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Mavs entering final month of season

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 | 8:32 am

This NBA season has flown by and the final month of fixtures is just around the corner. It has been a pretty inconsistent season for the Mavs so far; beating some good teams and losing to some poor sides. It took the team a while to gel with several new recruits including Delonte West, Vince Carter and Lamar Odom.

The Mavs currently sit fifth in the Western Conference with a playoff spot to their name. I think that Dallas will easily clinch a playoff place but going on any further in the post-season will be a tough task. With the ageing roster, minutes on the court are starting to show already in a short season, and the playoffs could be very different from last season.

In my opinion the winner of the NBA title this season will be from the Eastern Conference.  Chicago, Miami and Orlando are all massive contenders and you would be brave to rule New York and Boston out at this stage. I see Oklahoma as the big contender from the West, but I think the whole Conference lacks the depth that the East has.

Can the Mavs win retain their title? I can’t see it happening myself but you never know. With a bit more time to become a stronger unit, they may turn the heat on in the playoffs and anything could happen.

If things go along as they are I can see Dallas playing either the Clippers or Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. One of last season’s most memorable moments was destroying the Lakers 4-0, something that is unthinkable this time around. After making several big recruits, the Clippers are now a formidable force in the West but I think next season will be their season.

In summary, I think the Mavs will grab a playoff spot but what happens from then on in is a mystery at this point.

The Mavs end March with 3 tough fixtures against the Rockets, Heat and Magic, starting with the Rockets tomorrow night.

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Video discussion on final week of basketball

Thursday, March 22, 2012 | 2:51 pm

Community Press sports writers Nick Dudukovich, Scott Springer and Tom Skeen wrap up the week/winter tournament in Ohio basketball in this edition of the Press Preps Roundtable including discussion on Fairfield, Moeller, Roger Bacon, Sycamore, Madeira and Summit Country Day.

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My (final) AP basketball top-25 ballot: With All-American teams and COY/POY votes

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 | 3:36 am

Due after the Selection Sunday announcement, the final AP top-25 poll is the least-newsworthy of the season. But in the interest of transparency, let’s take a quick break from March Madness coverage for the ballot I submitted Sunday night — along with three All-American teams and votes for player and coach of the year. *** [...]
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Region 5-AAA girls final has national poll implications

Sunday, March 11, 2012 | 1:43 pm

Clarksville is one of five Tennessee girls basketball teams ranked in this week’s ESPN Fab 50 nationwide poll.

The Lady Wildcats, in fact, are the No. 7 team in the rankings — a spot behind Riverdale, but ahead of Science Hill (20), Memphis Overton (47) and defending Class AAA state champion Memphis Central (48).

Mt. Juliet is unranked, unmentioned and unlisted in said poll.

So Wednesday night’s Region 5-AAA championship clash between the two shouldn’t be much of a clash, right?

After all, Clarksville’s got five Division I signees, three of which are Southeastern Conference-bound — including Bashaara Graves, a Miss Basketball finalist who’s set to go to UT, and 3-point shooter Chandler Cooper, who will play at Florida.

Mt. Juliet counters with post Caya Williams, who has signed with Middle Tennessee State, and reserve post Barianne Taylor (UT-Martin).

But …

Don’t be surprised when the Lady Bears grab home court for Saturday’s Class AAA sectional round — and put highly ranked, highly touted Clarksville on the road — with a win tonight.

At 31-3, Mt. Juliet’s losses have been by 19 total points, twice to Riverdale (62-57 at home, 62-58 in Murfreesboro on Feb. 13) and to Science Hill on a neutral floor.

Clarksville, unbeaten at 34-0, hasn’t had a closer game than a 48-34 win over Hillsboro in December, and the Lady Wildcats opened the region tourney with a 59-35 win over Wilson Central before defeating Station Camp 66-27 in Monday’s semifinal.

Tonight will be a close game, and it’s tough for a team that hasn’t had the experience of those type situations to find itself in the middle of one — and to react favorably to such a setting.

Mt. Juliet 56, Clarksville 51.

And while it may be a national stunner, locally it won’t be nearly as surprising.

High School Sports

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9th Region boys final updates

Monday, March 5, 2012 | 6:12 am

Final: Boone wins 54-49, first regional title since 1996.

12.4 4th: 51-46. Boone to inbound.

50.0 4th: 47-44. NCC time out, Boone to inbound. Rebels in double-bonus.

1:22 4th: 45-42, Boone. Zane McQueary at line. Now 47-42.

2:27 4th: 43-40, Boone after Hightchew trey. NCC time out, Boone possession.

3:39 4th: 41-37, Boone. Downs and McQueary three-pointers. Stanley at the line for Boone.

6:47 4th: 35-33, Boone. Zach Ryan tied it with a trey, then Travis Carr scored his first bucket to give Boone the lead back. 4 OTs again? Hopefully not. I’ve committed to covering the 10th girls final in Alexandria today.

End 3rd: 33-30, Boone. McDonald four points, Bueter a trey in 7-2 run to end period. Bueter has 12 points and McDonald 10.

1:48 3rd: 31-23, Boone. Bueter and Stanley trade threes.

3:02 3rd: Boone 26-20 after technical on NCC bench.

5:06 3rd: 23-20, Boone. NCC within one briefly before Pitts scored on driving layup.

Halftime: 21-16, Boone. Unofficial Weber scoring: Boone – Palmer 8, Stanley 3, Downs 3, McQueary 3, Schwartz 2, Pitts 2; NCC – Bueter 6, McDonald 4, Miller 2, Ryan 2, Hightchew 2. I’m not charting rebounds, but McDonald has at least five in limited minutes off the bench. Boone’s offense slowed a bit when Palmer went to the bench with two fouls. NCC ended half with 8-2 run.

2:45 2nd: 21-12, Boone. The Boone girls team is here to root on their classmates and get ready for their matchup with Notre Dame this afternoon.

5:36 1st: 19-8, Boone. Stanley (trey) and Pitts hit jumpers. NCC time out.

End 1st: 14-8, Boone. Palmer now has eight points. Hightchew a bucket for NCC.

1:06 1st: Downs three-pointer. 12-6 Boone.

2:50 1st: 9-6 Boone. Palmer six points for Boone.

5:23 1st: 7-4, Boone. Palmer four points, McQueary a trey. Bueter both buckets for NCC.

Starting lineups: Boone – Stanley, Downs, Pitts, Palmer, McQueary; NCC – Bueter, Hightchew, Ryan, Schulte, Miller.

Courtney Flege, the American Idol contestant and Walton-Verona HS student, just sang the National Anthem.

PREGAME
Boone County and Newport Central Catholic will tip off for the Ninth Region boys basketball championship at 1 p.m. Both teams are in the building here at the Bank of Kentucky Center. Here’s what I wrote here yesterday about the matchup:

NCC won 52-49 Jan. 11 in Florence. Zack Ryan had 16 points in that game, including four treys. Brady Hightchew had 12 points and Drew McDonald 10. NCC shot 38 percent. Chase Stanley had 16 for Boone in that game, McQueary 13 and Downs 10. Boone shot 44 percent.

It is Boone’s first appearance in the final since its 32-29 loss to Holmes in the 2009 championship game. NCC, of course, was in the final last year, losing the 4 OT classic to Dixie Heights. Boone’s last regional title was 1996, NCC’s 2000.

Both coaches expect a battle today. I’ll be updating here and on twitter @RecorderWeber. Then I’ll rush from here to Campbell County Middle School to cover the Camels in the 10th Region final against Montgomery County.

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8A State Final: Tampa Plant 31, Miramar 20

Sunday, December 18, 2011 | 9:38 am

ORLANDO -The Tampa Plant Panthers are the 8A state champions. The Panthers beat Miramar 31-20 at the Citrus Bowl.

The Panthers (13-1) took the lead with 9:45 left in the first quarter when Wesley Bullock took it in from 21 yards out and a 7-0 advantage.

The Patriots used a fumbled punt to set up the first score of the night in the first quarter when D’Vontis Arnold took it in from the 2 with 8:04 left, tying the game at 7.

Tampa Plant came back with 4:03 left in the first quarter, taking advantage of a turnover to take a 14-7 lead when quarterback James Few took it in from the 8.

The Panthers extended the lead to 17-7 with 9:28 left in the first half on a 37-yard field goal by Grant Van Aman.

With 1:05 left in the first half, the Panthers extended the lead to 24-7 on a 1-yard run by Mike Tate.

The Patriots finally stopped the Panthers and turned it into points when Camren Hudge found University of Miami commit Malcolm Lewis from 31 yards out with 2:40 left in the third quarter.

Miramar cut the lead to 24-20 with 2:00 left in the third quarter on a 27-yard pass play from Hudge to Tanares Robinson.

The Panthers moved the score to 31-20 with 6:07 left in the fourth quarter when Tate Rogers recoved a fumble in the endzone.

Plant 14 – 10 – 0 – 7 – 31
Miramar 7 – 0 – 13 – 0 -20
P – Wesley Bullock 21 run (Grant Van Aman kick), 7-0.
M – D’Vontis Arnold 2 run (Malik Wisdom kick), 7-7.
P – James Few 8 run (Grant Van Aman kick), 14-7.
P – Grant Van Aman 37 field goal, 17-7.
P – Mike Tate 1 (Grant Van Aman kick), 24-7.
M – Malcolm Lewis 31 pass from Camren Hudge (Malik Wisdom kick), 24-14
M – Tanares Robinson 27 pass from Camren Hudge (kick blocked), 24-20
P – Tate Rogers recovers fumble in the end zone. (Grant Van Aman kick), 31-20.

A – 4,176

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6A FINAL Armwood 37, Miami Central 31 (4)

Saturday, December 17, 2011 | 9:02 pm

ORLANDO - The 6A state championship game between the Miami Central Rockets (13-0) and the Seffner Armwood Hawks (14-0) is in the fourth quarter and the Hawks lead, 37-31 from the Citrus Bowl.

Armwood got on the board first when senior defensive back Jarvis McCall jumped in front of an Austin Stock pass and returned it 44 yards for the score and a 7-0 lead at the 10:47 mark of the first quarter.

The Hawks moved the lead to 10-0 when Nick Feely connected from 23 yards out with 5:23 left in the first quarter.

When Stock threw his second interception of the game with 4:23 left and Leon McQuay took it back 38 yards, the Hawks led 16-0 in the opening quarter.

The Rockets finally got on the board when sophomore running back Dalvin Cook jetted 63 yards for a score at the 7:32 mark of the second quarter, cutting the lead to 16-7.

Central cut the lead to 16-14 right before the half on a 7-yard run by Joseph Yearby.

The Hawks extended the lead in the third quarter after another turnover to 23-14 on a pass play from Alvin Bailey to Wade Edwards, but the Rockets came back and cut the lead to 23-21 when Cook raced 99 yards with a kickoff.

Bailey gave the Hawks a 30-21 lead when he took it in from 13 yards out.

Emilio Needelman cut the Hawks lead to 30-24 with 8:24 in the fourth quarter on a 36-yard field goal.

The Hawks showed why they are one of the best in the country when Matt Jones took a pass from Alvin Bailey 80 yards for a 37-24 lead with 7:52 left.

The Rockets cut the lead back to 37-31 with 5:01 left in the fourth quarter on a 5-yard run by Yearby.

Armwood 16 – 0 – 14 – 7
Central 0 – 14 – 7 – 3
A – Jarvis McCall 44 yard interception return (Nick Feely kick), 7-0.
A – Nick Feely 23 field goal, 10-0.
A – Leon McQuay 38 yard interception return (kick failed), 16-0.
C – Dalvin Cook 63 run (Emilio Nadelman kick), 16-7
C – Joseph Yearby 7 run (Emilio Nadelman kick), 16-14
A – Wade Edwards 28 pass from Akvin Bailey (Nick Feely kick), 23-14
C – Dalvin Cook 99 kickoff return (Emilio Nadelman kick), 23-21
A – Alvin Bailey 13 pass (Nick Feely kick), 30-21
C – Emilio Needelman 36 field goal, 30-24
A – Matt Jones 80 pass from Alvin Bailey (Feely kick), 37-24
C – Joseph Yearby 6 run (Emilio Nadelman kick), 37-31

A – 5,706
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GRIDIRON REPORT: Norland, Central, Booker T., Columbus highlights, plus state 8A, 6A, 5A semifinal and 4A final previews

Wednesday, December 7, 2011 | 9:09 pm

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Madeira falls in DIII state baseball final

Sunday, June 5, 2011 | 5:00 pm

COLUMBUS – Joe Tann’s bloop-single over first base in the top of the sixth drove in Tyler Triner to give Canton Central Catholic a 6-5 lead and the Crusaders held on to beat Madeira 7-5 in the Division III state baseball final Sunday morning at Huntington Park.

It was the first state championship in baseball for the Crusaders (26-8) since 2008. Madeira (23-2) had won a title in 1999.

Triner had reached on an infield single leading off the inning right after the Mustangs completed a comeback from a 5-0 early deficit and had tied the score in the fifth. Triner moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jake Krupar and Tann, the winning pitcher, brought him in.

Cleanup hitter Ryan Pack drove in Tann one hitter later for an insurance run.

Pack was 4-four-4 in the game with a run and three RBI for the Crusaders.

Madeira stranded eight men on base during the game, including two runners in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

The Mustangs were able to do some damage in the bottom of the fifth, however, as Crusaders reliever Patrick Stump lost control of the strike zone in a big way. Stump hit Cody Kuzniczci with a pitch and then walked Zach Jansen and Joe Bodnar to load the bases without ever throwing a strike or recording an out in the inning.

Tann then replaced Stump, but allowed a looping RBI-single to left by left fielder Brad Almquist and a two-run single into right-center by third baseman Timmy James to tie the game. The Mustangs couldn’t take the lead and stranded two.

Madeira got on the board for the first time in the bottom of the third off Crusaders starter Brad Frohman. Senior Stephen Beamer walked to lead off the inning and sophomore Andrew Benintendi’s popup fell into no-man’s land in center for a single. After Kevin Morande struck out swinging and Cody Kuzniczci was caught looking, cleanup hitter Jansen grounded a single into center to bring Beamer in. Stump, then at third base, could not handle Joe Bodnar’s grounder one hitter later and Benintendi came in on the error.

Beamer started the game on the mound for Madeira and struggled.

The first five Canton Central Catholic hitters of the game reached base and three runs came in. Beamer walked Krupar to begin the game and Tann followed with a run-scoring double into the right-center field gap. Alex Grove then singled down the right-field line to score Tann and Grove went to third on an error by right-fielder Morande. Pack’s single drove in Grove.

In all, eight men came to the plate for the Crusaders in the first and Beamer allowed four hits before stranding runners on second and third.

The Mustangs tacked on two more in the bottom of the third inning. Grove reached first to lead off the inning on a questionable call by first-base umpire Mike Podlasiak. Podlasiak, who had just said Timmy Wood went around for a third strike to end the second with a runner stranded at third, reversed his out call saying Wood came off the bag at first on freshman second baseman Matt Ballweg’s throw.

Pack followed with a double into the gap in right-center to drive in Grove and run Beamer from the game. Benintendi, who relieved Beamer in the semifinal and got the win, came on and allowed an RBI-single by Anthony Paone to make it 5-0.

The Mustangs had a chance in the fourth when Beamer was hit by a pitch with two outs and Benintendi ripped a double down the first-base line to put runners at second and third, but Morande grounded out to shortstop to stall the that threat.

A strong thunderstorm that included heavy rain, marble-sized hail, gusting winds and frequent lightning swept through the area of Huntington Park here Saturday evening and dumped enough rain to postpone the Division III state final before it even started and move it to Sunday.

Madeira was ranked No. 3 in the final Associated Press Division III state poll. Canton Central Catholic was unranked.

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SRJC Women In State Basketball Final Four, Former Empire Stars Lead Bear Cubs

Saturday, March 12, 2011 | 11:36 am

Posted By Press Democrat Staff Writer Michael Coit:

Back in Ventura County to again face Mt. San Antonio College in the women’s state basketball finals, Santa Rosa Junior College aims to repeat last year’s upset victory.

Jen Tsurumoto 

A win Saturday puts the Bear Cubs in the championship game as Santa Rosa bids for its first state title since 1988. While making back to back final four appearances is a great accomplishment, this group is positive they can take the next step.
“We’ve played top teams before and we tend to play better. We have confidence that we know we can beat them,” said point guard Mia Greco.
The Bear Cubs and Mounties play Saturday’s second semifinal at Ventura College. Game time is 7 p.m. City College of San Francisco and Cypress College meet in the other contest. Sunday’s championship is set for 3:30 p.m.
Coming off three home court wins against teams the Bear Cubs were supposed to handle in the NorCal regionals, Santa Rosa faces a tall, high scoring Mt. San Antonio team that will take the Bear Cubs best to beat. Santa Rosa is No. 10 in the state. Mt. San Antonio brings comes in with the No. 3 ranking.
“They’re very athletic. They’re pretty balanced,” said Santa Rosa coach Lacey Campbell. “At this point everyone has talented players that can knock down shots and play defense. The difference is execution.”
Strong defense has largely carried Santa Rosa this far. Staying quick to close on shooters, help around the basket and keep hands in passing lanes is particularly important against Mt. San Antonio.
Averaging 75 points a game, Mt. San Antonio can score from anywhere on the court. The Mounties like to get the ball to a trio of players 6 feet or taller and their guards matchup well with the Bear Cubs backcourt.
“That’s our thing, team defense,” Greco said. “That’s one of the aspects where you have to work as a team and make sure all five players are all on the same page. “We’ve really improved on that.”
Unselfish team play also is Santa Rosa’s strength with the ball. Lacking a superstar, the Bear Cubs are difficult to defend with five players averaging 8 or more and the team scoring 64 points a game during the season and playoffs.
“They have really gelled on the court,” Campbell said.
The guard tandem of former All-Empire players of the year Greco (Petaluma) and Jen Tsurumoto (Analy) combine for 27 points and 6 assists. Both keep defenders on edge as they can slash into the lane or pull up for deep shots.
Ashley Morgan (Maria Carrillo) has matured as a wing who works high and low for 9 points and a team high 8 rebounds a game.
Down low, Krysten Copeland (Santa Rosa) and Marie Sweet combine for 16 points and 11 rebounds per contest.
With only Greco and Copeland back from last year’s team, Santa Rosa has come together following an uneven start. The young team learned to play together against a tough nonconference schedule and then dominated Big 8 Conference play, losing only once.
Winning 19 of their last 20, the Bear Cubs are playing best when it counts the most.
A year ago, Santa Rosa found the right formula — solid defense and different players getting hot — to play well in the championship tournament at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. The finals then featured eight teams.
Going into Saturday’s semifinal, Mt. San Antonio has the advantage of experience. Santa Rosa believes they have the edge in toughness. The Bear Cubs are young and fearless.
“This group has some of the most competitive kids I’ve coached. They really hate to lose,” Campbell said.
Greco knows well the need to stay strong with the biggest games ahead. At last year’s finals, Greco scored her season high in the Mt. San Antonio win and was at her best again late in the semifinal loss to Fullerton College.
“I told the girls not to get too nervous,” Greco said. “Be excited that we’re here, but just relax and be focused and understand why we’re here.”

CCCAA Womens Basketball Championship
Ventura College
Saturday, Semifinals:
Santa Rosa Junior College vs. Mt. San Antonio College, 7 p.m.
Cypress College vs. City College of San Francisco, 5 p.m.
Sunday, Championship: 3:30 p.m.

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