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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


The Gilmer Free Press

The Gilmer Free Press

Spports News   150201

The Gilmer Free Press

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Expect Sherman on Sunday

When it comes to Richard Sherman and playing in the Super Bowl there is no right or wrong answer unless you are talking about the math itself.

“You’ve gotta time your conception a little better, I would say,“ Jets wide receiver Eric Decker quipped Friday on WFAN Radio.

Sherman’s girlfriend, Ashley Moss, is pregnant and due to give Seattle’s All- Pro cornerback a son in the coming days but if the baby decides to make a break for it early on Sunday, Sherman will be forced to choose between his teammates and his duty as a father.

“I think he’s going to be a disciplined young man and stay in there until after the game,“ Sherman joked on Thursday. “He’s going to do his father his first favor and stay in there for another week or two.“

Sherman’s current quandary signals a sharp generational shift.

Years ago there would have been no discussion—you play if it’s a Week 4 game never mind the Super Bowl but things have changed in today’s society and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made sure to give his star a wide berth.

“Whenever our players have a personal family issue that comes up, it’s always about the family first,“ Carroll said on Friday morning.

Moss told one television station that Sherman will be suiting up on Sunday no matter what.

“He’s very locked in; football comes first,“ Moss told Seattle’s KING 5.

Sherman has hedged far more, though.

“I’ve thought about the possibility of his coming during the game or coming before the game,“ Sherman said earlier this week. “We have things in place in case that happens. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

“I would not like to miss the birth of my first kid,“ he added. “Hopefully, and God willing, we won’t have to cross that bridge.“

Others don’t think it should be a choice.

“I couldn’t miss (the birth of a child),“ Decker said. “That’s the Super Bowl of my life.“

Decker’s wife, country singer Jessie James Decker, gave birth to their first child last March.

Pro golfer Hunter Mahan famously passed on a chance for a huge pay day when he left the 2013 Canadian Open while leading after his wife went into labor before the final round.

Phil Mickelson was also prepared to leave the 1999 U.S. Open early despite being in the hunt for what would have been his first major tourney win.

Golfers, though, are independent contractors and their decisions aren’t going to impact 52 other men who have fought and clawed through 18 games to play on football’s biggest stage.

“This opportunity is rare in itself and unique in itself,“ Carroll said of playing in the Super Bowl.

And that’s why the easiest prop bet on Super Bowl Sunday is Sherman suiting up for the Seahawks despite a hyperextended elbow and the potential stork visit.

“I guess we’ll have a Super Bowl baby,“ Moss said when asked what will happen if she goes into labor, “and if you see Richard heading for the locker room right after it hits zero in the fourth quarter, don’t be surprised.“

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Area High Schools Boys Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, January 31)

#5 Gilmer County 80     Wirt County 40

#2 Bridgeport 64     #5 Robert C. Byrd 57

#6 Lincoln 74     Frankfort 65

North Marion 65     Webster County 58 (OT)

Tygarts Valley 63     Greenbrier West 48

Weirton Madonna 63     Clay-Battelle 54

St. Marys 59     Meadow Bridge 42

►  Area High Schools Girls Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, January 31)

#7 Charleston Catholic 43     #8 Notre Dame 30

#5 Logan 79     #10 Buckhannon-Upshur 46

Parkersburg South 84     Parkersburg 79

St. Marys 62     Clay-Battelle 52

►  Big Atlantic Classic

Friday’s Results

Game 13 — Wyoming East 72, Oak Hill 42 (girls co-consolation)

Game 14 — Parkersburg South 83, Princeton 76 (boys AAA)

Game 15 — Martinsburg 57, Shady Spring 49 (boys AAA)

Game 16 — Greenbrier East 80, Hampshire 64 (boys AAA)

Game 17 — Woodrow Wilson 56, Washington 36 (boys AAA)

Saturday’s Results

Game 18 — Huntington 95, Oak Hill 19 (girls co-consolation)

Game 19 — Princeton 69, Shady Spring 61, 2 OT (boys AAA co-consolation)

Game 20 — Washington 46, Hampshire 40 (boys AAA co-consolation)

Game 21 — Westside 63, Scott 50 (boys AA championship)

Game 22 — Morgantown 56, Greenbrier East 42 (girls co-championship)

Game 23 — Parkersburg South 53, Martinsburg 52 (boys AAA co-championship)

Game 24 — St. Albans 65, George Washington 44 (girls co-championship)

Game 25 — Greenbrier East 65, Woodrow Wilson 64 (boys AAA co-championship)

►  Shootout at the Big House - At Charleston Civic Center

Monday, February 09

10:00 AM — Man vs. Paden City (boys)

11:30 AM — Liberty Raleigh vs. St. Marys (boys)

1:00 PM — Webster County vs. Petersburg (boys)

2:30 PM — Parkersburg vs. Oak Hill (boys)

4:00 PM — George Washington vs. Hurricane (girls)

5:30 PM — South Charleston vs. Logan (girls)

7:00 PM — Magnolia vs. Valley Fayette (boys)

8:30 PM — Woodrow Wilson vs. Wesley Christian, Ky. (boys)

Tuesday, February 10

10:00 AM — Lincoln County vs. Chapmanville (girls)

11:30 AM — Lincoln County vs. Clay County (boys)

1:00 PM — Chapmanville vs. Williamstown (boys)

2:30 PM — Ravenswood vs. Point Pleasant (boys)

4:00 PM — Nitro vs. Charleston Catholic (boys)

5:30 PM — Parkersburg South vs. Logan (girls)

7:00 PM — Parkersburg South vs. Logan (boys)

8:30 PM — George Washington vs. Perry Central, KY (boys)

10:00 PM — Huntington Prep vs. team TBA (boys)

Wednesday, February 11

10:00 AM — Greater Beckley Christian vs. St. Joseph (girls)

11:30 PM — Greater Beckley Christian vs. St. Joseph (boys)

1:00 PM — Ripley vs. Westside (boys)

2:30 PM — Frankfort vs. East Fairmont (boys)

4:00 PM — Scott vs. Buffalo (boys)

5:30 PM — Wyoming East vs. Robert C. Byrd (boys)

7:00 PM — South Charleston vs. Elkins (boys)

8:30 PM — Parkersburg vs. Spring Valley (girls)

The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, January 31)

Glenville State 82, Shepherd 76 | Final Stats

Glenville State got past Shepherd, 82-72, on Saturday at the Butcher Center.

With the game tied at 70-70 with 2:30 to go, the Pioneers (16-4, 12-2) scored the next six points, capped by a Sedric Nady three-pointer that helped GSC pick up the victory. Both teams shot over 50% from the field, and Glenville State hit 12 threes while Shepherd made 11.

GSC’s Dontre Morales scored 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting and pulled down seven rebounds. Nady finished with 20 and Brett Morris scored 12.

Ryan McTavish scored 26 points to lead Shepherd (11-9, 6-8). Austin Cunningham had 18 and Morgan McDonald scored 10 points and had six rebounds.

Wheeling Jesuit 93, West Virginia State 89 | Final Stats

Wheeling Jesuit withstood a late charge from West Virginia State to pick up a 93-89 win over West Virginia State.

The Cardinals (11-7, 7-6) were led by 26 points from Justin Fritts. Eric Seifert scored 18 and Kyle Ritz tallied a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds as WJU won its fifth-straight.

Markee Mazyck scored a game-high 27 points, 26 of which came in the second half, before fouling out. Damion Harris had 18 points and Dominic Phillips scored 12 as West Virginia State dropped to 3-18 overall and 3-10 in conference play.

Fairmont State 86, West Virginia Wesleyan 76 (OT) | Final Stats

Fairmont State needed overtime to pick up its league-best sixth-straight win, 86-76, over West Virginia Wesleyan at Joe Retton Arena.

After trailing by 14 early in the second half, WVWC battled all the way back to take a 66-63 lead with 1:07 to go after a Garrett Grantham layup. FSU forced overtime as Nick Harney laid it in with seven seconds left.

In the overtime session, Fairmont State hit 10-of-12 free throws and forced WVWC to go just 2-for-10 from the field to secure the victory.

FSU (14-6, 11-3) was led by 25 points and eight rebounds from Harney and 24 points from Jamel Morris. Shammgod Wells had 17 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Tanner McGrew scored 26 points and pulled down 15 rebounds for WVWC (8-12, 6-8). Grantham finished with 19 points and seven assists and Anthony Richards contributed 11.

#10 West Liberty 83, Charleston 65 | Final Stats

C.J. Hester scored 26 points and pulled down 14 rebounds to lead No. 10 West Liberty to an 83-65 win over Charleston on Saturday at Eddie King Gymnasium.

Seger Bonifant scored 17 and Devin Hoehn added 12 as West Liberty improved to 17-2 overall and 12-2 in league play.

Octavius Green came off the bench and scored 19 points to lead UC (14-6, 9-5). Jevonte Hughes contributed 14 points and Chris Evans tallied 11 points and five assists.

Concord 85, Notre Dame 72 | Final Stats

Concord broke a halftime tie by opening the second half on a 27-10 run to claim an 85-72 win over Notre Dame on Saturday at the Carter Center.

Aaron Miller scored 23 points, including 18 in the second half, to lead Concord (13-6, 9-5). Terry Hopewell scored 17 points and pulled down 16 rebounds, and Rob Reed added 17 points. Mike Boyd dished out eight assists to go with eight points.

Notre Dame (10-10, 6-8) was paced by 24 points from Tyree Gaiter. Lawrence DeArmond had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Will Vorhees scored 16.

Urbana 76, UVa-Wise 64 | Final Stats

Urbana snapped a nine-game losing streak with a 76-64 win over UVa-Wise on Saturday at the Prior Center.

Urbana (5-15, 2-12) shot 48% from the field, committed just 10 turnovers and out-rebounded UVa-Wise, 41-34. Rodney Clark Jr. led a balanced attack for the Blue Knights with 14 points, and Carlas Jackson scored 12. Doug Hilson and Myles Busby each contributed 10 points.

Philip Owens led UVa-Wise (1-18, 0-14) with 21 points. Matt Day registered a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds.

►  MEC Women’s Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, January 31)

West Virginia State 77, Wheeling Jesuit 74 | Final Stats

A 10-0 run midway through the second half sparked West Virginia State to a 77-74 win over Wheeling Jesuit.

The Yellow Jackets (6-12, 4-9) were led by 23 points and 11 rebounds from Shealyn Shafer. Alexus Hobbs added 16 points and seven rebounds and Aurreshae Hines added 10 points off the bench. WVSU shot 50% from the field and had just 13 turnovers in the game. 

Wheeling Jesuit (11-6, 8-5) had 22 points and five assists from Jaila Bryant in the losing effort. Jaana Motton had 10 points to go with nine rebounds, and Breanna Butler tallied 15.

West Liberty 90, Charleston 83 | Final Stats

West Liberty held off Charleston, 90-83, on Saturday afternoon at Eddie King Gymnasium

The Hilltoppers (13-7, 10-4) had a 10-point advantage at halftime and increased it to 16 points with 15:52 left, but Charleston (15-5, 10-4) fought its way back into the game, eventually drawing even at 72-72 with 5:27 left. WLU regained control of the game by scoring 13 of the game’s next 17 points to take the win.

West Liberty’s Liz Flowers poured in 27 points, and Kailee Howe scored 24 and dished out 11 assists. Hillary Southworth added 17 points for the ‘Toppers.

Kiara Johnson registered a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. LeAnne Ross finished with 18 points, and Nichole Perry scored 14 of her 16 points in the second half to help spark the comeback.

Glenville State 77, Shepherd 66 | Final Stats

An 11-0 run midway through the second half broke a close game open as Glenville State picked up its fourth-straight win, 77-66, on the road at Shepherd.

Kayla Tibbs led all scorers with 19 points for Glenville State (10-8, 8-6). Keyanna Tate had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Brittany Jackson contributed 11 points.

Shepherd (13-7, 10-4) was paced by 15 points from Cara Mason. Briana Vaden had 13 points and seven rebounds, and Gabby Flinchum came off the bench to score 12.

Fairmont State 62, West Virginia Wesleyan 53 | Final Stats

Holding a narrow 52-51 with under three minutes left, Hailey Garrett scored eight of Fairmont State’s 10 points in a 10-0 run as the Falcons came away with a 62-53 win over West Virginia Wesleyan.

Garrett finished with 24 points and eight rebounds to lead FSU (16-4, 10-4). Hallie Gunnoe and Emily Lohr each added 14 in the victory.

Mari Stewart scored 21 and Adrian Cunningham finished with 10 points for the Bobcats (2-15, 2-12).

UVa-Wise 75, Urbana 58 | Final Stats

Blair Harding scored 29 points and pulled down 13 rebounds to lead UVa-Wise to a 75-58 win over Urbana on Saturday at the Prior Center.

The Cavs (7-13, 6-8) forced 23 turnovers in the game and out-rebounded the Blue Knights 44-39. Taylor Sandidge scored 15 points and Kayla Carey added 12 for UVa-Wise in the win.

Urbana (1-19, 1-13) was led by 15 points apiece from Kennedy Boggs and Tori Purk. Kate Francisco had 13 points to go with five rebounds and four assists.

Notre Dame 76, Concord 62 | Final Stats

Notre Dame shot 50% from the field and Martha Nagbe went for 26 points to lead the Falcons to a 76-62 win over Concord.

In addition to 26 points, Nagbe had seven rebounds and four assists for NDC (13-7, 9-5). Kelsey Miller had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds and Lexi Hassing chipped in 10 points.

Kylie Molisee had 20 points and Jacqueline Kestner had 11 points and 10 rebounds for Concord (5-13, 5-9).

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Credit the Mountaineers with another 26 turnovers

Coach Tubby Smith hoped Texas Tech might better handle No. 17 West Virginia’s press the second time around.

Instead, the Red Raiders committed 26 turnovers, including 10 during a 6 1/2-minute span of the second half when the Mountaineers seized control on their way to a 77-58 romp Saturday.

“Awful. Just awful,” Smith said. “It was like we never saw it before.”

In fairness to Texas Tech’s flustered ballhandlers, West Virginia (18-3, 6-2 Big 12) has made numerous opponents look awful. The national leaders in steals grabbed 10 more and enjoyed a 33-9 edge in points off turnovers thanks to their tenacious press.

“It’s uncomfortable to play against,” said Bob Huggins. “If you were walking down the street and somebody just got in your face about 3 inches away for a few blocks, would that bother you? No one wants to play against that.”

Devin Williams scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half when West Virginia turned a six-point lead into a blowout. He also grabbed eight rebounds, sharing the team-high with Jonathan Holton.

Daxter Miles added 12 points and point guard Juwan Staten contributed 11 points and five assists as the Mountaineers surpassed last season’s win total before the end of January.

West Virginia opened the second half on a 16-2 run lined with transition layups and dunks fed by a flurry of turnovers. During one sequence Texas Tech coughed up the ball on five of seven possessions.

“We got inside their heads,” Miles said. “I heard them telling other players to come get the ball.”

Added Staten: “At halftime we talked about if you have a team down, you’ve got to put them away.”

Pressing company: Riddled by 22 turnovers earlier this month during a loss to West Virginia in Lubbock, Texas Tech (11-11, 1-8) aimed to be stronger and smarter with the basketball in the rematch. But the mistakes simply repeated themselves, with six Red Raiders committing at least three turnovers.

“We were overwhelmed by West Virginia’s pressure,” Smith said. “They stay after you. It reminds me of a team Billy Donovan had at Florida and some of the teams Rick Pitino coached at Louisville. They’re always attacking.”

From hot hand to forgotten man: Texas Tech guard Robert Turner scored 18 first-half points, keeping the deficit to 37-31, but was shut out during the final 20 minutes, smothered by the defense of WVU’s Gary Browne.

“We put Gary on him and said don’t let him catch it,” Huggins said.

After nearly matching his season-high of 19 points during the first half, Turner was 0-of-2 shooting after that in an additional 10 minutes.

Forward Aaron Ross scored 13 and Isaiah Manderson added 10 for Texas Tech, which was held to 16 fewer shot attempts overall and trailed by 21 points in the second half.

Browne finished with 10 for West Virginia, which led wire-to-wire and shot an atypical 51% in the second half.

Scuffling: After West Virginia ran off 12 unanswered to build a 30-14 lead, Turner was sent sprawling on a breakaway layup by Mountaineers forward Brandon Watkins. That led to a scuffle after which Texas Tech center Norense Odiase was ejected.

Along with Odiase’s technical, Ross was assessed a flagrant technical for swinging an elbow on a rebound, one of Texas Tech’s 15 first-half fouls.

The 31 first-half points must have felt like an avalanche after the Red Raiders managed only 36 in their previous loss at Oklahoma, setting a record for scoring futility in a Big 12 game.

Next up: West Virginia encounters the meat of its Big 12 schedule during the final regular-season 10 games, facing opponents with an average RPI of 26. That stretch starts Tuesday at Oklahoma.

►  Huggins: Team leaders rebuilt culture of commitment

West Virginia has won three straight games and six out of eight in the Big 12, which according to RPI calculations, is the deepest league in college basketball.

An NCAA tourney berth seems all but assured, after a two-year absence, and if grander dreams are your thing, the Mountaineers might—I say might—make a charge at Kansas for the conference championship.

Bob Huggins has fixed things, it appears, and he credits players being more committed and more immersed in the sport. After whipping Texas Tech 77-58 on Saturday, leadership commendations went to point guard Juwan Staten and forward Devin Williams, an inside-out duo who rebuilt the program from inside out.

“Leadership is not doing as I say, it’s doing as I do,” Huggins said. “Those are two guys who spend an enormous amount of time in the gym. So then you can get on somebody else about not improving and not working hard.

“That’s the culture we had here … and then we lost it.”

Blame Deniz Kilicli’s electric guitar. The Turkish forward enjoyed the Final Four as a freshman, a 13-19 sendoff as a senior and passion for music that spanned both. He was a multi-dimensional guy, but to hear Huggins tell it, basketball and rock-n-roll don’t mix.

“We had some guys who would rather go play in a band than they would play basketball,” the coach said. “When they’re your leaders and they can’t wait to sprint out of here to pick up a guitar … it creates the wrong culture.”

To be clear, this was Huggins appraising Kilicli, not bashing him, because the coach developed a somewhat paternal affinity for the big kid with the hook shot. “I love him to death and he’s one of my favorite people of all-time,” said Huggins, who just wished that Kilicli and others on the past two teams loved basketball more.

“I’ve had guys where that was their self-being, and when they didn’t play well they were miserable. Just miserable,” Huggins said. “But they did something about it.”

Things aren’t so miserable now. Starting 18-3 with a top-20 RPI makes all signs point up. The roster was recalibrated with players who are more single-minded. None of them have taken the stage at 123 Pleasant; their stage of preference arrives in March.

Huggins wants hobbies on hold. And as this West Virginia outfit transforms devotion into development, winning is the music they appreciate most.

<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, January 31)

Final Score: (1) Kentucky 70, Alabama 55

Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns each scored 12 points in the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats’ 70-55 victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Wildcats (21-0, 8-0 SEC), who are off their best start since beginning 23-0 in 1965-66, became the lone unbeaten team left in the country after No. 2 Virginia lost to fourth-ranked Duke on Saturday. Devin Booker and Aaron Harrison added 11 and 10 points, respectively, for Kentucky, which shot 58.5% from the field.

Final Score: (4) Duke 69, (2) Virginia 63

No. 4 Duke missed 10 of its first 11 looks from behind the arc and trailed by nine points late in the second half. Then the shots started falling. Quinn Cook made three 3-pointers in the final 4:38, Tyus Jones put the game away with a deep 3 with 10 seconds left and the Blue Devils went into Charlottesville and rallied late to stun No. 2 Virginia, 69-63, handing the Cavaliers their first loss of the season. Jones finished with 17 points while Cook and Justise Winslow netted 15 apiece for the Blue Devils (18-3, 5-3 ACC), who were primed to fall three games back in the ACC standings before closing the game on an 11-0 run. Malcolm Brogdon paced Virginia (19-1, 7-1) with 17 points, and Justin Anderson added 11.

Final Score: (3) Gonzaga 82, Memphis 64

Przemek Karnowski scored 17 points with six rebounds as No. 3 Gonzaga extended a pair of winning streaks with an 82-64 win over Memphis on Saturday. The Bulldogs (22-1) have won their last 15 games since their lone blemish on the season, a 66-63 overtime loss to Arizona on December 6, and are undefeated in their last 38 games at home, the longest current streak of its kind in the nation. Kyle Wiltjer had 15 points and seven boards, Domantas Sabonis netted 13 points with 11 rebounds and Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, in the win. Nick King paced the Tigers (13-8) with 13 points and four steals and Austin Nichols provided 12 points in defeat.

Final Score: (5) Wisconsin 74, Iowa 63

Frank Kaminsky scored 24 points and Nigel Hayes added 14, leading fifth-ranked Wisconsin to a 74-63 victory over Iowa on Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Josh Gasser and Sam Dekker each chipped in 11 for the Badgers (19-2, 7-1 Big Ten), who have won four straight since a stunning loss at Rutgers on January 11. Kaminsky, who missed the game against the Scarlet Knights because of a concussion, also grabbed a game-high nine rebounds on Saturday while making half of his field goal attempts and 8-of-9 from the free throw line. Wisconsin has won 12 of its last 13, including a season sweep of Iowa. The Badgers rolled to an 82-50 rout of the Hawkeyes just 11 days ago in Madison and have won five straight in the series. Aaron White scored 15 to lead Iowa (13-8, 4-4), which has lost three in a row. White had played just seven minutes in last week’s loss to Purdue because of a stinger.

Final Score: (7) Villanova 68, DePaul 55

Ryan Arcidiacono scored all of his 18 points in the second half to lead No. 7 Villanova to a 68-55 win over DePaul on Saturday. JayVaughn Pinkston went 10-for-10 from the free throw line on his way to 14 points, Darrun Hilliard added 11 points and Daniel Ochefu posted seven points with 12 rebounds in the win. The Wildcats (19-2, 6-2 Big East) have won six of their last seven contests. Billy Garrett Jr. netted 14 points and was the only double-figure scoring effort for the Blue Demons (11-12, 5-5), who have lost three straight.

Final Score: Pittsburgh 76, (8) Notre Dame 72

Robinson made a tough go-ahead runner in the lane with 12 seconds remaining as Pittsburgh took down No. 8 Notre Dame 76-72 in a wild finish on Saturday afternoon. The Fighting Irish nearly pulled off an improbable comeback when Jerian Grant shook off a slow start and went on a personal 9-0 run inside the final three minutes. Grant’s two free throws with 31.2 seconds left gave Notre Dame a 72-71 lead, but Robinson drove right, gained some space with a spin move and scored over Pat Connaughton for what proved to be the deciding bucket. Grant passed up a shot at the other end with Steve Vasturia open in the corner, and Vasturia’s shot was off the mark. Jamel Artis grabbed the rebound, made two free throws, and Pitt stole the ensuing inbounds pass to end its three-game losing streak. Artis finished with 20 points and eight rebounds, and Robinson added 15 points with 10 assists for the Panthers (14-8, 4-5 ACC), who shot 68% from the field in the second half and 59% overall. Demetrius Jackson led Notre Dame with 15 points, Grant chipped in with 14, and Vasturia and Zach Auguste each netted 12 in a losing cause. Notre Dame (20-3, 8-2) had won five in a row—four in comeback fashion—and was fresh off a signature victory over No. 4 Duke.

Final Score: (9) Kansas 68, Kansas State 57

Ellis had 16 points and 12 rebounds in the ninth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks’ 68-57 win over the Kansas State Wildcats on Saturday. Wayne Selden Jr. added 14 points and four blocks for the Jayhawks (18-3, 7-1 Big 12), who have won four in a row and sit atop the Big 12 standings. Brannen Greene tallied 11 points off the bench. Thomas Gipson and Marcus Foster each scored 19 points for the Wildcats (12-10, 5-4), who have lost three of four.

Final Score: (10) Louisville 78, (13) North Carolina 68 (OT)

Montrezl Harrell had 22 points and 15 rebounds and No. 10 Louisville rallied from 18 down in the second half to beat No. 13 North Carolina 78-68 on Saturday. Louisville outscored the North Carolina 53-25 over the last 22 1/2 minutes of the game to snap a six-game Tar Heels winning streak that began with a one-point victory over the Cardinals in Chapel Hill on January 10. Terry Rozier added 22 points and 10 rebounds, scoring eight in overtime to help Louisville (18-3, 6-2 ACC) pick up its third consecutive win since a loss to Duke two weeks ago. Chris Jones scored seven of his 17 points in overtime for the Cardinals. Marcus Paige had 15 points to lead North Carolina (17-5, 7-2) and J.P. Tokoto added 11 with 11 rebounds. Brice Johnson had two points and 10 rebounds before fouling out. The Tar Heels shot 43.3% from the field, down from a 50.8% mark during their winning streak. They are 0-3 all-time against the Cardinals in Louisville, also losing games in 1929 and 1999.

Final Score: (18) Northern Iowa 70, (12) Wichita State 54

Northern Iowa and Wichita State played the first Missouri Valley game between ranked opponents in 33 years. And it was the 18th-ranked Panthers who picked up a solid home win to snap No. 12 Wichita State’s 27-game regular-season winning streak in conference. Seth Tuttle scored a career-high 29 points with seven rebounds as Northern Iowa defeated Wichita State, 70-54, on Saturday. The Panthers (20-2, 9-1 MVC) made 60% of their field goals and converted 5-of-7 shots from beyond the arc in their ninth straight win. Fred VanVleet led the Shockers (19-3, 9-1) with 18 points and Ron Baker chipped in with 12 points on just 2-of-10 shooting from 3-point range.

Final Score: Richmond 64, (14) VCU 55

Kendall Anthony scored 22 points, and the Richmond Spiders upset cross-town rival No. 14 VCU, 64-55, on Saturday. The Spiders (12-9, 5-3 Atlantic 10) handled the Rams’ Havoc defense in a 42-point second half. The Rams shot just 40.7% overall and made just 3-of-20 attempts from 3-point range. Terry Allen added 15 points and seven rebounds for Richmond. VCU (17-4, 7-1) saw its 12-game winning streak come to an end. Treveon Graham paced the Rams with 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting and seven boards. Briante Weber chipped in 11 before leaving late in the game with a knee injury.

Final Score: (15) Iowa State 83, TCU 66

Georges Niang poured in 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, leading 15th-ranked Iowa State to an 83-66 victory over TCU on Saturday at Hilton Coliseum. Monte Morris contributed 16 points and six assists for the Cyclones (16-4, 6-2 Big 12), who were coming off a three- point win on Monday against Texas and extended their home winning streak to 19 consecutive games. Iowa State owns the 10th-longest home winning streak in the country. Bryce Dejean-Jones also scored 16 points and Dustin Hogue added 12 in the victory. Each of the Cyclones’ first seven conference games had been decided by single digits, but Iowa State used a couple of second- half runs to make it a laugher after leading by only two at halftime. Trey Zeigler scored 14 points for TCU (14-7, 1-7), which has lost four in a row. The Horned Frogs were 13-0 before conference play began in January.

Final Score: (17) West Virginia 77, Texas Tech 58

Devin Williams contributed 18 points with eight rebounds in 17th-ranked West Virginia’s 77-58 win over Texas Tech on Saturday. Daxter Miles Jr. chipped in with 12 points and Juwan Staten scored 11 with five assists for the Mountaineers (18-3, 6-2 Big 12), who have won three straight and four of their last five. Robert Turner supplied 18 points for the Red Raiders (11-11, 1-8), while Aaron Ross and Isaiah Manderson went for 13 and 10, respectively, off the bench in the loss.

Final Score: (20) Baylor 83, (19) Texas 60

Kenny Chery totaled 23 points thanks to a 5- of-7 performance from long range, and Royce O’Neale added 20 with eight rebounds as No. 20 Baylor topped 19th-ranked Texas, 83-60, at the Ferrell Center. Taurean Price and Johnathan Motley each contributed 13 points for the Bears (16-5, 4-4 Big 12), while Rico Gathers clocked in with eight points and 15 boards as the Bears won for the third time in their last four. Jonathan Holmes had 17 points for the Longhorns (14-7, 3-5), who received 16 points and 10 assists from Isaiah Taylor in a losing effort.

Final Score: (21) Georgetown 67, Creighton 40

D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Jabril Trawick nearly outscored Creighton by themselves, combining for 39 points as No. 21 Georgetown cruised to a 67-40 victory over the cold-shooting Bluejays. Smith- Rivera totaled 24 points, Trawick added 15 and the Hoyas (15-6, 7-3 Big East) emphatically rebounded from Tuesday’s home loss to Xavier with a stout defensive showing. Creighton (10-13, 1-9) followed up its first Big East win with its worst shooting performance of the season. The Bluejays shot an embarrassing 21% (11-for-53) from the floor and did not have a single player score in double figures. Avery Dingman led the way with eight points.

Final Score: (22) Indiana 72, Rutgers 64

James Blackmon Jr. scored 20 points with five rebounds to help No. 22 Indiana in a 72-64 win over Rutgers on Saturday. Yogi Ferrell and Troy Williams each netted 14 points for the Hoosiers (16-6, 6-3 Big Ten), with Williams adding 11 rebounds in the win. Indiana snapped its two-game losing streak. Myles Mack did all he could for the Scarlet Knights (10-13, 2-8), scoring 24 points and handing out eight assists.

Final Score: (24) Oklahoma 64, Oklahoma State 56

Jordan Woodard led four Oklahoma players in double digits with 17 points as the No. 24 Sooners rebounded from a big early deficit and downed rival Oklahoma State, 64-56, at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Buddy Hield picked up 15 points, Ryan Spangler 13 with nine rebounds and six assists while TaShawn Thomas poured in 12 for the Sooners (14-7, 5-4 Big 12). Phil Forte recorded 15 points for the Cowboys (14-7, 4-5). Le’Bryan Nash had 12 and Anthony Hickey added 10 points for the hosts.

Final Score: (25) Butler 72, Marquette 68 (OT)

Andrew Chrabascz had 30 points and seven rebounds to lead No. 25 Butler to a 72-68 victory over Marquette on Saturday. Kellen Dunham posted 17 points, Alex Barlow scored 15 with five rebounds and five assists, and Kameron Woods had 18 rebounds for the Bulldogs (16-6, 6-3 Big East), who have won three straight. Matt Carlino and Duane Wilson each scored 18 points, Luke Fischer added 12 points and six rebounds and Juan Anderson had 10 and eight for the Golden Eagles (10-11, 2-7), who have lost their past five.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Saturday, January 31)

Final Score: Sacramento 99, Indiana 94

Rudy Gay scored 31 points, DeMarcus Cousins had another double-double and the Sacramento Kings snapped an eight- game losing skid with a 99-94 win over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday. Darren Collison scored 23 points with five rebounds and five assists, and Cousins overcame his worst shooting night of the season to post 20 points and 19 rebounds. The trio of Gay, Collison and Cousins combined for nearly 75% of Sacramento’s points. Cousins shot 6-for-24 from the floor and turned the ball over four times before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. C.J. Miles and David West had 17 points apiece to lead Indiana, while George Hill gave 14, six boards and four assists in limited minutes off the bench.

Final Score: Dallas 108, Orlando 93

In the absence of Rajon Rondo, Monta Ellis scored 25 points and handed out 13 assists to help the Dallas Mavericks top the Orlando Magic, 108-93, on Saturday. Just 1 1/2 minutes into the game, Rondo went down with a head injury and would not return. Leading by as much as 27, the Mavericks’ edge was cut to as little as five in the fourth quarter before they pulled away again. Tyson Chandler added 20 points and nine rebounds for Dallas in its second straight win, and Dirk Nowitzki netted 11 points. Orlando lost its eighth straight game despite a 17-point, 16-rebound effort from Nikola Vucevic. Evan Fournier and Willie Green each scored 15 points.

Final Score: Toronto 120, Washington 116 (OT)

Kyle Lowry scored seven of his 23 points in overtime and the Toronto Raptors escaped with a 120-116 win over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night. The Wizards rallied from 21 points down with 14 minutes left in the game, tying the score on Paul Pierce’s 3-pointer with 25 seconds remaining in regulation. Washington’s only lead in the game came 56 seconds into overtime on a free throw by Pierce. But Lowry scored four points during a quick 6-0 run that put the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors ahead for good on the way to a sixth consecutive win—their third winning streak of that length this season. It came a day after Toronto led Brooklyn by 17 points in the third quarter but needed overtime to knock off the Nets 127-122 Friday night. Lou Williams added 19 points in this one for Toronto, Amir Johnson scored 17, Patrick Patterson had 16 and DeMar DeRozan netted 15 with 10 rebounds. Greivis Vasquez added 12 points to finish off six Raptors players in double figures. John Wall flirted with a triple-double, scoring 28 points with 12 assists and eight rebounds for the Wizards, who have dropped two in a row and four of the last six. Bradley Beal added 26 points in the loss, Pierce scored 19 and Nene had 16 points. Kris Humphries added 10 points and 14 rebounds off the bench.

Final Score: Atlanta 91, Philadelphia 85

Al Horford had 23 points and 11 rebounds and the Atlanta Hawks held on to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 91-85 on Saturday night for their 19th consecutive win. The NBA-leading Hawks wrapped up a perfect 17-0 January, but it came harder than expected. They had to battle to stay ahead down the stretch despite leading by 21 points in the second quarter and 15 in the third. Michael Carter-Williams, Luc Mbah a Moute and Jerami Grant scored 13 points apiece for the Sixers, who were attempting to win three consecutive games for the first time this season.

Final Score: Detroit 114, Houston 101

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and D.J. Augustin each scored 28 points as the Detroit Pistons beat the Houston Rockets 114-101 on Saturday night. Augustin added 12 assists for one of three double- doubles by the Pistons. Greg Monroe had 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Andre Drummond finished with 11 points and 16 boards. Kyle Singler scored 14 points and Anthony Tolliver supplied 12 for Detroit, which snapped a four-game losing streak and ended a seven-game skid against Houston. James Harden left the game late in the second quarter with a bruised left knee, but returned for the Rockets at the start of the second half and went on to score 26 points with nine assists and seven rebounds. Donatas Motiejunas had 21 points and Trevor Ariza added 15 for the Rockets, who had won four games in a row. Josh Smith missed eight shots while scoring just seven points in his first game against the Pistons since they waived him in December.

Final Score: Memphis 85, Oklahoma City 74

Durant was not effective in his return after a two-game absence, and the Memphis Grizzlies’ tough defense shut down the Oklahoma City Thunder, 85-74, on Saturday. Durant and Russell Westbrook each shot 5-of-16 for Oklahoma City, losers in four of its last five. The Grizzlies were led by their frontcourt duo of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Randolph paced the game with 21 points and 18 rebounds, and Gasol added 15 points, 12 boards and five assists. In his own return from a two-game absence, Mike Conley scored 10 points for Memphis, which has won six in a row.

Final Score: Cleveland 106, Minnesota 90

In his first game in Minnesota since being traded, Cavaliers forward Kevin Love got the boos he expected when he was introduced before the game. Love, who was booed every time he touched the ball, had 14 points and 17 rebounds in Cleveland’s 106-90 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday. After playing his first six NBA seasons for the Timberwolves, Love was dealt to Cleveland as part of a three-team deal in the offseason. Minnesota acquired Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, the last two No. 1 overall picks in the draft. Wiggins himself a career night in a losing cause, scoring 33 points on 14- of-25 shooting. The 19-year-old matched the franchise record for most points by a teenager. All storylines aside, it was LeBron James who stole the show in the fourth quarter. James scored 16 of his 36 points in the final frame for the Cavaliers, who have won 10 in a row. Thaddeus Young ended with 19 points for the Timberwolves, who fell to 8-39 on the season. Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin had 14 points apiece, with Pekovic also pulling down 12 rebounds.

Final Score: Milwaukee 95, Portland 88

Jared Dudley scored 18 points with six rebounds to power the Milwaukee Bucks in a 95-88 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday. O.J. Mayo finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, John Henson supplied 14 points, eight boards and four blocks while Brandon Knight and Jerryd Bayless each netted 11 in the Bucks’ third straight win. Wesley Matthews and Damian Lillard each scored 19 points apiece for Portland, which has lost three in a row.

Final Score: Charlotte 104, Denver 86

Cody Zeller had 21 points and the Charlotte Hornets rolled to a 104-86 win over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist added 17 points and 13 rebounds and Al Jefferson and Jason Maxiell each scored 14 for the Hornets, who missed all 11 of their 3- point attempts but led by as many as 36. Danilo Gallinari had 15 points to lead the Nuggets, who have lost nine of their last 10.

Final Score: LA Clippers 105, San Antonio 85

Blake Griffin posted 31 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, and the Los Angeles Clippers got back on track with a 105-85 win over the San Antonio Spurs. Chris Paul had 20 points and six assists and DeAndre Jordan led a dominant effort on the glass with 19 rebounds. The Clippers, who improved to 2-1 on their season-long eight game road trip, outrebounded the Spurs 56-36. They were coming off a 108-103 loss to the Pelicans on Friday. San Antonio, which took the first two games in the season series, stumbled out of the gate and never recovered as its three-game win streak was snapped.

Final Score: Golden State 106, Phoenix 87

Steph Curry tallied 25 points and seven assists as the Golden State Warriors snapped a two-game slide with a convincing 106-87 win over the Phoenix Suns. Klay Thompson netted 22 points and Leandro Barbosa added 14 in his second straight strong bench effort for Golden State, which endured its third two-game losing streak of the season but has still not dropped three straight games. Draymond Green added 11 rebounds and four assists while Harrison Barnes and Andre Igoudala gave 13 and 12 points, respectively. Markieff Morris posted his second straight double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds for Phoenix, which hadn’t been away from home since an overtime loss to Memphis on January 11. The Suns have dropped three of five overall and lost three straight road games.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Saturday, January 31)

Final Score: Montreal 1, Washington 0 (OT)

Max Pacioretty scored the game’s only goal with 1:52 remaining in overtime to lift the Montreal Canadiens past the Washington Capitals 1-0 on Saturday afternoon. Pacioretty’s goal, coupled with Carey Price’s second consecutive shutout, ended Washington’s seven- game winning streak in Montreal and sent the Canadiens to a fifth straight victory. Price followed up his whitewash of the Rangers on Thursday with 36 saves. He improved to 10-1-1 since December 20, thanks in part to Pacioretty chipping in Tomas Plekanec’s centering feed in OT. Plekanec was skating down the right boards when he sent a backhand on net that a lunging Pacioretty got enough of to send over Braden Holtby’s left shoulder. Holtby, who was coming off his own shutout of the Penguins, made 29 saves in an otherwise stellar performance.

Final Score: Detroit 4, NY Islanders 1

Petr Mrazek stopped 22 shots and the Detroit Red Wings grabbed a 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday. Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Jonathan Ericsson each lit the lamp for the Red Wings, who rebounded from a loss at Tampa Bay on Thursday to win for a seventh time in their past eight games. Lubomir Visnovsky had the only goal of the game for the Islanders, who have dropped their past two contests. Chad Johnson allowed all four goals on just 19 shots in the loss.

Final Score: Ottawa 7, Arizona 2

Robin Lehner made 35 saves, and the Ottawa Senators scored four goals in a 5 1/2 minute span in their 7-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday afternoon. Milan Michalek and Mark Stone each scored in the closing minutes of the second period, and Bobby Ryan and Jean- Gabriel Pageau added goals very early in the third period. Ottawa also got goals from Mike Hoffman, Erik Karlsson and Mika Zibanejad to win for the second time in three games. Marc Methot tallied a career-high three assists. Mike Smith allowed five Senators goals on 20 shots against him before getting the hook in the third period. Zbynek Michalek and Sam Gagner scored Arizona’s goals as the Coyotes fell to 1-3-2 on their ongoing eight- game road trip.

Final Score: Boston 3, Los Angeles 1

Brad Marchand scored two goals to lift the Boston Bruins to a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. Chris Kelly tallied the game-winning goal late in the third and Tuukka Rask made 30 saves for the Bruins, who were coming off a 5-2 win over the Islanders on Thursday. Jordan Nolan lit the lamp and Jonathan Quick stopped 30-of-32 shots for the Kings, who have dropped five of their last six games.

Final Score: New Jersey 3, Florida 1

Keith Kinkaid made 26 saves to backstop the New Jersey Devils to a 3-1 win over visiting the Florida Panthers on Saturday night. Kinkaid was bidding for his first NHL shutout, but allowed a goal to Brandon Pirri with 1:29 remaining. Steve Bernier had scored an empty-net goal a minute earlier to seal the Devils’ third win in four games. Jaromir Jagr and Mike Cammalleri had first-period goals for New Jersey, which registered just one shot in the second and two in the third. Roberto Luongo stopped 11 shots as the Panthers suffered their sixth loss in seven games.

Final Score: NY Rangers 4, Carolina 1

Henrik Lundqvist stopped 31 shots to lead the New York Rangers in a 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Chris Kreider, Dan Boyle, Dominic Moore and Rick Nash all lit the lamp for the Rangers, who snapped a two-game slide. Brad Malone had the only goal of the game for the Hurricanes, who have dropped their last two games. Cam Ward allowed all four goals on 37 shots in the loss.

Final Score: Philadelphia 1, Toronto 0

Michael Del Zotto recorded the game’s lone goal and Steve Mason stopped 30 shots as Philadelphia claimed a 1-0 decision over Toronto on Saturday. Mason made his 100th career appearance for the club a memorable one, recording his second shutout of the season and 25th career whitewash for the Flyers, who have won a season-high four straight games. James Reimer made 17 saves for the Maple Leafs, whose losing skid reached nine consecutive outings.

Final Score: Dallas 5, Winnipeg 2

Klingberg had two goals and two assists in the Dallas Stars’ 5-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. Shawn Horcoff, Patrick Eaves and Jason Spezza also lit the lamp for the Stars, who have won two in a row since a two-game skid. Kari Lehtonen made 38 saves. Dallas went 4-for-8 on the power play, while Winnipeg went 0-for-2. Andrew Ladd and Toby Enstrom scored for the Jets, who have lost three straight for the first time since a season-high four-game slide from October 11-19. Michael Hutchinson gave up all five goals on 32 shots.

Final Score: Tampa Bay 3, Columbus 1

Ben Bishop turned aside 34 shots to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Cedric Paquette, Brett Connolly and Valtteri Filppula each lit the lamp for the Lightning, who have won five of their last six games. Ryan Johansen had the only marker for the Blue Jackets, who have lost three of their last four. Curtis McElhinney allowed all three goals on 34 shots in defeat.

Final Score: Calgary 4, Edmonton 2

Lance Bouma scored twice in a four-goal third period which lifted Calgary over Edmonton, 4-2, at the Saddledome. Paul Byron and Sean Monahan also tallied while Mikael Backlund and David Jones chipped in two assists each for the Flames, who had lost two of three coming in and have now taken six of eight overall. Jonas Hiller stopped 17-of-19 shots for the victory. Jordan Eberle and Benoit Pouliot scored for the Oilers, who have dropped five of their last eight. Ben Scrivens made 29 saves in the setback.

Final Score: San Jose 2, Chicago 0

Antti Niemi stopped 31 shots as the San Jose Sharks blanked the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 on Saturday night. Joe Thornton and Melker Karlsson each had a goal and one assist for the Sharks, who have won three straight and improved to 5-1-1 in their last seven games. Antti Raanta made 18 saves for Chicago, which dropped two of three games in California. The Blackhawks were coming off Friday’s 4-1 win over Anaheim after beginning the stretch with Wednesday’s 4-3 loss to Los Angeles.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Serena wins another Aussie crown

Serena Williams is again the Australian Open champion.

The top-seeded American earned her sixth Aussie Open title and 19th career Grand Slam championship with a 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) triumph over Maria Sharapova on Saturday at Rod Laver Arena.

Williams won in Melbourne for the first time since 2010, finishing the match with an ace in the second-set tiebreaker on her third championship point. She now owns the second-most women’s Grand Slam titles in the Open Era, surpassing legends Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. Only Steffi Graf has more with 22.

“Standing here with 19 majors is something I never thought would happen,“ said Williams during the trophy ceremony.

Sharapova was trying for a second Australian Open title. She fell to 2-17 lifetime against Williams and has lost the last 16 meetings.

“I haven’t beaten her in a really long time, but I love playing her because you want to play the best,“ said Sharapova. “And she’s the best.“

The 33-year-old Williams notched her 65th career title and has captured the last two Grand Slam events, taking the U.S. Open crown last September.

Williams had a break point opportunity in the opening game of the match when Sharapova fired a backhand wide. A double fault quickly gave Williams the early advantage.

The players were locked at 30-30 in the sixth game when rain forced the closing of the roof.

Williams, who was bothered by a cold and a cough, hardly seemed affected by the wait, following an ace with a strong forehand winner to complete the hold for a 4-2 lead. She actually threw up during the delay.

“I guess there’s a first time for anything,“ said Williams about vomiting. “I think in a way that just helped me—I felt better after that. My chest was really stuck at that point.“

A double fault gave Williams three break points in the next game, but she only needed one as Sharapova fired a backhand long. Sharapova broke back, but Williams responded to the poor service game with a break at love to take the first set.

Williams continued her strong play into the second set with a hold at love, then had two more break points in the next game. Sharapova, though, regrouped and managed to save both before holding.

Each player had a break chance midway through the second set, but Williams failed to convert her opportunity with a wide backhand in the sixth game and Sharapova sent a forehand wide in the seventh game.

Another Sharapova forehand error gave Williams her first championship point in the 10th game, but the Russian came up with a big serve that Williams barely returned. Sharapova followed with a blistering forehand that drew applause from the American.

“The match definitely got tough in the second set,“ said Williams. “Maria started playing a lot better. She started being a little more aggressive. I think I got a little more passive. Was just trying to get the ball back in play. But I also started serving better in the second set because I knew if I wasn’t having my groundstrokes where I wanted them to be, I knew I could serve it out.“

After Williams held with an ace, Sharapova held at love to force the tiebreak.

Sharapova won the first point of the tiebreak with a forehand return winner, but Williams won the next four to take control. At 6-4, Sharapova came up with a forehand that Williams could not return to save a second championship point.

Williams then blasted what appeared to be an ace to win the title, but it was ruled a let. She dropped her racket in disbelief, then followed with the same serve. This one did not tip the tape and she dropped her racket again, but in exultation.

“I thought after the let, ‘Man, I am not meant to win this tournament.‘ I had a couple of match points. She played great on those match points,“ said Williams, who excitedly jumped around the court after winning.

Sharapova fell to 5-5 all-time in Grand Slam finals, including 1-3 against Williams. The only victory came in the 2004 Wimbledon title match. Williams also beat Sharapova for the 2007 Australian Open crown and for the 2013 French Open title.

“It’s always tough getting to a final stage of an event where it’s down to two players and you end up the one that’s going home with the smaller trophy, there’s no doubt about it,“ Sharapova lamented. “No matter how you played, well or not, whatever the score line is, it’s always tough. But it will be all right.“

The 27-year-old Sharapova’s lone Australian Open championship came in 2008 against Ana Ivanovic. She also lost the 2012 final against Victoria Azarenka.

►  Bolelli and Fognini capture Australian Open men’s doubles

Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini won the men’s doubles title on Saturday at the Australian Open.

The Italian duo came away with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over the French tandem of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in the final. They became the first Italian pairing to win a Grand Slam doubles crown since Nicola Pietrangeli and Orlando Sirola captured the French Open title in 1959.

It’s the third overall doubles title for Bolelli and Fognini, who teamed for trophies at Umag in 2011 and Buenos Aires in 2013.

Herbert and Mahut were trying to give France its first men’s doubles title in Melbourne since Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro claimed the 2004 crown.

►  Australian Open Men’s Doubles Tennis Update – January 31

Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia

Total Prize Money: $2,600,000


S.Bolelli/F.Fognini defeated P.Herbert/N.Mahut, 6-4, 6-4

►  Australian Open Women’s Tennis Update – January 31

Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia

Total Prize Money: $14,000,000


Serena Williams (1) defeated Maria Sharapova (2), 6-3, 7-6 (7-5)

Serena Williams (1) defeated Madison Keys, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2
Maria Sharapova (2) defeated Ekaterina Makarova (10), 6-3, 6-2

Serena Williams (1) defeated Dominika Cibulkova (11), 6-2, 6-2
Maria Sharapova (2) defeated Eugenie Bouchard (7), 6-3, 6-2
Ekaterina Makarova (10) defeated Simona Halep (3), 6-4, 6-0
Madison Keys defeated Venus Williams (18), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4

Serena Williams (1) defeated Garbine Muguruza (24), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2
Maria Sharapova (2) defeated Peng Shuai (21), 6-3, 6-0
Simona Halep (3) defeated Yanina Wickmayer, 6-4, 6-2
Venus Williams (18) defeated Agnieszka Radwanska (6), 6-3, 2-6, 6-1
Eugenie Bouchard (7) defeated Irina-Camelia Begu, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2
Ekaterina Makarova (10) defeated Julia Goerges, 6-3, 6-2
Dominika Cibulkova (11) defeated Victoria Azarenka, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3
Madison Keys defeated Madison Brengle, 6-2, 6-4

Serena Williams (1) defeated Elina Svitolina (26), 4-6, 6-2, 6-0
Maria Sharapova (2) defeated Zarina Diyas (31), 6-1, 6-1
Simona Halep (3) defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 6-4, 7-5
Madison Keys defeated Petra Kvitova (4), 6-4, 7-5
Agnieszka Radwanska (6) defeated Varvara Lepchenko (30), 6-0, 7-5
Eugenie Bouchard (7) defeated Caroline Garcia, 7-5, 6-0
Ekaterina Makarova (10) defeated Karolina Pliskova (22), 6-4, 6-4
Dominika Cibulkova (11) defeated Alize Cornet (19), 7-5, 6-2
Yanina Wickmayer defeated Sara Errani (14), 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
Venus Williams (18) defeated Camila Giorgi, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-1
Peng Shuai (21) defeated Yaroslava Shvedova, 7-6 (9-7), 6-3
Garbine Muguruza (24) defeated Timea Bacsinszky, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0
Victoria Azarenka defeated Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (25), 6-4, 6-4
Julia Goerges defeated Lucie Hradecka, 7-6 (8-6), 7-5
Madison Brengle defeated Coco Vandeweghe, 6-3, 6-2
Irina-Camelia Begu defeated Carina Witthoeft, 6-4, 6-4

Serena Williams (1) defeated Vera Zvonareva, 7-5, 6-0
Maria Sharapova (2) defeated Alexandra Panova, 6-1, 4-6, 7-5
Simona Halep (3) defeated Jarmila Gajdosova, 6-2, 6-2
Petra Kvitova (4) defeated Mona Barthel, 6-2, 6-4
Agnieszka Radwanska (6) defeated Johanna Larsson, 6-0, 6-1
Eugenie Bouchard (7) defeated Kiki Bertens, 6-0, 6-3
Victoria Azarenka defeated Caroline Wozniacki (8), 6-4, 6-2
Ekaterina Makarova (10) defeated Roberta Vinci, 6-2, 6-4
Dominika Cibulkova (11) defeated Tsvetana Pironkova, 6-2, 6-0
Sara Errani (14) defeated Silvia Soler-Espinosa, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3
Venus Williams (18) defeated Lauren Davis, 6-2, 6-3
Alize Cornet (19) defeated Denisa Allertova, 6-4, 6-7 (2-7), 6-2
Coco Vandeweghe defeated Samantha Stosur (20), 6-4, 6-4
Peng Shuai (21) defeated Magdalena Rybarikova, 6-1, 6-1
Karolina Pliskova (22) defeated Oceane Dodin, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4
Garbine Muguruza (24) defeated Daniela Hantuchova, 6-1, 1-6, 6-0
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (25) defeated Kai-Chen Chang, 6-1, 7-5
Elina Svitolina (26) defeated Nicole Gibbs, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (8-6)
Madison Keys defeated Casey Dellacqua (29), 2-6, 6-1, 6-1
Varvara Lepchenko (30) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic, 6-1, 7-6 (7-1)
Zarina Diyas (31) defeated Anna Schmiedlova, 3-6, 6-2, 8-6
Yanina Wickmayer defeated Lara Arruabarrena, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
Bethanie Mattek-Sands defeated Kristina Mladenovic, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (8-6)
Caroline Garcia defeated Stefanie Voegele, 6-3, 6-4
Carina Witthoeft defeated Christina McHale, 6-3, 6-0
Irina-Camelia Begu defeated Katerina Siniakova, 7-5, 6-4
Yaroslava Shvedova defeated Monica Puig, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6)
Madison Brengle defeated Irina Falconi, 6-1, 6-3
Camila Giorgi defeated Tereza Smitkova, 6-1, 6-4
Lucie Hradecka defeated Polona Hercog, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
Julia Goerges defeated Klara Koukalova, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2
Timea Bacsinszky defeated Anna Tatishvili, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-2

Serena Williams (1) defeated Alison Van Uytvanck, 6-0, 6-4
Maria Sharapova (2) defeated Petra Martic, 6-4, 6-1
Simona Halep (3) defeated Karin Knapp, 6-3, 6-2
Petra Kvitova (4) defeated Richel Hogenkamp, 6-1, 6-4
Lucie Hradecka defeated Ana Ivanovic (5), 1-6, 6-3, 6-2
Agnieszka Radwanska (6) defeated Kurumi Nara, 6-3, 6-0
Eugenie Bouchard (7) defeated Anna-Lena Friedsam, 6-2, 6-4
Caroline Wozniacki (8) defeated Taylor Townsend, 7-6 (7-1), 6-2
Irina-Camelia Begu defeated Angelique Kerber (9), 6-4, 0-6, 6-1
Ekaterina Makarova (10) defeated An-Sophie Mestach, 6-2, 6-2
Dominika Cibulkova (11) defeated Kirsten Flipkens, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1
Camila Giorgi defeated Flavia Pennetta (12), 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
Madison Brengle defeated Andrea Petkovic (13), 5-7, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3
Sara Errani (14) defeated Grace Min, 6-1, 6-0
Timea Bacsinszky defeated Jelena Jankovic (15), 6-1, 6-4
Yaroslava Shvedova defeated Lucie Safarova (16), 6-4, 2-6, 8-6
Carina Witthoeft defeated Carla Suarez Navarro (17), 6-3, 6-1
Venus Williams (18) defeated Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, 6-2, 6-2
Alize Cornet (19) defeated Zhang Shuai, 6-3, 6-2
Samantha Stosur (20) defeated Monica Niculescu, 6-4, 6-1
Peng Shuai (21) defeated Tatjana Maria, 6-4, 7-5
Karolina Pliskova (22) defeated Evgeniya Rodina, 7-5, 6-1
Yanina Wickmayer defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (23), 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
Garbine Muguruza (24) defeated Marina Erakovic, 7-5, 6-0
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (25) defeated Timea Babos, 6-4, 6-4
Elina Svitolina (26) defeated Jana Cepelova, 6-3, 7-5
Caroline Garcia defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova (27), 6-4, 6-2
Kristina Mladenovic defeated Sabine Lisicki (28), 4-6, 6-4, 6-2
Casey Dellacqua (29) defeated Yvonne Meusburger, 6-4, 6-0
Varvara Lepchenko (30) defeated Vitalia Diatchenko, 6-3, 6-3
Zarina Diyas (31) defeated Urszula Radwanska, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2
Julia Goerges defeated Belinda Bencic (32), 6-2, 6-1
Oceane Dodin defeated Alison Riske, 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 6-3
Roberta Vinci defeated Bojana Jovanovski, 7-5, 6-1
Monica Puig defeated Arina Rodionova, 6-0, 6-3
Magdalena Rybarikova defeated Ana Konjuh, 6-4, 6-4
Bethanie Mattek-Sands defeated Duan Ying-Ying, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
Jarmila Gajdosova defeated Alexandra Dulgheru, 6-3, 6-4
Kiki Bertens defeated Daria Gavrilova, 7-6 (10-8), 5-7, 6-2
Stefanie Voegele defeated Pauline Parmentier, 6-1, 3-6, 6-2
Anna Schmiedlova defeated Chanelle Scheepers, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
Alexandra Panova defeated Sorana Cirstea, 7-5, 6-0
Christina McHale defeated Stephanie Foretz Gacon, 6-4, 1-6, 12-10
Katerina Siniakova defeated Elena Vesnina, 6-2, 7-5
Ajla Tomljanovic defeated Shelby Rogers, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0
Johanna Larsson defeated Alla Kudryavtseva, 6-4, 6-3
Coco Vandeweghe defeated Francesca Schiavone, 6-2, 6-2
Irina Falconi defeated Kaia Kanepi, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5
Tereza Smitkova defeated Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, 6-1, 6-1
Lauren Davis defeated Aleksandra Krunic, 6-1, 7-5
Silvia Soler-Espinosa defeated Annika Beck, 7-5, 6-4
Lara Arruabarrena defeated Renata Voracova, 6-1, 6-2
Polona Hercog defeated Wang Qiang, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
Klara Koukalova defeated Storm Sanders, 7-5, 6-4
Mona Barthel defeated Donna Vekic, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2
Madison Keys defeated Lesia Tsurenko, 6-3, 7-5
Kai-Chen Chang defeated Zheng Jie, 6-1, 6-2
Victoria Azarenka defeated Sloane Stephens, 6-3, 6-2
Tsvetana Pironkova defeated Heather Watson, 6-4, 6-0
Denisa Allertova defeated Romina Oprandi, 6-0, 6-2
Daniela Hantuchova defeated Zheng Saisai, 6-4, 6-4
Anna Tatishvili defeated Kimiko Date-Krumm, 7-5, 6-4
Vera Zvonareva defeated Ons Jabeur, 6-2, 6-3
Nicole Gibbs defeated Olivia Rogowska, 6-4, 6-1

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Texas Red is favored for season debut San Vicente Stakes

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red is the 9-5 morning line favorite for Sunday’s $200,000 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita Park as he begins his 3-year-old season

Texas Red, trained by Keith Desormeaux and ridden by the trainer’s brother Kent, will start the seven-furlong race from post 4 in the eight-horse field.

Co-owned by his trainer, Texas Red won the Juvenile on November 01 by 6 1/2 lengths as a 13-1 longshot, just his second win in five starts. The son of Afleet Alex has earned $1,192,300.

Keith Desormeaux has plans to bring the colt along quickly leading to the Kentucky Derby on May 02.

“I’m thinking about wheeling him back pretty quickly in the Risen Star on (February 21) and then we’ll have a little gap between the Risen Star and the $1,000,000 Santa Anita Derby (on April 04),“ the trainer said.

“It’s still on schedule. It’s always been kind of a tentative schedule, like with all things concerning racehorses,“ Desormeaux continued. “It seems like the best plan for me at this point. It’s kind of quick, but I like the way it feels. If I can get him (to Fair Grounds) a week early, that would be perfect. I’ll be at the mercy of whoever is going to fly us and their schedule.

“For him to overcome the fact that he’s not really built to be an early horse - that’s what makes him great and that’s also what makes us so excited about this year. If he can do what he did as a juvenile, what can he accomplish as a 3-year-old?“

The 2-1 second choice is Lord Nelson owned by Peachtree Stable and trained by Bob Baffert. The chestnut colt will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano from the rail post.

Lord Nelson has two wins from four starts and has earnings of $129,571. He was fourth in the FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita last September 27 but came back on October 13 with a win in the track’s Speakeasy Stakes. He was the 7-5 favorite for Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes but finished fifth to El Kabeir.

Trainer Peter Miller’s Serbian Syclone is the 3-1 third pick for the San Vicente. The colt, owned by Rockingham Ranch, will be ridden by regular rider Elvis Trujillo from post 2.

Serbian Syclone was eighth first time out but has won his last two races going gate to wire by a combined 8 1/2 lengths. He tries stakes company for the first time in the seven-furlong event.

Here is the field for the San Vicente in post position order: Lord Nelson, Rafael Bejarano, 2-1; Serbian Syclone, Elvis Trujillo, 3-1; Jazzy Josh, Flavien Prat, 15-1; Texas Red, Kent Desormeaux, 9-5; Punctuate, Martin Garcia, 9-2; Magic Taste, Omar Santos, 50-1; Bench Warrant, Tyler Baze, 12-1 and Sir Samson, Joe Talamo, 15-1.

Post time for the 74th San Vicente is approximately 4:30 PM ET.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  McIlroy moves 4 clear at Dubai Desert Classic

Rory McIlroy recorded his second straight bogey-free round on Saturday and his 6-under 66 on day three has moved him four shots clear heading into the final round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

McIlroy finished his third round at 20-under-par 196, which is four strokes better than Morten Orum MadSenator McIlroy has nine career wins on the European Tour, with four of them coming last season. The five-time major champion earned his first professional victory at this event back in 2009.

“To be bogey-free again today was important to me, especially when you’re going out with the lead,“ said McIlroy. “I’m very happy. I feel like I could be a little bit more but I’m not going to complain. I’m four ahead going into the final day, so I’ve put myself in a great position to win tomorrow.“

After shooting a 63 on Friday, Madsen matched McIlroy with a 66 of his own on day three and moved into sole possession of second place at 16-under 200. Two shots further back is 23-time tour winner Lee Westwood (69) at 14-under 202.

Two-time defending champion Stephen Gallacher, first-round leader Bernd Wiesberger, Andy Sullivan and Danny Willett all fired matching, 2-under 70s and are tied for fourth at 13-under 203.

McIlroy, last year’s British Open and PGA Championship winner, started the day with a 1-shot lead and quickly widened the gap. The 25-year-old Ulsterman jumped out to a fast start when he drained birdies on one, three and five to go along with pars on two, four and six.

Following the par on No. 6, McIlroy poured in back-to-back gains on seven and eight before finishing his front nine with a par on nine.

Making the turn with a 4-shot lead, it seemed as if McIlroy would extend his advantage even more on the back nine, but he slowed down a bit down the stretch. McIlroy made eight straight pars from No. 9 and saw his lead whittled down to three when Madsen birdied the last.

McIlroy broke the par streak when he drained a birdie putt from about 15 feet on the par-4 17th, moving his advantage back to four.

Now on the par-5 18th, a hole he had birdied in 14 of his last 18 rounds prior to Saturday, McIlroy found the water with his second shot and was in danger of making bogey. McIlroy remained calm, however, as his fourth shot landed about 10 feet from the hole and he knocked that in for par to make it 36 straight holes without a bogey.

“Not to make any mistakes makes it that much harder for anyone else,“ McIlroy said. “Just to get that up-and-down on the last was big for momentum going into tomorrow ... I just have to go and try and play similar golf to the way I have the first three days.“

Madsen, who holds the week’s low round with his 63 Friday, also went bogey- free and may stand the best chance of catching McIlroy on Sunday. Madsen started with a pair of pars on one and two before making his first birdie on No. 3. He then wrapped four more pars on four, five, seven and eight around a gain on No. 6.

The 26-year-old from Denmark made the turn in style with back-to-back birdies on nine and 10. Following his fifth gain of the day on 13, Madsen rattled off four straight pars from 14 before closing with a birdie at the last to pull within three of McIlroy at the time.

Three shots behind McIlroy to start the day, Westwood had a strong start to his round before struggling a bit in the middle. Westwood made a pair of birdies on two and three, but he made a mess of No. 9 and settled for double- bogey as the Englishman made the turn at even par.

A birdie on 10 got Westwood back into red figures and he traded a bogey on 12 for a birdie on 13. Westwood finished well to give himself an outside shot going into Sunday as three pars from 14 preceded back-to-back birdies on 17 and 18, putting him six strokes behind McIlroy.

NOTES: McIlroy’s last bogey came on the par-4 ninth hole, his last, in the first round ... McIlroy finished his third round just one shot off of Gallacher’s 54-hole record of 195. Gallacher also tied the tournament record of 266 that year in his first of two consecutive victories here ... McIlroy has finished runner-up in each of the last four events he has played in ... Madsen is seeking his second victory on tour, with his lone win coming at the South African Open Championship last season ... Westwood’s last win was at the Maybank Malaysian Open last year.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Elliott, Scott among those inducted into NASCAR HofF

Bill Elliott, a former Sprint Cup Series champion, and Wendell Scott, the first African-American to win a race in NASCAR’s premier racing circuit, were among the sixth five-member class inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday night.

Joe Weatherly, a two-time Cup champion, Fred Lorenzen, who won 26 races in the sport’s top series, including the Daytona 500 and the World 600 (Charlotte) in 1965, and Rex White, a former premier series champion as well, were also inducted during the two-hour ceremony, which was held at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Known as “Awesome Bill From Dawsonville (Georgia),“ Elliott had an illustrious 37-year career as a driver in NASCAR. His 44 wins rank him 16th all-time and his 55 poles rank eighth. He won the Cup Series championship in 1988 and scored victories in the Daytona 500 in ‘85 and ‘87. In addition, Elliott won NASCAR’s “Most Popular Driver” Award a record 16 times.

Elliott was introduced by driver Kasey Kahne and inducted by his former car owner Ray Evernham.

“It’s just an honor to be here,“ Elliott said. “At a young age, I dreamed of doing this, and I knew as time went on, my dad was so involved in racing, he had such a love for the sport. I’ve always said he was such a Ford fanatic, if you cut him, he bled Ford blue. That’s just the way the man was. He was just so involved.“

Elliott’s induction occurred one day after his 19-year-old son, Chase, the reigning Xfinity Series champion, was named as the replacement driver for Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet after Gordon departs from the team following the conclusion of the 2015 season.

Scott was the first African-American to race full-time in NASCAR’s top series. His only win in the series came in December 1963 at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Florida. Scott recorded 147 top-10 finishes in 495 starts during his 13-year on the premier circuit. Prior to that, he had won more than 100 races at local tracks, including 22 races at Southside Speedway in Richmond, Virginia, in 1959, en route to capturing both the Sportsman Division and NASCAR Virginia Sportsman championships. He died in 1990.

Members of Scott’s family attended the induction ceremony. His sons, Wendell Jr. and Franklin, honored him, while Gordon, a four-time Sprint Cup champion, introduced Scott.

“Wendell Scott fulfilled his destiny, and now we can proudly say that he is the first African-American inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame,“ Franklin Scott said. “We must carry his legacy to even greater heights with the same selflessness, honor, integrity, humility and perseverance that were his trademark.“

Weatherly’s titles in the Cup Series came in 1962 and ‘63. He also won 25 races during his career in the series. A decade earlier in 1952-53, Weatherly won 101 events in the NASCAR Modified division, claiming that title in ‘53. He competed in NASCAR’s short-lived Convertible Division from 1956-59, winning 12 times. Weatherly died in 1964 as a result of a racing accident at Riverside, California.

“Uncle Joe was a very competitive driver,“ said Joy Barbee, who is Weatherly’s youngest niece. “He was one of NASCAR’s first big stars, as his 25 wins and back-to-back championships in 1962 and 1963 will attest.

“In those days, the races were not televised in our home, and my mother would listen to them on the radio, but she sure got to know the local sportswriter at the newspaper. She knew exactly what time the races were over, and she would call the newspaper, and she would ask who won, and when she hung up the phone and she was crying and she was jumping with excitement, we knew that there was a ‘W’.“

Brad Keselowski, the 2012 Sprint Cup titleholder, introduced Weatherly, while Bud Moore, who was inducted into the second class in the NASCAR HofF in 2011, inducted him.

Lorenzen got his start in NASCAR as a mechanic with the famed Holman-Moody team in 1960, but he was elevated to lead driver by the end of the year. He won three races in only 15 starts the following season. Lorenzen’s best overall season came in 1963, posting six wins, 21 top-five finishes and 23 top-10s in 29 starts. Despite missing 26 races that season, he finished third in the standings.

Three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart introduced Lorenzen. Amanda Gardstrom, who is Lorenzen’s daughter, inducted him.

“Our dad’s story began as a childhood dream,“ said Lorenzen’s son, Chris, who accepted the induction on behalf of his father. “All dad could think about was that he had to find a way to become a race car driver. He proceeded to live his life doing everything possible to make that dream come true. He always believed that anything is possible if you work hard enough and you put your mind to it, no matter what.“

Competing in the Cup Series during the 1950’s and 60’s, White was a short- track specialist in an era in which those tracks dominated the schedule. Of his 28 career wins in the series, only two came on tracks longer than one mile in length. White finished among the top-five in nearly a half of his 233 races and outside the top-10 only 30% of the time. He won six times during his 1960 championship season.

Reigning Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick introduced White.

“Words can’t express how honored I am to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame along with the other Hall of Fame members, especially the 2015 fellow inductees,“ White said. “No driver wins a championship by himself. Nobody enters the Hall of Fame alone. I am a symbol of a team effort, my first race in 1953 until now. This effort spans 62 years.“

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 Football League - Playoffs
Super Bowl Pregame, 1:00 PM - NBC
New England vs. Seattle (Super Bowl XLIX), 6:30 PM - NBC
National Basketball Association
Miami at Boston, 1:00 PM - SunSports, CSN-New England, DSS
LA Lakers at New York, 2:00 PM - Time Warner, MSG, ESPN
National Hockey League
Arizona at Montreal, 1:00 PM - CITY, RDS, DSS
St. Louis at Washington, 1:00 PM - NBCSN
Nashville at Pittsburgh, 2:00 PM - FS-Tennessee, ROOT-Pittsburgh, DSS
Minnesota at Vancouver, 3:30 PM - FS-North, SNET-Pacific, DSS
College Basketball
Miami-Florida at Florida State, 12:30 PM - ESPN U
Oakland at Youngstown State, 12:30 PM - MASN,
Cincinnati at East Carolina, 1:00 PM - CBSSN
Michigan at Michigan State, 1:00 PM - CBS
Marist at Canisius, 2:00 PM - Time Warner Sports
Fordham at Dayton, 2:00 PM - FS-Ohio
Manhattan at Monmouth, 2:00 PM -
Utahat USC, 2:30 PM - ESPN U
Connecticut at Houston, 3:00 PM - CBSSN
California at Washington, 3:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Women’s College Basketball
Penn State at Rutgers, 12:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Wake Forest at Notre Dame, 1:00 PM - FS-South, Florida, Detroit+, San Diego
Texas at TCU, 1:00 PM - FS-Southwest+
Arizona at Colorado, 1:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Miami-Florida at Pittsburgh, 1:00 PM -
Georgia at Kentucky, 1:00 PM - SEC Network
Boston College at North Carolina, 2:00 PM -
Kansas at Baylor, 2:00 PM - SportSouth, FS-Detroit, Midwest, Southwest
Connecticut at Temple, 2:00 PM - ESPN 2
Arkansas at Alabama, 2:00 PM - SEC Network+
Virginia at Clemson, 2:00 PM -
Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech, 2:00 PM -
Michigan at Nebraska, 3:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
Wisconsin at Illinois, 3:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
Auburn at Texas A&M, 3:00 PM - SEC Network+
Miss State at Tennessee, 3:00 PM - SEC Network
Florida at Vanderbilt, 4:00 PM - SportSouth, FS-Florida, Detroit, Southwest
Iowa at Maryland, 4:00 PM - ESPN 2
Minnesota at Northwestern, 4:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
South Carolina at Ole Miss, 4:30 PM - ESPN U
International Soccer
Arsenal vs. Aston Villa, 8:30 AM - NBCSN
Udinese Calcio vs. Juventus FC, 8:55 AM - beIN Sports
CAF Orange Africa Cup of Nations, Quarter-Finals, 10:55 AM - beIN Sports
Southampton vs. Swansea City, 11:00 AM - NBCSN
Sevilla FC vs. RCD Espanyol, 12:55 PM - beIN Sports
FC Barcelona vs. Villarreal CF, 2:55 PM - beIN Sports
EUROPEAN - Dubai Desert Classic, 4:00 AM - Golf Channel
PGA - Phoenix Open, 3:00 PM - CBS
Australian Open (Men’s Final), 3:00 AM - ESPN

Lady Pioneers Blowout Concord 92-67‏

The Gilmer Free Press

The Glenville State Lady Pioneers shot 51 percent from the floor and had four players score in double figures as they went on the road and ran away with a huge win over the Concord University Lady Mountain Lions, 92-67.

Early in the first half the Lady Pioneers and Lady Mountain Lions would be tied up at 8 all after two made free-throws from GSC freshman Kayla Tibbs at the 16:46 minute mark.  After that tie Glenville State would go on a 7-0 run as the Lady Pioneers took a 15-8 lead with 12:34 left till halftime.

And then later the Lady Pioneers would extended their lead to 14 points, 37-23, with under 3:00 minutes to go in the half. Glenville State would end up with a 17 point lead over Concord at halftime, 44-27.

In the second half it would be all Glenville State. They would add to their halftime lead as Glenville State extended it to 24 points, 53-29 at the 17:55 minute mark.

Glenville State would end up blowing by the Lady Mountain Lions as they won by 25 points, 92-67.

The smallest lead for the Lady Pioneers in the second half was 15 points and that came early in the second half. The Lady Pioneers biggest lead in the game was 31 points.

There were two ties and four lead changes in the game all of them coming in the first half of action.

Glenville State scored 26 points off of 20 Concord turnovers. The Lady Pioneers won the rebounding battle as they out rebounded Concord 41 to 38. Glenville State had a big advantage in the paint as they outscored Concord 43 to 24 in the paint.

Katrina Salins scored a game high 21 points for the Lady Pioneers as she went 6-for-8 from behind the arc. Freshman Julie Bishop scored a career high 14 points while Keyanna Tate scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds.

Also for Glenville State freshman Tayana Stewart scored a career high 10 points while La’Shaughn Jones pulled down a team high nine rebounds.

Concord was led by Rachel Artrip as she scored 18 points and grabbed six rebounds.

The Lady Pioneers (8-8, 6-6) return to action Thursday, January 29, 2015 when they travel to UVa-Wise with tip-off set for 5:30 PM.

Official Basketball Box Score
Glenville State vs Concord
01.24.2015  2:00 PM  at Carter Center, Athens, WV
VISITORS: Glenville State 7-8

                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
04 Keyanna Tate…..... f  6-12   0-1    1-1    1  5  6   4  13  1  2  0  1  18
01 Katrina Salins…... g  7-10   6-8    1-1    1  2  3   2  21  2  3  0  1  19
12 Kayla Tibbs…...... g  2-7    1-6    2-2    0  1  1   2   7  2  1  0  0  18
21 Kristin DesRocher… g  2-4    0-2    0-0    1  2  3   0   4  3  1  0  0  23
35 Julie Bishop…..... g  5-9    3-7    1-2    0  0  0   0  14  1  1  0  2  23
02 Paige Tuttle….....    1-3    0-1    2-2    2  2  4   0   4  1  4  0  1  17
03 Tayana Stewart…...    4-6    2-2    0-0    2  1  3   0  10  0  2  0  2  15
10 Skyy Lewis….......    1-1    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   0   2  0  1  0  1   2
13 Chanice Lee…......    3-5    1-2    0-0    1  0  1   1   7  2  0  0  1   7
20 Briauna Nix…......    1-2    0-0    4-4    0  4  4   2   6  1  1  0  0   8
24 Madison Martin…...    0-4    0-4    0-0    0  2  2   1   0  1  0  0  3  18
25 Briana Smythe…....    2-3    0-0    0-0    0  3  3   3   4  2  2  0  0  13
32 Brittany Jackson….    0-1    0-1    0-0    0  0  0   3   0  0  2  0  0   3
34 La’Shaughn Jones….    0-0    0-0    0-0    2  7  9   4   0  1  1  2  0  16
   TEAM….............                            1  1             1
   Totals…...........   34-67  13-34  11-12  10 31 41  22  92 17 22  2 12 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 17-35 48.6%   2nd Half: 17-32 53.1%   Game: 50.7%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  7-21 33.3%   2nd Half:  6-13 46.2%   Game: 38.2%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  3-3  100 %   2nd Half:  8-9  88.9%   Game: 91.7%    1

HOME TEAM: Concord 5-11

                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
00 Jacqueline Kestner.. f  5-14   0-2    7-9    6  4 10   1  17  2  6  0  2  39
14 Kylie Molisee….... f  2-14   0-0    2-3    3  1  4   1   6  0  2  0  3  26
32 Rachel Artrip….... f  7-10   2-4    2-2    1  5  6   5  18  3  2  0  2  23
10 Olivia Morgan….... g  0-2    0-0    3-4    0  2  2   3   3  3  4  0  0  33
24 Melea Smith…...... g  3-14   0-4    2-2    1  2  3   1   8  1  3  0  0  30
02 Marta Moix….......    0-0    0-0    2-2    0  1  1   2   2  0  0  0  2  13
11 Hannah Tothe….....    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   1
15 Anne Golinsky…....    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   1
21 Lindsey Overbey…..    2-6    0-1    1-2    0  1  1   0   5  0  0  0  0  10
22 Shacora Cooper…...    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0  0+
23 Alexis Lowery…....    1-1    1-1    0-0    0  0  0   0   3  1  0  0  0   1
25 Pornnutcha Sawatong.    1-1    0-0    0-0    1  0  1   0   2  1  0  0  0   1
30 Alley Odell…......    0-0    0-0    2-2    1  2  3   2   2  0  1  0  0   6
40 Meghan Nicholson….    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  1  0   1
42 Danielle Catron…..    0-2    0-0    1-2    0  1  1   0   1  0  2  0  0  19
   TEAM….............                         4  2  6
   Totals…...........   21-64   3-12  22-28  17 21 38  15  67 11 20  1  9 204

TOTAL FG% 1st Half:  8-31 25.8%   2nd Half: 13-33 39.4%   Game: 32.8%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  2-5  40.0%   2nd Half:  1-7  14.3%   Game: 25.0%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  9-10 90.0%   2nd Half: 13-18 72.2%   Game: 78.6%    3

Officials: Williams, Louk, Byrd

Technical fouls: Glenville State-None. Concord-None.

Attendance: 296

Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
Glenville State…............   44   48  -   92
Concord…....................   27   40  -   67

WVSSAC Boys Basketball AP Poll - 01.06.15

The Gilmer Free Press

The Associated Press high school boys basketball poll with first-place votes in parentheses and total points:

Team Rec Pts Prv

Class A

1. Wheeling Central (2) 5-2 86 -

2. Magnolia (2) 4-1 85 -

3. Greater Beckley Chr. (6) 6-0 83 -

4. Gilmer County 5-0 56 -

5. Tucker County 6-1 39 -

6. Charleston Catholic 5-2 34 -

7. Saint Joseph Central 4-3 33 -

8. Valley Fayette 3-1 29 -

9. Notre Dame 4-3 27 -

10.Bishop Donahue 6-1 25 -

Others receiving votes: Williamstown 21, Tug Valley 18, St. Marys 8, Cameron 6.

Team Rec Pts Prv

Class AA

1. Poca (9) 6-0 99 -

2. Bridgeport 5-0 83 -

3. Fairmont Senior 9-0 79 -

4. Westside 5-1 69 -

5. Scott 5-1 52 -

6. Robert C. Byrd (1) 1-2 45 -

7. Mingo Central 5-2 35 -

8. Ravenswood 5-1 20 -

9. Lincoln 6-0 17 -

10. Bluefield 3-4 12 -

Others receiving votes: PikeView 11, Chapmanville 11, Wyoming East 7, Grafton 6, Sissonville 4.

Team Rec Pts Prv

Class AAA

1. South Charleston (5) 5-0 95 -

2. Woodrow Wilson (3) 5-0 84 -

3. Huntington (1) 5-1 77 -

4. Parkersburg South (1) 7-0 66 -

5. Morgantown 6-1 44 -

6. Spring Valley 5-1 37 -

7. Wheeling Park 4-2 36 -

8. Greenbrier East 6-1 23 -

9. Jefferson 3-1 18 -

10. Hurricane 2-4 16 -

(tie) Capital 3-1 16 -

Others receiving votes: Hedgesville 13, George Washington 7, Parkersburg 6, Logan 5, Preston 4, Martinsburg 2, Washington 1.

WVSSAC Girs Basketball AP Poll - 01.06.15

The Gilmer Free Press

The Associated Press high school girls basketball poll with first-place votes in parentheses and total points:

Team Rec Pts Prv

Class A

1. Saint Joseph Central (9) 6-2 95 -

2. Wheeling Central (1) 6-1 89 -

3. Tucker County 6-1 74 -

4. Williamstown 8-2 68 -

5. Pocahontas County 7-2 51 -

6. Clay-Battelle 6-2 47 -

7. Charleston Catholic 1-6 42 -

8. Gilmer County 5-3 20 -

9. Notre Dame 8-2 12 -

(tie) Parkersburg Catholic 5-4 12 -

Others receiving votes: Madonna 10, Magnolia 9, St. Marys 9, Meadow Bridge 5, Fayetteville 3, Trinity 3, Greater Beckley Christian 1.

Team Rec Pts Prv

Class AA

1. Fairmont Senior (2) 8-2 86 -

2. North Marion (5) 7-0 85 -

3. Wyoming East (2) 7-0 74 -

4. Summers County 5-1 62 -

5. Sissonville 6-1 60 -

6. Keyser (1) 10-0 59 -

7. PikeView 6-1 37 -

8. Westside 3-3 24 -

9. Clay County 6-2 23 -

10. Bluefield 5-2 15 -

Others receiving votes: Bridgeport 6, Nicholas County 5, Herbert Hoover 5, Oak Glen 5, Ravenswood 1, Robert C. Byrd 1, Lincoln 1, James Monroe 1.

Team Rec Pts Prv

Class AAA

1. Morgantown (8) 6-0 97 -

2. South Charleston (1) 7-0 80 -

3. Parkersburg South (1) 7-2 78 -

4. Huntington 6-0 75 -

5. Greenbrier East 9-0 60 -

6. Logan 6-2 44 -

(tie) Spring Valley - 44 -

8. Hurricane 5-0 27 -

9. St. Albans 5-2 20 -

10. Jefferson 5-1 10 -

Others receiving votes: Buckhannon-Upshur 6, Cabell Midland 3, Martinsburg 3, George Washington 1, John Marshall 1, Preston 1.

Sports News   150103

The Gilmer Free Press

The Gilmer Free Press

►  College Football Bowl Game Results

(Friday, January 02)

Final Score: Houston 35, Pittsburgh 34

Greg Ward Jr.‘s third touchdown pass of the fourth quarter, a 25-yard strike to Deontay Greenberry with 59 seconds remaining, completed an unbelievable comeback that lifted Houston to a 35-34 victory over Pittsburgh in the Armed Forces Bowl. Greenberry was also on the other end of Ward’s successful 2-point conversion try that brought the Cougars all the way back from a 34-13 deficit with under four minutes left. Houston (8-5), which trailed 31-6 with 11 minutes to play, scored 29 fourth- quarter points and recovered a pair of onside kicks, the last leading to Greenberry’s second touchdown catch of the day. Ward finished 15-of-24 for 274 yards and added 92 on the ground. Greenberry finished with 85 yards on four receptions, while Kenneth Farrow put up 103 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries to help the Cougars prevail in this matchup of interim coaches. Houston fired Tony Levine on Dec. 8, with defensive coordinator David Gibbs leading the team for the bowl game. Offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph directed Pittsburgh (6-7), which had head coach Paul Chryst depart for the same position at alma mater Wisconsin.

Final Score: Tennessee 45, Iowa 28

Joshua Dobbs accounted for 205 yards and the Tennessee Volunteers cruised past the Iowa Hawkeyes, 45-28, in the TaxSlayer Bowl on Friday. Dobbs threw for 129 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while rushing for 76 yards with two scores for the Vols (7-6), who won four of their last five to end the season. Jalen Hurd had a strong performance with 122 yards on the ground and added two touchdowns in the win. Jordan Canzeri paced the Hawkeyes (7-6) with 120 rushing yards on 12 carries, while Mark Weisman had two rushing touchdowns. Iowa used a pair of quarterbacks in C.J. Beathard and Jake Rudock throughout the day. Beathard finished with 145 passing yards with two touchdowns and an interception to go along with 82 rushing yards. Rudock threw for 32 yards and rushed for 22 in the loss.

Final Score: (14) UCLA 40, (11) Kansas State 35

Brett Hundley began to jump up and down with his arms raised in victory before Paul Perkins crossed midfield. Perkins ran for 194 yards and two touchdowns, including a backbreaking 67-yard scoring run late in the fourth quarter to seal No. 14 UCLA’s 40-35 victory over No. 11 Kansas State in the Alamo Bowl on Friday. Kansas State fought back from a 31-6 halftime deficit, cutting the margin to 34-28 after Jake Waters plunged in from a yard out with 4:54 remaining. UCLA (10-3), though, had an answer. Faced with a 2nd-and-13 at its own 33 following a false start penalty, Perkins burst through a huge hole off the left side of the line untouched and strolled the rest of the way for the score. The ensuing two-point conversion was unsuccessful. Waters hit Tyler Lockett for a 29-yard touchdown to claw Kansas State (9-4) within 40-35, but an onside kick was recovered by the Bruins. UCLA had a 331-31 advantage in rushing yards. Hundley, in what most likely was his last collegiate game, completed 12-of-24 passes for 136 yards with a touchdown and added 96 yards and two scores on the ground for the Bruins, who have won consecutive bowl games for the first time since winning eight in a row from 1983-1991.

Final Score: Oklahoma State 30, Washington 22

Mason Rudolph passed for 299 yards and two touchdowns in his third career start and Oklahoma State upended Washington 30-22 to win the Cactus Bowl. Rudolph took over at quarterback for Daxx Garman following a 28-7 loss against Texas on Nov. 15, OSU’s fourth loss during a five-game slide. Rudolph helped the Cowboys top rival Oklahoma in the last week of the regular season to become bowl eligible. The true freshman completed 17-of-26 passes, Desmond Roland gained 123 yards on 32 carries and Oklahoma State (7-6) improved to 6-3 in bowl games under coach Mike Gundy.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Steelers’ Bell sits out practice

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell sat out Thursday’s practice as he recovers from a right knee injury.

Bell hyperextended the knee in Sunday’s victory over the Cincinnati Bengals and has yet to participate in practice this week as the team prepares to host the Baltimore Ravens in a wild-card game Saturday night.

Finishing the season as the NFL’s second-leading rusher with 1,361 yards, Bell suffered the injury in the third quarter after taking a helmet to the knee from Cincinnati safety Reggie Nelson.

The Steelers brought in running back Ben Tate on Tuesday for insurance. Tate spent time with both Cleveland and Minnesota this season.

Linebacker James Harrison sat out practice with an illness, while quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and tight end Heath Miller returned to practice after getting Wednesday off.

►  Lions DT Fairley returns to practice

Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley returned to practice on Thursday for the first time since suffering a knee injury in late October.

Fairley suffered a MCL and PCL injury in his right knee in a Week 8 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in London.

He took part in limited fashion Thursday, participating in individual drills, and has still not been cleared for game action.

Earlier in the week, Detroit coach Jim Caldwell said it would be a “miracle” if Fairley were able to play in Sunday’s wild-card game at Dallas.

Guard Larry Warford sat out practice yet again on Thursday with a right knee injury he sustained against the Packers this past Sunday.

He hasn’t been ruled out, but if he is rookie Travis Swanson will get the start. Swanson made the first start of his career Sunday in place of veteran Dominic Raiola, who was suspended for the game due to a stomping incident in Week 16 against the Bears.

►  ‘Game of Thrones,‘ Philadelphia style

Chip Kelly is very sure of himself.

So when the Eagles coach turns up the smug-meter and starts running a little pompous and egotistical, it’s just par for the course.

That said, something caught my ear at Kelly’s season-ending press conference, a veiled shot at his general manager Howie Roseman.

Kelly said Roseman was good at handling the salary cap, on the surface a compliment to anyone who doesn’t understand the inner-workings of the Eagles.

To those who do, however, it was a clear shot at Roseman, a glorified money man who has risen through the ranks of the organization and now fashions himself as a football guy despite no prior experience as a player, coach or scout.

“For me to stand there and say, ‘I think paragraph five of his contract should mean this, instead of this.‘ That’s not my forte, not my strength,“ Kelly said when queried about his relationship with Roseman. “I’m not going to delve into that and say, ‘I think his signing bonus should be this, but let’s retroactive that and only make it for injury in the third and fourth year.‘ That’s not my strength. I understand it, but that’s really what (Roseman) does an outstanding job of that.

“I think since I’ve been here one of the attractive things about this job, there are not cap issues. You don’t look at it and go, ‘Oh, my God. We’re going to have to cut 12 players because we’re going to be $40 million over the cap.‘ (Roseman) does an outstanding job of that. That’s his training.“

To anyone who knows Roseman and what makes him tick, that’s as passive aggressive as it gets.

Kelly further aggravated his insecure GM when he called now-ousted vice president of player personnel Tom Gamble “an outstanding football man.“

Two different sources who know Roseman well said he was seething after Kelly’s statements, which marginalized him in the personnel aspect of the business.

Kelly is a lot like Jim Harbaugh, though. It’s football 24-7 for Chip and the ex-49ers coach and both underestimated the political savvy of their respective general managers.

Harbaugh is now at the University of Michigan because of his miscalculations with Trent Baalke and this dust-up in Philadelphia could signal the beginning of the end for Kelly with the Eagles.

Roseman is a shark that probably missed his calling in life, a take-no- prisoners operative in the mold of Rahm Emanuel. At 39, he’s the youngest GM in football but don’t let his boyish looks fool you, the list of executives who have lost power struggles with him is stunning: Joe Banner, Tom Heckert, Jason Licht, Ryan Grigson, Louis Riddick, and now Gamble.

When Kelly made his move, Roseman had his people quickly leak the fact that the New York Jets were looking to talk to him about their vacant general manager position, conveniently leaving out the fact that the Jets did indeed want to talk to Roseman but it was about Eagles pro personnel director Rick Meuller.

That little nugget certainly got to Philadelphia owner Jeffrey Lurie, who already considered Roseman his indispensable right-hand man on the football side of things, something that could have been “validated” by the feigned Jets’ interest.

Gamble, meanwhile, was Kelly’s most trusted advisor on the football side, a man with nearly 30 years of NFL experience who paid the price for the coach’s insolence by being fired on New Year’s Eve.

Described as a “mutual parting of the ways,“ Gamble was actually escorted from the NovaCare complex by security, a high-profile pawn in a game of inside baseball between Roseman and Kelly.

A game which Roseman won.

It was Gamble who had Kelly’s ear when it came to talent and the coach was given final say on the 53-man roster when he was hired in 2013, meaning Gamble had more say over who was playing for the Eagles this season than Roseman. And that wasn’t about to change because Kelly has little respect for Roseman when it comes to player evaluation.

Others have speculated that Roseman was also concerned that Kelly was so popular in the city that he could eventually flex his muscles to oust him and elevate Gamble to GM.

A December swoon and a poorly perceived 2014 draft hurt Kelly’s reputation a bit and Roseman pounced, using that, along with the coach’s own hubris, to fortify a power base that will only grow from here.

►  Panthers’ DeCoud doubtful for Wild Card game vs. Cardinals

Carolina Panthers safety Thomas DeCoud is listed as doubtful for Saturday’s NFC Wild Card game against the Arizona Cardinals.

DeCoud was held out of practice the past two days after hurting his hamstring on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old DeCoud had 50 tackles and one interception in 15 games (11 starts) this season.

Linebacker A.J. Klein (ankle) is questionable.

►  Rodgers, Watt headline All-Pro team

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been named the first-team quarterback on the 2014 Associated Press All-Pro squad, while Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt earned recognition at two different positions in balloting released Friday.

Watt, favored to win his second NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award in the last three seasons, received 45 of a possible 50 votes to earn first team honors at defensive end. He also garnered five votes at defensive tackle to make the second team at that position.

Watt and New England Patriots Rob Gronkowski were the only unanimous selections.

Rodgers was tabbed as the top quarterback on the All-Pro team for the second time in his career, with the first coming during his MVP season of 2011. The Packers’ star was named atop 44 ballots, with Dallas’ Tony Romo taking in three votes to earn second-team distinction.

The Cowboys had a league-high four first team All-Pros in running back DeMarco Murray, wide receiver Dez Bryant, rookie guard Zach Martin and offensive tackle Tyron Smith.

Murray was joined by Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell in the first team backfield, with fellow Steeler Antonio Brown alongside Bryant at wide receiver. Brown was a near-unanimous choice, collecting 49 votes.

Co-headlining Watt on the first team defense was Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston, who finished just shy of an NFL record with 22 sacks this season. The unit also included three members of the Seattle Seahawks in cornerback Richard Sherman, safety Earl Thomas and inside linebacker Bobby Wagner.

Sherman and Thomas were repeat selections, as were Watt, Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, Carolina inside linebacker Luke Kuechly and Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas.

Thomas received the fifth first team All-Pro nod of his career, while New England cornerback Darrelle Revis was chosen for the first time.

The remainder of the first team offense consists of Packers fullback John Kuhn, Baltimore guard Marshal Yanda, Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey, Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri and Cincinnati’s Adam Jones, who was named as the top kick returner.

A pair of Buffalo Bills, Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus, comprised the defensive line along with Watt and Suh. Baltimore outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil, San Diego safety Eric Weddle and Indianapolis punter Pat McAfee rounded out the first team defense.

►  Steelers’ Bell ruled out of playoff game vs. Ravens

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be without running back Le’Veon Bell for Saturday night’s AFC Wild Card game against the Baltimore Ravens.

The Steelers officially ruled out their team MVP on Friday.

Bell hyperextended his right knee in last week’s AFC North-clinching victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Although Bell suffered no ligament damage, he was unable to practice this week.

The 22-year-old Bell was the second-leading rusher in the NFL this season, running for 1,361 yards and eight touchdowns. The Michigan State product also caught 83 passes for 854 yards and three scores.

The Steelers will try to replace Bell’s production with rookies Josh Harris and Dri Archer. Pittsburgh also signed veteran Ben Tate earlier this week.

►  Bengals term Green doubtful for WC game

The Cincinnati Bengals have listed A.J. Green as doubtful for Sunday’s AFC Wild Card game against Indianapolis as the star wide receiver continues to remain in the NFL’s concussion protocol.

Green sat out Friday’s practice while still awaiting medical clearance for his head injury, which occurred during the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s 27-17 loss at Pittsburgh.

The Bengals’ official site did report that Green does have a meeting with a neurologist scheduled for Saturday, with the hope the four-time Pro Bowl selection will receive the go-ahead to participate in Sunday’s matchup at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Green led Cincinnati with 69 receptions, 1,041 receiving yards and six touchdown catches during the regular season. He also missed the Bengals’ meeting with the Colts back in Week 7 due to a toe injury, with Cincinnati being dealt a 27-0 defeat without its top wideout available.

Tight end Jermaine Gresham is considered questionable for Sunday’s game with a back issue, but did participate in Friday’s practice after missing the previous two days’ sessions.

►  Ravens rule out Monroe, Jernigan; activate Ngata

The Baltimore Ravens ruled out left offensive tackle Eugene Monroe and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan for Saturday night’s AFC Wild Card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Ravens also placed reserve linebacker Arthur Brown on season-ending injured reserve and activated defensive lineman Haloti Ngata from the reserve/suspension list.

Jernigan (foot/ankle) will be replaced in the starting lineup by Ngata, who missed the final four games of the regular season for testing positive for Adderall.

Monroe is dealing with an ankle injury that kept him out of last week’s game against the Browns. James Hurst will start in his place for the second consecutive game.

Defensive end Chris Canty (thigh/ankle) is probable after missing the regular- season finale.

►  Cowboys’ Free doubtful against Lions

Dallas Cowboys right tackle Doug Free is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s Wild Card game against the Detroit Lions.

Free is still bothered by an ankle injury he sustained in the Cowboys’ December 14 win against the Philadelphia Eagles. He has not practiced at all since the injury, and veteran Jermey Parnell is expected to start in his absence.

Defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford did not practice Friday with an illness, and he’s questionable for the postseason tilt.

Rookie linebacker Anthony Hitchens sprained his ankle in the season finale at Washington last week, and he is also listed as questionable after not participating in practice all week.

►  Lions G Warford out for Sunday

Detroit Lions guard Larry Warford has been ruled out for Sunday’s NFC Wild Card Playoff in Dallas.

Warford missed practice all week with a right knee injury he suffered last Sunday in Green Bay. Rookie Travis Swanson will start in his place.

Swanson made his first career start at center last week in place of veteran Dominic Raiola, who was suspended for the game due to a stomping incident in Week 16 against the Bears.

Defensive tackle Nick Fairley is listed as doubtful after taking limited participation on Thursday and Friday. It was the first time he was on the practice field since suffering a MCL and PCL injury in his right knee in a Week 8 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in London.

listed as probable for Detroit are defensive ends Ziggy Ansah (toe) and Darryl Tapp (not injury related) and wide receiver Calvin Johnson (ankle).

►  Eagles owner Lurie announces new roles for Roseman, Kelly

Philadelphia Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie announced changes in titles for Howie Roseman and head coach Chip Kelly on Friday.

Roseman, the Eagles’ general manager since 2010, has been elevated to the role of executive vice president of football operations. He will continue to direct contract negotiations, salary cap management and NFL strategic matters.

Kelly, who has led the Eagles to 10 wins in each of his first two seasons, will now oversee the player personnel department in addition to his coaching duties and will lead efforts to hire a new personnel executive. The team parted ways with vice president of player personnel Tom Gamble on Wednesday.

“We are a good football team and we believe these steps will help make us a great team,“ Lurie said in a statement. “That step - from good to great - is the most difficult one for any organization to make. To do that, sometimes you have to step back and really look hard at where you are today and what you want to become.“

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Wild Card Weekend fantasy options

The NFL regular season is over and with it, most of the fantasy leagues, but not all of them.

For those that want to continue for a few more weekends, there is fantasy football still available.

For the most part there are two kinds of playoff fantasy football. One is to redraft every weekend and the other is a one-time draft that lasts through the Super Bowl.

We’re going to concentrate on the weekly format and give you our selections for Wild Card Weekend. That means you won’t see any names from the four bye teams - New England, Denver, Seattle or Green Bay.

That takes away a lot of players from the talent pool, but that’s how they got to where they are, getting a week to rest and heal their banged up bodies.

So here we go with our thoughts for each position.

Quarterback -

There are eight starting quarterbacks this weekend, and you can probably win with seven of the eight. Now that Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton has been ruled out, Ryan Lindley will start for Arizona on the road in Carolina. That’s not a situation for fantasy owners.

The top-two quarterbacks this week should be Tony Romo and Ben Roethlisberger.

Romo has been nearly perfect for the past four games, throwing 12 touchdown passes against just one interception. He helped his Cowboys average 41.2 ppg over that span. Despite the Lions defense being ranked top-three in points (17.6 ppg), they are stronger against the run than the pass.

Roethlisberger is going to have to throw early and often as he will more than likely be without his top rushing weapon - Le’Veon Bell. Unfortunately, Bell is also very good as a receiver, so expect Big Ben to target Health Miller more often. Miller is a clutch guy and should come up big along with Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. Remember, the last time Roethlisberger faced this defense he toasted them for six touchdowns and 340 yards.

Running Back

If Bell (hyperextended knee) is in a Steelers uniform, he’s a top pick. Unfortunately, we don’t think that’s going to happen.

So our top choice is Cincinnati rookie Jeremy Hill. He gets the nod over DeMarco Murray who faces the No. 1 rush defense - Detroit.

Hill has rushed for 395 yards and three touchdowns over the past three weekends and earned the 100-yard bonus on all three occasions.

Don’t forget Baltimore running back Justin Forsett. The Ravens will want to control the ball and time of possession and he rushed for 1,266 yards along with eight touchdowns this season despite not being the starter for every game.

Want someone to stay away from? It’s Jonathan Stewart. Although he was good down the stretch, DeAngelo Williams is expected to return, the coaches like Mike Tolbert near the goal line and quarterback Cam Newton is as likely as any running back on the Panthers roster to run it in from close range.

Wide Receiver

There are a lot of high-quality receivers available this weekend, but none better than Mr. Consistency, Antonio Brown. He led the league in receptions (129), yards (1,698) and his 13 touchdown receptions were second only to Dez Bryant. Almost as impressive is the fact he’s caught at least five passes in every game for the past two seasons. He caught a touchdown pass in nine of 16 games and tossed a touchdown pass in a 10th contest. He’s going to produce a solid fantasy total.

Dez Bryant is the obvious No. 2 choice (88-1,320, 16 TDs), but don’t forget T.Y. Hilton. Hilton has been injured the past few games, but should be ready and will be Andrew Luck’s favorite target.

He’s a great player, but we’re ready to let someone else take the risk from Bengals receiver A.J. Green. He’s missed practice this week due to a concussion and still has the biceps issue from a couple of weeks ago. Since his big game against Pittsburgh in Week 14, he’s done very little.

Tight Ends

There are five tight ends worthy of consideration this weekend. Greg Olsen, Jason Witten, Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener have all flashed their talents at various times this season. None are Rob Gronkowski, but they all get you consistent points.

However, I’m leaning toward Miller of Pittsburgh as the surprise top choice, if and only if, Bell doesn’t play. And you should be able to get him very cheaply off a mediocre season.


In the cold and possibly bad weather that comes with the first weekend of January, it’s always best to go with a kicker playing in perfect climate- controlled conditions.

That puts Dallas’ Dan Bailey and Adam Vinatieri at the top of our list.

Bailey gets the top spot because his coach doesn’t shy away from sending him out there over 50 yards. He’s 5-of-7 from that range. He’ll be at home against Detroit.

Vinatieri made 80-of-81 kicks this season. He went 50-of-50 on extra points and 30-of-31 on field goal attempts. He’s also indoors at Lucas Oil Stadium.

We would avoid Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro. Yes, he was 29-of-33 this season, but he’s a rookie and has never been in this type of pressure situation. He also doesn’t figure to get a lot of opportunities with Lindley under center for Arizona.

Defense/Special Teams

Carolina defense abused Matt Ryan and the Falcons last weekend to get into the playoffs and has another chance to be good against Lindley and the Cardinals. The Panthers are our top choice.

Based on past history, going against Andy Dalton in the playoffs is a pretty good idea too. The Bengals quarterback is 0-3 in the playoffs with one touchdown pass versus six interceptions and a 56.2 quarterback rating.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Area High Schools Boys Basketball Game Results

(Friday, January 02)

Shady Spring 53     Lewis County 46

Williamstown 77     Tyler Consolidated 39

#2 Notre Dame 97     #6 Clay-Battelle 42

Wahama 56     Doddridge County 53

Poca 79     Nicholas County 32

►  Area High Schools Girls Basketball Game Results

(Friday, January 02)

#9 Gilmer County 75     South Harrison 21

Roane County 50     Braxton County 42

#2 St. Marys 67     Tygarts Valley 46

Buckhannon-Upshur 45     Spring Mills 42

Nicholas County 57     Westside 37

Parkersburg South 72     Parkersburg 40

St. Marys 67     Tygarts Valley 46

Williamstown 69     Parkersburg Catholic 57

<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Basketball Game Results

(Friday, January 02)

Final Score: (10) Utah 79, USC 55

Jordan Loveridge scored 14 points with six rebounds as No. 10 Utah thumped USC, 79-55, in the Pac-12 opener for both schools. Delon Wright had 11 points and 10 assists and Brandon Taylor gave 11 points and five boards for the Utes (11-2, 1-0 Pac-12), who have won four straight. Nikola Jovanovic and Malik Martin each scored 14 points with six rebounds for the Trojans (8-5, 0-1), who had a two-game winning streak snapped.

Final Score: California 81, (21) Washington 75

Jordan Mathews’ career-high 31 points helped California overcome the worst shooting game of the season from Tyrone Wallace to top No. 21 Washington 81-75 in the Pac-12 opener for both teams. Mathews only needed 14 shots to net his 31, finishing 5-for-8 from behind the arc and 10-for-12 from the foul line. Wallace, California’s undisputed leader and one of the nation’s most complete players during non-conference play, had eight rebounds, four assists and four steals but only shot 4-for-20 from the floor. He finished with 19 points thanks in large part to free throws down the stretch. David Kravish added 21 points and 10 rebounds for Cal (11-3, 1-0 Pac-12), which had lost two straight games heading into conference play. Nigel Williams-Goss stuffed the stat sheet with 19 points, eight rebounds and nine assists for Washington (11-2, 0-1), losers in two in a row following an 11-0 start to the season. Robert Upshaw’s bid for Pac-12 sixth man of the year continued with another impressive performance, albeit in the loss. The 7-foot transfer from Fresno State had 16 points, eight boards and five blocked shots.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Friday, January 02)

Final Score: Cleveland 91, Charlotte 87

Kevin Love scored 27 points to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 91-87 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday. Love and Kyrie Irving, who supplied 23 points, carried the bulk of the scoring load after the Cavaliers announced Thursday that LeBron James will miss the next two weeks with a left knee strain and a lower back strain. Cleveland snapped its three-game losing streak. Dion Waiters had 17 points off the bench and Tristan Thompson deposited 14 points with 14 rebounds in the win. Gerald Henderson paced the Hornets with 14 points, Michael Kidd-Glichrist tallied 12 points with 10 rebounds and Gary Neal added 11 off the bench. Charlotte has dropped five straight.

Final Score: Brooklyn 100, Orlando 98

Late in the third quarter, the Brooklyn Nets led by as many as 26, but they had to survive a furious fourth-quarter comeback in their 100-98 win over the Orlando Magic on Friday. Orlando outscored Brooklyn 37-14 in the final period and cut its deficit down to one possession, but it could not hit a tying or go-ahead shot in the game’s final minute. Mason Plumlee led the Nets with 18 points and nine rebounds, and it was his reverse layup with 2:21 remaining that ended Orlando’s 16-0 run to get back in the game. Brooklyn also got 16 points each from Brook Lopez and Deron Williams off the bench in its sixth win in seven games. Joe Johnson added 14 points, including two clutch free throws in the closing seconds. Victor Oladipo led the Magic with 17 points despite not taking a shot in the final quarter. Elfrid Payton scored 16 points, handed out 10 assists and pulled down nine boards.

Final Score: Dallas 119, Boston 101

Rajon Rondo didn’t have to wait long to go up against his former team. Two weeks after making his Dallas Mavericks debut, Rondo put up a season-high 29 points to help his new to team in a 119-101 win over the Boston Celtics. Rondo cemented his legacy as one of the great point guards in Celtics history during his nine-plus seasons there. He played a key role in Boston’s NBA Championship in 2008 and finished fourth in franchise history in assists and third in steals after being dealt to Dallas in a four-player swap on Dec. 18. In between the first and second quarters, a montage shown on the video board at TD Garden was followed by a prolonged standing ovation that nearly brought the four-time All-Star to tears.

Final Score: Detroit 97, New York 81

Brandon Jennings had 16 of his 29 points in the third quarter and the Detroit Pistons routed the New York Knicks 97-81 on Friday night. Andre Drummond ripped down 20 rebounds, Greg Monroe posted 12 points and 10 boards and Jodie Meeks netted 15 points off the bench for the Pistons, who have won four in a row on the heels of a four-game losing streak. J.R. Smith tallied 22 points, while Cole Aldrich added 11 points and 14 rebounds for New York, which has dropped 10 consecutive games and 20 of its last 21.

Final Score: New Orleans 111, Houston 83

The New Orleans Pelicans led wire-to- wire in a 111-83 win over the Houston Rockets on Friday. The Pelicans got points from 11 players, led by Ryan Anderson’s 22 off the bench. Tyreke Evans contributed 21 points, five assists and four rebounds, and Omer Asik scored nine and pulled in a game-high 11 rebounds in New Orleans’ second win in its last three games. Dwight Howard and Corey Brewer led the Rockets with 12 points each in their third loss in four games. NBA scoring leader James Harden had just 11 points on 5-of-13 shooting. Houston led the league in 3-pointers made coming into the game but shot just 6-of-29 from long distance.

Final Score: Oklahoma City 109, Washington 102

Kevin Durant posted 34 points with eight rebounds and the Oklahoma City Thunder claimed a hard-fought 109-102 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday. Russell Westbrook checked in with 22 points and six assists, while Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison added 13 and 10 points, respectively. Oklahoma City has won two straight and four of five overall. Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 21 points to go along with 10 rebounds and John Wall registered 14 points with 12 assists in the setback, Washington’s second straight defeat on the heels of a three-game winning streak.

Final Score: Indiana 94, Milwaukee 91

C.J. Miles buried six 3-pointers for 22 points off the bench and the Indiana Pacers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 94-91 on Friday night. Roy Hibbert added 18 points and Luis Scola scored 14 for the Pacers, who have won two in a row and five of their last seven. Brandon Knight had 20 points for the Bucks, who had a two-game winning streak stopped. Zaza Pachulia contributed 12 points and 14 rebounds in the loss and John Henson scored 14 with 10 boards. The Bucks snapped a six-game losing streak in the series with an 87-81 win in Indianapolis on November 04.

Final Score: Phoenix 112, Philadelphia 96

Markieff Morris and Gerald Green both scored 21 points and the Phoenix Suns overcame a halftime deficit to rally past the Philadelphia 76ers, 112-96, on Friday. Eric Bledsoe tallied 17 points and eight assists and Goran Dragic had 10 points and a season-high 10 boards for Phoenix, which returned home following a four-game road trip that ended with a 137-134 overtime loss in Oklahoma City on New Year’s Eve. The Suns have swept the season series with Philly each of the past two seasons, winning the four games by a combined 67 points. Tony Wroten fell three points shy of his career high with 28 off the bench for Philadelphia, losers in four straight following a pair of wins to kick off a seven-game road trip. Michael Carter-Williams posted 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Final Score: Atlanta 98, Utah 92

Jeff Teague finished with a game-high 26 points and eight assists as the Atlanta Hawks held off the Utah Jazz, 98-92, on Friday. Paul Millsap had 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Al Horford and DeMarre Carroll chipped in 13 and 10 points, respectively, for the Hawks, who have won three straight and 17 of their last 19 games. Gordon Hayward paced the Jazz with 18 points, Dante Exum netted a career-high 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting and Rudy Gobert supplied 11 points, seven boards and four blocks in the loss. The Hawks have won eight straight games against Utah.

Final Score: Golden State 126, Toronto 105

Stephen Curry had 32 points and 12 assists as the Golden State Warriors defeated the Toronto Raptors 126-105 on Friday night. Toronto trailed by as many as 23 in the second half, but pulled within 110-101 after Lou Williams knocked down a pair of jumpers with five minutes remaining. Golden State, though, answered with 14 straight points to put the game away. Curry, who had 10 points during the surge, capped it with consecutive 3-pointers for a 124-101 advantage with 1:38 to go. Draymond Green posted his first career triple-double with 16 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds, Marreese Speights tallied 26 points and eight rebounds and Klay Thompson netted 20 points for Golden State, which has won three in a row. Greivis Vasquez supplied 25 points, seven assists and five boards off the bench, Kyle Lowry provided 22 points, eight assists and five rebounds and Amir Johnson recorded 12 points and 10 boards for the Raptors, who have dropped three of their last five games.

Final Score: Memphis 109, LA Lakers 106

Mike Conley scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half and the Memphis Grizzlies held on down the stretch for a 109-106 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night. Kobe Bryant scored his only points of the fourth quarter on a 3 that got the Lakers within 106-105 with 24.2 seconds left. He then nearly sent the game to overtime after getting off an on-target 3 from the left sideline with just 0.6 ticks remaining, but the ball hit off the far side of the rim as time expired. Marc Gasol added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who have won three in a row on the heels of a season-long four-game losing streak. Beno Udrih scored 16 off the bench and Conley had nine as

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Friday, January 02)

Final Score: Florida 2, Buffalo 0

Roberto Luongo continued his dominance of the Buffalo Sabres with his second shutout of the season, lifting the Florida Panthers to a 2-0 victory on Friday. Luongo turned aside all 30 shots fired his way to improve to 5-0-0 with four shutouts against the Sabres over the past two seasons. The veteran netminder also moved into sole possession of the 13th place all-time with 68 shutouts, surpassing Roy Worters. Brad Boyes and Nick Bjugstad each scored for Florida, which improved to 3-0-1 against Buffalo this season. Michal Neuvirth gave up both goals on 33 shots for the Sabres, who have dropped three straight and seven of eight.

Final Score: Montreal 4, New Jersey 2

Carey Price made 22 saves and picked up his 200th win in his 400th NHL game as the Montreal Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils 4-2 at Prudential Center. Michael Bournival scored his first two goals of the season and Max Pacioretty added a power-play goal for the Canadiens, who have won five straight and eight of their last nine games. Michael Ryder and Mike Cammalleri had third-period goals for New Jersey, which nearly erased a 3-0 deficit. Keith Kinkaid stopped 22 shots in the Devils’ fifth loss in six games.

Final Score: Pittsburgh 6, Tampa Bay 3

Sidney Crosby had four assists and the Pittsburgh Penguins extended their home winning streak over the Tampa Bay Lightning to nine games with a 6-3 victory on Friday night. Steve Downie returned to score twice for Pittsburgh after missing the last five games because of the mumps and Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, Andrew Ebbett and Christian Ehrhoff also found the net in the team’s second consecutive win after four straight losses. Thomas Greiss also played for the first time since contracting the mumps last month and made 32 saves. Brian Boyle, Victor Hedman and Alex Killorn scored for Tampa Bay, which had a four-game winning streak snapped. Pittsburgh moved ahead of Tampa Bay for first place in the Eastern Conference with 53 points. Montreal tied the Lightning for first place in the Atlantic with a win over New Jersey on Friday.

Final Score: Carolina 2, Philadelphia 1

Cam Ward made 23 saves to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday. Brad Malone and Eric Staal each scored a goal for the Hurricanes, who snapped a three-game slide. The Flyers lost their fourth straight game on this eight-game road trip, and have appeared to survive a scare after captain Claude Giroux went down with a left leg injury. Early in the third period, Giroux was chasing a puck down in the right corner of the Carolina end and got tangled up with Justin Faulk. As Faulk was putting hit left leg down, his skate caught the back of Giroux’s left ankle, and it appeared that Giroux was bleeding through his equipment. Giroux was tended to on the ice by a trainer and eventually taken into the locker room. After the game, though, the team announced that the cut wasn’t bad, and Giroux is probable for Saturday’s game in New Jersey.

Final Score: Minnesota 3, Toronto 1

Jared Spurgeon and Mikko Koivu scored 1:55 apart in the third period to lift the Minnesota Wild to a 3-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Kyle Brodziak had a second-period goal and Darcy Kuemper made 34 saves for the Wild, who snapped a four-game losing streak at home and picked up just their second win in their last eight games overall. Jonathan Bernier stopped 26 shots for Toronto, which fell to 2-4-0 on its seven-game trip.

Final Score: Colorado 2, Edmonton 1 (SO)

Matt Duchene and Alex Tanguay scored in the shootout as the Colorado Avalanche edged the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 on Friday night. Semyon Varlamov made 27 saves before stopping both Edmonton attempts in the shootout, helping Colorado win its second straight game. Duchene used a deke and scored on his forehand to open the second round of the tiebreaker. Ben Scrivens then bit on a deke by Tanguay, who hung on to the puck before firing it over the Oilers netminder. Scrivens finished with 27 saves in Edmonton’s 12th consecutive road loss.

Final Score: NY Islanders 2, Calgary 1

Jaroslav Halak turned aside 22 shots to lead the New York Islanders in a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Friday. John Tavares scored both goals with Kyle Okposo providing two assists for the Islanders, who have won their last three games. Johnny Gaudreau scored the only goal of the game for the Flames, who had a four-game winning streak snapped. Jonas Hiller allowed both goals on 24 shots in the loss.

Final Score: Anaheim 4, St. Louis 3

Matt Beleskey scored the game-winning goal with 9:05 remaining to lift the Anaheim Ducks to a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Friday. Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Getzlaf and Kyle Palmieri each scored and Sami Vatanen tallied two assists for the Ducks, who bounced back from a 3-0 loss to San Jose on Wednesday. Frederik Andersen made 39 saves in the win. Alexander Steen and Kevin Shattenkirk both finished with a goal and an assist. T.J. Oshie also lit the lamp and Martin Brodeur stopped 29 shots for the Blues, who are 0-4-1 in their past five road games. St. Louis has now lost nine straight games to the Ducks at Honda Center, a streak which began on January 07, 2010.

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 Football League - Playoffs
Arizona at Carolina, 4:35 PM - ESPN
Baltimore at Pittsburgh, 8:15 PM - NBC
National Basketball Association
Charlotte at Orlando, 7:00 PM - SportSouth, FS-Florida, DSS
Boston at Chicago, 8:00 PM - CSN-New England, WGN, DSS
Miami at Houston, 8:00 PM - SunSports, ROOT-Southwest, DSS
Utah at Minnesota, 8:00 PM - ROOT-Northwest, FS-North+, DSS
Washington at San Antonio, 8:30 PM - CSN-DC, FS-Southwest, DSS
Memphis at Denver, 9:00 PM - SportSouth, Altitude, DSS
Atlanta at Portland, 10:00 PM - SportSouth, CSN-Northwest, DSS
Philadelphia at LA Clippers, 10:30 PM - CSN-Philadelphia, FS-Prime Ticket, DSS
National Hockey League
Ottawa at Boston, 1:00 PM - RDS, TSN5, NESN, DSS
Nashville at Los Angeles, 4:00 PM - SportSouth, FS-West, DSS
Toronto at Winnipeg, 7:00 PM - CBC, NHL Network, DSS
Philadelphia at New Jersey, 7:00 PM - CSN-Philadelphia, MSG+, NHL Network, DSS
Montreal at Pittsburgh, 7:00 PM - TVA, ROOT-Pittsburgh, DSS
Buffalo at NY Rangers, 7:00 PM - MSG-Buffalo, MSG, DSS
Minnesota at Dallas, 8:00 PM - FS-North, Southwest, DSS
Columbus at Arizona, 8:00 PM - FS-Ohio, Arizona, DSS
Detroit at Vancouver, 10:00 PM - FS-Detroit, CBC, DSS
St. Louis at San Jose, 10:30 PM - FS-Midwest, CSN-California, DSS
College Basketball
SMU at Cincinnati, 11:00 AM - ESPN 2
Villanova at Seton Hall, 12:00 PM - FS1
Syracuse at Virginia Tech, 12:00 PM - RSN, MSG, FS-South, SunSports, San Diego
Kansas State at Oklahoma State, 12:00 PM - ESPN U
Minnesota at Maryland, 12:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Pittsburgh at NC State, 12:00 PM - ACC Network,
Holy Cross at American Univ, 1:00 PM - Patriot League Network
North Alabama at Auburn, 1:00 PM - SEC Network
Florida A&M at Stetson, 1:00 PM -
Lehigh at Boston Univ, 1:00 PM - Patriot League Network
Duquesne at Dayton, 1:00 PM - NBCSN
Utah State at Boise State, 2:00 PM - ROOT-Rocky Mountain
Bucknell at Colgate, 2:00 PM - Patriot League Network
Army at Loyola-Maryland, 2:00 PM - Patriot League Network
Coll of Charleston at William & Mary, 2:00 PM - CSN-Mid-Atlantic, New England
Yale at Vanderbilt, 2:00 PM - SEC Network+
Austin Peay at Ole Miss, 2:00 PM - SEC Network+
Connecticut at Florida, 2:00 PM - CBS
Gardner-Webb at UNC-Asheville, 2:00 PM - Big South Network
Providence at Marquette, 2:00 PM - FS-Wisc, Southwest, Fla, Ohio, MASN2, MSG
Xavier at DePaul, 2:00 PM - FS1
George Washington at Saint Josephs, 2:00 PM - CBSSN
Texas at Texas Tech, 2:00 PM - ESPN U
Thomas (GA) at Kennesaw St, 2:00 PM -
Norfolk State at Georgia, 2:00 PM - FS-South, SunSports,
Navy at Lafayette, 2:00 PM - RCN-TV
Michigan at Purdue, 2:15 PM - Big Ten Network
Georgia Tech at Notre Dame, 2:30 PM - ACC Network,
Cornell at Buffalo, 3:00 PM -
UMKC at Miami-Ohio, 3:00 PM -
Rhode Island at Saint Louis, 3:00 PM - NBCSN
Wofford at Samford, 3:00 PM - American Sports Network
Illinois at Ohio State, 3:30 PM - ESPN 2
Drake at Missouri State, 4:00 PM - FS-Midwest,
Hampton at USC Upstate, 4:00 PM -
Toledo at Northern Kentucky, 4:00 PM -
St Marys-CA at Loyola Marymount, 4:00 PM - Time Warner
Boston College at Duke, 4:00 PM - NESN, RSN, MSG, FS-South, SunSports
Butler at St Johns, 4:00 PM - CBSSN
Baylor at Oklahoma, 4:00 PM - ESPN U
West Virginia at TCU, 4:00 PM - FS-Southwest, MSG+, SportSouth
St Bonaventure at Massachusetts, 4:00 PM - MASN, American Sports Net, Altitude
Creighton at Georgetown, 4:30 PM - FS1
Lipscomb at Missouri, 5:00 PM - SEC Network
Hartford at Texas A&M, 5:00 PM - SEC Network+
Radford at Longwood, 5:00 PM - Big South Network
Richmond at Davidson, 5:00 PM - NBCSN
Virginia at Miami-Florida, 5:30 PM - ESPN 2
Tulane at Memphis, 6:00 PM - ESPN U
South Carolina at Iowa State, 6:00 PM - CBSSN
East Carolina at South Florida, 7:00 PM -
Presbyterian at Liberty, 7:00 PM - MASN,
Savannah State at LSU, 7:00 PM - SEC Network
Penn State at Rutgers, 7:30 PM - ESPN 2
Tenn Tech at SIU Edwardsville, 7:30 PM - FS-Midwest
Oregon State at Oregon, 8:00 PM - ESPN U
Colorado State at New Mexico, 8:00 PM - CBSSN
Southern Ill at Bradley, 8:00 PM - CSN-Chicago,
North Carolina at Clemson, 8:15 PM - ESPN
UC Irvine at New Mexico State, 9:00 PM - FS-Arizona+
Gonzaga at Portland, 9:30 PM - ESPN 2
San Diego at Santa Clara, 10:00 PM - ESPN U
BYU at San Francisco, 11:00 PM - CSN-Bay
Women’s College Basketball
Oklahoma State at Baylor, 12:00 PM - FS-Florida, Ohio, Southwest, SportSouth
Albany at Maine, 12:00 PM -
Wright State at Northern Kentucky, 1:00 PM -
Norfolk State at USC Upstate, 1:00 PM -
Ohio at Buffalo, 1:00 PM -
Temple at Cincinnati, 2:00 PM -
Davenport at Green Bay, 2:00 PM -
Eastern Michigan at Northern Illinois, 2:00 PM -
Washington State at Arizona, 2:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Stetson at Valparaiso, 2:30 PM -
Houston at SMU, 3:00 PM - American Sports Network
Washington at Arizona State, 3:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Maryland at Nebraska, 4:00 PM - CBS
High Point at Liberty, 4:00 PM -
Oregon at USC, 6:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Utah at California, 6:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Kansas at Texas, 8:00 PM - Longhorn Network
Oregon State at UCLA, 8:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Colorado at Stanford, 10:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
College Football
East Carolina vs. Florida (Birmingham Bowl), 12:00 PM - ESPN
College Hockey
Union at Boston University, 7:00 PM - NBCSN
Colorado College at Providence, 7:00 PM - OSN
Michigan Tech at Wisconsin, 8:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Iowa at Westchester, 1:00 PM - MSG+
National Lacrosse League
Edmonton at Buffalo, 7:30 PM -, NLL Live
Toronto at Rochester, 7:30 PM -, NLL Live
Colorado at Minnesota, 8:00 PM -,
Vancouver at Calgary, 9:00 PM -, TSN1
International Soccer
Club Atletico de Madrid vs. Levante UD, 9:55 AM - beIN Sport
Tranmere vs. Swansea, 10:00 AM - FS1
Sevilla FC vs. Celta Vigo, 11:55 AM - beIN Sport
Elche CF vs. Villarreal CF, 1:55 PM - beIN Sport
Deportivo La Coruna vs. Athletic Club, 3:55 PM - beIN Sport

Sports News   150102

The Gilmer Free Press

The Gilmer Free Press

►  College Football Bowl Game Results

(Thursday, January 01)

Final Score: (5) Ohio State 42, (1) Alabama 35

Ezekiel Elliott’s career game helped Ohio State continue its dream season and earn a spot in the national title game. Elliott ran for a career-high and Sugar Bowl-record 230 yards and scored two touchdowns in the Buckeyes’ thrilling 42-35 semifinal win over top-ranked Alabama at the Superdome on Thursday night. Ohio State, ranked fifth in the Associated Press poll, faced doubts about its worthiness after being picked fourth in the College Football Playoff rankings ahead of TCU and Baylor. It silenced the critics on Thursday night. The Buckeyes (13-1) will now face Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks in the first College Football Playoff final on Jan. 12. Ohio State’s run to the title game came after Heisman hopeful Braxton Miller was lost to a shoulder injury in the preseason. It picked up steam after backup quarterback J.T. Barrett suffered a fractured ankle in the regular-season finale against Michigan. In stepped third-stringer Cardale Jones, who led a 59-0 rout of Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game, then took down the vaunted Crimson Tide (12-2). Jones threw for 243 yards with one touchdown and an interception, while also rushing for 43 yards in the win.

Final Score: (3) Oregon 59, (2) Florida State 20

Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks will play for the national championship. Mariota combined for 400 yards and three touchdowns and the Ducks scored 34 points off five Florida State turnovers in the second half on the way to a 59-20 win in Thursday’s Rose Bowl. The Ducks, seeded No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings, will take on the winner of Thursday’s Sugar Bowl between Alabama and Ohio State in the national championship game on Jan. 12. Mariota was named the offensive MVP in the first national semifinal game in college football history after passing for 338 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 62 yards and another score in a little over three quarters.

Final Score: (7) Michigan State 42, (4) Baylor 41

Trailing 41-21 entering the fourth quarter, No. 7 Michigan State scored three consecutive touchdowns to complete an improbable comeback and beat No. 4 Baylor, 42-41, in the 2015 Cotton Bowl. Despite throwing two interceptions, including a crucial one in the final quarter, Connor Cook led Michigan State’s comeback with 314 yards and two touchdown passes, both in the fourth quarter, on 24-of-42 passing. Trailing 41-35 with just over a minute remaining in the game, the Spartans (11-2) blocked a field goal to give their offense one more shot. Cook connected with Tony Lippett on a 17-yard pass to convert a fourth down with the game on the line, and his 3rd-and-goal pass was caught for the winning touchdown by Keith Mumphery, who led MSU with 87 receiving yards. Michigan State ran the ball very effectively, getting 162 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries from Jeremy Langford. The two teams combined for Cotton Bowl records in points scored and total yards with 1,135. Bryce Petty set a Cotton Bowl record with 550 yards passing for the Bears (11-2). He completed 36-of-51 passes for three touchdowns and an interception as the clock ran down to end the game. Baylor was unable to run the ball which made it difficult to wear down the clock. The Bears finished with minus-20 rushing yards as a team, and Shock Linwood only totaled 26 yards on 11 carries. KD Cannon grabbed eight passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns, and Corey Coleman added 150 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions.

Final Score: (16) Missouri 33, Minnesota 17

Maty Mauk rebounded from two early interceptions to lead the 16th-ranked Missouri Tigers over the Minnesota Golden Gophers, 33-17, in the Citrus Bowl. Mauk completed 12-of-19 passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns for the Tigers (11-3), who recorded 11 wins for the fourth time in program history. He also carried the ball 11 times for 38 yards and a score. Marcus Murphy carried the ball 12 times for 157 yards for Missouri, which has won its last three bowl games. Russell Hansbrough rushed for 114 yards and a score on 15 carries. Bud Sasser caught seven passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. Mitch Leidner completed 21-of-31 passes for 258 yards and one touchdown for the Gophers (8-5), who have dropped their last seven bowl games. Maxx Williams caught seven passes for 98 yards and a score for Minnesota, which played in a New Year’s Day bowl for the first time since 1962. David Cobb rushed for 81 yards on 21 carries.

Final Score: (17) Wisconsin 34, (19) Auburn 31 (OT)

Rafael Gaglianone made a 29-yard field goal to tie the game with seven seconds left in the fourth quarter, then won the Outback Bowl for Wisconsin with a 25-yarder in overtime. Heisman Trophy runner-up Melvin Gordon led the way once again for the 17th-ranked Badgers, rushing for 251 yards and three touchdowns on 34 carries in a 34-31 victory over the 19th-ranked Auburn Tigers. Corey Clement carried the ball 15 times for 105 yards and also caught a touchdown pass for the Badgers (11-3), who set an Outback Bowl record with 400 yards on the ground.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Cardinals sign OT Bradfield to future contract

The Arizona Cardinals have signed offensive tackle Cameron Bradfield to a future contract for 2015.

Bradfield, a four-year NFL veteran, spent 2014 with Jacksonville and Atlanta. He was released by the Jaguars after two games and signed with the Falcons in late September, but did not appear in a game for Atlanta before being released in late November.

The Grand Valley State product started 27 of the 41 games he played for the Jaguars. He made 12 starts in 2012 and started 11 games in 2013.

►  Lions and Cowboys finish off Wild Card Weekend

Playoff football is back in Big D.

The Dallas Cowboys knew it would happen before the season began by boldly sending out postseason packages to their season-ticket holders last summer.

It’s unknown if Nostradamus had something to do with Dallas’ audacious prediction to reach the postseason, but the Cowboys know they will have their hands full with the Detroit Lions Sunday in an NFC Wild Card Game.

Dallas captured the NFC East title and the third seed in the conference with a 12-4 record and are in the playoffs for the first time since winning the division in 2009. Cowboys quarterback and MVP candidate Tony Romo has only one playoff victory under his belt and looks to build on that.

“I’m playing at a level I’m proud of and hope to get better,“ said Romo, who passed for 299 yards and two touchdowns with an interception in a 44-17 drubbing of Washington in the season finale. “I’m just excited about the progression of improvement and want to keep this going in our next game.“

Romo passed for 3,705 yards, 34 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He is 1-3 as a starter in the playoffs, completing 80-of-1,235 passes for 832 yards, four TDs and two INTs. Now that the running game has hit full stride, Romo won’t have to carry the offensive load. In four starts against the Lions, Romo is 1-3 with 1,160 yards, 10 TDs and four picks.

In seven home games this season, Romo passed for 1,772 yards, 14 touchdowns and was picked off seven times. He dealt with a lingering back issue all season, but has received treatment prior to the last few games to deaden the pain. Romo has built a strong rapport with leading receiver Dez Bryant, who led the team with 88 catches for 1,320 yards and a franchise-best 16 TDs.

Bryant had six touchdown receptions over the last three games for the Cowboys, who ripped off four straight wins after an embarrassing loss at home to the Philadelphia Eagles. Bryant is the only player in the NFL with 12 or more receiving touchdowns in each of the past three seasons, and has five touchdown catches in three meetings with Detroit.

“Dez is really a remarkable player,“ Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said. “As a teammate, as a leader, as a veteran guy, you take a lot of pride in seeing the growth of Dez and (running back) DeMarco (Murray) mature as players. Dez is a unbelievable player, he’s a dynamic player, and it’s great to see his growth.“

The Lions are in the playoffs for only the second time in the past 15 years and ended a two-year drought with an 11-5 record in the first year of head coach Jim Caldwell. The Lions just missed out on an NFC North title and the Green Bay Packers claimed it with a 12-4 mark.

Detroit was hoping to close the regular season with five straight wins, but dropped a 30-20 decision to the Packers Sunday at Lambeau Field. Matthew Stafford passed for 217 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for the Lions, whose 11 wins are the most since a 12-4 record back in 1991.

Stafford threw for 4,257 yards with 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and has eclipsed the 4,000-yard passing mark for a fourth straight season. He is 2-0 in his career versus Dallas and lost his only playoff appearance to New Orleans in 2011, throwing for 380 yards, three TDs and two INTs in a 45-28 setback in the Big Easy.

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson is Stafford’s main target and he had 211 yards and two scores on 12 receptions against the Saints.

Stafford is focused on winning his first playoff game.

“I think, obviously, you watch every game and find ways that you can get better, win, lose or draw,“ Stafford said. “We’re a battle-tested team and have won 11 football games this year. We found ways to win a lot of them and we’ll continue to do that. We just have to move forward.“

Golden Tate, not Johnson, led Detroit with 99 receptions for 1,331 yards in his first year with the team, while Megatron grabbed a team-high eight touchdown receptions. Johnson missed three games because of injury.

Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh almost missed this playoff game against the Cowboys after he stepped on the legs of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers while he was down on the grass. Suh was originally suspended for the game for violating playing rules prohibiting unnecessary roughness, but the penalty was reduced on appeal to a $70,000 fine.

Suh paced the Lions with 8 1/2 sacks and is a vital piece to the stout run defense, which finished first in rushing yards allowed (69.3). The Lions were second in total defense and held opponents to 100 rushing yards or fewer in 14 of 16 games, including five games with 50 rushing yards or fewer.

Murray led the NFL in rushing with a team-record 1,845 yards and 12 100-yard games. Murray was tied for the league lead in rushing scores with 13 and opened the season with eight straight 100-yard games for Dallas, which was second overall with 147.1 rushing yards per game.

“Controlling the line of scrimmage is important,“ Caldwell said. “Our defense has been really strong in that area throughout the year.“

The Lions defeated the Cowboys, 31-30, on October 27, 2013 and were aided by Stafford’s 488 passing yards. Johnson caught 14 passes for a franchise-record 329 yards and a score in that one for Detroit, which has won two in a row in this series after losing five of the previous six encounters.

Detroit and Dallas have split two playoff matchups, while the Cowboys lead the overall series by a 13-12 margin.


Sunday’s game features two great quarterbacks and two outstanding wide receivers. The Romo-to-Bryant connection has been on point the last few weeks and cannot afford to have a Thanksgiving flop. Romo threw for 199 yards and two interceptions, and was sacked twice in that Big D debacle

Bryant had 73 yards on six catches with no TDs. He has made great strides since that loss, however.

“We’re just getting started and we’re excited about the opportunity in front of us,“ Romo said about the postseason.

Romo led the NFL with a club-record 113.2 passer rating. He has to be aware of Detroit defenders Suh, Ezekiel Ansah, George Johnson and DeAndre Levy. Levy led the Lions with 151 tackles, while Glover Quin snatched an NFL-best seven interceptions.

Detroit had 20 INTs this season, second most in NFC. It will try to produce a few more turnovers and contain the likes of Bryant and Witten.

The Lions hope right guard Larry Warford will be available after he was carted off the field Sunday with a knee injury. Warford is day-to-day and hopes to be ready for the Cowboys.

“They haven’t really told me what to say,“ Warford said. “Can’t say anything about the injury right now, but hopefully I’ll be back soon.“

Lions rookie center Travis Swanson made his first start in Green Bay and replaced suspended veteran Dominic Raiola.

Dallas had four players with 70 or tackles in Barry Church (97), Rolando McClain (81), Anthony Hitchens (75) and J.J. Wilcox (74). Bruce Carter recorded five interceptions and Wilcox had three.

Church and Wilcox will have to help over the top with corners Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick lining up against Johnson and Tate.


The Lions have it tough facing the Packers two times a season and were able to split the NFC North series with each team winning at home. The Cowboys are just as talented, and the Lions will have to enter Dallas’ den in hopes of keeping the season alive.

The Cowboys were a perfect 8-0 on the road in the regular season and 4-4 at AT&T Stadium. The house that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones built will be electric this weekend, and getting Murray going early is priority No. 1. As difficult as that will be for Detroit to stop, there’s Romo and Bryant to worry about.

“We have a great defense, they’ve held us in games a lot of times,“ Johnson said of Detroit’s stop unit. “Like they say, ‘defense wins championships’, so if we just step our game up on offense we’ll be alright.“

Detroit is facing a fine collection of talent and will need a complete effort to pull off the victory. It won’t happen this year, unfortunately, as Romo and the ‘Boys ride off into the NFC divisional round of the playoffs.

►  Bengals seek to end lengthy playoff drought, visit Colts

It’s been nearly a quarter century since the Cincinnati Bengals last won a playoff game and they will be back for a fourth straight year to try again, this time in Indianapolis on Sunday.

The legendary comedian W.C. Fields once said “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,“ before deadpanning: “Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.“

Whether they admit it or not Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and his quarterback Andy Dalton have probably thought about that.

Lewis has been the head man in Cincinnati since the 2003 season and has won 100 career games but he’s 0-5 in the postseason, losing to Pittsburgh after the 2005 season, as well as the New York Jets (‘09), Houston Texans (‘11 and ‘12) and San Diego (‘13). Dalton has been there for the last three of those setbacks since taking over the team in ‘11 as a second-round pick out of TCU.

The franchise itself hasn’t won in January since 1991.

“We have to wait until Sunday to answer it again,“ Lewis said of the criticism surrounding him and his team.

“Regardless of what’s gone on in the past, this is a new team,“ Dalton added. “We’re here again. We were able to earn our way back here. We’ve got to take advantage of that. We understand that.“

A glass-is-half-full person might point to the fact that this is a franchise- record fourth straight postseason appearance for the Bengals while a glass-is- half-empty type wants results when they get there.

And those results will need to come against an emerging superstar in Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

The Bengals finished the regular season at 10-5-1, winning five of their last seven games but they came up short in the winner-take-all battle for the AFC North in Pittsburgh last Sunday night when Antonio Brown scored two touchdowns—one on a punt return and one the conventional way—as the Steelers captured their first division crown since 2010 with a 27-17 victory over Cincinnati.

Dalton completed 27-of-38 passes for 244 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in the setback. Jeremy Hill carried the ball 23 times for 100 yards.

On the other side winning AFC South titles has been a way of life for the Colts over the last decade plus as Indianapolis has taken nine of the past 12 division crowns and will now be looking to build a deep playoff run off of that.

“It’s one-and-done now,“ said Colts head coach Chuck Pagano. “We all know the stakes get higher and it’s single elimination. Whatever we have to do to win a game, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to do whatever it takes.“

Indianapolis warmed up for this in Week 17 when Luck threw a pair of touchdown passes in only one half of action, leading the Colts to a 27-10 win over the moribund Tennessee Titans.

Luck finished 10-of-16 for 160 yards and set the franchise single-season passing yardage mark with 4,761 yards, surpassing Peyton Manning’s previous mark of 4,700 in 2010. Matt Hasselbeck also threw a touchdown pass in the second half for the Colts, who finished 11-5.

Indianapolis bounced back from a dreadful performance at Dallas in Week 16 and completed a sweep of the AFC South for a second straight year. The Colts, who managed only 229 yards against the Cowboys in a 42-7 loss, totaled 378 on Sunday en route to their 13th straight divisional win.

“We needed to come out and win,“ said Luck. “To get a victory after last week was huge.“

Indianapolis leads its all-time series with the Bengals by a 17-10 margin and won the only prior postseason matchup. a 17-0 whitewash in a divisional playoff back in 1970.

Back in Week 7, Luck, who led the NFL with 40 touchdown passes this season, threw two scores as the Colts handed Cincinnati its worst loss of the year, a 27-0 shutout, the Bengals’ first in five years.

Indy limited Cincinnati to 135 total yards in that one and sacked Dalton three times while forcing Kevin Huber to punt it a franchise record-tying 11 times.

“Man, there were a lot of problems,“ Bengals safety Reggie Nelson admitted when talking about that game. “We got beat and they got the best of us, so it’s always good going back to a stadium, back to the scene of the crime.“

In the postseason the Colts are 20-22 all-time while the Bengals are only 5-12.


The offenses here are polar opposites with the Colts having nary a running game while placing everything on the shoulders of Luck, and Cincinnati becoming more of a run-based, play-action club with the emergence of Hill, who led all NFL rookies in rushing yards (1,124) and rushing TDs (nine).

In his past nine games, Hill has been dominant at times, averaging 103.2 yards on the ground per contest and becoming just the third NFL rookie with four 140-plus yard games.

Hill’s presence forces the opposing linebackers to honor the run fake and that creates better throwing lanes for Dalton, who, despite all the criticism, is 40-23-1 as the Bengals’ starter, the highest winning percentage in franchise history.

“Winning in general is how quarterbacks are judged,“ Dalton said. “If you win a lot in the regular season but you haven’t won a lot in the postseason, then they’re going to say that you couldn’t do something.“

On the outside A.J. Green is currently dealing with a concussion but is always a threat as evidenced by his 1,041 receiving yards, his fourth straight year over 1k. Green’s running mate, Mohamed Sanu recorded career-highs in catches (56), receiving yards (790) and TD catches (five) but struggles with drops at times.

“A.J. is doing fine,“ Lewis said on Wednesday. “He’s doing the concussion protocol.“

The Colts defense, meanwhile, has lacked consistency, especially on the pass rush where they the club has missed Robert Mathis, who sat the entire season, first on a suspension and then with an Achilles’ injury.

Veteran linebacker D’Qwell Jackson is the leader of the group in his first season since coming over from Cleveland, pacing the AFC with 140 total tackles. Jackson has rubbed well on rookie LB Jonathan Newsome, who comes in off a two-sack game last week.

The defensive backfield is highlighted by Vontae Davis, one of football’s best man-to-man coverage corners as well as veteran safety Mike Adams, who led the team with a career-high five INTs this season.

The Indy offense remains the team’s strength, though, and finished third in the NFL with 406.6 ypg but was No. 1 overall in passing with 305.9 of those yards coming through the air thanks to Luck, who is just the eighth QB in NFL history to toss 40 TD in a season. The Stanford product has 12,957 passing yards since entering the league in 2012, the most of any player in their first three seasons.

Luck has got a plethora of weapons starting with the speedy T.Y. Hilton, who amassed a career-high 1,345 receiving yards with 1,159 of them coming after the first month. Meanwhile tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener each had eight TD receptions.

“Suppressing Andrew Luck is going to be kind of hard,“ Nelson admitted. “He always starts off kind of slow and the scary thing is, he can always get his team going.“

What Luck doesn’t have, though, is a running game although the disappointing Trent Richardson has always played pretty well against the Bengals, averaging 101.3 scrimmage yards per game in four career meeting against Cincinnati.

Defensively the Bengals will need a big day from their top pass rusher, Carlos Dunlap, who lead the team with eight sacks. Luck will also take chances at times so when the opportunities are there to make a play, a talented defensive backfield has to pounce. Nelson led Cincinnati with four picks.

“We have a lot of respect for what they do,“ Luck said. “They do a lot and they do it well. These guys do everything and do it with confidence and competence. It’s a fun team to play.“


Geico Insurance has introduced a new generation of NFL fans to Ickey Woods and his famed “Ickey Shuffle” with a cute little marketing campaign showing Ickey celebrating getting some cold cuts with the shuffle.

Fans in Cincinnati, however, understand the Bengals haven’t won in the postseason since Boomer Esiason was handing it to Ickey. In their minds it’s time to celebrate something far more important than cold cuts.

“At the end of the day, there are only so many teams that get this opportunity,“ said Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth. “It doesn’t matter what your record is anymore. It doesn’t matter where you’re seeded. All that matters is if you win.“

And winning here is going to take some “Luck.“

“Do we want to take the next step? Yes,“ Pagano said. “Do we want to reach the Super Bowl that’s going to be played in Arizona? Yes. We’re glad to be in (the playoffs), but (we’re) never satisfied until we hoist (the Lombardi Trophy).“

►  Ravens, Steelers rivalry takes a new twist

The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers have always made a name for themselves through dominating defenses, but this season it was record-breaking offensive showings that helped get the rivals to the playoffs.

Quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco will again lead the charge on Saturday night when the Ravens visit Heinz Field looking for their first postseason victory over the Steelers.

Joe Greene, James Harrison, Troy Polamalu, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are just a few names that come to mind when discussions about the Steelers and Ravens take place, but both teams set franchise records this season in points and yards.

Behind an excellent effort from Roethlisberger, which included him becoming the first player in NFL history to throw six touchdown passes in back-to-back weeks, the Steelers set new marks in 2014 with 436 points and 6,577 yards. They ranked second in the league with 411.1 yards per game and seventh with 27.3 points per game.

The Ravens were right behind with 25.6 points per game and ranked 12th with 364.9 yards per game. In all, Baltimore set new club records with 409 points and 5,838 yards.

Baltimore won three of its final four games of the regular season to earn a wild card spot, yielding 13 points or fewer in each victory to finish at 10-6. The Ravens were fourth against the run and eighth in total defense while allowing 18.9 points per game to rank sixth in the NFL.

Still, the Ravens needed a little help to make the postseason for the sixth time in seven seasons as they needed to couple last Sunday’s 20-10 win over Cleveland with Kansas City’s 19-7 triumph over San Diego. That put Baltimore back in the playoffs after sitting out in 2013.

“It feels good. I remember sitting at home last year, a week from now, and it didn’t feel very good,“ said Flacco. “So, that at least won’t be happening this year, and it feels very good. It’s a great locker room right now, and we’ve just got to do all we can to go get ready, have fun this week and get ready for another challenge.“

It’s a big challenge for the Ravens, who are 0-3 versus the Steelers in the playoffs. All three setbacks have come in Pittsburgh.

“It is just going to be another one of those great moments in the Ravens- Steelers rivalry that we are looking forward to,“ said Ravens coach John Harbaugh. “It’s another playoff game there. We’d like to win one of those one of these days in their place, and we’re going to do our darndest to try to pull that off Saturday night.“

Baltimore has split 14 meetings with Pittsburgh in the regular season since Harbaugh took over as coach in 2008 and 10 of the those meetings have been decided by three points or fewer.

That was not the case when the Ravens last visited the Steelers, a 43-23 win for Pittsburgh in which Roethlisberger threw six touchdown passes and 340 yards without getting picked for a 136.6 passer rating.

Pittsburgh comes into this meeting having captured the AFC North for the first time since 2010, doing so thanks to a 27-17 win over second-place Cincinnati last weekend.

Pittsburgh went 11-5 and brings a four-game winning streak into its first playoff meeting with Baltimore since a 31-24 victory in the 2010 divisional playoffs.

“It’s typical AFC North ball. We take a lot of pride in being from the North. I look forward to it. It’s going to be typical Steelers-Ravens.“ said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who has guided Pittsburgh to a pair of wins over Baltimore in the playoffs.“

Pittsburgh is back in the postseason for the first time in three years following a pair of 8-8 seasons and won the AFC North for the fourth time in Tomlin’s eight seasons as coach.

The Steelers have won nine of their last 12 postseason games, but could be without running back Le’Veon Bell for this game after he suffered a right knee injury in the third quarter against the Bengals.

That could be a major loss for the Steelers as Bell amassed over 2,000 yards from scrimmage this season while accounting for 11 total touchdowns.


Injuries always play a key part in postseason football and the Steelers face a big one with the potential loss of Bell, who led the AFC with a club-record 2,215 yards from scrimmage. He ran for 1,361 yards and his 564 receiving yards were the most by a Pittsburgh running back in team annals.

In fact, Bell joined Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,300 yards rushing and 850 yards receiving.

If Bell can’t go, Roethlisberger may be forced to air it out even more without his top safety target as Bell was second on the club with 83 receptions.

“It’s the playoffs. You always have to take more. There’s a sense of urgency from all of us. We’re not going to rule anybody out yet. I’m not a doctor but we’ll see what happens,“ said Roethlisberger, who is 10-4 all-time as a starting quarterback in the playoffs.

Roethlisberger had an excellent season, setting new club records with 408 completions, 4,952 passing yards and a 67.1 completion percentage. His passing yards tied Drew Brees of New Orleans for the NFL lead and Roethlisberger matched his own club record with 32 touchdown passes set in 2007.

Wide receiver Antonio Brown played a big part in Roethlisberger’s season, leading the NFL with 129 catches and 1,698 receiving yards. Both of those also set club records as did Brown’s 13 touchdown receptions.

Consistency is a big part of Brown’s game as he has at least five catches and 50 receiving yards in an NFL-record 32 straight games. He had a late 63-yard TD reception from Roethlisberger last weekend and also added a 71-yard punt return for a score.

“Antonio Brown is gifted. He runs all the routes; he’s not just a deep threat, he’s a route runner; reverses; as a punt returner, as we saw in the Cincinnati game last week. He’s a multi-dimensional guy that can score at any point in time,“ noted Harbaugh.

The Ravens may be able to zero in closer on the QB-WR duo should Bell be unable to play. That would likely leave the bulk of the carries for undrafted rookie Josh Harris. Dri Archer could also see touches and the Steelers this week signed Ben Tate, but Tomlin admitted it may take more than one guy to help fill Bell’s production.

“Le’Veon contributes in a lot of ways. When you’re talking about replacing an impact guy like him it’s not a one-man job. It never is. It’s a multiple-man job and it might be a multiple-man job across positions,“ said Tomlin.

The Ravens were excellent against the run this season, but lost Jimmy Smith and Asa Jackson to injury among others and allowed 248.7 yards per game through the air. That ranked 24th in the NFL, but Baltimore also tied for second with 49 sacks.

No NFL duo had more quarterback takedowns this season than Ravens linebackers Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs. Dumervil produced a club-record 17 sacks and Suggs finished with 12.

Suggs has 12 career playoff sacks, tied with Hall of Famer Reggie White for third all-time.

Baltimore rookie defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan has his status for the game in doubt due to a foot injury, but the Ravens do catch a break as talented defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is eligible to return from a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drug policy.

The 30-year-old had 31 tackles in 12 games with two sacks and a pair of interceptions.

“I just feel like I owe these guys,“ said Ngata of his teammates. “So, I’m just going to do whatever I can to help the team, and I’m definitely just ready to get back out there again.“

Said Roethlisberger of Ngata, “He’s tough. He can the run. He can rush the passer. You don’t usually get that from an interior guy. Usually that’s the outside guys. Just the physical presence that he is, is what makes him so good.“

As Baltimore yielded just 19 sacks on the season, Flacco was able to set career highs with 3,987 passing yards and 27 touchdown passes. Wide receiver Torrey Smith was on the receiving end of 11 of those, ranking second in team history behind Michael Jackson’s 14 in 1996, while first-year Raven Steve Smith led the team with 79 receptions and 1,065 yards.

Running back Justin Forsett had a career-high 1,266 rushing yards for the Ravens and his 5.4 average yard per carry led the NFL. However, he had been held to just 67 yards rushing the previous two games before ripping off 119 versus the Browns.

“We have to be a good running team, because that’s who we think we are,“ declared Harbaugh.

Like the Ravens, the Steelers were solid against the run (100.3 YPG to rank sixth in the NFL) but yielded 253.1 passing yards per game and 23.0 points per contest.

Still, linebacker Lawrence Timmons is coming off a Pro Bowl season with a club-high 132 tackles, defensive end Cam Heyward tied for the team lead with a career-best 7 1/2 sacks and cornerback William Gay returned all three of his interceptions for touchdowns.

Pittsburgh has a pair of solid veteran defenders it can lean on in Harrison and Polamalu. Harrison has 6 1/2 sacks in 13 career playoff games along with a 100-yard pick six versus Arizona in Super Bowl XLIII, while Polamalu has three career postseason interceptions. Among those is a 40-yard pick-six versus Baltimore on January 18, 2009.


The only thing better than playoff football is playoff football between division rivals and the Steelers and Ravens should put forth an epic battle regardless of whatever struggles they had this season.

“It’s a great challenge,“ said Harbaugh. We love this rivalry. We love being a part of it. We’ve said that many times before, and I believe they feel the same way about it.“

“This is probably what the NFL wanted more than anything to see these two AFC North teams go at it. I like to think we’re different. I like to think we’re still moving up but I’m sure they’ll say the same thing about themselves,“ said Roethlisberger.

This game becomes a little less cut-and-dry with the potential absence of Bell, but home-field advantage should be huge for the Steelers. After all, there is a reason that the Ravens are 0-3 in the Steel City during the postseason.

The Steelers have won four straight home playoff games at Heinz Field, going 7-3 all-time there in the postseason since it opened in 2001. Given Pittsburgh is the more consistent offensive threat, it should be able to improve on that record this Saturday.

►  Panthers are ready to prove they belong

The Carolina Panthers didn’t win a football game for over eight weeks at one point this season and now they are set to host a wild- card playoff game as the favorite.

Such is life in the war of attrition that is the NFL.

The NFC South champions will open up the NFL postseason on Saturday against an 11-win Arizona team that will likely be relying on its third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley.

Despite ping-ponging from Carson Palmer to Drew Stanton back to Palmer and back to Stanton before Lindley due to injuries the Cardinals tied a franchise record with the 11 victories and have won 21 total games in their first two seasons under the likely NFL Coach of the Year, Bruce Arians.

Arizona has also won four of its past six postseason games, including a 33-13 win at Carolina on January 10, 2009 in the divisional round, the only prior matchup between these teams in the playoffs.

“It’s a whole new season now,“ Arians said. “We’re all 0-0 and we’re in the tournament. We’re going to get ready for this playoff game. We’re not planning on being one-and-done.“

Few ever plan to be one-and-done but the Cardinals have an uphill battle in trying to avoid that fate.

Arizona comes in having lost two in a row, including a 20-17 Week 17 loss at the 49ers in what turned out to be Jim Harbaugh’s final game as San Francisco’s head coach.

Lindley did throw his first two career touchdown passes to Michael Floyd in the setback and completed 23-of-39 passes for a career-high 316 yards but he also was picked off three times. Floyd, meanwhile, made eight catches for 153 yards and Kerwynn Williams ran it 17 times for 67 yards.

“It’s a loss and no one wants to lose in the NFL, but I think we gained some confidence,“ said Lindley. “We ran the ball a lot better this week. We did a great job of pass protection ... Floyd had a great day.“

Despite their less-than-stellar record, the Panthers enter the tournament red hot, having won four straight while outscoring opponents 111-43 over that span.

Under head coach Ron Rivera, Carolina became the first team to win back-to- back NFC South division titles after a dominating 34-3 winner-take-all road win at Atlanta last weekend.

In the month of December, the Panthers formula for turning things around was running the football coupled with stingy defense, ranking second in the NFL in both rushing offense (199.3 yards per game) and points allowed (10.8 points per game) during the month.

“We put ourselves in this position by playing the way we did in December,“ Rivera said. “We’ve won the NFC South two years in a row and that’s something to build on as we move forward as a football team.“

Against the Falcons, Carolina returned two Matt Ryan interceptions for touchdowns and scored a total of 21 points off three turnovers.

The Panthers’ defense harassed Ryan all day, piling up six sacks and hurrying the veteran QB into uncharacteristic mistakes, resulting in an overthrown pass that was returned 31 yards for a touchdown by Roman Harper in the second quarter. Later in the third quarter, an underthrown pass was picked by Tre Boston and returned 84 yards to put the game out of reach.

“They played the way you need to play in these types of situations,“ said Ryan. “They executed at a high level and we did not, across the board.“

Cam Newton didn’t have to do much against the Falcons, and finished with 114 yards passing and a touchdown while adding 51 yards on the ground, including a 4-yard touchdown scramble after an Atlanta fumble in the first half.

“This game meant so much to, not only myself, but my teammates,“ said Newton. “We were playing for so much. We did a lot that a lot of people didn’t expect us to do.“

Jonathan Stewart carried the ball 13 times for 49 yards while starting again in place of DeAngelo Williams, who sat for the fourth straight game with a broken hand.

Carolina leads its all-time series with the Cards by an 8-5 margin, including the prior postseason loss. In the playoffs as a whole the Panthers are 6-5 all-time while the Cardinals are under water at 6-7.

The winner this week will advance to face either top-seeded Seattle or No. 2 Green Bay in the divisional round. If Dallas beats Detroit on Sunday, the winner will play at the Seahawks. If Detroit wins, the winner travels to Green Bay.


If you are wondering why Arians is the odds on favorite to win his second Coach of the Year award, consider this: Injuries have been an issue for Arizona dating all the way back to training camp when star defensive tackle Darnell Dockett was lost for the season to a knee injury. When you add it all up, the Cards have been without 21 different players at some point this season and that group has missed a collective 109 games. Add in suspended star linebacker Daryl Washington and those numbers jump to 22 and 125.

The health at the quarterback position has been particularly troubling. Palmer has missed 10 games, first with a nerve issue in his shoulder before a season-ending ACL tear. His backup, Stanton, then went down with a knee injury of his own, which has been complicated by an infection.

Palmer won all six of his starts this season and 13 of 15 dating back to 2013 so this is a completely different club with him under center, one that was on its way to earning the top seed in the conference.

Without Palmer or Stanton, Arizona’s big-play defense will have to carry the day if the team hopes to leave the Tar Heel State with a win. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is getting a lot of bites as a head-coaching candidate because he has cobbled together a solid unit despite the absence of stalwarts like Washington, Dockett and John Abraham (concussion issues.)

The group isn’t that great on paper, ranked 24th in the NFL by allowing 368.2 yards per game, but it does force the issue as evidenced by the team’s plus-8 turnover ratio, which is third in the NFC.

Talented cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie are prone to taking chances but can shift momentum at any time with their impressive man- to-man coverage skills. The Cardinals’ defense had 18 total interceptions in the regular season with four players snaring three-or-more, safety Rashad Johnson (four) and Cromartie, Peterson and fellow corner Jerraus Powers with three apiece.

The Panthers’ offense is the definition of mediocre, 16th in a 32-team league at 346.7 ypg but they have some real threats in rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin as well as star tight end Greg Olsen, who both finished with over 1,000 receiving yards.

Carolina could also get a boost in the backfield with the potential return of Williams from the broken hand. The veteran was actually probable last week but was deactivated because he was deemed a liability in pass protection. Stewart, meanwhile, has been solid in his absence, rushing for 486 yards since Williams was forced to the sideline.

“(Williams is a) part of why we are where we are today,“ Rivera said. “When he’s healthy and ready to go he’ll get his opportunities to get on the field.“

Arians, meanwhile, is very concerned with the dual threat Newton brings to the table, calling him tougher to defend than other QBs who have a similar skill set like Seattle’s Russell Wilson and the Niners’ Colin Kaepernick.

“He presents different problems than Colin and Russell,“ Arians said. “He’s more of a combination of both those guys. He can really throw the football extremely well from the pocket. It presents a multitude of problems for us.“

The Panthers won’t be having those same problems. There is no other way to say it than other than Arizona is behind the 8-ball on offense with Lindley, who simply isn’t a competent starter at this level.

Conversely the Panthers’ defense has been hitting its stride lately and finished the season 10th overall (339.8 ypg) after the strong December.

Without the exiled Greg Hardy, linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis are the unquestioned difference makers. The All-Pro Kuechly led NFL with 153 tackles and also leads with 473 stops since entering the league in 2012. His running mate, Davis, is almost as productive, finishing second on the club in tackles with 100.

In Hardy’s absence. Charles Johnson has taken over as the unit’s best pass rusher with 8 1/2 sacks, his fifth consecutive season with eight-or-more QB takedowns. The consistent Johnson is the only NFC player with 50-or-more sacks (52 1/2) and 13-or-more forced fumbled (13) since 2010. The defensive backfield is headlined by Harper, who led the team with a career-high four interceptions, but really took off when rookies Boston, Harper’s running mate at safety, and cornerback Bene Benwikere entered the lineup.

“We were trying to find answers as a coaching staff, the right combination of guys—and we found it,“ Rivera said when discussing his rookies.

With all three levels hitting on all cylinders in December the group has limited opposing quarterbacks to a 64.6 passer rating—second only to the Seahawks’ dominant defense.

Lindley, meanwhile, is 1-5 as a starter as a professional and had thrown an NFL-record 229 pass attempts without a touchdown before finding Floyd on a gimmick flea-flicker play last week.

“It was good to get the monkey off my back a little bit,“ Lindley said.

The real hope, though, is that Stanton could make the miracle recovery and be under center by Saturday.

“He’s progressing and nothing’s really changed,“ Arians admitted when asked about Stanton. “We’ve got our fingers crossed that possibly he could go later in the week.“


Since 1936, no team has scored fewer points than Arizona over the final six games and still made the playoffs.

The Cardinals have continually called Stanton’s knee injury a sprain. In reality, though, it was a partially torn ACL and a Grade 2 MCL sprain further exacerbated by an infection which had to be drained. He’s not walking through that door at Bank of America Stadium on Saturday to save Arizona.

Carolina, though, is bringing what has been the second best defense in football over the past month.

“It tells you that no matter what you do during the regular season, it just doesn’t matter,“ Stewart said of his team’s renewed optimism. “Things amp up to a whole different notch in the playoffs.“

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Can Andy Dalton produce in the postseason?

I think it is rather easy to predict Cincinnati Bengals’ quarterback Andy Dalton’s New Year’s resolution.

It would be to help get the Bengals a playoff victory.

Cincinnati has now made the postseason for the fourth-consecutive season, yet have zero wins to show for, and a big reason why is a result of the poor play of Dalton.

Fantasy owners who compete in playoff leagues most likely have the Bengals signal-caller off of their radar, and rightfully so. Through three-career playoff games, Dalton has averaged only 239.3 passing yards, while throwing a total of one touchdown and six interceptions.

On top of that, Dalton’s upcoming opponent, the Indianapolis Colts have played pretty well against opposing quarterbacks this season.

According to Yahoo, the Colts gave up just 16.6 points per game to quarterbacks. The Seattle Seahawks gave up the least amount of points to opposing signal-callers (12.0 ppg), showing that Indianapolis was not far off.

There are simply not many numbers to support Dalton for Wild-Card Weekend.

He threw for only 19 scores in 2014, and had 17 interceptions to go along with his low touchdown-total. Dalton also did not throw for more than three touchdowns in any game this season, and only was able to do that just once (Week 11 vs. New Orleans).

Dalton finished the season as the 18th-ranked fantasy quarterback, with 241.6 points. With the exception of Arizona Cardinals signal-caller Ryan Lindley, all of the other starting quarterbacks who will be playing this weekend, outscored Dalton by at least 19 points in 2014.

Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton was the closest, with 260.9 points, yet he missed two games due to injury.

Fantasy owners who are currently constructing their rosters for the opening round of the playoffs need to leave Dalton out. Yes, he could finally come through for the Bengals after three seasons of misery, however there just is not enough statistics to back up any potential “gut feelings.“

There are six quarterbacks that need to utilized before considering Dalton (Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger, Tony Romo, Joe Flacco, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton), and whatever type of league fantasy owners will be competing in this weekend, they should be able to have the opportunity to stay away from the Bengals’ signal-caller.

<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Basketball Game Results

(Thursday, January 01)

Final Score: Evansville 52, (23) Northern Iowa 49

D.J. Balentine scored 17 points to lead Evansville to a 52-49 win over No. 23 Northern Iowa on Thursday. Egidijus Mockevicius supplied 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Purple Aces (11-2, 1-0 MVC), who won their fourth straight game in their Missouri Valley Conference opener. Seth Tuttle had 18 points to lead the Panthers (11-2, 0-1) and Wes Washpun added 11 off the bench in the loss.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Thursday, January 01)

Final Score: Chicago 106, Denver 101

Jimmy Butler scored 26 points and the Chicago Bulls had a franchise-record 18 blocked shots in a 106-101 win over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night. Pau Gasol added 17 points, a career-high nine blocks and nine rebounds for the Bulls, who have won 11 of their last 13. Derrick Rose scored 17 points on 25 shots and Aaron Brooks had 12 points off the bench. Wilson Chandler had 22 points and Ty Lawson scored 20 to lead the Nuggets, who have lost three in a row and 12 of their last 16. Denver’s road losing streak reached seven games since a win against Utah on Dec. 1.

Final Score: Sacramento 110, Minnesota 107

Darren Collison and Rudy Gay each scored 21 points to lead the Sacramento Kings to a 110-107 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday. DeMarcus Cousins had 19 points with seven rebounds before fouling out, and Derrick Williams added 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting in the win. Sacramento snapped a six-game losing skid on the road. Andrew Wiggins tallied 27 points with nine rebounds for Minnesota, which dropped its 10th straight game. Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad each chipped in 15 points, with Dieng adding 10 rebounds.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Thursday, January 01)

Final Score: Washington 3, Chicago 2

Troy Brouwer scored the game-winning goal with just 12.9 seconds to play and the Washington Capitals nabbed a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Winter Classic from Nationals Park. The game appeared headed to overtime, but a penalty to Jonathan Toews at 18:47 gave the Capitals a power play, and just under a minute later a mid-ice faceoff was won by the Capitals that saw Alex Ovechkin bring it into the Chicago end. Ovechkin had his stick broken at the left circle and lost control of the puck, but Brouwer was there for a turnaround shot that beat Corey Crawford for the lead. Braden Holtby then sealed the victory with a tough save on a Patrick Kane shot just before time expired to give the Capitals their second victory in the New Year’s Day event. Washington had won a 3-1 decision over the Penguins at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh in 2011, and is now the first team to win two games at this annual event. Ovechkin finished the game with a goal and an assist, while Eric Fehr also lit the lamp for the Capitals, who had come into the game having lost two of their last three games. Holtby finished the game with 33 stops. Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad scored for the Blackhawks, who have lost both of their Winter Classic appearances as the team dropped a 6-4 decision to Detroit at Wrigley Field in 2009. Crawford made 32 saves.

Final Score: Los Angeles 3, Vancouver 2

The Los Angeles Kings peppered Ryan Miller with shot after shot. Eventually they started going in. Justin Williams and Jarret Stoll scored in a 53-second span late in the third period and the Kings rallied to top the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 on Thursday. The Canucks trailed 2-0 after two periods despite giving up just 10 shots but scored three unanswered goals to end a five-game road losing streak. Dwight King’s goal in the second period pulled them within 2-1 and Williams scored on a power play late in the third to tie it. Stoll netted the winner with 1:14 remaining. Jonathan Quick faced just 16 shots in net for the Kings, who won for just the fourth time in their last 10 (4-3-3). They had been 0-3-2 in their last five on the road after losing in Calgary and Edmonton this week. Alexandre Burrows and Radim Vrbata scored for Vancouver, which had a four-game point streak snapped (3-0-1). Miller made 37 saves.

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
Cleveland at Charlotte, 7:00 PM - FS-Ohio, SportSouth, DSS
Brooklyn at Orlando, 7:00 PM - YES, FS-Florida, NBA TV, DSS
Dallas at Boston, 7:30 PM - FS-Southwest, CSN-New England, DSS
Detroit at New York, 7:30 PM - FS-Detroit, MSG, DSS
Houston at New Orleans, 8:00 PM - ROOT-Southwest, FS-New Orleans, DSS
Washington at Oklahoma City, 8:00 PM - CSN-DC, FS-Oklahoma, DSS
Indiana at Milwaukee, 8:30 PM - FS-Indiana, Wisconsin, DSS
Philadelphia at Phoenix, 9:00 PM - TCN-Philadelphia, FS-Arizona, DSS
Atlanta at Utah, 9:00 PM - ROOT-Northwest, DSS
Toronto at Golden State, 10:30 PM - SNET, CSN-Bay, DSS
Memphis at LA Lakers, 10:30 PM - SportSouth, Time Warner, DSS
National Hockey League
Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh, 7:00 PM - SunSports, ROOT-Pittsburgh, DSS
Montreal at New Jersey, 7:00 PM - RDS, MSG+, DSS
Florida at Buffalo, 7:00 PM - FS-Florida, MSG-Buffalo, DSS
Philadelphia at Carolina, 7:00 PM - CSN-Philadelphia, FS-Carolina, DSS
Toronto at Minnesota, 8:00 PM - SNET-Ontario, FS-North, DSS
Edmonton at Colorado, 9:00 PM - SNET-West, Altitude, DSS
NY Islanders at Calgary, 9:00 PM - MSG+2, SNET-1, DSS
St. Louis at Anaheim, 10:00 PM - FS-Midwest, Prime Ticket, DSS
College Basketball
Washington State at Stanford, 3:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Youngstown State at Ill-Chicago, 4:00 PM -
Milwaukee at Cleveland State, 7:00 PM -
Siena at Fairfield, 7:00 PM - SNY,
Ave Maria at Florida Gulf Coast, 7:00 PM -
North Florida at Alabama, 7:00 PM - SEC Network+
Manhattan at Niagara, 7:00 PM - Time Warner
Valparaiso at Oakland, 7:00 PM -
Detroit at Wright State, 7:00 PM -
Central Penn at Central Michigan, 7:00 PM -
Florida State at Miss State, 8:00 PM - ESPN U
Oral Roberts at North Dakota State, 8:00 PM -
UTEP at North Texas, 8:00 PM - American Sports Network, MASN
UC Riverside at Northern Ill, 8:00 PM -
Washington at California, 10:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
UCLA at Colorado, 10:00 PM - FS1
USC at Utah, 10:00 PM - ESPN U
Women’s College Basketball
Robert Morris (IL) at Ill-Chicago, 2:00 PM -
Kentucky at Alabama, 3:00 PM - SEC Network+
Georgia at Miss State, 4:00 PM - SEC Network+
Seton Hall at St. John’s, 6:00 PM - CBSSN
Arkansas at Ole Miss, 7:00 PM - SEC Network+
Florida A&M at Kennesaw State, 7:00 PM -
Georgia Tech at Louisville, 7:00 PM -
Auburn at South Carolina, 7:00 PM - SEC Network
LSU at Florida, 7:00 PM - SEC Network+
Marquette at Georgetown, 7:30 PM - FS1
Indiana State at Wichita State, 8:00 PM -
Vanderbilt at Texas A&M, 8:00 PM - SEC Network+
Missouri at Tennessee, 9:00 PM - SEC Network
College Football
Houston vs. Pittsburgh (Armed Forces Bowl), 12:00 PM - ESPN
Iowa vs. Tennessee (TaxSlayer Bowl), 3:20 PM - ESPN
Kansas State vs. UCLA (Alamo Bowl), 6:45 PM - ESPN
Washington vs. Oklahoma State (Cactus Bowl), 10:15 PM - ESPN
National Lacrosse League
Buffalo at New England, 7:00 PM -,

Sports News   150101

The Gilmer Free Press

The Gilmer Free Press

►  College Football Bowl Game Results

(Wednesday, December 31)

Final Score: (6) TCU 42, (9) Ole Miss 3

Snubbed by the College Football Playoff committee, TCU made an emphatic statement against the nation’s stingiest defense on Wednesday. Trevone Boykin threw two of his three touchdown passes to Josh Doctson and the sixth-ranked Horned Frogs manhandled the No. 9 Ole Miss Rebels 42-3 in the Peach Bowl. TCU (12-1) felt it was worthy of playing for the national title, but fell from third to sixth in the final playoff rankings despite closing its regular season with a 55-3 rout of Iowa State to earn a share of the Big 12 championship. Boykin was 22-of-31 for 187 yards with three interceptions. Wide receiver Kolby Listenbee opened the scoring with a touchdown pass to Aaron Green and added a touchdown reception. Bo Wallace struggled mightily against a stout Horned Frogs defense. Wallace threw three first-half interceptions, one of which resulted in a TCU touchdown, and fumbled once while completing 10-of-23 passes for 109 yards. The Rebels (9-4), who were held to 129 total yards on offense, had their bowl win streak snapped a six games. Ole Miss entered the contest with the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense, allowing just 13.8 points per game.

Final Score: (21) Boise State 38, (12) Arizona 30

Boise State once again had a party in the Fiesta Bowl, even if it couldn’t start celebrating until the very end. Jay Ajayi rushed for three first-half touchdowns, Thomas Sperbeck amassed a career-high 199 yards on 12 catches and the 21st-ranked Broncos stopped Arizona near the goal line on the final play to hold on for a thrilling 38-30 victory over the No. 12 Wildcats. Boise State built a 21-0 first-quarter lead and stayed in front the rest of the way, though Arizona got within eight yards of a potential game-tying touchdown before Anu Solomon was sacked by Kamalei Correa as time ran out. Ajayi finished with 134 yards on 22 carries in the Mountain West champion Broncos’ ninth straight win and third in the past nine Fiesta Bowls. Grant Hedrick threw for 309 yards with a touchdown and an interception while completing 24-of-34 passes for Boise State (12-2). Solomon had both a rushing and passing touchdown and put up 335 yards on a 28-of-49 completion rate, but the freshman also had a few rookie mistakes that hurt Arizona (10-4) in its first major bowl appearance since the 1994 Fiesta. He was intercepted twice, one of which was returned 16 yards for a critical touchdown by Donte Deayon late in the third quarter, and couldn’t throw the ball away on Correa’s game-ending tackle on third down with the Wildcats out of time outs.

Final Score: (10) Georgia Tech 49, (8) Mississippi State 34

Justin Thomas accounted for four touchdowns and No. 10 Georgia Tech gouged eighth-ranked Mississippi State for an Orange Bowl record 452 rushing yards in a 49-34 rout on Wednesday night. Thomas finished with 121 yards on the ground with three touchdowns and also threw for 125 yards with a score and an interception, earning Orange Bowl MVP honors. Synjyn Days rushed for 171 yards and three scores for the Yellow Jackets (11-3), who responded from a close loss to Florida State in the ACC Championship Game and broke down a solid SEC defense. Dak Prescott went 33-of-51 passing for 453 yards with three touchdowns and an interception for the Bulldogs (10-3), while also rushing for 47 yards and a touchdown. Josh Robinson, who declared for the NFL Draft prior to the game via his Instagram account, rushed for a team-high 75 yards in the setback. De’Runnya Wilson hauled in nine passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Colts’ Cherilus done for season

The Indianapolis Colts won’t have offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus for the upcoming AFC Playoffs after placing the starting lineman on injured reserve Wednesday.

Cherilus missed the Colts’ last two regular season games with a groin injury after starting 13 of the team’s first 14 contests.

Joe Reitz is expected to man right tackle when the AFC South champion Colts host Cincinnati in Sunday’s Wild Card Round, with offensive lineman David Arkin promoted from the practice squad to fill the available roster spot.

Cherilus, a former first-round pick of Detroit, is in the second season of a five-year contract he signed with the Colts in March of 2013.

►  Marrone opts out of his contract with Bills

Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone has opted out of his contract with the club, team owner Terry Pegula announced Wednesday.

“Doug Marrone informed me late today that he has decided to exercise the option clause in his contract and relinquish his responsibilities as our head coach,“ Pegula said in a statement.

“We are disappointed that Coach Marrone will no longer be an important part of our organization. We thank him for all of his hard work and leadership during his tenure and wish him and his family the best with the next chapter in their lives.

“We will now begin the important process of conducting a thorough search for a new head coach as we continue to strive to reach our goal of returning to the playoffs and bringing a championship to Buffalo for our fans.“

The recent ownership change triggered a three-day opt-out clause in Marrone’s contract. Terry and Kim Pegula purchased the franchise in October.

Marrone just finished his second season at the helm in Buffalo. The Bills finished with a 9-7 record in 2014, their first winning season in a decade, and were 15-17 overall in Marrone’s two seasons.

The 50-year-old Marrone reportedly asked for a contract extension from the new ownership. They declined, and he opted to leave. He will still get paid the $4 million he was due from the Bills in 2015.

Prior to joining the Bills, Marrone spent four seasons as the head coach at Syracuse.

He served as Sean Payton’s offensive coordinator in New Orleans from 2006-08 and was the New York Jets’ offensive line coach from 2002-05.

►  Eagles part ways with Tom Gamble

The Philadelphia Eagles agreed to part ways with vice president of player personnel Tom Gamble on Wednesday.

“We thank Tom for his service over the past two seasons and wish him and his family the best as they move forward,“ said Eagles general manager Howie Roseman in a statement. “I appreciate all Tom has done for our scouting department and our team.“

Gamble joined the Eagles in 2013 after spending the previous eight seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.

►  Beckham, Mosley named NFL’s top December rookies

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Baltimore Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley have been chosen as the NFL’s Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Month for December.

Beckham led the league in receptions (43), receiving yards (606) and touchdown catches (seven). His receiving yards total is the most by a rookie in any calendar month in NFL history.

Mosley registered 27 tackles and two sacks while helping the Ravens clinch a playoff spot.

►  Romo among NFC’s best for December

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner and Arizona Cardinals special teamer Justin Bethel have been named the NFC’s Players of the Month for December.

The Offensive Player of the Month, Romo led the Cowboys to a 4-0 record in December as the team won the NFC East. He completed 74.8% of his passes for 987 yards with 12 touchdowns and one interception for a 133.7 passer rating, the highest December passer rating in NFL history (minimum 100 attempts).

Romo is the first Cowboys quarterback to go 4-0 as a starter in December since Pro Football Hall of Famer Troy Aikman in 1993.

Wagner, the Defensive Player of the Month, had a team-best 36 tackles, including one sack, and a pass defensed as the Seahawks posted a 4-0 record in December, winning the NFC West and earning home-field advantage.

Bethel led the NFC with eight special teams tackles during the month and had a forced fumble in December as the Cardinals finished the season 11-5 and clinched a playoff berth.

►  Brown, Watt, Barth tabbed as top AFC players for December

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and Denver kicker Connor Barth have been selected as the AFC’s top players for the month of December.

Brown, who was named the AFC’s top special teams player for Week 17, earned the offensive player of the month award. He notched 33 receptions for 440 yards with two touchdowns to help the Steelers to a 4-0 record that also pushed them to the AFC North crown.

The fifth-year veteran from Central Michigan had at least seven catches in all four games and had three 100-yard performances in that span. His 129 catches were the second-most in NFL history and he set a Steelers record with 1,698 receiving yards.

Watt, who could be in the running for the NFL MVP, picked up his second defensive monthly honor this season. He was previously selected in September and for the month of December led the NFL with nine sacks while adding 24 tackles with a forced fumble and a safety. He also won the award twice in 2012.

Barth grabbed the special teams award after connecting on 10-of-11 field goal tries and all 13 PATs for the Broncos during the month. He posted a pair of games with at least four made field goals, including a 5-for-5 effort in a 22-10 win over San Diego in Week 15.

►  Cottrell did his job

Better a thousand go free than one innocent man be punished.

That’s known as Blackstone’s formulation in criminal law and kind of explains why embattled Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will be playing this Sunday in Detroit’s wild-card playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys.

While that’s not a popular outcome for many who find the notorious bad boy to be a blight on the game of football, hearing officer Ted Cottrell got it right by cutting the one-game penalty down to a $70,000 fine.

Suh, of course, was punished for twice stepping on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ left leg in the fourth quarter of the Packers’ NFC North-clinching 30-20 victory over the Lions last Sunday at Lambeau Field.

The video of the incident, though, was not nearly as damning as the one that cost Detroit center Dominic Raiola, another Lions player with a reputation that would make Conrad Dobler blush, the Week 17 contest against the Packers for his Randy Orton-like stomp of Ego Ferguson’s leg the week prior.

In the case of Suh, you could at least make the argument that he had no idea that Rodgers was lying prone on the ground before he laid the boots to the star quarterback.

And most who hate Cottrell’s judgment can at least understand that perspective but look at Suh’s litany of misdeeds in the past as evidence that the 6- foot-4, 305-pound All-Pro had ill intent toward a player who routinely dismembers the Lions’ defense.

This incident was the second time Suh was suspended for stepping on a player, following a two-game ban in 2011 for tap dancing on the arm of then-Packers lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith. Meanwhile, he’s been fined on eight other occasions.

The NFL’s official statement on Suh’s suspension never mentioned his past acts for good reason, however ... it couldn’t.

According to league rules, a player who goes 32 games without a violation is removed from the repeat-offender list. Suh’s last infraction was in Week 1 of the 2013 season, when he was fined $100,000 for an illegal chop block on Vikings center John Sullivan, the biggest fine in NFL history for on-field conduct.

So NFL vice president of football operation Merton Hanks was forced to limit himself to Suh’s actions last Sunday.

“As Rodgers lay on the ground in a defenseless posture, you (Suh) backed up and stepped on his left leg with your right foot,“ Hanks claimed. “You then inexplicably stepped on Rodgers’ left leg again, this time with your left foot.

“The video then shows that you raised your right foot, applied pressure, and unnecessarily pushed off Rodgers’ unprotected leg with your left foot. Rodgers reacted to your actions by pushing you away with his right hand as he lay on the ground. You did not respond in the manner of someone who had lost his balance and accidentally contacted another player who was lying on the ground.“

Hanks and plenty of others certainly believe that spin but the last time I looked the former 49ers ballhawk isn’t Carnac the Magnificent and reasonable people could look at the same video and come to a far different conclusion.

Ed Reed, the Ex-Ravens All-Pro, had a far more compelling, albeit fruitless, argument on SHOWTIME’s “Inside the NFL”

“When you have stuff like this in the game, that shouldn’t be tolerated,“ Reed said. “He probably should have (been suspended more than one game) because of the things that he’s been doing up to this point—kicking guys and really disrespecting the game of football and the brotherhood that we have. Some things you just don’t do.“

Reed’s take is far more coercive than Hanks’ assumptions but like most of Suh’s detractors, Reed is basing his argument on the pattern, not Sunday ‘s actions.

Hanks didn’t have that luxury.

Think of it this way. The next time you are saddled with jury duty, you might get a burglary case with a career thief as the defendant. Any maybe that long- time criminal has a rap sheet longer than your right arm but for whatever reason judge rules that suspect’s past 10 arrests were inadmissible.

Guess what? You’re never going to hear about those past incidents and you are going to have to make your decision based on the evidence in front of you.

That’s exactly what Cottrell was facing and expecting the long-time defensive coordinator to ignore his role in order to play activist and flout the “law” because Suh is a “bad guy” is an ends-justifies-the-means mentality that we have seen fail time and time again on the personal-conduct front.

It’s fair to say Suh probably acted intentionally but all of our perspectives are clouded by his past, which was “inadmissible.“ Meanwhile, if Ziggy Ansah, Jason Jones, C.J. Mosley or any other Lions defensive linemen did the same thing to Rodgers in Week 17, they wouldn’t have been punished.

At the bare minimum, that’s plausible deniability for a serial offender like Suh and enough to keep him on the field this weekend.

As for the $70K stipend? Call it a stupidity tax for Suh’s ludicrous numb-feet defense.

WILD-CARD WEEKEND (All Times Eastern)

Arizona (11-5) at Carolina (7-8-1) (-6), Saturday, 4:35 PM - The Panthers didn’t win a football game for over eight weeks at one point this season and now they are set to host a wild-card playoff game as the favorite. Such is life in the war of attrition that is the NFL.

The NFC South champions will open up the NFL postseason against an 11-win Arizona team that will likely be relying on its third-string quarterback in Ryan Lindley.

Despite ping-ponger from Carson Palmer to Drew Stanton back to Palmer and back to Stanton before Lindley due to injuries the Cardinals tied a franchise record with the 11 victories and have won 21 total games in their first two seasons under likely NFL Coach of the Year Bruce Arians. Arizona has also won four of its past six postseason games, including a 33-13 win at Carolina on January 10, 2009.

“It’s a whole new season now,“ Arians said. “We’re all 0-0 and we’re in the tournament. We’re going to get ready for this playoff game. We’re not planning on being one-and-done.“

Despite their less-than-stellar record, the Panthers enter the tournament red hot, having won four straight and outscoring opponents 111-43 over that span. Under head coach Ron Rivera, Carolina is the first team to win back-to-back division titles in the NFC South after taking a dominating 34-3 road win at Atlanta last weekend. In December, the Panthers are ranked second in the NFL in rushing offense (199.3 yards per game) and points allowed (10.8 points per game).

“We put ourselves in this position by playing the way we did in December,“ Rivera said. “We’ve won the NFC South two years in a row and that’s something to build on as we move forward as a football team.“

Panthers 21, Cardinals 17

Baltimore (10-6) at Pittsburgh (11-5) (-3), Saturday, 8:15 PM - One of football’s fiercest rivalries amps up with a primetime postseason matchup.

The AFC North combatants will meet after the Ravens qualified for the playoffs with a 20-10 win over Cleveland combined with a San Diego loss in Week 17, while the Steelers earned the division title with a 27-17 win over Cincinnati in the regular-season finale.

“Anything can happen when you get into the playoffs,“ said Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who guided Baltimore to a Super Bowl title in 2012 as the No. 4 seed.

The Steelers used a perfect December to lock up the AFC North and boast an . offense featuring quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (4,952 passing yards, 32 touchdowns, 103.3 passer rating), running back Le’Veon Bell (1,361 rushing yards, 854 receiving yards, 11 total touchdowns) and wide receiver Antonio Brown (129 receptions for 1,698 yards and 13 touchdowns).

Bell, though, is unlikely to play Saturday after hyperextending his knee against the Bengals.

“We’re going to make the right decision,“ said Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin. “We won’t be swayed by circumstance—the magnitude of the game and so forth. If he’s healthy and able to protect himself and can be a positive contributor to our efforts, we’ll play him. If we can’t answer ‘yes’ to all of those questions and then some, we won’t. It’s just that simple.“

The Steelers brought in veteran running back Ben Tate on Tuesday for insurance. Tate spent time with both Cleveland and Minnesota this season.

The Ravens (0-3) have never beaten Pittsburgh in the postseason.

Steelers 24, Ravens 21

Cincinnati (10-5-1) at Indianapolis (11-5) (-3 1/2), Sunday, 1:05 PM - It’s been nearly a quarter century since the Cincinnati Bengals last won a playoff game and they will be back for a fourth straight year to try again, this time in Indianapolis on Sunday.

The Bengals come in having won five of their past seven games.

“At the end of the day, there are only so many teams that get this opportunity,“ said Cincinnati left tackle Andrew Whitworth. “It doesn’t matter what your record is anymore. It doesn’t matter where you’re seeded. All that matters is if you win.“

Winning AFC South titles had been a way of life for the Colts over the years. Indianapolis has taken nine of the past 12 South division crowns and will be looking to build a deep playoff run off of that.

“It’s one-and-done now,“ said Colts head coach Chuck Pagano. “We all know the stakes get higher and it’s single elimination. Whatever we have to do to win a game, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to do whatever it takes.“

Back in Week 7, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who led the NFL with 40 touchdown passes, threw two scores as Indianapolis whitewashed Cincinnati 27-0.

Colts 28, Bengals 23

Detroit (11-5) at Dallas (12-4) (-7), Sunday, 4:40 PM - Wild Card Weekend wraps up with a matchup showcasing strength against strength as the Lions’ stingy defense prepares to try to stop the Cowboys’ explosive offense.

Detroit led the NFL in rush defense (69.3 yards per game) and ranked second in total defense (300.9 yards per game), holding opponents to 100 rushing yards or fewer in 14 of the team’s 16 games, including five games with 50 rushing yards or fewer.

Conversely Dallas’ running game ranked second in the NFL (147.1 yards per game) behind the game’s best offensive line and Pro Bowl running back DeMarco Murray, who set a franchise-record with 1,845 rushing yards.

“Controlling the line of scrimmage is important,“ said Detroit head coach Jim Caldwell, who tied a franchise record with 11 wins in his first season with the club. “Our defense has been really strong in that area throughout the year.“

Both teams also have dynamic quarterback-to-wide receiver connections in the Lions’ Matthew Stafford-to-Calvin Johnson and the ‘Boys’ Tony Romo-to-Dez Bryant.

Johnson compiled a franchise-record 329 receiving yards in his last game against Dallas—the second-best single-game total in NFL history, and piled up 211 yards in his only postseason contest against the Cowboys. Romo, meanwhile, led the NFL with a club-record 113.2 passer rating and Bryant’s 16 receiving touchdowns were a team record and topped the league.

“We’re just getting started and we’re excited about the opportunity in front of us,“ Romo said.

Cowboys 30, Lions 20

►  Two Packers among NFC’s best for Week 17

Green Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and punt returner Micah Hyde made up two-thirds of the NFC’s top players for the final week of the regular season.

Rodgers played through a calf injury to help the Packers capture the NFC North title and a first-round bye with a 30-20 win over the Detroit Lions. Rodgers completed 17-of-22 passes for 226 yards with two touchdowns and ran for a score to earn the offensive award.

Hyde returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown to claim the special teams award.

Carolina Panthers safety Roman Harper registered six tackles and scored on a 31-yard interception return as the Panthers routed the Atlanta Falcons 34-3 to win the NFC South for the second straight season.

Others considered for the offensive award were Harper’s teammate, quarterback Cam Newton, and San Francisco running back Frank Gore. Newton threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score, while Gore rushed for 144 yards in the 49ers’ season-ending 20-17 win over Arizona.

Dallas linebacker Bruce Carter was nominated for the defensive award after registering 11 tackles and two interceptions in a 44-17 over Washington.

Philadelphia’s Trey Burton was up for the special teams award after returning a blocked punt for a touchdown in a 34-26 win over the New York Giants.

►  Anderson, Newsome, Brown pick up AFC weekly honors

Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson, Indianapolis Colts linebacker Jonathan Newsome and Pittsburgh kick returner Antonio Brown were named the top AFC players for the final week of the regular season.

Anderson ran for 87 yards with three touchdowns and added 20 receiving yards to help Denver wrap up the AFC’s No. 2 seed in the playoffs with a 47-14 win over Oakland. He became the fourth different Bronco to win the AFC’s top offensive player, joining tight end Julius Thomas, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and quarterback Peyton Manning.

Newsome notched six tackles with two sacks and a forced fumble in the Colts’ 27-10 win at Tennessee to earn defensive honors. His 6 1/2 sacks this season were the most among AFC rookies.

Brown helped Pittsburgh win the AFC North title on Sunday night with a 71-yard punt return for a touchdown in a 27-17 victory over Cincinnati to claim the special teams award. He also had a 63-yard touchdown reception among his seven catches for 128 yards.

Others considered for the offensive award were New York Jets teammates Geno Smith and Eric Decker. Smith completed 20-of-25 passes for a career-high 358 yards with three touchdowns in a 37-24 win over Miami. Decker caught half of Smith’s completions for 221 yards with a score.

Kansas City linebacker Justin Houston was nominated for the defensive award after notching five tackles with four sacks and a forced fumble in the Chiefs’ 19-7 win over San Diego. Houston’s J.J. Watt was also considered after he picked up six tackles, three sacks, a forced fumble and a safety in the Texans’ 23-17 win over Jacksonville.

Denver kicker Connor Barth was up for the special teams award after connecting on each of his four field goal tries and all five PATs.

►  Haslett won’t return as Redskins’ defensive coordinator

Jim Haslett won’t return as the defensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins.

The team and Haslett mutually agreed to part ways after five seasons.

Haslett spent his first four years with the Redskins under Mike Shanahan and this past season under first-year head coach Jay Gruden.

“Jay and I mutually agreed it’s time for the Redskins to have a new defensive coordinator,“ said Haslett in a statement Wednesday. “I want to thank (owner) Dan Snyder, (general manager) Bruce Allen, coach Gruden and all the players and fellow coaches for their efforts the last five years and I wish them nothing but the best.“

The Redskins were 4-12 this past season and ranked 20th in the NFL in yards allowed. Washington also yielded 438 points, fewer than only Chicago (442) and Oakland (452).

“Jim and I have had discussions over the last few days and have decided that it’s best for everyone that we have a new defensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins,“ said Gruden. “I wish him nothing but the best in the future.“

Haslett joined the Redskins in January 2010 after a year as the head coach of the fledgling UFL’s Florida Tuskers. He was also the head coach of the New Orleans Saints from 2000-05, compiling a record of 45-51, and had stints as defensive coordinator with the Saints (1996), Pittsburgh Steelers (1997-99) and St. Louis Rams (2006-08). In 2008, he was also the interim head coach of the Rams for the final 12 games, posting a record of 2-10.

The 59-year-old Pittsburgh native was a linebacker for the Bills and Jets from 1979-87.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Happy New Year

It’s the time of year for New Year’s Resolutions.

Forget about working out everyday or eating healthier, the die hard owners need a list of fantasy football resolutions.

I played in four different leagues this year and missed the playoffs in one, so my resolutions apply mostly to that 10-team league.

Here are my list of improvements for the 2015 season.

Always target needs

The draft is an exception to this rule. My draft strategy has always been target and stock running backs and wide receivers early.

This “value” method works as I routinely compete for championships, but picking up players on the waiver wire is a different story, especially late in the season.

In one of my leagues, I made the mistake of claiming Jordan Matthews over C.J. Anderson. Even though my team need was running back, my thought process was Matthews had a connection with Mark Sanchez, and he could be a trade piece to acquire a running back.

In other words, Matthews provided more value than Anderson.

Granted, Matthews was a decent pickup as he caught 67 passes for 872 yards and eight touchdowns in his rookie season, but little did I know, Anderson was the exact running back the team needed as he rushed for seven touchdowns in the final four weeks.

Late in the season, always target a need for the playoff run rather than counting on a trade.

Handcuff No Matter What

Injuries were the reason running back was a team need, and the team didn’t have Giovani Bernard’s handcuff, Jeremy Hill.

After drafting Bernard in the third round, my initial plan was to take Hill late in the draft, but I waited way too long. In the 10th round, I picked Danny Woodhead because at the time, his projections ranked him higher than Hill.

Owners never want to reach in the draft, but at that point, Hill had more value to me than Woodhead did because of the handcuff value Hill offered for Bernard.

It’s alright to reach for a player if he is a handcuff for a running back you already have.

Exercise Patience with Rookies

This was actually a mistake I made with one of my teams that made the playoffs.

I took a look back at the draft recap, and it turns out I selected Mike Evans in the 10th round. Go me, right!

Well, as readers can probably guess, judging by the fact I forgot I drafted Evans, he wasn’t on my team very long. Whether it was for a bye week need or someone on the waiver wire appeared to be better, Evans did not last more than five weeks on the team.

Evans went on to catch 68 passes for 1,051 yards and 12 touchdowns.

It is easy to be patient with the Kelvin Benjamin’s because they produce right away, but other rookies might take half a season to develop. Odell Beckham is another example.

Next year’s draft might not have another Evans or Beckham, but if I spend a draft pick on a rookie, he will stay on the roster through Week 10.

Don’t Judge too Quickly

There are probably several instances where my initially judgement on a player was correct, though, just a couple misses will have any owner reconsidering their evaluation process.

After the Ray Rice debacle, the Ravens backfield looked to be in disarray. It appeared Baltimore would still have success running, but neither Bernard Pierce nor Justin Forsett would carry the load on their own, especially the 5- foot-8 Forsett.

He went on to finished fifth in the league with 1,266 rushing yards and post an NFL best among running backs 5.4 yards per carry.

Although his success didn’t last the whole season, I overlooked Denard Robinson for mostly the same reason: too small. He had a stretch of four weeks where he either scored or rushed for 100 yards.

Even though Robinson’s injury suggests it wasn’t worth bothering to acquire him, Forsett definite proves in the right situation, a small back can succeed.

Take a Risk

For the most part, I do not take injury-prone or risky players unless they fall into my lap. This season, I stayed away from Doug Martin and Trent Richardson as if they had the plague. Running quarterbacks are a big no-no for me as well, and an aging player such as Andre Johnson is not a guy I target either.

However, I’m not sure taking a black-and-white approach to risky players is always the right decision because you miss out on guys like DeMarco Murray and Rob Gronkowski.

Murray rushed for over 100 yards in each of the first eight games, yet I kept saying, “He’s going to get hurt. He has never finished a full season. He will not last.“

I guess I was sort of right because Murray broke his hand, but he didn’t miss any time and blew every other running back away with 1,845 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.

As for Gronkowski, despite a slow start, he really turned it on and led all tight ends with 82 catches, 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Calculated risks might not be such a bad idea.

Now, it’s your turn. The only way to get better is to learn from past mistakes. What are your fantasy football resolutions?

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Area High Schools Boys Basketball Game Results

(Wednesday, December 31)

#4 Bridgeport 66     #7 Morgantown 57

►  Area High Schools Girls Basketball Game Results

(Wednesday, December 31)

#1 Fairmont Senior 61     Bridgeport 42

Robert C. Byrd 43     East Fairmont 25

Ravenswood 66     Tyler Consolidated 29

Scott 58     Nicholas County 56

<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Basketball Game Results

(Wednesday, December 31)

Final Score: (2) Duke 84, Wofford 55

Jahlil Okafor totaled 24 points and eight rebounds as No. 2 Duke remained perfect with an 84-55 decision over Wofford at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Justise Winslow added 16 points and Quinn Cook picked up 15 for the Blue Devils (12-0), who will put their unblemished record on the line in their ACC opener on Saturday against Boston College. Karl Cochran posted 13 points and five rebounds for the Terriers (9-4), who also begin their conference slate three days from now.

Final Score: (4) Wisconsin 89, Penn State 72

Nigel Hayes led four players in double figures with 21 points, and No. 4 Wisconsin kept rolling with an 89-72 decision over Penn State in the conference opener for both programs. Frank Kaminsky picked up 18 points and a game-high 14 rebounds for the Badgers (13-1, 1-0 Big Ten), while Sam Dekker had 17 points and Traevon Jackson totaled 16. D.J. Newbill poured in a game-high 29 points for the Nittany Lions (12-2, 0-1). Geno Thorpe and Shep Garner both picked 11 points in defeat.

Final Score: (6) Villanova 67, Butler 55

With stingy defense and a balanced attack, the No. 6 Villanova Wildcats opened Big East play with a 67-55 win over the Butler Bulldogs. Ryan Arcidiacono led Villanova (13-0, 1-0 Big East) with 15 points and five assists. JayVaughn Pinkston netted 13 points and Daniel Ochefu chipped in 10 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots. The Wildcats limited the Bulldogs to 35.5 percent shooting, including just 5-of-21 inside the arc in the second half. Butler (10-4, 0-1) was paced by Andrew Chrabascz’s and Alex Barlow’s 12 points each. Kellen Dunham netted 10 points, but Roosevelt Jones was limited to eight on 4-of-15 shooting.

Final Score: (9) Iowa State 83, Mississippi Valley State 33

Naz Long went 7-of-10 from 3-point range in a 24-point effort that highlighted No. 9 Iowa State’s 83-33 blowout win over Mississippi Valley State. Long added five assists in a game the heavily favored Cyclones were never threatened en route to their 500th victory at Hilton Coliseum. Matt Thomas chipped in 11 points and Jameel McKay had 10 along with six rebounds to help Iowa State (10-1) record its seventh consecutive triumph. Mississippi Valley State (1-12) shot just 24.1 percent from the field and went 1-of-17 from beyond the arc, with no Delta Devils player finishing with double-figure points. Isaac Williams and Jeffrey Simmons scored six each in defeat.

Final Score: Seton Hall 78, (15) St. John’s 67

Sterling Gibbs poured in 25 points to lead five Seton Hall players in double figures, as the Pirates opened Big East play with a 78-67 victory over 15th-ranked St. John’s on Wednesday at the Prudential Center. Jaren Sina matched a season high with 14 points and keyed an early second-half run with two of his four 3-pointers in the victory. Gibbs also sank five from beyond the arc, including one with the shot clock winding down late in the contest to help quell a St. John’s rally. Angel Delgado and Brandon Mobley each contributed 13 points for the Pirates (11-2, 1-0 Big East), whose lone losses have come on the road against Georgia and nationally ranked Wichita State. Seton Hall welcomes another ranked squad to the Rock on Saturday when No. 6 Villanova makes the trip up the New Jersey turnpike. D’Angelo Harrison scored 25 points and Phil Greene IV added 15 for the Red Storm (11-2, 0-1), who had a seven-game winning streak stopped and lost for the first time since a 73-66 setback to Gonzaga in late November.

Final Score: (16) Wichita State 66, Drake 58

Ron Baker scored 15 of No. 16 Wichita State’s final 18 points to help the Shockers fend off Drake, 66-58, Wednesday. Baker finished with 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting for the Shockers (11-2, 1-0 MVC), who have now won 19 straight games against fellow Missouri Valley conference teams. Tekele Cotton chipped in 17 points and no other Shocker reached double figures. The Bulldogs (3-10, 0-1) were led by Jacob Enevold with 12 points and 15 rebounds. Gary Ricks Jr. added 11 points as Drake finished its four-game homestand with a 2-2 record.

Final Score: (18) Oklahoma 61, George Mason 43

Buddy Hield turned in a game-high 17 points as No. 18 Oklahoma claimed a 61-43 win over George Mason at Noble Center. Isaiah Cousins netted 11 with six rebounds for the Sooners (9-3), while Jordan Woodard added seven points and eight boards. Shevon Thompson totaled nine points and 11 rebounds for the Patriots (5-7). Isaiah Jackson picked up nine points while Jalen Jenkins had eight points and seven rebounds in a losing cause.

Final Score: (24) Colorado State 71, Boise State 65

John Gillon led all scorers with 23 points as No. 24 Colorado State opened conference play with a 71-65 victory over Boise State on Wednesday. Gillon made 6-of-11 shots from the field and was a perfect 4-of-4 from 3-point range. J.J. Avila scored 13 points and Daniel Bejarano supplied 11 points and eight rebound for the Rams (14-0, 1-0 MWC), who extended their franchise-best winning streak to open a season. Mikey Thompson paced the Broncos (10-4, 0-1) with 20 points in his team’s second straight loss.

Final Score: Xavier 70, (25) Georgetown 53

Jalen Reynolds finished with 17 points and four rebounds as Xavier opened Big East play with a 70-53 victory over No. 25 Georgetown on Wednesday. Remy Abell and Dee Davis each scored 12 points and James Farr chipped in nine points, 10 rebounds and three blocks for the Musketeers (10-3, 1-0 Big East), who improved to 8-0 at home this season. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera had a game-high 18 points and Joshua Smith supplied 10 points and four boards for the Hoyas (8-4, 0-1), who had a three-game winning streak snapped.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Wednesday, December 31)

Final Score: Boston 106, Sacramento 84

Jared Sullinger had 20 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in the Boston Celtics’ 106-84 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday. Kelly Olynyk added 15 points off the bench for the Celtics, who put the brakes on a four-game losing streak. Jae Crowder contributed 12 points and Evan Turner tallied 10 points and 11 assists. Darren Collison and Carl Landry each had 14 points for the Kings, who shot just 36.8 percent from the field as they lost for the fourth time in their last five games. Ben McLemore ended with 12 points and Ray McCallum and DeMarcus Cousins scored 11 points apiece. Prior to the game, Sacramento coach Tyrone Corbin said his interim tag has been lifted for the rest of the season. He replaced fired coach Michael Malone on Dec. 15.

Final Score: Indiana 106, Miami 95

C.J. Miles made five 3-pointers en route to 25 points and the Indiana Pacers used a strong second half to beat the Miami Heat, 106-95, on Wednesday. George Hill added 20 points for the Pacers, who also beat the Heat in South Beach on Nov. 12. C.J. Watson tallied 11 points and Roy Hibbert contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds. Indiana outscored Miami by a 64-44 margin in the second half. Dwyane Wade ended with 20 points, seven assists, three blocks and two steals for the Heat, who have lost three in a row. Chris Bosh had 18 points and eight boards.

Final Score: LA Clippers 99, New York 78

J.J. Redick made four 3-pointers en route to 20 points and the Los Angeles Clippers handled the New York Knicks, 99-78, on Wednesday. DeAndre Jordan added 14 points, 12 rebounds and two steals for the Clippers, who went 15-of-34 from beyond the arc. Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford each scored 13 points, with Griffin also dishing out 11 assists. Carmelo Anthony ended with 19 points for the Knicks, who have lost nine in a row. Andrea Bargnani had nine points on 4-for-11 shooting in his long-awaited season debut after missing 73 games dating back to Jan. 22 of last season with elbow, hamstring and calf injuries.

Final Score: Milwaukee 96, Cleveland 80

Brandon Knight scored 26 points with six rebounds and the Milwaukee Bucks took down a depleted Cleveland Cavaliers team, 96-80, on Wednesday. O.J. Mayo supplied 15 points off the bench and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists for the Bucks, who have won two straight and three of their last four. Milwaukee could attribute the win to a very impressive defensive third quarter, holding Cleveland to 3-of-19 shooting and taking a 71-54 lead into the fourth quarter.

Final Score: Houston 102, Charlotte 83

James Harden made a career-high eight 3- pointers and scored 36 points to help the Houston Rockets beat the Charlotte Hornets, 102-83, on Wednesday. Harden also had seven rebounds and six assists for the Rockets, who snapped a two-game skid. He has scored at least 28 points in his last five games. Patrick Beverley and Donatas Motiejunas added 14 and 12 points, respectively, for Houston, which went 17-of-43 from beyond the arc. Dwight Howard contributed 11 points and eight rebounds.

Final Score: San Antonio 95, New Orleans 93 (OT)

Manu Ginobili capped off a 26-point night with a go-ahead layup with 24 seconds left in overtime, with the basket giving the San Antonio Spurs a much-needed 95-93 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. Ginobili’s big game, along with a fortunate bounce to close out regulation, helped the Spurs get back in the win column following a rough 2-7 stretch that included a loss to the Pelicans in New Orleans on Friday. New Orleans had taken an 84-82 edge on Anthony Davis’ second-chance slam with 0.7 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Hornets’ Omer Asik inadvertently tipped in Boris Diaw’s inbounds pass for Tim Duncan as the buzzer sounded to force extra time.

Final Score: Oklahoma City 137, Phoenix 134

Kevin Durant returned from a six-game absence to score a season-high 44 points with 10 rebounds and lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 137-134 overtime win over the Phoenix Suns. Durant sprained his right ankle after scoring 30 points in the first half at Golden State on Dec. 18, with the Thunder going 3-3 during his absence. Russell Westbrook was ejected late in the first half after making a contested layup, then walking over to the Suns bench and taunting them. He finished with 20 points for the Thunder.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Phillies trade Byrd to Reds

The Cincinnati Reds acquired veteran outfielder Marlon Byrd from the Philadelphia Phillies Wednesday in exchange for pitching prospect Ben Lively.

The Phillies will also send the Reds an undisclosed amount of cash to cover a portion of Byrd’s remaining salary. The 37-year-old is set to make $8 million next season and has an $8 million option for 2016 that can vest based on plate appearances.

Byrd hit .264 with 25 homers and 85 RBI in 154 games with the Phillies last season. The 2010 All-Star is expected to be Cincinnati’s regular left fielder in 2015.

Over 13 major league seasons, Byrd owns a career .278 average with 131 homers and 618 RBI in 1,404 career games with the Nationals, Rangers, Cubs, Red Sox, Mets, Pirates and Phillies.

The 22-year-old Lively split last season between Class A-Advanced Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola, putting together a combined 13-7 record and 3.04 ERA with 171 strikeouts in 151 innings over 26 starts. He was a fourth round pick of the Reds in 2013 out of the University of Central Florida.

►  Dodgers sign Brett Anderson

The Los Angeles Dodgers have signed pitcher Brett Anderson to a one-year contract.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Anderson made just eight starts last year in his lone season with the Colorado Rockies because of a broken left index finger and lower back surgery. He was 1-3 with a 2.91 ERA, permitting three or fewer earned runs in seven of his eight outings.

The 26-year-old lefty owns a career record of 27-32 with three saves and a 3.73 ERA in 92 games, including 81 starts, over six big league seasons with Oakland and Colorado.

Los Angeles opened a spot on the 40-man roster by designating infielder Erisbel Arruebarrena for assignment.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Wednesday, December 31)

Final Score: NY Islanders 5, Winnipeg 2

Frans Nielsen scored two goals and collected one assist as the New York Islanders kicked off a seven-game road trip with a 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre. Ryan Strome finished with a goal and three assists for the Islanders, who got 21 saves from Jaroslav Halak. Anders Lee and Josh Bailey also scored for New York, which has won six of its last eight games. Andrew Ladd had two goals and Ondrej Pavelec stopped 28-of-32 shots in the Jets’ second straight loss.

Final Score: Tampa Bay 5, Buffalo 1

Ondrej Palat posted a goal and three assists to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 5-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Nikita Kucherov had two goals and an assist, while Matthew Carle and Brett Connolly also scored for the Lightning, who have won their past four. Andrei Vasilevsky needed to make just 10 saves to secure the win. Tyler Ennis had the lone goal for the Sabres, who have dropped thier past two and six of seven. Jhonas Enroth allowed all five goals on 25 shots.

Final Score: NY Rangers 5, Florida 2

Martin St. Louis and Dominic Moore tallied in the third period as the New York Rangers closed out calendar year 2014 with a 5-2 win over Florida on Wednesday. Chris Kreider, Derick Brassard and Ryan McDonagh also lit the lamp for the Rangers, who recovered from a one-goal loss at Dallas on Monday and recorded their ninth win in 10. Derek Stepan contributed three assists while Henrik Lundqvist needed to make only 18 stops for the victory. Tomas Fleischmann and Jimmy Hayes scored once each for the Panthers, who fell to 5-3-2 in over their last 10 outings. Al Montoya surrendered all five markers on 34 shots in defeat.

Final Score: Pittsburgh 2, Carolina 1

Brandon Sutter scored the winning goal late in the third period to lift the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Chris Kunitz had the other goal for the Penguins, who snapped a four-game losing streak. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 24 shots in the win. Eric Staal scored the only goal of the game for the Hurricanes, who have dropped their past three games. Cam Ward allowed both goals on 39 shots in the loss.

Final Score: Toronto 4, Boston 3 (SO)

Nazem Kadri scored the deciding goal of the shootout as the Toronto Maple Leafs prevailed with a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins. Mike Santorelli, Toronto’s first shooter, made several quick moves before shooting the puck through the legs of Tuukka Rask for a good goal. Torey Krug tied the shootout with a quick wrister over the glove of Jonathan Bernier in the second round. Kadri opened the fifth round by shuffling a backhander off Rask’s pad and through his legs to put the Maple Leafs ahead, and David Krejci missed the net for Boston to end the game. Phil Kessel notched his 500th career point after finishing with a goal and an assist, while James van Riemsdyk and Leo Komarov also scored as the Maple Leafs ended a two-game skid. Bernier stopped 25 shots in the win. Carl Soderberg had a goal and an assist, Krejci and Krug also lit the lamp and Rask stopped 18 shots for the Bruins, who were coming off a 5-2 win over Detroit on Monday.

Final Score: Columbus 3, Minnesota 1

Sergei Bobrovsky made 28 saves to help the Columbus Blue Jackets top the Minnesota Wild, 3-1, on Wednesday. The Blue Jackets got goals from Kevin Connauton, David Savard and Ryan Johansen to wrap up an outstanding 10-1-1 month of December. Connauton also added an assist, and Brandon Dubinsky was credited with two helpers. Johansen’s empty- netter was his first goal since Nov. 29. The Wild got their only goal from Zach Parise in the first period as they lost for the sixth time in their last seven games. Darcy Kuemper faced 25 shots and made 23 saves in the loss.

Final Score: Detroit 3, New Jersey 1

Henrik Zetterberg scored the game-winning goal late in regulation to lift the Detroit Red Wings to a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday. Darren Helm finished with two goals and Jimmy Howard made 12 saves for the Red Wings, who bounced back from a 5-2 loss to Boston on Monday to win their third game in their past four. Joe Whitney’s first NHL goal was New Jersey’s lone source of offense and Cory Schneider allowed all three goals on 28 shots in defeat.

Final Score: San Jose 3, Anaheim 0

Joe Pavelski’s two goals and a 28-save effort from Antti Niemi got the San Jose Sharks back on track with a 3-0 victory over the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center. Logan Couture added a goal and an assist to help end an 0-2-1 stretch for the Sharks that began with an overtime loss to the Ducks in Anaheim on Dec. 22. The Ducks had a five- game home win streak halted as they failed to generate a consistent offensive attack despite the return of sniper Corey Perry from a knee injury that sidelined him for the team’s last 10 contests. Frederik Andersen stopped 24- of-26 shots in the loss.

Final Score: Dallas 6, Arizona 0

Dallas received goals from six different players and Kari Lehtonen made 32 saves in the Stars’ 6-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Lehtonen recorded his third shutout of the season as Dallas won for the seventh time in eight games. In his NHL debut, Brett Ritchie scored his first career goal at the 7:22 mark of the second period. Just 63 seconds later, Colton Sceviour followed him up with another goal and the rout was on. Jamie Benn, Cody Eakin, Ales Hemsky and Ryan Garbutt added third period tallies for the Stars. Devan Dubnyk allowed all six goals on 31 shots faced as the Coyotes had their three-game winning streak come to an end.

Final Score: Colorado 4, Philadelphia 3 (OT)

Ryan O’Reilly scored with just 19.9 seconds left in overtime to give the Colorado Avalanche a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Tyson Barrie and O’Reilly worked the puck back-and- forth in the Flyers end before Barrie sent a pass from the left side to the right and O’Reilly snapped it in for the win. Nate Guenin, Jarome Iginla and Borna Rendulic all scored for the Avalanche, who snapped a two-game slide. Semyon Varlamov stopped 26 shots in the win. Claude Giroux, Vincent Lecavalier and Jakub Voracek all scored for the Flyers, who have dropped three straight after opening their eight-game road trip with three consecutive wins. Steve Mason allowed four goals on 33 shots.

Final Score: Calgary 4, Edmonton 3 (OT)

Josh Jooris scored 1:08 into overtime to give the Calgary Flames a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Just coming out of the penalty box, Jooris skated down the right wing on a 2-on-1, took a feed from Jiri Hudler and wristed the puck over the glove of Ben Scrivens for the win. Joe Colborne had two goals and Lance Bouma scored the other for the Flames, who have won four in a row. Jonas Hiller turned away 17 shots in the win. Jordan Eberle, Andrew Ference and Matt Fraser all lit the lamp for the Oilers, who were coming off a win on Tuesday that had snapped a nine-game losing streak. Scrivens allowed four goals on 28 shots in the loss.

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
Denver at Chicago, 8:00 PM - Altitude, CSN-Chicago, DSS
Sacramento at Minnesota, 8:00 PM - CSN-California, FS-North, DSS
National Hockey League
Chicago at Washington, 1:00 PM - CBC, NBC
Los Angeles at Vancouver, 10:00 PM - FS-West, SNET, DSS
College Basketball
BYU at Santa Clara, 5:00 PM - BYUtv
Northern Iowa at Evansville, 8:00 PM -
Women’s College Basketball
Penn State at Michigan, 1:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
Minnesota at Purdue, 2:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
Rutgers at Ohio State, 2:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
Wisconsin at Northwestern, 2:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
College Football
Auburn vs. Wisconsin (Outback Bowl), 12:00 PM - ESPN 2
Michigan State vs. Baylor (Cotton Bowl), 12:30 PM - ESPN
Missouri vs. Minnesota (Citrus Bowl), 1:00 PM - ABC
Florida State vs. Oregon (Rose Bowl), 5:00 PM - ESPN
Ohio State vs. Alabama (Sugar Bowl), 8:30 PM - ESPN

Sports News   141231

The Gilmer Free Press

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Marshall University has agreed in principle to new contracts with Doc Holliday and A.D. Mike Hamrick

Marshall University has locked up two of the most prominent figures in its athletic department, agreeing in principle to new contracts with athletics director Mike Hamrick and football coach Doc Holliday.

Hamrick and Holliday will receive six-year contracts that will include salary increases. The exact terms of the contracts are still being finalized.

Doc Holliday’s teams have won 19 of their last 20 games, including a C-USA Championship and bowl game.

“We are indeed pleased to have secured Mike Hamrick and Coach Holliday as our athletic director and head coach for the long term,” said Michael G. Sellards, chairman of the Marshall University Board of Governors. “They have both done outstanding work in their respective jobs and their commitment to Marshall University and the success of our student-athletes both on and off the field is truly commendable. We look forward to continued success in the coming years.”

News of a possible extension for Holliday began to trickle out while the Thundering Herd was in Boca Raton, Fla. preparing for its bowl game versus Northern Illinois.

Marshall defeated NIU 52-23 capping off a 13-1 season that included its first Conference USA Championship. The bowl victory was the third for Marshall in the last four seasons.

Holliday, who was named the 2014 Conference USA Coach of the Year, has led a resurgence of Marshall football program. Under Holliday, the Herd is 40-25 and has won 19 of its last 20 games. Holliday is also 3-0 in postseason bowl games at Marshall.

Marshall went just 24-37 with one bowl appearance in the five seasons prior to Holliday’s arrival on campus.

The Herd averaged 45.6 points a game this season, besting a school record set back in 1996 when Marshall averaged 43.9 points a game. Marshall has averaged 40 points per game in each of the last three seasons with Holliday as the head coach.

Mike Hamrick was hired as athletics director at Marshall in 2009. Since then Marshall athletics have seen unprecedented fundraising and growth. Mike Hamrick was hired as athletics director at Marshall in 2009. Since then Marshall athletics have seen unprecedented fundraising and growth.

Meanwhile, Hamrick has led an unprecedented fundraising effort at Marshall and has overseen major construction projects to upgrade athletic facilities. Marshall’s new Chris Cline Athletic Complex includes a new indoor facility with a 120-yard football field, 300-meter track, sports medicine institute, an academic center and an athletic hall of fame.

Since Hamrick was hired in 2009, a state-of-the-art soccer complex has been constructed a new softball facility.

Hamrick, a Clendenin native, has also secured home-and-home football contracts with Purdue, Louisville, North Carolina State and Pittsburgh.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Texas A&M student assistant dismissed from program after sideline punches

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin apologized to West Virginia Tuesday for the behavior of student assistant coach Michael Richardson who twice shoved WVU players on the Aggies sideline during Monday’s AutoZone Liberty Bowl.

Sumlin said after watching clips of the incident, Richardson has been “permanently dismissed from our football program.”

Sumblin’s apology covered everyone who could have been bothered by the behavior. “On behalf of the Texas A&M football program, I want to apologize to Darryl Worley and to Andrew Buie as well as to Coach Holgorsen and the West Virginia family for the inexcusable actions of the student assistant,” Sumlin said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

The coach also extended his regrets to his own team’s fans.  “I also want to apologize to the Aggie faithful, as they deserve a program to be proud of, not only in our play, but in the integrity and respect we show on and off the field.”  Sumlin said Richardson’s actions “are not representative of our program.”

Richardson, a former linebacker with the Aggies, shoved Buie as he ran out of bounds. Then later, Richardson punched Worley in the back of the helmet when he ended up on the Aggie sideline after a play.

The ESPN TV announcers initially missed the incidents, but the Twittersphere quickly blew up with video and comments, and they drew attention to them in the second half.  Sumlin says he learned of the episodes at halftime and ordered Richardson to stay in the locker room for the second half.  He pursued the issue after the game.

“Upon returning to College Station last night, I had the opportunity to gather information and watch clips of one our student assistant coaches initiating physical contact on two separate occasions with a West Virginia player,” Sumlin said.  “I am extremely disappointed and embarrassed, as his behavior reflected poorly on the program.”

Here is the entire statement from Sumlin:

  “Upon returning to College Station last night, I had the opportunity to gather information and watch clips of one of our student assistant coaches initiating physical contact on two separate occasions with a West Virginia player.  I am extremely disappointed and embarrassed, as his behavior reflected poorly on our program.

  “On behalf of the Texas A&M football program, I want to apologize to Darryl Worley and to Andrew Buie as well as to Coach Holgorsen and the West Virginia family for the inexcusable actions of the student assistant.  I removed him from the sideline at halftime of yesterday’s game after being informed of the incidents and, after further review, have permanently dismissed him from our football program.

►  College Football Bowl Game Results

(Tuesday, December 30)

Final Score: Notre Dame 31, (22) LSU 28

Malik Zaire and Everett Golson both saw time under center for Notre Dame, and both helped lead the Irish to a win in the Music City Bowl on Tuesday. Zaire and Golson each had a hand in Notre Dame’s final drive, a 14-play, 71-yard march, that Kyle Brindza capped with a 32-yard field goal as time expired for a 31-28 win over No. 22 LSU. Zaire, a redshirt freshman making his first career start, was named the starting quarterback for the game on Monday in favor of Golson, who picked up a pair of first downs through the air on the final drive before Zaire converted a first down on the ground to set up the winning kick. The duo combined for 186 yards passing with Zaire tossing a touchdown to William Fuller. Zaire also rushed for 96 yards on a team-high 22 carries with a score for Notre Dame (8-5). Leonard Fournette did all he could to help the Tigers (8-5) in this one, supplying 264 total yards with three touchdowns. Fournette set Music City Bowl records with a 100-yard kickoff return as well as an 89-yard rushing touchdown.

Final Score: (13) Georgia 37, (20) Louisville 14

Nick Chubb put Georgia on his back in the Belk Bowl, rushing for a career-best 266 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries to lead the 13th-ranked Bulldogs to a 37-14 victory over No. 20 Louisville. Chubb’s phenomenal performance, along with a defense that came up with three interceptions, enabled the Bulldogs (10-3) to overcome an injury to quarterback Hutson Mason and reach double-digit victories for the third time in four years. The standout freshman’s yardage total was the second-highest single-game effort in Georgia history, and it came against a Cardinals defense that came in ranked third in FBS against the run. Mason completed 10-of-15 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown to Chris Conley prior to exiting near the end of the half with an undisclosed injury. Conley finished with 80 yards on four catches. Kyle Bolin threw for 300 yards and a touchdown on 20-of-40 passing for Louisville (9-4), but was picked off twice. DeVante Parker amassed 120 yards on eight receptions in the loss, with Brandon Radcliff tallying 89 rushing yards and a touchdown on 19 attempts.

Final Score: Stanford 45, Maryland 21

Stanford got to play at Levi’s Stadium. It just wasn’t the trip to Santa Clara the Cardinal envisioned. Remound Wright ran for three touchdowns in the first half and the Cardinal routed Maryland 45-21 in the Foster Farms Bowl on Tuesday night. Stanford, which had made a BCS bowl in each of the previous four seasons, including consecutive Pac-12 titles, had hoped to play in the San Francisco 49ers’ new home for the conference title game on Dec. 5. An inconsistent 5-4 season in the league, however, prevented that. The Cardinal ripped off 35 straight points to seize control of the contest after it was tied 7-7 early in the second. Kevin Hogan completed 14-of-20 passes for 189 yards with both of his touchdowns going to Devon Cajuste, who caught four passes for 47 yards for Stanford (8-5), which won its last three games. Austin Hooper had five receptions for 71 yards, Wright carried the ball eight times for 49 yards and Christian McCaffrey added 57 yards on seven totes in the triumph. Stefon Diggs, who returned from a two-game absence due to a lacerated kidney, hauled in 10 passes for 138 yards for the Terrapins (7-6), who dropped their last three tilts. C.J. Brown was 15-of-27 for 205 yards with an interception in defeat.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Steelers sign Tate as contingency plan

Faced with the possibility of being without starting running back Le’Veon Bell for Saturday’s AFC wild card matchup with the Ravens, the Steelers added oft-traveled Ben Tate on Tuesday.

Tate has already been cut twice this season after being signed by the Browns in the offseason. Cleveland waived him in mid-November, and the RB-needy Vikings quickly picked him up. After playing sparingly in three games, Tate was let go prior to Minnesota’s season finale.

In 11 games this season, Tate rushed for 371 yards and four touchdowns on 119 carries.

To make room on the roster, the Steelers released wide receiver Justin Brown.

►  Cowboys put DT Melton on IR

The Dallas Cowboys have placed defensive tackle Henry Melton on injured reserve due to a bruised knee.

Melton, who suffered a right knee injury during the final regular season game, a win at Washington, will not be able to participate in the playoffs. The NFC East-champion Cowboys host Detroit Sunday in the wild card round.

Melton, a fourth-round draft choice of Chicago in 2009, sat out most of last season with the Bears due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He had five sacks in 16 games played, including three starts, this season.

The Cowboys also signed veteran linebacker James Anderson Tuesday. Anderson started 16 games for the Bears in 2013 and had four sacks. He began the 2014 campaign with New England, but was cut before the regular season began. He then played seven games for Tennessee and was then on Atlanta’s roster, but never played a game for the Falcons.

►  Suh wins appeal, will play Sunday

Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh won his appeal with the league and will be eligible to play in Detroit’s playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

Suh was suspended one game without pay for twice stepping on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ left leg in the fourth quarter of the Packers’ NFC North-clinching 30-20 victory over the Lions on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Rodgers had missed two Green Bay series in the game after aggravating a left calf injury.

It was the second time Suh was suspended for stepping on a player, following a two-game ban in 2011 for stomping on the arm of Packers lineman Evan Dietrich- Smith. Suh also drew a $30,000 fine for kicking Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub in 2010.

Suh’s appeal was heard by league arbiter Ted Cottrell, who overturned the decision and ruled in his favor. The suspension was reduced to a $70,000 fine.

The Lions play Dallas at 4:40 ET on Sunday in one of two NFC wild card matchups.

►  Tomlin unsure of Bell’s status for Saturday

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he was unsure if running back Le’Veon Bell would be available for Saturday’s AFC wild card matchup with the Baltimore Ravens.

Bell suffered a right knee injury in the season-finale against Cincinnati. Tomlin, as he did on Sunday night, said the knee was hyperextended and added that there was no structural damage.

“There is pain and soreness and discomfort associated with it,“ said Tomlin on Tuesday. “We’re going to take it day-by-day. I met with him just moments ago, and he was in the training room on the stationary bike and riding like he was training for the Tour de France.“

Bell was hurt in the third quarter of the 27-17 victory over the Bengals after taking a helmet to the knee from Cincinnati safety Reggie Nelson. He ran for just 20 yards on eight carries and caught six passes for 80 yards before exiting the contest.

“We’re going to make the right decision,“ Tomlin added Tuesday. “We won’t be swayed by circumstance—the magnitude of the game and so forth. If he’s healthy and able to protect himself and can be a positive contributor to our efforts, we’ll play him. If we can’t answer ‘yes’ to all of those questions and then some, we won’t. It’s just that simple.“

Bell finished the season as the NFL’s second-leading rusher with 1,361 yards.

“I don’t know whether or not he’s going to be available for the game,“ Tomlin continued. “We are going to make alternate plans if he doesn’t, but we’ll leave the light on for him.“

The Steelers brought in running back Ben Tate on Tuesday for insurance. Tate spent time with both Cleveland and Minnesota this season.

►  Jaguars fire offensive coordinator Fisch

The Jacksonville Jaguars have parted ways with offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch after failing to improve in Fisch’s second year running the offense.

The Jaguars ranked dead last in the NFL in points and second-to-last in total yards each of the past two seasons under Fisch’s watch. They averaged 15.6 points this past season with rookie Blake Bortles under center, leading to a 3-13 record.

Fisch was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the University of Miami for two years before head coach Gus Bradley brought him back to the NFL ranks.

Before serving as quarterbacks coach for the Seattle Seahawks in 2010, Fisch also spent time with the Houston Texans (2001-03), Baltimore Ravens (2004-07) and Denver Broncos (2008).

►  Coughlin and Reese to return for Giants in 2015

New York Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch confirmed Tuesday that Tom Coughlin will return as coach for 2015 and general manager Jerry Reese will also be back for another season.

There was speculation about the job security for both late in a 2014 campaign that ended at 6-10—the club’s first double-digit loss season since Coughlin’s first year in 2004.

“None of us ever expects to be 6-10; our objective is always to play in the postseason,“ said Tisch in a statement on Tuesday. “Clearly, John and I believe in the leadership of Jerry and Tom to reach that objective. We appreciate their ability to work together and in the best interest of the organization. I am encouraged by the outstanding young players we have, combined with the team’s veteran leadership. Our players showed tremendous character by how they finished a difficult season.“

The Giants had a streaky 2014. They lost their first two, then won three in a row and dropped seven straight. A three-game win streak preceded the 34-26 season-ending loss to Philadelphia.

“As bad as things got during that seven-game losing streak, (the players) still played hard for (Coughlin),“ said Mara during a Tuesday news conference. “There was no lack of effort.“

Mara called the low point of the year a 25-24 loss to Jacksonville in Week 13, a game in which the Giants blew a 21-0 lead and finished their lengthy losing streak.

“When I was sitting on the bus after the loss…I wanted to fire everybody,“ said Mara. “I learned a long time ago not to make those judgements during the season. I was just happy no one approached me in the locker room after that game because that was the low point for me.“

Coughlin has a record of 96-80 during his 11-year run with the Giants, a tenure that has been highlighted by a pair of Super Bowl titles. They have not made the playoffs since winning their last Super Bowl championship in 2011 and have made just one postseason appearance in the past six years.

The Giants followed their last Super Bowl with a 9-7 record in 2012, but the 2013 squad opened the season with six straight losses and finished 7-9 before this year’s team again struggled.

“I’m sick about it, 6-10 is an embarrassment,“ Mara added. “That being said, I do think there is reason for optimism going forward. We had some young players develop that we’re excited about. I think we’ll be a much better team next season.“

Coughlin has the second-longest tenure in Giants coaching history, behind only Steve Owen’s 24-year stint from 1930-53. His 96 wins trail only Owen’s total of 153.

“I still believe we can win with him,“ said Mara about Coughlin.

In 19 years as an NFL head coach, including eight with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Coughlin has amassed a record of 164-140. He also has a postseason mark of 12-7.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Joe Flacco: postseason hero

Unfortunately the NFL regular season has come and gone. Yet that does not mean fantasy football is over.

With all the daily leagues out there, combined with the major websites hosting their own competitions, fantasy football does not officially end until after the Super Bowl.

Now, heading into Wild-Card Weekend owners need as much help as they can get in determining which players to roll with on Saturday and Sunday. So, this week I will focus heavily on discussing which players will likely be successful or unsuccessful during the opening round of the playoffs.

The Baltimore Ravens and quarterback Joe Flacco shocked the world two seasons ago, when they made an impressive playoff run, which resulted in them hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. The biggest reason they were able to win that Super Bowl was a direct result of the strong the play of Flacco.

Through four playoff games in 2013, Flacco averaged 285 passing yards per game, threw 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions, while compiling a 117.2 passer-rating. On top of that, he has thrown a total of 18 touchdowns and only two interceptions during his past eight playoff games.

Flacco has now made the postseason in six of the past seven seasons, and throughout the previous five, he has won at least one game. While winning games does not always translate into success for quarterbacks, Flacco does have the statistics, as stated above, to prove he is a big-time performer.

The numbers in his favor do not stop there.

According to Yahoo, he was 160th-ranked player heading into the 2014 season, but finished as the 23rd-ranked player, with 274.4 fantasy points. Flacco also had nice success against his upcoming opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers, this season.

In two games versus Pittsburgh in 2014, Flacco averaged 234.5 passing yards, threw four touchdowns and only one interception, and also had a 100.3 passer- rating. He clearly knows what it takes to play well against one of Baltimore’s biggest rival.

With Flacco having already shown the ability to perform at the highest level, along with him having a solid, under-the-radar season (3,986 yards, 27 TD, 12 INT), makes for him to have yet another impressive postseason performance.

Predicting which team will come out on top on Saturday night is no easy task, but I am definitely confident that Flacco will continue the trend of his hot postseason play.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Area High Schools Boys Basketball Game Results

(Tuesday, December 30)

#10 Gilmer County 72     Midland Trail 46

Lewis County 54     Spring Mills 46

Lincoln 92     Braxton County 45

#4 Bridgeport 79     University 60

Doddridge County 52     Buckhannon-Upshur 39

Trinity 56     Liberty 42

Lincoln County 61     Ritchie County 47

Parkersburg South 43     Parkersburg 42

Ravenswood 57     Parkersburg Catholic 53

Williamstown 86     Racine Southern, Ohio 50

Sissonville 55     Roane County 32

►  Area High Schools Girls Basketball Game Results

(Tuesday, December 30)

Lincoln County 66     Doddridge County 40

#1 Fairmont Senior 71     Robert C. Byrd 34

Lincoln 55     #5 Tucker County 49

Ravenswood 66     Tyler Consolidated 29

Buckhannon-Upshur 54     Ritchie County 51

Bridgeport 57     East Fairmont 36

Notre Dame 57     Tygarts Valley 48

Parkersburg South 78     Brooke 38

Scott 58     Nicholas County 56

Williamstown 61     St. Marys 45

The Gilmer Free Press

►  The Mountaineers rolled to an 82-51 victory over Virginia Tech

No. 17 West Virginia wrapped up its nonconference schedule in dominant fashion, routing Virginia Tech 82-51 before a near-sellout crowd Tuesday afternoon.

Juwan Staten scored 18 points, Gary Browne added 12 and West Virginia forced 25 turnovers to the delight of the 13,330 fans who packed the WVU Coliseum and jeered former Marquette coach Buzz Williams.

The Mountaineers (12-1), who shot 50% and outrebounded Virginia Tech 36-22, will enter Big 12 play on Saturday at TCU off to their best start since the 2009-10 season.

Nathan Adrian and Devin Williams scored nine points each and Jaysean Paige added eight for West Virginia, which made 10-of-24 from 3-point range and outscored the Hokies (8-5) in the second half 49-21.

Staten sank 3-of-4 from long distance and Browne made both of his 3-point tries.

Satchel Pierce and Adam Smith scored 10 each for Virginia Tech, which is slated to become an annual opponent on the Mountaineers’ nonleague schedule.

Williams grabbed 11 boards and guard Daxter Miles pulled down six. Jevon Carter made five steals off the bench.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  No. 17 WVU breezes past Virginia Tech

Juwan Staten totaled 18 points as No. 17 West Virginia eased past Virginia Tech, 82-51, on Tuesday.

Gary Browne added 12 points for the Mountaineers (12-1), who received nine points and 11 rebounds from Devin Williams.

Adam Smith and Satchel Pierce notched 10 points apiece for the Hokies (8-5), whose four-game win streak came to a crashing halt.

Browne’s shot from long distance opened up a 48-34 edge for West Virginia less than five minutes into the second half, punctuating a 15-4 run out of intermission. Both Staten and Browne connected twice from beyond the arc in the surge.

Jaysean Paige later made a shot from long distance and the Mountaineers opened up a 57-39 lead with 11:35 to play.

A dunk from Devin Williams pushed the West Virginia advantage over 20 points for the first time, 62-41, with 8:23 remaining, and grew as high as 77-43 with 4:40 to play after Jonathan Holton converted a layup.

The hosts led 7-0 early on and then 14-5 after a Staten triple less than five minutes in.

Nathan Adrian’s layup maintained that lead at 20-11 a short time later, and though Devin Wilson’s two free throws pulled Tech within 23-20 to cap a 9-3 burst, Adrian’s bucket and a triple from Chase Connor moved that deficit up to eight.

Pierce’s slam shrunk the visitors’ gap to 31-30, but the hosts led by three at the break on a Staten jumper.

Game Notes

West Virginia has won three of its last four home dates with Virginia Tech ... Thanks to shooting better than 64% in the second half, the Mountaineers finished 30-of-59 from the field for the contest while converting 10-of-24 shots from beyond the arc ... WVU scored 37 points off 25 Tech turnovers.

<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Associated Press Top 25

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

►  Coaches Poll

1. Kentucky
2. Duke
3. Virginia
4. Wisconsin
5. Villanova
6. Louisville
7. Arizona
8. Gonzaga
9. Iowa State
10. Texas
11. Maryland
12. Utah
13. Notre Dame
14. Kansas
15. West Virginia
16. Wichita State
17. St. John’s
18. Ohio State
19. Washington
20. North Carolina
21. Oklahoma
22. Baylor
23. Northern Iowa
24. Colorado State
25. San Diego State

►  Top 25 (and one)

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

►  Top-25 College Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Tuesday, December 30)

Final Score: (3) Virginia 83, Davidson 72

Anthony Gill amassed career bests of 25 points and 13 rebounds, helping third-ranked Virginia survive a challenge from Davidson and come through with an 83-72 victory. Nineteen of Gill’s points came in the second half as the Cavaliers (12-0) overcame an early 12- point deficit to achieve their first 12-0 start since 1981-82. Malcolm Brogdon added 16 points and Darion Atkins had 13 along with 10 rebounds in a game in which Virginia trailed with under 11 1/2 minutes left before eventually pulling away. Davidson (9-2), averaging a Division-I best 87.7 points per game coming in, received 21 points from Jack Gibbs and a 20-point, seven-rebound effort from Tyler Kalinoski. The Wildcats had won seven straight since a 90-72 loss to North Carolina in Charlotte on Nov. 22.

Final Score: (5) Louisville 63, Long Beach State 48

Terry Rozier had 23 points and seven rebounds as No. 5 Louisville got back to its winning ways with a 63-48 decision over Long Beach State. Montrezl Harrell finished with 16 points to help the Cardinals bounce back from their lone loss of the season, Saturday’s 58-50 setback at home to top- ranked Kentucky. Louisville shot a season-worst 25.9 percent against the powerhouse Wildcats, but went 21-of-41 from the field (51 percent) and forced 19 Long Beach State turnovers in its final tuneup before making its ACC debut. Harrell hit on 7-of-11 attempts for Louisville (12-1), with Wayne Blackshear contributing 12 points and seven rebounds in the triumph. Branford Jones scored 13 points as the 49ers (5-10) closed out a winless six- game road stretch that contained four matchups against ranked opponents.

Final Score: (10) Utah 85, Carroll 49

Jordan Loveridge tallied 14 points in 16 minutes in his return from injury, and 10th-ranked Utah had no trouble with Carroll College in an 85-49 rout at the Huntsman Center. Brekkott Chapman added 11 points and six rebounds against the overmatched Fighting Saints, an NAIA program out of Montana. Chris Reyes finished with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting for Utah (10-2), with Delon Wright had seven assists in the easy victory. Loveridge, who had missed the Utes’ past seven games after undergoing knee surgery nearly a month ago, went 5-of-6 from the field and made three 3- pointers in four tries. Oliver Carr paced Carroll (10-4) with 10 points, while Zach Taylor and Nick Williams had nine each in the lopsided loss.

Final Score: (12) Maryland 68, Michigan State 66 (2-OT)

Dez Wells scored 16 points and No. 12 Maryland went into Breslin Center and stunned Michigan State 68-66 in a double overtime thriller in the Terrapins’ Big Ten debut. Wells, who forced OT with a 3-pointer late in regulation, also had seven rebounds and five assists for Maryland (13-1, 1-0 Big Ten), which moved from the ACC to the Big Ten this summer. Melo Trimble shot 12-of-14 from the foul line for 17 points for the Terps, winners in six straight games.

Final Score: (13) Kansas 78, Kent State 62

Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 20 points and 13th- ranked Kansas pulled away in the second half for a 78-62 victory over Kent State at Allen Fieldhouse. Perry Ellis tallied 15 points and eight rebounds and Frank Mason III scored 14 for the Jayhawks (10-2), who bounced back from a 77-52 loss to Temple in Philadelphia on Dec. 22. Kansas ran its home winning streak to 14 going back to last season. Jimmy Hall had 13 points with eight rebounds, Khaliq Spicer scored 11 and Kris Brewer had 10 points for the Golden Flashes (8-4), who fell to UTEP, 78-75, in the championship game of the Sun Bowl Invitational in El Paso, Texas, on Dec. 22.

Final Score: (14) Notre Dame 87, Hartford 60

Demetrius Jackson scored 18 points and Pat Connaughton supplied 16 in 14th-ranked Notre Dame’s 87-60 win over Hartford on Tuesday. Jerian Grant and Zach Auguste each chipped in with 15 points for the Irish (13-1), who have won nine straight. Mark Nwakamma paced the Hawks (7-6) with 16 points to go along with six rebounds and Yolonzo Moore added 12 points in the loss.

Final Score: (17) West Virginia 82, Virginia Tech 51

Juwan Staten totaled 18 points as No. 17 West Virginia eased past Virginia Tech, 82-51, on Tuesday. Gary Browne added 12 points for the Mountaineers (12-1), who received nine points and 11 rebounds from Devin Williams. Adam Smith and Satchel Pierce notched 10 points apiece for the Hokies (8-5), whose four-game win streak came to a crashing halt.

Final Score: (19) North Carolina 86, William & Mary 64

J.P. Tokoto finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds to lift No. 19 North Carolina to an 86-64 victory over William & Mary on Tuesday. Marcus Paige supplied 14 points and six assists and Nate Britt netted 11 for the Tar Heels (10-3), who have won four straight games heading into their ACC opener at Clemson on Saturday. Daniel Dixon paced the Tribe (6-5) with 20 points, while Marcus Thornton scored 17 in the setback. North Carolina has now won eight straight games against William & Mary since the 1977-78 season.

Final Score: Iowa 71, (20) Ohio State 65

Jarrod Uthoff scored 18 points, grabbed seven rebounds and handed out five assists as Iowa built an early lead and held off No. 20 Ohio State, 71-65, in the Big Ten opener for both programs. Uthoff and Aaron White both scored 11 points in a first half that saw the Hawkeyes (10-4, 1-0 Big Ten) jump out to a 12-point lead they never relinquished. White finished with 18 points and nine rebounds for Iowa, which came into Columbus last January and snapped a seven-game skid at Value City Arena. Sam Thompson led Ohio State (11-3, 0-1) with 17 points, while leading scorer D’Angelo Russell shot just 4-of-16 from the field for 13 points in his Big Ten debut.

Final Score: (22) Baylor 92, Norfolk State 51

Royce O’Neale put on an impressive shooting display in the second half and finished with 23 points to lead 22nd-ranked Baylor to a 92-51 rout of Norfolk State on Tuesday. O’Neale was 7-of-9 from the floor and hit 5-of-6 shots from 3-point range, while Rico Gathers, Taurean Prince and Al Freeman all scored 13 points for the Bears (11-1), who have won six straight games. Jeff Short netted 23 points and D’Shon Taylor supplied 11 points and six rebounds for the Spartans (9-6), who had their three-game winning streak come to an end.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Patience still required in Cleveland

Seems like the NBA world is up in arms once again about the Cleveland Cavaliers.

It’s like beating one’s self in the head, but, let’s go through the exercise once more.

This present edition of the Cavaliers was not going to walk on to the floor and be dominant. There were too many variables going against that notion and it’s manifested itself on the court.

That’s why the latest rumblings, focused on an ESPN report that head coach David Blatt is having a hard time getting through to the team, have risen. That comes after a 23-home blowout at the hands of lowly Detroit Pistons.

Since the Cavs have lost two of three games and only rank fifth in the Eastern Conference, it’s time to bang on this drum. Heads need to roll for this disgraceful start.

What a surprise that coaching in the NBA, coaching LeBron James and two other superstars, proved to be a little more difficult than coaching in Israel. Gasp.

Remember, Blatt was hired prior to James’ signing. This is in no way implying that Blatt wouldn’t have taken the job, but he got something way different than what he expected.

And things aren’t perfect in Cleveland. The body language stinks. They perpetually look tired, although Blatt said on Monday that the team hasn’t practiced in nine days.

The have no rim protector. They didn’t in camp, haven’t had one all season. No surprise on that front.

Defensively, this team was going to struggle. James is a good defender, although no longer great, but no one else on the roster, save for 250-year-old Shawn Marion, is even remotely solid.

Cleveland ranks 14th in opponents’ scoring. Defense still remains primarily about effort, so maybe it’s Blatt’s fault that this mix of veterans and pups aren’t trying hard enough on that side of the ball.

Or, maybe a few veterans need to step up and do their jobs.

This nonsense about firing Blatt 30 games into the season really frosts my proverbial cookies. The worst thing the Cavaliers can do at a time like this, you know, a time where they’re playing .600 basketball, is fire a head coach.

Blatt was going to struggle this season no matter what. He’s an accomplished man, but he has zero head coaching experience in the NBA. Then, he has to manage the greatest player in the world, possibly the most famous human on this pebble called Earth. He has to turn two perennial All-Stars into winners when they’ve won nothing in this league, all while growing into the job on his own.

When Blatt thought he was getting a young, scattered Cavs’ team led by Kyrie Irving, he was still greener than Al Gore carrying a frog through Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day. Nothing changed with James in town. The job got more difficult. Thirty games is no barometer.

If James and the rest of the Cavs preach how this is a process (it is), how would it be considered fair to dismiss the head coach so early in said process? Business isn’t fair, but there has been nothing apparent other than an expected growing period and some underachieving that makes this Cavs team a failure punishable by termination.

Blatt is taking it somewhat in stride.

“When things go a little bit bad, naturally, some people want to pin those questions because they seem to be an easy thing to do. I think that’s unfair,“ he said after practice on Monday. “I don’t listen to things. I’m very confident in what I do and what we’re doing.“

Smart answer, but let’s be fair, there have been unforeseen issues in Cleveland.

This offense should be the Harlem Globetrotters. It hasn’t been. When the Cavs move the ball, they’re unstoppable. When the offense gets stagnant, it’s awful.

Kevin Love hasn’t found his way. When these mega-teams get together, someone always sacrifices his game, or, has it sacrificed for him. Love has been that guy. Wasn’t going to be LeBron, and Irving is the point guard with the ball in his hands, so Love was the guy.

The rotation has been clunky. Varejao’s injury hasn’t helped. Against the Miami Heat on Christmas Day, Blatt started Marion. Now, Tristan Thompson is the man, although there’s no true center. Brendon Haywood is the only true big man left on the roster and he’s played 37 minutes this season, which puts him about a minute and a half behind what 34-year-old Mike Miller played against the Orlando Magic on Friday.

The Cavs need to address the problem in the pivot. Dave McMenamin of ESPN, who covers the Cavaliers, said he’s heard they don’t want to look outside the NBA for a big like Jermaine O’Neal, Kenyon Martin or Emeka Okafor. (If healthy, I’d look at Okafor.)

But, as we all know, the straw stirring the drink, both on-court and off, is James.

He had every opportunity to offer effusive praise of coach Blatt and didn’t offer it. James was positive and pragmatic.

“My relationship with the coach continues to get better and better every day,“ said James. “This is two months of us being together. I don’t know him fully, he doesn’t know me fully ... He has our attention. We know what we want to do on the floor. We have to do a better job of going out and executing what they want us to do.“

Then, it sort of turned into something a little defensive.

“He’s our coach. What other coach do we have,“ asked James.

King James was asked, knowing how important an endorsement for coach Blatt would be coming from him, for one.

“I don’t pay no bills around here man. I play,“ said James. “I’m happy with who we have at our helm. He’s our coach. For it to make a feud between me and Blatt, or the team and Blatt, it’s just a sell. It’s just a sell and get people to read and put something on the bottom of the ticker, that’s all it is.“

That may be true, but James has a history with a new head coach to the league and there were no whispers back then about his relationship with Erik Spoelstra.

Compounding James’ tepid endorsement was a column written by Chris Haynes for, which included this:

“Given the massive scrutiny he would endure if he departed Cleveland a second time, if his hand is forced, I’m told he won’t hesitate to make the appropriate business decision if it means bolting.“

I can not conceive a scenario where James bolts Cleveland immediately. So, with all due respect, I don’t think we are the nuclear option yet in Cleveland.

Every day that goes by, the argument that Cleveland needs time to make this work loses luster. But, the reality is, if this is a long-term process with the Cavs, then 30 games is no real test.

It’s enough of questioning the Cavs this early. Expectations were entirely too high, so reality has set in. Reality is still pretty good with a possibility for improvement.

Nothing nuclear, Cavs. Stay the course.

►  NBA Game Results

(Tuesday, December 30)

Final Score: Detroit 109, Orlando 86

Jodie Meeks scored 20 of his 34 points in the second quarter and made a career-high nine 3-pointers to lead the Detroit Pistons to a 109-86 win over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday. Andre Drummond contributed 17 points and 22 rebounds, and D.J. Augustin added 11 points and 10 assists off the bench. Detroit has won three straight games, all of which coming without forward Josh Smith, who was released and has since signed with the Houston Rockets. The Pistons set a franchise record with 17 triples in a win over Cleveland on Sunday, then registered 14 shots from beyond in this one, led by the 9-of-11 effort from Meeks. Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy returned to Orlando after spending five seasons leading the Magic, highlighted by a trip to the NBA Finals in 2008-09. He took the past two years off before accepting the position in Detroit. Victor Oladipo led the Magic with 16 points and Tobias Harris deposited 15, while Nikola Vucevic had 10 points and five rebounds.

Final Score: Atlanta 109, Cleveland 101

Paul Millsap’s 26 points and nine rebounds helped the Atlanta Hawks take down the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers, 109-101, on Tuesday. Jeff Teague gave 23 points and 11 assists and Kyle Korver made five 3- pointers en route to 19 points for the Hawks, winners in seven of their last eight games. Cleveland’s loss came despite 35 points and nine assists from Kyrie Irving, who had missed the previous two contests due to a bone bruise in his left knee. Tristan Thompson added 18 points and 13 boards for the Cavs, who were without LeBron James and lost Kevin Love to an injury. James celebrated his 30th birthday in street clothes. He was a late scratch with a sore left knee. Love, meanwhile, had seven points on 1-of-8 shooting before departing with back spasms.

Final Score: Brooklyn 96, Chicago 82

Brook Lopez had 29 points and the Brooklyn Nets routed the Bulls 96-82 to snap Chicago’s seven-game winning streak. Brooklyn outscored the Bulls 31-14 in the second quarter and never relinquished the advantage in the second half, leading by as many as 23 in the fourth. The Nets had dropped 12 of their last 14 games at the United Center coming in. Joe Johnson posted 20 points and 11 rebounds for Brooklyn, which has won five of its last six games on the heels of a three-game losing streak. Joakim Noah tallied 12 points and 12 boards, while Mike Dunleavy netted 23 points for the Bulls. Derrick Rose had just four points on 2-of-15 shooting in defeat.

Final Score: Memphis 95, San Antonio 87

Mike Conley filled the stat sheet with 30 points, seven rebounds and six assists to guide the Memphis Grizzlies to a 95-87 win over the short-handed San Antonio Spurs. Marc Gasol chipped in 17 points and nine boards for the Grizzlies, who exacted a bit of revenge on the Spurs. San Antonio snapped Memphis’ franchise-record 22-game home winning streak on Dec. 5. The teams then played a triple-overtime thriller won by the Grizzlies, 117-116, on Dec. 17. Tayshaun Prince totaled 12 points for the Grizzlies, who have won back-to-back contests following a four-game skid. The Spurs, who played without Kawhi Leonard (bruised right hand) and Tony Parker (strained left hamstring), lost for the seventh time in nine games. Marco Belinelli and Cory Joseph each had 18 points for San Antonio. Tim Duncan chipped in nine points and 10 rebounds.

Final Score: New Orleans 110, Phoenix 106

Tyreke Evans scored 24 points with eight rebounds and was instrumental down the stretch to help the New Orleans Pelicans in a 110-106 win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday. Jrue Holiday had 21 points with six assists and Anthony Davis contributed 19 points and season- high 18 rebounds for the Pelicans, who have won two of their last three. Goran Dragic paced the Suns with 22 points, Eric Bledsoe tallied 21 points with eight assists and Gerald Green scored 17 off the bench. Markieff Morris added 13 points for Phoenix, which had its six-game winning streak snapped.

Final Score: Dallas 114, Washington 87

Monta Ellis led six Mavericks in double figures with 20 points and Dallas smoked the Washington Wizards 114-87 on Tuesday. Chandler Parsons, Charlie Villanueva and Richard Jefferson all scored 14 points and Dirk Nowitzki had 13 for Dallas, which completed a 3-0 homestand. The Mavericks, who own the league’s best offense, have scored at least 102 points in five straight games. John Wall came back to Earth with 11 points and eight assists—a good game but average by his recent standards—as Washington’s three-game win streak came to a screeching halt. Wall finished December with 10 double-doubles in 16 games, and the Wizards end the month with a 12-4 record.

Final Score: LA Lakers 111, Denver 103

Kobe Bryant had a triple-double with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Denver Nuggets 111-103 on Tuesday night. Carlos Boozer posted 19 points and nine rebounds, Ronnie Price netted 18 points and Wesley Johnson added 16 for the Lakers, who had dropped six of their last seven games coming in. Ty Lawson supplied 16 points and nine assists and Jusuf Nurkic provided 16 points and eight boards for Denver, which has dropped four of its last five contests.

Final Score: Utah 100, Minnesota 94

Gordon Hayward scored 11 of his 26 points in the final quarter, and the Utah Jazz rallied to upend the Timberwolves, 100-94, and send Minnesota to its ninth straight defeat. Trey Burke netted a season-best 26 points for Utah, which finished the game on a 16-2 run. Hayward had 11 of those points, as the Jazz won for the third time in four games. Derrick Favors scored 15, and Enes Kanter tallied 14 points and 12 rebounds in the win. Shabazz Muhammad scored a career-high 30 for Minnesota, which fell to 5-25. Andrew Wiggins totaled 21 points for the Timberwolves, whose only field goal over the final four minutes was a tip-in from Gorgui Dieng.

Final Score: Portland 102, Toronto 97 (OT)

Damian Lillard posted 26 points and nine assists, outdueling fellow star point guard Kyle Lowry and helping the Portland Trail Blazers rally past the Toronto Raptors, 102-97, in overtime. LeMarcus Aldridge added 23 points and 13 boards and Wesley Matthews scored 19 for Portland, which improved to 15-1 against the Eastern Conference. Kyle Lowry tallied 25 with seven rebounds and five assists for the Raptors, who still hold a half-game lead over Atlanta for the best record in the East.

Final Score: Golden State 126, Philadelphia 86

Another trip to Oakland ... another blowout loss for the 76ers. Marreese Speights led a balanced scoring attack with 23 points to pace the Golden State Warriors to a 126-86 rout of Philadelphia. Leandro Barbosa added 17 points and Draymond Green tallied 10 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and three blocks for the NBA-best Warriors (25-5), who have won back-to-back contests since losing two straight games at Staples Center last week to the Lakers and Clippers. Stephen Curry had 13 points and nine assists, while Klay Thompson scored 14 in the win. Seven Warriors scored in double figures. Golden State won 123-80 at home against the Sixers Feb. 10, 2014, and this game produced a similar result. To say it was sloppy performance by the Sixers would be an understatement. They committed 28 turnovers, which led to 43 Golden State points. Henry Sims scored 19 for the Sixers, who have dropped three straight and eight of their last 10 contests to fall to an NBA-worst 4-26. Michael Carter-Williams was limited to four points on 1-of-7 shooting.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Padres send Smith to Mariners

The San Diego Padres announced Tuesday that outfielder Seth Smith has been shipped to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for pitcher Brandon Maurer.

Smith, who had agreed to a two-year contract extension in early July, finished his sole season in southern California by hitting .266 and totaling 12 home runs, 31 doubles and 48 RBI over 136 games.

The 32-year-old Mississippi native is a lifetime .265 hitter over 865 games with Colorado, Oakland and San Diego since 2007.

Maurer, 24, went 1-4 with a 4.65 earned run average in 38 appearances for the Mariners last season. He’s gone 6-12 with a 5.58 ERA over 60 contests in two years for the franchise.

►  Royals OF Gordon has surgery on wrist

Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon had wrist surgery on Tuesday, but should be ready by spring training.

The procedure repaired the extensor retinaculum in Gordon’s right wrist, which bothered the All-Star left fielder for most of the 2014 season.

“Alex reached out just prior to Christmas to report that he was experiencing some right wrist discomfort during his offseason workouts,“ said Royals trainer Nick Kenney in a statement released by the team Tuesday. “We asked him to come to Kansas City after the holiday for an evaluation and it was determined he needed to have this repaired now to avoid any further complications and any delay in his start to the upcoming season.“

Gordon helped the Royals win the AL pennant last season by hitting .266 with 19 home runs, 74 RBI and a .351 on-base percentage. He also picked up his fourth straight Gold Glove Award.

The two-time All-Star will turn 31 before the start of spring training.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Tuesday, December 30)

Final Score: Montreal 2, Florida 1 (SO)

P.A. Parenteau netted the lone marker in the shootout and Montreal overcame some late Florida heroics to post a 2-1 victory on Tuesday. Brendan Gallagher tallied in regulation for the Canadiens, who have won four in a row and tied idle Tampa Bay atop the Atlantic Division. Dustin Tokarski managed to stop 36 shots over the game’s first 65 minutes and all three chances in the breakaway rounds. Nick Bjugstad provided the lone offense for the Panthers, who dropped the second game in their last six. Roberto Luongo took the loss despite 33 stops.

Final Score: Nashville 3, St. Louis 2

Shea Weber scored twice, including the deciding goal midway through the third period, as Nashville skated away with a 3-2 win over St. Louis at Bridgestone Arena. Gabriel Bourque added a goal and one assist for the Predators, who retained their perfect record (12-0-0) following a loss. Pekka Rinne came up with 26 stops for the hosts. Brian Elliott returned from injured reserve and halted a season-high 44 shots for the Blues, losers in five of their last six. Chris Butler and T.J. Oshie netted second-period markers in defeat.

Final Score: Edmonton 3, Los Angeles 2 (SO)

David Perron scored the lone goal of the shootout as the Edmonton Oilers ended a nine-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. Each team had a good chance to score in the shootout before Perron’s winner. Jordan Eberle, Edmonton’s second shooter, made several moves before Jonathan Quick’s glove stuffed his offering at the goal line. Tyler Toffoli followed for the Kings, but his shot rang off the right post. Perron ended the skills competition in the fourth round as he moved the puck from his forehand to his backhand and quickly lifted it over Quick’s pad for the game-winner. Matt Hendricks and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in regulation and Ben Scrivens made 37 saves in his 100th career game for the Oilers, who won their first game since a 2-1 win over San Jose on Dec. 7. Edmonton head coach Todd Nelson earned his first win as an NHL coach since taking over for Dallas Eakins on Dec. 15. Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin lit the lamp for Los Angeles, which has dropped three of its last four. Quick stopped 19 shots in defeat.

Final Score: Vancouver 3, San Jose 1

Ryan Miller made 31 saves as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the San Jose Sharks, 3-1, on Tuesday. Bo Horvat, Jannik Hansen and Radim Vrbata all scored for the Canucks, who have won three of their last four games. Miller has now won his last seven starts against the Sharks and has won 9-of-11 career games when facing them. San Jose’s lone goal came on Joe Thornton’s successful penalty shot and Alex Stalock allowed all three goals on 21 shots in his team’s third straight loss.

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
Sacramento at Boston, 1:00 PM - CSN-California, New England, DSS
Miami at Indiana, 3:00 PM - SunSports, FS-Indiana, DSS
New York at LA Clippers, 6:00 PM - MSG, FS-Prime Ticket, DSS
Charlotte at Houston, 7:00 PM - SportSouth, ROOT-Southwest, DSS
Milwaukee at Cleveland, 7:00 PM - FS-Wisconsin, Ohio, DSS
New Orleans at San Antonio, 7:00 PM - FS-New Orleans, Southwest, DSS
Phoenix at Oklahoma City, 8:00 PM - FS-Arizona, Oklahoma, DSS
National Hockey League
NY Islanders at Winnipeg, 5:00 PM - MSG+, TSN3, DSS
NY Rangers at Florida, 6:00 PM - MSG2, FS-Florida, DSS
Tampa Bay at Buffalo, 6:00 PM - SunSports, MSG-Buffalo, DSS
Minnesota at Columbus, 7:00 PM - FS-North, Ohio, DSS
Toronto at Boston, 7:00 PM - SNET, NESN, DSS
Carolina at Pittsburgh, 7:00 PM - FS-Carolina, ROOT-Pittsburgh, DSS
New Jersey at Detroit, 7:30 PM - MSG+, MSG+2, FS-Detroit, DSS
San Jose at Anaheim, 8:00 PM - CSN-California, FS-West, DSS
Arizona at Dallas, 8:00 PM - FS-Arizona+, Southwest, DSS
Philadelphia at Colorado, 9:00 PM - CSN-Philadelphia, Altitude, DSS
Edmonton at Calgary, 9:30 PM - SNET, SNET1, DSS
College Basketball
Tulane at East Carolina, 12:00 PM - ESPNews
South Carolina State at Fordham, 12:00 PM - SNY
St. John’s at Seton Hall, 12:00 PM - FS1
Tulsa at UCF, 12:00 PM - ESPN U
Temple at Connecticut, 1:00 PM - ESPN 2
Chicago State at Green Bay, 1:00 PM -
East Tennessee State at Tennessee, 1:00 PM - SEC Network
Princeton at Wake Forest, 1:00 PM -
Penn State at Wisconsin, 1:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Colgate at Lehigh, 2:00 PM - Patriot League Network
Bradley at Illinois-Chicago, 2:00 PM - CSN-Chicago,
Houston at Memphis, 2:00 PM - ESPN U
Vanderbilt at Saint Louis, 2:00 PM - FS-Midwest
American at Bucknell, 2:30 PM - Patriot League Network
Butler at Villanova, 2:30 PM - FS1
Lafayette at Army, 3:00 PM - Patriot League Network
Wofford at Duke, 3:00 PM - RSN,
Minnesota at Purdue, 3:15 PM - Big Ten Network
Indiana State at Illinois State, 4:00 PM - CSN-Chicago,
Georgia at Kansas State, 4:00 PM - ESPN U
Loyola-Maryland at Navy, 4:00 PM - Patriot League Network
UNC Asheville at Radford, 4:00 PM - Big South Network
Brown at Rhode Island, 4:00 PM - OCN
Marquette at DePaul, 5:00 PM - FS1
George Mason at Oklahoma, 5:00 PM - Sooner Sports TV
Air Force at San Diego State, 5:00 PM -
South Florida at SMU, 5:00 PM - ESPN 2
Indiana at Nebraska, 5:30 PM - Big Ten Network
Cornell at Syracuse, 6:00 PM - ESPN U
Wichita State at Drake, 6:05 PM - MC22,
Missouri State at Southern Illinois, 6:05 PM - WDKA-49,
Fresno State at New Mexico, 7:00 PM -
Creighton at Providence, 7:30 PM - FS1
Boise State at Colorado State, 9:00 PM - ROOT-Rocky Mountain
San Jose State at Utah State, 9:00 PM - Mountain West Network
UNLV at Wyoming, 9:00 PM -
Georgetown at Xavier, 10:00 PM - FS1
Women’s College Basketball
UNC Wilmington at Stetson, 1:00 PM -
Dayton at Central Michigan, 1:00 PM -
Connecticut at East Carolina, 2:30 PM - SNY,
North Texas at Texas A&M, 5:00 PM - SEC Network+
Michigan State at Indiana, 7:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
College Football
Ole Miss vs. TCU (Peach Bowl), 12:30 PM - ESPN
Boise State vs. Arizona (Fiesta Bowl), 4:00 PM - ESPN
Mississippi State vs. Georgia Tech (Orange Bowl), 8:00 PM - ESPN

Sports News   141230

The Gilmer Free Press

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Gibson on Texas A&M assistant’s antics: ‘That’s embarrassing’

Skyler Howard made “Money Manziel” fingers, and Kevin White got his point across by flashing only one finger. Texas A&M pile up personal fouls like spare ribs and one of its assistants nearly went Woody Hayes on a couple of Mountaineers players.

Between the elevated trash-talking and post-play shoving, the Liberty Bowl became a testy finale for two squads that had been whoofing at one another for several days.

“We knew it was going to be like that,” said Howard, the West Virginia sophomore who graduated from high school in Fort Worth the same year Johnny Football rose to Heisman prominence.

“We met at the hotel. We had a dinner together. We had parties together. There were some jabs being thrown all week. We knew it was going to be amped up like this. We wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s really fun when it’s like that.”

The fun got out of hand when Texas A&M student coach Michael Richardson twice shoved West Virginia players along the Aggies sideline. He slapped cornerback Daryl Worley in the back of the helmet and jostled with running back Andrew Buie—two clips that had gone viral by halftime.

Which meant Richardson was gone for the second half.

“I was made aware of the situation at halftime,” Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said. “He did not return to the field, and he’s already been sent home. That’s nothing that we condone. There’s nothing about that whole situation that’s a part of who we are and what we believe in.”

Word of Richardson’s sideline antics reached the West Virginia staff.

“I hope it gets addressed,” said WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson. “The guys in the press box were telling us, (because) I couldn’t see it from field level. There’s no need for that in any sport. That’s embarrassing.

“I told our kids don’t get caught up in the emotion. There were cheap shots thrown, and there were guys mouthing. We kept our cool on our side of the ball pretty well today.”

Texas A&M’s top tackler Howard Matthews was ejected for targeting in the first quarter, and West Virginia right tackle Marquis Lucas flirted with the same fate after taking two swings at Aggies nose guard Alonzo Williams. Officials threw off-setting flags for unsportsmanlike conduct before WVU coaches replaced Lucas with Michael Calicchio.

Best quote:

What was K.J. Dillon’s take on West Virginia’s defensive lapses? “I think we didn’t do too bad of a job of tackling, we just didn’t do enough of it.”

Best quote (runner-up):

What did Sumlin tell quarterback Kyle Allen after throwing a pick-six? “We said don’t do that again.”

Dawson on departing:

After coaching his final game before joining Kentucky’s staff, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson called WVU “an extremely hard place to leave.”

Dawson spent four seasons with the Mountaineers and was the last holdover from Dana Holgorsen’s original staff in 2011.

“I love that guy to death, and that’s never going to change,” Dawson said. “I can’t compliment Dana enough for the opportunity, and West Virginia fans have been amazing.

“There were some fond memories and there were some tough goodbyes in that locker room.”

►  WVU falls in the Liberty Bowl

Freshman quarterback Kyle Allen accounted for five touchdowns and Texas A&M held on for a 45-37 win over West Virginia in Monday’s Liberty Bowl.

Allen passed for 294 yards and four touchdowns and also rushed for a score as the Aggies (8-5) won a fourth consecutive bowl game.

Skyler Howard threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns in his second career start for the Mountaineers (7-6).

Howard’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Wellman with 2:32 remaining pulled West Virginia within 45-37, but Allen hit Malcome Kennedy over the middle for a 21-yard completion on 3rd-and-3 to help Texas A&M run out the clock and clinch a 4-0 bowl record for Aggies seniors.

Allen’s lone interception was returned for a touchdown in a high-scoring first half. He threw two touchdown passes to Kennedy and one each to Josh Reynolds and Trey Williams, who also ran for a score.

The Aggies rushed for 235 yards in the win, with Tra Carson carrying the ball 25 times for 133.

Howard made his second career start for senior quarterback Clint Trickett, who announced on Friday that he was retiring from football after suffering five concussions in 14 months.

Senior Kevin White, a projected first-round draft pick, had seven catches for 129 yards and a touchdown for the Mountaineers, who have dropped four of their last five bowl games.

Mario Alford and Elijah Wellman also had touchdown receptions in the loss.

It was the last game at West Virginia for offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Shannon Dawson, who is leaving the Mountaineers to take the same jobs at Kentucky.

The teams combined for 532 yards of offense in the first half and nine of their 16 drives ended in points. Allen and Howard each threw for 195 yards, with Allen passing for three touchdowns and running for a 14-yard score in the final minute that gave Texas A&M a 28-27 lead going into the break.

Allen’s interception was returned 35 yards for a touchdown by safety K.J. Dillon to give the Mountaineers a 17-7 lead in the first quarter.

Howard had two touchdown passes in the half, including a 49-yard strike to White that had West Virginia ahead 27-21 before Texas A&M’s late score.

The Aggies scored the first 10 points in the second half, taking a 38-27 lead on Williams’ 18-yard touchdown run. Later, Kennedy’s 9-yard touchdown catch pushed their lead to 45-30 near the end of the third quarter.

Game Notes

Texas A&M said student assistant Michael Richardson, who was twice caught by TV cameras hitting West Virginia players on the sideline, was asked by coach Kevin Sumlin to remain in the locker room for the second half ... It was the first-ever meeting between the teams ... Texas A&M improved to 17-19 in bowl games, including 3-0 under Sumlin ... West Virginia is 14-19 in bowls and 1-2 under Dana Holgorsen.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  College Football Bowl Game Results

(Monday, December 29)

Final Score: (18) Clemson 40, Oklahoma 6

After scoring a touchdown on its first offensive play, the floodgates opened in No. 18 Clemson’s 40-6 win over Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl. In relief of the injured star freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson, senior Cole Stoudt threw for 319 yards and three touchdowns on 26-of-36 passing with no interceptions to help the Tigers (10-3) complete their fourth season in a row with at least 10 wins. The Clemson defense dominated, forcing five turnovers and limiting the Oklahoma offense to 275 total yards. Artavis Scott caught eight passes for 114 yards, including his 65-yard touchdown on Clemson’s first play. Mike Williams added nine catches for 112 yards and a touchdown. Samaje Perine totaled 134 yards on 23 carries, much of which came late in the game, for the Sooners (8-5). His fumble in the second quarter halted Oklahoma’s first drive in Clemson territory. Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight completed 17-of-37 passes for 103 yards and three interceptions with no touchdowns.

Final Score: Texas A&M 45, West Virginia 37

Freshman quarterback Kyle Allen accounted for five touchdowns and Texas A&M held on for a 45-37 win over West Virginia in Monday’s Liberty Bowl. Allen passed for 294 yards and four touchdowns and also rushed for a score as the Aggies (8-5) won a fourth consecutive bowl game. Skyler Howard threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns in his second career start for the Mountaineers (7-6). Howard’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Wellman with 2:32 remaining pulled West Virginia within 45-37, but Allen hit Malcome Kennedy over the middle for a 21-yard completion on 3rd- and-3 to help Texas A&M run out the clock and clinch a 4-0 bowl record for Aggies seniors. Allen’s lone interception was returned for a touchdown in a high-scoring first half. He threw two touchdown passes to Kennedy and one each to Josh Reynolds and Trey Williams, who also ran for a score. The Aggies rushed for 235 yards in the win, with Tra Carson carrying the ball 25 times for 133. Howard made his second career start for senior quarterback Clint Trickett, who announced on Friday that he was retiring from football after suffering five concussions in 14 months. Senior Kevin White, a projected first-round draft pick, had seven catches for 129 yards and a touchdown for the Mountaineers, who have dropped four of their last five bowl games. Mario Alford and Elijah Wellman also had touchdown receptions in the loss.

Final Score: Arkansas 31, Texas 7

Arkansas’ red-hot November defense transitioned into December. Brandon Allen tossed a pair of touchdown passes and the Razorbacks limited Texas to just 59 total yards en route to a 31-7 dismantling of the Longhorns in the Texas Bowl on Monday night. The Razorbacks raced out to a 24-7 halftime advantage and never looked back. Arkansas held Texas to just 13 yards in the second half. It limited the Longhorns to a minuscule 0.1 yards per carry, while racking up 191 yards on the ground. Arkansas allowed just 9.5 points per game and forced 12 turnovers in November. It gave up 25.6 points per game and forced just 10 giveaways during the months of August, September and October. Allen was 12-of-23 for 160 yards, Jonathan Williams carried the ball 23 times for 105 yards and a score and Demetrius Wilson and Keon Hatcher each caught a touchdown pass for the Razorbacks (7-6). Tyrone Swoopes completed 13-of-25 passes for 57 yards with an interception for Texas (6-7), which was was 3-5 going into November prior to ripping off three straight victories to become bowl eligible.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Harbaugh out as 49ers coach

Jim Harbaugh is out as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers after four seasons.

That much is certain.

The only question remaining is where he goes next, with all signs pointing to a return to college football.

The 49ers and Harbaugh officially parted ways after Sunday’s 20-17 win over Arizona, a move weeks in the making that the team called mutual.

The 49ers announced they have already begun a search for a new head coach and that Harbaugh is free to pursue other opportunities, which may include a return to his alma mater.

Multiple reports over the weekend indicated Harbaugh will be introduced on Tuesday as the new head coach at the University of Michigan, where he is expected to accept a reported six-year, $48 million offer to coach the Wolverines, who fired head coach Brady Hoke on December 2 after four seasons.

The 49ers said CEO Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke will hold a press conference on Monday to address the team’s coaching situation.

“Jim and I have come to the conclusion that it is in our mutual best interest to move in different directions,“ York said in a statement. “We thank Jim for bringing a tremendous competitive nature and a great passion for the game to the 49ers. He and his staff restored a winning culture that has been the standard for our franchise throughout its history. Their commitment and hard work resulted in a period of success that should be looked back on proudly by our organization and our fans. We wish Jim and his family all the best.“

Harbaugh, age 51, led the 49ers to a 44-19-1 record in four seasons with three consecutive appearances in the NFC Championship game and one trip to the Super Bowl.

“It’s been the time of my life. There’s been a lot of memories, great moments,“ Harbaugh said after the game. “I feel like I’m going to be friends for life with anybody who wants to be. I truly love this team.“

With one year left on his contract, he guided the Niners to an 8-8 record this season amid swirling rumors over his job security.

Harbaugh coached at Stanford for four seasons before taking the 49ers job and at San Diego for three years before that. He led Stanford to an Orange Bowl win over Virginia Tech in his final season at Stanford.

“For the last four seasons I have had the great privilege to coach one of the storied franchises in the history of football,“ Harbaugh said in a statement. “I will miss competing alongside this group of players and coaches; I have the utmost respect and admiration for their hard work and support. It has been my honor to share the sideline with these mighty men. I will always appreciate and remember fondly, the passion and support of our faithful fans, and want to express my particular thanks to them.“

Harbaugh played 177 games as a quarterback in the NFL, beginning his 15-year career with the Chicago Bears and also spending time with the Colts, Ravens, Chargers and Panthers. Before that, he was a standout QB at Michigan under legendary coach Bo Schembechler. He played for the Wolverines from 1983-86.

►  Jets fire Ryan, Idzik

The New York Jets cleaned house Monday, firing both head coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik after a 4-12 season.

The Jets closed the 2014 campaign with a 37-24 win at Miami on Sunday. It was the worst mark in Ryan’s six seasons as head coach.

Idzik was on board for just two years, taking over for the fired Mike Tannenbaum in January 2013. He had served as the vice president of football administration with the Seattle Seahawks for six seasons before taking over the reins for New York.

“After extensive thought and reflection about the current state of our football team, this morning I informed Rex Ryan and John Idzik that they will not be returning for the 2015 season,“ Jets chairman and CEO Woody Johnson said in a statement. “Both Rex and John made significant contributions to the team, and they have my appreciation and gratitude for their efforts and commitment. Over the years, Rex brought the Jets a bold confidence and a couple of great postseason runs, which all of us will remember.“

Ryan compiled a record of 46-50 with the Jets. He took over for the 2009 season and promptly led New York to a pair of AFC Championship Game appearances in his first two seasons.

New York was 9-7 in Ryan’s first year, losing to Indianapolis in the AFC title game, then went 11-5 the following season and fell to Pittsburgh in the championship tilt.

The Jets haven’t had a winning season since, finishing 8-8 in 2011 and 2013. Last year’s .500 finish came in what was expected to be a rebuilding year with rookie quarterback Geno Smith—selected as part of Idzik’s first draft class—at the helm.

That bought Ryan another season after rumors of his departure during the 2013 campaign. But after a win over Oakland to start this season, it was downhill from there.

The Jets lost eight in a row, the worst skid for the franchise since an eight- game slide to start the 1996 season.

Smith’s development or lack thereof, was a major reason for the Jets’ struggles this season. He was benched after a Week 8 loss to Buffalo, and then returned to the starter’s role a month later in a December 01 loss to Miami.

The Jets played well down the stretch this season, as three of their last four losses came by less than six points.

►  Geno Smith’s career day powers Jets past Miami

If the Jets had played this well all season, Rex Ryan’s job security would never have been an issue.

Geno Smith threw for a career-high 358 yards with three touchdowns, including a 74-yard scoring strike to Eric Decker that ignited a run of 23 unanswered points, as New York concluded a dismal year with a 37-24 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium.

Decker caught 10 passes for 221 yards for the Jets (4-12), who hadn’t scored more than 25 points in a game all year and gave Ryan a victory in what could be his final game as New York’s head coach after six seasons.

Ryan compiled a record of 46-50 and is expected to soon learn his fate, although indications are that he, and possibly general manager John Idzik, will be fired. Ryan took the Jets to the AFC Championship Game after each of his first two seasons, but New York hasn’t had a winning record since and this year’s finish was the worst for the franchise since a 4-12 mark in 2007.

“It was just great to see our guys go out and get one today,“ said Ryan. “I don’t want to take away from the effort of the players. It’s not about me. I don’t think it’s the appropriate time to talk about my situation.“

Miami coach Joe Philbin is set to return next year after owner Stephen Ross made the announcement following last Sunday’s victory over Minnesota. The Dolphins (8-8) finished Philbin’s third year with a second straight .500 campaign. Miami was 7-9 in Philbin’s first season and 8-8 last year, when a loss to the Jets on the final day of the season cost the Dolphins a playoff spot.

The Dolphins were already eliminated from postseason contention after last week’s results and needed a win to finish with a winning record for the first time since capturing the AFC East in 2008.

Miami opened a 24-14 lead early in the third quarter on Lamar Miller’s 97-yard touchdown run, the longest play from scrimmage in Dolphins history, but it was all Jets from there. Miller ran for 178 yards with a touchdown on 19 carries and Ryan Tannehill threw for 259 yards with a score in defeat.

“Offensively, we didn’t come out and execute,“ said Tannehill. “It doesn’t matter how many points the other team scores, we have to score more.“

The Jets trailed 17-14 at the intermission, but appeared in prime position to move back in front after Chris Owusu returned the opening kickoff of the second half 87 yards to the Miami 12. The Dolphins, though, tripped up Bilal Powell on 3rd-and-1 and stuffed Chris Ivory on fourth down to force a turnover on downs.

Miller then broke through the New York defensive line untouched on the first play and raced to the end zone to increase the Miami lead to 10.

It didn’t take long for the Jets to answer, as the Dolphins brought an all-out blitz on 3rd-and-6 and Smith burned them with the long touchdown pass to Decker. Smith flipped a pass just before the blitz arrived and Decker ran under it, easily beating Cortland Finnegan for the score.

The Dolphins couldn’t convert 4th-and-5 from the New York 36 and Smith again made a big play on third down. He eluded the Miami pressure and flung a pass down field on 3rd-and-9 for Decker, who outleaped Brent Grimes for a 50-yard pickup.

New York went for some trickery on third down from the Miami 8-yard line and a low pass from receiver Jeremy Kerley toward Smith was ruled incomplete, although the ball appeared to deflect off the quarterback’s foot into the hands Miami’s Jimmy Wilson for an interception that would have been returned for a touchdown. Instead, the incomplete pass led to a tying 26-yard Nick Folk field goal.

The Jets got the ball right back after a Miami punt and took the lead. Smith threw a 33-yard pass to Kerley on the first play and hit Decker for 12 yards on third down to set up a 23-yard Folk field goal in the first minute of the fourth quarter.

Caleb Sturgis missed a 53-yard field goal try wide right with 10:48 remaining on Miami’s ensuing possession and the Dolphins’ next series also ended in a punt.

Miami was poised to get the ball back, but Ryan elected a fake punt from the New York 39 and Ryan Quigley hit Zach Sudfeld with a pass for 38 yards to set up Smith’s clinching 23-yard TD pass to Jeff Cumberland with 3:22 to play.

After the Dolphins turned it over deep in their own territory, Folk added a 39-yard field goal to account for the final margin.

Folk hit the left upright with a 45-yard field goal try on the Jets’ first possession and Miami answered with a 37-yard Sturgis field goal for 3-0 lead.

Smith threw a 36-yard pass to Owusu on the first play after the kickoff, then converted 3rd-and-2 with a five-yard scramble before Owusu took a handoff 23 yards around the right side for a touchdown.

The Jets got the ball right back after a Miami punt, but Smith gave it back to the Dolphins with a fumble early in the second quarter. The Dolphins took over at the New York 21 and Daniel Thomas scored from the one a few plays later to give Miami a 10-7 lead.

Smith continued his strong passing start on the next New York drive, connecting on each of his three throws to put the Jets back in the end zone. A 40-yard strike down the left sideline to Decker set up a first down at the Miami 12 and Smith found Ivory all alone in the right flat for an 8-yard score two plays later.

After a trade of punts, the Dolphins marched 93 yards to regain the lead just before halftime. A 16-yard pass to Brian Hartline on 3rd-and-15 kept the chains moving and Tannehill finished the 11-play set with a 23-yard pass to Charles Clay with 43 seconds remaining for a 17-14 advantage.

Game Notes

Smith’s best previous passing day was 331 yards against Buffalo on September 22, 2013. He started 8-for-8 on Sunday, topping his best previous passing start of six straight completions ... The Jets’ previous best scoring output this year came in a 27-25 loss to New England in Week 7 ... Ivory notched his first career receiving touchdown ... Tannehill finished with 4,045 passing yards, becoming the first Dolphins quarterback to eclipse 4,000 yards passing since Dan Marino in 1994. He also broke Marino’s 1994 team record of 385 completions in a season ... Miami’s previous longest run was 77 yards, set in 1977 by Leroy Harris and matched by Keith Byars in 1993 ... Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson did not return in the second half because of a head injury.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Area High Schools Boys Basketball Game Results

(Monday, December 29)

Doddridge County 53     Ritchie County 34

#5 Hedgesville 46     Lewis County 38

Roane County 71     Salem Baptist, NC 64

Buckhannon-Upshur 65     Lincoln County 60

#4 Bridgeport 88     Frankfort 78

►  Area High Schools Girls Basketball Game Results

(Monday, December 29)

Clay County 61     Calhoun County 10

Ritchie County 63     Doddridge County 47

Roane County 53     Salem Baptist, N.C. 36

Buckhannon-Upshur 51     Lincoln County 46

Bridgeport 55     Frankfort 34

Robert C. Byrd 50     Washington(PA) 39

#6 Keyser 68     Lincoln 58

<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Monday, December 29)

Final Score: (2) Duke 86, Toledo 69

Jahlil Okafor scored a career-high 27 points with eight rebounds to lead the second-ranked Duke Blue Devils to an 86-69 win over the Toledo Rockets on Monday. Duke (11-0), which has won 39 straight games at home, took the floor for the first time since a 66-56 win over UConn on Dec. 18. Quinn Cook chipped in with 20 points for the Blue Devils, while Tyus Jones tallied 15 points with eight assists and Justise Winslow added nine points. Julius Brown had 19 points to lead the Rockets (7-5), who saw their five-game winning streak halted. Justin Drummond and J.D. Weatherspoon each had 14 in the loss.

Final Score: (7) Gonzaga 60, San Diego 48

Kyle Wiltjer had 15 points and six rebounds in the seventh-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs’ 60-48 victory over the San Diego Toreros on Monday night. Byron Wesley added 12 points, five boards and two blocks for the Bulldogs (13-1, 2-0 WCC), who have won six in a row. Kevin Pangos tallied 10 points and six rebounds. Johnny Dee ended with 20 points and eight boards for the Toreros (7-7, 0-2), who have dropped two straight since a three-game winning streak.

Final Score: (11) Texas 66, Rice 55

Myles Turner scored 16 points while Jonathan Holmes turned in 12 points and 10 rebounds as No. 11 Texas topped Rice by a 66-55 count at Erwin Center. Javan Felix contributed 10 points for the Longhorns (11-2), who recovered from a three-point overtime loss to Stanford last Tuesday. Seth Gearhart’s game-best 24 points weren’t nearly enough for the Owls (3-8), who have lost two straight since winning two in a row. Marcus Jackson totaled 10 points in a losing cause.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Monday, December 29)

Final Score: Milwaukee 104, Charlotte 94 (OT)

Brandon Knight had 18 points, four assists and four steals, Jared Dudley added 17 points and nine rebounds off the bench and the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Charlotte Hornets 104-94 in overtime on Monday night. The Hornets overcame a 21-point first half deficit in regulation to force overtime, but the Bucks began the extra session on a 9-2 spurt to seize control. Giannis Antetokounmpo bookended the flurry with a jumper and a hook shot to stake Milwaukee to a 92-85 advantage. Charlotte never got within less than six the rest of the way. Antetokounmpo posted 16 points, eight boards and four assists, while Zaza Pachulia provided 15 points for the Bucks, who had dropped four of their last six games coming in. Kemba Walker netted 28 points, Gerald Henderson supplied 19 points and five helpers and Marvin Williams pulled down 14 boards for Charlotte, which has lost three straight on the heels of a four-game winning streak.

Final Score: Chicago 92, Indiana 90

Jimmy Butler tallied 27 points and nine rebounds and the Chicago Bulls overcame a sluggish fourth quarter and held off the Indiana Pacers, 92-90, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Pau Gasol scored 20 points for Chicago, which nearly squandered a 21-point lead. Mike Dunleavy, who had a game-high 10 rebounds, made it 75-54 with his three-point play late in the third quarter, but a prolonged scoring drought and impressive resilience from the hosts led to the near comeback.

Final Score: Brooklyn 107, Sacramento 99

Mason Plumlee had 22 points and the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Sacramento Kings 107-99 on Monday night. Joe Johnson posted 16 points and six assists, while Jarrett Jack added 16 points for the Nets, who have won four of their last five games on the heels of a three-game losing skid. DeMarcus Cousins tallied 24 points and 13 rebounds and Rudy Gay provided 25 points, nine boards and five assists for Sacramento, which has dropped eight of its last 10 games.

Final Score: Orlando 102, Miami 101

Victor Oladipo was solid down the stretch at both ends of the floor to help the Orlando Magic to a 102-101 win over the Miami Heat on Monday. Oladipo tied the game with under a minute left, then his free throw broke that tie in the closing seconds before he had to lock down on Dwyane Wade’s potential game-winner at the buzzer. Nikola Vucevic paced the Magic with 26 points and nine rebounds, while Oladipo netted 22 points. Orlando snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Heat, which included a six-game skid in Miami. Wade went for 25 points in the Heat’s third loss in four games. Danny Granger had 21 points off the bench and Chris Bosh returned from an eight-game absence with a calf injury to score 20 points with eight boards.

Final Score: Washington 104, Houston 103

Bradley Beal deposited a season-high 33 points and John Wall posted another double-double as the Washington Wizards went on the road and beat the Houston Rockets, 104-103. Beal made five of Washington’s eight 3-pointers and was a perfect 10-for-10 from the foul line. Wall tallied 13 points and 12 assists, his tenth double- double in 15 December games. With the win, the Wizards improved to 7-1 over their last eight games against Western Conference foes. James Harden led five Rockets in double figures with 33 points. Josh Smith, in his third game with the club, had only three points with four turnovers on 1 of-6 from the field. Houston fell to 0-2 with Smith in the starting lineup.

Final Score: LA Clippers 101, Utah 97

Blake Griffin led five Clippers in double figures with 24 points and the LA Clippers got back on track with a 101-97 win over the Utah Jazz. Griffin stuffed the stat sheet, adding seven assists, six rebounds and three blocks for the Clippers, who had lost three of four. They fell 110-98 to Toronto on Saturday. Chris Paul scored 20 points with eight assists, J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford scored 17 apiece and DeAndre Jordan pulled down 19 rebounds. Jordan has recorded at least eight boards in every game this month and has at least 11 in 19 of his last 20 games Gordon Hayward led Utah with 22 points and seven assists. Rudy Gobert had 11 points and 13 rebounds off the bench. The Jazz, who only shot 13-for-22 from the foul line, had won four of five.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Royals announce 2-year deal for Volquez

The Kansas City Royals on Monday announced they have signed pitcher Edinson Volquez to a two-year contract with a mutual option for 2017.

According to and on December 18, the deal is worth $20 million.

Volquez spent 2014 with Pittsburgh and had one of the best seasons of his 10- year career with a record of 13-7 and a 3.04 ERA in 32 games, all but one as a starter.

The 31-year-old right-hander was 9-12 with a 5.71 ERA for the Padres and Dodgers in 2013. He owns a career mark of 66-59 with a 4.44 ERA in 191 games, including 185 starts with Texas, Cincinnati, San Diego, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh.

Volquez had his best season with the Reds in 2008, posting a mark of 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA.

The American League-champion Royals had been in need of another starting pitcher with the loss of James Shields to free agency.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Royals designated infielder Ryan Jackson for assignment.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Monday, December 29)

Final Score: Boston 5, Detroit 2

Carl Soderberg posted a goal and an assist as the Boston Bruins topped the Detroit Red Wings, 5-2, on Monday. Reilly Smith, Gregory Campbell, Seth Griffith and Chris Kelly also scored for the Bruins, who bounced back from Saturday’s 6-2 loss to Columbus despite missing injured forwards Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic. Tuukka Rask made 28 saves. Justin Abdelkader and Tomas Tatar each lit the lamp for the Red Wings, who had a two-game winning streak halted. Jimmy Howard stopped 40 shots in defeat.

Final Score: New Jersey 3, Pittsburgh 1

Travis Zajac had one goal and an assist in the New Jersey Devils’ 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday. Jaromir Jagr and Adam Henrique also lit the lamp for the Devils, who snapped a three-game skid. Cory Schneider made 26 saves. It was the first victory for New Jersey’s new coaching trio of Lou Lamoriello, Scott Stevens and Adam Oates since they replaced Pete DeBoer. Sidney Crosby scored the lone goal for the Penguins, who have dropped four straight. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 24-of-27 shots.

Final Score: NY Islanders 4, Washington 3 (OT)

Johnny Boychuk buried a slap shot 2:52 into overtime to lift the New York Islanders to a 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals on Monday night. Boychuk’s goal came just seconds from the end of a four-minute power play the Islanders received after Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov was whistled for a high sticking double-minor late in the third period. It followed a furious comeback by the Capitals, who scored three consecutive goals to erase a 3-0 deficit in the third period, tying the game with 2:41 left in regulation on Alex Ovechkin’s wrist shot. Anders Lee, Lubomir Visnovsky and Calvin de Haan also scored for New York, which snapped a two-game losing streak. Jaroslav Halak made 23 saves to push his personal winning streak to five games. Eric Fehr and Nicklas Backstrom also scored the Capitals, who went 1-1-1 on a three-game road trip. Braden Holtby faced 39 shots in the loss, stopping 35.

Final Score: Montreal 3, Carolina 1

Lars Eller and Jiri Sekac both scored for the Montreal Canadiens in their 3-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday. Carey Price made 28 saves and Max Pacioretty added an empty-netter to secure the win, the Canadiens’ third straight and sixth in their last seven games. Jordan Staal, in his first game of the season, was credited with an assist on his brother Eric’s power-play goal early in the third period, but that was all Carolina mustered. The Hurricanes have scored more than two goals just once in the past 14 games and are 3-10-1 during that stretch. Cam Ward only made 16 saves and suffered his 14th loss of the season.

Final Score: Ottawa 5, Buffalo 2

Bobby Ryan scored three goals for his fourth career hat trick and the Ottawa Senators snapped a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night. Ryan scored Ottawa’s first three goals and Clarke MacArthur and Colin Greening also found the net, ending the Senators’ 0-2-1 skid. Craig Anderson made 19 saves in the win, only facing two shots in the third period. Zemgus Girgensons and Mark Pysyk scored for the Sabres, who have dropped five of six. Jhonas Enroth gave up four goals on 35 shots.

Final Score: Tampa Bay 3, Toronto 2

The Tampa Bay Lightning scored three unanswered goals to top the Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-2, Monday. Steven Stamkos’ 20th goal of the season broke the 2-2 deadlock, and the Lightning, winners of three in a row, also got goals from Ryan Callahan and Valtteri Filppula. Ben Bishop made 21 saves on 23 shots against him. The Maple Leafs, losers in five of their last six games, scored on their first two shots of the game but did not muster any more offense. Mike Santorelli and Joffrey Lupul tallied the goals. James Reimer stopped 38 of the 41 shots in the loss.

Final Score: St. Louis 3, Colorado 0

Martin Brodeur posted his first shutout as a member of the Blues in St. Louis’ 3-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Monday. Brodeur, who spent his first 21 seasons with the New Jersey Devils, has tallied the most shutouts in NHL history over the course of his prolific career and made 16 saves to earn number 125. Dmitrij Jaskin, Chris Butler and Vladimir Tarasenko all scored for the Blues, who ended a four-game skid with a solid defensive effort. Semyon Varlamov allowed all three goals on 25 shots as Colorado’s three-game winning streak was snapped.

Final Score: Minnesota 3, Winnipeg 2

Ryan Carter, Justin Fontaine and Marco Scandella all scored in the second period as the Minnesota Wild snuck past the Winnipeg Jets, 3-2, to split a home-and-home series. Andrew Ladd’s fluke overtime goal sent the Wild to a fifth straight loss on Saturday, but Darcy Kuemper was back between the pipes Monday and stopped the skid with a 28-save performance. Michael Frolik and Mathieu Perreault each scored power-play goals for the Jets, who were 4-0-1 in their previous five games. Michael Hutchinson surrendered all three goals on 31 shots.

Final Score: Chicago 5, Nashville 4 (SO)

After coming back from a three-goal deficit, the Chicago Blackhawks needed another tying goal with less than two minutes left in regulation in their 5-4 shootout win over the Nashville Predators. Brad Richards, Andrew Shaw and Marian Hossa all scored goals for Chicago in a span of seven minutes to erase Nashville’s 3-0 lead. Trailing 4-3 with the goalie out of the net, Bryan Bickell tied the game to send it to overtime. Jonathan Toews scored in the shootout, and Corey Crawford stopped all three Nashville attempts to help the Blackhawks win for the third time in their last four games. Crawford saved 36-of-40 shots against him in regulation and overtime. James Neal scored a pair of goals for Nashville, which had won four of its previous five games. Roman Josi and Craig Smith potted the other two Predators goals. Pekka Rinne allowed four goals on 42 shots but could not stop the only goal scored in the shootout.

Final Score: Dallas 3, NY Rangers 2

Antoine Roussel scored the go-ahead goal early in the second period and the Dallas Stars snapped the New York Rangers’ eight-game winning streak with a 3-2 victory on Monday night. John Klingberg and Ales Hemsky also lit the lamp for the Stars, who have won six of seven. Kari Lehtonen made 28 saves. J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes scored for the Rangers, who haven’t won nine straight contests since tying a franchise record with 10 consecutive wins from Jan. 19-Feb. 10, 1973. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 23-of-26 shots in New York’s first loss since Dec. 6 at Detroit.

Final Score: Calgary 2, Los Angeles 1

Markus Granlund scored the game-winning goal as the Calgary Flames used an early offensive flurry to defeat the Los Angeles Kings, 2-1, on Monday. Curtis Glencross also scored, Jiri Hudler supplied two assists and Jonas Hiller turned aside 26 shots for the Flames, who have won three straight games. Tyler Toffoli supplied the Kings’ lone marker and Jonathan Quick made 13 saves in defeat. Calgary was victorious over Los Angeles on home ice during regulation for the first time since Oct. 10, 2010.

Final Score: Arizona 4, Philadelphia 2

Antoine Vermette recorded his fourth career hat trick as the Arizona Coyotes downed the Philadelphia Flyers, 4-2, on Monday. Devan Dubnyk made 30 saves and Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored the eventual game-winning goal as Arizona matched its season high with a third straight victory. R.J. Umberger scored twice 3:02 apart late in the third period, but the Flyers nevertheless fell to 3-2 on their eight-game road trip. Steve Mason, in his first start since Dec. 18, surrendered three goals on 24 shots against.

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 Orlando, 7:00 PM - FS-Detroit, Florida, DSS
Cleveland at Atlanta, 7:30 PM - FS-Ohio, SportSouth, DSS
Brooklyn at Chicago, 8:00 PM - YES, CSN-Chicago, DSS
San Antonio at Memphis, 8:00 PM - FS-Southwest, SportSouth, DSS
Phoenix at New Orleans, 8:00 PM - FS-Arizona, New Orleans, DSS
Washington at Dallas, 8:30 PM - CSN-DC, FS-Southwest, DSS
LA Lakers at Denver, 9:00 PM - Time Warner, Altitude, DSS
Minnesota at Utah, 9:00 PM - FS-North, ROOT-Northwest, DSS
Toronto at Portland, 10:00 PM - SNET-360, CSN-Northwest, DSS
Philadelphia at Golden State, 10:30 PM - CSN-Philadelphia, Bay, DSS
National Hockey League
Montreal at Florida, 7:30 PM - RDS, FS-Florida, DSS
St. Louis at Nashville, 8:00 PM - FS-Midwest, Tennessee, DSS
Los Angeles at Edmonton, 9:30 PM - FS-West, SNET-West, DSS
Vancouver at San Jose, 10:00 PM - SNET-Pacific, CSN-California, DSS
College Basketball
Northwestern at Rutgers, 12:00 PM - ESPN U
Iowa at Ohio State, 1:00 PM - ESPN 2
Florida Tech at Stetson, 1:00 PM -
Virginia Tech at West Virginia, 2:00 PM - ESPN U
Illinois at Michigan, 3:00 PM - ESPN 2
Long Beach State at Louisville, 4:00 PM -
Cincinnati at NC State, 4:00 PM - ESPN U
Maryland at Michigan State, 5:00 PM - ESPN 2
Davidson at Virginia, 6:00 PM - ESPN U
Robert Morris at Clemson, 7:00 PM -
Oral Roberts at Detroit, 7:00 PM - WADL,
Florida at Florida State, 7:00 PM - ESPN 2
Charlotte at Georgia Tech, 7:00 PM -
College of Charleston at Miami-Florida, 7:00 PM -
Albany at Niagara, 7:00 PM - Time Warner
William & Mary at North Carolina, 7:00 PM - ACC Network, FS-South, Det, Wisc
Hartford at Notre Dame, 7:00 PM -
North Carolina A&T at South Carolina, 7:00 PM - SEC Network+
Montreat at USC Upstate, 7:00 PM -
St. Catharine at Western Carolina, 7:00 PM - SoCon Digital Network
Florida Gulf Coast at Pittsburgh, 7:30 PM -
Norfolk State at Baylor, 8:00 PM - FS-Arizona+, Detroit+
Ole Miss at Dayton, 8:00 PM - CBSSN
Harvard at Grand Canyon, 8:00 PM - MASN
Judson at Illinois-Chicago, 8:00 PM -
Kent State at Kansas, 8:00 PM - Jayhawk TV,
McNeese State at Mississippi State, 8:00 PM - SEC Network+
Mercer at Texas A&M, 8:00 PM - SEC Network
Oklahoma State vs. Missouri, 9:00 PM - ESPN 2
UC Santa Barbara at Oregon State, 9:30 PM - Pac-12 Network
Carroll at Utah, 9:30 PM - Pac-12 Network
Vermont at USC, 11:30 PM - Pac-12 Network
Women’s College Basketball
Missouri State at Missouri, 5:00 PM -
Houston Baptist at Texas Tech, 8:00 PM - Texas Tech TV
Yale at Oklahoma, 8:00 PM - Sooner Sports TV, FS-Southwest
Rice at Texas, 8:00 PM - Longhorn Network
UCLA at USC, 9:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
College Football
Notre Dame vs. LSU (Music City Bowl), 3:00 PM - ESPN
Georgia vs. Louisville (Belk Bowl), 6:45 PM - ESPN
Maryland vs. Stanford (Foster Farms Bowl), 10:00 PM - ESPN
International Soccer
Real Madrid vs. AC Milan, 10:55 AM - beIN Sport
Paris Saint Germain vs Inter Milan, 1:55 PM - beIN Sport

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