>>Monticello Girls Basketball Hosts Warrensburg-Latham Tonight
The Monticello Lady Sages will play host to the Warrensburg-Latham Lady Cardinals tonight at Monticello High at 7:30 pm in non-conference girls basketball action.
The Lady Sages defeat Decatur St. Teresa 49-37 Saturday afternoon and are 6-0 on the season.
The Lady Sages will host Mattoon Saturday before taking a nine day hiatus and returning to action for the annual Holiday Hoopla at Monticello High School December 28-30.
Hear tonight's action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailyews.com.
>>WEZC Sets Monticello Holiday Hoopla Coverage
The Monticello Holiday Hoopla Schedule has been set and you can hear five games across the three day event on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.
The Holiday Hoopla features a two four-team pool with a boys and girls schedule.
Starting Thursday morning at 11:30 am, the boys squad will take on Argenta-Oreana, then return to action at 7:30 pm to take on Tuscola.
On Friday afternoon at 2 pm, the girls squad takes on Ridgeview then at 3:30 pm hear the boys squad take on Ridgeview.
Action concludes Saturday with placement games with tip times to be determined.
The opposite pool of the boys tournament includes GCMS, Neoga, PBL, and Fithian-Oakwood.
Hear all the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.
>>Illinois Routs Longwood
Aaron Jordan scored 22 points, Trent Frazier added 20, and Illinois beat Longwood 92-45 on Wednesday night.
Michael Finke scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds. He hit the first basket of the game on a baseline jumper, buried his first two shots from downtown, and scored 14 of his 19 points in the first half.
The Lancers held a 12-10 lead with roughly 12 minutes remaining in the first half, but after a 3 by Finke, Longwood would never take the lead again. Illinois finished the half on an 18-4 run and entered the break with a 26-point lead.
Jordan, who leads the Illini with 29 made 3-pointers, was 4 of 8 from beyond the arc.
Illinois (8-4) outrebounded Longwood 52 to 23 and shot 51.4 percent in the first half.
Longwood (3-7) committed 24 turnovers and struggled to operate under Illinois' pressure. The Lancers shot 34 percent from the field, 31.3 percent from beyond the arc and hit 16 field goals.
JaShaun Smith scored 10 points for the Lancers (3-7). Leading scorer Isaiah Walton, averaging 18.9 points per game, was held to four points in 14 minutes before leaving the game with a lower leg injury.
The Illini will have a few days off before heading to Chicago on Saturday. Illinois is scheduled to face New Mexico in the Dynegy Shootout.
>>Bradley Blasts Arkansa-Little Rock
Donte Thomas scored 12 points to lead five in double figures as Bradley shot 61 percent from the floor to rout Little Rock 86-46 on Wednesday night.
Bradley (8-2) bounced back from a 75-52 loss at San Diego State on Sunday, and improved to 6-0 at home while allowing the fewest points by an opponent this season.
Nate Kennell, Darrell Brown, Luuk van Bree and Ryan Stipanovich each added 11 points for the Braves, who made 31 of 51 field goals, including 10 3-pointers. Brown had five of the Braves' 21 assists.
Bradley entered with the nation's eighth-ranked defense at 59.9 points per game, and forced 20 Little Rock turnovers.
Cameron Corcoran scored 14 points and Jaizec Lottie chipped in 12 for Little Rock (2-8), which shot 35.6 percent (16 of 45) from the field. The Trojans made 9 of 25 (36 percent) from beyond the arc, just the second team to shoot over 30 percent from 3-point range against the Braves this season.
>>Bulls Stay Hot, Edge Jazz
Nikola Mirotic scored 29 points, Kris Dunn hit a clutch jumper with 22 seconds left and the Chicago Bulls beat the Utah Jazz 103-100 on Wednesday night for their fourth straight victory.
Mirotic made 11 of 18 shots from the field and grabbed nine rebounds in his best performance since he returned last week after missing the start of the season with facial fractures. The 6-foot-10 forward got hurt in a practice fight with teammate Bobby Portis, throwing the future of both players in question, but the Bulls are perfect since Mirotic returned to the court.
Robin Lopez added 16 points for Chicago, and Dunn finished with 13 points, eight assists and eight rebounds. Portis scored each of his nine points in the fourth after he got off to a slow start.
Donovan Mitchell led Utah with 32 points on 15-for-26 shooting, but the Jazz dropped their fourth straight game. Rodney Hood scored 15 points after missing the previous seven games with left ankle soreness.
Mitchell's driving layup trimmed Chicago's lead to 98-96 with 1:28 left. Following a couple of empty possessions, Dunn made a stepback jumper over Alec Burks to restore the Bulls' four-point advantage.
Chicago struggled at the line in the final seconds, giving Utah one final chance. But Mitchell missed a running 3-point try as time expired.
Ricky Rubio added 14 points for Utah, which has dropped the first two on a six-game road trip. Burks finished with 13 points.
Chicago played without rookie forward Lauri Markkanen, who missed his second straight game due to back spasms. Markkanen, who is averaging 14.7 points and 8.1 rebounds, was originally listed in the starting lineup, but was replaced by Mirotic shortly before the game.
Utah trailed by as many 12 in the second quarter, but closed the half with a 17-6 run and kept up its solid play at the start of the third. Jonas Jerebko's reverse layup with 7:06 left gave the Jazz a 63-58 lead, leading to a timeout by the Bulls.
The Bulls visit Milwaukee on Friday night.
>>Thunder Beat Pacers in Geogre's Return to Indiana
On a night the four-time All-Star was repeatedly booed and couldn't seem to make a shot, Paul George finally sunk two free throws with 10.7 seconds left Wednesday to seal Oklahoma City's 100-95 victory at Indiana.
George went 3 of 14 from the field, 2 of 7 on 3-pointers, had two rebounds and four turnovers. But spurned fans who are still upset George's camp went public with his free agent intentions last summer made sure the box score was the most pleasant part of George's night.
Steven Adams finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds while reigning MVP Russell Westbrook recorded his ninth triple-double of the season - 10 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists.
Victor Oladipo, one of the returning pieces in the George trade with Oklahoma City, led Indiana with 19 points and nearly brought them all the way back from an 11-point deficit with 5:16 left. The Pacers got to 96-94 with 1:07 to go and had a chance to tie it when they got the ball with 15.2 seconds left and down 98-95.
Bojan Bogdanovic had 15 points while Thaddeus Young had 11 points, 10 rebounds and seven steals.
Domentas Sabonis, the other player the Pacers acquired for George, wound up with eight points and six rebounds.
The Pacers host Detroit on Friday, seeking a seventh straight home win in the series.
Not long after missing out on Giancarlo Stanton, the Cardinals have reportedly acquired a different hard-hitting Marlins outfielder: on Wednesday, St. Louis reportedly completed a trade for Marcell Ozuna. Craig Mish of Sirius XM and Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com have each reported that the deal is done, pending a physical.
Ozuna, 27, is coming off an excellent 2017 in which he slashed .312/.376/.548 (145 OPS+) with 37 home runs in 159 games. In trading for Ozuna, the Cardinals are betting that he's capable of repeating such a breakout performance, as he had a career OPS+ of 103 coming into last season.
It's expected they'll be receiving multiple pitching prospects and at least one position prospect. Jon Heyman reports that right-hander Sandy Alcantara is one of those arms. The 22-year-old right-hander made eight relief appearances for the Cardinals last season. He has elite fastball and sinker velocity and also mixes in a hard slider.
If Alcantara continues making progress with his changeup, then he may have a future as a rotation cornerstone (of his 72 minor-league appearances, 68 were starts).
The Marlins will also reportedly acquire outfield prospect Magneuris Sierra.
>>Kane Lifts Blackhawks Past Panthers
Patrick Kane scored 2:24 into overtime to lift the Chicago Blackhawks to their third straight win, 3-2 over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.
Kane gained a step on Florida's Mike Matheson, broke in on James Reimer and beat the goalie with a high shot on the stick side for his 11th goal.
Chicago captain Jonathan Toews tied it at 2 with 6:02 left in the third period, breaking in alone and also beating Reimer high on the stick side after a terrific pass from Brandon Saad. It was Toews' third goal in five games and No. 9 on the season.
Toews and Saad each had a goal and an assist. Blackhawks rookie Alex DeBrincat added two assists.
Nick Bjugstad scored in the second for Florida, and Jamie McGinn put the Panthers in front with his fifth of the season 3:53 into the third. Reimer made 25 saves.
Corey Crawford had 35 stops for the Blackhawks, who had lost five in a row before their win streak.
The Blackhawks had the better chances in the first and broke through when Saad opened the scoring with 3:11 left in the period.
Saad partially fanned on a one-timer at the edge of the crease after taking DeBrincat's nifty feed from behind the net, but the puck slid in past Reimer's outstretched left skate.
Bjugstad tied it 11:12 into the second when he beat Crawford low on the stick side on a breakaway. Bjugstad got the puck behind Chicago's defense after Aleksander Barkov flipped it from inside the Panthers zone.
Chicago center Artem Anisimov missed on a point-blank chance late in the second, and McGinn scored in the third after the Blackhawks lost control of the puck just inside their blue line.
McGinn skated in for a 2-on-1 with Vincent Trochek, and then found himself alone on the left side of the crease after Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook fell down. He beat Crawford on the short side, lifting a shot between the goalie's right shoulder and the left post.
After Toews tied it, Anisimov tipped a shot off the post with two minutes left in regulation.
The Blackhawks visit Winnipeg on Wednesday.
>>Lightning Blank Blues
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 32 shots, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point scored and the Lightning beat the St. Louis Blues 3-0 on Tuesday night in a matchup of the NHL's top two teams.
Tyler Johnson added an empty netter as Tampa Bay (22-6-2) earned its fifth straight win. It was Vasilevskiy's third shutout of the season and the seventh of his career.
Jake Allen made 22 saves for St. Louis, which had won four in a row. The Blues (21-9-2) were shut out for the third time at home this season.
Point put Tampa Bay in front when he lifted in a rebound of his own shot at 19:15 of the first period. From the side of the net, Johnson fed Point in the slot. His shot hit the crossbar and caromed to the right. Point alertly followed the puck and extended his point streak to five games, setting a career high.
Vasilevskiy had several nice saves, turning away Vladimir Tarasenko on a 2-on-1 breakaway in the second period. Vasilevskiy leads the league in wins with 20, and Allen is second with 17.
The Lightning got to Allen again when Kucherov scored on a wrist shot at 15:37 of the final period. It was his 21st goal of the season.
The Blues host Anaheim on Thursday.
>>Rodgers Cleared To Play
Aaron Rodgers has been "medically cleared to return" to action after missing seven games with a broken right collarbone, the Green Bay Packers quarterback announced on Instagram Tuesday night.
Rodgers was hurt during a loss to Minnesota on Oct. 15 and had surgery four days later. He returned to practice on Dec. 2 and is eligible to rejoin the 53-man roster on Friday, which means the two-time MVP could suit up for Green Bay's game at Carolina on Sunday.
"It's been a long road ... but I'm happy to say I've been medically cleared to return," Rodgers wrote on Tuesday night.
The Packers (7-6) likely need to win their final three games to make the playoffs.
Rodgers had his collarbone scanned on Monday morning. That afternoon, with the team in the middle of game-planning for Carolina, coach Mike McCarthy wasn't sure whether Rodgers or backup Brett Hundley would be his quarterback.
The Packers were 4-2 in Rodgers' six starts, including the Minnesota game, where he was hurt on the second possession on a hit by Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr. In the three prior games, he threw 10 touchdown passes with only one interception in in consecutive victories over Cincinnati, Chicago and Dallas.
After playing the Panthers, who at 9-4 are in position for the top NFC wild card, the Packers have a rematch against NFC North-leading Minnesota before finishing the season at Detroit. Green Bay's final three opponents have a combined record of 26-13.
The Packers went 3-4 in Hundley's seven starts, including back-to-back overtime wins over Tampa Bay and Cleveland that kept their playoff hopes alive and made Rodgers' return a tantalizing possibility.
>>Former Bears Special Teams Star, Devin Hester, Announces Retirement
Devin Hester, the all-purpose speedster who holds the NFL record for kick return touchdowns with 20, has announced his retirement from the NFL.
In a post on social media, the 35-year-old Hester said had realized it was time .
"Good news: Commissioner Goodell, you can put the kickoff back at the 30," Hester wrote. "Bad news: Y'all will have to find a new favorite returner."
Hester played for Atlanta, Baltimore and Seattle, but his best years were with the Chicago Bears, which took him in the second round (57th overall) out of Miami in 2006. At the end of his rookie season, he took the opening kickoff of the Super Bowl 92 yards for a touchdown against Indianapolis, though the Colts won the game.
He is the third-leading punt returner in NFL history and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2014.
>>Cubs Announce Signing of RP Brandon Morrow
Brandon Morrow has agreed to a two-year contract with the Chicago Cubs, taking one of the top free-agent relievers off the market.
The 33-year-old Morrow went 6-0 with a 2.06 ERA and two saves in 45 appearances for the NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers last season. He also pitched in 14 playoff games, helping the Dodgers eliminate the Cubs in the NLCS.
Morrow could step into the closer role for Chicago. Wade Davis had a career-high 32 saves for the Cubs and made the NL All-Star team this year, but he is a free agent.
Morrow's contract includes a 2020 club option that could become guaranteed depending on his performance.
The Cubs also announced Tuesday night they had agreed to a two-year deal with left-hander Drew Smyly. He is recovering from Tommy John surgery in June and might not be able to return next season.
>>Cubs Extend Radio Announcer Ron Coomer
Chicago Cubs radio analyst Ron Coomer has agreed to a multiyear contract extension.
The team and Entercom, the company that owns its flagship radio station, announced the agreement on Tuesday.
The 51-year-old Coomer has been working alongside play-by-play announcer Pat Hughes since 2013. Primarily a corner infielder during his nine major league seasons, he made the All-Star team with the Minnesota Twins in 1999 and played for the Cubs in 2001.
Coomer is from the Chicago area.
>>Hyped Prospect Ohtani Could Have Damage in Pitching Elbow
Last Friday, new broke that the Angels were the team that landed Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani. The two-way star wants to keep hitting, but most teams were after him for his pitching, which includes a 102-mph fastball in his arsenal. Interestingly, Ohtani's medicals included news that he had a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right (pitching) elbow back in October.
From Tom Verducci at Sports Illustrated:
Quote - "MLB circulated Ohtani's medical history. Sources from two of the teams say the report included a notation that Ohtani underwent a platelet-rich plasma injection on his right elbow in October".
Having PRP injection sometimes helps pitchers avoid Tommy John surgery (Masahiro Tanaka comes to mind), but could also be used just to deal with inflammation. In Ohtani's case, he had a first-degree sprain in his ulnar collateral ligament, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.
The Angels released a statement late Tuesday night about their newest acquisition. Per USA Today's Bob Nightengale via Twitter:
Quote - "Angels statement on Ohtani/ Based on the readings of the MRI’s there are no signs of acute or new trauma in the elbow. His elbow looked consistent with pitchers at his age and usage level. We were pleased with the results of the physical and we are happy to have the player."
Ohtani only made five starts last season due to thigh and ankle injuries. He was 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings. In 2016, he was 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA and 174 strikeouts in 140 innings.