Game Results

(Monday, March 02)

Ritchie County 55     Braxton County 53

►  Boys Sectionals Schedule

(Tuesday, March 03 - 7:00 PM)

Class “A” Region 4, Section 1:

(10-11)Calhoun County at (17-4)Gilmer County

Class “AA” Region 1, Section 2:

(6-15)Ritchie County at (14-6)Ravenswood

Roane County at Webster County

Class “AA” Region 2, Section 2:

(16-5)Lincoln at (14-5)Robert C. Byrd

(14-7)Grafton at (19-2)Bridgeport

►  Girls Sectionals Schedule

(Tuesday, March 03 - 7:00 PM)

Class “AAA” Region 1:

(14-9)Parkersburg at (22-1)Morgantown

Class “AAA” Region 2:

(17-6)Jefferson at (15-7)Buckhannon-Upshur

►  Boys AP Poll

Class A

Team Rec Pts Prv

1. Wheeling Central (6) 20-2 69 1

2. Gr. Beckley Christian (1) 20-2 63 2

3. Bishop Donahue 19-2 51 3

4. Magnolia 17-4 47 4

(tie) Williamstown 20-2 47 5

6. Tug Valley 14-6 28 7

7. Gilmer County 17-4 24 6

8. Notre Dame 14-7 23 8

9. Cameron 15-7 14 10

10. Tucker County 16-5 13 9

Others receiving votes: Valley Fayette 5, Saint Joseph Central 1.

Class AA

Team Rec Pts Prv

1. Poca (8) 21-0 80 1

2. Bridgeport 19-2 64 2

3. Fairmont Senior 18-2 61 3

4. Robert C. Byrd 14-5 59 5

5. Westside 17-2 56 4

6. Lincoln 15-5 36 6

7. Mingo Central 13-8 26 7

8. Scott 14-7 23 9

9. Ravenswood 14-6 19 8

10. Sissonville 13-7 14 10

Others receiving votes: Bluefield 2.

Class AAA

Team Rec Pts Prv

1. Capital (8) 17-3 80 2

2. Parkersburg South 19-3 65 1

3. South Charleston 19-3 55 3

4. Morgantown 18-4 52 4

5. Greenbrier East 20-2 49 5

6. Hurricane 17-5 42 6

7. Huntington 17-5 34 7

8. Martinsburg 15-6 23 8

9. Jefferson 13-5 14 10

10. Logan 13-5 13 9

(tie) Wheeling Park 14-8 13 NR

Others receiving votes: Preston 3, Parkersburg 1.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Men’s Basketball Players of the Week

West Liberty’s Seger Bonifant has been named Mountain East Conference Player of the Week after leading the Hilltoppers to a pair of wins.

Bonifant, a junior from Berlin, Ohio, averaged 24 points as WLU picked up wins over Glenville State and Wheeling Jesuit. He poured in 23 points against the Pioneers, and then scored a game-high 25 points to go with six rebounds in a victory over the Cardinals. Bonifant was 16-of-22 from the field in the two games, including 7-of-7 from behind the arc.  

Other Top Performances

Tyree Gaiter (NDC) averaged 22 points and 7.5 assists in three games ...

He also went over the 400-assist plateau for his career ...

Myles Busby (UU) notched a career-high 31 points and 12 rebounds in an overtime loss to Notre Dame ...

Nick Harney (FSU) had a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds vs. Shepherd ...

Tanner McGrew (WVWC) had 18 points and 9.5 rebounds in a pair of games ...

Chris Evans (UC) averaged 15.5 points as the Golden Eagles went 2-0.

2014-15 MEC Players of the Week
Week Player (Team)
November17 Seger Bonifant (WLU)
November 24 Donte Morales (GSC)
December 01 Mike Boyd (CU)
December 08 C.J. Hester (WLU)
December 15 Devin Hoehn (WLU)
December 22 Morgan McDonald (SU)
January 06 Sedric Nady (GSC)
January 12 Seger Bonifant (WLU)
January 19 Jamel Morris (FSU)
January 26 Justin Fritts (WJU)
February 02 Nick Harney (FSU)
February 09 Nick Harney (FSU)
February 16 Rob Reed (CU)
February 23 Aaron Miller (CU) Nick Harney (FSU)
March 01 Seger Bonifant (WLU)

►  MEC Women’s Basketball Players of the Week

Notre Dame’s Martha Nagbe has been named Mountain East Conference Player of the Week after leading the Falcons to three wins last week. Nagbe has earned the award for the fourth time this season.

Nagbe, a junior from Lakewood, Ohio, averaged 24.3 points and six rebounds on the week for the Falcons. She had a double-double with 26 points and 10 rebounds in a win over West Virginia State, then poured in 27 as NDC knocked off Charleston on the road. She capped the week with 20 points and seven boards vs. Urbana.

Other Top Performances

Alex Weakland (SU) averaged 13 points and 11 rebounds in a 2-0 week for the Rams ...

Mari Stewart (WVWC) averaged 20 points and 8.3 rebounds in three games ...

Emily Lohr scored 24 points vs. Shepherd ...

Kennedy Boggs (UU) averaged 18 points, four rebounds and four assists in two games ...

Kylie Molisee (CU) scored 17 points and seven rebounds vs. UVa-Wise.

2014-15 MEC Players of the Week
Week Player (Team)
November17 Hallie Gunnoe (FSU)
November 24 Hailey Garrett (FSU)
December 01 Nichole Perry (UC)
December 08 Jacqueline Kestner (CU)
December 15 Cara Mason (SU)
December 22 Martha Nagbe (NDC)
January 06 Emily Lohr (FSU)
January 12 Kailee Howe (WLU)
January 19 Martha Nagbe (NDC)
January 26 Monet Saunders (UC)
February 02 Martha Nagbe (NDC)
February 09 Kailee Howe (WLU)
February 16 Jaila Bryant (WJU)
February 23 Emily Lohr (FSU)
March 01 Martha Nagbe (NDC)

►  MEC Announces Women’s Basketball Awards

Notre Dame College’s Martha Nagbe is the 2015 Mountain East Conference Player of the Year, West Virginia Wesleyan’s Mari Stewart is the Freshman of the Year, and Shepherd’s Jenna Eckleberry is the league’s Coach of the Year.

Nagbe, a junior guard from Lakewood, Ohio, is ranked in the top 10 in the MEC in seven different categories. She is third in the conference in scoring with 18.1 points per game, and is also seventh in the league in assists averaging 3.15 per contest. Nagbe also excelled on defense coming up with 53 steals—fourth most in the MEC.

Stewart, a freshman from Templeton, Calif., led all MEC freshmen in scoring and rebounding for the Bobcats averaging 17.1 and 7.8, respectively. Those figures also ranked in the top 10 among all players in the league. She recorded eight double-doubles on the year and had the second-most points in a game in the league this year with 37 against West Liberty.

Eckleberry, in just her first year at Shepherd, orchestrated a dramatic turnaround to claim Coach of the Year honors. She took over a program that had just four wins a season ago and guided it to a 20-8 overall record and a share of the 2015 regular season conference title.

In addition to the individual awards, the league also announced 2014-15 all-conference teams. Nagbe, Hailey Garrett (Fairmont State) and Liz Flowers earn first team honors for the second-consecutive year. Jaila Bryant (WJU), Blair Harding (UVa-Wise), Kailee Howe (West Liberty), Nichole Perry (Charleston) and Keyanna Tate (Glenville State) round out the first team.

Three schools had two players on the second team including Concord (Rachel Artrip and Jacqueline Kestner), Fairmont State (Hallie Gunnoe and Emily Lohr) and Shepherd (Rachel Johnson and Cara Mason). Breanna Butler (Wheeling Jesuit) and Monet Saunders (Charleston) also earned second team recognition.

The All-MEC teams are selected by a vote of the league’s coaches.

2015 All-MEC First Team
Name School Cl. Pos. Ht. Hometown
Jaila Bryant Wheeling Jesuit Jr. G 5-8 Pickerington, Ohio
Liz Flowers West Liberty Jr. G 5-8 Williamstown, WV
Hailey Garrett Fairmont State Sr. F 6-1 Fairmont, WV
Blair Harding UVa-Wise Jr. G 5-9 Baltimore, MD
Kailee Howe West Liberty Jr. G 5-10 Zanesville, Ohio
Martha Nagbe Notre Dame Jr. G 5-7 Lakewood, Ohio
Nichole Perry Charleston Sr. G 5-7 Poseyville, IN
Keyanna Tate Glenville State Sr. G/F 6-0 Forestville, MD
2015 All-MEC Second Team
Name School Cl. Pos. Ht. Hometown
Rachel Artrip Concord Sr. F 6-0 Swords Creek, VA
Breanna Butler Wheeling Jesuit Jr. G 5-9 Oak Hill, Ohio
Hallie Gunnoe Fairmont State Sr. G 5-10 Hinton, WV
Rachel Johnson Shepherd Sr. G 5-7 Frederick, MD
Jacqueline Kestner Concord Sr. F 5-10 Blountville, TN
Emily Lohr Fairmont State Sr. G 6-1 Stoystown, PA
Cara Mason Shepherd So. G 5-8 Monrovia, MD
Monet Saunders Charleston So. F/C 6-1 Woodmere, Ohio
2015 All-MEC Honorable Mention
Name School Cl. Pos. Ht. Hometown
Kennedy Boggs Urbana Jr. G 5-5 Delphos, Ohio
LeAnne Ross Charleston Sr. G 5-8 Marietta, Ohio
Shealyn Shafer WV State So. F 6-0 Summersville, WV
Kierra Simpson West Liberty Jr. F 5-11 Columbus, Ohio
Player of the Year: Martha Nagbe (Notre Dame)
Freshman of the Year: Mari Stewart (West Virginia Wesleyan)
Coach of the Year: Jenna Eckleberry (Shepherd)

<The Gilmer Free Press

►  College Basketball Rankings

Associated Press Top 25
1. Kentucky
2. Virginia
3. Duke
4. Villanova
5. Arizona
6. Wisconsin
7. Gonzaga
8. Wichita State
9. Kansas
10. Maryland
11. Northern Iowa
12. Notre Dame
13. Utah
14. Baylor
15. Oklahoma
16. Louisville
17. Iowa State
18. Arkansas
19. North Carolina
20. West Virginia
21. Butler
22. SMU
23. Ohio State
24. Providence
25. Murray State

Coaches Poll
1. Kentucky
2. Virginia
3. Duke
4. Villanova
5. Wisconsin
6. Arizona
7. Gonzaga
8. Wichita State
9. Maryland
10. Kansas
11. Notre Dame
12. Northern Iowa
13. Utah
14. Louisville
15. Oklahoma
16. Baylor
17. Iowa State
18. Arkansas
19. North Carolina
20. West Virginia
21. Butler
22. SMU
23. Providence
24. Murray State
25. Ohio State

Top 25 (and one)
1 Kentucky
2 Virginia
3 Duke
4 Villanova
5 Wisconsin
6 Arizona
7 Gonzaga
8 Kansas
9 Maryland
10 Wichita State
11 Northern Iowa
12 Baylor
13 Notre Dame
14 Utah
15 Arkansas
16 West Virginia
17 Oklahoma
18 Louisville
19 Iowa State
20 Butler
21 North Carolina
22 Providence
23 Georgetown
24 Ohio State
25 St. John’s
26 SMU

►  Top-25 College Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Monday, March 02)

Final Score: (2) Virginia 59, Syracuse 47

Anthony Gill posted 17 points and nine rebounds, and second-ranked Virginia overcame a slow start to record a 59-47 victory over Syracuse and claim the ACC regular season championship. The Cavaliers dominated the late stages of the first half and the entire second en route to their first back-to-back outright conference titles in program history. Virginia (28-1, 16-1 ACC) also set a new school standard for best record after 29 games, topping the 1981-82 squad’s 27-2 mark. London Perrantes added 10 points and 10 assists in the win, with Malcolm Brogdon and Mike Tobey also finishing with 10 points. Syracuse (18-12, 9-8) was able to force UVa into 20 turnovers and owned an 11- point lead midway through the first half, but struggled offensively the rest of the way. The Orange shot just 38.3 percent overall and made just 4-of-19 attempts from 3-point range.

Final Score: Texas 61, (14) Baylor 59 (OT)

Texas picked up a much-needed signature win on Monday, fighting both figuratively and literally to upend No. 14 Baylor 61- 59 in overtime. Isaiah Taylor hit the game-winning floater with 4.8 seconds remaining just minutes after a scrum he instigated resulted in seven players, including four Texas regulars, being ejected for leaving the bench. Kenny Chery went coast-to-coast following Taylor’s bucket and missed a contested layup at the buzzer. The Longhorns (18-12, 7-10 Big 12) were in dire need of a victory having gone 2-9 against ranked opponents coming in. Ranked as high as No. 6 earlier this season, they are still in danger of being left out of the NCAA Tournament. Knocking off a Baylor (22-8, 10-7) squad coming off wins over Iowa State and West Virginia gives Texas’ resume a boost. The outcome also eliminated the Bears from having a chance at sharing the Big 12 title. Demarcus Holland and Javan Felix came off the bench and contributed 12 and 10 points, respectively, while Kendal Yancy added 11 for the victors. Taurean Prince led Baylor with 17 points, while Rico Gathers totaled 12 points and 11 rebounds in a losing effort.

Final Score: (17) Iowa State 77, (15) Oklahoma 70

It may have been Senior Night at Hilton Coliseum, but it was junior Georges Niang and sophomore Monte Morris that gave Iowa State fans a night to remember. Niang and Morris led a furious second- half rally and the 17th-ranked Cyclones stunned No. 15 Oklahoma 77-70 on Monday in a crucial Big 12 showdown. Niang posted 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists and Morris scored 19 for Iowa State (12-8, 11-6 Big 12), which had lost its last two games. Jameel McKay added 14 points and 12 boards off the bench. Senior Dustin Hogue contributed seven points and 10 rebounds in his final home game. With this result, the Kansas Jayhawks clinched the Big 12 regular-season title for the 11th straight season. Buddy Hield scored a game- high 26 points to lead Oklahoma (20-9, 11-6), which has lost four straight matchups in Ames.

►  The March To March: Mid-major tournaments need tweaking

Most mid-major conference tournaments are like a lottery.

That needs to change. The regular season should not be meaningless.

More leagues need to look at the Ohio Valley Conference and implement a double-bye system where the top two teams in the standings don’t play their first tourney game until the semifinals.

I’ll even go a step further. Why not give the regular season winner a bye all the way to the tournament final and have the No. 2 seed skip right to the semis.

Seems fair, right?

Just nine of the 31 conference tournament victors a year ago won the regular season crown.

And why do most conferences invite EVERY team to their tournament? Why should a team that goes less than .500 in their respective league have a shot to make it into the Big Dance?

Here’s just one example of injustice. In 2012, top-seeded Middle Tennessee lost to ninth-seeded Arkansas State in the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Tournament. Why should a dominant team like the Blue Raiders be punished for going 27-7 and 14-2 in the Sun Belt during the regular season?

By the way, your Sun Belt tourney winner that year ... No. 7 seed and 16-19 Western Kentucky, which went just 7-9 in the league during the regular season.

MTSU was left hanging on Selection Sunday.

That’s just not right.

Here are the five worst teams—by winning percentage—to ever make the NCAA Tournament: 1961 George Washington (9-16), 1995 Florida International (11-18), 1996 Central Florida (11-18), 1997 Fairfield (11-18) and 1999 Florida A&M (12-18).

Two 20-loss teams have made it to the Big Dance, Liberty (15-21) in 2013 and Coppin State (16-20) in 2008.

Quite frankly, I wouldn’t be opposed to conferences using the Ivy League method and scrapping their tournaments all together, but that’s not happening. These tournaments generate too much revenue.

A majority of the lower tier conferences are set to begin their tournaments this week and most of them are sending just one team to the NCAA tourney.

Some exceptions might include the Southern (Wofford), Southland (Stephen F. Austin), Ohio Valley (Murray State), MAAC (Iona) and Horizon League (Valparaiso and Green Bay).

Of these schools Wofford has the best resume, although it’s going to be tough for any of them to make it in as an at-large.

The Terriers are 2-2 against the RPI top-50 with victories at North Carolina State and at home against Iona. They are also 3-4 against the top-100 and just two of their six losses have come against teams ranked outside the top-100.

March is here, let the madness begin!


MIDWEST (Cleveland)

1. Kentucky* vs. 16. St. Francis (NY)*/Texas Southern* winner

8. St. John’s vs. 9. Colorado State

4. Louisville vs. 13. Stephen F. Austin*

5. West Virginia vs. 12. Harvard*

6. Georgetown vs. 11. Temple

3. Maryland vs. 14. South Dakota State*

7. VCU vs. 10. Ole Miss

2. Kansas* vs. 15. High Point*

SOUTH (Houston)

1. Duke vs. 16. New Mexico State*

8. Iowa vs. 9. Dayton*

4. Iowa State vs. 13. Valparaiso*

5. Arkansas vs. 12. Iona*

6. Butler vs. 11. Texas A&M

3. Wichita State* vs. 14. UC Davis*

7. Ohio State vs. 10. NC State

2. Arizona* vs. 15. Albany*

EAST (Syracuse)

1. Virginia* vs. 16. North Florida*/Bucknell* winner

8. Oklahoma State vs. 9. Georgia

4. Utah vs. 13. Murray State*

5. Northern Iowa vs. 12. Purdue/Boise State winner

6. Providence vs. 11. Wofford*

3. Baylor vs. 14. Georgia State*

7. Indiana vs. 10. Cincinnati

2. Gonzaga* vs. 15. Northeastern*

WEST (Los Angeles)

1. Villanova* vs. 16. Sacramento State*

8. LSU vs. 9. Michigan State

4. Oklahoma vs. 13. Louisiana Tech*

5. North Carolina vs. 12. Tulsa*

6. SMU* vs. 11. Texas/Oregon winner

3. Notre Dame vs. 14. Toledo*

7. San Diego State* vs. 10. Xavier

2. Wisconsin* vs. 15. North Carolina Central*







Old Dominion




* - denotes conference leader. In a result of a tie atop the standings, the team with the higher RPI was choSenator

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA to begin publicly grading refs’ calls in close games

On Monday, the NBA will begin offering public assessments of every call made by the referees during close games, a further step toward transparency for a league that increasingly values opening up its inner workings to the public.

The Associated Press has more on the new policy:

Starting Monday and continuing throughout the playoffs, the league will release play-by-play reports of all calls and relevant no-calls in the final minutes of close games. Such information had been shared only internally.

The assessments will be released by 5 PM the day after each game and will stand as the league’s comment on whether the most-disputed calls were correct. The reports will focus on the last two minutes of games that were within five points at the two-minute mark and all of any overtime periods.

Each play is reviewed by a senior basketball operations manager or senior referee manager. The reports will say how the play was graded — correct or incorrect — and will be accompanied by a comment and video link. The reports will be posted at and also on the league’s media site.

Under those rules, we should be seeing the refs’ grades for Sunday’s Rockets-Cavaliers game, which went into overtime, and for the Warriors-Celtics and Nuggets-Pelicans games, which were within five points in the last two minutes. As of noon Monday, nothing had been posted from those games at the NBA officials’ Web site.

According to Mike Bantom, the NBA’s executive vice president of referee operations, the league got input from the officials before implementing the new policy.

“Our prior practice of commenting only about mistakes that they made was a bone for them, something we didn’t feel that was fair to them and also something that they weren’t happy about as well,” Bantom told the AP. “So I think this is a solution that puts them in a much better light, doesn’t hide the fact that they are human and will make mistakes, but also points out the fact that the overwhelming majority of the calls that they get correct.”

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers told the AP that he thinks the new policy could have some unintended consequences.

“They’re not perfect,” Rivers said. “I’m going to tell them when they’re not perfect. I tell them that all the time. I tell them enough, and they tell me to sit down. I just think they have a hard enough job. They’re going to be scared to almost blow a whistle now.”

►  NBA Game Results

(Monday, March 02)

Final Score: Toronto 114, Philadelphia 103

DeMar DeRozan had a season-high 35 points with nine rebounds and five assists as the Toronto Raptors defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 114-103 on Monday night. Former Sixer Lou Williams netted 21 points off the bench for the Raptors, who snapped a season-high five-game losing streak. Ish Smith posted 19 points and nine assists off the pine and Nerlens Noel added 17 points and seven boards for Philadelphia, which has dropped seven of its last eight contests.

Final Score: Brooklyn 110, Golden State 108

Jarrett Jack hit the game-winning shot with just 1.1 seconds remaining, giving the Brooklyn Nets a big 110-108 victory over the Golden State Warriors at Barclays Center. One of a host of teams battling for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, the Nets came through with a signature win over the West’s top squad after holding off a furious late comeback attempt led by Stephen Curry. Curry scored 11 of his 26 points during a 12-2 run that knotted the score at 108-108 entering the final minute, but the MVP candidate’s reverse layup attempt missed the mark and left his hand after the buzzer to send the Warriors to defeat.

Final Score: Miami 115, Phoenix 98

Goran Dragic battled foul trouble in his first game against his former team but still finished with 21 points to help the Miami Heat take down the Phoenix Suns 115-98 on Monday. Dragic did all his damage, which included 9-for-9 from the foul line, in just 15 minutes for Miami, who acquired the talented lefty in a trade from Phoenix two weeks ago. Tyler Johnson contributed a career-high 26 points off the bench. Dwyane Wade added 16 points and nine assists and Hassan Whiteside tallied 17 points and 10 rebounds before getting ejected late in the third quarter.

Final Score: LA Clippers 110, Minnesota 105

Chris Paul and Ricky Rubio each had an excellent game from the point guard position on Monday night, but it was Paul’s Los Angeles Clippers that pulled off yet another win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Paul scored 26 points with 14 assists to lead the Clippers to their 11th straight win over the Timberwolves with a 110-105 decision. J.J. Redick had 18 points and DeAndre Jordan totaled 12 points with 18 rebounds for Los Angeles, which won the final three games of its four-game road trip. Rubio tallied his fourth career triple-double and first this season, compiling 18 points with 12 rebounds and 11 assists in the loss.

Final Score: Dallas 102, New Orleans 93

Monta Ellis and Rajon Rondo combined for 39 points as the Dallas Mavericks ended the New Orleans Pelicans’ four-game winning streak with a 102-93 victory on Monday. Ellis scored 20 and Rondo added 19 in a balanced scoring attack for Dallas, which shot 48 percent from the field and snapped a two-game skid. Richard Jefferson checked in with 16 points, Dirk Nowitzki finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, and Amar’e Stoudemire and Devin Harris netted 14 apiece for the victors. The Pelicans did not have Anthony Davis, and without the All-Star center, the Mavs won the battle in the paint, 50-24. Dallas also only turned the ball over seven times and forced 13 turnovers.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Monday, March 02)

Final Score: NY Rangers 4, Nashville 1

Cam Talbot turned aside 25 shots to lead the New York Rangers in a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Monday. New York pulled off several trades prior to Monday’s deadline, including bringing in defensemen Keith Yandle and Chris Summers, along with forward James Sheppard. Yandle made his debut on Monday and was minus-one with three shots in close to 20 minutes of play. Marc Staal, Chris Kreider, Dominic Moore and Rick Nash all scored for the Rangers, who have won five of their last six games. Mats Zuccarello, who New York signed to an extension on Monday, and Derick Brassard each posted two assists. Matt Cullen had the lone goal for Nashville while Pekka Rinne allowed three goals on 39 shots for the Predators, who have lost their last three.

Final Score: Chicago 5, Carolina 2

Jonathan Toews posted two goals and an assist to lead the Chicago Blackhawks in a 5-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday. Marcus Kruger, Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa all scored for the Blackhawks, who have won three of their last four. Corey Crawford stopped 27 shots in the win. Chicago debuted its two recent acquisitions as defenseman Kimmo Timonen and forward Antoine Vermette were on the ice with the team for the first time. Timonen was acquired from the Flyers on Friday and was on the ice for the first time this season, while Vermette came to the team from Arizona. John-Michael Liles and Alexander Semin scored for the Hurricanes, who had a three-game winning streak snapped. Cam Ward was pulled after the second period as he allowed four goals on 18 shots. Anton Khudobin stopped 7-of-8 shots in relief.

Final Score: San Jose 4, Montreal 0

Alex Stalock posted 20 saves for his second shutout of the season as the San Jose Sharks took a 4-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday. Newly-acquired Ben Smith had a goal and an assist for the Sharks, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Matt Irwin all scored in the win. San Jose got Smith and a conditional seventh-round selection in 2017 from the Blackhawks in exchange for forward Andrew Desjardins on Monday, and also sent forward Tyler Kennedy to the New York Islanders for a conditional pick in the 2015 or 2016 draft. Carey Price allowed all four goals on 37 shots for the Canadiens, who had a four-game winning streak snapped.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Indiana Derby set for July

Indiana Grand Racing & Casino announced Monday that the $500,000 Indiana Derby will be run on Saturday, July 18.

The 1 1/16-mile Indiana Derby, along with the Indiana Oaks, had been conducted in October.

“We have been considering a date change for our Indiana Derby the past few years, mainly to avoid inclement weather, and we found the perfect spot in mid-July,“ said Kevin Greely, director of racing. “By moving the Indiana Derby to the summer, it will give racing fans the opportunity to enjoy the race during warmer weather and it will also give Indiana Grand the opportunity to create a multi-day festival leading up to the big race. We have added an additional day of racing that week, and will offer more than $1.6 million in purses for 12 stakes over four days.“

Indiana Grand’s 2015 racing season with 120 programs gets underway Tuesday, April 21.

“We are really focusing on the quality of our stakes program and have added two new open stakes races to expand our 2015 schedule,“ said Jon Schuster, vice president and general manager of racing. “Once again, Wednesday afternoon will be the focus for most of our stakes races. This has proven to be a great spot for a national audience. In addition, it gives us the opportunity to draw entries from some top stables in the region, boosting the quality of our stakes as well as our overnight races.“

The 120-day race meet will conclude Saturday, October 31 with four stakes races highlighting the inaugural “Indiana Champions Night,“ featuring the best state-bred horses of Indiana.

►  Finalists announced for 2015 Racing Hall of Fame class

Former Horse of the Year Black Tie Affair and two-time Santa Anita Handicap winner Lava Man headline the 10 finalists on this year’s National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame ballot.

The four candidates with the highest vote totals will be elected with results of the voting on contemporary candidates to be announced Monday, April 20.

Other finalists include jockeys Chris Antley, Victor Espinoza, Corey Nakatani and Craig Perret; horses Kona Gold and Xtra Heat and trainers King Leatherbury and David Whiteley.

Black Tie Affair was the 1991 Horse of the Year with wins that season in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Stephen Foster, Michigan Mile, Cornhusker, Iselin Handicap, Washington Park Handicap and the Commonwealth Stakes. He concluded his racing career with 18 wins in 45 starts and $3,370,694. Black Tie Affair was trained by Walter Reese at age 2 and Ernie Poulos for the remainder of his career.

Lava Man, trained by Doug O’Neill, won the Big ‘Cap in 2006 and 2007 along with three consecutive Hollywood Gold Cups from 2005 through 2007. In 2006 he also won the Pacific Classic at Del Mar to complete the Triple Crown of California’s major stakes for older horses. Lava Man earned $5,268,706 with 17 wins from 47 career starts.

Kona Gold, trained and co-owned by Bruce Headley, was 2000 champion sprinter after winning that year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Kona Gold finished his racing career with 14 wins in 30 starts for $2,293,384.

Xtra Heat was voted the Eclipse Award as 2001 champion 3-year-old filly. Co- owned and trained by John Salzman Sr., Xtra Heat posted 26 wins from 35 starts for $2,389,635.

Antley, who died in 2000 at age 34, rode Charismatic to victory in the 1999 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and was aboard the 3-year-old when he finished third in the Belmont Stakes but suffered an injury. Antley also won the Run for the Roses with Strike the Gold in 1991. The jockey earned $92,261,894 with 3,480 wins.

Espinoza is the current jockey for reigning Horse of the Year California Chrome. Last year, rider and horse won the Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness. The pair would finish third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and capture the Hollywood Derby. Espinoza has won 3,188 races through February 24 and ranks 19th all time in earnings with $171,130,260.

Nakatani has won 3,766 races and ranks 11th all-time in earnings with $224,484,846 through February 24. He has won 10 Breeders’ Cup races and was the rider of Lava Man.

Perret retired from race riding with 4,415 wins and earnings of $113,837,299. He won the 1990 Kentucky Derby with Unbridled and that year was the Eclipse Award winner as champion jockey.

Leatherbury is a legend in Maryland racing. The trainer won his first race in Florida in 1959 and currently ranks fourth all time with 6,449 wins and has career earnings of $62,792,375. Leatherbury currently trains Ben’s Cat, whom he bred and owns, and who has won 22 stakes and $2.3 million.

Whiteley, the son of Hall of Fame trainer Frank Whiteley Jr., won 678 races and earned $11,837,823 in a 26-year career. He trained 1976 champion 3-year- old filly Revidere, 1979 champion mare Waya and 1980 champion female turf horse Just a Game.

The induction ceremony will be held at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion in Saratoga Springs on Friday, August 07 at 10:30 AM ET and is free and open to the public.

►  Wise Dan nominated to Woodford Reserve Turf Classic

Two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan has been nominated to defend his crown in this year’s Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs.

Owned by Morton Fink and trained by Charlie LoPresti, Wise Dan won the last two editions of the 1 1/8-mile Woodford and can become the first horse to win the grass event three times. Einstein won the race in 2008-09.

The $500,000 Turf Classic is on Kentucky Derby Day, May 2 and is scheduled to be televised as part of NBC’s broadcast of the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby.

Wise Dan, Horse of the Year in 2012 and 2013, missed the last few months of 2014 after developing a non-displaced fracture at the bottom of the cannon bone of the right front fetlock.

The gelding won the previous two Breeders’ Cup Miles, both at Santa Anita, and was voted Horse of the Year both times along with Eclipse Awards as champion older male thoroughbred and male turf horse for 2012-13.

Wise Dan won the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland last October 4 with earlier victories last year in the Maker’s 46 Mile and Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.

The 8-year-old underwent emergency colic surgery last May 16 and returned to the races by winning the Bernard Baruch at Saratoga on August 30.

Wise Dan has career earnings of $7,552,920 with 23 wins in 31 starts.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Harrington tops Berger in Honda Classic playoff

Padraig Harrington parred the second playoff hole to defeat Daniel Berger and win The Honda Classic on Monday.

Harrington managed an even-par 70 in the final round, while Berger fired a 6- under 64. The duo ended at 6-under-par 274.

They returned to the par-5 18th for the first extra hole. Both players reached the green in three. Harrington missed a 24-foot birdie effort. On a similar line, but nine feet closer, Berger also missed his putt left.

After they tapped in for par, the pair headed to the par-3 17th at PGA National.

In regulation, Berger birdied that hole, while Harrington found water and walked off with a double-bogey. But in the playoff, it was Berger that found water.

Harrington stuffed his tee shot inside five feet, then Berger’s tee ball landed in the water. After he chipped on, Berger 2-putted for double-bogey. Harrington missed his short birdie effort, but tapped in for the victory.

Ian Poulter, who put five balls in the water during the final round, ended with a 4-over 74 and missed the playoff by one stroke. He shared third place at minus-5 with Paul Casey and Russell Knox, who both closed with 2-under 68s.

Jamie Donaldson fired a 4-under 66 to grab seventh place at 4-under 276. Patrick Reed dropped four strokes over the final four holes to slide to minus-3. He shot 3-over 73 in the final round and ended alongside Luke Donald (67), Jim Herman (69) and Jeff Overton (69) in seventh place.

The Monday finish was needed after torrential rain and strong wind halted play on Saturday.

►  Tiger Woods is not on suspension for failing a drug test, his agent and a PGA official say

Tiger Woods is not serving a suspension from the PGA Tour for failing a drug test, his agent and a Tour official emphatically stated Monday.

“These claims are absolutely, unequivocally and completely false,” Mark Steinberg said in a statement (via ESPN). “They are unsourced, unverified and completely ridiculous.”

The allegations were made by golf pro Dan Olsen on 730 The Game radio in East Lansing, Mich., Friday. “I’ve heard that he’s suspended,” Olsen said on “Mad Dog in the Morning.” “I heard he’s on a month’s suspension. And it’s not, it’s kind of a strong witness. It’s a credible person that’s telling me this. Well, it’s not testosterone, but it’s something else.”

Woods, who has struggled mentally and physically with his game, announced February 11 that he was taking an indefinite leave from golf, saying his game “needs a lot of work.” Among his many injuries over the last few years, he underwent a microdiscectomy last spring. He was withdrawn from play three times because of an injury and no longer ranks among the world’s top 70 players.

On Monday, Olsen, a 48-year-old who last played on the Tour in 2011, was walking back his allegations.

“Everything I said on that radio interview was only my opinion and not based on any first-hand knowledge or facts,” Olsen told ESPN. “I want to make a full retraction to everything I said for the entire radio interview. And I apologize to Tiger, Nike, Phil [Mickelson], [Commissioner] Tim Finchem and the PGA Tour.”

Olsen had questioned the Nike ball with which Woods plays, too, saying, “I would almost bet hadn’t been tested. … So he’s really playing with — I’m not gonna say a cheater ball, because he has the help of the establishment, really — but he played a ball that nobody else could play. … So that combined with his enhancement issues, like having a Canadian blood spinning doctor in his phone, you know? I mean, I think people are starting to openly call it what it is, which is gonna be a problem for him.”

Ty Votaw, executive vice president of the PGA Tour, shot down the report Monday, too, and the Tour, according to ESPN, says it is required to announce a suspension.

“There is no truth whatsoever to these claims,” he told USA Today. “We categorically deny these allegations.”

The Gilmer Free Press

►  2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Results/Schedule

Sprint Unlimited at Daytona - Winner: Matt Kenseth2nd: Martin Truex Jr.
 3rd: Carl Edwards
(Pole Sitter: Paul Menard)4th: Casey Mears
 5th: Kyle Larson
Budweiser Duel 1 - Winner: Dale Earnhardt Jr.2nd: Jeff Gordon
 3rd: Joey Logano
(Pole Sitter: Jeff Gordon)4th: Tony Stewart
 5th: Clint Bowyer
Budweiser Duel 2 - Winner: Jimmie Johnson2nd: Kyle Busch
 3rd: Carl Edwards
(Pole Sitter: Jimmie Johnson)4th: Greg Biffle
 5th: Martin Truex Jr.
Daytona 500 - Winner: Joey Logano2nd: Kevin Harvick
 3rd: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
(Pole Winner: Jeff Gordon)4th: Denny Hamlin
 5th: Jimmie Johnson
  1st - Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (Hampton, GA)
  8th - Kobalt 400 (Las Vegas, NV)
  15th - 500 (Avondale, AZ)
  22nd - Auto Club 400 (Fontana, CA)
  29th - STP 500 (Martinsville, VA)
  11th - Duck Commander 500 (Fort Worth, TX)
  19th - Food City 500 (Bristol, TN)
  25th - Toyota Owners 400 (Richmond, VA)
  3rd - GEICO 500 (Talladega, AL)
  9th - Kansas 400 (Kansas City, KS)
  15th - Sprint Showdown (Concord, NC)
  16th - NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (Concord, NC)
  24th - Coca-Cola 600 (Concord, NC)
  31st - Dover 400 (Dover, DE)
  7th - Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 (Long Pond, PA)
  14th - Quicken Loans 400 (Brooklyn, MI)
  28th - Toyota/Save Mart 350 (Sonoma, CA)
  5th - Coke Zero 400 (Daytona Beach, FL)
  11th - Quaker State 400 (Sparta, KY)
  19th - New Hampshire 301 (Loudon, NH)
  26th - Crown Royal/Brickyard 400 (Indianapolis, IN)
  2nd - Pennsylvania 400 (Long Pond, PA)
  9th - Cheez-It 355 at the Glen (Watkins Glen, NY)
  16th - Pure Michigan 400 (Brooklyn, MI)
  22nd - IRWIN Tools Night Race (Bristol, TN)
  6th - Bojangles Southern 500 (Darlington, SC)
  12th - Federated Auto Parts 400 (Richmond, VA)
  20th - 400 (Joliet, IL)
  27th - Sylvania 300 (Loudon, NH)
  4th - AAA 400 (Dover, DE)
  10th - Bank of America 500 (Concord, NC)
  18th - Hollywood Casino 400 (Kansas City, KS)
  25th - Alabama 500 (Talladega, AL)
  1st - Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 (Ridgeway, VA)
  8th - AAA Texas 500 (Fort Worth, TX)
  15th - Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 (Avondale, AZ)
  22th - Ford EcoBoost 400 (Homestead, FL)

►  The Inside Line: Johnson, 48 team off to impressive start

With a win in Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Jimmie Johnson and his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team moved one step closer to its goal of winning a record-tying seventh championship in NASCAR’s premier series this season.

Johnson all but assured himself of making this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup championship with a come-from-behind victory at Atlanta, the second race in 2015. Assuming he finishes in the top 30 in points and attempts to qualify for the remaining 24 regular-season races (except in a race instance like a medical issue), Johnson is expected to be in the playoffs for the 12th year in a row. He’s the only driver who has qualified for the Chase every season since NASCAR instituted a playoff format for its top series in 2004.

Joey Logano’s victory in the Daytona 500 on February 22 virtually guaranteed him of making the Chase for the third consecutive time. The Sprint Cup Series will run its third race of the season on Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Johnson turned in one of his most stunning performances at Atlanta after starting deep in the field. Considering he was not able to make a qualifying run on Friday due to inspection issues, Johnson had to start 37th. Twelve other drivers had their cars initially fail inspection and then could not have another examination of their vehicles completed in time for qualifying.

Kevin Harvick and Logano had been dominant in this race before Johnson took the lead for the first time on lap 198. Johnson ran in front for a total of 92 laps, including the final 21, and crossed the finish line 1.8 seconds ahead of Harvick for his fourth win at Atlanta.

“The car was just incredible,“ Johnson said. “I think where the race really opened up for us was once I was able to get in front of the 19 car (Carl Edwards). We’d get close to him, but then we had so many quick cautions at the start of the race. I could never get in front of him.

“The way we were arranged on pit road, I would have to come in front of the 19, get blocked in by the 34 (Joe Nemechek). Once I was able to get in front of the 19 and the 34 went down a lap, the race completely changed. I was able to rely on my guys on pit road to get me out first and things changed at that point and went our way.“

If Johnson wins another championship, he will tie Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt for the most titles in the series. Johnson won a record five consecutive championships from 2006-10 and then claimed his sixth title in 2013.

Last year, NASCAR revised the Chase format by expanding the field to 16 drivers and adding a series of elimination rounds. Johnson was eliminated from the Chase in the second round (Contender). He went on to finish a career-worst 11th in points.

Johnson won four times during the 2014 season, but his first victory did not happen until the 12th race—the May 25 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. Prior to Charlotte, the media and even race fans bombarded him with questions of when he was going to get his first win of the season.

He won’t have to worry about that question this year.

“It takes pressure off in some ways,“ he said. “We don’t have the questions of, ‘Are you going to win this year?‘ It’s nice to dodge that. We’ll have to win again in six to eight weeks or else those questions will come around. Buys us a little bit of a reprieve.“

Chad Knaus has served as crew chief for the No. 48 team since Johnson’s rookie season in 2002. When Johnson was knocked out of title contention last year, following the Talladega race, there were doubts about Knaus’ future with the team. There had been friction between the two late in the season as well.

Speculation of Knaus’s future with Johnson ended when they won the November 02 race at Texas.

Now with a victory at Atlanta, the first race that featured the 2015 rules package for the Sprint Cup cars, it appears Johnson and Knaus are clicking again.

“I just know we’re going to continue to work and do the best we possibly can,“ Knaus said. “That’s the vintage 48 methodology. If you win, you just put your head down, keep digging, try to get the next one. That’s kind of how we’re going to approach the season.

“Just because we won (Sunday) doesn’t mean we’re going to go to Vegas and knock it out of the park. I think we have the ability to, but I don’t think there’s any givens by any stretch.

Well, let’s wee what Johnson and Knaus can do in Las Vegas, where they’ve won four times together in the past.    ~~  Chris Symeon ~~

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Redskins free agency: What Washington could and should do at safety and cornerback

The Washington Redskins this week put the finishing touches on their plans up for one of the most important segments of the offseason. The legal free agent negotiation period kicks off on Saturday, and players can sign contracts with new teams at 4 PM next Tuesday, March 10, which marks the start of the new league year.

With a new general manager at the helm, the Redskins don’t figure to be huge, blockbuster-deal players in free agency. Scot McCloughan believes in building primarily through the draft, and coach Jay Gruden does as well.

But Washington certainly will use free agency to meet some of their needs.

Each day this week, we’ll take a look at an area of need, the best available players on the market, and possible targets for Washington. Today, we examine the safeties and cornerbacks.

The secondary represents one of Washington’s greatest concerns. The team has only two unproven strong safeties on the roster in Phillip Thomas and Akeem Davis, and no free safeties under contract. The team will likely try to address this position both in the draft and free agency.

Meanwhile, cornerback also ranks high on the needs list. Bashaud Breeland appears poised to build on an impressive rookie season, and the team hopes that David Amerson can become more consistent and more impactful in his third season. But uncertainty looms over DeAngelo Hall, who’s recovering from a torn Achilles’ tendon. The oft-injured Tracy Porter remains on the roster a year after signing with Washington in hopes of serving as the top nickelback. Look for the team to add more depth through free agency and draft at this position as well.

Top free agent safeties:

Devin McCourty, New England
Rahim Moore, Denver
Antrel Rolle, New York Giants
Da’Norris Searcy, Buffalo
Kendrick Lewis, Houston

What the Redskins could do:

As mentioned, Washington likely will try to go away from the old way of breaking the bank on free agent stars from other teams. Now they want to mold their own stars. So, although they badly need safety help, take McCourty off the list. (New England may wind up franchising him anyway). And you could probably eliminate Denver’s Moore as well. If McCourty does leave New England, he becomes he top safety, and will command a nice pay day.

So, look for Washington to go the more affordable route, and at the same time, possibly pursue players with connections to people within the organization. Antrel Rolle played for new defensive backs coach Perry Fewell in New York, and could be an option. Cincinnati’s Taylor Mays is another intriguing safety on the market. McCloughan left San Francisco the month before the 49ers used a second-round pick on the USC product, but McCloughan at that point had likely helped rate all of the draft prospects, and could be inclined to give Mays (a disappointment thus far) another look. Marcus Gilchrist also could receive consideration. New defensive coordinator Joe Barry has good familiarity with this strong safety since they spent the past four years together in San Diego. Otherwise, Searcy could prove to be a smart, value option.

What they should do:

If they truly are committed to building this thing through the draft and with a patient approach, the Redskins should definitely resist the urge to throw a lot of money at a player like Moore. He’s talented, but they have so many needs, that they can’t kill their cap room on a couple of players. Rolle, who is now 32, would make sense. He’s not the most consistent in pass coverage, but experience to go with a rookie at the other safety spot would be smart.

Top free agent cornerbacks:

Byron Maxwell, Seattle
Brandon Flowers, San Diego
Kareem Jackson, Houston
Chris Culliver, San Francisco
Davon House, Green Bay Packers

What the Redskins could do:

McCloughan had a hand in the Seahawks drafting Byron Maxwell, but as the top cornerback, Maxwell will draw a large pay day this month. Flowers has the San Diego connection with Barry. But a more realistic target could be Walter Thurmond III, who like Rolle played for Fewell in New York last season. McCloughan and the Seahawks took Thurmond in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, and Washington pursued Thurmond last year, but lost out on him to the Giants.

What they should do:

Making another run at Thurmond makes sense. He is viewed as a talented nickelback, which would suit Washington’s purposes well. That’s the greatest need with Breeland and Amerson on the outside. Thurmond would be a good insurance policy in case Hall doesn’t make a full recovery. Like Porter, however, Thurmond has had injury issues much of his career. However, that could mean he comes at a more affordable price. The team also should look to draft another cornerback.

►  Lions won’t tag Suh

The Detroit Lions apparently won’t place their franchise tag on defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

According to the club’s website, Suh will not receive the designation and will be allowed to become a free agent. The franchise tag would have cost the Lions $26.8 million for the 2015 season.

The 28-year-old Nebraska product started all 78 games he played for the Lions since being selected with the second overall pick of the 2010 draft. The only two games he has missed during his career came because of a suspension for stomping on Green Bay’s Evan Dietrich-Smith during a Thanksgiving Day game in 2011.

Suh is a four-time Pro Bowl selection with 36 career sacks and 239 tackles, but has also been known as a somewhat dirty player. He has been fined numerous times for his on-field actions.

►  Houston expected to be franchised by Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs will reportedly use their franchise designation on NFL sack leader Justin Houston.

According to both ESPN and, the Chiefs will place the tag on the pass rushing linebacker at a cost of about $14 million for the 2015 season.

Houston led the NFL with 22 sacks last season, just a half-sack shy of the league record set by Michael Strahan.

In four seasons since being selected with a third-round pick in the 2011 draft, the 26-year-old Georgia product has 48 1/2 sacks in 59 games.

►  Broncos to use franchise tag on WR Thomas

The Denver Broncos will place their franchise tag on Demaryius Thomas, according to both ESPN and

The designation means the star wide receiver will receive a one-year deal for the average of the top five salaries at his position, which figures to be roughly $12.8 million.

Thomas has made the Pro Bowl each of the last three years and set a Broncos single-season franchise record with 1,619 yards receiving this past season.

The 27-year-old Georgia Tech product has caught 351 passes for 5,317 yards and 41 touchdowns in 69 career games. He was selected by the Broncos with the 22nd overall pick in the 2010 draft.

►  Dolphins release Finnegan

The Miami Dolphins released cornerback Cortland Finnegan on Monday.

Finnegan spent just one season in Miami, finishing with 44 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 12 games. An ankle injury kept him out of four games in November and December.

The 31-year-old Samford product started his NFL career with Tennessee in 2006 and played six seasons with the Titans before spending two years in St. Louis. Finnegan has 18 career interceptions, four of which he’s returned for touchdowns.

►  Bryant gets Cowboys’ franchise tag

The Dallas Cowboys have slapped the franchise tag on wide receiver Dez Bryant.

The designation will keep Bryant off the free agent market and will give him a salary of $12.8 million for the 2015 season. The two sides can still work towards a long-term deal until July 15.

Bryant has emerged as one of the top receivers in the NFL. He caught 88 passes for 1,320 yards and a career-high 16 touchdowns in 2014, following 90-catch seasons in both 2012 and 2013.

In all, the 26-year-old Oklahoma State product has 381 receptions for 5,424 yards and 56 touchdowns in five seasons.

►  NFL salary cap goes over $143 million

The NFL salary cap has increased more than $10 million to $143.28 million per team, the league and the players union said Monday.

The new number, which takes effect when the league year begins on March 10, is up from $133 million in 2014.

Teams have the option to carry over unused cap space from the previous league year.

According to the NFL Players Association, the Jacksonville Jaguars will have the highest adjusted salary cap after carrying over $21.768 million from last year.

►  Dolphins place transition tag on Clay

The Miami Dolphins have placed the transition tag on tight end Charles Clay.

A transition designation will give Clay the opportunity to test free agency, but also gives the Dolphins the right to match any offer. Clay will earn the average of the top-10 salaries at the position, which will be $7.7 million.

Clay has played his entire four-year career with the Dolphins, making the transition from fullback in college to tight end. He caught 58 passes for 605 yards and three touchdowns last season after hauling a career-best 69 passes for 759 yards with six scores in 2013.

In 58 games, 47 of which have been starts, the Tulsa product has 161 receptions for 1,809 yards with 14 touchdowns.

►  Eagles sign former Packers LB Jones

The Philadelphia Eagles have signed former Green Bay Packers linebacker Brad Jones to a two-year deal, the team announced Monday,

Jones, 28, played six NFL seasons with the Packers after they drafted him in the seventh round in 2009.

The Packers released him February 20, clearing $3.75 million in salary cap space.

Jones, who signed a three-year, $11.25 million contract with Green Bay in March 2013, lost his starting job this past season.

He had 18 tackles in 13 games and has posted 182 tackles and 10 sacks in 76 career games, including 36 starts.

►  Chiefs use tag on NFL sacks leader Houston

The Kansas City Chiefs used their franchise tag on reigning NFL sacks leader Justin Houston, the team announced Monday.

Houston will earn $13.195 next season under the franchise tag, according to the widely reported number for linebackers.

The 26-year-old had 22 sacks last season, breaking Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas’ single-season franchise record and coming within a half-sack of Michael Strahan’s NFL mark.

Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said the team will continue to work on a long-term deal for Houston.

“Our goal is to reach a deal that is mutually beneficial,“ he said in a statement. “We want to keep Justin in a Chiefs uniform for years to come.“

Houston has appeared in 59 games for the Chiefs since they selected him in the third round of the 2011 draft, including 53 starts. He has compiled 48 1/2 sacks, 235 tackles, one interception and seven forced fumbles.

►  Giants tag DE Pierre-Paul

The New York Giants assigned the non-exclusive franchise tag to defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul at Monday’s deadline as the team continues to attempt to work out a long-term deal with its top pass rusher.

Pierre-Paul will earn a $14.8 million salary in 2015 as a franchise player, though the Giants now have until July 15 to negotiate an extension with the 2010 first-round pick by applying the tag.

The 26-year-old is coming off a bounce-back 2014 campaign in which he recorded 12 1/2 sacks and three forced fumbles while starting all 16 games. Pierre-Paul had a career-low two sacks while being limited to 11 games by injuries the previous season.

He has amassed 42 sacks, 286 tackles, eight forced fumbles and 28 passes defensed during his five-year tenure with New York, which selected the two- time Pro Bowl honoree with the 15th overall choice of the 2010 NFL Draft. He racked up 16 1/2 sacks during the Giants’ Super Bowl XLVI championship season of 2011.

The Giants made another notable move on Monday, releasing center J.D. Walton after just one season with the club.

Walton signed a two-year, $6 million contract with New York last March and started all 16 games, but was deemed expendable due to upcoming $3.625 million cap hit and 2014 second-round pick Weston Richburg ready to take over in the middle.

►  Steelers cut WR Moore

The Pittsburgh Steelers released wide receiver Lance Moore Monday following one unproductive season with the team.

Moore, who delivered a 1,000-yard season for New Orleans in 2012 and was a member of the Saints’ 2009 Super Bowl XLIV champion team, managed just 14 catches for 198 yards and two touchdowns with the Steelers last season.

The Steelers will save $1.5 million towards their salary cap with the move.

Moore spent nine seasons with the Saints prior to joining the Steelers last March and amassed 344 catches totaling 4,281 yards with 78 touchdowns during his tenure in New Orleans.

►  Lions keep Tapp, Orlovsky on 1-year deals

The Detroit Lions re-signed defensive end Darryl Tapp and backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky to one-year deals, the team announced Monday.

Tapp, 30, will earn $870,000 and receive an $80,000 signing bonus, according to reports.

The nine-year NFL veteran was signed by the Lions last March and appeared in all 16 games, compiling 17 tackles, two passes defensed and a half-sack. He has also played for Washington, Philadelphia and Seattle.

Orlovsky, who was originally drafted by the Lions in 2005, returned to the team on a one-year deal last April after spending the previous five seasons with Houston, Indianapolis and Tampa Bay.

He didn’t take a snap as Matthew Stafford’s backup last year and has thrown just seven passes since the start of the 2012 season.

The Gilmer Free Press

ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York
CBSSN - CBS - College Sports Network
CSN - Comcast SportsNet
TCN - The Comcast Network
NBCSN - NBC Sports Network
NESN - New England Sports Network
MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
ROOT - Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Northwest, Rocky Mountain)
CST - Cox Sports Television
FCS - FOX College Sports
FS - FOX Sports Regional
RSN - Regional Sports Networks
CPTV - Connecticut Public Broadcasting
TVG - Horse Racing Channel
FS1 - FOX Sports 1
TWC - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
* - If Necessary

Major League Baseball - Spring Training
NY Yankees vs. Philadelphia, 1:05 PM - CSN-Philadelphia
Pittsburgh vs. Toronto, 1:07 PM - SNET, MLB Network
National Basketball Association
Sacramento at New York, 7:00 PM - CSN-California, MSG, DSS
Boston at Cleveland, 7:00 PM - CSN-New England, FS-Ohio, DSS
LA Lakers at Charlotte, 7:00 PM - Time Warner Cable, SportSouth, DSS
Houston at Atlanta, 7:30 PM - ROOT-Southwest, SportSouth, DSS
Washington at Chicago, 8:00 PM - CSN-DC+, Chicago, DSS
Utah at Memphis, 8:00 PM - ROOT-Northwest, SportSouth, DSS
Milwaukee at Denver, 9:00 PM - FS-Wisconsin, Altitude, DSS
National Hockey League
Calgary at Philadelphia, 7:00 PM - SNET-West, CSN-Philadelphia, DSS
Nashville at New Jersey, 7:00 PM - FS-Tennessee, MSG, DSS
Washington at Columbus, 7:00 PM - CSN-DC, FS-Ohio, DSS
Toronto at Florida, 7:30 PM - TSN4, FS-Florida, DSS
Buffalo at Tampa Bay, 7:30 PM - NBCSN
Ottawa at Minnesota, 8:00 PM - RDS, TSN5, FS-North, DSS
NY Islanders at Dallas, 8:30 PM - MSG+, FS-Southwest, DSS
Anaheim at Arizona, 9:00 PM - FS-Prime Ticket, Arizona, DSS
Los Angeles at Edmonton, 9:30 PM - FS-West, SNET-West, DSS
San Jose at Vancouver, 10:00 PM - CSN-California, SNET-Pacific, DSS
College Basketball
Ole Miss at Alabama, 7:00 PM - SEC Network
Eastern Michigan at Ball State, 7:00 PM - BSSN,
Kent State at Bowling Green, 7:00 PM - Time Warner Sports,
Georgetown at Butler, 7:00 PM - FS1
Toledo at Central Michigan, 7:00 PM -
Rhode Island at Dayton, 7:00 PM - CBSSN
North Carolina at Georgia Tech, 7:00 PM - ESPN U
Iowa at Indiana, 7:00 PM - ESPN
Maryland at Rutgers, 7:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Youngstown State at Detroit, 7:00 PM -
Wright State at Illinois-Chicago, 7:00 PM -
Army at Navy, 7:00 PM - Patriot League Network
Loyola-Maryland at Holy Cross, 7:00 PM - Patriot League Net
Nebraska Omaha at North Dakota, 8:00 PM - FS-North
Western Michigan at Northern Illinois, 8:00 PM -
NC State at Clemson, 9:00 PM - FS-South, Detroit, SunSports
Texas A&M at Florida, 9:00 PM - ESPN U
Kentucky at Georgia, 9:00 PM - ESPN
West Virginia at Kansas, 9:00 PM - ESPN 2
Auburn at Missouri, 9:00 PM - SEC Network
Michigan at Northwestern, 9:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Villanova at Creighton, 9:15 PM - FS1
Women’s College Basketball
West Virginia at Kansas State, 8:00 PM - FS-Midwest
TCU at Texas, 8:00 PM - Longhorn Network

Pioneers Down WVWC 75-49‏

The Gilmer Free Press

The Glenville State Pioneers forced West Virginia Wesleyan into 17 turnovers and had three players score in double figures as they defeated the Bobcats on Senior Day by 26 points.

The Pioneers and Bobcats would go back and fourth early however Glenville State would take a three point lead over West Virginia Wesleyan, 12-9, at the 12:45 minute mark of the first half. West Virginia Wesleyan would come back and tie the game up at 22 all 6:20 left till halftime.

However Glenville State would end the half on a 17-3 run as the Pioneers took a 15 point lead over the Bobcats, 40-25.

In the second half the Pioneers would keep there foot on the pedal and cruise to a 26 point victory, 75-49.

There were three ties in the game, all coming in the first half. The Pioneers would lead the entire game.

Glenville State caused 17 turnovers and scored 31 points off of them. The Pioneers bench outscored the Bobcats bench 29 to 11.

Glenville State was led by senior Reggie Williams as he scored a game high 14 points and handed out a team high four assists. Fellow senior guard Donte Morales chipped in with 13 points while Sedric Nady scored 10 points.

Pioneers senior center Ed Newell scored a career high nine points in the win.

West Virginia Wesleyan had two players score in double figures led by Tanner McGrew scoring 12 points while Austin Shell chipped in with 11 points.

Glenville State (18-10, 14-8) will host UVa –Wise on Tuesday, March 03, 2015 at the Waco Center in the first round of the MEC Conference Tournament. Game time is set for 7:30 PM.

Official Basketball Box Score
West Virginia Wesleyan vs. Glenville State
02.28.15   4:00 PM   at Glenville, WV (WACO Center)
VISITORS: West Virginia Wesleyan 11-17 (9-13)

                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
11 Garrett Grantham…. *  2-8    1-6    0-0    0  2  2   3   5  2  1  0  2  31
14 Chris Dewberry…... *  2-4    2-4    1-2    0  0  0   1   7  0  3  0  1  24
15 Tanner McGrew….... *  3-4    0-0    6-8    2  5  7   0  12  2  5  0  1  34
20 Ja’Sahn Johnson….. *  0-3    0-0    3-4    0  1  1   1   3  0  3  0  0  28
33 Austin Shell…..... *  5-6    0-0    1-2    3  4  7   1  11  2  1  1  1  33
02 Landon Todd…......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   0   0  0  0  0  0   5
03 Mitch Cross…......    1-2    1-2    0-0    0  0  0   0   3  0  0  0  0   2
04 Soren Dossing…....    0-0    0-0    1-2    1  0  1   0   1  1  1  0  0   8
22 Anthony Richards….    2-5    2-5    0-0    1  0  1   1   6  1  2  0  0  25
25 Logan Phillips…...    0-2    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   2
30 AleksandarDjordjevic    0-2    0-1    1-2    1  0  1   0   1  1  0  0  1   8
   TEAM….............                                             1
   Totals…...........   15-36   6-18  13-20   8 13 21   7  49  9 17  1  6 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half:  7-15 46.7%   2nd Half:  8-21 38.1%   Game: 41.7%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  3-7  42.9%   2nd Half:  3-11 27.3%   Game: 33.3%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  8-10 80.0%   2nd Half:  5-10 50.0%   Game: 65.0%    2
HOME TEAM: Glenville State 18-10 (14-8)

                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
01 Sedric Nady…...... *  3-6    2-5    2-2    1  1  2   1  10  1  1  0  2  29
03 Donte Morales….... *  5-8    1-4    2-3    0  2  2   3  13  2  2  0  3  29
11 Reggie Williams….. *  7-11   0-3    0-0    0  0  0   0  14  4  1  0  3  31
34 Kalleone Moret…... *  0-0    0-0    0-0    0  4  4   2   0  2  1  0  0  16
50 ED Newell…........ *  3-4    3-4    0-0    0  0  0   3   9  0  1  0  3  14
00 Brien Winston…....    2-4    1-2    0-0    2  1  3   1   5  1  1  0  1  20
12 Luke Campbell…....    3-5    2-4    0-0    1  0  1   1   8  0  0  0  1  19
22 Hunter Given….....    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   2
23 Brett Morris….....    2-3    2-3    0-0    0  2  2   0   6  1  0  0  1  22
32 Juwan Wells…......    3-5    1-3    1-1    0  3  3   2   8  2  1  0  0  16
33 Alonzo Molina…....    1-1    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   2   2  0  0  0  0   2
   TEAM….............                         1  4  5
   Totals…...........   29-47  12-28   5-6    5 17 22  15  75 13  8  0 14 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 17-23 73.9%   2nd Half: 12-24 50.0%   Game: 61.7%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  3-9  33.3%   2nd Half:  9-19 47.4%   Game: 42.9%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  3-4  75.0%   2nd Half:  2-2  100 %   Game: 83.3%    1
Officials: Andre Langlois, Brad Roos, Todd Gallups

Technical fouls: West Virginia Wesleyan-None. Glenville State-None.

Attendance: 2221

Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
West Virginia Wesleyan….....   25   24  -   49
Glenville State…............   40   35  -   75

Lady Pioneers Down WV Wesleyan 104-55‏

The Gilmer Free Press

Glenville State freshman guard Kayla Tibbs scored a game high 25 points as she hit five three-pointers as the Lady Pioneers rolled over West Virginia Wesleyan on Senior Day by 49 points, 104-55.

The Lady Pioneers would get off to a slow start as they held a one point lead over West Virginia Wesleyan, 12-11, with 14:11 left till halftime.

After that Glenville State would go on a run and take 15 point lead, 34-19, at the 6:33 minute mark. The Lady Pioneers would cruise into halftime up by 31 points, 58-27.

In the second half it would be all Glenville State as the Lady Pioneers were firing on all cylinders as they went on to win, 104-55.

There were only two ties in the game, also the Lady Pioneers never trailed in the game.

The Lady Pioneers defense caused 27 turnovers and converted them into 36 points. Glenville State also won the rebounding battle as they outrebounded West Virginia Wesleyan by one, 41-40.

Glenville State shot 51 percent from the floor and 38 percent from behind the three-point line while West Virginia Wesleyan shot only 36 percent from the floor and 28 percent from behind the three-point line.

The Lady Pioneers had five players score in double figures with Kayla Tibbs scoring a game high 25 points. Senior Keyanna Tate scored 16 points while fellow senior Briana Smythe scored 14 points and grabbed a team high seven rebounds.

Freshman Juile Bishop chipped in with 12 points, hitting four three-pointers in the game, while freshman Tayana Stewart chipped in with 10 points, a career high for Stewart.

Senior Katrina Salins dished out a game high six assists.

West Virginia Wesleyan was led by Alexa Mortenson as she scored 17 points while Mari Stewart finished with a double-double scoring 17 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

The Glenville State Lady Pioneers (14-12, 12-10) will host West Virginia State on Tuesday, March 03, 2015 in the first round of the MEC Conference Tournament at the Waco Center. Tip-off is set for 5:30 PM.

Official Basketball Box Score
West Va. Wesleyan vs. Glenville State
02.28.15    2:00 PM   at Glenville, WV (WACO Center)
VISITORS: West Va. Wesleyan 4-22 (4-19)

                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
10 Alexa Mortenson….. *  7-15   3-9    0-0    3  3  6   0  17  4  4  0  1  33
20 Mari Stewart…..... *  5-15   0-0    1-2    2  8 10   3  11  1  4  0  0  34
21 Stacy Remer…...... *  2-5    0-1    2-2    0  0  0   0   6  4  4  0  1  20
24 Allie Browne…..... *  0-2    0-1    0-0    0  3  3   0   0  2  4  0  0  33
42 KiKi DeVane…...... *  3-8    0-0    1-2    5  4  9   3   7  2  3  1  3  26
02 Brittney Allen…...    0-2    0-1    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  1  0  0   6
12 Andrea Lee….......    2-6    1-2    0-0    1  1  2   0   5  0  1  0  0  19
22 Allyson Freiermuth..    2-6    0-0    0-0    1  1  2   0   4  0  2  0  0  11
32 Allison Rothey…...    0-1    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  0  1  0  0   5
35 Chloe Bland…......    0-0    0-0    1-2    0  0  0   1   1  0  0  0  0   8
45 Susan Meyer…......    2-3    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   4  0  0  0  1   5
   TEAM….............                         4  4  8             3
   Totals…...........   23-63   4-14   5-8   16 24 40   8  55 13 27  1  6 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 11-33 33.3%   2nd Half: 12-30 40.0%   Game: 36.5%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  2-8  25.0%   2nd Half:  2-6  33.3%   Game: 28.6%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  3-4  75.0%   2nd Half:  2-4  50.0%   Game: 62.5%    1
HOME TEAM: Glenville State 14-12 (12-10)

                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
01 Katrina Salins…... *  1-4    1-4    0-0    1  1  2   0   3  6  1  0  1  19
04 Keyanna Tate…..... *  8-10   0-0    0-0    0  4  4   2  16  2  1  0  2  17
24 Madison Martin…... *  1-7    1-6    0-0    0  0  0   0   3  2  3  0  4  21
25 Briana Smythe….... *  7-8    0-0    0-0    2  5  7   3  14  1  1  0  1  15
35 Julie Bishop…..... *  4-8    4-7    0-0    1  0  1   1  12  1  0  0  2  17
02 Paige Tuttle….....    2-7    2-6    0-0    0  2  2   2   6  2  2  0  2  22
03 Tayana Stewart…...    4-5    2-3    0-0    2  0  2   1  10  1  0  0  2  12
10 Skyy Lewis….......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  2  2   0   0  0  0  0  0   5
12 Kayla Tibbs…......    9-15   5-9    2-2    1  3  4   0  25  1  0  0  1  17
13 Chanice Lee…......    1-3    0-2    0-0    0  1  1   0   2  2  2  0  0   6
20 Briauna Nix…......    0-1    0-0    0-0    1  5  6   3   0  0  1  0  0  14
21 Kristin DesRocher…    2-7    2-7    0-0    1  0  1   0   6  1  0  0  0  11
32 Brittany Jackson….    2-3    0-0    3-4    1  0  1   0   7  2  1  0  1  16
34 La’Shaughn Jones….    0-1    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   0   0  0  0  0  0   7
   TEAM….............                         5  2  7
   Totals…...........   41-79  17-44   5-6   15 26 41  12 104 21 12  0 16 199

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 22-43 51.2%   2nd Half: 19-36 52.8%   Game: 51.9%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 10-25 40.0%   2nd Half:  7-19 36.8%   Game: 38.6%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  4-4  100 %   2nd Half:  1-2  50.0%   Game: 83.3%    0

Officials: Tony Look, James Lipscomp, Colin Petonick

Technical fouls: West Va. Wesleyan-None. Glenville State-None.

Attendance: 2238

Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
West Va. Wesleyan…..........   27   28  -   55
Glenville State…............   58   46  -  104

Sports News   150302

The Gilmer Free Press

The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Basketball Tiebreaker Procedure‏

There is no tiebreaker to determine the regular season champion and co-champions are recognized. The tiebreaker procedure is only to determine seeding for next week’s conference tournament.

We will release the brackets and seedings after the results are in on Saturday evening.

Below is the tiebreaker process:

1st Tiebreaker: HEAD-TO-HEAD
Two Teams: Head-The first tie-breaker is head-to-head. If the head-to-head record between the two does not resolve the tie-breaker, then move to the 2nd tie-breaker.

Three Teams or More: Head-to-head is still used when it is more than two teams. 
Three Teams: The three tied teams are looked at as a subset head-to-head versus the group.  You would compare the records against all tied teams.  In a three-team tie in the MEC schedule, the subset would be a 4-game record against the two teams with which a team is tied.  If this breaks all ties, then the teams are ordered by record in the subset.  In a scenario where Team A if 4-0, and Team B and Team C are both 1-3, then head-to-head is used between Team B and Team C using the two games they played against each other to break the secondary tie (in this case they obviously would be 1-1 against each other). Then proceed to the 2nd Tiebreaker.

In simplest terms, head-to-head continues to be used after initial ties are broken between more than two teams if ties remain.

2nd Tiebreaker: Record vs. Teams in Standings - 1st-12th place teams.
If a tie still exists after head-to-head comparisons, then in descending order the tied teams record is considered against other teams in the standings starting with 1st place.
vs. 1st place   TEAM A 0-2 | TEAM B 0-2
vs. 2nd place   TEAM A 1-1 | TEAM B 0-2
TEAM A wins 2nd tiebreaker.

<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Sunday, March 01)

Final Score: (5) Wisconsin 68, Michigan State 61

Frank Kaminsky was sensational on Senior Day, scoring a season-high 31 points to help No. 5 Wisconsin secure a share of the Big Ten regular-season title with a 68-61 win over Michigan State. Kaminsky added eight rebounds, three assists and three blocks in his last game at the Kohl Center on Sunday. The Badgers (26-3, 14-2 Big Ten) honored their senior class which included Traevon Jackson, Josh Gasser and Kaminsky prior to tipoff. Nigel Hayes had 14 points for Wisconsin, which clinched a share of its first Big Ten championship since 2008. The Badgers rebounded from Tuesday’s 59-53 loss at No. 14 Maryland that snapped their 10-game winning streak. Bryn Forbes made all five of his 3-point attempts and finished with 21 points for the Spartans (19-10, 10-6), who have dropped two straight on the heels of a four-game winning streak.

Final Score: Connecticut 81, (21) SMU 73

Rodney Purvis scored a career-high 28 points on 9-of-16 shooting as Connecticut posted an 81-73 win over No. 21 SMU on Sunday. Ryan Boatright had 23 points and Daniel Hamilton added 16 with seven rebounds for the Huskies (17-11, 10-6 AAC), who have won three straight games. Markus Kennedy led SMU (23-6, 14-3) with 18 points and nine rebounds. Yanick Moreira scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half for the Mustangs, who were looking to match a school record with an eighth consecutive road victory. SMU, which had won five straight overall, will battle Tulsa at home next Sunday for the American Athletic Conference regular-season title.

Final Score: (25) Providence 77, Marquette 66

LaDontae Henton had 25 points and 15 rebounds and No. 25 Providence rolled to a 77-66 win over Marquette on Sunday. Kris Dunn scored 16 points and Tyler Harris added 13 off the bench for the Friars (20-9, 10-6 Big East), who were coming off an 89-61 loss to No. 6 Villanova on Tuesday, a day after entering the Associated Press rankings for the first time this season. Duane Wilson scored 22 points and Matt Carlino had 21 for the Golden Eagles (11-17, 3-13), who have lost five games in a row and 11 of their last 12.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Sunday, March 01)

Final Score: LA Clippers 96, Chicago 86

Chris Paul had 28 points and 12 assists and the Los Angeles Clippers pulled away to beat the injury-riddled Chicago Bulls 96-86 on Sunday. DeAndre Jordan grabbed 26 rebounds in the win, including 17 in the first half, while Jamal Crawford added 16 points and Spencer Hawes had 14 points and nine rebounds. The Clippers have won two in a row and are 6-3 without star forward Blake Griffin, who underwent surgery before the All-Star break to remove a staph infection in his right elbow.

Final Score: Houston 105, Cleveland 103 (OT)

James Harden scored 33 points with eight rebounds and five assists to help the Houston Rockets take down the Cleveland Cavaliers, 105-103, in overtime on Sunday. Terrence Jones posted 19 points with seven rebounds and Donatas Motiejunas added 16 points for the Rockets, who swept their five-game homestand. LeBron James had a rough night shooting, and it was his two misses from the free throw line that cost Cleveland the game late in overtime. He finished with a game-high 37 points despite shooting 15-of-35 from the floor and 3-of-11 from the charity stripe. Kevin Love had 21 points and Tristan Thompson recorded 14 points with a season-high 19 rebounds for Cleveland.

Final Score: Golden State 106, Boston 101

Stephen Curry’s 37 points fueled the Golden State Warriors’ monumental comeback in their 106-101 win over the Boston Celtics on Sunday night. Klay Thompson tallied 20 points, Harrison Barnes posted 17 points with eight rebounds and Draymond Green added 14 points with 11 rebounds for Golden State, which trailed by as many as 26 in the first half before surging back into the game in the fourth quarter. Isaiah Thomas deposited 20 points off the bench to lead Boston, Tyler Zeller had 17 points and Evan Turner netted 10 points with nine rebounds and six assists.

Final Score: Indiana 94, Philadelphia 74

Roy Hibbert had 14 points and 15 rebounds as the Indiana Pacers defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 94-74 on Sunday night. George Hill posted 17 points, nine rebounds and four assists, while Luis Scola added 15 points and six boards off the bench for the Pacers, who have won five of their last six games. Nerlens Noel supplied 10 points and 12 rebounds for Philadelphia, which has dropped six of its last seven contests.

Final Score: Charlotte 98, Orlando 83

Mo Williams had 23 points while dishing out 11 assists Sunday as the Charlotte Hornets beat the Orlando Magic 98-83. All five Hornets starters reached double figures in points, with Al Jefferson, Gerald Henderson and Cody Zeller each scoring 16. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist posted 11 points and 13 rebounds as Charlotte won for just the second time in its last eight games. Victor Oladipo led Orlando with 21 points. Tobias Harris added 13 points and nine rebounds in the Magic’s third straight loss.

Final Score: Portland 110, Sacramento 99

LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points and 15 rebounds and the Portland Trail Blazers took down the Kings in Sacramento on Sunday, 110-99. It was Aldridge’s third straight double-double, and Portland’s third straight win, since he missed a 98-92 loss to Memphis on Feb. 22 with a thumb sprain. Damian Lillard tallied a game-high 31 points with seven assists and Wesley Matthews added 17 points for the Blazers. Sacramento gave them a game despite All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins missing his second straight game with a left ankle sprain and bruised left hip. Rudy Gay went for 24 points and eight rebounds for the short-handed Kings, while Derrick Williams chipped in 18 points in a reserve role.

Final Score: Oklahoma City 108, LA Lakers 101

Serge Ibaka had 18 points and 14 rebounds as the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 108-101 on Sunday. Russell Westbrook sat out for Oklahoma City after suffering a fracture of his right cheek during Friday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Westbrook, who was in the midst of recording three straight triple-doubles, took an inadvertent knee to the face from teammate Andre Roberson in the closing seconds of Friday’s loss and was clearly shaken up. He stayed in the game but was taken to a Portland hospital afterwards. D.J. Augustin posted 18 points, nine boards and five assists, while Enes Kanter added 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Thunder, who had lost two straight coming in on the heels of a seven-game winning streak. Jeremy Lin led the Lakers with 20 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

Final Score: New Orleans 99, Denver 92

Tyreke Evans stuffed the stat sheet with 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists and the surging New Orleans Pelicans won their fifth straight game with a 99-92 takedown of the Denver Nuggets. Eric Gordon scored 18 points, Dante Cunningham gave 14 and Omer Asik pulled down 16 rebounds for the Pelicans, who are tied with Houston for the longest current win streak in the league. Their best stretch of the season has come at a bizarre time, as All-Star Anthony Davis (shoulder) and sixth man Ryan Anderson (knee) both missed their fourth straight game. They are back in action on Monday in Dallas before returning to New Orleans for a three-game homestand. The Pelicans sit one-half game behind Oklahoma City for the eighth spot in the Western Conference. Newly acquired guard Will Barton had 16 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for Denver, while Danilo Gallinari paced the NBA’s coldest team with 21 points. Denver has dropped six in a row and 12 of its last 13 games. It is the only team that hasn’t won since the All-Star break. Randy Foye scored 19 points on 5-of-10 from deep in the setback, while Ty Lawson had just five points on 2- of-6 from the floor.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Pittsburgh Pirates: It’s ‘sickening’ that ‘Jihadi John’ is wearing our hat

The Gilmer Free Press

“Jihadi John,” who has been filmed beheading a number of American, British and Japanese hostages in videos released by the Islamic State, was revealed on Thursday to be Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwait-born Londoner. In one photo of Emwazi released by Sky News in England, he is wearing a baseball hat that should look very familiar to U.S. sports fans.

The Gilmer Free Press

The Pittsburgh Pirates, suffice to say, are horrified that a symbol of their team is now connected with a murderer, and on Friday they released a short statement.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Former White Sox star Minnie Minoso dies

Former Chicago White Sox star Minnie Minoso has died.

The White Sox didn’t release details of the Minoso’s death, saying he passed away Saturday night in Chicago. listed Minoso’s age as 89 and the White Sox said he was 90.

“Our organization and our city have suffered a heart-breaking loss today,“ said White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf in a statement Sunday. “We have lost our dear friend and a great man. Many tears are falling.“

Minoso, a native of Cuba, began his big league career with Cleveland in 1949, but spent 12 of his 17 seasons in the majors with the White Sox. He was Chicago’s first black player when he was acquired from the Indians in 1951.

A nine-time All-Star, Minoso played most of his career in the outfield and was a lifetime .298 hitter with 336 doubles, 83 triples, 186 homers and 1,023 runs batted in. He won three Gold Glove awards, led the American League in triples and stolen bases three times and topped the circuit in doubles once.

In addition to his time with the White Sox and Indians, Minoso also played for the Cardinals and Senators.

Minoso retired in 1964, but returned to action in 1976 and picked up a hit in eight at-bats over three games with the White Sox. He was hitless in two more plate appearances in 1980, which allowed him to play in five different decades.

The White Sox retired his No. 9 in 1983 and unveiled a sculpture of the man known as the “Cuban Comet” in 2004.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Sunday, March 01)

Final Score: Winnipeg 5, Los Angeles 2

Andrew Ladd had two goals as the Winnipeg Jets grabbed a 5-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday. Drew Stafford, Tyler Myers and Blake Wheeler each scored a goal for the Jets, who had lost three of four coming in. Michael Hutchinson turned aside 18 shots in the win. Jeff Carter scored both goals for the Kings, who have lost three straight following an eight-game winning streak. Jonathan Quick allowed four goals on 21 shots through two periods before being replaced by Martin Jones, who stopped all seven shots he faced in relief.

Final Score: Florida 4, Tampa Bay 3

Jaromir Jagr posted a goal and an assist to lead the Florida Panthers in a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday. Jonathan Huberdeau had three assists, while Aaron Ekblad, Aleksander Barkov and Brad Boyes all scored for the Panthers, who have won their past two after losing four straight. Al Montoya stopped 20 shots in the win. Anton Stralman had a goal and an assist while Tyler Johnson and Steven Stamkos also scored for the Lightning, who had won three of four coming in. Ben Bishop turned aside 22 shots in the loss.

Final Score: Pittsburgh 5, Columbus 3

Evgeni Malkin picked up two goals and one assist as Pittsburgh toppled Columbus by a 5-3 count at CONSOL Emergy Center. Steve Downie, David Perron and Derrick Pouliot also lit the lamp for the Penguins, winners of four straight games after dropping three in a row. Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby each contributed a pair of assists while Marc-Andre Fleury came up with 22 saves. James Wisniewski, Ryan Johansen and Nick Foligno scored for the Blue Jackets, whose losing streak reached six consecutive games. Curis McElhinney played well in defeat, making 36 stops.

Final Score: Washington 4, Toronto 0

Braden Holtby’s seventh shutout of the season came thanks to a 32-save effort, as Washington prolonged Toronto’s road woes with a 4-0 decision on Sunday night at Verizon Center. Alex Ovechkin paced his club with two goals and one assist for the Capitals, who put an end to a three-game losing streak. Marcus Johansson and Joel Ward added markers in the third period. James Reimer allowed three goals on 31 shots for the Maple Leafs, who failed to pick up a win away from home for the 16th straight time. Toronto heads to Florida and Tampa Bay on Tuesday and Thursday before a three-game home stand.

Final Score: Anaheim 3, Dallas 1

John Gibson stopped 39 shots to lead the Anaheim Ducks in a 3-1 win over the Dallas Stars on Sunday. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf each had a goal and an assist, while Clayton Stoner also scored for the Ducks, who have won five of their last six games. Patrick Eaves scored the only goal of the game for the Stars, who have lost their last six games. Jhonas Enroth stopped 19 shots in the loss. Prior to the game, Dallas shipped forward Erik Cole to Detroit for defensive prospect Mattias Backman, forward prospect Mattias Janmark as well as a second- round pick in 2015. The Stars also sent a conditional third-round pick in 2015 to Detroit, but the pick goes back to Dallas if the Wings advance as far as the Eastern Conference Finals.

Final Score: Vancouver 6, St. Louis 5 (SO)

Chris Higgins netted the deciding shot in the third round of the shootout, rescuing Vancouver from a worse fate and producing a 6-5 victory over St. Louis from Rogers Arena. Shawn Matthias, Yannick Weber, Jannik Hansen, Henrik Sedin and Nick Bonino tallied in regulation for the Canucks, who blew a three-goal, third-period lead but recovered to win for the first time in three contests. Eddie Lack stopped 34 shots over the game’s first 65 minutes, then held off T.J. Oshie in the shootout. Ryan Reaves, Alex Pietrangelo, Dmitrij Jaskin, Petteri Lindbohm and David Backes lit the lamp for the Blues, who have gone 2-0-1 on their current six-game road trip. Jake Allen surrendered four goals on 25 shots through most of regulation, but was beaten three times in the contest’s final segment in defeat. Brian Elliott gave up one goal on six shots during a brief appearance at the outset of the third.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Ferrer upends Nishikori for Mexican Open title

David Ferrer is once again the Mexican Open champion, topping top-seeded Kei Nishikori 6-3, 7-5 in Saturday’s final.

Ferrer, seeded second this week, won this event three straight years from 2010-12 and was the runner-up to fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal in 2013.

His 24th career ATP Tour title came at the hands of Nishikori, who had his serve broken six times on the hardcourts at the Fairmont Acapulco Princess.

Ferrer, who collected $343,000 with the victory, had lost five straight meetings against the Japanese star and is just 4-7 all-time against him.

Nishikori will still reach a career-high of No. 4 in the world rankings next week.

►  Abierto Mexicano Telcel Men’s Tennis Update – February 28

Fairmont Acapulco Princess, Acapulco, Mexico

Total Prize Money: $1,414,550


David Ferrer (2) defeated Kei Nishikori (1), 6-3, 7-5


Kei Nishikori (1) defeated Kevin Anderson (4), 6-2, 3-6, 6-3
David Ferrer (2) defeated Ryan Harrison, 4-6, 6-0, 6-0


Kei Nishikori (1) defeated Alexandr Dolgopolov (5), 6-4, 6-4
David Ferrer (2) defeated Bernard Tomic, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1
Kevin Anderson (4) defeated Viktor Troicki, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
Ryan Harrison defeated Ivo Karlovic (6), 4-6, 7-6 (7-0), 7-6 (7-4)


Kei Nishikori (1) defeated Yen-Hsun Lu, 6-1, 6-3
David Ferrer (2) defeated Marinko Matosevic, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4
Ryan Harrison defeated Grigor Dimitrov (3), 7-5, 4-6, 6-0
Kevin Anderson (4) defeated Steve Johnson, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3
Alexandr Dolgopolov (5) defeated Andreas Haider-Maurer, 6-2, 6-3
Ivo Karlovic (6) defeated Dusan Lajovic, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1
Viktor Troicki defeated Santiago Giraldo (7), 6-3, 6-4
Bernard Tomic defeated Benjamin Becker (8), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2


Kei Nishikori (1) defeated Alejandro Gonzalez, 6-3, 7-5
David Ferrer (2) defeated Igor Sijsling, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4)
Grigor Dimitrov (3) defeated Filip Krajinovic, 6-3, 5-7, 6-0
Kevin Anderson (4) defeated Dustin Brown, 6-1, 6-2
Alexandr Dolgopolov (5) defeated Sam Groth, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0
Ivo Karlovic (6) defeated Teymuraz Gabashvili, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2
Santiago Giraldo (7) defeated Austin Krajicek, 7-6 (10-8), 6-1
Benjamin Becker (8) defeated Tobias Kamke, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2
Bernard Tomic defeated Adrian Mannarino, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4
Marinko Matosevic defeated Marcel Granollers, 6-4, 6-2
Dusan Lajovic defeated Thanasi Kokkinakis, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4)
Ryan Harrison defeated Donald Young, 4-6, 6-2, 4-2, Retired
Steve Johnson defeated Ivan Dodig, 6-4, 6-4
Viktor Troicki defeated Daniel Garza, 6-4, 6-3
Yen-Hsun Lu defeated Victor Estrella Burgos, 6-2, 7-5
Andreas Haider-Maurer defeated Robin Haase, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2

►  Bacsinszky wins Mexican Open

Timea Bacsinszky won her first WTA Tour title in over five years by topping Caroline Garcia Saturday in the final of the Mexican Open.

The fifth-seeded Bacsinszky did not have her serve broken in the quick match and cruised to a 6-3, 6-0 victory on the hardcourts at the Acapulco Princess.

Bacsinszky’s only other win on tour came in Luxembourg in October 2009. She did not lose a set this week after dropping the opening set of her first-round match against Richel Hogenkamp.

Garcia, who was seeded third, walked into the final when top-seeded Maria Sharapova pulled out of their semifinal meeting due to a stomach virus.

Bacsinszky pocketed $43,000 with the victory.

►  Abierto Mexicano Telcel Women’s Tennis Update – February 28

Fairmont Acapulco Princess, Acapulco, Mexico

Total Prize Money: $250,000


Timea Bacsinszky (5) defeated Caroline Garcia (3), 6-3, 6-0


Caroline Garcia (3) defeated Maria Sharapova (1) (walkover)
Timea Bacsinszky (5) defeated Sesil Karatantcheva, 6-2, 6-4


Maria Sharapova (1) defeated Magdalena Rybarikova, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2
Caroline Garcia (3) defeated Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, 6-2, 2-1, Retired
Timea Bacsinszky (5) defeated Johanna Larsson, 6-3, 6-3
Sesil Karatantcheva defeated Monica Puig, 2-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-4


Maria Sharapova (1) defeated Mariana Duque-Marino, 6-1, 6-2
Monica Puig defeated Sara Errani (2), 6-1, 6-1
Caroline Garcia (3) defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 6-2, 6-3
Timea Bacsinszky (5) defeated Lesia Tsurenko, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4)
Sesil Karatantcheva defeated Kiki Bertens, 6-1, 6-4
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni defeated Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 7-5
Johanna Larsson defeated Aleksandra Krunic, 6-1, 6-2
Magdalena Rybarikova defeated Elena Bogdan, 6-0, 6-2


Maria Sharapova (1) defeated Shelby Rogers, 6-4, 6-1
Sara Errani (2) defeated Lucie Hradecka, 6-1, 6-3
Caroline Garcia (3) defeated Polona Hercog, 6-4, 6-1
Timea Bacsinszky (5) defeated Richel Hogenkamp, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3
Kiki Bertens defeated Roberta Vinci (6), 6-5, Retired
Johanna Larsson defeated Sloane Stephens (7), 6-3, 6-2
Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor defeated Madison Brengle (8), 2-6, 7-5, 7-5
Magdalena Rybarikova defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (10), 6-3, 6-4
Aleksandra Krunic defeated Anna Schmiedlova, 6-2, 6-1
Lesia Tsurenko defeated Ana Sofia Sanchez, 6-2, 6-0
Bethanie Mattek-Sands defeated Marcela Zacarias, 6-2, 6-1
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni defeated Lara Arruabarrena, 6-3, 6-3
Mariana Duque-Marino defeated Louisa Chirico, 1-6, 6-3, 7-5
Elena Bogdan defeated Lauren Davis, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3)
Sesil Karatantcheva defeated Marie Bouzkova, 6-4, 6-3
Monica Puig defeated Tereza Smitkova, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3

The Gilmer Free Press

►  The Great War taken off Derby trail

Stakes winning 3-year-old The Great War has been taken off the Kentucky Derby trail after finishing last in Saturday’s John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park.

Churchill Downs was told by trainer Wesley Ward that The Great War is no longer a candidate for the 141st Kentucky Derby on May 02. Betting on The Great War was suspended prior to the start of Sunday’s third and final day of the third of four Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools.

The Great War, owned by Joseph Allen, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, finished 10th as the 3-10 favorite in Saturday’s $116,450 John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park. The official Equibase chart of the race notes that the colt bled when he faded from second to last in the 1 1/16-mile race.

After beginning his career in Europe, The Great War finished fourth to Texas Red in his United States debut in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November at Santa Anita. He won the 96Rock Stakes at Turfway Park by 7 1/4 lengths on January 31.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  2015 Sprint Cup Driver Leaders

2015 Sprint Cup Driver Leaders
1Joey Logano88—-
2Jimmie Johnson87-1
3Kevin Harvick86-2
4Dale Earnhardt Jr.84-4
5Martin Truex Jr.75-13
6Casey Mears68-20
7Kasey Kahne65-23
8 (T)Aric Almirola62-26
8 (T)A.J. Allmendinger62-26
10Clint Bowyer58-30
11David Gilliland56-32
12Sam Hornish Jr.55-33
13 (T)Greg Biffle54-34
13 (T)Carl Edwards54-34
15David Ragan53-35

►  Johnson claims fourth win at Atlanta

Jimmie Johnson is virtually guaranteed of making the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship for the 12th consecutive year after winning Sunday’s Fold of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Johnson, the six-time Sprint Cup Series champion, earned his 71st career win, including his fourth at this 1.54-mile racetrack. He joined Joey Logano as those drivers who have all but assured themselves of making this year’s Chase, which begins in September. Logano won last Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500. Johnson is the only driver who has qualified for the Chase every year since NASCAR instituted a playoff format for its premier series in 2004.

“I think it is pretty much a lock as long as we have a smooth season,“ Johnson said. “I think if we win a second one, it is definitely a lock. But this takes a ton of pressure off.“

But Johnson’s win at Atlanta didn’t come easy. On Friday, he was one of 13 drivers who did not get a chance to participate in qualifying due inspection issues. All 13 had their cars initially fail inspection and then could not have another examination of their vehicles completed in time for qualifying. Johnson was placed in the 37th starting position.

Former series champions Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart did not make a qualifying run as well and joined Johnson deep in the starting field.

Atlanta was the first race where the series used its new 2015 rules package for the cars.

Johnson grabbed the lead for the first time on lap 198 of this 325-lap race. He then ran in front for a total of 92 laps. Johnson held off Dale Earnhardt Jr., his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, after the final restart with 14 laps to go and then cruised to a 1.8-second margin of victory.

“We had a great race car, and unfortunately the way qualifying went, we didn’t have a good pit stall pick, and it took us a long time to get in front of the No. 19 (Carl Edwards),“ Johnson said. “Once we did that, we were able to utilize our awesome pit crew, get the stops done and race for the win and get the job done today.“

Kevin Harvick, the defending series champion, passed Earnhardt for second in the closing laps. Harvick has finished either first or second in the past five Sprint Cup races. He was runner-up in the Daytona 500.

Harvick led the most laps with 116. He had qualified second but had to start from the rear of the field due to an engine change. Harvick blew his motor during Saturday’s final practice.

“Jimmie ran great today,“ Harvick said. “It was a lot of fun racing with him. It was a good race there as we got to the middle part of the race. I just got behind on one restart there. Then I got stuck behind the No. 55 (Brett Moffitt) on the restart when I stayed out. Then never really made it back up through there.“

Earnhardt wound up finishing third, while Logano, the pole sitter, took the fourth spot after he had led 84 of the first 96 laps. Johnson, Harvick and Earnhardt outran Logano after that.

“I had nothing for them,“ Logano said. “They were so fast. I was sitting there watching them in front of me and trying to keep up and doing everything I could, but it’s hard because you want to run hard, but also save your stuff for the long run. At the end of the race, we were all running hard and I couldn’t keep up with them.“

Matt Kenseth completed the top-five.

Two big crashes occurred within the final 70 laps. Denny Hamlin, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman and Gordon were involved in an accident along the backstretch on lap 257. Hamlin triggered the wreck when he spun around coming out of turn 2.

“I apologize to all those cars involved,“ Hamlin said. “Just got sucked around and got a little loose.“

McMurray ran into Gordon, who then slid down the track and slammed into an area of the inside retaining wall that did not have an energy-absorbing barrier on it. Gordon was not injured.

His impact happened eight days after Kyle Busch crashed head-on into an unprotected concrete wall at Daytona International Speedway. Busch fractured his right leg and left foot during his incident in the Xfinity Series race. NASCAR has since taken additional safety measures. Officials from Atlanta Motor Speedway said last week that they would add a number of additions to its existing barrier system.

“I am very frustrated with the fact there are no SAFER (steel and foam energy reduction) barriers down there,“ Gordon said after his accident. “I knew it was a hard hit. I was like, “Man, I can’t believe it.‘ I didn’t expect it to be that hard. Then I got out and looked at it and said, ‘Oh, wow, big surprise, I found the one wall here on the back straightaway that doesn’t have a SAFER barrier’.“

Busch, the driver of the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, was released from the hospital on Friday after he underwent two surgeries—one on his leg and the other on his foot. JGR has no timetable for his return to racing. David Ragan is scheduled to drive the No. 18 car in place of Busch for the next several weeks. Ragan finished 18th at Atlanta, his first race with the team.

“I don’t think we can say any more after Kyle’s incident at Daytona,“ Gordon added. “Everybody knows we have to do something, and it should have been done a long time ago. All we can do now is hope they do it as fast as they possibly can.“

Gordon, who raced at Atlanta for the final time, finished 41st. Last week at Daytona, he placed 33rd after being involved in a multi-car wreck on the final lap. Gordon’s first career start in the Cup Series occurred on Nov. 15, 1992 at Atlanta. He was involved in an accident midway through that event.

The second major crash in this race took place with 21 laps remaining. Six cars were involved when Greg Biffle and Joe Nemechek got together. Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Tony Stewart were caught up in the wreck.

The start of the race was delayed nearly an hour due to rain that fell on the track earlier in the day.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Liverpool topples City at Anfield

Liverpool produced a pair of fabulous goals at Anfield on Sunday to claim a 2-1 victory over Manchester City.

Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho scored in similar fashion on either side of halftime to clinch the victory, lifting the Reds to 48 points on the season to keep pace with Manchester United in the race for fourth place.

City remains on 55 points to stay five points back of top spot.

Henderson got Liverpool off the mark just 11 minutes in when he settled a pass from Raheem Sterling, cut the ball inside to his right foot and fired a stunning effort that grazed the underside of the crossbar on its way past Joe Hart.

The Citizens, though, were level within 14 minutes as a well-worked passing sequence from David Silva and Sergio Aguero released Edin Dzeko through on goal to slip a shot past Simon Mignolet.

The two sides were level until the closing stages when Coutinho struck with another goal from distance. The Brazilian drifted inside from the left flank in the 78th minute and uncorked a curling right-footed shot that rose above Hart but dipped just under the crossbar, handing the hosts the win in spectacular fashion.

Arsenal, meanwhile, reclaimed third place in the Premier League table on Sunday by claiming a 2-0 home victory over Everton.

The Gunners grabbed the lead just before halftime through Olivier Giroud while Tomas Rosicky provided a late insurance goal to secure all three points.

►  Ajax rallies to edge PSV

Ajax completed a late charge at the Philips Stadion on Sunday to claim a 3-1 win over PSV Eindhoven.

Ajax held the lead through much of the contest thanks to Ricardo Kishna’s strike just before the half-hour mark, but Luuk de Jong managed to draw PSV level with an equalizer 13 minutes from time.

The visitors would not be denied maximum points, though, as Lasse Schone restored their lead six minutes later before Anwar El-Ghazi provided an insurance goal in stoppage time.

The result sees Ajax improve to 53 points to close the gap on first-place PSV to 11 points.

Excelsior claimed three points on Sunday by cruising to a 3-0 victory over Heerenveen.

Luigi Bruins netted the opener in the fifth minute, but second-half goals from Tom van Weert and Kevin Vermeulen secured the club a comfortable win in the end.

Also on Sunday, Tjaronn Chery and Xander Houtkoop exchanged goals as Groningen was held to a 1-1 draw by Den Haag while Feyenoord only managed a point from a 0-0 draw at Utrecht.

►  Chelsea tops Tottenham in Capital One Cup final

Chelsea scored in either half at Wembley on Sunday to claim a 2-0 victory over Tottenham in the Capital One Cup final.

Spurs nearly grabbed the lead inside the opening 10 minutes when Christian Eriksen curled a superb free kick toward goal, but the crossbar came to Petr Cech’s aid to keep the two sides on equal footing.

Tottenham would rue that miss as the Blues went in front just before the break. Spurs failed to clear their lines following a corner kick and John Terry took advantage of some slack defending to hammer a rebound through traffic and past Hugo Lloris.

Chelsea’s lead was doubled 11 minutes into the second half when Diego Costa collected a pass to the left side of the box and fired a left-footed shot past Lloris from a tough angle. The shot took a deflection off of Kyle Walker, who was credited with an own goal.

It proved to be more than enough for the Blues, who have not lost a cup final under the guidance of Jose Mourinho.

Chelsea keeps its hopes of a “Treble” alive as the club continues its pursuit of the Premier League title and a Champions League crown.

►  Wolfsburg defeats Bremen in eight-goal thriller

Wolfsburg kept pace with Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundsliga table with a thrilling 5-3 victory at Werder Bremen on Sunday.

Bremen seized control of the lead on three occasions in the opening period.

Zlatko Junuzovic broke the deadlock in the ninth minute before Daniel Caligiuri brought Wolfsburg level immediately after.

Franco Di Santo restored the lead in the 16th minute before Maximilian Arnold responded two minutes later, but an own goal from Vierinha in the 28th minute granted Bremen a narrow halftime lead.

The second half, though, belonged to Wolfsburg, and it was the in-form Bas Dost who helped the visitors get in front.

The lanky Dutch striker tied the game three minutes after the restart before granting Wolfsburg the lead in the 51st. Caligiuri then struck two minutes later to give the visitors some breathing room.

There was no way back for Bremen as Wolfsburg improved to 50 points to stay eight points back of first-place Bayern.

Borussia Monchengladbach scored in either half to collect a 2-0 victory over lowly Paderborn.

United States international Fabian Johnson opened the scoring in the 18th minute while Patrick Herrmann wrapped up the affair nine minutes from time, handing ‘Gladbach its 11th league win of the campaign.

The Gilmer Free Press

ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York
CBSSN - CBS - College Sports Network
CSN - Comcast SportsNet
TCN - The Comcast Network
NBCSN - NBC Sports Network
NESN - New England Sports Network
MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
ROOT - Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Northwest, Rocky Mountain)
CST - Cox Sports Television
FCS - FOX College Sports
FS - FOX Sports Regional
RSN - Regional Sports Networks
CPTV - Connecticut Public Broadcasting
TVG - Horse Racing Channel
FS1 - FOX Sports 1
TWC - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
* - If Necessary

MONDAY, MARCH 02, 2015
National Basketball Association
Toronto at Philadelphia, 7:00 PM - TSN2, CSN-Philadelphia, DSS
Golden State at Brooklyn, 7:30 PM - CSN-Bay, YES, DSS
Phoenix at Miami, 7:30 PM - FS-Arizona, SunSports, NBA TV, DSS
LA Clippers at Minnesota, 8:00 PM - FS-Prime Ticket, North, DSS
New Orleans at Dallas, 8:30 PM - FS-New Orleans, Southwest, DSS
National Hockey League
Nashville at NY Rangers, 7:00 PM - FS-Tennessee, MSG, DSS
Carolina at Chicago, 8:30 PM - FS-Carolina, CSN-Chicago, DSS
Montreal at San Jose, 10:00 PM - RDS, CSN-California, DSS
College Basketball
Baylor at Texas, 7:00 PM - ESPN U
Virginia at Syracuse, 7:00 PM - ESPN
Oklahoma at Iowa State, 9:00 PM - ESPN
Boston College at Virginia Tech, 9:00 PM - ESPN U
Women’s College Basketball
Tulsa at Cincinnati, 7:00 PM -
Connecticut at South Florida, 7:00 PM - ESPN 2
UCF at East Carolina, 7:00 PM - American Sports Network
Wagner at Robert Morris, 7:00 PM -
Temple at Houston, 8:00 PM - American Sports Network
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State, 8:00 PM - FS-Southwest
Texas Tech at Baylor, 8:00 PM - FS-Southwest+
Iowa State at Kansas, 8:00 PM - Jayhawk TV,

Sports News   150301

The Gilmer Free Press

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Area High Schools Boys Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, February 28)

#1 Parkersburg South 81     Lewis County 59

#5 Robert C. Byrd 63     #3 Fairmont Senior 52

#8 Notre Dame 68     #9 Tucker County 66

►  Area High Schools Boys Basketball Sectional Game Results

(Saturday, February 28)

Calhoun County 61     Doddridge County 49

Grafton 72     Philip Barbour 55

Harman 55     South Harrison 41

#6 Lincoln 66     Liberty 33

Grafton 72     Philip Barbour 55

Valley Wetzel 56     Tyler Consolidated 46

►  Area High Schools Girls Basketball Sectional Game Results

(Saturday, February 28)

St. Marys 79     #10 Trinity 74 (OT)

The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, February 28)

No. 4 West Liberty 95, Wheeling Jesuit 92 | Final Stats

Indiana Faithfull hit a pair of free throws with 7.6 seconds left to snap a 92-92 deadlock and lift No. 4 West Liberty to a 94-92 revenge win against Wheeling Jesuit in a mutual regular-season finaleon Saturdayat the McDonough Center.
The hosts shot nearly 60 percent from the floor in the first half with Ben Siefert draining a pair of 3-pointers in the final two minutes of the half to send WJU into the locker room with a 57-42 halftime lead. WJU remained in front, 87-78, with four minutes to go, but would not hit another shot from the field. This allowed the Hilltoppers to rally and eventually Faithfull’s game-winning free throws.

Seger Bonifant scored 20 of his game-high 25 points in the second half – including a 3-for-3 showing from the 3-point arc to lead WLU (25-2, 20-2). Devin Hoehn added 18 points, C.J. Hester weighed in with 14 points and seven rebounds while Joe Lococo tossed in 11 points.

JustinFritts paced Wheeling Jesuit (19-9, 14-8) with 21 points – 18 of them in the first half – and Moseh finished with 19 points. Haywood Highsmith had 14 points and 11 rebounds while Kyle Ritz and Eric Siefert each scored 13 points.

Fairmont State 64, Shepherd 60 | Final Stats

Nick Harney scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Fairmont State to a 64-60 win over Shepherd on Saturday at the Butcher Center.

Fairmont State improves to 19-9, 16-6, whileShepherd falls to 14-14, 9-13 in MEC play.

Caleb Davis added 13 points for the Falcons, while Jamel Morris tossed in 12.

Ryan McTavish led the Rams with 14 points, while guard Austin Cunningham had 13 points and four assists.Morgan McDonald and Naim Muhammad each had nine points.

Glenville State 75, West Virginia Wesleyan 49 | Final Stats

Glenville State raced past West Virginia Wesleyan, 75-49, on Saturday afternoon at the Waco Center.

Reggie Williams led the Pioneers (18-10, 14-8) with 14 points, and Donte Morales chipped in 13 and Sedric Nady finished with 10.

The Bobcats (11-17, 9-13) were paced by 12 points and seven rebounds from Tanner McGrew. Austin Shell added 11 points and seven rebounds.

Charleston 87, West Virginia State 71 | Final Stats

The University of Charleston picked up an 87-71 win over West Virginia State in the final game of the Eddie King Gymnasium.

The Golden Eagles (19-9, 14-8) also earned a first-round bye in next week’s MEC Tournament. WVSU dropped to 6-24 and 6-16 in the league.

Octavius Green led the way for UC with 19 points, and Vincent Dillard and Tino DiTrapano each netted 12.

WVSU was led by 19 points from Damion Harris and 17 from Markee Mazyck.

Notre Dame 109, Urbana 98 | Final Stats

Notre Dame’s Oliver Megins hit a three-pointer as time expired to force overtime and help the Falcons to a 109-98 win over Urbana on Saturday afternoon at Murphy Gymnasium.

NDC (15-13, 11) outscored the Blue Knights (6-22, 3-19) by a 17-6 margin in the extra session to earn the victory.

Tyree Gaiter scored 27 points to go with 11 assists to lead Notre Dame. Will Vorhees added 25 points and 10 rebounds, and Lawrence DeArmond finished with 20.

Urbana’s Myles Busby led all scorers with 31 points to go with 12 rebounds, and Carlas Jackson scored 27 points.

Concord 74, UVa-Wise 50 | Final Stats

Concord had four players finish in double figures on Saturday to defeat UVa-Wise 74-59 in the Prior Center.

The Mountain Lions (20-8, 15-7) were led by Mike Boyd who finished with a team-high 17 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Aaron Miller added 16 points and six rebounds, Rob Reed finished with 14 points and Jametrius Wade added 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.

Matt Dayled the way for the Cavaliers (2-23, 1-21) finishing with a game-high 22 points and six rebounds.Philip Owens IIadded with 19 points and five assists.

►  MEC Women’s Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, February 28)

Shepherd 82, Fairmont State 75 | Final Stats

Shepherd erased a 14-point second half deficit with a 25-7 run over nine minutes to help it to an 82-75 win over Fairmont State and a share of the Mountain East Conference championship.

The Rams (20-8, 17-5)were led by seniors Gabby Flinchum who scored a team-high 21 points and Rachel Johnson who contributed 17.Morgan Arden tossed in 12 points and added four assists. Briana Vaden had 11 points, while Cara Mason added 10 points, six rebounds, and a game-high five assists.

The win gave Shepherd just their fourth 20-win season in program history after registering just four a season ago. The Rams are the No. 2 seed in next week’s MEC Tournament.

Fairmont State (21-7, 15-7) was led by Emily Lohr had a game-high 24 points to lead the Falcons. Hailey Garrett added 21 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

West Liberty 60, Wheeling Jesuit 48 | Final Stats

West Liberty clinched a share of the Mountain East title with a 60-48 win over rival Wheeling Jesuit on Saturday.

With the win, the Hilltoppers (20-8, 17-5) earn the top seed in next week’s MEC Tournament by virtue of tiebreakers. Wheeling Jesuit (18-8, 15-7) saw its eight-game winning streak snapped.

Kailee Howe led WLU with 14 points, four rebounds and three assists. Kierra Simpson had 12 points to go with 13 rebounds, and Hillary Southworth had 13 points, six rebounds and four assists.

WJU was led by 12 points from Jaila Bryant and 10 more off the bench from Jaana Motton.

Charleston 71, West Virginia State 60 | Final Stats

Charleston earned a piece of the Mountain East Conference title with a 71-60 win over West Virginia State on Saturday afternoon at Eddie King Gymnasium.

UC (22-6, 17-5) had to rally from a six-point halftime deficit to claim the victory. The Golden Eagles were led by 20 points from Nichole Perry, and Kiara Johnson had 20 rebounds and 17 points in the win. Monet Saunders chipped in 15 points.

WVSU (8-19, 6-16) was paced by Deyahnna Styles who scored 21 points, pulled down six rebounds and handed out eight assists. Alexus Hobbs contributed 13 points for the Yellow Jackets.

Notre Dame 88, Urbana 77 | Final Stats

Martha Nagbe and Kelsey Miller each scored 20 points to help Notre Dame pull away from Urbana, 88-77, on Saturday afternoon at Murphy Gymnasium.

Lexi Hassing scored 11 and Molly Ritz finished with 10 in the victory for NDC (17-11, 13-9).

Kennedy Boggs scored 15, Stefanie Davis scored 14 and Brittany Atkinson added 12 for the Blue Knights (1-27, 1-21).

Glenville State 104, West Virginia Wesleyan 55 | Final Stats

Glenville State forced 27 turnovers to help it to 104-55 win over West Virginia Wesleyan on Saturday afternoon at the Waco Center.

Five players reached double figures for the Pioneers (14-12, 12-10), led by 25 from Kayla Tibbs. Keyanna Tate scored 16 points, Briana Smythe had 14, Julie Bishop netted 12 and Tayana Stewart finished with 10. GSC shot 52 percent from the floor in the win.

Alexa Mortenson paced WVWC (4-22, 3-19) with 17 points and Mari Steward added 11.

Concord 65, UVa-Wise 48 | Final Stats

Concord used an 11-0 run to break a 34-34 tie mid-way through the second half to post a 65-48 win over UVa-Wise at the Prior Center Saturday.The win secured the eighth seed in next week’s Mountain East Conference Tournament for the Mountain Lions and secured a season-series sweep of the Cavaliers.

With the win, Concord improved to 8-19 overall and 8-14 in the league. UVa-Wise fell to 9-19 overall and 8-14 in conference play.

Concord’s Kylie Molisee finished the game 6-of-9 from the floor and grabbed 10 rebounds as she tied teammate Melea Smith for game-high point honors with 14. Jacqueline Kestner also registered a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds and Danielle Catron added 10 points and seven boards off the bench.

Taylor Sandidgewas the only Cavalier to finish in double figures as she went 5-6 from the free throw line to score 10 points.SeniorKatie Jo Dockeryposted nine points, seven rebounds, and three assists in her final home game.

►  Men’s Basketball Tournament Field Set

The seedings and pairings for the Mountain East Conference men’s basketball tournament have been set after the final day of regular season play today.

Regular season champion West Liberty, along with Fairmont State, Concord and Glenville State earn the top-four seeds, respectively, and a first-round bye. Glenville State (fifth), Wheeling Jesuit (sixth), Notre Dame (seventh) and Shepherd (eighth) will have a first round home game on Tuesday evening. West Virginia Wesleyan is seeded ninth, West Virginia State is 10th, Urbana is 11th and UVa-Wise is 12th.

MEC Tournament Seeds
1. West Liberty (25-2, 20-2)
2. Fairmont State (19-9, 16-6)
3. Concord (20-8, 15-7)
4. Charleston (19-9, 14-8)
5. Glenville State (18-10, 14-8)
6. Wheeling Jesuit (19-9, 14-8)
7. Notre Dame (15-13, 11-11)
8. Shepherd (14-14, 9-13)
9. West Virginia Wesleyan (11-17, 9-13)
10. West Virginia State (6-24, 6-16)
11. Urbana (6-22, 3-19)
12. UVa-Wise (2-25, 1-21)

First Round Games (Tuesday, March 03)
#12 UVa-Wise at #5 Glenville State, 7:30 PM
#11 Urbana at #6 Wheeling Jesuit, 7 PM
#10 West Virginia State at Notre Dame, 7:30 PM
#9 West Virginia Wesleyan at Shepherd, 7 PM

►  Women’s Basketball Tournament Field Set

The seedings and pairings for the 2015 Mountain East Conference Tournament have been finalized after the conclusion of today’s action.

Three teams split the regular season championship with West Liberty, Shepherd and Charleston tying atop the standings with identical 17-5 records. The Hilltoppers earned the top seed via tiebreakers, with Shepherd seeded second and Charleston seeded third. Wheeling Jesuit earned the fourth and final first-round by earning the tiebreaker over Fairmont State.

After FSU in fifth, Notre Dame finished sixth, Glenville State was seventh and Concord earned the right to the the final first-round home game by claiming the No. 8 seed. UVa-Wise is seeded ninth, West Virginia State is 10th, West Virginia Wesleyan is 11th and Urbana is 12th.

The first round games will be played on Tuesday, March 03.

MEC Tournament Seeds
1. West Liberty (20-8, 17-5)
2. Shepherd (20-8, 17-5)
3. Charleston (22-6, 17-5)
4. Wheeling Jesuit (18-8, 15-7)
5. Fairmont State (21-7, 15-7)
6. Notre Dame (17-11, 13-9)
7. Glenville State (14-12, 12-10)
8. Concord (8-19, 8-14)
9. UVa-Wise (9-19, 8-14)
10. West Virginia State (8-19, 6-16)
11. West Virginia Wesleyan (4-22, 3-19)
12. Urbana (1-27, 2-21)

MEC First Round Games
#12 Urbana at #5 Fairmont State, 5 PM
#11 West Virginia Wesleyan at #6 Notre Dame, 5:30 PM
#10 West Virginia State at #7 Glenville State, 5:30 PM
#9 UVa-Wise at #8 Concord, 7 PM

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Baylor cruises past West Virginia in top-20 matchup

Taurean Prince scored 20 points off the bench and Rico Gathers recorded a double-double as Baylor won handily, 78-66, and never trailed in a top-20 matchup against injury-depleted West Virginia.

The 19th-ranked Bears (22-7, 10-6 Big 12) have won four in a row, including consecutive wins over ranked opponents for the first time in school history. They were in control from start to finish Saturday and only committed eight turnovers—nearly 13 less than West Virginia’s opponents coming in.

Gathers totaled 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Royce O’Neale chipped in with 18 points and seven assists in the convincing victory.

West Virginia was without leading scorer Juwan Staten due to a knee injury and lost starting guard Gary Browne three minutes into the game when his ankle was rolled up on during a loose ball scrum.

Jevon Carter led the 20th-ranked Mountaineers (22-7, 10-6) with 25 points.

Both teams trail Big-12 leading Kansas by 1 1/2 games with two left in the regular season. West Virginia plays at Kansas on Tuesday.

The Bears shot a blistering 65.4% from the field in a lopsided first half. They scored nine of the game’s first 11 points, led by as many as 19 and brought a 45-29 cushion into the break.

West Virginia committed nine turnovers in the first half, the last leading to Gathers’ rim-rattling windmill dunk that ignited the home crowd.

The Mountaineers cleaned up their mistakes in the second half, and Baylor cooled off considerably. Still, the deficit never dipped below nine, and Baylor pulled away for good with an 11-3 run. Prince and O’Neale both hit 3- pointers during the string, and the lead grew to 20 down the stretch.

Game Notes

Baylor upended No. 12 Iowa State on Wednesday ... Carter was making his first career start ... The Mountaineers have beaten Baylor just once in seven meetings, including an 87-69 loss in Morgantown earlier this month ... Baylor outscored West Virginia at the foul line 22-8 ... Baylor shot 33% from the field in the second half ... West Virginia shot 40.3% overall.

<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, February 28)

Final Score: (1) Kentucky 84, (18) Arkansas 67

Andrew Harrison and Trey Lyles each scored 18 points and No. 1 Kentucky stayed unbeaten with a 84-67 dismantling of 18th- ranked Arkansas. Lyles shot 8-for-10 from the floor, while Harrison converted all eight of his free throws tries for Kentucky (29-0, 16-0 SEC), which is three wins shy of matching the longest win streak in program history. The Wildcats won 32 straight from 1953 to 1955. Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker contributed 14 and 10 points, respectively off the bench, and Willie Cauley- Stein finished with seven points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Arkansas (23-6, 12-4) got 17 points and nine rebounds from Michael Qualls and 15 points from Bobby Portis, but lost its three-game win streak in this series.

Final Score: (2) Virginia 69, Virginia Tech 57

Malcolm Brogdon had 19 points and eight rebounds as No. 2 Virginia defeated Virginia Tech 69-57 on Saturday afternoon. Darion Atkins posted 16 points and six rebounds, while Anthony Gill added 16 points and five boards for the Cavaliers (27-1, 15-1 ACC), who have won eight straight and are a win away from clinching their first ever back-to- back outright ACC titles. Point guard London Perrantes, who tallied 11 points and six assists, returned from a brief one-game absence for Virginia following a scary collision with Brogdon against Florida State on Sunday. Adam Smith netted 19 points to lead the Hokies (10-19, 2-14).

Final Score: BYU 73, (3) Gonzaga 70

Kyle Collinsworth finished with 20 points and eight rebounds as BYU pulled off a memorable upset over third-ranked Gonzaga for a 73-70 win on Saturday. Gonzaga suffered just its second loss of the season and had three lengthy winning streaks come to an end. The Bulldogs entered the game with a school-record 22 straight wins, the nation’s longest home winning streak at 41 games in a row and 22 consecutive conference victories. Skyler Halford scored 14 points, while Chase Fischer and Tyler Haws netted 13 and 10 points, respectively, for the Cougars (23-8, 13-5 WCC), who won their first game over a team ranked third or higher since a win over No. 2 UCLA on Nov. 27, 1981. Byron Wesley paced Gonzaga (29-2. 17-1) with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Domantas Sabonis scored 12 with eight boards in the loss.

Final Score: (4) Duke 73, Syracuse 54

Justise Winslow and Duke kept on rolling, with the freshman forward pouring in a season-best 23 points to lead the fourth-ranked Blue Devils to a 73-54 triumph over Syracuse. Duke (26-3, 13-3 ACC) also turned in a strong effort on defense in posting its ninth consecutive win and keeping its ACC regular-season title hopes alive. The Blue Devils held the Orange to 30.6 percent shooting, including a 3-of-20 performance from 3-point range, and forced 15 turnovers. Winslow has averaged 16.6 points and 8.9 rebounds over Duke’s run. Syracuse (18-11, 9-7) failed to build on the momentum gained from Tuesday’s 65-60 win over No. 9 Notre Dame, largely due to its offensive woes and inability to contain Winslow or Jahlil Okafor, who contributed 13 points and 14 rebounds to the rout. Quinn Cook added 17 points for Duke. Tyler Roberson’s 16 points and nine boards paced the Orange, with Trevor Cooney and Duke transfer Michael Gbinije finishing with 13 and 12 points, respectively.

Final Score: (6) Villanova 78, Xavier 66

Dylan Ennis posted 16 points, five rebounds and five assists and No. 6 Villanova went into Cintas Center and knocked off Xavier 78-66 to win its 10th straight game. Ryan Arcidiacono had 15 points and Kris Jenkins went 4-for-7 from distance for 14 for Villanova (27-2, 14-2 Big East), which wrapped up the Big East regular- season crown with Saturday’s win. The Wildcats had already earned a first-round bye in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden, which will take place from March 11-14. Jalen Reynolds made all six of his shots to lead Xavier with 15 points, and Trevon Bluiett netted 12. Dee Davis tallied seven points, nine assists and six rebounds in the setback. Xavier (18-12, 8-9) had won nine of its last 11 games at home against ranked opponents.

Final Score: (7) Arizona 63, (13) Utah 57

Kaleb Tarczewski had 13 points and six rebounds to lead No. 7 Arizona to a 63-57 victory over 13th-ranked Utah on Saturday. Stanley Johnson posted 12 points and 11 rebounds and Gabe York added 12 points for the Wildcats (26-3, 14-2 Pac-12), who claimed a share of the Pac-12 title with the victory. Delon Wright scored 17 points with five rebounds and Jordan Loveridge added 10 points and six boards for the Utes (22-6, 12-4), who have lost two of their last three games.

Final Score: (8) Kansas 69, Texas 64

Perry Ellis boosted his claim for Big 12 Player of the Year with another dominant performance, as No. 8 Kansas held off Texas 69-64 to remain unbeaten at home. Ellis tallied 28 points and 13 rebounds for the Jayhawks (23-6, 12-4 Big 12), who improved to 14-0 at Allen Fieldhouse this season. It was Ellis’ third straight 20-point game. Kelly Oubre Jr. finished with 15 points and nine rebounds and sealed the win with a pair of late free throws. Frank Mason III added 12 points. The Longhorns (17-12, 6-10) were projected to challenge Kansas for the Big 12 title, but uneven offensive performances have contributed to them dropping four straight games and eight of 11.

Final Score: (11) Wichita State 74, (10) Northern Iowa 60

Ron Baker had 17 points, Fred VanVleet scored 13 and Wichita State won a showdown with Northern Iowa on Saturday to capture the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title for the second year in a row. Darius Carter, Tekele Cotton and Evan Wessel added 11 points each the No. 11 Shockers led by as much as 18 in a 74-60 win over the 10th- ranked Panthers to extended their home winning streak to 32 games. Wichita State will again be the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, which starts Thursday at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. It was the first time in 50 years that the Shockers won back-to-back Missouri Valley Conference regular-season titles.

Final Score: Kansas State 70, (12) Iowa State 69

Wesley Iwundu scored four of his 11 points in the final 43 seconds, including a dunk off a stolen inbounds pass that gave Kansas State a dramatic 70-69 win over No. 12 Iowa State on Saturday. Down 12 with under 10 minutes remaining, Kansas State took the lead with a 20-6 run that was punctuated by Iwundu’s block on Georges Niang, which led to a layup at the other end for the sophomore forward. Later, Iwundu jumped Georges Niang’s pass on the Kansas State side of the court and broke to the basket to dunk with 16 seconds remaining to give the Wildcats the lead. After a foul stopped play at the other end, Naz Long airballed a 3-pointer at the buzzer for Iowa State.

Final Score: (14) Maryland 66, Michigan 56

College Park, MD ( - Melo Trimble posted 19 points and five assists as 14th-ranked Maryland beat Michigan 66-56 on Saturday afternoon. Dez Wells chipped in 13 points and six rebounds on Senior Day, helping the Terrapins complete a perfect home record in conference play for the first time since the 2001-02 season. Jake Layman scored 10 points for Maryland (24-5, 12-4 Big Ten), while former Wolverine Evan Smotrycz grabbed nine rebounds. The Terrapins notched their fifth straight win and closed to within 1 1/2 games of first-place Wisconsin in the Big Ten standings with two to play. Spike Albrecht and Zak Irvin each had 15 points for the Wolverines (14-14, 7-9), who have dropped six of their last seven games.

Final Score: (15) North Carolina 73, Miami-Florida 64

Brice Johnson had 22 points and 11 rebounds as No. 15 North Carolina pulled away late to defeat Miami-Florida 73-64 on Saturday afternoon. Marcus Paige netted 15 points, while J.P. Tokoto added 10 points and 10 boards for the Tar Heels (20-9, 10-6 ACC), who had dropped five of their last seven games coming in. Sheldon McClellan and Ivan Cruz Uceda poured in 11 points apiece for Miami (18-11, 8-8), which had won three of its last four games prior to Saturday.

Final Score: (16) Oklahoma 67, TCU 60

Buddy Hield scored 21 points and grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds to help No. 16 Oklahoma come back to beat TCU 67-60 on Saturday. TaShawn Thomas scored six of his 15 points in a crucial 8-1 surge that gave the Sooners (20-8, 11-5 Big 12) the lead for good. Oklahoma got 10 points apiece from Ryan Spangler and Isaiah Cousins. The Horned Frogs (17-12, 4-12) scored just nine points in the final 10 minutes as Oklahoma pulled ahead. Kyan Anderson and Trey Zeigler each scored 16 to lead TCU.

Final Score: (17) Louisville 81, Florida State 59

Wayne Blackshear scored 18 points and No. 17 Louisville rolled to an 81-59 win over Florida State on Saturday to cap a tumultous week. Montrezl Harrell added 16 points and Anton Gill scored 14 for the Cardinals (23-6, 11-5 ACC), who have won three in a row, the last two while dealing with the situation surrounding Chris Jones. Jones, the talented senior guard who was dismissed from the team last Sunday, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges of felony rape and sodomy in a case involving the alleged assault of two women last weekend. The Cardinals shot over 48 percent in the first half to lead by 10 at the break and went up by as much as 26 points in the second half. Quentin Snider added 11 points in the win and Terry Rozier scored 10. Montay Brandon scored 13 points to lead Florida State (15-15, 7-10), which has lost three in a row. The Seminoles got 12 points each from Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Devon Bookert and 11 from Boris Bojanovsky. It was the first meeting between the teams since Florida State beat Louisville 76-69 in the Metro Conference title game on March 9, 1992. The teams were both members of the Metro Conference from 1976-91. Louisville joined the ACC this season.

Final Score: (19) Baylor 78, (20) West Virginia 66

Taurean Prince scored 20 points off the bench and Rico Gathers recorded a double-double as Baylor won handily, 78-66, and never trailed in a top-20 matchup against injury-depleted West Virginia. The 19th-ranked Bears (22-7, 10-6 Big 12) have won four in a row, including consecutive wins over ranked opponents for the first time in school history. They were in control from start to finish Saturday and only committed eight turnovers—nearly 13 less than West Virginia’s opponents coming in. Gathers totaled 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Royce O’Neale chipped in with 18 points and seven assists in the convincing victory. West Virginia was without leading scorer Juwan Staten due to a knee injury and lost starting guard Gary Browne three minutes into the game when his ankle was rolled up on during a loose ball scrum. Jevon Carter led the 20th-ranked Mountaineers (22-7, 10-6) with 25 points.

Final Score: Dayton 59, (22) VCU 55

Dayton received 19 points from Jordan Sibert and held on down the stretch to earn a 59-55 victory over 22nd-ranked VCU in an Atlantic 10 clash with major ramifications. The win, the Flyers’ fifth in six games, enabled Dayton (22-6, 12-4 A-10) to keep a share of first place in the tight conference race with two to go in the regular season. The Flyers entered Saturday’s matchup in a four-way tie with VCU, Davidson and Rhode Island for the A-10’s top spot. Dayton will host Rhode Island, which downed La Salle earlier in the day, on Tuesday. VCU (21-8, 11-5), meanwhile, continued its recent downward spiral. The Rams owned a comfortable lead atop the A-10 in late January after getting off to a 7-0 start, but have since gone 4-5 in league play. Kendall Pollard added 16 points and six rebounds for the Flyers, but fouled out with under five minutes remaining and the Rams began to draw closer after trailing 51-45 at the time of the disqualification.

Final Score: (23) Butler 67, DePaul 53

Kellen Dunham scored 24 points and No. 23 Butler continued its push for the second seed in the Big East tournament with a 67-53 victory over reeling DePaul. Roosevelt Jones had 16 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Bulldogs (21-8, 11-5 Big East), who hold a one-game lead over Georgetown for the conference’s No. 2 seed. Kameron Woods posted 14 points and six rebounds for a Butler team that pulled away in the second half with a 26-3 run. Jamee Crockett was the lone player to reach double figures in scoring for DePaul, finishing with 20 points. The Blue Demons (12-18, 6-11) suffered a season high-tying sixth consecutive defeat.

Final Score: Boise State 56, (24) San Diego State 46

Derrick Marks had 18 points and five rebounds as Boise State took a 56-46 win over No. 24 San Diego State in a critical Mountain West Conference matchup. James Webb III scored 16 points with 12 rebounds for the Broncos (22-7, 12-4), who have won four straight to move into a tie with San Diego State for first place in the conference. Winston Shepard had 16 points while J.J. O’Brien added eight points for the Aztecs (22-7, 12-4), who had a school-record 29-game home winning streak snapped.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Saturday, February 28)

Final Score: Washington 99, Detroit 95

John Wall had 22 points and six assists as the Washington Wizards snapped their six-game losing streak following a 99-95 win over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night. Nene posted 21 points and seven rebounds, while Marcin Gortat added 16 points and 17 boards for the Wizards, who led by as many as 21 in the third quarter before holding the Pistons off down the stretch. Greg Monroe tallied 21 points and 10 rebounds and Spencer Dinwiddie supplied 20 points and eight helpers for Detroit, which has lost three in a row.

Final Score: Atlanta 93, Miami 91

Paul Millsap scored 22 points, Dennis Schroder added 16 with 10 assists and the Eastern Conference-leading Atlanta Hawks downed the Miami Heat 93-91 on Saturday night. The Hawks, who are already on the brink of clinching a postseason berth, nearly squandered an 18- point lead but pulled away for their fourth straight victory. Though they committed 20 turnovers, they forced 23 and limited Miami to 39.5 percent shooting. Kent Bazemore and John Jenkins tallied 15 and 12 points, respectively, for an Atlanta squad playing without regulars Al Horford (personal), Jeff Teague, DeMarre Carroll and Pero Antic—the last three all getting the night off on the second of a back-to-back. Dwyane Wade led the Heat with 22 points, while Hassan Whiteside pulled down 24 rebounds and scored 14 points in the club’s second straight loss.

Final Score: New York 103, Toronto 98

Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 18 of his 22 points in the first half, Andrea Bargnani had 19 and the New York Knicks beat the Toronto Raptors 103-98 on Saturday. Alexey Shved tallied 15 points with five assists off the bench for New York, winners in two straight following an eight-game slide. Louis Williams scored 22 points to lead the Raptors, who have lost a season-high five straight games. Jonas Valanciunas added 16 and eight rebounds in defeat. Toronto was without All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, who was given the night off to rest. He is considered day- to-day.

Final Score: Memphis 101, Minnesota 97

Marc Gasol had 27 points and 11 rebounds as the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 101-97 on Saturday night. Mike Conley netted 17 points, Jeff Green added 13 and Zach Randolph pulled down 11 boards for the Grizzlies, who blew a 15-point third quarter lead, but Conley bailed them out with a go-ahead 3-pointer with 30.3 seconds left. Andrew Wiggins poured in 25 points for Minnesota, which has dropped three of its last four games.

Final Score: Brooklyn 104, Dallas 94

Deron Williams scored 12 of his 25 points in the third quarter to lead the Brooklyn Nets past the Dallas Mavericks, 104-94, on Saturday. Williams went 4-of-6 from beyond the arc and pulled down six rebounds for the Nets, who have won four straight in Dallas. Thaddeus Young tallied 16 points and eight rebounds. Joe Johnson contributed 15 points and eight boards for Brooklyn, which went 3-5 on its eight-game road trip. Mason Plumlee and Jarrett Jack each scored 14 points, with Plumlee also pulling down 10 boards. Dirk Nowitzki ended with 20 points and six rebounds for the Mavericks, who have lost two in a row. Devin Harris added 14 points and Al- Farouq Aminu and Monta Ellis had 12 points apiece.

Final Score: San Antonio 101, Phoenix 74

The Phoenix Suns, not the San Antonio Spurs, looked like they were the ones finishing up a nine-game road trip on Saturday. Kawhi Leonard scored a game-high 22 points and pulled down 10 rebounds as the Spurs took the listless Suns to the woodshed in a lopsided 101-74 victory. The Suns set a franchise low for scoring in a half (24) and were on pace for record lows in points and shooting percentage before San Antonio took its foot off the gas in the fourth quarter. They shot 29.8 percent overall. The Spurs led by 34 after three, and their regulars were given well-deserved rest in closing out an otherwise disappointing 4-5 road trip in winning fashion. Marcus Morris scored 15 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter for the Suns, who failed to build off an emotional overtime victory over the Thunder on Thursday.

Final Score: Utah 82, Milwaukee 75

Trey Burke had 23 points and six assists as the Utah Jazz beat the Milwaukee Bucks by an 82-75 margin on Saturday. Burke went 5-of-10 from beyond the arc for the Jazz, who have won 13 in a row against Milwaukee in Salt Lake City. Derrick Favors added 16 points, 12 rebounds, three steals and three blocks. Khris Middleton ended with 18 points and six rebounds for the Bucks, who have lost four of five. Michael Carter-Williams contributed 16 points and four steals.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  White Sox ace Sale out with broken foot

Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale is expected to miss three weeks with a broken foot that could affect his availability for Opening Day.

Sale suffered an avulsion fracture on the lateral side of his right foot in an accident at home on Friday, the White Sox announced Saturday.

The left-hander underwent X-rays Saturday morning at Banner Estrella hospital near the team’s spring training facility in Glendale.

His status for Opening Day will be clearer once the swelling in his foot goes down and further tests are performed, the White Sox said.

They begin the season April 6 in Kansas City.

Sale, 25, had a 2.17 ERA in 26 starts last season with a 12-4 record and 208 strikeouts in 174 innings. He ranked fifth in the majors with a 0.97 WHIP and finished third in voting for the AL Cy Young Award.

He went on the disabled list for the first time in his career on April 22 with a flexor muscle strain in his left arm, missing a month.

Sale is 44-29 with a 2.76 ERA in 165 career games for the White Sox, including 85 starts. He has been a starter for the past three seasons after pitching out of the bullpen from 2010-11.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Saturday, February 28)

Final Score: Florida 5, Buffalo 3

Jaromir Jagr got all the headlines prior to his Panthers debut, but it was Brandon Pirri starring for Florida on Saturday after missing the previous nine games with an upper-body injury. In just 83 seconds, Pirri scored a pair of power play goals to get Florida on track to a 5-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Florida also received goals from Nick Bjugstad, Scottie Upshall and Derek MacKenzie while Jagr was scoreless with three shots on goal. Roberto Luongo was not busy and made 11 saves to help the Panthers improve to 1-1-0 on their seven-game homestand. The Sabres lost their first two-game winning streak in 2015 despite jumping out to a 2-0 lead with first-period goals from Cody Hodgson and Andrej Meszaros. Torrey Mitchell also lit the lamp for Buffalo. Michal Neuvirth allowed four Panthers goals but made 42 saves in the setback.

Final Score: Detroit 4, Nashville 3

Tomas Tatar and Alexey Marchenko each scored third-period goals to rally the Detroit Red Wings to a 4-3 win over Nashville and deal the Predators their first home losing streak of the season. Drew Miller added a goal and an assist and Jonas Gustavsson came up with 37 saves to help the Red Wings prevail against a Nashville team that owns the NHL’s best home record at 26-5-1. The Predators were coming off a 4-2 setback to Minnesota Thursday at Bridgestone Arena, however, and Saturday’s result marked the first time this season the Western Conference leaders have dropped back-to-back games in regulation. Pekka Rinne stopped just 21-of-25 shots in this one, failing to protect a 3-2 lead he was given on consecutive second-period goals from Matt Cullen, Mike Fisher and Shea Weber.

Final Score: Carolina 5, NY Islanders 3

A four-goal second period boosted the Carolina Hurricanes in their 5-3 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday. Jay McClement scored two goals for his first multi-goal game since a 2010 hat trick, Brad Malone tallied a goal and an assist, and Justin Faulk and Michal Jordan also scored in Carolina’s third straight win. Cam Ward made 21 saves in the victory. The Islanders lost a two-game winning streak after Chad Johnson allowed all five Carolina goals on 41 shots. Michael Grabner, Nikolay Kulemin and John Tavares scored New York’s goals.

Final Score: New Jersey 2, Columbus 0

Cory Schneider made 33 saves and Andy Greene netted the deciding goal in the New Jersey Devils’ 2-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Schneider backstopped the Devils to their fifth win in seven games by posting his second shutout in six days, having turned aside 38 chances in Monday’s 3-0 triumph over Arizona. Travis Zajac added an empty-net score in the final minute that sealed the Blue Jackets’ fifth loss in a row. Curtis McElhinney stopped 17-of-18 shots for Columbus.

Final Score: Boston 4, Arizona 1

Tuukka Rask stopped 31 shots to lead the Boston Bruins in a 4-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday. Milan Lucic, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand all scored for the Bruins, who have won three of four following a six-game losing streak. Martin Erat had the only goal of the game for the Coyotes, who have lost nine in a row. Mike Smith was pulled in the second period after allowing four goals on 20 shots, while Louis Domingue turned aside all 14 shots he faced.

Final Score: Montreal 4, Toronto 0

Carey Price turned in another solid performance between the pipes as he posted his sixth shutout of the season in the Montreal Canadiens’ 4-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. Price made 30 saves and improved to 10-0-1 over his last 11 starts, last losing in regulation on Feb. 3 against Buffalo. He leads the NHL with 36 wins. David Desharnais scored twice, while Manny Malhotra and Tomas Plekanec and also lit the lamp in Montreal’s fourth straight win. Jonathan Bernier allowed three goals on 22 shots for the Maple Leafs, who had their two-game winning streak came to an end.

Final Score: Philadelphia 4, NY Rangers 2

In his first start since Feb. 8, Steve Mason made 34 saves to lead the Flyers to a 4-2 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday. Mason made 16 of those saves in the third period to end Philadelphia’s two-game losing streak and stay firmly in the playoff race. Matt Read, Michael Raffl and Wayne Simmonds scored goals for the Flyers, and the winner came early in the third period when Michael Del Zotto scored short- handed. The Rangers lost their 10-game point streak despite goals from J.T. Miller and John Moore. Cam Talbot made 30 saves in the loss.

Final Score: Minnesota 3, Colorado 1

Devan Dubnyk stopped 33 shots to lead the Minnesota Wild in a 3-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. Justin Fontaine and Erik Haula had a goal and an assist, while Jason Pominville also scored for the Wild, who have won five of their last six. Maxime Talbot had the only goal of the game for the Avalanche, who had won three of four coming into the game. Semyon Varlamov allowed all three goals on 32 shots in defeat.

Final Score: St. Louis 2, Edmonton 1

Paul Stastny scored the game-winning goal with 5:40 left in regulation to lift the St. Louis Blues to a 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. Stastny also assisted on Dmitrij Jaskin’s marker and Brian Elliott made 21 saves for the Blues, who were coming off a 2-1 shootout win over Winnipeg on Thursday. Justin Schultz supplied Edmonton’s lone goal and Ben Scrivens allowed both goals on 27 shots in defeat.

Final Score: Ottawa 4, San Jose 2

Mike Hoffman scored two goals in the third period to lift the Ottawa Senators over the San Jose Sharks, 4-2, on Saturday. Mark Stone also lit the lamp in the final stanza for the Senators, who have won a season-high five straight games. Erik Karlsson also scored. Andrew Hammond made 28 saves and has now won the first five starts of his NHL career. He entered Saturday’s contest on a two-game shutout streak. Tommy Wingels and Patrick Marleau scored for the Sharks, who have lost eight in a row at home. Antti Niemi stopped 27-of-30 shots.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Nishikori, Ferrer to meet in Acapulco final

Kei Nishikori and David Ferrer will meet in the final of the $1.4 million Mexican Open on Saturday.

Both players won their Friday semifinal matches in three sets, as the top- seeded Nishikori outlasted fourth-seeded Kevin Anderson, and the second-seeded Ferrer pummeled qualifier Ryan Harrison after falling behind early.

Nishikori broke Anderson’s serve twice in the final set en route to a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory, moving him into uncharted territory in the ATP rankings. As it stands, the Japanese star will enter next week ranked no less than No. 4 in the world.

Anderson was last year’s runner-up in this event to Grigor Dimitrov.

Harrison, who has never reached an ATP final, won a lengthy first set but wound up dropping the final 12 games as Ferrer went on to win 4-6, 6-0, 6-0 on the hardcourts at the Fairmont Acapulco Princess.

Nishikori has won seven of the 10 all-time meetings against Ferrer, including a straight-set triumph in the round-of-16 at the Australian Open last month.

Ferrer captured three straight Acapulco titles from 2010-12 and was the runner-up to fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal in 2013.

This year’s champion will earn $343,000.

►  Federer beats Djokovic in Dubai final

Roger Federer posted a 6-3, 7-5 victory over top-seeded Novak Djokovic in the final of the Dubai Championships on Saturday.

The second-seeded Swiss star won the tournament for the second straight year and seventh time overall.

After fighting off two set points to level the second set at 5-5, Federer broke Djokovic’s serve in the next game and then saved a break point to capture his 84th career title and second of 2015. He also won the season- opening event in Brisbane.

“I think the first set belonged to me; whereas the second set belonged to him more,“ Federer said. “He created many more opportunities. I struggled to get into his service games more frequently. It seemed like the moment I wasn’t serving great he created chances for himself and put a lot of pressure on me.“

The 33-year-old Federer swatted 12 aces and saved all seven break points he faced while improving to 20-17 lifetime against Djokovic.

Djokovic, 27, lost for the first time in five Dubai finals.

“I thought it was a good match,“ Djokovic said. “I thought there wasn’t much difference, a few points decided a winner.“

Federer or Djokovic have won the Dubai title 11 of the last 13 years.

►  Nadal to meet Monaco in Buenos Aires final

Rafael Nadal is a step closer to another clay court title after beating Carlos Berlocq in the semifinals of the Argentina Open on Saturday.

The top-seeded Nadal battled to a 7-6 (9-7), 6-2 win over the local favorite Berlocq and will try to win his 46th career clay court title Sunday at Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club.

Nadal, who has 64 titles overall, will face another Argentine favorite, past Buenos Aires winner Juan Monaco.

Monaco defeated 2011 champion Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 6-4 in two hours and 27 minutes and is chasing his ninth career title. He captured the Buenos Aires crown in 2007.

Nadal is 5-1 all-time against Monaco, with the only loss coming at the 2007 ATP Masters tournament in Cincinnati when he retired during the second set because of knee and wrist injuries.

Sunday’s winner will collect $91,050.

►  Safarova wins Qatar Open

Czech Lucie Safarova beat two-time champion Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-3 to win the Qatar Open on Saturday.

Safarova broke the Belarusian to begin the match and again for a 5-4 lead. She then saved a break point before serving out the opening set.

The 28-year-old Safarova offered Azarenka four break point opportunities in the second set and saved all of them. She won the first three points in the ninth game and converted on her third match point.

Safarova captured her sixth career title and first since winning the Bell Challenge in Quebec City in September 2013.

Saturday’s win marked her first in seven head-to-head meetings with Azarenka, who won this tournament in 2012 and 2013.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Harrington leads by 1 at halted Honda Classic

Padraig Harrington finished up his second round and took a 1-shot lead on Saturday before third-round play was suspended due to inclement weather.

The second round was concluded earlier Saturday morning and only a few groups were able to tee off for the third round before rain and heavy winds halted play at 12:51 PM After a lengthy delay, play was called for the day. Players are scheduled to get back out on the course at 10 AM Sunday.

Harrington, who will have to wait until Sunday to start his third round along with most of the 71 players who made the cut, fired a second-round 4-under 66 to take the outright lead at 7-under 133 through 36 holes on the Champion Course at PGA National Resort & Spa.

“I feel like I’ll have to play better or at least up to the way I played maybe my first 27 holes,“ Harrington said about what he has to do in the final two rounds. “You keep your head on, you get it up and down when you need to. It will be a tough weekend no matter what.“

The three-time major champion has five career wins on the PGA Tour, but he has not won since the 2008 PGA Championship. Harrington also won the British Open the same year.

Patrick Reed, who finished his second round on Friday, is alone in second at 6-under 134 following two straight 67s. Ian Poulter (64) and Brendan Steele (69) are tied for third at 5-under 135 through two rounds, while Luke Donald (67) sits one shot further back in fifth at minus-4.

First-round leader Jim Herman carded a 2-over 72, dropping him into a tie for sixth with Russell Knox (68). Defending champion Russell Henley (70), who had just teed off to start his third round before play was called, is tied for 38th at 3-over 143 after narrowly making the cut.

Harrington, starting his second round on the back nine, began with a pair of pars on 10 and 11 before rolling in his first birdie of the day on the par-4 12th.

Following three more pars from 13, Harrington surged as he made the turn, making three birdies in a four-hole stretch on 16, 17 and one.

Harrington tripped to his first bogey on No. 3, but he rebounded in a big way by draining three straight birdies from No. 4, vaulting him to a 3-shot lead.

That advantage quickly shrunk to just one, however, as Harrington finished bogey-bogey on eight and nine. Despite the poor finish to his round, Harrington still held the outright lead through 36 holes.

“Certainly for the first 27 holes I was really feeling very positive about my game,“ said Harrington after his second round. “I struggled coming home. That was disappointing ... Disappointed as I said about my finish, but I’m in a good place going through to the weekend.“

Steele held a 2-shot lead through four holes of his second round before play was suspended due to darkness on Friday. The 31-year-old was on fire when he finally started his round on Friday, draining four straight birdies from No. 1 to grab the lead.

When he got back underway Saturday morning, Steele began to struggle right away as he made a bogey on five. He rebounded with a birdie on six, but he then tripped to a pair of bogeys on seven and eight.

Steele made the turn with a birdie on nine, but that was his last gain of the day. Steele made eight pars on the back nine to go along with a double-bogey on 16 and he finished the day tied for third.

Poulter got off to a roaring start in his second round, making birdies on three and five. He also holed out from 116 yards for eagle on the par-4 fourth.

Poulter got to 5-under for his round with another gain on eight. Following five straight pars from nine, Poulter traded a birdie on 14 for a bogey on 15. He finished up with pars on 16 and 18 to go along with a gain on 17.

NOTES: A total of 24 players had completed at least one hole of their third rounds ... In eight events this season, Harrington has five missed cuts and he missed one secondary cut. Harrington’s best finish was a tie for 56th at last week’s Northern Trust Open ... World No. 1 Rory McIlroy missed the cut after finishing 36 holes at 7-over 147 ... The cut fell at 4-over 144. Other big names who missed the cut were Justin Rose, Zach Johnson, Graeme McDowell, Billy Horschel and Dustin Johnson.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Harvick wins another Xfinity Series race at Atlanta

Kevin Harvick won a Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the third year in a row after holding off his fellow Sprint Cup Series competitor and reigning Daytona 500 champion Joey Logano in the closing laps of Saturday’s Hisense 250.

Harvick, the defending Sprint Cup champion, led 101 of 163 laps, driving the No. 88 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports. He claimed his 45th career victory in the Xfinity Series. Harvick now holds the record for most Xfinity wins at this 1.54-mile racetrack with four.

Logano started on the pole and led the first 49 laps before Harvick took over the top spot during a round of green-flag pit stops. Logano, though, pulled ahead of Harvick and reclaimed the lead on lap 127.

The third and final caution for fluid on the track late in the race set up the last round of pit stops. Harvick edged Logano out of the pits to retain the lead and then held it for the final 27 laps.

“That (final) pit stop is what won this race,“ Harvick said. “Joey probably had a little bit better of a car the second half of a run, so it really played out for us there at the end as we were able to have that short run and take off.“

On Friday, Logano and Harvick placed 1-2 in qualifying for Sunday’s 500-mile Sprint Cup race at Atlanta. But Harvick will have to start from the rear of the field in that event due to an engine change. He blew the motor in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet during Saturday’s final practice.

Logano started gaining on Harvick in the closing laps of the Xfinity race but experienced a bad vibration on his No. 22 Team Penske Ford due to a loose wheel. He wound up finishing 1.2 seconds behind Harvick.

“That was as close as anyone’s been to beating Kevin here in a long time,“ said Logano, who led a total of 59 laps. “I was starting to catch him, and then I had this huge vibration. I think the left-rear (tire) was loose. At that point, I was just trying to survive and hope the left-rear didn’t pass me. Overall, we had a fast race car, but we just came up a little bit short.“

Ty Dillon finished third, followed by Chris Buescher and Chase Elliott, the defending Xfinity champion.

Paul Menard, Brian Scott, Matt Kenseth, Regan Smith and Kyle Larson completed the top-10.

Erik Jones, substituting for the injured Kyle Busch in the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, placed 13th. Busch suffered a compound fracture of his right lower leg and a mid-foot fracture of his left foot during an accident in last Saturday’s Xfinity season-opener at Daytona International Speedway. He underwent surgery on his right leg in Daytona Beach, Florida and then had an operation on his left foot in North Carolina. Busch was hospitalized six days before his release on Friday. His return to racing is not known at this time.

Ryan Reed, who claimed his first career Xfinity win at Daytona, finished 16th.

Buescher and Dillon share the lead in the point standings, while Reed is eight points behind them.

►  Crafton dominant in Truck Series race at Atlanta

Two-time defending Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton won at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the first time with a dominating performance in Saturday’s Hyundai Construction Equipment 300.

The 200-mile truck race capped off a NASCAR doubleheader at this 1.54-mile racetrack. Earlier in the day, Kevin won the 250-mile Xfinity Series event here.

Crafton, who started 15th, led 85 of 130 laps in his No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota. Erik Jones, running a full-schedule in the series for Kyle Busch Motorsports this season, led 37 of the first 44 laps before Crafton passed him and took command from there.

Crafton crossed the finish line nearly nine seconds ahead of his closest competitor, Ty Dillon, for his sixth win in his 340th consecutive and career truck start. His first win at Atlanta came in his 14th attempt. The series did not compete here the previous two seasons.

Last year, Crafton became the first driver to win back-to-back championships in the 20-year history of the Truck Series.

Dillon won the last truck race at Atlanta in August 2012. He is now a regular in Xfinity.

Ben Kennedy, the pole sitter, finished third, followed by Daniel Suarez and Tyler Reddick, who won the February 20 truck season-opener at Daytona.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Frampton keeps IBF belt with TKO of Avalos

Carl Frampton stopped challenger Chris Avalos in the fifth round to retain his IBF Super Bantamweight title in his hometown.

Frampton hit Avalos with a flurry of combinations to prompt referee Howard John Foster to halt the scheduled 12-round bout at 1:33 of the fifth.

The title defense was the first for Frampton (20-0, 14 KO) of the belt he won from Kiko Martinez with a unanimous decision in September.

Avalos (25-3) entered the fight with six straight victories, the last three by knockout, and was the IBF’s top-ranked contender.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Rooney’s brace powers United past Sunderland

Wayne Rooney scored a pair of second-half goals on Saturday as Manchester United cruised to a 2-0 victory over 10-man Sunderland at Old Trafford.

With fellow striker Robin van Persie picking up an injury in last week’s loss against Swansea City, United manager Louis van Gaal deployed Radamel Falcao in the No. 9 role with captain Rooney playing in an attacking midfield spot.

Rooney found the back of the net in the 66th and 85th minutes to lift United into third place in the Premier League on 50 points, two ahead of Arsenal and five behind rivals Manchester City, both of which play on Sunday.

The Sunderland defense held firm and kept United off the score sheet in the first half, but the Red Devils broke the deadlock in the 66th minute when Falcao broke free into the penalty area and was hacked down by Sunderland defender Wes Brown, resulting in a penalty for United and a straight red card to Brown.

Rooney entered the match in a bit of a slump as he had gone eight straight contests without a goal, but confidently headed to the spot and blasted his penalty low into the left corner with pace, leaving Sunderland goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon with no chance to make a save.

Rooney completed his double five minutes from time when he was in the correct spot in front of goal to smash home a rebound effort to seal an important three points for Van Gaal’s side.

For Sunderland, the defeat keeps the Black Cats in 16th place in the Premier League with 25 points, just three clear of the bottom three.

Elsewhere in the Premier League on Saturday, Crystal Palace maintained its unbeaten away record under manager Alan Pardew on Saturday with a 3-1 victory over West Ham United at Upton Park.

The Eagles opened the scoring through Glen Murray in the 41st minute and Scott Dann doubled the advantage early in the second half, while Murray added a second goal in the 63rd minute.

The Hammers pulled one back in the 76th minute through Enner Valencia after Murray was sent off for a second yellow-card offense, but the hosts were unable to salvage anything as the club’s dream of a top-four finish slipped further out of reach.

Swansea City claimed its second consecutive win in league play on Saturday with a 1-0 win over Burnley thanks to an own goal by Burnley defender Kieran Trippier.

Newcastle United rebounded from a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City last week with a 1-0 win over Aston Villa at St. James’ Park. Papiss Cisse collected the only goal of the match in the 37th minute.

Peter Crouch’s tally 18 minutes from time held up as the winner to give Stoke City a 1-0 result over Hull City, while Saturday’s final fixture saw West Bromwich Albion knock off Southampton, 1-0, thanks to a goal in the second minute of play from Saido Berahino.

►  Motherwell snaps skid with win over Inverness

Motherwell put an end to a lengthy winless run in league play on Saturday with a 2-1 victory over Inverness at Fir Park.

Motherwell started the day at the foot of the table in the Scottish Premier League, and while the victory keeps them in that position, some confidence from the win could allow the club to put together a run of positive form.

After a scoreless opening half, Louis Laing gave the home side the lead in the 48th minute. Edward Ofere collected an equalizer in the 76th minute, but Lionel Ainsworth netted the winner five minutes from time to give Motherwell its first win since a 1-0 result over Partick Thistle on December 27.

Also in the Scottish Premier League on Saturday, Partick Thistle claimed a 2-0 victory over Dundee United on the strength of goals from Stephen O’Donnel and a Jaroslaw Fojut own goal, while Jamie Reckord’s 67th-minute tally handed Ross County a 1-0 victory over Dundee.

Steven Thompson struck just past the hour mark to lift St. Mirren to a 1-0 win over Hamilton, while St. Johnstone and Kilmarnock played to a scoreless draw.

►  Dortmund downs Schalke in Revierderby

Borussia Dortmund’s ascent up the Bundesliga table continued on Saturday with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Schalke at Signal Iduna Park in the latest edition of the Revierderby.

It’s been a massive struggle for Jurgen Klopp’s team in league play for most of the campaign as the club has been rooted to the bottom of the table for a significant chunk of time.

But it seems Dortmund is rounding into form just in time as Saturday’s win is the club’s fourth straight to move to 10th place.

It was a tight affair until the final quarter-hour and the home side finally broke the deadlock with 12 minutes to play as Pierre Emerick Aubameyang fired it past Schalke goalkeeper Timon Wellenreuther.

The hosts doubled the lead in the 79th minute through a goal from Henrik Mkhitaryan and Marco Reus wrapped up all three points with a goal four minutes from time.

With the win, Dortmund moves to within eight points of fourth-place Bayer Leverkusen for a Champions League qualification place.

Also in the Bundesliga on Saturday, Simon Rolfes’ 33rd-minute tally handed Leverkusen a 1-0 win over Freiburg at the BayArena, while Christian Gentner and Lars Stindl traded goals as Hannover and Stuttgart played to a 1-1 draw at the AWD Arena.

Salomon Kalou scored two minutes from time to lift Hertha Berlin to a 1-0 victory against Augsburg, while Kevin Volland and Eugen Polanski scored second-half goals to power Hoffenheim to a 2-0 win against Mainz.

In Saturday’s final Bundesliga fixture, Alexander Meier netted a pair of goals to lift Eintracht to a 2-1 win over Hamburg.

►  Lyon stumbles against Lille

Lyon wasted an opportunity to widen their lead atop the Ligue 1 table on Saturday as the club stumbled to a 2-1 defeat against Lille at the Grand Stade Lille Metropole.

Lyon entered the contest holding a two-point lead over second-place Paris Saint-Germain, but Saturday’s result opens the door for the two-time league champions to claim the top spot if they defeat Monaco on Sunday.

Things got off to a flying start for Lyon as Corentin Tolisso found the back of the net after just three minutes and took the lead into the intermission, but Lille seized control in the second half.

Idrissa Gana Gueye connected for the equalizer in the 57th minute and Marcos Lopes scored the winning tally just three minutes later.

Lyon pushed numbers forward looking to get a least a point out of the match, but an equalizer never came as Lille held on for an important three points.

The victory moves Lille into eighth place in Ligue 1 on 35 points.

Also in the French top flight on Saturday, Abdoulaye Doucoure’s 36th-minute tally held up as the winner to give Rennes a 1-0 victory over Lens, while Francois Bellugou and Gianni Bruno lifted Lorient to a 2-0 win over Bastia.

Gilles Sunu buried the winning strike in the 73rd minute to help Evian to a 2-1 result against Metz, while Max-Alain Gradel and Jean-Daniel Akpa-Akpro traded goals as Toulouse and Saint Etienne played to a 1-1 draw.

In Saturday’s final match, Isaac Kiese Thelin and Gaetan Charbonnier swapped goals as Bordeaux and Reims finished level at 1-1.

►  Messi, Suarez lead Barca over Granada

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez found the back of the net in the second half on Saturday as Barcelona ran out 3-1 winners over Granada at Los Carmenes.

The Catalan club suffered a shock 1-0 defeat against Malaga last week in La Liga play, but rebounded from that setback a few days later as Suarez netted a pair of goals to help Barcelona claim a 2-1 win over Manchester City in the Champions League.

Saturday’s affair against strugglers Granada caused Barcelona little trouble as Ivan Rakitic opened the scoring in the 25th minute and Suarez, the former Liverpool man, doubled the lead four minutes into the second half.

Granada pulled one back in the 53rd minute when Fran Rico dispatched a penalty kick, but Messi scored with 20 minutes to play to ensure all three points went the way of Barcelona.

The result pulls the Catalan club to within one point of rivals Real Madrid for the top spot in La Liga, while Granada remains in the relegation zone with 19 points from 25 matches played.

Also in La Liga on Saturday, Alberto Bueno powered home an impressive four goals in a span of 15 first-half minutes at the Campo de Futbol de Vallecas as Rayo Vallecano rolled to a 4-2 win over Levante, while Almeria and Deportivo played to a scoreless draw.

In Saturday’s final fixture, Sergi Darder, Juanmi and Ricardo Horta all found the back of the net to lead Malaga to a 3-2 win over Getafe.

The Gilmer Free Press

ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York
CBSSN - CBS - College Sports Network
CSN - Comcast SportsNet
TCN - The Comcast Network
NBCSN - NBC Sports Network
NESN - New England Sports Network
MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
ROOT - Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Northwest, Rocky Mountain)
CST - Cox Sports Television
FCS - FOX College Sports
FS - FOX Sports Regional
RSN - Regional Sports Networks
CPTV - Connecticut Public Broadcasting
TVG - Horse Racing Channel
FS1 - FOX Sports 1
TWC - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
* - If Necessary

SUNDAY, MARCH 01, 2015
National Basketball Association
LA Clippers at Chicago, 1:00 PM - ABC
Cleveland at Houston, 3:30 PM - ABC
Portland at Sacramento, 6:00 PM - CSN-Northwest, California, DSS
Philadelphia at Indiana, 6:00 PM - CSN-Philadelphia, FS-Indiana, DSS
Golden State at Boston, 6:00 PM - CSN-Bay, New England, DSS
Charlotte at Orlando, 6:00 PM - SportSouth, FS-Florida, DSS
Oklahoma City at LA Lakers, 6:30 PM - ESPN
New Orleans at Denver, 8:00 PM - FS-New Orleans, Altitude, DSS
National Hockey League
Los Angeles at Winnipeg, 4:00 PM - FS-West, TSN3, DSS
Columbus at Pittsburgh, 5:00 PM - FS-Ohio, ROOT-Pittsburgh, DSS
Tampa Bay at Florida, 5:00 PM - SunSports, FS-Florida, DSS
Toronto at Washington, 7:00 PM - CITY, CSN-DC, DSS
Anaheim at Dallas, 8:00 PM - NBCSN
St. Louis at Vancouver, 9:30 PM - FS-Midwest, SNET-Pacific, DSS
College Basketball
SMU at Connecticut, 2:00 PM - CBS
Fairfield at Niagara, 2:00 PM - Time Warner Sports
Iona at Saint Peters, 2:00 PM -
Quinnipiac at Manhattan, 2:00 PM -
Marist at Rider, 2:00 PM -
Oregon State at California, 3:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
South Florida at Houston, 3:00 PM -
Marquette at Providence, 3:30 PM - FS1
Michigan State at Wisconsin, 4:00 PM - CBS
Siena at Monmouth, 4:30 PM -
Pittsburgh at Wake Forest, 6:30 PM - ESPN U
Oregon at Stanford, 7:00 PM - FS1
Purdue at Ohio State, 7:30 PM - Big Ten Network
Arizona State at Colorado, 8:30 PM - ESPN U
Washington State at UCLA, 9:30 PM - FS1
Women’s College Basketball
Texas at West Virginia, 1:00 PM - ESPN 2
Louisville at Virginia, 1:00 PM - RSN, FOX,
Maryland at Northwestern, 1:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Seton Hall at Butler, 1:00 PM - Big East Digital Network
Indiana at Rutgers, 2:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
Wisconsin at Penn State, 2:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
VCU at Richmond, 2:00 PM - CBSSN
Notre Dame at NC State, 2:00 PM -
Texas A&M at LSU, 2:00 PM - ESPN U
Ole Miss at Miss State, 2:00 PM - FSN,
Maine at New Hampshire, 2:00 PM -
Minnesota at Iowa, 3:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Alabama at Auburn, 3:00 PM - SEC Network+
Arkansas at Missouri, 3:00 PM - SEC Network+
Georgia at Florida, 3:00 PM - SEC Network
North Carolina at Duke, 3:00 PM - ESPN 2
Florida State at Miami-Florida, 3:00 PM - RSN, FOX,
Drake at Missouri State, 3:00 PM -
Stanford at Oregon, 4:00 PM - ESPN U
Marquette at DePaul, 4:00 PM - CBSSN
Ohio State at Nebraska, 5:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Utah at Arizona, 5:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
South Carolina at Kentucky, 5:00 PM - ESPN 2
Vanderbilt at Tennessee, 5:00 PM - SEC Network
International Soccer
Valencia CF vs. Real Sociedad de Futbol, 5:55 AM - beIN Sports
Liverpool vs. Manchester City, 7:00 AM - NBCSN
FC Nantes vs. EA Guingamp, 7:55 AM - beIN Sports
Arsenal vs. Everton, 9:00 AM - NBCSN
Chelsea FC vs. Tottenham Hotspur FC, 10:55 AM - beIN Sports
Sevilla FC vs. Club Atletico de Madrid, 1:30 PM - beIN Sports
Real Madrid CF vs. Villarreal CF, 2:55 PM - beIN Sports
Oxford City vs. Dallas, 3:00 PM -
LPGA - Honda LPGA Thailand, 1:00 AM - Golf Channel
EUROPEAN - Joburg Open, 5:00 AM - Golf Channel
PGA - Honda Classic, 1:00 PM - Golf Channel
PGA - Honda Classic, 3:00 PM - NBC
Auto Racing
SPRINT CUP - Folds of Honor Quiktrip 500, 12:30 PM - FOX
Track and Field
U.S. Indoor Championships, 4:00 PM - NBCSN

Sports News   150228

The Gilmer Free Press

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Area High Schools Boys Basketball Game Results

(Friday, February 27)

Preston 72     #2 Bridgeport 69

►  Area High Schools Girls Basketball Game Results

(Friday, February 27)

#6 Williamstown 67     #5 Gilmer County 54

#7 Ravenswood 63     Ritchie County 52

#9 Lincoln 50     #9 Bridgeport 31

Buckhannon-Upshur 39     Hampshire 38

#3 Tucker County 54     Notre Dame 28

Clay County 52     Sissonville 48

Parkersburg South 59     Parkersburg 46

►  2015 Girls Regional

Class “AAA” (all games Tuesday, 7:00):

Region 1:

(14-9)Parkersburg at (22-1)Morgantown

Region 2:

(17-6)Jefferson at (15-7)Buckhannon-Upshur

Class “AA” (all games Wednesday, 7:00):

Region 1:

(12-11)Ritchie County at (21-2)Fairmont Senior

(18-3)North Marion at (21-3)Ravenswood

Region 2:

(11-9)Frankfort at (17-5)Lincoln

(15-7)Bridgeport at (21-2)Keyser

Class “A” (all games Thursday, 7:00):

Region 1:

(13-8)Trinty vs. (20-3)Wheeling Central Catholic or (13-10)Magnolia

Region 2:

(9-10)Pendleton County at (18-2)Tucker County

(12-10)Notre Dame at (16-4)Pocahontas County

Region 4:

(16-6)Gilmer County at (16-5)Huntington Saint Joseph’s

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Stretching the Field: Wizards liquefying in East

The NBA is a game of runs with peaks and valleys the likes of which can drive a head coach toward insanity.

Randy Wittman could be checking into an asylum soon for how much the Washington Wizards have dissolved in a month’s time.

The Wizards were the talk of the Eastern Conference with a 31-15 record, and perhaps the attention got to their head. Swagger and style have been replaced with confusion and ineptitude as evidenced by five straight losses and 10 in the past 12 games.

To go back even further, the Wizards have a 4-12 record since January 21 and are searching for answers. All-Star guard John Wall can’t find one at the moment.

“It’s tough. It’s the adversity we have to go through as a team,“ Wall said. “It’s definitely tough when you’re not making shots and when you’re not spacing. We have to do other things to win games.“

Wall leads the Wizards with 17 points per game and managed a season-low five in Wednesday’s 97-77 loss to the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves in the homecoming of Kevin Garnett. Garnett is an aging dinosaur and the Wizards have no excuse for losing to teams like the Timberwolves, who have 13 wins this season.

The 77 points were a season-worst for a Wizards team that was out of sync and struggled to create shots. What happened in a month’s span in which Washington has struggled to even reach the 100-point mark? The Wizards have plateaued so badly they are now fifth in the East after sitting No. 2.

Washington can kiss a Southeast Division title goodbye because the Atlanta Hawks are taking that prize. Teams like the Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls and even the Milwaukee Bucks are beginning to play more cohesive basketball than the Wizards.

Wittman’s squad is averaging a league-low 15 free throw attempts during the five-game slide, while opponents are averaging 24.8 shots at the line. Minnesota outscored the Wizards from the charity stripe, 23-7.

Shooting from distance also has been an issue over the slump and that largely has to do with the absence of guard Bradley Beal.

Beal has played a role in Washington’s lapse of production. Beal, who’s arguably one of the top 3-point shooters in the NBA, has been sidelined the last seven games with a stress reaction in his right leg and could get back to work against what should be an easy opponent in Philadelphia Friday night.

The Wizards didn’t seem to miss Beal when he started the season on the bench with a wrist injury, and now they need him more than ever.

Friday, though, is a game Wall must take over from the tip. He obviously believes in what Wittman is trying to convey because he was on fire through the first 46 games. It’s just a matter of time to make the proper adjustments and create space in what has been a congested path to the rim.

“Coach does a great job making his decisions,“ Wall said. “We trust in whatever decisions and whatever substitutions he wants to make. We just got to go out there and compete with the five that’s on the court. It’s not him that’s going to make us play better. He’s making the right calls.“

Wizards guard Garrett Temple said teams are clogging up the middle more, making it difficult for Wall to penetrate and get his numbers. Temple shouldered some of the blame for not doing a better job of making baskets.

“Us perimeters, we got to do a better job knocking down shots for him (Wall),“ Temple said. “But I don’t think it’s just spacing. In general we’re not executing as well as we need to, and that goes with all five of us on the court.“

Washington has lost six in a row on the road and hopes to have veteran forward Paul Pierce back on the floor. Pierce, who is third on the Wizards with 12.6 ppg, is dealing with a bruised knee and hopes to play soon. He scored a team-high 25 points in Tuesday’s 114-107 loss to Golden State.

There’s no doubt the Wizards will make the playoffs, but they’re losing out on a chance for home-court advantage and earning one of the higher seeds. The upcoming schedule won’t be easy with matchups against Detroit, Chicago, Miami, Milwaukee, Memphis, Sacramento, Portland, the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State over the next 13 games.

The Wizards are a good team, a formidable bunch in what has been an improving conference. They’ve just fallen on hard times and need to re-discover what led them to that strong start a month back.

“It’s tough times right now. Tough times,“ Wittman said. “It’s easy to look at it like that and put your head down, but we have to fight through it.“  ~~  Shawn Clarke ~~

►  Nothin’ but Net: Roberts wrong about media

Michele Roberts wouldn’t like me.

The executive director of the NBA Players Association told Kate Fagan and ESPNW that she doesn’t like the way the news media behave to some degree when in locker rooms.

“Most of the time I go to the locker room, the players are there and there are like eight or nine reporters just standing there, just staring at them,“ Roberts said. “And I think to myself, ‘OK, so this is media availability?‘ If you don’t have a (bleeping) question, leave, because it’s an incredible invasion of privacy. It’s a tremendous commitment that we’ve made to the media—are there ways we can tone it down? Of course. It’s very dangerous to suggest any limitation on media’s access to players, but let’s be real about some of this stuff.

“I’ve asked about a couple of these guys, ‘Does he ask you a question?‘ ‘Nah, he just stands there.‘ And when I go in there to talk to the guys, I see them trying to listen to my conversation, and I don’t think that’s the point of media availability. If nothing else, I would like to have a rule imposed, ‘If you have a question, ask it; if you don’t, leave.‘ Sometimes, they’re waiting for the marquee players. I get that, but there is so much standing around.“

I’m not a big question-asker. I’m like Clarence Thomas. Actually, I’m nothing like Clarence Thomas, but he had a notable run of silence on the Supreme Court bench. I’ve spoken to players and coaches, but not many and I’ll explain why, and why Ms. Roberts is wrong in her beliefs.

For one, any limiting of the media is wrong, just at its most fundamental level. There should be access. The media is the conduit to the fan, who, by the way, drives the league. If attendance is strong, those salaries Ms. Roberts’ clients enjoy ever so, remain strong.

(Also, I’m somewhat hesitant since the writer isn’t supposed to be part of the story, but since Roberts threw the first punch, it’s fair game to respond.)

I don’t ask many questions because the etiquette I understand and adhere to is that the beat reporters, who are on strict deadlines, should have the first crack. They are with the team every possible moment allowable, so they earned that right.

If that’s the way it goes, then there is not a lot of time left for the rest of us. LeBron James, and most NBA players, are good sports. James will answer questions for four to five minutes, then he’s done. That’s fine. The fact he’s a superstar doesn’t mean he should be forced to speak for 10 minutes. But, once the deserved asking group get through, there’s simply not enough time for the masses.

The answers supplied in those questions generally provide the rest with what they need, anyway.

I could spend my time asking questions of other players, but what’s the point if James is the story? At that point, I’m not doing my job. Full disclosure, because I’m not a beat guy, most of the time, I go into a locker room with a column idea and ask questions accordingly. There have been times I’ve asked secondary (for lack of a better term) players if it worked for my story. If not, I’m not going to bother a player who had no real bearing on the outcome just because a star has stopped speaking and I need to look busy in Roberts’ eyes. Said player doesn’t deserve that.

It’s not as simple as Roberts’ idea of “if you have a question, ask it; if you don’t, leave.“ There’s information to be gathered from listening to the other reporter’s question and follow-up answer. After the beat writers, some teams’ courtside reporters frankly hog up time. Again, he or she is with the squad constantly, so it’s not a huge deal, but it leaves little time for the rest.

And, in the spirit of honesty, I’m not a huge deal. I don’t have personal relationships with players. I’m around a fair amount for my local team, the Philadelphia 76ers, and most national big events like the NBA Finals, or All- Star game. But, without personal access, or a massive company on my business card, there’s not an abundance of time for me to get in there and speak with players.

Should I not be allowed to stay because my profile isn’t large enough? I don’t believe so. I’m professional, respectful and share quotes with our news department so they can’t write their stories. I speak with players when possible and applicable. I listen to others’ questions and attribute accordingly. I’m grateful to be credentialed. But I also feel I belong, no matter my style of gathering information, which is neither unethical nor inaccurate.

There is a lot of standing around. Most players the media want to talk to aren’t around before the game, and after, we have to wait for a player to be available.

I watched one gentleman return to a city he had a bad experience in for the first time. When he saw the media throng, he looked surprised. Then, he showered. For 20 minutes. We were standing around because he took his sweet time and I’ll account for the fact it takes longer to wash a big-man’s body than my average-sized one. The media standing was on that player, not the media.

Some players take longer. Some teams take longer to make players available in the locker room. I’ve never reported or wrote about something I overheard like Roberts contends. No one I know would.

I hate writing about the media. There may be loafers, but they’re loafing is easily explainable.

What do I care? I don’t ask questions anyway. Wait, that’s the problem.


- If I was the Chicago Bulls’ brass, I don’t know if I could reliably build the team around Derrick Rose. Three major injuries in three years is injury- prone. He’s untradable with two years and $40-some million on his contract. The Bulls used their amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer, so that’s out. The idea now should be to build around Jimmy Butler, but, of course, they’re going to have to sign him to a max deal. Rose clearly has immense value, even if his game has been inconsistent this season.

- Rajon Rondo better be careful. While I wouldn’t suggest a singular blow up would cost him his chance at re-signing with the Dallas Mavericks, a persistent problem might. Rondo will have suitors, but as I’ve said before, take a quick scan of the NBA and see how many contending teams need a point guard. One - Dallas (maybe Houston).

- I’m no gambler, but right now, I’d throw a penny or two on LeBron James winning the MVP. If the Cavs somehow caught the Atlanta Hawks, which is unlikely because Cleveland is nine back with 23 to play, it would be a no- brainer.

- I still would vote for James Harden.

- Cleveland played the best help defense I’ve seen in a while on Thursday night in its win over the Warriors.

- Movie moment - Oscars were OK. Neil Patrick Harris was OK. There are so many pre-Oscars award shows going in, you just hope for some drama in some races and that existed.

- TV moment - God Bless you, “Parks and Recreation.“  ~~  Jim Brighters ~~

►  NBA Game Results

(Friday, February 27)

Final Score: Indiana 93, Cleveland 86

George Hill recorded his first career triple-double with 15 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds in the Indiana Pacers’ 93-86 win over the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday. Rodney Stuckey added 19 points for the Pacers, who have won 10 straight at home against Cleveland. C.J. Miles and David West tallied 13 and 12 points, respectively. J.R. Smith made four 3-pointers en route to 21 points for the Cavaliers, who played without All-Stars LeBron James (rest) and Kyrie Irving (strained left shoulder). Kevin Love contributed 17 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and two blocks for Cleveland, which had a four-game winning streak snapped.

Final Score: Philadelphia 89, Washington 81

Nerlens Noel scored 14 points and added 13 rebounds and three blocks to help the Philadelphia 76ers top the Washington Wizards, 89-81, on Friday. With a balanced attack, the Sixers were able to snap their five-game losing streak. Robert Covington scored 13 and Jason Richardson netted 12 with four 3-pointers. Washington lost its sixth straight and continued its descent down the Eastern Conference standings. John Wall scored 21 points on 26 field-goal attempts with 11 assists, and Otto Porter contributed 19 points.

Final Score: Atlanta 95, Orlando 88

Jeff Teague scored all 17 of his points in the second half and added seven assists, and the Eastern Conference-leading Atlanta Hawks surged in the second half for a 95-88 win over the Orlando Magic. Paul Millsap totaled 20 points and Al Horford chipped in 17 points with 13 rebounds for the Hawks, who posted their third consecutive victory. Nikola Vucevic had 21 points and 15 boards to pace Orlando, which has lost back-to-back contests since winning three in a row. Victor Oladipo scored 19, Tobias Harris netted 15, and Channing Frye totaled 10 points in defeat.

Final Score: Boston 106, Charlotte 98

Trailing by as many as 16 points in the third quarter, the Boston Celtics staged a comeback to beat the Charlotte Hornets 106-98 on Friday. Isaiah Thomas led that comeback by scoring 21 of his 28 points in the second half to give the Celtics their third straight win. The Celtics got 19 points from Avery Bradley, but Boston’s bench carried much of the scoring load with a combined 60 points. In addition to Thomas’ effort, Jonas Jerebko netted 16 points and Jae Crowder contributed 14. Charlotte lost for the sixth time in seven tries despite 31 points from Mo Williams. Every Hornets starter reached double figures, with Al Jefferson and Gerald Henderson each adding 14 points, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scoring 12 with 11 rebounds and Cody Zeller netting 11.

Final Score: New York 121, Detroit 115 (2-OT)

For the Detroit Pistons to contend for an Eastern Conference playoff spot, they would seemingly need to beat up on teams like the NBA-worst New York Knicks. Especially at home, and especially when leading by 18 at one point. That did not happen Friday, as the Knicks rallied and won in double overtime 121-115 to steal a game that featured 14 lead changes and 15 ties. Langston Galloway forced the first OT with a 3- pointer, Shane Larkin scored nine of his 16 points in the second OT and Andrea Bargnani finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds as the Knicks snapped an eight-game skid in unlikely fashion. Greg Monroe led Detroit with 28 points and added 13 rebounds, but he missed a key free throw late in the first OT. Andre Drummond also recorded a double-double with 21 points and 15 boards, but the Pistons ended a five-game homestand (2-3) on a sour note.

Final Score: Golden State 113, Toronto 89

Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry both bounced back from a rough shooting night to lead the Golden State Warriors in a 113-89 thrashing of the Toronto Raptors on Friday night. Thompson contributed 25 points with five assists and Curry totaled 22 points with five dimes in the win. The Splash Brothers combined for 31 points on 10- of-30 shooting in Thursday’s loss to LeBron James and the red-hot Cleveland Cavaliers. The two were much more efficient on Friday, teaming up to shoot 17-of-31 against the nonexistent Toronto defense. Draymond Green added 17 points with nine rebounds for Golden State, which has split each of the four games on its current six-game road trip. Terrence Ross led the Raptors with 18 points and DeMar DeRozan chipped in 14 on 4-of-16 shooting. Toronto starting point guard Kyle Lowry scored four points on 1-of-7 shooting and did not record an assist in under 19 minutes. The Raptors have lost four straight games after a four-game winning streak.

Final Score: Chicago 96, Minnesota 89

Jimmy Butler had 28 points and 12 rebounds to lead Chicago past the Minnesota Timberwolves, 96-89, on the same day the Bulls received good news about Derrick Rose’s latest knee surgery. Rose is expected to only miss 4-to-6 weeks after having surgery Friday to repair a medial meniscus tear in his right knee. Mike Dunleavy added 21 points, eight rebounds and two blocks for the Bulls, who bounced back from Wednesday’s 98-86 loss to Charlotte Hornets. Joakim Noah contributed 11 points, 12 boards and eight assists. Chicago forward Pau Gasol sat out with an illness and Taj Gibson left in the first quarter with a left ankle injury. Kevin Martin ended with 18 points for the Timberwolves, who fell to 5-23 on the road this season. Ricky Rubio had 15 points and 10 assists, Nikola Pekovic recorded 12 points and 11 rebounds and Andrew Wiggins scored 14 points.

Final Score: Houston 102, Brooklyn 98

Terrence Jones had a season-high 26 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to lead the Houston Rockets in a 102-98 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Friday. Trevor Ariza had 20 points and five rebounds while James Harden added 15 points and 12 assists for the Rockets, who have won four straight. Deron Williams and Mason Plumlee each scored 15 points for the Nets, who are 2-5 on an eight-game road trip.

Final Score: LA Clippers 97, Memphis 79

Chris Paul scored 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter as he and the Los Angeles Clippers avenged their loss to the Memphis Grizzlies earlier this week with a 97-79 win on Friday. Paul turned the ball over in the closing seconds to seal Memphis’ win on Monday, but the All-Star point guard, who also dished out 13 assists, made amends with a stellar fourth-quarter performance. Los Angeles, which had dropped two straight coming in, outscored the Grizzlies in the second half 56-38 and saw five players finish in double figures. DeAndre Jordan finished with 15 points and 22 rebounds, Jamal Crawford added 19 points off the bench and J.J. Redick netted 18 for the victors. Zach Randolph led Memphis with 20 points and 10 boards, while Mike Conley scored just four on 2-of-11 shooting in the Grizzlies’ second straight loss.

Final Score: New Orleans 104, Miami 102

Alexis Ajinca scored 24 points with eight rebounds and three blocks in place of an injured Anthony Davis to help the New Orleans Pelicans defeat the Miami Heat 104-102 on Friday night. Eric Gordon registered 20 points with eight assists, while Tyreke Evans contributed 19 points and 11 assists for the Pelicans, who have won four straight. Luol Deng and Goran Dragic went for 22 and 20 points, respectively, in the loss. Dwyane Wade totaled 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting to go along with eight assists.

Final Score: Utah 104, Denver 82

Derrick Favors scored 21 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to lead the Utah Jazz to a 104-82 rout of the struggling Denver Nuggets. Trey Burke chipped in 19 points off the bench and Gordon Hayward scored 15 for the hot-shooting Jazz. Rodney Hood had 14 points in a reserve role for Utah, which shot 57.4 percent from the field. The Jazz won for the fifth time in seven tries and dealt Denver its fifth consecutive defeat. Will Barton scored 22 and Kenneth Faried added 12 points and eight boards, both off the bench, for Denver. Danilo Gallinari had 13 points in the Nuggets’ 18th loss in 20 games.

Final Score: San Antonio 107, Sacramento 96

Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker both broke out of slumps as the San Antonio Spurs snapped a four-game skid with a 107-96 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Friday. The Spurs needed a late push to knock off a Kings team that was without All-Star forward DeMarcus Cousins and starting point guard Darren Collison. They received 17 points from Leonard - his highest point total in three weeks—and 19 from Parker, who scored just nine over his previous three games. Manu Ginobili chipped in with 16 points off the bench for the Spurs, who improved to 3-5 on their nine-game road trip. Ben McLemore led the Kings with 21 points, Ray McCallum added 20 and Rudy Gay had 16 in defeat.

Final Score: LA Lakers 101, Milwaukee 93

Wayne Ellington scored all 14 of his points in the fourth quarter, and the Los Angeles Lakers rallied from a double-digit deficit in the final period for a 101-93 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s only the 16th win all season for the injury-plagued Lakers, but this is their third in a row, matching the season-best stretch from Dec. 9-14. Ellington went 6-of-7 from the field in the last quarter to help the Lakers erase a 76-65 deficit. Jordan Clarkson scored 16, while Jeremy Lin and Jordan Hill each had 14 points. Ersan Ilyasova had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Bucks, who have lost three of their last four games.

Final Score: Portland 115, Oklahoma City 112

Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge each poured in 29 points to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 115-112 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night. Aldridge also grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds and Arron Afflalo added 18 points off the bench for the Blazers, who were coming off a win over the Spurs on Wednesday. Russell Westbrook continued his hot play of late, recording his third straight triple-double and fifth of the season. He finished with 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists and became the first player since LeBron James in March of 2009 to notch three consecutive triple-doubles. Mitch McGary scored a career-high 20 points with nine rebounds and Serge Ibaka added 14 points in Oklahoma City’s second straight loss.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Reducing the MLB schedule from 162 games to 154 games

Earlier this week in an interview with new Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred had interesting thoughts when it came to the length of the MLB season. “I don’t think length of season is a topic that can’t ever be discussed,” Manfred told “I don’t think it would be impossible to go back to 154 [games].” It didn’t sound like a serious initiative that MLB would be exploring now, but it still raises the question of how different a 154 game schedule would be from the current 162 game schedule.

To start, reducing the schedule from 162 games to 154 games will not mean that the best teams won’t still end up near the top of the standings. By using Classical Test Theory, which states that the total, or observed, variance is equal to true variance plus error variance. In other words: we can find the number of games it takes for better teams to have better records.

First we take the winning percentages of each team over the past three seasons and calculate the standard deviation of this winning percentage, which is .069.

Then we can square this standard deviation to find the observed variance, .005, and subtract the random variance over a 162 game season of .002 from it to get the variance in true talent level among MLB teams of .003.

Finally, to determine the break even point when a team’s record is due more to its true talent level than random variation, we need to find how many games it takes for the random variance to be equal to the true talent variance. Using the true talent variance of .003 that we just found, it would take 82 games for the random variance to also be .003. Therefore, over the past three seasons it took 82 games for the truly better team to have the better record.

So, if it only takes 82 games for the better teams to begin to separate themselves from lesser teams, then reducing the season from 162 to 154 games shouldn’t allow luck to affect seasonal outcomes much more than it already does.

To find exactly how reliable an indicator a team’s record is of its true talent in an 162 or 154 game season we can find the Pearson correlation coefficient, or “r”, using the observed variation over the past three years and the random variance over 162 and 154 game seasons.

In a 162 game season 67.8% of a team’s record can be explained by its true talent level, while in a 154 game season that number is 65.9%. A difference of 1.9 percentage points is too small to have a sizeable effect on the results of the average MLB season.

There could be significant benefits for the players as well.

If the number of games is reduced by eight, but the number of days in a season stays the same that means eight additional built in off days for players. In a 2013 post on the DH and pinch hitting penalty, Mitchel Lichtman found that on average players lose four wOBA points after playing at least eight days in a row. He also found that on the day after an off day a player’s wOBA improves by 0.1 points. While player doesn’t directly benefit the next game after a day off, there is clearly a benefit from not playing so many days in a row. Giving all players more built in off days should lead to a better product on the field.

That’s not to say that there aren’t downsides to reducing the schedule by eight games. That’s eight fewer games for fans to watch and four fewer home games to attend at the park. Few fans would want to see less baseball. Teams also likely wouldn’t appreciate losing four home games’ worth of revenue. However, from a purely baseball standpoint there is little penalty to going from 162 to 154 games.

►  Brewers’ Ramirez says 2015 season could be his last

Aramis Ramirez is set to enter his 18th big league season and the Milwaukee Brewers third baseman said Friday it could very well be his last.

Speaking with reporters at Milwaukee’s spring training camp, Ramirez gave all indications that he won’t play beyond 2015.

“I’m going to play this year and probably be done after this year,“ he said Friday. “I don’t know if I want to play after this year. I think this is it. We’ll see what happens, but I don’t think I’ll play after this year.“

Ramirez will begin his fourth season in Milwaukee after also playing for the Cubs and Pirates in a career that began in 1998. He hit 15 homers, drove in 66 runs and batted .285 last year, earning All-Star honors for a third time.

The Dominican native will turn 37 years old in June. He broke into the majors with the Pirates at the age of 19.

“It’s more of a family thing,“ he added. “I’ve got three kids, I’ve been playing for a long time, been away for a long time. Sometimes it’s just time to do something else.“

Ramirez is a career .285 with 369 homers and 1,342 runs batted in.

►  Veteran OF Pierre officially retires

Outfielder Juan Pierre, a veteran of 14 big-league seasons, confirmed his retirement on Twitter on Tuesday.

The 37-year-old Pierre sat out 2014 after playing his final season with the Miami Marlins in 2013.

Pierre wraps up his career as a .295 hitter with 2,217 hits and a .343 on-base percentage. He led the National League in hits in 2004 and 2006.

In 1,994 career games with the Rockies, Cubs, Dodgers, White Sox, Phillies and two stints with the Marlins, Pierre stole 614 bases, good for 18th all-time. He led the majors in steals in 2003 and 2010, a year in which he stole a career-high 68 bags.

Pierre also led the majors in being caught stealing in four seasons.

In 2003, Pierre batted leadoff for the Marlins and won his only World Series. He earned over $57 million in his major league career.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Friday, February 27)

Final Score: Boston 3, New Jersey 2 (OT)

Ryan Spooner’s first career goal came with 2:14 left in overtime to give the Boston Bruins a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. Skating during a 4-on-2 rush, Torey Krug brought the puck in down the right wing and left a drop pass for David Pastrnak, who sent the puck over to the left wing where Spooner shot it home for the win. Pastrnak posted a goal and an assist while Daniel Paille also scored for the Bruins, who have won two of their last three since a six-game skid. Niklas Svedberg, getting the start as Tuukka Rask is battling an illness, made 29 stops in the win. Travis Zajac and Jordin Tootoo scored for the Devils, who have dropped their past two. Cory Schneider stopped 31 shots in the loss.

Final Score: NY Islanders 2, Calgary 1

Jaroslav Halak set an Islanders season record in style, turning aside 26-of-27 shots in New York’s 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames. Halak was denied a shutout when Josh Jooris scored with 20.9 seconds left to play, but still earned his 33rd victory of the campaign to set a new season-best for an Islanders goaltender. Jooris’ goal came just moments after New York’s Cal Clutterbuck put in an empty-net score that turned out to be the game-winner. Halak also stopped Michael Ferland on a penalty shot in the first period, while Ryan Strome delivered a power-play goal to help the Islanders regain sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division. Calgary, fighting for a playoff spot in the Western Conference and playing without captain Mark Giordano due to an upper-body injury, dropped its fourth game in its last five despite Karri Ramo stopping 37-of-38 chances in a strong effort between the pipes.

Final Score: Carolina 3, Washington 0

Anton Khudobin posted his first shutout of the season as the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Washington Capitals 3-0 on Friday. Khudobin made 28 saves, while Brett Bellemore, Jeff Skinner and Nathan Gerbe all scored for the Hurricanes, who have won three of their last four games. Braden Holtby stopped 35 shots, but received no offensive support as the Capitals lost their third straight game on the heels of a four-game winning streak.

Final Score: Tampa Bay 4, Chicago 0

The Tampa Bay Lightning received two goals from Steven Stamkos and 28 saves from Ben Bishop to rout the Chicago Blackhawks by a 4-0 count at Amalie Arena. Brian Boyle and Ryan Callahan also scored in support of Bishop’s second shutout of the season and 10th of his career, while the Blackhawks struggled to produce offensively in their second game since star forward Patrick Kane fractured his clavicle. Chicago was able to offset Kane’s absence with an outstanding performance from Corey Crawford in Thursday’s 3-0 triumph over Florida, but backup Scott Darling couldn’t match that effort in this one. He finished with 25 saves. The Blackhawks did make a big move during the game, however, acquiring veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen from Philadelphia in exchange for a pair of draft choices that included a 2015 second-rounder. Timonen, who turns 40 on March 18, is close to returning from a blood-clot problem that has sidelined him the entire season.

Final Score: Colorado 5, Dallas 4 (SO)

Ryan O’Reilly scored the lone goal of the shootout and Semyon Varlamov stopped all three shooters as the Colorado Avalanche rallied for a 5-4 win over the Dallas Stars on Friday. O’Reilly, Colorado’s first shooter, skated down the right side, cut toward the slot and lifted a backhander over Kari Lehtonen’s glove. Varlamov denied Jason Spezza, Jamie Benn and Vernon Fiddler to seal the win. Tyson Barrie and Nate Guenin each tallied a goal and two assists, Gabriel Landeskog supplied a goal and a helper and Jarome Iginla also lit the lamp for the Avalanche, who have won three of their last four games. Varlamov made 32 saves in his 17th straight start. Cody Eakin finished with two goals and an assist, Antoine Roussel and Spezza each scored and Lehtonen stopped 19 shots in the Stars’ fifth consecutive loss.

Final Score: Anaheim 4, Los Angeles 2

Corey Perry scored twice as the Anaheim Ducks rallied for a 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Friday. Ryan Kesler added a goal and an assist while Emerson Etem also lit the lamp for the Ducks, who have won four of their last five. John Gibson made 20 saves. Brayden McNabb and Trevor Lewis scored for the Kings, who have lost their past two after an eight-game winning streak. Martin Jones gave up three goals on 31 shots. Anaheim finally got on the board at 4:37 of the third when strong pressure behind the Los Angeles net resulted in the puck coming out front where Kesler snapped it in for his 16th of the season.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Nishikori, Ferrer advance to semis at Acapulco

Top-seeded Kei Nishikori made easy work of Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4, 6-4 to reach the semifinals at the $1.4 million Mexican Open.

Nishikori will face fourth-seeded Kevin Anderson, who snuck into the final four by overcoming Serbian Viktor Troicki 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 on the hardcourts at the Fairmont Acapulco Princess.

The 6-foot-8 South African Anderson lost to Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in last year’s final here.

The second-seeded David Ferrer had some trouble moving on to the semis, winning a three-set match with Bernard Tomic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1. Ferrer captured three straight Acapulco titles from 2010-12 and was the runner-up to Rafael Nadal in 2013.

Ryan Harrison will meet Ferrer in the next round after he fought past sixth- seeded Ivo Karlovic 4-6, 7-6 (7-0), 7-6, (7-4) in just under 2 1/2 hours.

This year’s champion will earn $343,000.

►  Djokovic, Federer to meet in marquee Dubai final

Top-seeded four-time champion Novak Djokovic and six-time titlist Roger Federer will compete in Saturday’s 1-versus-2 final at the $2 million Dubai Tennis Championships.

Friday’s semifinals saw the world No. 1 Djokovic, playing in his eighth straight Dubai semi, hold off fourth-seeded Tomas Berdych 6-0, 5-7, 6-4 in just over two hours and the second-seeded former top-ranked great Federer whip lucky loser and rising 18-year-old Croat Borna Coric 6-2, 6-1 in a mere 57 minutes.

“I can see why he has so far caused difficulties for some of the top guys and he still has a lot of room for improvement in his game,“ Federer said about Coric, who stunned Andy Murray here on Thursday. “He does a really good job for a big guy. It’s unbelievable how in the past 10 years we have seen so many big guys moving well from the baseline. I think he returns very well, especially off second serves, and that’s such a huge part of today’s game, I believe.“

Meanwhile, Djokovic is now 18-2 lifetime against Berdych, including a win in the 2013 Dubai final and a 2011 semifinal here.

“I was not the lucky one, but I can still find couple of things which are positive [and] are negative,“ said Berdych. “It was a close game, but that’s how it is. So I was trying to get my chances, but not at the end.“

Federer beat the 2013 and 2014 runner-up Berdych in last year’s Dubai final on the hardcourts at Aviation Tennis Centre.

Djokovic and Federer will meet for a 37th time, with the Swiss icon holding a 19-17 lifetime advantage. Federer has won two of their last three meetings. The Swiss legend topped the Serb in the semis here a year ago, while the Serb prevailed in the 2011 final. Federer also bested Djokovic in a quarterfinal in Dubai back in 2007.

The 27-year-old Djokovic is seeking career title No. 50 in his 72nd final, while the 33-year-old Federer seeks title No. 84 in his 126th final.

The reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champion Djokovic beat Federer in last year’s Wimbledon finale.

Djokovic and Federer will now have combined for the last seven and 11 of the last 13 championships in Dubai.

Saturday’s big winner will earn $505,000.

►  Qatar Total Open Women’s Tennis Update – February 27

Khalifa International Tennis Complex, Doha, Qatar

Total Prize Money: $731,000


Victoria Azarenka defeated Venus Williams (7), 2-6, 6-2, 6-4
Lucie Safarova defeated Carla Suarez Navarro (9), 6-3, 6-2


Lucie Safarova vs. Victoria Azarenka, not before 10 AM ET

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Blood-Horse magazine sold

A majority ownership interest in Blood- Horse magazine has been purchased by The Jockey Club Information Systems.

The Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association made the announcement Friday.

“The Jockey Club stewards believe that a publication with the history, influence, and brand recognition of Blood-Horse is a considerable asset for the Thoroughbred breeding and racing industry and that there are certain synergies that will make it an even stronger entity as a result of this transaction,“ said Ogden Mills Phipps, chairman of The Jockey Club,

The Jockey Club Information Systems is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Jockey Club,

It was also announced that John K. Keitt Jr. has been appointed as chief executive officer and publisher of Blood-Horse, effective immediately.

“Blood-Horse will continue to cover the issues, events, and personalities in our industry in a journalistically sound manner going forward,“ Phipps said. “The Jockey Club and its affiliated companies have many longstanding business and editorial relationships with other media organizations in this industry, and we will strive to maintain and enhance those relationships. We are pleased to welcome aboard John Keitt as Blood-Horse’s new business leader.“

The Gilmer Free Press

►  The Traveling Golfer at Shingle Creek

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Kvapil’s Sprint Cup stolen from Georgia hotel

Travis Kvapil’s race car for this weekend’s Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway was stolen in the early morning hours of Friday outside the team’s hotel in Morrow, Georgia.

Kvapil, running a limited schedule in Sprint Cup this season, was scheduled to drive the No. 44 Chevrolet for Team Xtreme Racing at Atlanta. The team does not have another car and therefore has withdrawn its entry in Sunday’s 500- mile race here.

According to Kvapil and Team Xtreme, the race car was inside a white trailer that was attached to a black Ford pickup truck. Both the trailer and truck have New Jersey license plates on them. Police are investigating the incident.

Team Xtreme’s hauler was already at this 1.54-mile racetrack on Thursday when Sprint Cup teams were here for an open test session. Kvapil’s car was not ready in time for testing and was brought separately in a trailer from the racing organization’s shop in North Carolina on Thursday night.

Kvapil has been posting updates as well as other comments on Twitter throughout the day. He first tweeted, “Wow. Anyone near Atlanta find my stolen Cup car let me know! Unreal.“

“I bet when whoever has it, opens the trailer and is going to be like ‘oh snap’,“ Kvapil tweeted shortly after.

Kvapil also posted on Twitter a photo of the truck and trailer, stating, “Here it is…...New Jersey plates.“

The location of the hotel where the truck and trailer had been parked is roughly 20 miles north of the racetrack.

Reed Sorenson drove the No. 44 car to a 32nd-place finish in last Sunday’s Daytona 500.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  European soccer heads demand FIFA pay them for moving 2022 World Cup in Qatar to November

FIFA is already unpopular among soccer fans, but now with its recommendation to move the 2022 World Cup in Qatar from June/July to November/December, the world soccer governing body is earning the ire of several high-profile teams, as well. England’s Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, Germany’s Bundesliga, France’s Ligue 1 and Italy’s Serie A, whose regular seasons run from August to May, have all complained of the move and now the association which represents them is demanding FIFA pay them for lost revenue over the time they’ll now miss in 2022, Yahoo reports.

“All match calendars across the world will have to accommodate such a tournament in 2022-23, which requires everyone’s willingness to compromise. However, the European clubs and leagues cannot be expected to bear the costs for such rescheduling,” European Club Association chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said in a statement Tuesday (via ESPN). “We expect the clubs to be compensated for the damage that a final decision would cause.”

FIFA, however, has already said no.

“There will be no compensation,” FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke told Reuters on Wednesday. He reasoned there was plenty of time for the leagues to figure out a solution to make sure their 2022-23 season go smoothly.

“They have seven years to reorganize football around the world for this World Cup,” he said. “It’s not perfect, we know that — but why are we talking about compensation? It’s happening once, we’re not destroying football.”

One aspect of the 2022 World Cup that might ease the alleged financial burden on Europe’s top leagues is a shorter tournament, which Valcke said FIFA is also considering.

“We are talking about a reduction of the competition in terms of the number of competition days. We are talking about 28 days and not anymore 32 days,” Valcke told Reuters on Wednesday after meeting with Qatar’s 2022 organizing committee. “It is a very special World Cup to organize because we would describe Qatar 2022 as a compact World Cup. Normally we are looking at 10 (stadiums) but it could be eight.”

FIFA proposed to move the 2022 World Cup in Qatar from the summer to the winter months to protect player safety. Summer temperatures in Qatar have been known to reach upwards of 120-degrees Fahrenheit, which one report says is enough to make the environment to hot for even spectators. Reiterating the seriousness of the heat, FIFA also decided to move the 2021 Confederations Cup from Qatar to another location. Valke confirmed (via AFP) on Thursday that the mini-World Cup of sorts that matches up the upcoming hosts, the current World Cup champions and the winners of FIFA’s six confederations, will instead be “in an Asian country.”

►  Juve visits Roma in top-two clash

The top two sides in Serie A will square off on Monday at the Stadio Olimpico as runaway leaders Juventus hit the road to face second-place Roma.

Juve enters the fixture with a nine-point cushion at the top of the league as Roma has stumbled in recent weeks, drawing six of their last seven matches in Serie A.

Rudi Garcia’s team was held to a 1-1 draw against bottom-half side Hellas Verona last time out, and the boss will be hoping his side can turn around its recent results by improving in front of goal.

Roma has managed to score more than one goal in a game just once in their last six outings, and things don’t figure to get easier against a Juve defense that has the top defensive record in the league.

While the club can close the gap on Juve with win and revive its title hopes, Roma may be more concerned with fending off third-place Napoli, which trails the capital club by only three points.

Juventus already appears to be on its way to another Scudetto, and a win on Monday would almost secure the Old Lady a fourth straight title.

The visitors will be full of confidence heading into Monday’s match having beaten Roma in the last two meetings between the teams, while Juve notched a 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League in midweek.

Napoli visits Torino on Sunday in an effort to continue its pursuit of Roma and the club will aim for a fourth successive win in all competitions after a 1-0 win over Trabzonspor in the Europa League on Thursday.

Lazio has won back-to-back matches in the league to sit in fourth place, five points back of Napoli, and the club will travel to Sassuolo on Sunday, while fifth-place Fiorentina brings a seven-game unbeaten streak into its match at Inter Milan, which has won three straight Serie A fixtures.

AC Milan invades Chievo in the lone match on Saturday, while Sunday’s other fixtures see Cagliari hosting Hellas Verona, Sampdoria traveling to Atalanta, Cesena tangling with Udinese, Genoa facing Parma and Empoli squaring off with Palermo.

►  Liverpool hosts City on short rest  

Liverpool’s quest for fourth place in the Premier League could hit a snag on Sunday when the club welcomes Manchester City to Anfield.

The Reds have not lost in league play since a 3-0 defeat at Manchester United on December 14, but a loss at Besiktas on penalties in Thursday’s Europa League clash has left them slightly worse for the wear, especially after 30 minutes of extra time.

The Citizens, who enter the weekend just five points back of first-place Chelsea, also endured a midweek European fixture, but theirs was a home clash against Barcelona on Tuesday.

No travel and two extra days to recover should bode well for City, and Manuel Pellegrini’s men will be especially motivated as a win would send them to within two points of Chelsea - the Blues do not have a league match this weekend due to the Capital One Cup final on Sunday.

Liverpool, entering the round in sixth place with 45 points, sits atop the form table with 13 points from its last five games.

The Reds will also be eager to avenge a 3-1 loss to City at the Etihad on August 28, which was just the second match of the campaign.

Manchester United and Southampton can keep the pressure on Liverpool by taking maximum points from their respective matches on Saturday.

United occupies fourth place in the table with 47 points and has the luxury of taking on Sunderland at Old Trafford, a venue at which the Red Devils have taken 31 of 39 points on offer this term.

Southampton, meanwhile, has claimed just one win from its last four outings. The Saints suffered a 2-0 home loss to Liverpool last time out and will be looking to rebound at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

Arsenal sits third in the league with 48 points and will close out the weekend on Sunday. The Gunners suffered a humiliating 3-1 home loss to AS Monaco in Champions League action Wednesday, and they will be aiming to exorcise the demons at the Emirates against Everton.

West Ham United will hope to maintain its outside chance of a top-four finish by taking three points from its clash with Crystal Palace at Upton Park on Saturday.

Also on Saturday, Burnley will host Swansea City at Turf Moor, Hull City will travel to the Britannia to take on Stoke City and Newcastle United will attempt to rebound from its awful defeat against Manchester City when it hosts lowly Aston Villa at St. James’ Park.

►  Van Persie out with ankle problem

Manchester United forward Robin van Persie is expected to miss at least the next two weeks because of an ankle injury suffered last weekend against Swansea City.

The Dutchman left Swansea’s Liberty Stadium on crutches following his team’s 2-1 defeat to the Swans, and United manager Louis van Gaal confirmed on Friday that he will be without Van Persie for at least the next few weeks.

Van Persie will miss out on league games against Sunderland and Newcastle as well as an FA Cup meeting against his former side Arsenal on Monday, March 9.

United gave no timetable for Van Persie’s return, meaning he could also miss key games with Tottenham and Liverpool as well.

Van Persie has managed to score 10 goals for United this term, and his absence likely means that Wayne Rooney will be asked to lead the line, with Radamel Falcao and James Wilson also representing options.

Van Gaal got some good news, however, as midfielder Michael Carrick is fully fit after struggling with a muscle problem.

►  PSG’s Lucas sidelined by adductor injury

PSG will be without winger Lucas Moura for at least the next month because of an adductor injury.

Lucas sustained the problem in PSG’s 2-2 draw with Caen two weeks ago, and he has not feature since.

The Brazilian has been a key part in PSG’s team this season, notching seven goals in 24 Ligue 1 outings. But the injury will keep him out of the side during the month of March, which includes Sunday’s clash with Monaco as well as a Coupe de France meeting with the same opponent.

PSG enters the weekend two points back of leaders Lyon, while Lucas will also miss out on the return leg of PSG’s Champions League knockout round clash against Chelsea, which sits at 1-1 following the first leg in Paris.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Dolphins release Hartline

The Miami Dolphins have released wide receiver Brian Hartline in a salary cap maneuver.

Hartline had spent each of his six NFL seasons with Miami and was set to earn $5.9 million in 2015. According to, the move will instead save the Dolphins $3.15 million against the cap.

The 28-year-old Ohio State product had consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in 2012 and 2013, but saw fewer passes last season. He started all 16 games, but had just 39 receptions for 474 yards with two touchdowns.

In 92 games, 69 of which have been starts, Hartline has 298 catches for 4,243 yards with 12 touchdowns.

►  Bears sign TE Miller to 1-year extension

The Chicago Bears signed tight end Zach Miller to a one-year contract extension on Friday.

Miller missed the entire 2014 season after suffering a foot injury in August, remaining on injured reserve.

The former Jacksonville draft pick in 2009 recorded 45 receptions for 470 yards and four touchdowns with the Jaguars from 2009-11.

►  Ravens cut Canty

The Baltimore Ravens have cut ties with defensive end Chris Canty, terminating the veteran’s contract on Friday.

Canty had one year remaining on a three-year contract he signed in 2013. The move, according to reports, will save the Ravens $2.6 million on the salary cap. He could still return on a lesser deal.

“We certainly would not close the door to Chris coming back to us,“ said Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome on the team’s website.

Canty spent two seasons in Baltimore after playing four years with the New York Giants and four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. He was a Super Bowl champion with the Giants in 2011 and had considered retirement after this season concluded.

“I am going to continue to prepare to play again,“ said Canty. “I also want to thank Ravens fans. They embraced me immediately, and I embraced them back.“

The 10-year veteran had 33 tackles and a half-sack last season. He has 21 1/2 sacks with 335 tackles in his career.

►  Vikings release OL Johnson

The Minnesota Vikings have released offensive lineman Charlie Johnson.

The Oklahoma State product started 61 games for the Vikings over the past four seasons.

Johnson joined the Vikings after five seasons with Indianapolis. He started at left tackle for the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV and has started 115 of the 134 games he has played in his nine-year career.

►  Bengals release Geathers, Little

The Cincinnati Bengals terminated the contracts of defensive end Robert Geathers and wide receiver Greg Little on Friday, and both players have become free agents.

After injuries limited him to two games in 2013, Geathers came back strongly last season, posting 21 tackles, one sack and one interception while appearing in all 16 games for Cincinnati.

A Georgia product selected by the Bengals in 2004, the South Carolina native departs southern Ohio having compiled 325 tackles, 34 sacks, three interceptions (one for a TD) and one fumble returned for a score over 152 contests.

Geathers holds the Bengals record for most fumble return yards in a season (113) and shares the team record for longest single fumble return (75 yards).

“Robert has been with us for all my seasons except the first one,“ said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. “He has been a team leader as well as a very productive player. He’s an incredible teammate and a true professional, a big part of the winning seasons we’ve achieved. If Robert elects to pursue an opportunity with another NFL team, the timing of this move will allow him the best possible chance at that.“

In his first and only season with the Bengals, Little posted just six catches for 69 yards over six games.

A North Carolina product, Little spent his first three pro seasons with Cleveland, picking up 155 receptions, 1,821 yards and eight touchdowns in 48 appearances.

►  Redskins cut loose Cofield, Bowen

The Washington Redskins parted ways with a pair of high-priced defensive linemen Friday, releasing nose tackle Barry Cofield and defensive end Stephen Bowen.

Each signed with Washington prior to the 2011 season, with Cofield inking a six-year, $36 million deal and Bowen receiving a five-year, $27.5 million pact.

The moves will save the Redskins $9.6 million towards next season’s salary cap, with both veterans slated to have cap hits of around $8 million.

Cofield started all 16 games in each of his first three seasons in Washington, but played in just eight in 2014 while missing considerable time with a serious ankle injury. The nine-year pro recorded only seven tackles and one sack this past season.

Bowen had a career-best six sacks in his Redskins’ debut in 2011, but has registered just one in three seasons since. The former Dallas Cowboy was also beset by injuries in 2014, appearing in eight games and posting 11 tackles after starting the campaign on the physically unable to perform list while recovering from knee surgery.

The Redskins also announced that the team has re-signed offensive tackle Tom Compton, an exclusive rights free agent.

A sixth-round pick of Washington in 2012, Compton started nine games at right tackle last season.

The Gilmer Free Press

ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York
CBSSN - CBS - College Sports Network
CSN - Comcast SportsNet
TCN - The Comcast Network
NBCSN - NBC Sports Network
NESN - New England Sports Network
MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
ROOT - Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Northwest, Rocky Mountain)
CST - Cox Sports Television
FCS - FOX College Sports
FS - FOX Sports Regional
RSN - Regional Sports Networks
CPTV - Connecticut Public Broadcasting
TVG - Horse Racing Channel
FS1 - FOX Sports 1
TWC - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
* - If Necessary

National Basketball Association
Detroit at Washington, 7:00 PM - FS-Detroit, CSN-DC, DSS
Atlanta at Miami, 7:30 PM - SportSouth, SunSports, DSS
Toronto at New York, 7:30 PM - SNET, MSG, DSS
Memphis at Minnesota, 8:00 PM - SportSouth, FS-North+, DSS
Brooklyn at Dallas, 8:30 PM - YES, FS-Southwest, DSS
San Antonio at Phoenix, 9:00 PM - KENS, FS-Arizona, NBA TV, DSS
Milwaukee at Utah, 9:00 PM - FS-Wisconsin, ROOT-Northwest, DSS
National Hockey League
Buffalo at Florida, 3:00 PM - MSG-Buffalo, FS-Florida, DSS
Detroit at Nashville, 3:00 PM - FS-Detroit, Tennessee, DSS
New Jersey at Columbus, 5:00 PM - MSG+2, FS-Ohio, DSS
Carolina at NY Islanders, 5:00 PM - FS-Carolina, MSG+, DSS
Arizona at Boston, 5:30 PM - FS-Arizona, NESN, DSS
Toronto at Montreal, 7:00 PM - CBC, TVA, DSS
NY Rangers at Philadelphia, 8:00 PM - NBC
Minnesota at Colorado, 10:00 PM - FS-North, Altitude, DSS
St. Louis at Edmonton, 10:00 PM - FS-Midwest, CBC, DSS
Ottawa at San Jose, 10:00 PM - SNET, TVA, CSN-California, DSS
College Basketball
Kennesaw St at Lipscomb, 11:00 AM -
Missouri at Georgia, 12:00 PM - ESPN U
Georgia Tech at Clemson, 12:00 PM - ACC Network,
NC State at Boston College, 12:00 PM - ROOT, NESN, MSG+,
Georgetown at St Johns, 12:00 PM - CBS
Michigan at Maryland, 12:00 PM - ESPN
Louisville at Florida State, 12:00 PM - ESPN 2
Army at Lafayette, 12:00 PM - Lafayette Sports Network
East Carolina at UCF, 12:00 PM - ESPNews
Lehigh at Colgate, 12:00 PM - CBSSN
Rhode Island at La Salle, 12:30 PM - NBCSN
Western Carolina at Citadel, 1:00 PM - SoCon Digital Network
Presbyterian at Winthrop, 1:00 PM -
Nebraska Omaha at IUPUI, 1:00 PM -, HTSN
Illinois State at Evansville, 2:00 PM - FS-Midwest,
Cincinnati at Tulane, 2:00 PM - ESPNews
Oakland at Green Bay, 2:00 PM -, Horizon Network
Drexel at William & Mary, 2:00 PM - CSN-MidAtlantic, New England, TCN-Phil
Dayton at VA Commonwealth, 2:00 PM - ESPN 2
Northern Iowa at Wichita State, 2:00 PM - ESPN
Ole Miss at LSU, 2:00 PM - SportSouth, FS-Detroit+, Wisconsin
Utah State at Air Force, 2:00 PM - ROOT-Rocky Mountain, Northwest, Southwest
Butler at DePaul, 2:00 PM - FS2
North Carolina at Miami-Florida, 2:00 PM - CBS
Vermont at Albany, 2:00 PM -
Villanova at Xavier, 2:00 PM - FOX
Wright State at Ill-Chicago, 2:00 PM -
TCU at Oklahoma, 2:00 PM - ESPN U
Fla Gulf Coast at Jacksonville, 2:00 PM -
Southern Utah at North Dakota, 3:00 PM - FS-North
UNC-Asheville at Liberty, 3:00 PM - MASN,
Middle Tennessee at UAB, 3:00 PM - American Sports Network
Missouri State at Loyola-Chicago, 4:00 PM -
Virginia Tech at Virginia, 4:00 PM - ACC Network,
Alabama at Vanderbilt, 4:00 PM - SportSouth, FS-Detroit+
East Tenn St at Mercer, 4:00 PM -
Hofstra at James Madison, 4:00 PM - CSN-MidAtlantic, New England, TCN-Phi, SNY
Arkansas at Kentucky, 4:00 PM - CBS
West Virginia at Baylor, 4:00 PM - ESPN U
Nicholls at McNeese State, 4:00 PM -
Iowa State at Kansas State, 4:00 PM - ESPN 2
MD-Eastern Shore at Delaware State, 4:00 PM
San Diego at Portland, 4:00 PM - Time Warner Cable, ROOT-Northwest, Rocky Mtn
Oklahoma State at Texas Tech, 4:00 PM - ESPNews
Gardner-Webb at Radford, 4:00 PM - RUTV, Big South Network
Creighton at Seton Hall, 4:00 PM - CBSSN
Texas at Kansas, 5:00 PM - ESPN
South Dakota St at South Dakota, 5:00 PM -, MidcoSN
Montana at Eastern Wash, 5:05 PM - SWX
Arkansas State at Texas State, 5:30 PM - KBVO
Old Dominion at North Texas, 5:30 PM - American Sports Network, Altitude
Princeton at Brown, 6:00 PM - Ivy League Digital Network
Tennessee St at Belmont, 6:00 PM - CBSSN
Iowa at Penn State, 6:00 PM - ESPN U
Tennessee at Florida, 6:00 PM - ESPN 2
Miss State at South Carolina, 6:00 PM - SEC Network
Loyola Marymount at Pepperdine, 6:00 PM - Time Warner, ROOT-Northwest, RM
Buffalo at Kent State, 7:00 PM -, Time Warner
Milwaukee at Youngstown St, 7:00 PM -
George Mason at Saint Louis, 7:00 PM - MASN, FS-Midwest
Cal State Fullerton at Long Beach State, 7:00 PM -
Harvard at Columbia, 7:00 PM - Ivy League Digital Network
Northwestern at Illinois, 7:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Syracuse at Duke, 7:00 PM - ESPN
Penn at Yale, 7:00 PM -
George Washington at Davidson, 7:00 PM - MASN2, Time Warner Sports
Richmond at Saint Josephs, 7:00 PM - Atlantic 10 Net, CSN-Philadelphia, SNY
Western Ill at IUPU-Ft Wayne, 7:00 PM - PBS 39
Stetson at North Florida, 7:00 PM -
USC Upstate at Northern Ky, 7:00 PM -
Wyoming at UNLV, 8:00 PM - CBSSN
Northeastern at Coll of Charleston, 8:00 PM - American Sports Network
Central Mich at Northern Ill, 8:00 PM -
Boise State at San Diego St, 8:00 PM - ESPN 2
FIU at Western Ky, 8:00 PM - FCS, WKU PBS, WBNA
St Marys-CA at Santa Clara, 8:00 PM - CSN-Bay, ROOT-Northwest, Rocky Mountain
Sam Houston St at TX A&M-CC, 8:00 PM - ROOT-Southwest
Tulsa at Memphis, 8:00 PM - ESPN U
Denver at Oral Roberts, 8:00 PM -
Ark-Little Rock at Texas-Arlington, 8:15 PM -
Auburn at Texas A&M, 8:30 PM - SEC Network
Arizona at Utah, 9:00 PM - ESPN
New Mexico at Fresno State, 10:00 PM - ESPN U
Idaho State at Weber State, 10:00 PM - KJZZ TV
Pacific at San Francisco, 10:00 PM - CSN-Bay
BYU at Gonzaga, 10:00 PM - ESPN 2
CS-Bakersfield at Seattle, 10:30 PM - American Sports Network, MASN
Washington at USC, 10:30 PM - Pac-12 Network
UC Riverside at CS-Northridge, 10:30 PM - FS-Prime Ticket
UC Irvine at UC Santa Barbara, 11:59 PM - ESPN 2
Women’s College Basketball
Samford at Mercer, 1:00 PM -
North Florida at Stetson, 1:00 PM -
Nicholls at McNeese State, 1:15 PM -
Northern Kentucky at USC Upstate, 2:00 PM -
Akron at Buffalo, 2:00 PM -
East Carolina at Temple, 2:00 PM -
Memphis at Connecticut, 2:00 PM - CBSSN
Lipscomb at Kennesaw State, 2:00 PM -
Western Illinois at South Dakota, 2:30 PM -
Detroit at Valparaiso, 2:30 PM -
Cleveland State at Milwaukee, 3:00 PM -
Cincinnati at SMU, 3:00 PM - American Sports Network
Baylor at Iowa State, 4:00 PM - ROOT-Pittsburgh, FS-South, Midwest
South Florida at UCF, 4:00 PM -
UCLA at Washington, 4:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Oakland at Illinois-Chicago, 4:00 PM -
Green Bay at Youngstown State, 4:30 PM -
Brown at Princeton, 6:00 PM -
California at Oregon State, 6:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
USC at Washington State, 6:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Arkansas-Little Rock at Texas-Arlington, 6:00 PM -
Jacksonville at Florida Gulf Coast, 7:00 PM -
Kansas at Oklahoma, 8:00 PM - FS-South, Florida, Prime Ticket, San Diego
Oklahoma State at Texas Tech, 8:00 PM - FS-Southwest, Texas Tech TV
Northern Colorado at Northern Arizona, 10:00 PM - FS-Arizona+
College Hockey
Wisconsin at Michigan, 4:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Boston College at Notre Dame, 6:00 PM - NBCSN
Penn State at Ohio State, 7:00 PM - American Sports Network
Nebraska-Omaha at Minnesota Duluth, 7:00 PM - FS-North, FCS
Mercyhurst at RIT, 7:00 PM - Time Warner Cable
Boston University at Northeastern, 8:00 PM - NESN+
St. Cloud State at North Dakota, 8:00 PM - FCS
International Soccer
West Ham vs. Crystal Palace, 7:45 AM - NBCSN
Granada CF vs. FC Barcelona, 9:55 AM - beIN Sports
Premier League, 9:55 AM - NBCSN
AC ChievoVerona vs. AC Milan, 2:40 PM - beIN Sports
LPGA - Honda LPGA Thailand, 1:00 AM - Golf Channel
EUROPEAN - Joburg Open, 5:30 AM - Golf Channel
PGA - Honda Classic, 1:00 PM - Golf Channel
PGA - Honda Classic, 3:00 PM - NBC
Auto Racing
XFINITY - qualifying, 9:00 AM - FS1
CAMPING WORLD - qualifying, 10:30 AM - FS1
SPRINT CUP - practice, 12:00 PM - FS1
XFINITY - Hisense 250, 2:00 PM - FS1
CAMPING WORLD - Hyundai Construction Equipment 200, 5:30 PM - FS1
Track and Field
U.S. Indoor Championships, 4:00 PM - NBCSN

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