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Bears, OL Ramirez Agree To Terms

The Chicago Bears have agreed to a one-year contract with former Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos offensive lineman Manny Ramirez.

The 6-foot-3, 325-pound Ramirez played for Bears coach John Fox in Denver. He has appeared in 83 games with 65 starts over eight seasons with the Lions (2007-09 and '15) and Broncos (2011-14).

 

He played in all 16 games for Detroit last season, starting three games at right guard, two at left guard and two at center. In his career, he has started 26 games at center, 24 at right guard and 15 at left guard.

 

The Bears announced the agreement Wednesday night.

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McDonald's All-American Game Recap

Josh Jackson and Frank Jackson each scored 19 points, and the West beat the East 114-107 in the boys McDonald's All American Game on Wednesday night.

Frank Jackson, who has committed to play for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, was 5 for 7 from 3-point range. Josh Jackson, who is considering Michigan State, Kansas and Arizona for his college choice, was 9-for-11 shooting.

 

Josh Jackson and Frank Jackson were named co-MVPs.

 

Jayson Tatum had 18 points for the East, and Bam Abebayo added 16 points and 12 rebounds. Tatum also has committed to the Blue Devils.

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Blackhawks Notes

>>Blackhawks' Keith Faces Lengthy Suspension for High Sticking

 

The NHL's Department of Player Safety announced Wednesday that Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith has been offered an in-person hearing to address the high-sticking incident that saw him ejected from Tuesday night's game against the Minnesota Wild. By offering Keith an in-person hearing, the department opens up the possibility of suspending the star defenseman for six or more games.

 

Keith received a five-minute major and match penalty Tuesday night after he violently swung his stick at Wild forward Charlie Coyle while Keith was seated on the ice. He struck Coyle in the nose, opening up a cut.

 

Keith received a match penalty, which differs from a game misconduct, he is already automatically suspended one game. However, he can expect to get more games tacked on. It is fairly rare for a player to receive an offer for an in-person hearing and not be suspended five or more games.

 

Keith was suspended one game for swinging his stick at Jeff Carter's face, causing an injury, during Game 3 of the Western Conference finals. Keith claimed after the game that it was an accident.

 

Carter required 20 stiches and had some of his teeth damaged by Keith's upward swing.

 

>>Authorities Drop Revenge Porn Case Against Blackhawks Prospect

 

The pending court case against Chicago Blackhawks prospect and Rockford IceHogs forward Garret Ross has been dismissed. Ross was facing a felony charge under Illinois' "revenge porn" law, or more specifically, the nonconsensual dissemination of a private sexual image.

According to the Chicago Tribune, authorities in DeKalb County had no jurisdiction to charge Ross.

 

More from the Tribune, quote - "Prosecutors decided to drop the case after learning that Ross was in his home state of Michigan when he shared the image, meaning Illinois law enforcement would have no jurisdiction over the case. The case was officially dropped Tuesday afternoon, DeKalb County State's Attorney Richard Schmack said."

 

The Blackhawks announced that Ross has been reinstated and will be able to rejoin the IceHogs.

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Warriors Need OT, But Beat Jazz For Win No. 68

The Warriors' countdown to become the winningest team in NBA history is down to five.

 

Stephen Curry scored 31 points, including six straight in overtime, and Golden State continued its historic run with a 103-96 victory over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.

The Warriors (68-7) surpassed last season's victory total and must win five of their final seven games to break the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls' record of 72-10.

 

Klay Thompson hit the tying 3-pointer with 15 seconds remaining in regulation after an offensive rebound and kick-out from Shaun Livingston after Thompson missed the previous attempt.

 

Curry took over with his burst that gave the Warriors a 99-93 lead. He then took a charge on Gordon Hayward with 1:21 left before setting up Draymond Green's dunk on the ensuing possession to put away the game.

 

The Jazz (37-38) fell into a tie with the Houston Rockets for the No. 7 slot in the Western Conference playoff race.

 

Curry had seven rebounds and four assists, while Thompson finished with 18 points.

Hayward led the Jazz with 21 points and Rodney Hood added 20. Rudy Gobert finished with 11 points and 18 rebounds.

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Charges Against Rockies' Reyes Dropped

According to ESPN.com, prosecutors in Maui will move to dismiss domestic abuse charges against Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes because Reyes' wife, the alleged victim of the assault, has declined to cooperate with the investigation.

Katherine Reyes originally told police that an argument in the couple's hotel room at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea turned violent on Halloween night of last year and that she sustained injuries to her thigh, neck, and wrist. Jose Reyes was arrested and released after posting $1,000 bail. He later pleaded not guilty to the charges.

 

In late February, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred placed Reyes on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of judicial proceedings and the league's own investigation. Even though Reyes will now presumably not face trial, he remains subject to discipline by MLB and Manfred under Major League Baseball's Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. In early March, MLB suspended Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman for 30 games under the same policy.

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Ohio State Unveils $42-Million Stadium Renovation

Ohio State is investing $42 million into renovations for Ohio Stadium that are scheduled to be completed by 2020. The renovations, which include upgrades to the premium seating area and luxury boxes, will reduce the stadium's capacity from 104,944 to 102,854.

The renovations of the stadium will restore and re-coat the 94-year-old concrete on C-deck, upgrade power distribution systems, upgrade B-deck with improved lighting, televisions, sound systems and scoreboards, renovate the premium seating area and add 35 new loge boxes and 12 luxury suites.

 

The C-Deck restoration will start in 2017 and is scheduled to be completed in 2020. The removal of 2,600 seats -- most of which are obstructed view seats currently -- will take place before the 2018 season. The construction of new suites and loge seats will be completed in 2019.

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Shelbyville Blanks Maroons in Boys Baseball Action

The Clinton Maroons could only must a single hit against the Shelbyville Rams Tuesday afternoon at Clinton High School as Shelbyville won their opening Central Illinois Conference baseball game, 1-0.

 

Nolan Hickman was tremendous for seven innings of work Tuesday, allowing just a run that was unearned in the fifth. He struck out ten with no walks allowing four base hits.

 

Cody Wherry tallied the lone Maroons hit.

 

Clinton drops to 1-3 overall and 0-1 in CIC play.

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Big Fifth Inning Propels Blue Ridge Past Monticello

The Blue Ridge Knights used a five run fifth inning Tuesday afternoon to beat rival Monticello 7-3 in non-conference boys baseball action.

 

Isaac Trotter was 3-for-4 with an RBI and Dylan Lytel hit a go-ahead grand slam in the fifth inning finishing with four RBIs for the Knights who improve to 6-3 on the season.

 

Monticello's Tyler Jones went four innings, allowing a run with eight strikeouts.

Logan Hislope tallied a pair of RBIs for the Sages.

 

Alec Lyle picked up the win in relief for Blue Ridge and Ben Williamson recorded the save.

 

Monticello drops to 4-1 on the season. 

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Dropped 3rd Strike in Bottom of Ninth Allows Indiana State To Upset Illinois

A dropped third strike allowed Indiana State's winning run to score with two outs in the ninth inning against Illinois on Tuesday at Bob Warn Field. The Illini had rallied to tie the score, 4-4, in the eighth before losing, 5-4.

 

Indiana State's Kyle Moore reached on an error to leadoff the ninth, before moving to second on a sac bunt and advancing to third on a groundout. The Sycamores' Andy DeJesus then struck out but the third strike got away from catcher Jason Goldstein, allowing DeJesus to beat out a throw to first base and Moore to score to end the game.

 

There was some controversy on whether the pitch hit DeJesus during the swing, while Goldstein scrambled to find the ball and make the throw that DeJesus beat. If the ball hit his foot, the third strike would have counted, the ball would be dead and the inning would have ended without the run scoring.

 

Illinois (10-12) had stormed back with four runs on four hits in the eighth after getting two hits over the first seven innings. Michael Hurwitz, Adam Walton and Dan Rowbottom opened the frame with a single, double and single, respectively, and Pat McInerney grounded out for an RBI before Anthony Drago blasted a two-out, two-run home run to the opposite field to tie it.

It was Drago's second hit of the day and his team-leading fourth home run of the season. Adam Walton ended the day with two doubles, his third career game with multiple two-base hits.

 

Nick Blackburn (0-3) took the loss despite not allowing an earned run. He went the final 2.2 innings and allowed one run on two hits while striking out three. Blackburn was the fourth Illinois pitcher used following Andrew Mamlic (5.0 IP, 3 R), Charlie Naso (0.1 IP, 1 R) and J.D. Nielsen (0.2 IP, 0 R).

 

Indiana State (15-11) received an excellent outing from Weston Rivers, who went 6.0 innings without allowing an earned run on two hits. Jeremy McKinney (2-1) was the Sycamore's pitcher of record, throwing the last 2.0 innings and allowing one run.

 

Only two of Indiana State's five runs were earned, both coming on solo homers. Cody Gardner homered in the fourth off Mamlic and Andy Young sent a ball over the left field wall off of Naso.

Young had three hits and No. 9 hitter Tyler Friis had two hits. Friis left the game in the fifth inning with an injury that required him to be taken off on a stretcher and caused a 15-minute delay as he received medical attention.

 

Illinois returns to the diamond during a three-game series at Nebraska this weekend.

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Eastern Illinois Edges Illinois State

The Illinois State baseball team scored a run in the bottom of the first inning but could do no more in what turned into a pitchers' duel against Eastern Illinois Tuesday at Duffy Bass Field.

 

The visiting Panthers won, 2-1.

 

Eastern Illinois (4-20) got 7.2 shutout innings of relief from Jake Johansmeier, who entered the game in the bottom of the first inning. The Panthers scored two runs in the fourth off Redbird starter Mitch Weis, and neither team scored the rest of the way as Illinois State's losing streak reached nine games.

 

Illinois State (7-17) grabbed an early lead as Owen Miller plated Joe Kelch with an RBI double down the left-field line in the bottom of the first inning. The Panthers took the lead in the fourth, however, on a two-run double from Mitch Gasbarro.

 

Weis was tagged with two runs over 3.1 innings of work as two runners crossed home plate after giving way to Mitch Vogrin, who pitched 1.2 scoreless innings. Rhett Rapshus followed with 2.2 scoreless frames, before Jack Landwehr finished out the game with 1.1 shutout innings.

 

No Redbird recorded multiple hits. Miller and Blake Molitor doubled.

 

The Redbirds return to Duffy Bass Field for a three-game series against Xavier, beginning Friday at 4:30 p.m. 

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Butler's Late Jumper Lifts Bulls Past Pacers

Jimmy Butler made a tiebreaking jumper with 3.7 seconds left, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Indiana Pacers 98-96 on Tuesday night to snap a four-game losing streak.

Nikola Mirotic scored 28 points as Chicago (37-37) got back to .500. He made seven 3-pointers, his final one tying it at 96 with 2:19 remaining.

 

The Pacers missed five shots in the final 2 minutes that would have given them the lead before the Bulls rebounded Pau Gasol's miss with 20 seconds remaining and got the ball to Butler for his 17-footer from the right wing.

 

CJ Miles missed a 3-pointer that would have won it as time expired. Paul George led all Pacers with 20 points.

 

Butler finished with 14 points.

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Blues Win; Blackhawks Continue Slide

Brian Elliot received a standing ovation after giving up a goal late in the first period of the Blues' 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night.

 

The goal snapped a franchise-record scoreless string of 258 minutes and 29 seconds. Elliott and Jake Allen had combined for four successive shutouts coming into the contest. Before Tuesday, the Blues last gave up a goal on March 16 in Edmonton.

 

Elliott made 20 saves and Vladimir Tarasenko scored his 36th goal to lift the Blues to their fifth straight victory.

 

David Backes and Troy Brouwer also scored for the Blues, who are tied with Dallas atop the Central Division after the Stars beat the Nashville Predators 5-2 Tuesday night. Both teams sport identical 46-22-9 records with five games left in the regular season.

 

Colorado has lost three of four and trails Minnesota by five points in the battle for the last wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Both teams have five games left.

 

Alexander Steen assisted on power-play goals in each of the first two periods. Steen had missed the previous 15 games with a shoulder injury.

 

He set up the go-ahead goal with a long stretch pass to Paul Stastny, who fed Brouwer to set up a 2-on-1. Brouwer converted for his 16th goal at 9:30 of the second period to break a 1-1 tie.

 

Tarasenko scored just under 3 minutes after Brouwer's goal to push the lead to 3-1.

 

>>Wild Surge Past Blackhawks

 

Jared Spurgeon, Erik Haula and Nino Niederreiter scored in the third period to lift surging Minnesota to a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night, stretching the Wild's season-long winning streak to six straight games.

 

Marian Hossa had the goal for Chicago, the 499th of his career. The Blackhawks played without their two top defensemen, because of an illness for Brent Seabrook and then a first-period match penalty on Duncan Keith for swinging his stick at Charlie Coyle.

 

Jarret Stoll scored with the first on-target shot of the night for the Wild, who swept the five-game season series from the Blackhawks.

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Mets Harvey Declared Ready For Opening Day

Mets right-hander Matt Harvey, who recently has been dealing with some kind of mystery malady that left his Opening Day status in question, will instead be able to answer the bell for the start of the season. As for his physical condition, WFAN's Ed Coleman reports that it was "blood clots in his bladder," which has now been cleared up following a procedure. While that certainly sounds unpleasant in the extreme, at least it's not an arm problem.

 

Harvey, who just recently turned 27, owns an ERA+ of 144 across parts of three big-league seasons. In 2015, his comeback season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Harvey pitched to a 2.71 ERA and 5.08 K/BB ratio in 189 1/3 innings. Needless to say, he's a vital part of the Mets' hopes in 2016.

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Clinton Lady Maroons Defeat Shelbyville Lady Rams

As heard on WHOW, the Clinton Lady Maroons defeated the Shelbyville Lady Rams by a score 10-0 on Tuesday afternoon.

 

The Lady Maroons were led by senior pitcher Alexis Estes who pitched a one hit shutout in six innings.  Estes struck out 11, and only walked one. Country Financial representative Stephan York Maroons Player of the Game junior Jillian Miller was 2-3 with two triples and four RBI's. Junior Rodjahnae Dupont-Barlow was 2-3 with two doubles and two RBI's. Junior Bayleigh Holmes was 2-4 with an RBI and a double.

 

With the win Clinton improves to 5-0 on the season, and 1-0 in the Central Illinois Conference.

Shelbyville falls to 3-5 in the season, and 0-1 in Central Illinois Conference action.

 

Tune in Thursday, April 7, as the Maroons take on Tuscola. You can hear the game live on the Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW and online at dewittdailynews.com.

 

 

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Monticello Blanks Fisher Monday

Cam Wittig pitched five shut innings Monday night and Luke Stokowski closed the door with two shut out innings of relief as Monticello scored three runs late to beat Fisher 3-0 Monday afternoon from Fisher.

Garrett Myers and Jacob Burton had an RBI apiece as the two teams combined for just six hits.

Wittig tallied eight strikeouts on the mound picking up the win and Stokowski was lights out as well for the save, with four strikeouts.

 

The Sages are in action this afternoon at Blue Ridge.

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Bulls Comeback Falls Short vs Hawks

Jeff Teague scored 26 points, including two free throws with just over six seconds to play, and the surging Atlanta Hawks fought off a furious Chicago rally for a 102-100 win Monday night.

It was the fourth straight win for the Hawks. Though the Bulls mounted a dramatic late comeback, they continued a late-season swoon, losing their fourth straight.

 

The Bulls were down as much as 15 in the second half, but stormed back in the fourth quarter and were down three with the ball with eight seconds to play. Chicago's Mike Dunleavy missed a layup, though, and fouled Teague, whose free throws sealed Atlanta's ninth win in 10 games.

 

Dennis Schroder and Al Horford each added 14 points for Atlanta. Paul Millsap had 11 rebounds and Horford added 10 for the Hawks, who completed a season sweep of the Bulls.

 

Derrick Rose had 20 points for the Bulls.

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Bears Sign LB Acho

The Chicago Bears and linebacker Sam Acho have agreed to a one-year contract.

 

Acho had 60 tackles last season - his first in Chicago - after spending his first four years with the Arizona Cardinals. He has 172 tackles, 13 sacks and three interceptions in his career.

 

The Bears announced the agreement on Monday.

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Mets' Harvey Undisclosed Injury Puts Opening Day Status in Question

Mets ace Matt Harvey missed Monday's road trip with an unspecified medical issue, the Mets announced. Mike Puma of the New York Post has details:

The Mets ace was excused from the club's game against the Cardinals -- a required road trip in this final week of the exhibition season -- to make a doctor's visit of a non-orthopedic nature, according to a team spokesman.

 

The "non-orthopedic nature" is important, because it indicates the medical issue does not involve Harvey's elbow or shoulder. The Mets initially said Harvey would make Tuesday's start as scheduled, but plans have changed. He has been scratched from that start.

 

GM Sandy Alderson confirmed Harvey may have to travel to New York for further examination. Manager Terry Collins said it is "hard to say" whether Harvey will be ready to start Opening Day.

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McIlroy To Skip Masters Par 3 Contest; Day Favorite At Augusta

Rory McIlroy has revealed part of his 2016 pre-Masters strategy. McIlroy will forego the Wednesday Par 3 Contest this year, according to The Guardian.

 

McIlroy told The Guardian quote - “It's a bit of a distraction and the year I had my best chance at Augusta, 2011, I didn't play the par-three contest. So maybe the decision not to play it this year can work in my favor.”

 

According to Bovada, Jason Day is now the favorite to win the 2016 Masters.

 

Favorites

 

Jason Day: 13-2
Jordan Spieth: 15-2
Rory McIlroy: 15-2

 

Other favorites

 

Bubba Watson: 10-1
Adam Scott: 11-1
Rickie Fowler: 16-1
Phil Mickelson: 20-1
Dustin Johnson: 22-1

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Washington Capitals Clinch President's Trophy

The Capitals dominated the third period to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 Monday night and clinch the Presidents' Trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs. A three-goal third period allowed them to remain the only team without consecutive regulation losses, as much a testament to their season-long success as anything.

 

Penalties were also a problem for the Blue Jackets, including Brandon Dubinsky's goaltender interference that paved the way for T.J. Oshie's insurance goal later in the third.

 

With goals by Tom Wilson, Oshie on the power play and Nicklas Backstrom with an empty net, their 92 scores in the third period lead the NHL.

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Clinton Youth Swimmers Wrap Up State Meet

The Clinton Community YMCA Otters swim team completed their season the weekend of March 18-20 at the Illinois YMCA State Championships in St. John, Indiana, at Lake Central High School Aquatic Center.  The team started practice in September and the swimmers have dedicated many hours over the season to practicing and competing with the hope of qualifying for the State Championships.  The Otters were proud to be represented by 27 members of the team who competed in swims for the 8 and under girls, 8 and under boys, 10 and under boys, 12 and under boys, 14 and under girls, 14 and under boys, 21 and under girls, and the 21 and under boys. 

 

A highlight for this competition was Blaise Willoughby (Right) placing 4th in the 21 and under boys 50 yard free style with a time of 22.03 which gives him the opportunity to compete in the YMCA National Championships to be held the week of April 4 in Greensboro, North Carolina.


The 8 and under girls were represented by Kate Goebel (8), Aliyah Ellison (8), Cassidee Stoffel (7), and Mylin Bruhn (7) in the 100 yard medley relay, finishing in 9th place with a time of 1:23.43.  The 100 yard free relay included Cassidee Stoffel, Mady Melton (7), Mylin Bruhn, and Aliyah Ellison, which finished 8th with a time of 1:12.89. Aliyah Ellison also competed in the individual events of the 100 IM (9th place, 1:30.39), 50 free style (14th place, 36.82), 25 butterfly (19th place, 18.82), and 25 breaststroke (7th place, 21.11). The 25 backstroke was competed in by Kate Goebel and Cassidee Stoffel who came in 37th and 34th, respectively, with times of 22.09 and 21.38. Cassidee Stoffel also competed in the 100 IM (25th place, 1:39.35), 25 free style (34th place, 17.83), and 25 butterfly (16th place, 18.66).


Caleb Zirkelbach (7) competed in the boys 8 and under 25 yard breaststroke. He achieved a time of 24.33 and came in 29th place.


The 10 and under boys were represented by Drew Moser (10) in four individual events. Drew competed in the 50 backstroke (10th place, 36.58), 50 free style (7th place, 30.21), 100 free style (13th place, 1:07.98), and 50 butterfly (13th place, 36.14).


The 12 and under boys were represented by Drew Moser, Dalton Glynn (11), Kaine Trimble (11), and Justyn West (12) in the 200 medley relay, finishing 16th with a final time of 2:22.53.  Dalton Glynn also competed in both the 100 breast stroke and 50 breaststroke earning 21st and 26th places, respectively, with times of 1:20.61 and 38.27.


Ella Korneman (13), Madison Stoffel (13), Madison Becker (13), and Payne Turney (13) represented the Otters in the 14 and under girls 200 medley relay, finishing in 19th place with a time of 2:15.05. The 200 free relay included Madison Stoffel, Annie Clifton (13), Payne Turney, and Madison Becker, which received 14th place with a time of 1:56.16. Madison Becker and Madison Stoffel also competed in the 50 freestyle, earning 26th and 31st places, respectively, with times of 27.24 and 27.36.


The 14 and under boys 200 medley relay included Nathan Zenger (11), Jack Shaw (14), Andrew Ellison (13), and Joshua Johnson (14). The received 17th place with a time of 2:20.92. Andrew Ellison, Dalton Glynn, Jack Shaw, and Joshua Johnson competed in the 200 free relay, earning 16th place with a time of 1:57.84.


The 21 and under girls competed in four relays.  Alivia Hay (17), Madison Becker, Madison Stoffel, and Dana Herman (16) competed in the 400 free relay where they finished 11th with a time of 4:00.82.  The 200 free relay was represented by Alivia Hay, Dana Herman, Victoria Wayne (17), and Hannah Hickman (17), where they finished 11th with a time of 1:47.92. A 14th place was earned in the 400 medley relay by Dana Herman, Hannah Hickman, Madison Becker, and Madison Stoffel with a time of 4:37.24. The 200 medley relay consisted of Alivia Hay, Hanna Hickman, Dana Herman, and Victoria Wayne and received 12th place with a time of 2:02.03. Alivia Hay and Dana Herman both competed in the 100 backstroke, receiving 9th and 27th places, respectively, with times of 1:01.68 (finals) and 1:06.04. Alivia also swam in the 100 free style (7th place in the finals, 54.97) and 500 free style (25th place, 5:39.39).

 

The 21 and under boys competed in 3 relay events and were represented by Blaise Willoughby (17), Isaac Fabris (16), JT Harrold (16), and Collin Underwood (17). In the 200 free relay and the 400 free relay, they finished 15th with a time of 1:38.63 and 16th with a time of 3:46.61 (respectively). They received 14th place with a time of 1:55.82 in the 200 medley relay. Blaise Willoughby also competed in the 100 free style, finishing 22nd with a time of 50.60, and the 100 butterfly, finishing 24th with a time of 57.95. In the 50 free style, Blaise went a 22.03 (finals) which earned him 4th place and a spot at the YMCA National Championships.


Congratulations to the Clinton Community YMCA Otters Swim Team and to all of the swimmers and coaches who put so much effort and time into making this such a successful season!


Head Coach: Daniel Bugner


Coaching Staff: Christy Hickman, Matt King, and Hannah Hickman

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Illini Split Saturday Double-Header With Penn State, Take Series

Doug Hayes put up one of the best Illinois baseball pitching performances in recent years by throwing only 94 pitches in a one-hitter against Penn State, as the Illini cruised to a 6-1 win. Hayes induced 18 groundouts, while facing one batter over the minimum. 

 

Hayes allowed a leadoff triple in the fourth for one of only two Penn State base runners. He threw 64 strikes and 30 balls to eclipse his previous career high in innings by three.

 

Pat McInerney led the offense with three hits and Jason Goldstein and Anthony Drago both hit home runs in the fourth inning. Drago's was a three-run shot to break the game open.

 

In the afternoon game, Penn State snapped a 22-game Big Ten regular season winning the Illini had in a 5-3 win in a battle of freshmen starting pitchers Saturday afternoon at Illinois Field.

 

The Illini's Cole Bellair and Penn State's Justin Hagenman had to game 1-1 through eight innings before the game was decided in the ninth.

 

Hagenman (4-1) benefited from a four-run top of the ninth, sparked by pinch hitter Willie Burger's three-RBI double. Burger was initially slated to be Penn State's No. 3 hitter in the lineup for the weekend before being sidelined with an injury until that deciding at-bat.

 

Hagenman had thrown eight innings without allowing an earned run before Burger's heroics. He got one out in the eighth, but was pulled once Illinois started a rally that put the tying run on deck. Hagenman finished with 8.1 innings pitched, while allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits and striking out six.

 

Pat McInerney tallied a pair of hits with a run. Gason Goldstein and Anthony Drago had an RBI and Adam Walton scored a run for the Illini.

 

Illinois hits the road Tuesday for a 3 p.m. game at Indiana State. The Illini resume Big Ten play next weekend at Nebraska.

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Redbirds Lose Eighth Straight After Saturday Loss To Tulane

The Illinois State baseball team dropped both games of Saturday's doubleheader to Tulane, 3-2 in game one and 9-3 in game two, at Turchin Stadium.

 

Starters Steve Heilenbach and Emerson Gibbs held the game scoreless through the first three innings.

 

In the fourth inning, the Redbirds put together three-straight two-out hits. Owen Miller started the rally with a single to center. Blake Molitor followed with a single of his own, putting runners at first and second. Sean Beesley provided the big hit, scoring Miller from second base to give the Redbirds their first lead of the series.

 

Illinois State added another run in the fifth inning. Jared Hendren led off the inning with a single to right field and stole second base. Later, Redbird freshman Tyler Paulsen smashed a ball over the left fielder's head to score Hendren.

 

Heilenbach worked through the first six innings with ease. Heilenbach then retired the first two Tulane hitters of the seventh inning before running into trouble. Tulane came up with three-consecutive two-out base hits. Jake Willsey delivered the big hit of the inning, a double down the left field line that scored two runs and tied the game at 2-2.

 

Both teams went scoreless until the 12th inning, when Tulane's Richard Carthon led off the inning with a single off Jack Landwehr. Tulane bunted Carthon over to second base. With two outs in the inning, Tulane leadoff man Stephen Alemais singled through the left side. Dwyer came up throwing to home plate, but his throw was just a second late as Cathron slid in head-first to score the game-winning run. Tulane walked off in game one, with a 3-2 victory.

 

In game 2, David Meade was sharp to start the game as he retired the first six batters that he faced.

 

In the third inning, Dwyer worked a walk with one out, and a batter later Kelch singled up the middle. Miller put the Redbirds on the board first with a two-out double down the left field line, scoring two runs.

 

Tulane answered back in the bottom of the third inning tying the game at 2.

 

Trailing 3-2 in the top of the sixth, Kelch tied the game with a leadoff home run to left field but Tulane scored six runs in the fifth inning.

 

Mitch Vogrin (0-2) was tagged with the loss after just one inning of work and one earned run. Tulane's starter, Alex Massey, took the win after throwing seven innings of five-hit baseball.

Meade went five innings, gave up four hits and three earned runs. The junior struck out four and walked three. Kelch finished the game 3-for-4 with a home run.

 

The Redbirds will head back home and prepare to play Eastern Illinois at Duffy Bass Field Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

 

The two losses for Illinois State (7-16) pushed the Redbirds' losing streak to eight games, the longest stretch of losses since 2008.

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Blackhawks Clinch Playoff Spot

Andrew Ladd scored the go-ahead goal with 2:27 left in the third period and the Chicago Blackhawks clinched their eighth straight playoff berth with a 3-2 victory over the skidding Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.

Jonathan Toews stickhandled into the Canucks zone before dropping a pass in the high slot to Ladd, who fired in a one-timer for his 23rd goal this season and sixth in 13 games with Chicago.

Ladd was coming off a three-point night against Calgary on Saturday in which he scored two goals and added an assist.

 

Trevor van Riemsdyk had two assists for the defending Stanley Cup champions. Tomas Fleischmann and Teuvo Teravainen also scored to help the Blackhawks improve to 44-25-7.

 

Alex Burrows and Sven Baertschi scored for the Canucks, who have managed only seven goals during their eight-game losing streak. Emerson Etem had two assists.

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Pacers Edge Rockets

Paul George scored 16 of his 25 points in the first quarter and the Pacers overcame 34 points from James Harden to beat the Houston Rockets 104-101 on Sunday night.

Monta Ellis scored 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting, including the go-ahead basket with 4:46 remaining to give the Pacers a 96-95 lead. Ian Mahinmi, who tied his career high with 19 points, followed up with back-to-back baskets to give the Pacers a 104-101 lead.

 

Harden added eight rebounds and Trevor Ariza added 14 points for the Rockets, who have lost two straight.

 

The Pacers took a 16-point lead in the third quarter and appeared to have the game put away before the Rockets went on a run and took a lead early in the fourth quarter with a dunk by Ariza.

 

The Pacers are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. The Rockets dropped to eighth in the West and are trying to stay in the chase for the playoffs.

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North Carolina, Syracuse Punch Tickets To Final Four

Brice Johnson had 25 points and 12 rebounds as the Tar Heels reached the Final Four for a record 19th time and the first since 2009 with an 88-74 win over Notre Dame Sunday night.

 

Marcus Paige added 13 points and Joel Berry II had 11 points and eight assists for North Carolina, which has won its four tournament games by an average of 15.4 points. The Tar Heels finished with a 32-15 rebound advantage. They had more offensive rebounds than Notre Dame had on the defensive end.

 

Notre Dame shot 55.1 percent (27 for 49).

 

North Carolina (32-6) will face Syracuse, the 10th seed from the Midwest Regional, in another all-Atlantic Coast Conference matchup in the Final Four on Saturday. The Orange beat top-seeded Virginia 68-62.

 

Malachi Richardson scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half, and Syracuse extended its improbable run with a 68-62 victory over top-seeded Virginia on Sunday.

 

The Orange were among the last teams to get into the NCAA Tournament after a rough closing stretch, but slipped in as a 10 seed before storming to its first Final Four since 2013 and No. 6 overall. It comes at the end of a challenging season for coach Jim Boeheim, who was suspended for nine games as the result of an NCAA investigation.

 

Syracuse (23-13), which trailed by 16 at the start of the second half, becomes the first 10 seed to make it to the Final Four and just the fourth double-digit seed to accomplish the feat. It's the lowest seeded team to reach the national semifinals since No. 11 VCU in 2011, according to STATS.

 

Michael Gbinije and freshman Tyler Lydon each scored 11 points for the Orange, who will face North Carolina on Saturday in Houston in another all-ACC showdown. Tyler Roberson finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.

 

London Perrantes scored 15 of his 18 points in the first half for Virginia (29-8), which blew a 16-point lead in the second half. Malcolm Brogdon, the ACC player of the year, had 12 points on 2-of-14 shooting in the final game of his Cavaliers career.

 

Syracuse dropped both of its games against North Carolina this season, losing 84-73 on Jan. 9 and 75-70 on Feb. 29.

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Jason Day Wins Match Play For Second Straight Win

Jason Day made his return to No. 1 in the world feel even sweeter Sunday by winning the Dell Match Play.

 

Day outlasted Rory McIlroy in an epic battle in the morning semifinals by making a 12-foot par putt on the 18th hole. The championship match against Louis Oosthuizen turned into a victory lap at Austin Country Club.

 

And to think Day thought about pulling out Thursday morning when his back seized up on him. Three days later, he looked better than ever.

 

Day pulled ahead with a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-3 fourth hole, stretched his lead to 3 up at the turn and was relentless with his power and short game the rest of the way. He closed out Oosthuizen with a wedge to 3 feet for a conceded birdie on the 14th hole and a 5-and-4 victory.

 

It was the largest margin in the championship match since Tiger Woods beat Stewart Cink, 8 and 7, in 2008 at Dove Mountain in a 36-hole match.

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Spieth, Day, McIlroy all poised to move on after day two at Match Play

It would be quite something if the Big Three all made the final four this week at the Match Play Championship. That dream is still alive as Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day all won their matches on Thursday and moved to 2-0-0 on the week.

 

Spieth and Day are two of the five golfers guaranteed at worst a playoff if they lose on Friday to move into the Sweet 16. McIlroy has to beat Kevin Na outright as both are 2-0-0. Obviously, if Day and Spieth win outright, then no playoff would be needed in their pools.

 

Day and Spieth won in routs on Thursday, too. Spieth beat Victor Dubuisson 5 and 4. Day beat Thongchai Jaidee 5 and 3. McIlroy got a test from Smylie Kaufman but pulled away at the end and won 3 and 1.

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Nationals win over Cardinals 8-2

Max Scherzer outpitched Adam Wainwright in a matchup worthy of opening day, and the Washington Nationals defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 8-2 Thursday.

 

Scherzer struck out nine and walked three in five innings, allowing two unearned runs and three hits.

 

In typical Scherzer fashion, he was more concerned about the three walks, saying he was ''inefficient'' against the Cardinals lineup.

 

Wainwright gave up four runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings, struck out four and walked one.

Michael A. Taylor hit a two-run double and a two-run homer for the Nationals. Anthony Rendon drove in two runs with his third double in two days.

 

Scherzer struck out eight different Cardinals.

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Trout hits 3-run homer and the Angels beat White Sox

Mike Trout hit a three-run homer and C.J. Cron had a solo shot off Chris Sale in the sixth inning as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Chicago White Sox 6-5 Thursday.

 

Sale started with scoreless innings before the Angels tagged the lefty ace.

 

Angels reliever Tyler Skaggs, making his Cactus League debut, gave up one run in two innings. He hasn't pitched in the majors since undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2014.

 

Jimmy Rollins hit his fourth spring homer and Brett Lawrie had a two-run drive for the White Sox.

 

The Angels broke a 4-all tie in the seventh when the White Sox let Johnny Giavotella to get back to third base after he'd been caught in a rundown. Pinch hitter Rafael Ortega then came through with a two-run single.

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Bears agree to 1-year contract with receiver Thompson

The Chicago Bears and receiver Deonte Thompson have agreed to a one-year contract.

 

Thompson played in seven games with the Bears last season, returning 14 kickoffs for 409 yards and contributing two receptions for 81 yards. He was signed to Chicago's practice squad in September and elevated to the active roster in November. In four seasons with Baltimore (2012-13), Buffalo (2014) and Chicago (2015), Thompson has 17 receptions for 228 yards and 36 kickoff returns for 999 yards.

 

The Bears announced the agreement on Thursday.

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Even with Arrieta leaving early, Cubs win 16-14 over Giants

Jake Arrieta left the game in the first inning and Madison Bumgarner left in the fourth as the Chicago Cubs outlasted the San Francisco Giants 16-14 on Thursday night.

 

The four-hour game had a combined 33 hits, three each by the Cubs Dexter Fowler and the Giants Joe Panik.

 

Kris Bryant drove in three, Fowler, Jason Heyward and Anthony Rizzo each had a pair of RBIs for the Cubs.

 

Hunter Pence hit his sixth homer and drove in a pair. Denard Span and Angel Pagan each drove in two runs. Matt Duffy, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt also drove in runs.

 

Arrieta recorded one out and gave up five runs before departing with a blister on his right thumb. Bumgarner allowed five runs in 3 2/3 innings.

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Carmelo Anthony leads Knicks past Bulls to 106-94 victory

Carmelo Anthony scored 26 points, Kristaps Porzingis had 19 and the New York Knicks beat the Chicago Bulls 106-94 on Thursday night to sweep the home-and-home series.

 

Derrick Williams added 13 points, Jose Calderon 12, and Arron Afflalo 11 for New York. The Knicks beat the Bulls 115-107 on Wednesday night in Chicago.

 

Derrick Rose led Chicago with 30 points. Jimmy Butler had 19, and Taj Gibson 10.

 

Fighting for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the Bulls led only one time in the game - at 8-7 on Gibson's short jumper.
 

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Bulls Late Surge Comes Up Short

Rookie Kristaps Porzingis tied a career high with 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Carmelo Anthony added 24 points and the New York Knicks beat the Chicago Bulls 115-107 on Wednesday night.

In the front end of back-to-back with the Knicks, the Bulls failed to complete a sweep of its four-game homestand and dropped behind the Detroit Pistons in Eastern Conference standings for the eighth and final playoff spot.

 

Nikola Mirotic scored a career-high 35 points for the Bulls, and Derrick Rose added 21.

 

The Knicks led by as many as 22 in the second half. Rose and Mirotic tried to start a late rally, but each was answered by Porzingis and Anthony.

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Notre Dame Joins Big Ten For Hockey; Blackhawks Prospect Suspended

The University of Notre Dame announced Wednesday that it is joining the Big Ten Conference as an affiliate member for men's ice hockey starting in 2017-18. The Fighting Irish hockey team will continue playing in Hockey East, where they've been since 2013-14, through the 2016-17 season before making the move.

The Big Ten has six full-time members that sponsor hockey: Michigan, Minnesota, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Penn State. However, a six-team conference never seemed like it would be beneficial to any of the member teams in the long-term. With no other schools looking close to sponsoring hockey, the move to bring in sport affiliate members seemed like the next logical step for the conference's hockey arm.

 

Following the Big Ten's affiliation agreement with Johns Hopkins University for men's lacrosse, the door was open for that to happen in other sports. Hockey always seemed like the sport most likely for that to happen in next.

 

The somewhat surprising move could have significant implications in terms of further realignment throughout college hockey just three years after the significant overhaul the landscape went through when the Big Ten's hockey conference was formed.

 

Notre Dame was one of the teams caught in the middle of that previous realignment in college that took effect in the 2013-14 season. Their own conference, the Central Collegiate Hockey Association disolved amid the creation of the Big Ten's hockey league and the formulation of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. Notre Dame was one of the last dominoes to fall.

The Fighting Irish only had two options then: Hockey East or the fledgling National Collegiate Hockey Conference which included ex-CCHA teams Miami University and Western Michigan, among others. They chose Hockey East despite the notable travel disadvantage the Irish faced with the rest of the conference located primarily in New England, making for easy bus trips for everyone else.

 

It was never a great long-term option, even if it made all the sense in the world from a competitive standpoint for Notre Dame to be in a conference that included some of the elites of college hockey like Boston College and Boston University.

 

Now the Irish will be reunited with more natural rivals like Michigan and Michigan State. They'll also have a better travel situation, which helps on a number of fronts.

 

>>Blackhawks Prospect Suspended

 

The Chicago Blackhawks have suspended minor league prospect Garret Ross over accusations that he shared an image of a woman engaged in a sexual act without her consent.

 

The Blackhawks issued a statement Wednesday saying they learned of the felony revenge porn charge against the Rockford IceHogs winger on Saturday and excused him from team activities pending a review. The team later decided to suspend Ross indefinitely.

 

The 23-year-old Ross, of Dearborn Heights, Michigan, was charged Feb. 2.

 

According to court records, a Sycamore, Illinois, woman told authorities in September that she exchanged nude video and pictures with one of Ross' teammates before ending the relationship after learning he had a girlfriend. The woman said Ross' girlfriend also dumped him for the same reason, and both men blamed her.

 

>>Rangers Pound Bruins

 

Keith Yandle set up two first-period power-play goals and Lundqvist made 39 saves in a 5-2 win on Wednesday night that sent the Bruins to a season-high fourth straight loss.

 

Mats Zuccarello, Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, J.T. Miller and Rick Nash scored for New York, which won its second straight and inched a little closer to securing a spot in the playoffs with eight games left in the regular season.

 

Lee Stempniak, who had a first-period tally disallowed after an offside review and another shot gloved off the line by Lundqvist in the third period, scored for the Bruins along with Frank Vatrano. The Bruins have five goals in their skid.

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Round of 16 Opens Tonight in NCAA Tournament; NBA Declarations Continue

The Sweet 16 opens tonight and by Sunday night, we'll know who plays in next weekends Final Four from Houston.

 

It's a terrific lineup tonight as all top-five seeds will be featured, opening with second-seeded Villanova and third-seeded Miami in the South Region from Louisville, Kentucky starting at 6:10 central time.

The Wildcats made easy work of UNC-Ashville then dispatched Iowa. The Hurricanes escaped a pesky Buffalo team in the opening round then beat Wichita State at their own game of tough defense and excellent offensive execution.

 

Following their game in Louisville will be the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks, who are the tournaments top-overall seed, and will take on Maryland. The Terps needed a second half surge to get by the Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii, who upset Cal in the opening round.

 

The Jayhawks have looked the part of the tournament's top team, scoring 100-points in an opening round win over Austin Peay then taking care of UConn in the second round.

Mayland and Kansas will tip at 8:40 central time.

 

Tonight in Anaheim, California, the comeback masters, Texas A&M will square off with Big 12 rival Oklahoma at 6:37 central time.

 

The Sooners feature one of college basketball's best in Buddy Heild, and the Aggies could be considered fortunate to be in the Sweet 16 after Northern Iowa blew the biggest lead in NCAA basketball history with under a minute to go, as Panthers allowed a 12-2 run for Texas A&M to tie the game then win it in double-overtime.

 

The winner of that game will meet the winner of top-seeded Oregon and fourth-seeded Duke.

The Ducks, by many critics are the tournaments weakest seed, taking on one of the more talented units in country and the Duke Blue Devils.

 

The Ducks easily beat Holy Cross in the opening round and escaped St. Joe's with a late rally. Duke beat in-state rival UNC-Wilmington then took care of the Ivy League's champ, Yale to reach the Sweet 16 yet again under Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

 

The Ducks and Blue Devils tip at 9:07 central time in Anaheim.

 

>>Kentucky Players Eligible for NBA Draft, Will Enter

 

In a series of Twitter messages Wednesday afternoon, Calipari announced that all Kentucky players eligible for the NBA Draft will declare and test the waters without signing an agent.

 

Calipari said quote-"Every player who is eligible for the draft, including our walk-ons, will submit their names for the NBA Draft in hopes of being invited to the combine in May.

 

"The new rule states they can submit their name a total of three times. If they choose to withdraw, they have until 10 days after the combine. It's a true win-win for the student-athlete."

 

Basically, that means every player on the Kentucky roster outside of Isaac Humphries and Tai Wynyard -- each of whom are ineligible for the draft due to age -- will declare for the draft and test the waters.

 

The relevant players among that group are Jamal Murray (currently No. 4 on the CBS Sports NBA Draft big board), Skal Labissiere (No. 14), Tyler Ulis (No. 15), Isaiah Briscoe (No. 96), and Marcus Lee (No. 139).

 

The other players who will declare are Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins, Charles Matthews, Mychal Mulder, EJ Floreal and Jonny David. Of this group, Matthews has the best chance to develop into an NBA player due to his athleticism, but his stock around the league is not nearly high enough to expect to be selected.

 

>>Providence F Bentil To Test Draft Waters

 

Providence is going to lose Kris Dunn to the NBA Draft this season. Might the Friars also lose its other All-Big East performer.

 

According to a report from Evan Daniels over at Scout, forward Ben Bentil is going to put his name into the draft to test the waters.

 

Bentil averaged 21.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game for a Friar team that lost in the second round to North Carolina over the weekend.

 

From an NBA standpoint, there is a lot to like about what Bentil brings to the table. First and foremost, he's a terrific pick-and-roll/pick-and-pop player, as his relationship this season with Kris Dunn showed. He has really strong hands at the catch point, and he also has the ability to step away and knock down shots out to the collegiate 3-point line, as he made 52 3s on the season.

 

Overall, his offensive game is terrific. He has great touch around the rim with his right-handed hook-shot, he can actually attack a closeout as a power forward, and he's powerful enough to finish through contact.

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WGC Dell Match Play Day 1 Recap

Jason Day was 3 up with four holes to play, an ideal start to the Dell Match Play that included five birdies and hardly any stress.

 

And then he felt his back tighten on a tee shot at the 15th hole.

 

It stung so badly on his next tee shot that Day grabbed his back and winced. He stepped gingerly into a bunker. When his short par was conceded, he took a knee. Exactly what happened was not entirely clear because Day immediately sought treatment and left without speaking. But with a long week ahead of him at Austin Country Club, and the Masters just two weeks away, this victory surely felt hollow.

 

Without much drama on the golf course because of tough greens and Texas wind, Day supplied it with the latest in a long list of injuries.

 

Jordan Spieth, a crowd favorite who helped the University of Texas to a national title in 2012, produced what the crowd came to see. The No. 1 player built an early lead, made a few pivotal putts to stay in control and beat Jamie Donaldson of Wales 3 and 2.

 

Rory McIlroy escaped with a victory. He never led until winning on the 18th hole when Thorbjorn Olesen shanked a chip. Martin Kaymer rode the wind and drove the green on the 376-yard 18th hole to wrap up a 1-up victory over Shane Lowry. Matt Kuchar had the shortest day, dispatching Anirban Lahiri in 13 holes.

 

Day overcame an early deficit and had the match in hand when he first felt pain. The severity of the injury was unclear. Day left without speaking to reporters, and his agent later sent a statement that he tweaked his back, had some work done on it, was pleased with winning and is getting prepared to play Thursday.

 

Rickie Fowler, the No. 5 seed, rallied from 3 down on the back nine to square his match on the 15th hole, only for Jason Dufner to win the next two holes with birdies to beat him on the 17th hole. He was the highest-ranked played to lose.

 

Dustin Johnson (No. 8) lost to Robert Streb, and Hideki Matsuyama (No. 12) lost to Rafa Cabrera-Bello. Adam Scott (No. 6), who has lost seven straight matches in this event, had to settle for a halve with Thomas Pieters of Belgium.

 

Players and caddies wore black ribbons in their caps to honor the victim of Tuesday's bombings in Brussels.

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Sages Pounce Arthur Early For 17-0 Win

The Monticello Sages boys baseball team opened with 12 runs in the first inning of their 17-0 route of Arthur in non-conference boys baseball action Tuesday afternoon from Monticello High School.

Garrett Myers paced the Sages with five RBIs and Luke Stokowski tallied three runs batted in as well.

 

Tyler Jones, Nate Graham and Austin Wiggins had a pair of hits apiece.

 

Myers and Cam Wittig combined for one hit shutout. Wittig tallied eight strikeouts.

The Sages are now 3-0 on the season.

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Big Inning Leads Illinois Past Illinois State

Freshmen Jack Yalowitz and Doran Turchin combined for four hits, four runs scored and three RBIs to lead the Illinois baseball team to a 8-3 win Tuesday at Illinois State as Illinois (8-10) rebounded from a three-game losing streak by scoring five times in the top of the fourth, tying its highest scoring inning of the season.

 

Turchin had an RBI single, Yalowitz drove home two with a line drive knock, Trent Hammond singled through the left side for a run and Adam Walton lifted a sac fly to center field in the go-ahead frame.

 

Joe Kelch went 1-for-4 with two RBIs with a run scored for the Redbirds.

 

The Fighting Illini bullpen held ISU scoreless in five innings of work. Matthew James started on the mound for the first time in his collegiate career in his hometown of Normal, Illinois. He struck out six in 4.0 innings, but surrendered three runs in the third as Illinois State took the early lead. After Illinois plated five in the next half inning, James pitched an easy fourth and the bullpen took over in the fifth through the ninth.

 

Yalowitz added two steals.

 

Charlie Naso (1-0) earned the first win of his career. He was first out of the bullpen and went 3.0 innings while allowing only two hits and striking out three. Nick Blackburn finished off the Redbirds with two scoreless frames.

 

Illinois opens its home schedule with its first Big Ten game Friday at 6 p.m. CT at Illinois Field.

The Redbirds return to action Friday, in New Orleans, Louisiana, with the first of a three-game series at Tulane. 

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Blues Blank Sharks; Blackhawks Continue Slide

Brian Elliott made 37 saves in his second straight shutout since returning from an injury and the Blues withstood some tense moments late after taking a pair of penalties to beat the San Jose Sharks 1-0 on Tuesday night.

Robby Fabbri scored the lone goal midway through the third period to help the Blues finish the road trip with a 3-2 record to remain two points behind Central Division-leading Dallas. St. Louis is four points ahead of third-place Chicago.

 

Elliott has stopped all 56 shots he has faced against Vancouver and San Jose after missing nearly four weeks with a knee injury suffered in a loss to the Sharks last month.

 

Martin Jones made 23 saves but the Sharks failed to convert on a late two-man advantage and missed an opportunity to clinch a playoff berth.

 

>>Stars Clobber Blackhawks, Earn Playoff Spot

 

Vernon Fiddler scored two of Dallas' four goals in the first period, and the Stars clinched a playoff spot with a 6-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night.

Dallas stretched its win streak to three and improved to 4-1 against Chicago, outscoring the Stanley Cup champions 20-11 in the season series. Colton Sceviour and Patrick Eaves also scored in the first, and Jamie Benn had two assists in his 500th NHL game.

 

The Stars (44-21-9) lead the Western Conference with 97 points with eight games left on their schedule. They also are on track for their first division title since they took the Pacific in 2006.

 

The Blackhawks played without starting goaltender Corey Crawford for the fourth straight game due to an upper-body injury, and Scott Darling was pulled after Dallas' big first period. Michael Leighton made 16 saves in his first NHL appearance since Jan. 27, 2013, for Philadelphia at Tampa Bay.

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Future Hall of Famer Weighs in on Bat Flips

Bat flips and showmanship have become a hot topic in recent years, and especially of late. Hall of Famers Goose Gossage and Johnny Bench recently ripped into Jose Bautista and Bryce Harper, respectively, for their antics on the field. On and on it goes.

During Tuesday's historic exhibition game in Cuba, future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter was asked about bat flips during an on-air interview with ESPN. His answer was as level-headed as any take you'll find on bat flips.

 

"Obviously you're going to have old school players -- I'm one of them -- there's a certain way that you've played the game. The game's evolving, and you want people to show their personalities, you want them to be them. You talk about a lot of the Latin players, I think everyone talks about the Latin flair that they have, it's fun. You come out to games whether it's in Cuba, whether it's in Puerto Rico, Venezuela ... they have a good time and enjoy themselves. And you may not agree with it, you may not appreciate it, but the bottom line is I don't think they're doing it to be disrespectful. I think people are doing it just to show their personalities. There's always going to be two sides of it. I dont think you can say one side is right or one side is wrong."


Jeter was the epitome of a "play the game the right way" player. He always hustled and he never flipped his bat. He never did anything like that. Heck, when Jeter recorded his 3,000th hit and his teammates came out on the field to congratulate him, he said he "almost wanted to apologize" to the other team for holding up the game during his press conference.

 

It's no real surprise Jeter's answer was diplomatic. He never said anything remotely controversial during his playing days. He was boring in that sense. That served Jeter well; he never had any negative attention despite playing in New York for the Yankees.

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Ohio State AD Rips Michigan

Michigan's spring break practice in Florida continues to be the most talked about thing in college football.

 

Last week, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said he thought the practices were a pretty good idea, adding that the Buckeyes would look into the possibility for next year. Meyer's athletic director, Gene Smith, doesn't seem so keen on the idea and even threw shade at Michigan when asked about it on Tuesday.

 

"If we were jump-starting our program, I'd probably try that, too," he said, per Ben Axelrod.

Harbaugh has said that one of his main goals is to close the gap between Michigan and Ohio State, so this likely won't sting him too deeply.

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Players Declare for NBA Draft

Providence's Kris Dunn will declare for the 2016 NBA Draft, sources told CBS Sports.

The junior guard is expected to be a top-five pick.

 

The 6-foot-4 Dunn averaged 16.4 points, 6.2 assists, and 5.3 rebounds this past season.

The Friars went 23-10 this past season and lost to North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament second round.

CBS Sports can confirm reports of the inevitable: Ben Simmons' time at LSU is done.

 

The National Freshman of the Year will head to the NBA after a season in which he averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.0 steals. The 6-foot-10 versatile forward from Melbourne, Australia, is considered a near-lock to be drafted first or second overall in June's NBA Draft.

 

LSU went 19-14 this season. It did not receive an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament, and in light of that, opted to decline any other invitations from postseason events.

 

If Simmons is taken No. 1 in June, he'll become the first player in the modern era of the NCAA Tournament to be selected No. 1 overall despite having never played in the Big Dance.

 

Florida State freshman guard Malik Beasley has decided to declare for the 2016 NBA Draft, he and the school announced over Twitter on Monday night.

 

Beasley, a 6-foot-5 scoring guard from Alpharetta, Georgia, averaged 15.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game in his season at Florida State.

 

Beasley is currently projected to go as high as the late teens or as low as the early second round. Barring injury, the guard should be in good position to secure a guaranteed contract for next season.

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Mahomet-Seymour Defeats Clinton in Six Innings

A four run fifth inning by Mahomet-Seymour broke open a 4-0 game on a windy Tuesday afternoon at Clinton High School as the Bulldogs of Mahomet-Seymour cruised past Clinton 11-0 in six innings in non-conference baseball action.

 

An inning later, a two-run home run by Scott Metzger put Mahomet-Seymour up ten and the Bulldogs would tack on another run.

 

Picture right: Metzger loads up before blasting a two-run shot to left

 

After a shaky start where Maroons starter Christian Hunt allowed three runs in the first inning, he settled down to eight of the next nine hitters.

 

Hunt finished his afternoon going 5.1 innings, yielding eight runs, four earned with a pair strikeouts and allowing two walks.

 

Levi Nettles finished the game, going 1.2 innings, allowing three runs on three hits with a pair of strikeouts and allowing a walk.

 

Offensively, Tanner White, Trenton Fryman, and Colton Smith had hits. Fryman also drew a walk.

 

Bradley Hamilton went the distance on the hill for the Bulldogs, allowing three hits with a walk and totaling eight strikeouts in six shutout innings.

 

The Maroons drop to 1-2 on the season.

 

Tune in next Tuesday afternoon at 4:30 pm for Lady Maroons softball action on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW and online at dewittdailynews.com as the Lady Maroons host Shelbyville.

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Bulls, Pacers Win Monday

>>Bulls Rally For Win Over Kings

 

Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson had 18 points each, Doug McDermott added 16 and Pau Gasol had 14 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 109-102 comeback victory over the Sacramento Kings on Monday night.

 

Rose was 9 for 15 from the field and hit a couple of 15-foot jumpers during Chicago's decisive 10-0 run in the fourth quarter to rally from a five-point deficit.

 

Gasol recorded his 39th double-double of the season in his first game back after missing four games with a swollen right knee.

 

DeMarcus Cousins had 19 points and 18 rebounds, Darren Collison had 19 points and Rudy Gay had 18 for Sacramento.

 

>>Pacers Top Sixers

 

Paul George finished with 15 points and six rebounds and Monta Ellis added 13 points to help the Indiana Pacers coast past the still reeling Philadelphia 76ers 91-75 and jumpstart a late-season playoff push.

Ian Mahinmi and George Hill each had 12 points. Mahinmi also had 10 rebounds.

 

Jerami Grant had 14 points while Nerlens Noel finished with eight points and eight rebounds.

Indiana has seven remaining home games left and only four left against teams that started Monday with a record at or above .500.

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Pair of Big 12 Schools Name New Coaches Monday

>>Jamie Dixon Leaves Pitt For TCU

 

TCU has hired Pitt's Jamie Dixon as its next coach, sources told CBS Sports on Monday.

An official announcement is expected soon. CBS Sports' Gary Parrish also confirmed the report.

 

Dixon played at TCU from 1984-87. The 50-year-old coach has led the Panthers to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances in 13 years at Pitt.

 

He replaces Trent Johnson, who was fired on March 13.

 

Johnson posted a 50-79 record in his four seasons with the Horned Frogs, going 12-21 this year with an abysmal 2-16 recording in the Big 12.

 

Parrish first reported interest between Dixon and TCU on Sunday.

 

>>Oklahoma State Names Steven F. Austin's Underwood Next Coach

 

Stephen F. Austin's Brad Underwood has reached an agreement to become Oklahoma State's next head coach, CBS Sports has learned.

 

A formal announcement is expected soon.

 

Underwood concluded his third season as a head coach on Sunday with a last-second loss to Notre Dame in the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament. His resume features an incredible 89-14 record with three Southland regular-season titles, three Southland tournament titles, and three trips to the NCAA Tournament.

 

He advanced in the NCAA Tournament in 2014 and 2016.

 

Underwood, 52, is a Kansas native and former Kansas State player who also spent six years, from 2006 to 2012, as an assistant at his alma mater working under Bob Huggins and Frank Martin -- meaning Underwood has both played and worked in the Big 12. The KSU graduate was raised just three hours from Oklahoma State's campus. He's replacing Travis Ford, who was fired last Friday after eight seasons at Oklahoma State that featured five NCAA Tournament appearances but zero Sweet 16s.

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Johnny Bench Latest To Weigh in on Bat Flips

Another Hall of Famer got in on act of calling out current players for bat flips Monday.

 

Hall of Famer Johnny Bench, arguably the greatest catcher in history, bashed Nationals wunderkind Bryce Harper during an interview on The Rich Eisen Show.

 

"You can flip your bat. We had guys do that ... and the next time up there was chin music. And if you want to play that way, that's fine.

 

"Bring back the excitement? OK, we'll bring back the brushback pitch, the knockdown pitch. That's all part of the excitement."

 

Harper, as you may recall, called baseball a "tired sport" recently because players are not allowed to express themselves without being vilified. Gossage and now Bench have done a good job validating Harper's statement.

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Jason Day Wins Arnold Palmer Invitational

On Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Jason Day proved his mettle once again with a fighting, scrapping 70 that led to a one-stroke win over Kevin Chappell. Day had three bogeys on the front (to go with three birdies) but closed like the champion he's proven to be.

 

He birdied the par-3 17th before executing a wicked up-and-down par save on the final hole for the one-stroke victory over Chappell, who closed with a bogey.

 

Day now has eight PGA Tour wins in his career and has inched ever closer to re-obtaining the No. 1 spot in the world rankings, which is currently occupied by Spieth. Maybe more importantly, the Masters continues to be stuffed with storylines as a big name seemingly wins every weekend. Day continued that trend on Sunday and will be one of the three or four biggest favorites at Augusta.

 

Rory McIlroy was all over the place, making six double bogeys to go along with two eagles and 16 birdies. It all tallied up to T27. That will play well at the Match Play Championship next week. It won't play well at Augusta in three weeks.

 

Adam Scott couldn't pull off his third straight win, but he still notched his fourth straight top 15 finish. And if not for the 18th hole, Scott might have run away with the tournament. He was 5 over on the weekend with a double bogey and a triple bogey there.

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Despite Early Lead Maroons Drop Opener


The Clinton Maroons jumped out to an early lead in their season opener, but were unable to hold on and lost 3-1 to the Midwest Central Raiders on Thursday night in Manito.
 
Nolan Hickman had baffled the Raiders through five before finally surrendering the lead on a Raiders' two-run double by Weimer and a RBI groundout by Ary. Hickman struck out seven batters and allowed three earned runs on four hits and no walks over six innings.
 
Williams recorded the win for Midwest Central. He allowed one run over six innings. Williams struck out eight, walked two and gave up four hits. Hickman was the game's losing pitcher.
 
The Maroons scored their only run of the game on an RBI single by Trenten Fryman in the first inning.
 
The Maroons' Junior Varsity team played their season opener Thursday night following the varsity contest, and fell by a final score of 12-4.
 
The Clinton Maroons will host Heyworth in their home opener from Evans Field Saturday morning. First pitch at 11am.

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Flyers' VandeVelde has Hearing for Elbowing Blackhawks Player

The Philadelphia Flyers picked up a huge win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night to move ahead of the Detroit Red Wings for a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. It could turn out to be a costly win for one of their players.

 

Late in the first period of their win, forward Chris Vandevelde was given a two-minute minor penalty for elbowing Chicago Blackhawks captain (and his former college teammate at the University of North Dakota) Jonathan Toews in the side of the head along the boards. He could be facing additional punishment from the league in the form of a suspension.

 

The NHL's department of player safety announced on Thursday that Vandevelde will have a hearing on Friday for elbowing and an illegal check to the head of Toews.

 

Vandevelde was given a two-minute minor penalty on the play. Toews finished the game.
 

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Bulls Overcome the Nets

Doug McDermott scored 25 points and Jimmy Butler added 22 to help the Chicago Bulls beat the Brooklyn Nets 118-102 on Thursday night.

 

It's the third straight 20-plus point game for McDermott as Chicago moved a half-game in front of idle Detroit into eighth place and the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Bobby Portis added 12 points and 14 rebounds.

 

The injury-ravaged Bulls raced to a 24-point lead in the second quarter, then held on and finally finished off the lowly Nets, who outscored Chicago 37-24 in the third and closed to within four points early in the fourth.

 

Chicago got a season-high 60 points from its reserves, including McDermott's output.

 

Bojan Bogdanovic led the Nets comeback with 26 points one game after scoring career-high 44 points in Brooklyn's 131-114 victory over league-worst Philadelphia on Tuesday night.

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Cards Fall to Tigers after 5 scoreless innings

Miguel Cabrera hit his third homer of the spring and Mike Pelfrey pitched five scoreless innings for the second straight time to lead the Detroit Tigers past the St. Louis Cardinals 5-4 on Thursday.

 

JaCoby Jones and Nate Schierholtz also homered for the Tigers.

 

Pelfrey struck out three and allowed three hits in his fourth start of the spring. He lowered his ERA to 1.17.

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Cubs Defeat the Diamondbacks

Jorge Soler hit a two-run homer off Archie Bradley, and the Chicago Cubs beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 15-4 at spring training on Thursday night.

 

Soler capped Chicago's five-run first with a drive to right-center for his second spring homer. He also had a run-scoring double in the third.

 

Chicago right-hander Jason Hammel struck out six while pitching four innings of one-run ball. He allowed five hits and walked none.

 

Bradley was charged with six runs in 2 1-3 innings. He struck out three and walked three.

 

Jean Segura singled and scored in the first for Arizona, then homered in the fifth off Drew Rucinski.

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CFB - Illini Filling Out Staff; No Spring Game

CFB - Illini Filling Out Football Staff
Illinois football coach Lovie Smith has hired former Houston Texas assistant Bob Ligashesky as the new Illini special teams and tight ends coach.
 
Smith said in a news release Wednesday that Ligashesky has 31 years of both pro and college experience and a strong reputation as a recruiter.
 
Ligashesky spent two seasons with the Texans before he was let go in January. Previously, he was an assistant coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers. He also was an assistant coach at Bowling Green from 1991-98.
 
Only the running backs coaching position is left to be filled on Smith's staff.
 
>> Illini Won't Play Spring Game
Illinois football coach Lovie Smith will lead his team onto the practice team for the first time on April 1.
 
Because of the delayed start to spring football, an open practice will be the substitute for the traditional Orange and Blue game.
 
A news release from the school on Wednesday said admission and parking for the open practice on April 16 will be free.
 
Illinois will hold 15 practices between April 1 and 26.
 
Illinois postponed spring football when coach Bill Cubit was fired on March 5.
 
Smith took over two days later.

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MLB - Cubs & Sox Lose; Cards Tie

>>Cubs Blanked By Royals
Chris Young pitched four scoreless innings and Christian Colon snapped a 0-for-23 skid with his first two hits as the Kansas City Royals topped the Chicago Cubs 10-0 on Wednesday.
 
Young, who pitched out of a bases-loaded one-out jam in the fourth, allowed two hits, walked two and struck out five.
 
Colon, who had not had a hit since his RBI single in the 12th inning of Game 5 of the World Series, doubled in the fifth and singled in the seventh.
 
Reymond Fuentes, who is trying to earn a job as a spare outfielder, hit a three-run homer in the seventh and drove in Colon with a fifth inning single. Dusty Coleman hit a two-run homer in the eighth.
 
Cubs right-hander John Lackey allowed two runs on six hits over five innings, walking none and striking out four.
 
>>Brewers Top Sox
Ryan Braun had an RBI single in his first at-bat of the spring and scored in the second as the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Chicago White Sox 5-2 on Wednesday.
 
Braun, making his spring debut following off-season back surgery, followed a walk to Eric Young Jr. and a hit-and-run single by Jonathan Lucroy in the first inning with an opposite-field single to right field to drive in Young.
 
It was the first run of the spring allowed by Chicago's Carlos Rondon, who pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed only three hits in his first two starts.
 
Braun, who made a running catch in left field on a fly ball by Chicago's Adam Eaton to open the game, walked in the third inning and scored from first base with a slide at home on a double by Chris Carter.
 
Matt Garza pitched four scoreless innings for Milwaukee, allowing two hits and striking out three.
 
Tim Anderson tripled and scored in the fifth for the White Sox, who had five hits.
 
MLB SCORES - 
 
Pittsburgh 3
Baltimore 9
 
Los Angeles 6
Cleveland 3
 
St. Louis 8
Atlanta 8
 
Detroit 7
Houston 3
 
Washington 4
Miami 2
 
Toronto 1
New York   Yankees 2
 
Colorado       3
Los Angeles Dodgers 7
 
Boston 4
Minnesota 9
 
San Francisco 6
Seattle 9
 
 
Cincinnati 6
Arizona 10

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NHL - Hawks Fall To Flyers

NHL - Blackhawks Fall To Flyers
Defenseman Radko Gudas scored on a deflected shot in the third period, and the surging Philadelphia Flyers beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on Wednesday night to move into position for a wild-card playoff spot.
 
Michal Neuvirth made 24 saves as Philadelphia improved to 8-1-1 in its last 10 games and leapfrogged idle Detroit for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers beat the Red Wings 4-3 at home on Tuesday night.
 
Gudas' slap shot at 9:53 of the third went off the stick of Blackhawks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff and then bounced off the ice before elevating past goaltender Scott Darling. It was Gudas' third goal of the season - with each coming in the last six games.
 
Ryan White and Brayden Schenn scored for the Flyers (34-23-12), who swept the two-game season series against the Blackhawks (41-24-6).
 
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville juggled his lines and gave starting goaltender Corey Crawford the night off, but the Blackhawks still lost their fourth consecutive game. Marian Hossa scored his 497th career goal for the defending Stanley Cup champions, and Jonathan Toews added his 25th of the season in the second.
 
Chicago and Philadelphia alternated goals in the first two periods, with the Blackhawks jumping in front twice and the Flyers coming back each time.
 
The Blackhawks caught a break in the first when Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere broke his stick on a power-play shot from the left point, sending the puck right to Artem Anisimov. The center played it up to Hossa for a short-handed breakaway, and the winger beat Neuvirth on the stick side for his 11th goal of the season.
 
Philadelphia got another power play at the end of the period, and took advantage this time around. With Artemi Panarin in the box for interference, White was credited with his ninth goal when Andrew MacDonald's big slap shot went off his left shin and past Darling at 18:48.
 
Darling finished with 26 saves in his first home loss of the season.
 
Toews got the lead back for Chicago when he flipped his own rebound into the top of the net at 4:58 of the second. But Schenn finished off a 2-on-1 with Claude Giroux for his 24th goal, tying it at 2 with 6:58 left in the second.
 
Toews' fourth goal in his last eight games gave him at least 25 for the third straight season. Patrick Kane also got an assist on the play, running his NHL-best total to 90 points.
 
NHL SCORES -
 
Montreal 3
Buffalo 2
  
St. Louis 4
Edmonton 6
 
Winnipeg 1
Calgary 4
 
Colorado 3
Vancouver   1
 
NY Rangers 2
Anaheim 1

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NBA - Wizards Down Bulls

NBA - Wizards Down Bulls
Finally playing as if their chance at a playoff berth was on the line, which it is, the Washington Wizards picked up their second consecutive lopsided victory over a team just ahead of them in the standings, beating Derrick Rose's Chicago Bulls 117-96 behind John Wall's triple-double Wednesday night.
 
Wall, an All-Star point guard, produced 29 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, outplaying Rose, who returned after missing two games with a strained left groin and finished with 16 points and four assists.
 
Wall received plenty of help, including 20 points from Bradley Beal and 15 from reserve Garrett Temple, all in the first half, when he shot 5 for 5 on 3-pointers.
 
Chicago's Taj Gibson played only 8 minutes and had three points.
 
>>NBA Scores
 
Oklahoma City 130
Boston 109
 
Dallas 98
Cleveland 99
 
Orlando 99
Charlotte 107
 
Atlanta 118
Detroit 114
  
Minnesota 114
Memphis 108
 
L.A. Clippers 122
Houston 106
 
New Orleans 123
Sacramento 108
Players of the Game
 
New York   85
Golden State 121

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Smith To Keep Four Members of Current Staff

Illinois football coach Lovie Smith says he will retain four members of the staff he inherited when he was hired this month.

 

Smith confirmed in a news release Tuesday that Tim McGarigle, Mike Phair, Paul Williams and former Illini quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase (SHEEL'-hows) will remain on the staff.

 

McGarigle will continue as linebackers coach and Paul Williams will remain the secondary coach. Both were hired in January by coach Bill Cubit and their futures were unclear after he was fired this month.

 

Scheelhaase will move from running backs coach to a non-coaching role that has not been determined.

 

Phair will be the defensive line coach. He had been co-defensive coordinator, but newly hired Hardy Nickerson will lead the defense.

 

Smith has yet to hire running backs and special teams coaches.

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Ex-Rams DE Long Signs With Patriots

The Patriots, perhaps more than any other organization in the NFL, have an amazing knack for taking players discarded from terrible teams and helping them revive their careers. Last month, in a surprising move, the Rams cut longtime defensive end Chris Long. And now, in a development that should come as a surprise to no one, the Pats have signed Long to a one-year deal, reports ESPN's Trey Wingo.

The news comes hours after the Patriots shipped 26-year-old pass rusher Chandler Jones to Arizona in exchange for guard Jonathan Cooper and the Cardinals' 2016 second-round pick.

 

The Rams parted ways with Long, who will be 31 later this month, because of his hefty contract and recent lack of production -- though most of that can be attributed to injuries. To Long's credit, he took full responsibility in an Instagram post to fans shortly after he was let go.

 

Meanwhile, Long's addition means the Patriots have a reasonably priced, if short-term, solution along the defensive line; Jones' contract is up after the 2016 season and he will be looking at a substantial pay bump, one the Pats apparently weren't interested in taking on. If Long plays well, he could sign another short-term deal to stay in New England, or, worst case, the team now has 18 months to restock the position.

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White Sox's LaRoche Retires

Adam LaRoche surprised the Chicago White Sox by telling them Tuesday he intends to retire, leaving $13 million on the table.

 

General manager Rick Hahn said that LaRoche told his teammates in a clubhouse meeting Tuesday morning and was asked to reconsider his decision.

 

Hahn said he was not expecting the news, but added that after "extensive conversations with him, between us and his coaches and he and his teammates, you would have to be respectful and understand his perspective."

 

LaRoche, 36, signed a two-year deal for $25 million with the White Sox a year ago. But he struggled in 2015, batting just .207 with 12 homers.

 

The first baseman-turned-designated hitter hadn't played since early this month due to back spasms.

 

Hahn, who spoke before Chicago's game with the Dodgers, didn't sound as though he was expecting a change of heart.

 

"We'll make adjustments and move on," Hahn said.

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Pacers Beat Celtics

Paul George scored 25 points and Indiana finished with a strong fourth quarter to beat the Boston Celtics 103-98 Tuesday night. Monta Ellis added 16 points with six assists and Jordan Hill scored 15 points for the Pacers.

Indiana, seventh in the Eastern Conference, has 15 games remaining on its regular season schedule - including 10 at home, where the Pacers are 20-11.

 

Isaiah Thomas had 21 points, eight assists and six rebounds for Boston.

 

The score was tied at 77 with about 7 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter before the Pacers put together a 15-4 run that gave them enough breathing room to withstand a late Celtics surge.

 

The Pacers had a 20-9 edge over a six-minute period during the fourth and it proved to be the difference.

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Wichita State Rolls Vandy

On Tuesday, Wichita State senior guard Fred VanVleet was not going to allow anything to end his college career.

 

Not even an elbow at around the five-minute mark of the first half that spurred a gushing bleeding cut above his eye could slow him down. Instead of taking the time to get it stitched up, VanVleet went to the sidelines, had the trainers patch it up quickly and get him back on the floor.

 

And in the end, that moment of toughness ended up being a perfect symbol of the divergent paths taken by Wichita State and Vanderbilt this season.

 

The Shockers defeated the Commodores 70-50, as VanVleet was his typical terrific self in scoring 14 points and dishing out seven assists versus only one turnover. Ron Baker also had 14. Together, they scored all of the points in a decisive 11-0 run that opened the second half.

 

The Shockers (25-8) play Arizona on Thursday in Providence, Rhode Island.

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Illini G Tate Pleads Not Guilty

Suspended Illinois basketball player Jaylon Tate pleaded not guilty Monday to misdemeanor domestic battery after a weekend arrest for allegedly hitting his girlfriend.

 

Defense attorney Tom Bruno disputed that the woman was Tate's girlfriend and said "I don't believe he was present when it happened." Bruno said Tate "had nothing to do with it." The attorney said he plans to give investigators and prosecutors evidence he believes will clear Tate but would not elaborate.

 

Police said they arrested the 21-year-old junior Saturday and that the woman's mouth was bleeding.

 

Tate is free on bond.

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Lovie Smith Adds Two More To Staff

Illinois coach Lovie Smith has hired former NFL linebacker Hardy Nickerson as defensive coordinator.

 

Smith also said Monday that Indianapolis Colts assistant Andrew Hayes-Stoker has been named wide receivers coach.

 

Nickerson played in five Pro Bowls during a 16-year NFL career. He had been hired to coach the San Francisco 49ers linebackers this season.

 

Nickerson and Hayes-Stoker both worked on Smith's staffs in Chicago and Tampa Bay. All of the staff members named by Smith since he was hired last week worked for him during his NFL coaching career, including offensive coordinator Garrick McGee, offensive line coach Luke Butkus and defensive line coach Mike Phair.

 

Smith still has four remaining openings.

 

This story corrects spelling of Nickerson's first name.

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McDermott Leads Bulls Over Raptors

Reserve Doug McDermott scored 29 points to lead the Chicago Bulls to their ninth straight victory over the Toronto Raptors, 109-107 on Monday night.

E'Twaun Moore and Nikola Mirotic added 17 points apiece as Chicago swept Toronto in the series for the second straight season, handing the Raptors just their second loss in their last 16 games at home. Toronto's last win against Chicago was on Dec. 31, 2013.

 

Jimmy Butler scored 13 points on 5-of-18 shooting after missing three games because of knee soreness.

 

Kyle Lowry had 33 points and 11 rebounds for Toronto, which also got 27 points from DeMar DeRozan.

 

McDermott nearly matched the season-best 30 points he scored against the Raptors in a 116-106 win last month in Chicago. The second-year forward hasn't scored more than 20 points in any other game this season.

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BJ Rajai Announces 'Hiatus'; Bears Re-sign TE Housler

The Chicago Bears have re-signed tight end Rob Housler to a one-year contract.

Housler played in the final four games for Chicago last season and had three catches for 27 yards. He has appeared in 65 games with 27 starts over five seasons with Arizona (2011-14), Cleveland (2015) and the Bears (2015).

 

The deal was announced on Monday.

 

>>BJ Rajai Announces 'Hiatus'

 

Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji released a statement on Monday in which he announced that he is taking a hiatus from the NFL and will not play during the 2016 season. Raji noted that he cannot rule out a return in the future but is excited to be "all in" with his family.

 

Raji was a first-round pick of the Packers back in 2009 and has been Green Bay's starter at tackle since 2010. The percentage of defensive snaps he played has been slowly dropping since that 2010 season, though, culminating in him playing less than half the team's snaps during the 2015 season. It was the first time that had happened since his rookie year.

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Slumping Blackhawks Blasted By Kings; Blues Miss Opportunity To Take First Place

Kris Versteeg and Milan Lucic scored 18 seconds apart in the first period, and the Los Angeles Kings routed the slumping Chicago Blackhawks 5-0 on Monday night in a matchup of Western Conference powers looking for another championship run.

Vincent Lecavalier, Dustin Brown and Tyler Toffoli also scored as Los Angeles improved to 8-2-1 in its last 11 games. Jonathan Quick made 32 saves in his 41st career shutout, helping the Pacific Division leaders kill off each of Chicago's six power-play opportunities.

 

The Blackhawks (41-23-6) lost for the fourth time in five games, including three in a row against St. Louis, Dallas and Los Angeles - three potential playoff opponents. The defending Stanley Cup champions are just 9-10-2 since their franchise-record 12-game win streak.

 

The slide has dropped Chicago into third in the tough Central Division with just 12 games left on its schedule.

 

>>Flames Win in Wild Game Over St. Louis

 

Michael Frolik scored three times, including two nearly identical short-handed goals, and the Calgary Flames beat St. Louis 7-4 Monday night to stop the Blues' six-game winning streak.

With the Flames' three-goal, third-period lead down to one and the Blues pressing for the equalizer, Frolik sped in alone after a pass from Mark Giordano and fired a quick shot under the crossbar past Anders Nilsson to make it 6-4 at 16:49.

It looked just like Frolik's goal that tied it 2-all late in the first, except it was Mikael Backlund with the breakaway feed and starter Jake Allen in net for St. Louis.

 

Frolik completed his second career hat trick with an empty-net goal with 35 seconds remaining, sending hats flying onto the ice at the raucous Scotiabank Saddledome.

 

Sean Monahan had two goals as well, and Joe Colborne and Giordano also scored for Calgary. Dougie Hamilton finished with a career-high three assists, and Johnny Gaudreau also had three helpers.

 

Paul Stastny scored twice, and Scottie Upshall and Kevin Shattenkirk each had a goal for St. Louis (41-21-9).

 

The Blues missed a chance to move ahead of Dallas into the top spot in the Central Division. They remained tied in points with Stars, who now hold a game in hand.

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McIlroy Come to Aid of Spieth

World No. 1 Jordan Spieth had a rough week on social media. Actually, he had a rough week in general.

 

Spieth got torched by golf fans on Twitter and other forms of social media -- after he posted a 5-over 76 in the first round of the Valspar Championship -- basically for not being Tiger Woods and shooting 64 every round. One outlet even made a list of things that could be wrong with Spieth.

 

Spieth, by the way, has finished in the top 25 in five of six tournaments this season (including a win).

 

Then Spieth responded to one of these trolls on Instagram before apologizing profusely and saying it wouldn't happen again. This was odd to see from the normally-docile Spieth. His buddy Rory McIlroy reached out to defend him.

 

McIroy tweeted quote-"No, he's not TW, he's not slumping and he's not done. He's a double major winning 22 year old. He'll be just fine!!"

 

"Really poor from both me and [caddie] Michael [Greller] today,'' Spieth told ESPN. "Our decisions cost us a few shots early and all the momentum. We both get the credit when things are going good and we're going to take the fall today. I hit the shots, but we made a couple decisions that make me look back and think, 'Wow, we got some stuff to talk about before we get ready to go to a major.' Bit of a bummer. But it's OK. We got plenty of time."

 

That's unlike Spieth to bring his caddie down with him. And yet his ability to do it in such a way that makes you think the two went out for ice cream to talk it over is what makes him so endearing. Some people seem genuinely worried about Spieth's short and long-term future.

Which is pre-mature.

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Illinois State Sweeps At Snowbird Classic

Big days at the plate from Owen Miller and Jean Ramirez, and strong starting pitching from Steve Heilenbach and David Meade, helped the Illinois State baseball team to a doubleheader sweep of Central Michigan and Butler on its final day of play at the Snowbird Classic at North Charlotte Park.

 

Illinois State (7-8) beat Central Michigan by a 13-7 score in the opener, before earning a 9-2 victory over Butler in the nightcap.

 

Miller hit three home runs over the two games, while Ramirez homered against Central Michigan and doubled three times against Butler. Heilenbach was solid for 5.1 innings in the opener. Meade was even better in the nightcap, with seven shutout innings and a career-high nine strikeouts.

 

Illinois State led wire-to-wire against Butler, as an RBI double from Hutchinson and an RBI single from Ramirez gave the Redbirds a 2-0 lead after the top of the first inning. The lead was increased to three with Miller's third-inning home run to center field.

 

The Redbirds capitalized on a Butler error in the eighth to tack on an insurance run, but the Bulldogs got it back in the bottom half against reliever Jake Sale.

 

Ramirez and Kelch tallied half the Redbirds' 16 hits, as each player collected four. Kelch and Miller recorded two hits each.

 

The Redbirds return to Wednesday when they travel to Saint Louis for a non-conference game. The game begins at 3 p.m.

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Illini Swept At Coastal Carolina Invite

Coastal Carolina opened a 5-0 lead through three innings Sunday and held off the Illinois baseball team, 12-4, at Springs Brooks Stadium. The Illini finished the weekend's Coastal Carolina invitational with four straight losses after entering on a three-game winning streak.

 

Illinois (6-7) cut Coastal's leads to 5-3 and 7-4 with the help of Pat McInerney's second straight two-hit game and freshman Jalin McMillan's first career home run, but the Chanticleers continued to pull away on the strength of four home runs. McMillan finished with two hits off the bench and Adam Walton went 2 for 4 with a run in the leadoff spot to lead Illinois.

 

Illinois was faced with an early deficit when Coastal rallied for four runs with two outs in the first inning and Connor Owings hit a solo homer in the fourth.

 

Andrew Mamlic (1-2) lasted the first 5.0 innings, while allowing seven runs on 10 hits and striking out four. Matthew James came out of the bullpen and kept the Fighting Illini in the game with 2.0 frames of strong relief before Paez took him deep. James finished with 3.0 innings pitched and four runs against on four hits in his second career appearance on the mound.

 

Illinois will travel to Carbondale, Illinois, next weekend to face Northern Illinois and Southern Illinois two times each. 

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Illini Guard Tate Arrested on Domestic Battery Charge

Illinois has suspended point guard Jaylon Tate from the team after he was charged with domestic battery.

 

The junior from Chicago was being held Saturday in the Champaign County Jail. A bond hearing initially scheduled for Saturday was moved to Sunday. Jail records did not indicate whether he has hired an attorney.

 

Sgt. Bruce Ramseyer said Tate's 19-year-old girlfriend told officers Tate hit her in the face, but declined to provide police further information. Ramseyer says Tate denied there was any physical contact.

 

Tate was arrested hours after Illinois (15-19) lost to Purdue 89-58 in the Big Ten Tournament on Friday, effectively ending their season.

 

Tate is the third Illinois player to face charges since August. The new athletic director publicly backed coach John Groce last Saturday.

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Bears Agree With DT Hicks, LB Freeman

The Chicago Bears agreed to terms with free-agent defensive lineman Akiem Hicks on a two-year contract Sunday.

 

The 6-foot-5, 324-pound Hicks has made33 starts in 61 games in four seasons with the New Orleans Saints (2012-15) and New England Patriots (2015). He has 140 tackles, 9 1/2 sacks, 22 tackles for losses, 23 quarterback hits, a forced fumble and an a fumble recovery for a touchdown. In four postseason games, he has 10 tackles.

 

Bears general manager Ryan Pace was in New Orleans' front office in 2012 when the Saints drafted Hicks in the third round out of the University of Regina in Saskatchewan.

 

The Chicago Bears have added another inside linebacker to their defense, agreeing to a three-year contract with Jerrell Freeman.

 

The deal with the former Indianapolis Colts player Saturday comes three days after the signing of Danny Trevathan. The moves address one of the Bears' biggest needs and gives them two new starters.

 

The 29-year-old Freeman started all 57 games he played in the past four seasons with Indianapolis after spending three years with the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders.

 

Since entering the NFL in 2012 he is tied for sixth in tackles. He led the Colts in defensive tackles in 2012 and 2013 and ranked second on the team in 2014 and 2015.

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Oregon, Virginia, Kansas, North Carolina No. 1 Seeds in NCAA Tournament

The Kansas Jayhawks were the nation's only 30-win team, winning a Big 12 regular season title and a Big 12 tournament championship and then were rewareded with the top overall seed in the 2016 NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Two other number one seeds were both regular season and tournament champions. The Pac 12's Oregon Ducks were a trendy pick late as the Ducks rolled Utah in the Pac 12 tournament championship game and North Carolina did the same in the ACC.

 

The Big Ten was represented by Michigan State, Maryland, Iowa, Purdue, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

 

The first four of the tournament will play Tuesday and Wednesday and the field of 64 kicks off Wednesday.

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Hawks Beat Pacers

Al Horford and Paul Millsap each scored 18 points, Kyle Korver added 14 and the Hawks used a blistering third quarter to rout the Indiana Pacers, 104-75. Indiana's 75 points were a season low for the team and for an Atlanta opponent as they held stars Paul George and Monta Ellis to a combined 17 points.

 

The Pacers had won three straight, but dropped 2 1/2 games behind Atlanta for the sixth Eastern Conference playoff spot.

The Hawks went on a 20-0 run and finished the third with seven 3s, the last coming by reserve forward Kris Humphries to make it a 34-point lead. Atlanta, which was coming off a Saturday night win over Memphis, has won five of its last six.

 

Indiana rookie Myles Turner, who scored a team-high 19 points, was the only starter for either team to play in the fourth.

 

George, a starting forward in the NBA All-Star game, finished with just seven points for the Pacers, almost 19 below his team-leading average, on 3-for-15 shooting. He insisted the Pacers' back-to-back road games weren't a deciding factor.

 

Atlanta went 15 for 30 beyond the arc. The Pacers went 5 for 24.

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Penguins Race Past Rangers

Conor Sheary scored twice and Matt Cullen had the go-ahead goal in the third period and the short-handed Penguins beat the New York Rangers 5-3.

 

Patric Hornqvist also scored for the Penguins and Marc-Andre Fleury, who won his 350th career game Friday, made 24 saves for the Penguins. Sidney Crosby added an empty-netter for his 29th of the season.

 

Derick Brassard scored his team-leading 25th goal for the Rangers. Ryan McDonagh and Chris Kreider also scored and Derek Stepan had two assists.

 

With the game tied 3-3, Cullen sent the puck from behind the net and it deflected off defenseman Marc Staal and past Henrik Lundqvist at 11:09 of the third period.

 

McDonagh scored on a wraparound at 5:04 of the third for his ninth of the season to tie it at 3. Less than a half-minute later, Fleury stopped Rick Nash on a breakaway.

 

Lundqvist, who returned Saturday after missing three games with a neck injury, made 28 saves.

The Penguins will be out with star Evgeni Malkin, who is out six to eight weeks after suffering an upper-body injury in Friday's win over Columbus. He is second on the team with 27 goals and 31 assists in 57 games.

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Charl Schwartzel Wins In Playoff At Valspar

Charl Schwartzel posted the low round of the day on Sunday with a 4-under 67 that put him in a playoff with Bill Haas, which Schwartzel won with a par on 18. The win is Schwartzel's second career PGA Tour victory with the first being his 2011 win at the Masters.

Schwartzel finally returns to the winner's circle on the PGA Tour and did so in impressive fashion. His 67 on Sunday was the lowest in tough conditions and he tamed the very difficult greens at Innisbrook with a few long putts, none bigger than a 64-footer for birdie on No. 13.

Haas made a lot of positive strides this week with his game, particularly his putting, that he should be able to take with him heading towards Augusta. That said, he had a chance to really run away with this win and wasn't able to execute down the stretch.

 

Haas led by as many as three strokes in the final round, but his miss all day with the driver and irons was to the right and that eventually caught up with him.Haas went right with his drive on the playoff hole and then his approach caught the bunker to the right of the hole. He caught that bunker shot too thin and sent it 20 feet over the green and was unable to sink the par putt.

 

Haas knows this is an opportunity he let slip away on Sunday.

 

Amateur Lee McCoy, from just down the road, ended up with a solo fourth-place finish at 4-under and out-dueled world No. 1 Jordan Spieth on Sunday. That's not too bad for the 22-year-old, who has to drive back to Athens to play 36 holes in a college tournament on Monday.

 

Spieth finished at even par for the tournament in T18. That's respectable, but for the defending champion and top player in the world, this should have been an event he contended in. The field was not particularly strong, and despite a 76 on Thursday, he put himself in a position to challenge for the win after Saturday. Instead, Spieth floundered to a 2-over 73 on Sunday and has to figure out how to be more consistent on the greens and with his ball-striking with the Masters looming less than four weeks away. 

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Perry's 3-pointer lifts LeRoy over Leo, 38-35 in State 1A

Noah Perry made a game-winning 3-pointer with 30 seconds left and LeRoy won its first state title with a 38-35 victory over Leo on Saturday in the IHSA Class 1A state championship.

Matt Chastain scored 21 points to lead the LeRoy (28-5). Noah Perry had struggled from the field, hitting just two shots in 11 attempts prior to the last bucket, but finished with nine points. Teddy Harms grabbed eight boards and Nick Perry chipped in eight points for the Panthers.

Darias Oliver scored 14 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for Leo (24-9), which never led in the game.

Darius Branch and Mykel Hampton added eight points apiece for the Lions (24-9), who played much of the game with their third-leading scorer, Corrielle Robinson, hobbled with an ankle injury.

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Trimble, Pence lead St. Joseph-Ogden to state 2A title

St. Joseph-Ogden got 20 points out of its superstar, Brandon Trimble, and 14 more out of the team's second-leading scorer, Jake Pence, in a 61-43 rout of Taylor Ridge-Rockridge on Saturday night in the IHSA Class 2A state championships.

Trimble averaged nearly 27 points per game on the season and scored 44 in the Spartans' semifinal win on Friday but he scuffled early to get points in the final. The team's balanced scoring carried them. Garrett Grimsley scored nine first-half points and Pence added eight to Trimble's seven.

Grimsley finished with nine points and Aaron Schluter also had nine for the Spartans (24-9).

Gentry Whiteman led the Rockets (28-5) with 19 and T.J. Martens added 11. Whiteman, though, was bothered in the final five minutes after twisting an ankle and Carson Frakes, who hit a 50-foot, buzzer-beating prayer to lead the Rockets past Hales Franciscan in the semifinal, scored just eight before fouling out late in the game.

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Illini Stun Iowa at Big Ten Tournament

Jalen Coleman-Lands scored 17 points and Malcolm Hill broke a tie with a 16-foot jumper with 1:14 to go Thursday, helping Illinois fend off No. 20 Iowa's frantic comeback for a stunning 68-66 upset in the Big Ten tournament.

The Fighting Illini (15-18) won for only the second time in six games - this one after allowing the Hawkeyes (21-10) to score 11 straight points in 98 seconds to tie the score at 66 with 1:40 to play.

Hill gave Illinois the lead with his mid-range jumper and the struggling Hawkeyes didn't score again. Illinois faces No. 13 Purdue in Friday's quarterfinals.

 

Iowa (21-10) was led by Peter Jok, who tied his career high with 29 points before fouling out. Jarrod Uhthoff scored 21 points as the Hawkeyes lost five of their last six.

Kendrick Nunn had 16 points for Illinois.

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Luke Butkus Added to Illini Football Staff

Illinois football coach Lovie Smith has confirmed that Jacksonville Jaguars offensive line coach Luke Butkus has joined the Illini staff.

 

Smith said in a news release Thursday that the former Illinois player and coach will coach the Illini offensive line. Butkus is the nephew of one of the most famous Illini and Chicago Bears players, Dick Butkus.

 

Butkus played for the Illini from 1997-2001 and spent a season on former coach Tim Beckman's staff. Luke Butkus also was a member of Smith's Chicago Bears staff from 2007-2009. Butkus went to work for the Jaguars when he left the Illinois staff in 2012.

 

Smith continues to look for assistant coaches. And though he has not confirmed it, Louisville has announced that offensive coordinator Garrick McGee has left the Cardinals for Illinois.

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Illinois, Illinois State Baseball Back in Action This Weekend

>>Illini Set For Four Games This Weekend

 

The Illinois Fighting Illini baseball squad will play four games this weekend at the Coastal Carolina Invitational in Conway, South Carolina.

 

The Illini take on UNC Greensboro today and tomorrow with a first pitch time of 11 am.

After a pair with Greensboro, the Ilini take on tournament host Coastal Carolina at 3 pm Saturday and then finish the weekend at 10 am Sunday morning.

 

The Illini are 6-3 overall after sweeping the Stetson Invitational last weekend.

 

>>Redbirds Finish Off Snowbird Classic This Weekend

 

The Illinois State Rebirds baseball squad will finish off play in the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Florida this weekend with three games between today and tomorrow.

 

The Rebirds played four games against Big Ten opponents lastl weekend, going 2-2 against Indiana, Ohio State, Northwestern and Michigan State.

 

The Redbirds played a mid-week matchup with Florida International Wednesday, falling 11-6.

Today, Illinois State takes on Western Michigan at 11 am. Saturday, they'll play a double-header against Central Michigan at 11 am then a first pitch of Butler at 2:30 pm is the finale of their Florida swing for 2016.

 

Illinois State is 4-8 overall.

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Spurs Beat Bulls; Jimmy Butler Cleared By Dr. Andrews

Kawhi Leonard had 29 points and LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points and 10 rebounds and the San Antonio Spurs won their 31st straight at home to open the season by upending the short-handed Chicago Bulls 109-101 on Thursday night.

Tony Parker added 20 points and had 12 assists for San Antonio, which has won 40 straight at home going back to last season.

 

The Spurs have their best start after 65 games at 55-10.

 

Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol had 21 points each for the Bulls. E'Twaun Moore had 20 points, going 4 for 5 on 3-pointers.

 

Chicago was without Jimmy Butler, Joakim Noah and Cameron Bairstow, who were not with the team because of injuries.

 

Leonard defended Rose early, resulting in Chicago's point guard throwing up a couple of shots wildly while shooting 2 for 7 during the first quarter.

 

The Bulls finished with 21 turnovers.

 

Tim Duncan had seven points and three rebounds, becoming the sixth player in league history with 15,000 rebounds.

 

Newly signed Kevin Martin had a point in eight minutes for San Antonio.

 

>>Bulls Get Good News on Butler

 

The Chicago Bulls got the news they anticipated after orthopedist Dr. James Andrews found no structural damage in All-Star guard Jimmy Butler's injured left knee.

 

Butler was examined Thursday in Pensacola, Florida.

 

The team says Andrews "gave a confirmatory opinion and supports the current management of Butler's condition." He was scheduled to work out Thursday but sit out the game at San Antonio.

 

The Bulls placed no timetable on his return.

 

Butler sat out Monday's win over Milwaukee because of swelling in the same knee that had sidelined him for 11 games. He had returned to score 24 points while playing 34 minutes in Saturday's win over Houston but experienced stiffness in his back the following day. He then developed swelling in his knee on Monday.

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McManis Agrees With Bears

The Chicago Bears have agreed to a two-year contract with cornerback Sherrick McManis.

 

In four seasons with Chicago, McManis has appeared in 55 games and recorded 55 special-teams tackles. He spent two seasons with Houston before joining the Bears and has 71 special-teams tackles along with 26 defensive tackles in his career.

 

Chicago announced the move on Thursday.

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Bradley, Duke, Powell Atop the Valspar Leader Board; Spieth Starts Slow

Keegan Bradley, Ken Duke and Charles Howell III shot four-under  67s Thursday in the first round of the Valspar Championship from Palm Harbor, Florida.

 

Jordan Spieth struggled mightily in the first round of his first title defense on the PGA Tour this season at the Valspar Championship. Spieth went out in 39 and didn't come home much better for a 5-over total of 76 at Innisbrook.

 

The world's No. 1 player made six bogeys and sits at T117 after 18 holes of play.

 

Spieth was actually pretty average with his putter but totally lost from tee to green. He hit only six greens in regulation and lost over two strokes with his driver and irons.

 

Martin Kaymer is one-under par after 18 holes, tied for ninth.

 

Henrik Stenson, Charl Schwartzel, Patrick Reed, Bill Haas, Daniel Summerhays, Matt Kuchar and Steve Stricker were among a group that shot even par-71 Thursday to tie for 26th. 

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Harper Calls Baseball 'Tired'; Hall of Famer Gossage Calls Out Latin Players

Love him or hate him, Nationals wunderkind Bryce Harper is unquestionably one of the best players in baseball. He just had one of the greatest seasons by a 22-year-old ever, hitting .330/.460/.649 (195 OPS+) with 42 home runs. That earned him the NL MVP unanimously.

 

And yet, it seems the majority of baseball fans don't like Harper. He's brash, he's arrogant, and he's been in the public eye since high school. Harper should be celebrated. Instead, many fans don't like him, all because he doesn't "play the game the right way" or some silly nonsense like that.

 

In a recent ESPN The Magazine feature, Harper called baseball a "tired sport" because players can't express themselves without getting the third degree. From the feature:

 

"Baseball's tired," he says. "It's a tired sport, because you can't express yourself. You can't do what people in other sports do. I'm not saying baseball is, you know, boring or anything like that, but it's the excitement of the young guys who are coming into the game now who have flair. If that's Matt Harvey or Jacob deGrom or Manny Machado or Joc Pederson or Andrew McCutchen or Yasiel Puig -- there's so many guys in the game now who are so much fun.

 

"Jose Fernandez is a great example. Jose Fernandez will strike you out and stare you down into the dugout and pump his fist. And if you hit a homer and pimp it? He doesn't care. Because you got him. That's part of the game. It's not the old feeling -- hoorah ... if you pimp a homer, I'm going to hit you right in the teeth. No. If a guy pimps a homer for a game-winning shot ... I mean -- sorry."

 

>>Hall of Famer Gossage Calls Bautista 'Disgrace', Says Latin Players Ruining Baseball

 

Earlier on Thursday, Hall of Fame closer Goose Gossage ripped Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista for his antics on the field. He also singled out Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Here's what Gossage said:

"Bautista is a f---ing disgrace to the game," Gossage told ESPN. "He's embarrassing to all the Latin players, whoever played before him. Throwing his bat and acting like a fool, like all those guys in Toronto. [Yoenis] Cespedes, same thing."


Bautista took the high ground and said he was disappointed to hear Gossage's comments.

Gossage was one of the most dominant relievers in baseball back during his playing days. Gossage saved 310 games, won a World Series with the Yankees in 1978, and earned five top six finishes in the Cy Voting.

 

Gossage, who is in Yankees camp as a guest instructor, also went on rant against the "nerds" in the front offices who are ruining baseball.

 

Bautista took the high ground and said he was disappointed to hear Gossage's comments.

When told of Gossage's comments, Cespedes repleid quote-"He's a pitcher, right?"

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Illini Use Balance To Blow Out Minnesota

Michael Finke scored 17 points and made five 3-pointers to lead No. 12 seed Illinois past 13th-seeded Minnesota 85-52 on Wednesday in the Big Ten tournament's opening round.

 

The Fighting Illini (14-18) play No. 5 seed and 20th-ranked Iowa on Thursday in second-round action.

 

Kendrick Nunn added 15 points for Illinois while Malcolm Hill had 14 and Jalen Coleman-Lands 13. The Fighting Illini made 32 of 58 field-goal attempts (55 percent), including 14 of 26 from 3-point range (54 percent). Nunn, Hill and Coleman-Lands were a collective 15 of 26 from the field.

 

Illinois outrebounded Minnesota 35-26 and forced 15 Golden Gopher turnovers. Minnesota shot 39.2 percent (20 of 51) in dropping a fourth consecutive game to end the season.

 

Minnesota (8-23), which finished with a school record for single-season losses, got 12 points from Charles Buggs and 11 by Ahmad Gilbert.

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Florida International Uses Big Fifth Inning to Top Illinois State

Florida International scored eight runs in the fifth inning thanks to nine-straight hits – all with two outs – as the host Panthers earned an 11-6 win over the visiting Illinois State baseball team Wednesday at FIU Baseball Stadium.

Jean Ramirez staked Illinois State to a 5-1 lead with a three-run home run in the third inning, but the Panthers cut the Redbird lead in half in the bottom of the inning before taking the lead for good in the eight-run fifth.

 

Ryan Hutchinson reached base three times for Illinois State, on two singles and a walk.

 

Ramirez tallied two hits in the loss. Owen Miller reached twice on a hit and a walk.

Illinois State starter Mitch Weis allowed three runs on six hits and two walks over the first three innings. Weis struck out four.

 

The Redbirds have the day off Friday, before finishing their Florida trip back at the Snowbird Classic, in Port Charlotte, on Friday and Saturday. Illinois State will first play Western Michigan at 11 a.m. Friday. The Redbirds will then play both Central Michigan, at 11 a.m., and Butler, at 2:30 p.m., on Saturday, in Illinois State's only scheduled doubleheader this season.

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Blues Beat Blackhawks in Shootout; Blues to Host Blackhawks at Busch Stadium Next Year; Kane Cleared by NHL

Kevin Shattenkirk scored the decisive goal in the sixth round of the shootout to lift the St. Louis Blues to a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night for their fourth straight win.

Patrik Berglund scored first in the shootout before Artemi Panarin tied it for the Blackhawks in the third round. Troy Brouwer and Artem Anisimov each scored in the fifth round before Shattenkirk beat Corey Crawford and Allen denied Teuvo Tervainen in the sixth.

 

David Backes and Brouwer scored in the third period for the Blues and Allen stopped 33 shots through overtime to earn his 22nd win of the season.

 

Andrew Ladd scored in the second period and Panarin tied it late in the third for the Blackhawks, who fell to 32-0-3 win leading after two periods. Crawford had 28 saves.

 

Wth the point, Chicago pulled into a tie with Dallas for first place in the Central Division, though the Blackhawks have the tiebreaker with 40 regulation and overtime wins. The Blues are a point behind.

 

>>Blues, Blackhawks Set For Winter Series Game at Busch Stadium

 

Outdoor hockey is coming to St. Louis.

 

The NHL said Wednesday night before the St. Louis Blues' game against the Chicago Blackhawks that the teams will play in the Winter Classic at Busch Stadium on Monday, Jan. 2.

 

St. Louis will be the eighth franchise to host the Winter Classic. The game is usually held on Jan. 1, but the league is pushing it back a day as it did in 2012 to avoid going head-to-head with the NFL.

 

It will be the first outdoor game in Blues history. The Blackhawks will be playing in their third Winter Classic and fifth outdoor game.

 

Also Wednesday, the NHL said Toronto will host Detroit in the Centennial Classic on Jan. 1 at BMO Field to celebrate the league's 100th anniversary, and Pittsburgh will host Philadelphia on Feb. 18 at Heinz Field in the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series. In another outdoor game, Winnipeg will host Edmonton in the Heritage Classic on Oct. 23 at Investors Group Field.

 

>>NHL Concludes Allegations Against Patrick Kane Unfounded

Chicago Blackhawks star forward Patrick Kane won't face NHL disciplinary action after the league ruled that a rape allegation made against the player last offseason was unfounded.

 

The league announced Wednesday it reached its finding after completing an independent review of the allegations, which included a face-to-face meeting between Kane and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, which took place in New York on Monday.

 

In calling "the matter closed," the league took into account Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita's decision to not pursue charges in November following a three-month investigation.

Sedita said there was a lack of credible evidence in a case he found "rife with reasonable doubt."

 

The allegation was made while Kane was spending the summer at his offseason home outside of Buffalo, New York.

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Bears Sign Trevathan; Forte To Jets; NFL Free Agency Frenzy

The Chicago Bears boosted their defense, agreeing to a four-year contract with Super Bowl champion linebacker Danny Trevathan.

The Bears announced the move Wednesday, shortly after the opening of free agency.

 

The 25-year-old Trevathan was the leading tackler on the league's No. 1 defense and helped Denver win the championship last season. He is leaving the Broncos for a team that won just six games but showed improvement in its first year under coach John Fox and general manager Ryan Pace.

 

Trevathan also knows Fox well, having played for him in Denver. And the Bears will be counting on his familiarity, not to mention his ability, to help them become a contender after missing the playoffs for the eighth time in nine years.

 

>>Forte To Jets

 

It didn't take long for the Jets to find a replacement for Chris Ivory. According to ESPN.com, the Jets have agreed to a deal with Matt Forte that will send the former Bears running back to New York.

 

The move comes just hours after Ivory, the Jets leading running back from 2015, agreed to terms on a deal with the Jaguars. Neither deal will become official until the new league year begins at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

 

Terms of Forte's deal haven't been disclosed.

 

If the 30-year-old Forte can stay healthy, he should be an instant upgrade over Ivory because of his ability to catch passes out of the backfield. Forte has caught at least 44 passes during each of his eight seasons in the NFL, including 2014, when he caught a ridiculous 102 passes.

The Jets love to utilize their backs in the passing game, so Forte should fit right in with New York's offense. Last year, Bilal Powell and Ivory combined to catch 77 passes. Powell is a free agent though, and combined with Ivory's departure, the addition of Forte was a move the Jets absolutely had to make.

 

Although Forte missed three games in 2015, he still put up 1,285 total yards (898 rushing, 389 receiving).

 

Several teams were interested in Forte, including the Dolphins, Texans and Packers, but they were all outbid by the Jets.

 

>>Ditka's New TV Deal Means Less Travel, No 'Countdown'

 

Former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka is departing as a regular analyst on ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown" and will take up a new role as a contributor to the network's "SportsCenter" shows.

 

ESPN made the announcement Wednesday. Talks on a new contract began last season and resulted in a two-year deal.

 

The 76-year-old Ditka has said that traveling each weekend to the network's Bristol, Conn., studios from his homes in Chicago in Florida became too wearying. Instead, he'll contribute more from remote studios near his homes.

 

"The work of being an analyst is not hard," Ditka told the Chicago Tribune in a 2013 interview. "The hard part is getting there. If I had a way to get there instantly, on a private plane or something, it would be different. Going through the airports kind of gets old."

 

ESPN has said former NFL quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who has announced his retirement will be added to "Countdown" as an analyst.

 

>>QB Osweiler To Texans

 

The Houston Texans have agreed to a deal in principle with former Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler, confirms CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. NFL Network's Rand Getlin. first reported the news.

 

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Osweiler's deal is for four years and $72 million.

The Broncos reportedly had a three-year, $45 million deal on the table for Osweiler. Clearly, it wasn't enough and now the defending Super Bowl champs go from having two viable options to none.

 

>>Giants Sign Vernon, Jenkins; Cruz Takes Pay Cut

 

The Giants continued to make it rain big-time money in free agency and continued to revamp their defense by signing defensive end Olivier Vernon to a huge deal on Wednesday. Jason La Canfora reports it's a record deal for a defensive player in years 1-3.

 

According to multiple reports, Vernon, who had his franchise tag rescinded on Wednesday by the Dolphins, got a silly contract from the Giants, totaling $85 million over five years.

 

Vernon has only 29 sacks in his career (or if you prefer, 23.5 less than the number of guaranteed millions he's getting in this deal). Of those 29, though, he had 5.5 during the final seven-game stretch of 2015 when he was lighting it up for the Dolphins.

 

Janoris Jenkins wasn't given the franchise tag by the Los Angeles Rams but he should be happy about it because he just got paid in free agency.

 

The former Rams cornerback will reportedly land with the New York Giants. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN the deal will be worth $62.5 million over five years while Mike Garafolo reports the deal will contain a whopping $29 million guaranteed.

 

That's $12.5 million per year and $5.8 million guaranteed per year on the contract, which would make him the second-highest paid in terms of guarantee per year (not counting former teammate Trumaine Johnson on a one-year, franchise-tag deal), behind only Darrelle Revis, who shares the same agents, Schwartz and Feinsod.

 

New York also re-signed defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, salvaging a relationship with a player they badly need to play at top form to help their pass rush.

 

Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, who was told by the team this week that he'd be released if he didn't accept a paycut, will be staying in New York this season after agreeing to a deal on Wednesday that will cut his 2016 base pay by over $6 million.

 

Under terms of his original five-year, $43 million extension that he signed before the 2013 season, Cruz was scheduled to make a $7.9 million base salary in 2016. However, that number's been trimmed down to $1.3, according to the Bergen Record.

 

That's a paycut of $6.6 million.

 

The good news for Cruz is that he can earn most of that money back. With playing time incentives included, Cruz can earn a total of $5.5 million in 2016 if he stays healthy, which has been easier said than done for Cruz lately.

 

It's been almost two years since the Giants receiver has been able to show off his salsa dance on the field. Cruz has been battling various leg injuries and hasn't played since Week 6 in 2014 when he tore patellar tendon in his right knee.

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Arrieta Sharp in Spring Debut

NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta struck out four in two perfect innings of his spring debut as the Chicago Cubs lost to the Cleveland Indians 5-3 Wednesday.

Arrieta registered 96 mph on the stadium scoreboard radar gun with his fastball.

 

Corey Kluber, who won the AL Cy Young in 2014, pitched three scoreless innings for the Indians. He gave up two singles in the second and later walked Dan Vogelbach to fill the bases with two out before retiring Juan Perez on a groundout.

 

Kluber struck out four.

 

Yan Gomes and Giovanny Urshela homered for the Indians.

 

Jose Candelario and John Andreoli homered for the Cubs.

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COLLEGE BASEBALL: Michigan State Crushes Illinois State

The Illinois State baseball team surrendered a season-high 15 runs in a shutout loss to Michigan State Tuesday at the Snowbird Classic, as the Spartans earned a 15-0 win over the Redbirds.

Illinois State (4-7) was limited to just one hit in the contest, while Michigan State (9-1) piled up 19 hits against five Redbird pitchers.

 

Spartan starter Andrew Gonzalez allowed just one hit – a fourth-inning double to Jared Hendren – over seven shutout innings of work. Three Michigan State relievers combined on two scoreless innings to finish off the win.

 

Joe Kelch and Danny Jackson drew walks for Illinois State and Brian Rodemoyer was hit by a pitch. They joined Jared Hendren as the only Redbirds to reach base Tuesday.

 

Illinois State returns to action with a road game at Florida International, beginning at 2 p.m. CT, Wednesday in Miami.

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Blackhawks, Kruger Agree to Contract Extension

Injured forward Marcus Kruger has agreed to a $9.25 million, three-year contract extension with the Chicago Blackhawks that runs through the 2018-19 season.

The 25-year-old Kruger had left wrist surgery in December, but is expected to return before the start of the playoffs. He will make $3,475,000 in each of the next two years, and $2.3 million in the final season.

 

Kruger, a fifth-round pick in the 2009 draft, signed a one-year deal before this season.

 

Kruger, who made his NHL debut in 2011, has developed into a versatile performer who helps kill penalties and often draws difficult defensive assignments. He had seven goals and 10 assists in 81 games last season, and then helped Chicago win the Stanley Cup for the third time in the past six seasons.

 

Kruger has 28 goals and 57 assists in 320 career games, all with Chicago.

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Cubs, Arrieta Indicate Long Term Deal Has Been Discussed

NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta said Tuesday he has talked with the Chicago Cubs about a long-term contract.

Arrieta went 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA last season and agreed last month to a $10.7 million, one-year deal that avoided salary arbitration. The right-hander, who turned 30 on Sunday, is eligible for free agency after the 2017 season.

 

"Money can only make you so happy," Arrieta said, speaking a day before his scheduled spring training debut. "I love my teammates, and I love Chicago. Those are more important than the contract extension for me."

 

>>Marlins, Braves to Play Game At Fort Bragg

 

On Sunday, July 3, the Miami Marlins will face the (home) Atlanta Braves in what Major League Baseball is calling the Fort Bragg Game. It will be the first of its kind in that it's a game airing nationally to honor the military and will be played on an actual military base.

 

Yes, the game will be played at Fort Bragg in North Carolina in a brand new 12,500-seat ballpark.

 

Once the game is played, Major League Baseball will convert it into a softball field and "multi-purpose facility." It will be MLB's gift to the base.

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Bulls Hope Butler Will Return vs Spurs Tomorrow

The Chicago Bulls hope to have Jimmy Butler back for their next game after the swelling in the two-time All-Star guard's left knee went down.

Coach Fred Hoiberg said Tuesday he hopes he returns to the lineup Thursday at San Antonio. Butler sat out Monday's win over Milwaukee because of swelling in the same knee that had sidelined him for 11 games.

 

He returned to score 24 points while playing 34 minutes in Saturday's win over Houston but experienced stiffness in his back the following day. Butler then developed swelling in his knee on Monday.

 

Hoiberg also said forward Bobby Portis was experiencing blurred vision after leaving the Bucks game because of a left orbital contusion. But guard Aaron Brooks was feeling better after exiting with right patellar tendinitis.

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Bears, Packers Notes

>>Bears WR Jeffry Signs Franchise Tender

 

Chicago Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery has signed his one-year, $14.6 million franchise tender offer.

 

The announcement Tuesday was more of a procedural development after the team placed the franchise tag on him last week. The Bears and Jeffery have until July 15 to agree to a multiyear contract.

 

Calf, hamstring, groin and shoulder injuries limited Jeffery to nine games last season. But he still led the team in receiving with 807 yards.

 

Jeffery played in all 16 games the previous two years, finishing with 1,421 yards in 2013 and 1,133 in 2014.

 

>>Packers Interested in Former Bears RB Forte

 

The Bears' decision to let running back Matt Forte walk away in free agency could end up backfiring on them.

According to ESPN.com, Forte is drawing interest from the last team that Bears fans want to see him sign with: the Green Bay Packers.

 

Although the sight of Forte in a Packers uniform would probably make any Bears fan cringe, it would likely bring a smile to the face of Aaron Rodgers.

 

During his eight years as the starting quarterback in Green Bay, Rodgers has had a lot of weapons, but he has never had a running back like Forte who easily catch passes out of the backfield.

Since Rodgers' first year as a starter in 2008, no Packers running back has caught more than 43 passes in a season. Forte has caught 44 or more passes in each of his eight NFL seasons.

 

The obvious upside for the Packers here is that they would get to add a proven player to a backfield that's full of question marks. For one, the Packers have no idea what they're going to get out of starting back Eddie Lacy.

 

Lacy spent most of the 2015 season out of shape and the Packers want to see him cut some weight before the 2016 starts. Although Lacy has been on a roll with his workouts lately, the team has no idea if that motivation will last all offseason.

 

Behind Lacy, there's not much right now because the Packers are expected to lose backup running back James Starks, who's set to become a free agent Wednesday.

 

For Forte, the upside of a potential deal is that he would finally get to play for a contender. During Forte's eight seasons in Chicago, the Bears only made the playoffs once.

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Lovie Smith Officially Named Illini Football Coach

It was a rather unexpected weekend for the University of Illinois and their football team. First the firing of Head Coach Bill Cubit and then the announcement that they would hire former Bears’ Head Coach Lovie Smith was a surprise. Smith comes to the university after being fired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past offseason and he hasn’t coached in college since 1995.

Smith met with his new players today at 7 am and then the coaches still on staff. He says that he is still evaluating who to keep and let go knowing full well how far the program has to come to be competitive. Smith says it’s an opportunity to relish.

 

 

Smith adds he won’t commit to any one style of play on the field but that he wants to give fans a reason to show up and support the team.

 

 

Smith says that the six year contract should speak for its self and he isn’t planning on going anywhere even if the NFL comes calling. The hire, worth $2 million a year over the next two seasons, $3 million the following year, $4 million in 2019 and then $5 million in 2020 and 2021. Smith's appointment will be presented for UI Board of Trustee approval on March 16.

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Bulls Beat Bucks

Pau Gasol had 12 points, 17 rebounds, 13 assists and five blocked shots, and the banged-up Chicago Bulls beat the Milwaukee Bucks 100-90 on Monday night with All-Star Jimmy Butler sidelined by swelling in his left knee.

The Bulls had six players score in double figures in their second straight win after a four-game slide. Derrick Rose scored 22 points, Mike Dunleavy had 18 and E'Twaun Moore finished with 16 points and seven assists.

 

Butler missed 11 games before he returned for Chicago's 108-100 victory over Houston on Saturday night. But he had some stiffness in his back on Sunday and then developed some swelling in his knee on Monday, prompting the Bulls to hold him out for their matchup with Milwaukee.

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Cardinals SS Peralta Out 2-3 Months

Cardinals shortstop Jhonny Peralta has suffered a torn ligament in his left hand, general manager John Mozeliak told reporters on Monday (including Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch). Peralta is seeking a second opinion, but if this diagnosis holds, he could be facing an absence of two to three months.

 

Peralta, 33, was an All-Star last season, hitting .275/.334/.411 (102 OPS+) with 26 doubles, 17 home runs and 71 RBI.

 

The Cardinals did acquire Jedd Gyorko for Jon Jay from San Diego last December and Gyorko played a touch over 220 innings at short last season.

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Big Ten Basketball Notes

>>Denzel Valentine Named Big Ten Player of the Year

 

Denzel Valentine of Michigan State is Big Ten player of the year in voting by the coaches and a unanimous pick to their all-conference first team along with Indiana's Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell and Iowa's Jarrod Uthoff.

 

The coaches also have Purdue's A.J. Hammons and Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes on their first team announced Monday.

 

The second team: Illinois' Malcolm Hill, Iowa's Peter Jok, Maryland's Melo Trimble, Michigan State's Bryn Forbes and Nebraska's Shavon Shields.

 

Indiana's Tom Crean is coach of the year, Indiana's Max Bielfeldt sixth man of the year and Wisconsin's Ethan Happ freshman of the year.

 

The all-freshman team: Indiana's Thomas Bryant, Maryland's Diamond Stone, Minnesota's Jordan Murphy, Purdue's Caleb Swanigan and Wisconsin's Happ.

 

The all-defensive team: Indiana's Ferrell, Iowa's Uthoff, Purdue's Rapheal Davis and Hammons and Wisconsin's Happ.

 

>>Greg Gard To Be Wisconsin's Next Head Coach

 

Wisconsin has removed the interim tag from Greg Gard and made him the Badgers' full-time men's basketball coach, a source confirmed to CBS Sports on Monday.

 

The school subsequently confirmed the development.

 

A press conference is scheduled for Tuesday.

 

Gard, 45, was an assistant under Bo Ryan for parts of 23 seasons before he was promoted when Ryan abruptly retired in December, after a victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The Badgers were 7-5 at the time with losses to Western Illinois and Milwaukee, and they lost four of the six subsequent games to drop to 9-9. But Gard is 11-2 -- with wins over Michigan State, Indiana, Maryland, Iowa and Michigan -- since a loss at Northwestern, and his Badgers are currently 26th in the CBS Sports Top 25 (and one).

 

Wisconsin is 25th in the new coaches poll and safely in the Field of 68.

 

The Badgers' next game is Thursday in the Big Ten Tournament.

 

They'll play either Nebraska or Rutgers.

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Eagles Trade DeMarco Murray To Tennessee

The Philadelphia Eagles are on the verge of unloading DeMarco Murray.

 

The sports agency that represents Murray tweeted on Monday that Philadelphia is in the process of finalizing a deal with Tennessee that will send Murray to the Titans.

 

According to ESPN.com, the Eagles will get an unspecified draft pick (or picks) in exchange for Murray.

 

The 28-year-old running has wanted out of Philadelphia for months now. In his only season with the team, Murray got lost in Chip Kelly's offense and never really produced. Murray only crossed the 100-yard mark one time in 15 games in 2015.

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Rickie Fowler Makes Hole in One For Ernie Els' Charity

Unless Rickie Fowler wins all four majors in 2016, this is going to be the coolest thing the Puma-clad No. 5 ranked golfer does all year. On Instagram, Fowler called it "one of the coolest moments in my life."

Fowler made a hole-in-one at the Els for Autism Foundation event on Monday, which raised $1 million for the foundation. It was quite a moment as a group of pros and friends and family absolutely lost their minds as the 113-yard shot trickled in.

 

The mosh pit that followed was almost as cool as the shot itself.

 

Els said afterwards that Fowler was his hero. The crazy part? As Tim Rosaforte noted, Fowler was using Luke Donald's clubs and playing in tennis shoes.

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Penn State Outlasts Illinois

Shep Garner scored 22 points and Penn State hung on through two overtime periods to beat Illinois 86-79 on Sunday.

 

Brandon Taylor added 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Nittany Lions (16-15, 7-11 Big Ten), who secured a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament for the first time in program history. The win snapped a two-game losing streak and marked Penn State's most conference wins under head coach Patrick Chambers.

 

Josh Reaves added 13 points and Donovon Jack chipped in 10 for Penn State.

 

Malcolm Hill scored 24 of his 39 points in the second half and added 13 rebounds for the Fighting Illini (13-18, 5-13), who faced a 10-point deficit with just over 12 minutes to play. Illinois lost its second game in a row and will play in the opening round of the conference tournament on Wednesday.

 

Khalid Lewis added 10 points for the Illini who outscored Penn State 22-12 over the final 8:49 of regulation. But Penn State mounted a 19-9 run that included 9-of-10 shooting from the line to close out the game.

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Lovie Smith Could Be Introduced As Illini Football Coach Today

Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman surprised a lot of people when, in his first official day on the job, he fired football coach Bill Cubit. You just don't see college football coaches being fired in March very often, and you have to believe that when they are, there's a plan already in place to replace them.

And it appears that may be the case.

 

According to a couple different members of the Chicago media and Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports, former Chicago Bears and Bucs coach Lovie Smith could soon be in orange and blue again.

 

Smith was just fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in January, but before coaching there, he spent nine seasons coaching the Chicago Bears. He won three division titles with the Bears, and led the team to an appearance in Super Bowl XLI.

 

He's certainly a name that will resonate with players not only in the state of Illinois, but across the country when it comes to recruiting. And while Lovie Smith is mostly known as an NFL coach, he spent 13 seasons coaching on the college level from 1983 to 1995, including stops at Wisconsin, Tennessee and Ohio State. So he's familiar with what coaching in college is like.

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Illini Sweep Stetson Invitational

Illinois turned double plays in each of the last three innings Sunday to secure a 4-2 win against Villanova and sweep the Stetson Invitational at Melching Field. Andrew Mamlic gave the Fighting Illini its third solid start in as many days and Anthony Drago had three hits, including a homer, to lead Illinois to its sixth win in the last seven games.

Illinois (6-3) scored in each of the first two innings to give Mamlic (1-1) a 2-0 lead en route to his first win of the season. The right-hander allowed two runs on four hits and struck out six over 5.2 innings before giving way to the bullpen, which moved its scoreless streak to 8.1 innings.

 

Leadoff man Adam Walton, who hit .462 (6-13) on the weekend, started things off in the first with a double to right center before being driven in by a Jason Goldstein single two batters later. Drago's homer to right field, the first of his career, came in the second inning, as the Illini never trailed in three wins at the Stetson Invitational.

 

Drago added two more hits, while Pat McInerney, Goldstein and Walton picked up two hits apiece. All four players with multiple hits drove in one run.

 

McInerney's and Walton's RBIs came on sixth- and seventh-inning singles to pad the lead.

Cole Bellair, J.D. Nielsen and Nick Blackburn held down Villanova in the final innings. Blackburn (4) earned his fourth save in his last four appearances.

 

For the weekend, Illini pitchers owned a 2.33 ERA and struck out 26 batters in 27 innings, while allowing 20 hits.

 

The Illini beat Central Michigan 9-4 Friday and topped Stetson 4-1 Saturday.

 

The Illini travel to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, next weekend for two games against UNC Greensboro and two against host Coastal Carolina.

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Redbirds Trounce Northwestern For Second Win at Snowbird Classic

A big day from Owen Miller helped Illinois State secure its second win in as many days over a Big Ten opponent, as the Illinois State baseball team scored a 10-4 win over Northwestern Sunday at North Charlotte Regional Park, as part of the Snowbird Classic.

 

Miller went 4-for-5 from the plate with two doubles and four RBIs, while Daniel Dwyer chipped in three hits and two RBIs in the Redbird win.

Starter David Meade earned his first win of the season with a quality start, allowing three runs over six innings of work, and Jeffrey Barton picked up the first save of his Illinois State career with two scoreless innings to finish off the win.

 

After a 3-run top of the fourth, he Redbirds answered back in the bottom of the fourth with three runs of their own. Ryan Hutchinson reached base on an error by the Northwestern shortstop and Wildcat starter Cooper Wetherbee walked the next two batters to load the bases before exiting the game. Josh David then came out of the bullpen and walked in a run. Dwyer followed with the key at-bat in the inning, providing a two-run single to give Illinois State a 4-3 lead.

 

The Redbirds padded their lead with two runs in the seventh and in the eighth with three more runs, running the score to the final tally of 10-4.

 

Meade pitched six innings, struck out four batters and gave up three earned runs. Barton came on in relief in the eighth with a three-run lead and struck out the side. With a six-run lead in the ninth, Barton stayed in the game and closed out the Wildcats for his first-career save.

 

The Redbirds fell to Indiana Friday 11-1 but came back to top Ohio State Saturday, 5-4.

 

The Redbirds return to action Tuesday when they face Michigan State at the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Florida. First pitch is set for 10 a.m. CT.
 

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Kane Leads Blackhawks Past Red Wings; Blues Double Up Wild

Patrick Kane scored his 38th goal on the first shot of the game and Corey Crawford made 33 saves, helping the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 on Sunday.

Artem Anisimov and Duncan Keith each had a power-play goal as Chicago won for the third time in four games, including a 5-2 victory at Detroit on Wednesday. The Blackhawks went 2 for 3 with the man advantage and have at least one power-play goal in each of their last four games. Jonathan Toews also scored.

 

The season-high crowd of 22,247 had just started its usual derisive Detroit chant when Kane skated up the right side and beat Petr Mrazek with a wrist shot under the goaltender's glove just 21 seconds into the game. Kane's eighth goal in his last 13 games ran his NHL-best point total to a career-high 89.

 

Gustav Nyquist had Detroit's goal.

 

>>Blues Double Up Wild

 

Jori Lehtera scored in his return to the lineup and St. Louis held on to beat the Minnesota Wild 4-2. Ryan Reaves, Patrik Berglund and Robby Fabbri also scored for St. Louis, which won its third straight. The Blues have victories in seven of their past eight road games.

St. Louis led 3-0 before two late goals by Minnesota made things interesting.

 

Ryan Suter and Matt Dumba scored for Minnesota, which lost for the first time in five games. The Wild remained two points ahead of Colorado for the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

 

Devin Dubnyk, who finished with 13 saves, was replaced by Kuemper - who had 18 saves.

Minnesota rallied in the third, starting when Suter scored midway through the period on a backhander in front. Dumba scored with 5:20 to play to make it 3-2, but Fabbri added an empty-net goal with 1:31 to go.

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Warriors Go Cold in Loss To Lakers

Even a team that dominates the way the Golden State Warriors have this season is bound to stumble every now and then.

 

They tossed out a clunker against the Los Angeles Lakers, losing 112-95 on Sunday while shooting a season-worst 13 percent from 3-point range.

The young Lakers, led by Jordan Clarkson with 25 points and rookie D'Angelo Russell with 21, handed the defending NBA champions just their sixth loss of the season, all on the road.

 

Kobe Bryant added 12 points in one of the biggest upsets in NBA history and the Lakers' most important victory in a downtrodden farewell season for Bryant, who spent the fourth quarter on the bench resting his aching right shoulder and mentoring his teammates.

 

Stephen Curry scored 18 points on a day the Warriors were awful offensively. Klay Thompson added 15 points, but the Splash Brothers were a combined 1 of 18 from 3-point range. In all, the league's best long-range shooting team missed 26 of 30 attempts, a season low for makes for a team that averages nearly 13.

 

Golden State fell to 55-6 and the Lakers improved to 13-51.

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Peyton Manning To Retire

Peyton Manning is retiring. He informed the Broncos of his decision on Saturday night, reports CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, and there will be an official announcement on Monday. ESPN's Chris Mortensen first reported the news.

Since the Broncos won Super Bowl 50 last month, there have been weekly reports that Manning was going to call it a career. And now, after 18 seasons, 71,940 regular-season passing yards, 539 touchdowns and two Lombardi Trophies, it's a wrap.

 

Manning will go down as one of the best players in NFL history, and in just over five years, he'll be in Canton, Ohio giving his Hall of Fame speech.

 

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady posted to Facebook on Sunday afternoon: "Congratulations Peyton, on an incredible career. You changed the game forever and made everyone around you better. It's been an honor."

 

When it was all said and done, Brady and Manning met 17 times.

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Adam Scott Wins Cadillac Championship

Adam Scott trailed by three coming into the final round and Rory McIlroy seemed in control after making several pars to start the day. Plus, the leaderboard was full of huge names: Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson among them.

Scott birdied six of his next nine, made some miracle pars coming home, got to 12 under for the week and held off Watson by a single stroke.

 

Jordan Spieth, the No. 1 player in the world broke par just once this week. Even more concerning, he couldn't crack the top 40 in strokes gained putting. In a good WGC field, that's not a good stat for Spieth.

 

Rory McIlroy blew his first 54-hole three-stroke lead since the 2011 Masters on Sunday.

Bubba Watson nearly pulled off his second win in three weeks with a closing 68.

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Illinois Fires Football Coach

University of Illinois Director of Athletics Josh Whitman announced the dismissal of head football coach Bill Cubit on Saturday following one season as interim head coach.

 

Whitman, who made the announcement on his first official day as the university’s athletic director, indicated that providing stability to the Fighting Illini football program was an immediate need.

“I appreciate the leadership that Bill Cubit provided our football program during what has been, unquestionably, a very tumultuous time,” Whitman said.

Cubit was named interim head coach on Aug. 28, 2015, when former athletics director Mike Thomas fired Tim Beckman during an investigation relating to injury reporting and student-athlete medical treatment. Cubit led Illinois to a 5-7 record in 2015, including 2-6 in the Big Ten, which tied for fifth place in the West Division. Cubit had the interim tag removed from his title on Nov. 29 when he was given a two-year contract.

 

Offensive coordinator Ryan Cubit was also relieved of his duties effective immediately. The rest of the assistant coaches will have the opportunity to interview with the new head coach.

Spring practices have been delayed. 

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Trip To Elite 8 in HS Boys Basketball Playoffs Up for Grabs in A, AA

A trip to the Elite 8 is on the line tonight for area high school boys basketball teams in the Class 1A and 2A State tournament.

 

In Class 1A:

 

At Ridgeview

 

Ridgeview  7:00pm
LeRoy 

 

At Bridgeport Red Hill

 

Patoka   7:00pm
Effingham St. Anthony

 

At Ottawa Marquette

 

Flanagan-Cornell  7:00pm
Newark 

 

Class AA:

 

At Beardstown

 

Quincy Notre Dame) 7:00pm
Pleasant Plains

 

At St. Joseph-Ogden

 

St. Joseph-Ogden 7:00pm
Paxton-Buckley-Loda

 

At Flora

 

Lawrenceville  7:00pm
Teutopolis

 

Class 3A Regional Championships Tonight:

 

At Dunlap

 

Metamora  7:00pm
Peoria Richwoods

 

At Galesburg

 

Galesburg   7:00pm
Bloomington

 

At Jacksonville

 

Springfield Lanphier 7:00pm
Jacksonville

 

At Lincoln

 

Decatur Eisenhower 7:00pm
Springfield Southeast

 

At Mattoon

 

Champaign Central 7:00pm
Effingham

 

At Rantoul

 

Rantoul   7:00pm
Mahomet-Seymour

 

At Washington

 

Peoria Manual 7:00pm
Washington

 

Class 4A Regional Championships Tonight:

 

At Normal Community

 

East Moline United 7:00pm
Normal West

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Maryland Blows Out Illinois

Melo Trimble and Jake Layman scored 18 points each, and No. 14 Maryland closed out its home schedule with its best game in weeks, an 81-55 rout of Illinois on Thursday night.

Jared Nickens and Robert Carter Jr. had 14 points apiece for the Terrapins, who never trailed. Maryland (24-6, 12-5 Big Ten) had lost three of four since climbing to No. 2 in the AP poll in early February.

 

Trimble made half of his 14 shots, collected eight rebounds and added five assists. The standout sophomore guard was 11 for 37 from the field over the previous four games.

 

Maverick Morgan reached career highs with 21 points and 10 rebounds for Illinois (13-17, 5-12). The junior center made 10 of his 13 field goal tries, but his teammates were a collective 12 for 44, including 5 for 20 from 3-point range.

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Loyola-Chicago Drops Bradley in Missouri Valley Tournament

Montel James had 20 points and a career-high 17 rebounds as Loyola (Chicago) pulled away midway through the second half to beat Bradley 74-66 in the opening round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament on Thursday night.

Donte Ingram had 19 points and Devon Turk chipped in 11 for No. 8 Loyola (15-16), which faces top-seeded Wichita State on Friday.

 

Earl Peterson drilled a 3 to give Loyola a 68-57 lead with 1:07 left and the Ramblers made six free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

 

The game was tied at 29 at the break. Bradley's Antoine Pittman hit a jumper for a 40-39 lead with 15:01 left. Ingram made a layup to retake the lead 41-40 at the 12:54-mark and Loyola never trailed again.

 

Ronnie Suggs led Bradley (5-27) with 15 points.

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Illinois, Illinois State Head To Florida For Weekend

The Illinois Fighting Illini and Illinois State Redbird baseball squads will be in Florida for the weekend.

 

Illionis is in DeLand, Florida for hte Stetson Classic. They open a three-game weekend today at noon taking on Central Michigan.

 

Saturday night at 6 pm, the Illini hit the diamond to take on the Hatters of Stetson and finish the weekend against Villanova Sunday morning at 10 am.

 

The Illini took two of three from Florida Gulf Coast last weekend in Fort Myers, Florida. The Illini are 3-3 on the young season.

 

For the Redbirds, it's the start of an eight day stretch in the Sunshine State. The Redbirds are at the Snowbird Classic and will take on a quartet of Big Ten Schools.

 

The Redbirds open play 

this afternoon at 1:30 pm with Indiana. They are back tomorrow afternoon at 1:30 pm again taking on the Buckeyes of Ohio State.

 

The Rebirds finish out the tournament with a game Sunday morning at 11 am against Northwestern and Tuesday morning contest at 10 am against Michigan State.

 

The Redbirds will play eight games in the eight day stretch.

 

Illinois State is coming of a 1-3 series at No. 9 Oregon last weekend and are 2-5 overall.

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Bruins Double Up Blackhawks

Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand each had a goal and an assist to help lead the Boston Bruins over the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 on Thursday night.

Boston won for the fifth time in seven games and kicked off their toughest stretch of the season with a victory. The Bruins now prepare to face the Washington Capitals, the NHL's points leader, on Saturday, before heading out on the road for six of the next eight games.

 

Ryan Spooner and Loui Eriksson also had goals for Boston. Tuukka Rask made 25 saves and newcomer Lee Stempniak notched two assists.

 

Jonathan Toews and Thomas Fleischmann scored for Chicago, which has dropped three of its last five and 6 of 10, but the Western Conference leaders remained two points ahead of Dallas and St. Louis, who were idle.

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Warriors Roll Thunder, 55-5

Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors matched one record set by Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls as they close in on the bigger mark.

Curry scored 33 points in his return from an ankle injury and the Warriors tied Chicago's NBA record by winning their 44th straight regular-season home game, 121-106 over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night.

 

Kevin Durant scored 32 points, Russell Westbrook had 22 and Serge Ibaka added 20 for the Thunder, who have lost six of eight since the All-Star break.

 

Klay Thompson scored 21 for the Warriors, and Shaun Livingston provided 11 points, eight assists and tough defense on Durant off the bench.

 

The Bulls won 44 consecutive home games from March 30, 1995, until April 4, 1996. That helped them set the record with 72 wins in 1995-96, a mark the Warriors remain on pace to surpass after beating the Thunder for the third time in as many tries this season.

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Scott Piercy, Marcus Fraser Lead At Doral; Leader Board Loaded

Phil Mickelson's scores from Doral over the past two years clearly suggested that the redesigned Blue Monster wasn't completely to his liking.

 

He had to re-learn a course that he played for more than 20 years, and indicated Thursday that he finally has the new Doral figured out.

 

Mickelson shot a 5-under 67 on Thursday in the opening round of the Cadillac Championship, the first World Golf Championships event of the year. Seeking his first win since the British Open in 2013, Mickelson made seven birdies and finished the day one shot back of leaders Scott Piercy and Marcus Fraser.

 

Fraser had seven birdies before his lone bogey of the day, and Piercy also got to 7 under at one point before settling for his 66.

 

Danny Willett, Adam Scott, Jason Dufner and Charley Hoffman were all two shots back of Piercy, each carding 68s. World No. 1 Jordan Spieth was in a group another shot back, three off the pace at 3 under, and said that even on a relatively calm day by Doral weather standards, it felt like a grind.

 

Spieth was in a featured group, with world No. 2 Jason Day and No. 3 Rory McIlroy with him. McIlroy shot 1 under, Day finished at even par.

 

Bubba Watson was part of a three way tie for eighth at three-under par. Rickie Fowler was tied for eleventh at two-under.

 

Defending champion Dustin Johnson shot an even-par 72, putting him in a tie for 28th.

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High School Postseason Scores

Class 1A Sectional semifinals

 

At Bridgeport Red Hill

 

Dieterich  43
Effingham St. Anthony45

 

At Colfax Ridgeview

 

Arcola 47
LeRoy 61

 

Class 2A Sectional Semifinals

 

At Beardstown

 

Pleasant Plains 53
Athens  43

 

At St. Joseph-Ogden

 

Warrensburg-Latham53
Paxton-Buckley-Loda63

 

Class 3A Regional Semifinals

 

At Dunlap

 

Sterling  61
Peoria Richwoods 65

 

At Galesburg

 

Bloomington 84
Limestone 69

 

At Jacksonville (H.S.)

 

Jacksonville44 F-2 OT
Rochester 42

 

At Lincoln

 

Springfield Southeast43
Lincoln  35

 

At Rantoul

 

Mahomet-Seymour 50
Mt. Zion  43

 

At Washington

 

Washington 50
Normal U-High 49

 

Class 4A Regional semifinals:

 

At Alton

 

Alton   46
Chatham-Glenwood) 45
 

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Illinois Football Fills Out Future Schedules

Illinois has filled out some of the gaps in its football schedules between 2019 and 2022 with the addition eight opponents that will include Wyoming and Bowling Green.

Illinois said in a news release Wednesday that it has added home games against Akron and Eastern Michigan in 2019 and Florida Atlantic and Bowling Green in 2020. The 2021 additions are home dates with Texas-San Antonio and Charlotte. And the Illini will host Wyoming and Central Michigan in 2022.

 

All of those schools except Akron will be new opponents for Illinois. And the Illini have faced Akron only once, a win in 1996.

 

The additions complete Illinois schedules through 2019.

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Blackhawks Blast Red Wings

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist 1:24 apart on power plays in the second period and Artemi Panarin scored twice, helping the Chicago Blackhawks rout the Detroit Red Wings 5-2 on Wednesday night.

Kane assisted Panarin on a 5-on-3 goal and scored with a one-man advantage to give Chicago a 3-0 lead. Kane finished with three points, extending his NHL-leading total to 88 to match his career high set during the 2009-10 season.

 

Corey Crawford didn't give up a goal until midway through the third period when Brad Richards scored.

 

Andrew Ladd restored the three-goal lead in the third period in his second game back with the Blackhawks. Panarin scored his second goal 35 seconds later from the top of the left circle off a cross-ice pass from Kane. Brent Seabrook also scored for Chicago.

 

Gustav Nyquist had Detroit's other goal.

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Magic Beat Bulls; Pacers Drop Bucks

Nikola Vucevic scored 24 points, rookie Mario Hezonja added a career-high 21, and the Orlando Magic beat the Chicago Bulls 102-89 on Wednesday night.

Victor Oladipo scored 17 points and Aaron Gordon had 13 points and 15 rebounds as Orlando coasted to an easy win. Elfrid Payton had nine points and 12 assists.

 

Derrick Rose led Chicago with 16 points, all in the first half. Pau Gasol had 12 points and Doug McDermott was the only other Bulls player in double figures with 11.

 

Both teams were on the second game of back-to-backs and it looked it. Orlando hit only 40.2 percent, while Chicago shot just 38.4 percent from the field.

 

>>Pacers Beat Bucks

 

After collecting just three points through the first three quarters, Rodney Stuckey scored 12 straight in the fourth to extend Indiana's lead to double digits over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night. Stuckey's outburst came right after Milwaukee's Greg Monroe had scored 11 straight to start the quarter and cut Indiana's lead to six.

 

The Pacers survived a last-minute rally to defeat the Bucks 104-99 to end a three-game losing streak.

 

Jordan Hill had 19 points and Paul George had 15 and a game-high 10 rebounds for Indiana, which had seven players score in double figures.

 

Stuckey was part of an Indiana bench that outscored Milwaukee's 47-27. The bench scored 21 of the Pacers' 31 fourth-quarter points.

 

Khris Middleton had 23 points to pace the Bucks, who have lost three of four. Giannis Antetokounmpo added 22 and Jabari Parker 18 for Milwaukee.

 

The Bucks rallied late. Jerryd Bayless was fouled as he made a slashing layup with 16.4 seconds. His free throw cut Indiana's lead to three. George missed two free throws with 14.9 remaining. After a timeout, Middleton's 3-point attempt clanked off the rim with 5.9 seconds left.

Solomon Hill hit two free throws to give Indiana a five-point margin and seal the win.

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Stars Turning Out For This Weekend's Cadillac Championship

The Florida swing continues this week at Trump National Doral with the first WGC event of 2016 and second of the season. Dustin Johnson is the defending champion and is among 48 of the top 50 in the world to be at this weekend's event.

Only The Player's Championship has a bigger payout than this weekend's $9.5-million among non-major tournaments. 

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Michigan State Routes Rutgers

Bryn Forbes scored a career-high 33 points, hitting a Big Ten Conference record 11 3-pointers, and No. 2 Michigan State woke up in the second half to rout Rutgers 97-66 on Wednesday night, handing the Scarlet Knights their 17th straight loss.

Eron Harris added 15 points and Denzel Valentine 14 for the Spartans, who made 16 3-pointers.

If Michigan State beats Ohio State on Saturday in its regular-season finale it will earn a double bye in the conference's upcoming tournament and the No. 2 seed.

 

Corey Sanders, who was returning from a four-game suspension, had 19 points for Rutgers (6-23, 0-17). The Scarlet Knights have now lost 32 consecutive conference games dating to last season.

Rutgers needs to beat Minnesota, the second worst team in the conference, to avoid a winless season in the league.

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Auburn DE Transfers To Illinois

Illinois has confirmed that defensive end Gimel President is transferring from Auburn to Illinois.

 

Coach Bill Cubit said Tuesday the 6-4, 265-pound graduate transfer will be eligible to play this fall.

President played in 25 games over the past three seasons for Auburn including 10 starts. He played in 10 games last season and had 12 tackles and two sacks.

 

Cubit called President "a terrific addition to our defensive line" who should add maturity and make "an immediate impact."

 

President sat out the 2012 season as a redshirt. He is from Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.

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Cubs Name Arrieta Opening Day Starter

As expected, NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta will start the Chicago Cubs' season opener.

 

Manager Joe Maddon joked that he had "another surprise" in making the announcement on Tuesday. The Cubs, coming off a 97-win season and appearance in the NL Championship Series, open at the Los Angeles Angels on April 4.

Arrieta led the majors in wins while going 22-6 and posting a 1.77 ERA last year. His ERA after the All-Star break was 0.75.

 

The right-hander went 11-0 over his final 12 starts, and he finished with 236 strikeouts. Arrieta also tossed a no-hitter and beat out Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw for the Cy Young.

Arrieta started the 2012 opener for Baltimore. Jon Lester started the Cubs' opener last year.

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Heat Roll Bulls

Hassan Whiteside scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, Joe Johnson added 24 points in his Miami home debut and the Heat set a franchise record by shooting 67.5 percent on the way to rolling past the Chicago Bulls 129-111 on Tuesday night.

Luol Deng scored 20, Dwyane Wade had 18 and Goran Dragic finished with 17 points and 11 assists for Miami. The previous Heat record for shooting percentage in a regular-season game was 63.4 percent on Dec. 16, 2013, against Utah.

 

Chicago was within 108-102 with 5:14 left, before Miami finished on a 21-9 run. No team had shot better in an NBA game this season than the 61.8 percent posted by San Antonio against Philadelphia on Dec. 7.

 

Derrick Rose scored 17 points for Chicago.

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Shootout Sends Blues Past Senators, Tie Chicago, Dallas Atop Central Division

Patrick Berglund scored the shootout winner in the 11th round and the Blues beat the Senators 4-3 on Tuesday night.

 

The Blues are tied with the Chicago Blackhawks and the Dallas Stars with 83 points in the Central.

 

Trailing 3-0, the Senators scored three unanswered goals to force overtime, including a goal by Jean-Gabriel Pageau with less than a second left in the third period.

 

Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson made 28 saves on 31 shots before leaving the game at the 13:41 mark of the second period.

 

Andrew Hammond stopped 17 shots in relief of Anderson and made a number of huge saves to keep the Senators in the game. It was Hammond's first appearance since Feb. 11.

Ryan Dzingel also scored for Ottawa.

 

Jaden Schwartz, with a goal and two assists, led the Blues, while Dmitrij Jaskin and Vladimir Tarasenko also scored. Jake Allen stopped 40 shots.

 

The Blues are without G Brian Elliott (lower body), Steve Ott (hamstring), Alexander Steen (upper body) and Jori Lehtera (upper body). D Robert Bortuzzo was a healthy scratch.

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Yankees' Chapman Gets 30 Game Suspension; World Series MVP Gets Raise

Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman has been suspended 30 games without pay by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and will not appeal the decision. The suspension occurs under MLB's new domestic violence policy and stems from an alleged incident in October 2015.

In that incident, for which he will not face criminal charges, Chapman admitted to firing eight shots in the garage of his Miami home, and he also allegedly pushed and choked his girlfriend.

 

C

hapman will lose roughly $1.7 million in salary while serving his suspension. He'll be allowed to pitch and work out with the team and pitch in spring training games. He will not be allowed to play during the regular season until May 9. Per ESPN's Jayson Stark, Chapman would be eligible to return May 9 even if they Yankees have one or more games rained out/postponed before that date. More:

 

In a statement Chapman said the decision was made to not appeal the suspension to minizime distractions. He added he did not harm his girlfriend in the incident but should have used better judgement.

 

>>World Series MVP Gets Raise

 

Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan reports that the Royals and catcher Salvador Perez have reworked his contract to keep him in Kansas City through the 2021 season. Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the new Perez deal is for $52.5 million over five years.

 

Perez, 25, had been signed to a deep-bargain contract that allowed the Royals to control him through 2019 at a cost of just $16.75 million from 2016-19. Perez enters the 2016 season with roughly $5 million in career earnings. This new contract replaces the latter years of the previous one and, per Passan, will guarantee Perez at least $30 million.

 

Perez, 25, owns a career line of .279/.306/.431 (100 OPS+) across parts of five big-league seasons. He's coming off a 2015 season in which he hit 21 homers for the champion Royals. Perez is also regarded as a skilled handler of pitchers. He's a three-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner and last year was named World Series MVP.

 

For the upcoming season, the SportsLine projection system tabs Perez for a line of .249/.278/.407 with 22 home runs in 610 at-bats.

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Hoosiers Clinch Outright Big Ten Title

The thought of Indiana winning even a sliver of the Big Ten title seemed far-fetched in January.

After two months of inspired and unexpectedly stellar play, the Hoosiers have claimed the crown all for themselves.

 

Yogi Ferrell had 20 points, including a crucial 3 with 37 seconds, and No. 12 Indiana clinched its second outright Big Ten title in four years by holding off No. 16 Iowa 81-78 on Tuesday night.

Troy Williams had 15 points for the Hoosiers (24-6, 14-3), who will be the No. 1 seed in next week's conference tournament.

 

Iowa fell behind by as many as 14 points before a 24-8 run put it back in front 74-72. The Hawkeyes then got the ball back with 6 seconds left down 3, but Peter Jok's potential game-tying 3 grazed the rim.

 

Jarrod Uthoff had 18 points to lead the reeling Hawkeyes (20-9, 11-6), who have lost five of six after a 10-1 start in the Big Ten.

 

A spirited late run, capped by consecutive 3s by Nicholas Baer, tied it at 70. Jok's scoop shot finally put the Hawkeyes back in front with 4:27 left.

 

But the Hawkeyes went cold down the stretch yet again, missing nine straight shots at one point. A 3 by Clemmons and a steal by Christian Williams gave them a shot at overtime, but Clemmons air-balled a 3 and Jok missed an open look from the corner.

 

Clemmons had 14 points for Iowa.

 

Thomas Bryant scored 12 points with 10 rebounds, and Nick Zeisloft had 11 points for Indiana.

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UPDATED: Sages Run Ends at Sectionals

St. Joseph Ogden opened Tuesday night's Class 2A sectional semifinal on a 17-2 run and never looked back as they routed Monticello 79-54 from St. Joseph Ogden High School.

Brandon Trimble had 14 first quarter points and finished with a game high 29 as the Spartans missed just two first half fields goals.

Jake Pence and Kohlton Johnson added 12 apiece for St. Joseph Ogden and Aaron Schluter added 11 points.

Zach Fisher led Monticello with 24 points and Isiah Florey finished with 16 points.

Monticello finishes their season 17-9 overall.

The Spartans will take on the winner of Wednesday night's game between Warrensburg-Latham and Paxton-Buckley-Loda.

 

Class 2A Sectional Semifinal action from Tuesday:

 

At Beardstown

 

Williamsville 54
Quincy Notre Dame 62

 

Class 1A Sectional semifinal action from Tuesday:

 

At Ridgeview

 

Ridgeview  70
Catlin Salt Fork 46

 

At Ottawa (Marquette)

 

Flanagan-Cornell  69
Chicago St. Francis de Sales 50

 

Class 3A Regional semifinal action from Tuesday night:

 

At Dunlap

 

Metamora 53
Peoria Notre Dame 40

 

At Jacksonville

 

Springfield Lanphier 91
Springfield 59

 

At Lincoln

 

Decatur MacArthur 56
Decatur Eisenhower 60

 

At Mattoon

 

Champaign Central 77
Mattoon  49

 

At Rantoul

 

Rantoul 78
Urbana 62

 

At Washington

 

Peoria Manual 76
Peoria             51

 

Class 4A Regional semifinal action Tuesday:

 

At Normal Community

 

East Moline United 53 OT
Normal Community 47

 

Champaign Centennial41
Normal  West 42

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Sages Boys Basketball On WEZC Tonight

Coming off the school's third regional title in four years Friday night, the Monticello Sages take on long-time rival, St. Joseph-Ogden at the St. Joe-Ogden Sectional tonight.

The Sages dominated Decatur St. Teresa and Meridian en route to a Regional title at the Argenta-Oreana Regional.

 

The winner of tonight's game meets the winner of Wednesday's game between Warrensburg-Latham/Paxton-Buckley-Loda.

 

Hear tonight's action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. Game time is 7 pm.

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Bears Franchise Tag Alshon Jeffery

The Chicago Bears have placed the franchise tag on top receiver Alshon Jeffery.

With the move announced Monday, Jeffery is due just under $14.6 million next season. He has until July 15 to reach a multiyear deal with the Bears, or he must play next season under the tag.

 

The move comes on the heels of an injury-plagued year in which he led the team with 807 yards despite being limited to nine games. Jeffery played in all 16 games the previous two years, finishing with 1,421 yards in 2013 and 1,133 in 2014.

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Kansas No. 1 in Polls, Beats Texas For Outright Big 12 Title

Kansas has taken over as the new No. 1 team in the country after a week of competitive conference play put the AP Top 25 through a blender, emerging with many of the same ingredients and a slightly different look. The Jayhawks received 63 of the potential 65 first-place votes (Michigan State took the other two) on the way to re-taking a spot they held for two weeks in January.

Seven of the top ten teams in last week's poll lost this week, but the shake up didn't really do a ton to change the perspective of the AP voters in terms of college basketball's pecking order. Sure, Villanova's loss to Xavier dropped the Wildcats out of that No. 1 spot the program was exhilarated to hold, but Jay Wright's team is still in the top five at No. 3.

Arizona and Iowa dropped nine spots and eight spots, respectively, but remained in the rankings while while Utah was one of the biggest risers, up nine spots to No. 13. Only one team dropped out of the poll: Notre Dame, ranked No. 23 last week, dropped out of the poll, making room for a Cal, the polls only new addition at No. 25.

So while college basketball seems crazier than ever with ranked teams losing in these competitive conference games at the end of February, the top teams have already separated themselves. Now the fun begins outside the polls and in the brackets, where seeding and matchups will determine the chances of title contention.

Over the last week, Kansas has beat Baylor on the road and Texas Tech at home to clinch its 12th-straight Big 12 title. And with that, the Jayhawks have now ascended to the top spot in the coaches poll this week.

Kansas garnered 31 of the 32 possible first-place votes in the poll to become the new No. 1. Villanova, after losing to Xavier over the weekend, only fell one spot to No. 2, followed by Michigan State at No. 3, Virginia at No. 4, and Xavier at No. 5. Below them comes Oklahoma, Miami and North Carolina, meaning five of the top-eight teams in the country are coming off of a loss last week.

That's just the reality of this college basketball season, at this point.

The biggest mover in the poll this week was Utah, who jumped from No. 23 to No. 13 after beating the Arizona schools at home. More than their performance over the last week, this seems to be a reassessment of what the Utes have done this season. Utah is sitting just a half-game behind No. 10 Oregon in the Pac-12 standings, and very well may end up winning the league if they can hold their home floor against Colorado given that Oregon has a tough trip to Los Angeles this weekend.

On the other side of the ledger, Iowa and Arizona were the two biggest fallers of the weekend after losing a pair of games last week. Iowa fell seven spots to No. 15 after losing to Wisconsin and Ohio State, and Arizona dropped to No. 16 after being defeated in a pair of road games. Notre Dame, Dayton and Providence also fell out of the rankings, and were replaced by Wichita State, Saint Mary's and California in the final three spots.

Perry Ellis scored 20 points and top-ranked Kansas rolled over No. 23 Texas 86-56 on Monday night, an emphatic exclamation point that clinched the outright Big 12 championship for the Jayhawks.

Kansas had already earned at least a share of a 12th straight crown and settled the question of whether they would get to claim it as their own in the opening minutes with a barrage of 3-pointers, a steady diet of points from Ellis and defense that gave Texas nothing easy.

The Jayhawks (26-4, 14-3) made 11 3-pointers, led by 24 points by halftime and sent Texas' sellout home crowd headed to the exits early. Ellis finished 9 of 11 from the field.

Frank Mason III added 14 points for Kansas.

Javan Felix scored 13 points for Texas (19-11, 10-7), which has never beaten a No. 1-ranked opponent in nine tries.

The Longhorns' offense stalled mostly because Isaiah Taylor never got started. The point guard has been the catalyst for Texas all season - he's their leading scorer - but started 0-for-8 shooting and missed several open looks. Taylor didn't score until making a steal and a layup with 1:26 left in the first half.

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Cavs Edge Pacers

LeBron James scored 33 points after sitting out a game and Tristan Thompson made two huge plays in the final minute, leading Cleveland to a 100-96 win over the Indiana Pacers on Monday night.

 

Matthew Dellavedova hit a tying 3-pointer for the Cavs with 1:13 left before Thompson, who was replaced in the starting lineup by Timofey Mozgov, scored underneath off a pass from James to make it 96-94 with 18 seconds remaining. Thompson then came across the lane to block a short shot by George Hill.

 

Kyrie Irving made four free throws in the last eight seconds to put away the Pacers. Irving finished with 22 points - he went 11 of 11 from the line - and Thompson added 11 rebounds for the Cavs.

Monta Ellis scored 28 points and George had 23 for the Pacers, who lost their third straight but played much better than in a loss to Portland on Sunday.

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Rangers Edge Blue Jackets

Derek Stepan's short-handed goal snapped a tie with 2:48 to play and Raanta preserved the win with a last-second save to lead the Rangers to a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night.

 

Mats Zuccarello also scored and Antii Raanta made 26 saves in giving the Rangers their 13th win in 18 games (13-4-1). Henrik Lundqvist's backup denied Cam Atkinson on the doorstep with less than a second remaining to preserve the victory.

 

Atkinson scored his 20th goal of the season and Joonas Korpisalo had 22 saves for Columbus, which finished 7-3-3 in February.

 

Raanta nursed a 1-0 lead into the third period until Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi made a horrible cross-ice pass at the point that Atkinson intercepted, giving him a clear run at the net.

Raanta stopped the initial shot but Atkinson slammed home the rebound to tie it.

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