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Nebraska Holds Off Illinois

James Palmer Jr. hit a 3-pointer just before the buzzer to give Nebraska a 64-63 win over Illinois on Monday night.
 
Michael Finke had converted a 4-point play with 8.1 seconds left to give Illinois the lead. After a Nebraska timeout, Isaac Copeland inbounded to Glynn Watson Jr., who found Palmer on the left wing for the winning shot.
 
The Huskers had led 61-57 with under a minute to play when Palmer dunked off a steal. But Finke scored in close on Illinois' next possession, and after Palmer missed the front end of a one-and-one, Illinois called timeout with 18.7 seconds left. Finke hit his 3 in front of the Illini bench, got fouled by Isaiah Roby and made the free throw for what looked to be the play that would give Illinois its first Big Ten win under first-year coach Brad Underwood.
 
Palmer finished with 24 points on 10-of-19 shooting after a dismal 1-for-9 outing in a loss at Penn State on Friday. Evan Taylor added 13 for the Huskers (13-7, 4-3 Big Ten).
 
Trent Frazier scored 19 points, Finke added 16 and Leron Black had 13 for the Illini (10-9, 0-6), who are winless in six true road games.
 
Illinois visits Wisconsin on Friday.

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Villanova Still No. 1 In Country

Michigan State suffered its second loss in three games on Saturday. A combination of too many turnovers and a stalling offense has jolted Sparty into a funk that has blown the Big Ten race wide open, allowing Purdue and Ohio State to take firm control atop the standings just one-third of the way into league play.
 
The result for Michigan State after a disappointing week is a free fall in the latest AP Top 25, dropping from No. 4 to No. 9 after going 1-1 and falling by double digits to Michigan at home this week. There's silver lining for Spartans fans: there's not a ranked opponent on the schedule until Purdue comes to town on Feb. 10.
 
Purdue looks like it might be the best team in the conference and a national title contender. Winners of 13 straight, the Boilermakers are 6-0 in the Big Ten, tied for first with Ohio State, and now up to No. 3 in the AP Top 25, behind top-ranked Villanova and No. 2 Virginia.
 
The top five of the USA Today coaches poll released on Monday is completely revamped.
 
After last week's second and fourth ranked teams lost this weekend, the new order -- which again begins with Villanova at No. 1 -- is Virginia, Purdue, Wichita State and Duke to round out the new-look top five.
 
Trailing closely behind in the six through 10 slots are four Big 12 teams and the struggling Spartans: No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 7 West Virginia, No. 8 Texas Tech, No. 9 Michigan State and No. 10 Kansas.
 
New to the coaches poll this week is Ohio State and Michigan, both of which have notched wins over Michigan State over the past eight days to fuel momentum in Big Ten play. The Buckeyes improved to 6-0 in the league with a win over Rutgers on Sunday -- good for a first-place tie in the standings alongside Purdue while Michigan bounced back with a 1-point loss to Purdue last Tuesday with its best win on the season Saturday over Michigan State.
 

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Bulls, Pacers Win Monday

Victor Oladipo scored 28 points and the Indiana Pacers shot 54 percent from 3-point range in a 109-94 win over the Utah Jazz on Monday.
 
Oladipo got going late in the second quarter during a 15-2 run that gave Indiana a 14-point lead. Then his back-to-back buckets early in the third capped a 9-0 surge to push the advantage to 67-47. He also had six rebounds and six assists.
 
Domantas Sabonis finished with 15 points and eight rebounds for the Pacers, and Thaddeus Young scored 17.
 
Donovan Mitchell scored 23 for the struggling Jazz, while Derrick Favors added 16 points and seven rebounds. Utah has lost 15 of 19.
 
The Jazz put themselves in a hole with seven first-quarter turnovers, but rallied with a 14-0 spurt in the second to cut the deficit to 38-37. They never got that close again.
 
The Pacers were efficient on offense all night, shooting 53 percent from the field and 14 of 26 from 3-point territory. Indiana is 15-0 when shooting better than 50 percent.
 
Myles Turner did not play due to a ligament sprain and muscle strain in his right elbow. He will not play the remaining three games of the road trip.
 
The Pacers travel to face Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday.

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Pirates Trade McCutchen To Giants

The rebuild is officially on in Pittsburgh.
 
On Monday, two days after sending Gerrit Cole to the Houston Astros, the Pittsburgh Pirates have traded franchise player Andrew McCutchen and cash to the San Francisco Giants for right-handed pitcher Kyle Crick, outfielder Bryan Reynolds, and international bonus pool money. The Pirates confirmed the trade on Twitter.
 
Earlier this offseason the Giants were in on Giancarlo Stanton -- they agreed to a trade with the Miami Marlins only to have Stanton veto it with his no-trade clause -- so it was no secret they wanted to upgrade their outfield. In fact, prior to the McCutchen deal, FanGraphs projected San Francisco to have the worst outfield in baseball. 
 
McCutchen was one of several Pirates players who figured to be on the move in the wake of the Cole trade. He had been on the trade block since last offseason, and the Giants had been interested in him for weeks.
 
In addition to McCutchen, the Giants have also added Evan Longoria this offseason, so they've acquired two players who were the faces of their old franchise. 

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Red Wings Blank Blackhawks

Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi each had a goal and an assist, and the Detroit Red Wings beat the sloppy Chicago Blackhawks 4-0 on Sunday.
 
Dylan Larkin and Mike Green also scored for Detroit, which had dropped two in a row after a four-game win streak. Petr Mrazek made 27 saves in his second shutout of the season and 12th of his career.
 
Bertuzzi, the nephew of former NHL forward Todd Bertuzzi, made it 4-0 when he punched in his first career goal on a rebound 13:37 into the third period. He also has five assists in 10 games this season.
 
The Red Wings (18-18-7) played without forwards Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm, who were sidelined by lower-body injuries after they got hurt during Saturday's 4-1 loss at Pittsburgh. Dominic Turgeon, the son of former NHL star Pierre Turgeon, made his NHL debut after he was promoted from Grand Rapids of the AHL.
 
Chicago (22-17-6) had won three of four, including a 2-1 victory against Central Division-leading Winnipeg on Friday night. But the Blackhawks looked sluggish for most of their final game before their bye week.
 
Detroit grabbed control with a pair of goals in a 2:10 span in the first period.
 
First, Andreas Athanasiou drove to the net before throwing the puck in front to Larkin, who knocked it in for his seventh of the season. Mantha then made a great pass to a trailing Green, who sent a one-timer past Jeff Glass at 6:18.
 
Chicago killed off three power-play chances for Detroit in the second, but was unable to put much pressure on Mrazek. The Red Wings then iced the game when Mantha pounced on a pass from Henrik Zetterberg and shot it by Glass' right shoulder from the right circle for a 3-0 lead at 5:46.
 
It was Mantha's team-high 15th goal. Zetterberg picked up his 603rd career assist, moving him within one of tying Pavel Datsyuk for fifth on the Red Wings' career list.
 
The crowd of 21,830 booed as the final seconds ticked off. Glass finished with 22 saves for Chicago, which dropped to 12-8-2 at home.
 
The Blackhawks host the New York Islanders on Saturday night.

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Pacers Beat Suns

Darren Collison had 19 points to lead seven players in double figures and the Pacers jumped on the Suns early and never let up in the Indiana Pacers' 120-97 rout of the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night 
 
Victor Oladipo scored 13 of his 17 points in the first half for the Pacers, who were coming off a home victory over Cleveland and have won four of five after a five-game losing streak. Cory Joseph added 16 points, and Bojan Bogdanovic had 14 for Indiana.
 
Rookie Josh Jackson scored a career-best 21 points for Phoenix, which has lost four of five. Devin Booker added 15, but on 5-of-16 shooting, 1 of 6 from 3-point range.
 
In an otherwise bad night for Phoenix, 17-year NBA veteran Tyson Chandler grabbed 14 rebounds to become the 40th player in league history to top 10,000 for his career (10,003).
 
Indiana committed a season-low six turnovers.
 
The Pacers are at Utah on Monday night.

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NFL Playoffs Recap

>>Jaguars Upset Steelers
 
Dominant at the start and resilient at the finish, the Jacksonville Jaguars stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers 45-42 on Sunday to advance to the AFC title game for the third time in franchise history and maybe, finally, earn a bit of respect.
 
Leonard Fournette ran for 109 yards and three scores . Embattled quarterback Blake Bortles added 214 yards passing and a pivotal fourth-quarter touchdown as the third-seeded Jaguars (12-6) beat the second-seeded Steelers (13-4) at Heinz Field for the second time in three months.
 
A week removed from an ugly performance in a wild-card round win over Buffalo in which he passed for 87 yards and struggled with the easiest of throws, Bortles went 14 of 26 for a touchdown without an interception. He ran for 35 more and wasn't sacked by a defense that led the NFL and set a franchise record with 55 during the season. Jacksonville's 45 points tied the most ever allowed by the Steelers in the playoffs.
 
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 469 yards and set a franchise record with five touchdown passes, but was also intercepted once and had a fumble returned for a score. All-Pro Antonio Brown caught seven passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns in his return from a left calf injury. Bell had 155 yards of total offense and two scores.
 
Twice Pittsburgh had fourth-and-1 in Jacksonville territory. Twice the Steelers did something other than have the 6-foot-5 Roethlisberger sneak. Pittsburgh ran wide in the first quarter and Bell was stuffed for a 4-yard loss. The Jaguars responded immediately by going 75 yards in 11 plays, the final one a 4-yard sprint by T.J. Yeldon that put them up 21-0.
 
The Steelers were down a touchdown early in the fourth quarter and had fourth-and-inches at the Jacksonville 39. Roethlisberger checked at the line of scrimmage, faked a handoff to Bell and instead threw incomplete to diving rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster .
 
The Jaguars travel to New England, where they were beaten in the 1996 AFC title game.
 
>>Vikings Stun Saints
 
Case Keenum completed his last-ditch heave near the sideline Sunday on the game's final play to Stefon Diggs, who slithered away from the Saints for a 61-yard touchdown to give the Vikings a 29-24 victory and a spot in the NFC championship game at Philadelphia.
 
Drew Brees steered the Saints in position for Wil Lutz's 43-yard kick with 25 seconds remaining that punctuating a forceful rally from a 17-point deficit that stood until 1:16 was left in the third quarter.
 
The field goal was set up by a fourth-and-10 completion by Brees to Willie Snead for 13 yards to the Minnesota 33 with 40 seconds left. Brees connected with Michael Thomas for two of his three touchdown passes in a span of 3:09 that spilled into the fourth quarter. The second score was set up at the Minnesota 40 by an interception by Marcus Williams, when an off-balance throw into traffic by Keenum served as his one costly moment of recklessness, a ''bonehead play,'' as he put it.
 
Keenum settled back in. He guided the Vikings to two more field goals by Kai Forbath, including a 53-yarder with 1:29 left that was his third of the game against his former team and gave them their lead back after a blocked punt by George Johnson had set up the Saints for a touchdown pass by Brees to Alvin Kamara.
 
Keenum, the undrafted and undersized all-time leading passer in NCAA history who was making his first career playoff start and has long looked up to Brees, was having a hard time finding the words to describe the experience. He finished with 318 yards, going 25 for 40, with Diggs catching 137 yards on six catches. 
 
Brees saw his 13th career postseason game end in a crushing final moment, his 25-for-40 performance for 294 yards tainted a bit by two interceptions before halftime. 
 
The Vikings move on to Philadelphia for the 10th championship game appearance in franchise history, the fifth in the last 30 years. They won the first four, losing in the Super Bowl each time.

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Astros Acquire RHP Cole From Pirates

The Houston Astros added another big name to their collection on Saturday, acquiring right-handed starter Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates for four players: third baseman Colin Moran, outfielder Jason Martin, and pitchers Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz, the teams confirmed.
 
Cole, 27, made 127 starts over parts of five seasons with the Pirates. Over that time, he accumulated a 3.50 ERA (112 ERA+) and 3.62 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His best season came in 2015, when he made the All-Star Game and finished fourth in Cy Young Award voting. Times haven't been as sweet recently. His ERA+ has dropped in each of the last two years, and he allowed a career-worst 1.4 home runs per nine innings in 2017.
 
Cole has had the reputation for having better stuff than results dating back to his collegiate days at UCLA. He throws a 96 mph fastball in addition to a hard slider, a curveball, and a changeup -- each of which generated whiffs on at least 20 percent of the swings taken against them last season.
 
Cole has two years of team control remaining. He's set to become a free agent after 2019. He should help cover the Astros' hole if they decide to let Dallas Keuchel walk after the season.

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Maroons Defeat Central A&M

The Clinton Maroons defeated Central A&M by a score of 50-40 on Friday night.
 
The Maroons were led by Country Financial's Player of the Game, Chase Reynolds, who had 16 points. Dalton Smith also chipped in with 9 points.
 
Central A&M were led by Connor Heaton with 18 points.
 
With the win, the Maroons improve to 9-6 on the season and 1-1 in CIC action.
 
Tune in Tuesday as the Maroons take on St. Teresa. You can hear the game live on The Big 1520 AM/ 92.3 FM WHOW and online at dewittdailynews.com.

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Maroons vs Central A&M

Maroons won the game with a score of 50-40.

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Iowa Rallies Past Illinois

Jordan Bohannon scored 29 points as Iowa rallied from a 20-point deficit for a 104-97 overtime win over Illinois on Thursday night.
 
It was Iowa's second-largest comeback win in school history. The biggest comeback was 22 points, also against Illinois in 1987. Thursday's game marked the Hawkeyes' first Big Ten victory, and dropped the Illini to 0-5 in conference play.
 
Iowa (10-9, 1-5) outscored Illinois (10-8, 0-5) 14-7 in overtime after Illinois guard Trent Frazier sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
 
Tyler Cook scored 21 points and Luka Garza added 19 for Iowa. Frazier led Illinois with 27 points, while Leron Black and Aaron Jordan added 18 points each.
 
Illinois, fueled by runs of 13-and 10-0 run early in the game leaped to a 54-41 halftime lead and seemed headed to an easy home win. Iowa outrebounded the Illini 45-26, including 20-9 in the second half, and outscored Illinois 33-11 from the free throw line.
 
Iowa first took the lead 83-82 - its first since 4-2 - with 3:01 left in regulation on a 3-point play by Luke Garza.
 
Illinois plays at Nebraska on Monday.

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Gonzalez, White Sox Agree To One Year Deal

The White Sox have agreed to a $4.75 million, one-year contract with pitcher Miguel Gonzalez and are bringing back the right-hander after trading him late last season.
 
The 33-year-old was 8-13 with a 4.62 ERA in 27 starts last season for Chicago and Texas, which acquired him on Aug. 31 for infielder Ti'quan Forbes. He was 7-10 with a 4.31 ERA in 22 starts for the White Sox.
 
Gonzalez is 52-54 with a 3.95 ERA with Baltimore (2012-15), Chicago (2016-17) and Texas.
 
Chicago cleared a roster spot by designating outfielder Jacob May for assignment on Thursday.

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Warriors Defeat Maroons

The Clinton Lady Maroons fell to the Tuscola Lady Warriors by a score of 46-31 on Thursday night.
 
The Maroons were led by Country Financial's Player of the Game, Madi Filkin, who had 7 points. Alyssa Saulsbery also chipped in with 7 points.
 
The Warriors were led by Cassie Russo who had 25 points.
 
With the loss the Lady Maroons fall to 7-12 on the season.
 
Tune in Friday night as the Maroons' boys team take on Central A&M. You can hear the game live on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

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Lady Maroons vs Tuscola Warriors

The Tuscola Warriors win the game with a score of 46-31.

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Loyola-Chicago Gets By Illinois State

Aundre Jackson and Clayton Custer combined to score 16 of their 29 points in the final seven minutes to help Loyola-Chicago beat Illinois State 68-61 on Wednesday night.
 
Jackson finished with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting and Custer added 14 points, going 4 of 4 from the free-throw line in the last 26 seconds. Marques Townes had 12 points and Bruno Skokna scored 11 for Loyola (13-4, 3-2 Missouri Valley). The Ramblers snapped a six-game skid against Illinois State (9-8, 3-2).
 
Phil Fayne scored seven straight points to give the Redbirds a 46-45 lead - their first since 2-0 - with seven minutes left. Custer made two free throws and then hit a 3 to spark a 12-2 run that gave the Ramblers a nine-point lead with three minutes to go. They made their last five field-goal attempts and hit 6 of 6 free throws in the closing seconds to seal it.
 
Fayne led the Redbirds with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Milik Yarbrough added 13 points and eight assists, but committed nine of Illinois State's 18 turnovers.
 
Loyola made 23 of 44 (52 percent) from the field, hit 16 of 18 from the free-throw line and scored 25 points off turnovers.

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Bulls Win; Pacers Lose Wednesday

>>Bulls Get By Knicks in Double Overtime
 
Rookie Lauri Markkanen scored a season-high 33 points, Kris Dunn shook off a nightmarish shooting night to make the tiebreaking basket in the second overtime, and the Chicago Bulls beat the New York Knicks 122-119 on Wednesday night.
 
Dunn had missed 14 of his first 17 shots before banking in a runner with just under a minute left in the second extra period, and Markkanen finished it off by making two free throws with 6.8 seconds remaining.
 
Robin Lopez and Denzel Valentine each scored 20 points for the Bulls in their third narrow victory over the Knicks this season. Markkanen made eight 3-pointers though his highlight play was at the rim, when he threw down a dunk over Knicks center Enes Kanter.
 
Michael Beasley 26 points and 12 rebounds off the bench for the Knicks, who lost for the eighth time in 10 games. Kristaps Porzingis finished with 24 points, including a dunk at the buzzer to force the second OT.
 
Lopez then had the first two baskets of the second OT, and after the Knicks got the next two, Dunn made his shot to make it 118-116.
 
Jarrett Jack had 16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the Knicks, but threw away a pass after coming up with a steal with the Knicks down two late in the second OT.
 
Nikola Mirotic missed his second straight game with an illness.
 
The Bulls host Detroit on Saturday.
 
>>Heat Beat Pacers
 
Goran Dragic scored 20 points and backup Wayne Ellington made the decisive 3-pointer with 25.5 seconds left Wednesday night to help the Heat fend off a late charge to hold on for a rare 114-106 victory at Indiana.
Ellington, Johnson and Bam Adebayo all played more than 30 minutes, all scored 15 points off the bench and all made key plays throughout the game as Miami won its sixth in a row and snapped a 10-game road losing streak against the Pacers.
 
Hassan Whiteside added 16 points and 15 rebounds.
 
Victor Oladipo had 26 points, seven rebounds and four assists and Lance Stephenson gave Indiana a late boost of energy that nearly led Indiana back from a 10-point deficit in the final 9:57. Stephenson wound up with 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
 
Indiana blew its first chance to tie the score, or take the lead, when Al Jefferson drew an offensive foul late in the third. The Heat then retook an 84-78 lead after three and extended the margin to 90-80 early in the fourth on a basket by Adebayo.
 
That's when the Pacers turned it on. They scored six straight to make it 92-89 and used another 6-0 spurt to finally tie it at 97 on Stephenson's 18-footer with 5:09 left.
 
But Miami broke the tie on Johnson's 3 and put it away when Ellington's shot dropped in for to make it 109-103.
 
The Pacers are seeking their third straight win against Cleveland this season when the Cavaliers come to town Friday.

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Blackhawks Lose Wednesday, Make Trade

Ryan Suter gave Minnesota the lead on a 4-on-4 early in the third period, Devan Dubnyk made 34 saves and the Wild held off the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 on Wednesday night to end a two-game slide.
 
Jonas Brodin scored in the second period for Minnesota (23-17-4). The Wild pulled two points ahead of Chicago (21-16-6) in the tight Central Division and tussle for playoff spots in the Western Conference.
 
Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook, a healthy scratch in Chicago's 8-2 win in Ottawa on Tuesday night, was back in the lineup and celebrated with his first goal since opening night.
 
Chicago's Anton Forsberg made 25 saves in his third straight start. Corey Crawford, the Blackhawks No. 1 goalie, missed his seventh game with an upper-body injury and hasn't resumed skating. There's no timetable for his return.
 
Blackhawks defenseman Jan Rutta left early in the third, then returned late in the period, after taking an illegal hit to the head from Minnesota's Marcus Foligno.
 
Both teams played their second games in two nights. Minnesota lost 3-2 in overtime at home to Calgary on Tuesday night.
 
The Blackhawks acquired winger Anthony Duclair and defenseman Adam Clendening from Arizona before the game in a trade for right wing Richard Panik and minor league forward Laurent Dauphin.
 
Getting the speedy 22-year-old Duclair is another step for Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman as he tries to shake up and add quickness to a perennial contender that's looked sluggish at times this season while fighting to maintain a playoff position.
 
The talented but inconsistent Duclair has nine goals and six assists in 33 games this season, scoring in each of his last two games after reports surfaced that he had asked for a trade.
 
The Blackhawks host Winnipeg on Friday night.
 
>>Blackhawks Acquire Duclair From Coyotes
 
The Chicago Blackhawks have acquired winger Anthony Duclair from the Arizona Coyotes in a four-player trade.
 
The teams announced the deal Wednesday night that sends winger Richard Panik and minor leaguer Laurent Dauphin to Arizona. Chicago also gets defenseman Adam Clendening along with Duclair in a move that seeks to shake up a perennial contender fighting to maintain a playoff position.
 
Duclair has nine goals and six assists in 33 games this season, scoring in each of his last two games after asking the Coyotes to trade him.
 
Acquired from New York in 2015 in the deal that sent Keith Yandle to the Rangers. Duclair had 20 goals and 24 assists in 81 games in 2015-16, then had only five goals and 10 assists in 58 games last season.
 
Panik has six goals and 10 assists in 37 games after signing a $5.6 million, two-year contract. By trading the 26-year-old and his $2.8 million hit for Duclair's $1.2 million and pending restricted free agency, the Blackhawks clear valuable salary-cap space this season and next.

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Bears, Packers Notes

>>Bears Hire Offensive Line Coach
 
The Chicago Bears have hired Harry Hiestand for a second stint as their offensive line coach.
 
With the Bears announcing the move Wednesday, Hiestand becomes the first assistant to join new coach Matt Nagy's staff.
 
Hiestand was Chicago's offensive line coach under Lovie Smith from 2005-09. With six-time Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz leading the line, Hiestand oversaw a group that helped the Bears reach a Super Bowl.
 
He spent the past six seasons coaching Notre Dame's offensive line. The Fighting Irish averaged 190 yards rushing during that time.
 
Hiestand has 36 years of coaching experience.
 
Nagy spent 10 seasons working under Andy Reid in Philadelphia and Kansas City. He was the Chiefs' sole offensive coordinator this season.
 
>>Browns Adding Packers Executives To Front Office
 
The Cleveland Browns' roster still needs major work. Their front office is starting to shape up.
 
New general manager John Dorsey tapped into his NFL connections to improve the winless Browns, adding former Green Bay executives Eliot Wolf and Alonzo Highsmith on Wednesday in the club's first major moves in a significant offseason.
Dorsey played linebacker for the Packers and spent time working in the club's front office with Wolf and Highsmith, two highly regarded talent evaluators with solid reputations.
 
The 35-year-old Wolf, who is considered a rising star in the league, will serve as Dorsey's assistant while Highsmith, a former NFL running back, is the Browns' vice president of player personnel.
 
Wolf spent 14 seasons with the Packers, working as the club's director of football operations for the past two. He recently interviewed for the Green Bay GM job that went to Brian Gutekunst and Wolf was reportedly offered a spot to work in Oakland with Raiders' GM Reggie McKenzie. Dorsey, McKenzie and Wolf all worked together in Green Bay.
 
Highsmith spent 19 years in Green Bay's scouting department. After starring at Miami, Highsmith was the No. 3 overall pick in the 1987 draft by the Houston Oilers.

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Cubs in Miami For Season Opener

The Miami Marlins will host the Chicago Cubs in this year's major league opener on March 29, the earliest start in the sport's history excluding international openers.
 
The game at Marlins Park is scheduled for 12:40 p.m., a half-hour before the New York Mets start at home against St. Louis and Detroit hosts Pittsburgh in the lone interleague opener.
 
World Series champion Houston opens at Texas. Every team is scheduled to open on the same day for the first time since 1968, and the season starts on a Thursday for the first time since 2011.
 
The rest of the NL opening-day schedule has Philadelphia at Atlanta, Washington at Cincinnati, San Francisco at the Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee at San Diego and Colorado at Arizona.
 
The AL opening-day schedule has Minnesota at Baltimore, the New York Yankees at Toronto, the Los Angeles Angels at Oakland, the Chicago White Sox at Kansas City and Cleveland at Seattle.

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CHS Golfer Signs National Letter of Intent

Clinton Senior golfer Chase Reynolds signed his National Letter of Intent to continue his academic and athletic career at Roosevelt University in Chicago.
 
The NAIA school offered Reynolds a lot to like and he says he's excited to finally have the commitment made official.
 
 
Reynolds says the college game of golf is going to be a lot different as he'll be playing a lot more.
 
 
Reynolds recalled setting the schools season low average and making state this past year as the highlights of his high school career. Reynolds was also a two-time Central Illinois Conference golfing champion. 

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Bradley Drops Southern Illinois

Donte Thomas scored 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds as Bradley extended the Missouri Valley Conference's longest home winning streak by holding off Southern Illinois 68-62 on Tuesday night.
 
The Braves are 8-0 at home this season and have won 10 straight dating back to last season.
 
Armon Fletcher hit two free throws with :35 left to get the Salukis within two, 64-62, but Jayden Hodgson hit four straight free throws to seal the victory.
 
Thomas hit 8 of 10 from the field and was 5 of 5 from the free throw line in leading Bradley (13-5, 3-2). Darrell Brown and Hodgson each added 11 points.
 
Bradley shot 47.1 percent from the field (24 of 51), including 5 of 21 from distance.
 
Sean Lloyd Jr. had 14 points and dished six assists to lead Southern Illinois (10-8, 2-3). Tyler Smithpeters and Fletcher added 13 and 12 points, respectively.

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Maroa-Forsyth Blows By Sangamon Valley

The Maroa-Forsyth Trojans used a balanced attack to blow by the Sangamon Valley Storm 80-33 in non-conference boys basketball action Tuesday night in Niantic.
 
Daanish Mahmood and Hayden Mitchell paced the attack with 16 points. Justin Livingood chipped in with 13 points. Aaron Agee had nine points as 12 players scored for the Trojans.
 
The Storm was led by Kale Pollard with 11 points and Jachin Wiese added nine points.
 
The Trojans led 15-6 after the first quarter, as Mahmood scored nine of 16 points in the first. They led 37-16 at the break, as Mitchell scored ten of his 16 points in the second quarter.
 
The Trojans outscored Sangamon Valley 43-17 in the second half. Livingood scored nine of this 13 points in the third quarter. 
 
The Trojans are 5-8 overall and are at Illini Central Friday night. 

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Bears Introduce New Coach

The Bears introduced their new head coach today. Matt Nagy is taking over the Bears after being the Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator this year. Something that might have helped Nagy’s cause was his shared enthusiasm of the potential of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. But he says it wasn’t the only thing that went into him getting the job.
 
 
Nagy has his work cut out for him. The Bears have made the playoffs only once in the past 11 seasons.

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Dodgers Send Cash To White Sox, Royals To Complete Three Team Trade

The NL champion Dodgers will send $3 million to the Chicago White Sox and receive $1 million from Kansas City as part of last week's three-team trade that sent left-handed reliever Scott Alexander from the Royals to Los Angeles.
 
Los Angeles agreed to give the White Sox equal installments of $1.5 million on June 1 and Sept. 1. Kansas City will pay the Dodgers $500,000 on each of those two dates.
 
Chicago got relievers Luis Avilan and Joakim Soria iin Thursday's trade, and the Dodgers obtained minor league infielder Jake Peter. The Royals added two minor leaguers, 24-year-old right-hander Trevor Oaks and 23-year-old infielder Erick Mejia.
 
Soria has a $9 million salary this year, and his contract includes a $10 million mutual option with a $1 million buyout. Avilan is eligible for arbitration and is expected to have a salary of about $2.5 million.

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Blackhawks Win; Blues Lose Tuesday

>>Kane Leads Blackhawks Past Senators
 
Nick Schmaltz and Jonathan Toews each scored a pair of goals and Patrick Kane had a goal and four assists Tuesday night and the Chicago Blackhawks routed the Ottawa Senators 8-2.
 
Richard Panik, Patrick Sharp and Jan Rutta also scored for the Blackhawks, while Anton Forsberg made 25 saves.
 
Mark Stone and Derick Brassard scored for the Senators. Craig Anderson allowed four goals on 26 shots before giving way to Mike Condon, who also allowed four goals on 17 shots.
 
The loss snapped Ottawa's two-game winning streak and was the worst loss of the season since an 8-3 defeat on Oct. 30 against Montreal.
 
Toews scored his second of the game at 3:24 of the third period to extend the lead to 7-2 before Kane chipped in with his team-leading 18th on the power play.
 
The second period, which has been awful for the Senators of late, was once again troubling as Anderson gave up three goals on four shots in a span of 4:39.
 
Sharp gave Chicago a 2-0 lead at the five-minute mark with a wrist shot from the top of the circle. Schmaltz made it 3-0 with his first power-play goal of the game, beating Anderson five-hole and, 1:38 later, the Blackhawks took a 4-0 lead as Toews scored on a rebound to end Anderson's night.
 
The Senators managed to cut the lead in half when Stone, with his third in as many games, beat Forsberg short side. Brassard then made it 4-2 by driving to the net and tipping Stone's shot in off his chest.
 
But two late power-play goals allowed Chicago to regain its four-goal advantage.
 
Schmaltz scored his second of the game, picking up Sharp's rebound to beat Condon high and Rutta made it 6-2 with a one-timer.
 
Combined, Anderson and Condon gave up five goals on nine shots in the second period. Bobby Ryan added to the misery by leaving the game favoring his hand and didn't return for the third.
 
The Senators looked good in the first period, but were still outshot 17-8 and gave up the first goal as Panik picked up the puck near the slot and threw it at the net to beat Anderson through traffic.
 
The Blackhawks host Minnesota on Wednesday night.
 
>>Panthers Outlast Blues
 
Vincent Trocheck had two goals and an assist, leading Florida to a 7-4 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night.
 
The Panthers rallied from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to snap a three-game losing streak.
Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov each had a goal and two assists, and James Reimer stopped 26 shots in his 15th straight start.
 
St. Louis has lost three straight against Florida at Scottrade Center. Vladimir Tarasenko and Paul Stastny each had a goal and an assist for the Blues, and Colton Parayko and Tage Thompson also scored.
 
St. Louis got off to a fast start on goals by Stastny and Parayko in the first 8:05 of the game.
 
Aaron Ekblad and Barkov responded for Florida in the first, and the Panthers grabbed control with three more goals in the second.
 
After Tarasenko made it 3-2 with a wrist shot from the right circle at 4:17, Radim Vrbata replied for Florida from in front of the net at 12:23. Huberdeau scored from the left circle at 15:55 and Trocheck got his 16th of the season 42 seconds later, making it 5-3 with a snap shot from the slot.
 
Colton Sceviour added a short-handed goal 13:02 into the third. After Thompson got St. Louis within two again, Trocheck tacked on an empty netter at 17:56.
 
St. Louis goaltender Jake Allen stopped 18 of 23 shots before he was replaced by Carter Hutton, who finished with 11 saves.
 
The Blues head into their league mandated bye week. Their next game is Jan. 16 at Toronto.

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Monticello Races Past Clinton

The Monticello Sages scored 23 unanswered first half points and ran past Clinton 67-30 in non-conference boys basketball action Tuesday night at Monticello High School.

 

The Maroons took a 6-5 lead at the 5:27 mark of the first quarter and didn’t score again until Dalton Smith 4:20 in the second quarter when Dalton Smith made a layup and was fouled. Smith made the and-one free throw. The Maroons would make just one other field goal for the quarter.

 

Calvin Fisher scored 12 of his game high 20 points in the second quarter. He finished with six rebounds as well.

 

Johnny Dawson scored 11 points with five assists and four rebounds as the Sages dished out 15 assists to go with their 29 field goals and committed only six turnovers.

 

Ben Singleton added ten points and five rebounds.

The Maroons were led by Seth Westfall’s eight points and seven rebounds. Austin Rauch had seven points. Dalton Smith and Austin Baker added five points apiece.

 

The Maroons committed 17 turnovers that led to 16 points for the Sages. Monticello outscored Clinton in the paint 42-16 and the Sages added 10 second chance points on nine offensive rebounds.

 

Monticello also had 14 fast break points and their bench outscored Clinton’s 19-2.

 

The Maroons have dropped their last three games and are 8-6. The Sages are now 10-1 on the season.

 

The Maroons are back in action against Central A&M Friday night for the Wall of Honor night. Hear the game on 92.3 FM WHOW and online at dewittdailynews.com.

 

The Sages are at Prairie Central next Friday. Hear the game on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.

 

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Bears Hire New Coach

The Bears have a new head coach. 
 
Acting quickly after the Kansas City Chiefs lost this weekend Chicago hired away KC’s offensive coordinator. Matt Nagy is going to be the Bears new head coach. 
 
He replaces John Fox who was fired after winning 14 games in three years. 
 
Nagy is just 39 and will be expected to turn QB Mitchell Trubisky into a top of the line starter in the NFL. 

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Clinton, Monticello Matchup Tonight on WHOW, WEZC

The resurgent Clinton Maroons and the upstart Monticello Sages will meet tonight in at Monticello High School in a special simulcast broadcast on WHOW, WEZC and at dewittdailynews.com. 
 
Despite two tough losses over the weekend, the Maroons sit confidently at 8-5 overall.
 
Monticello is winners of  9 of their first 10 games.
 
The Maroons are 1-11 all time against Monticello. The last time Clinton beat the Sages was in 2011, a double overtime win at Clinton High School. 
 
Tonight's broadcast will get going around 7:15 pm and can be heard on 92.3 FM WHOW, 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.

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Pacers Win; Bulls Lose

>>Rockets Beat Bulls
 
Eric Gordon and Chris Paul each had 24 points and nine assists, Gerald Green scored 22 and the Houston Rockets beat the Chicago Bulls 116-107 on Monday night.
 
Trevor Ariza hit six 3-pointers and scored 18 to go with nine rebounds. Clint Capela added 15 points and 16 rebounds, and the Rockets won for the third time in 10 games despite blowing a 21-point lead.
 
Bobby Portis led the Bulls with 22 points. Denzel Valentine and Kris Dunn each scored 19, but Chicago lost for the fifth time in six games.
 
With NBA scoring leader James Harden missing his fourth consecutive game because of a strained hamstring, the Rockets regained control after falling behind early in the third.
 
They scored eight straight to stretch a two-point edge to 10 late in the quarter and took an 87-76 lead into the fourth after Green and Paul nailed back-to-back 3s. Houston was in charge the rest of the game.
 
Houston nearly put this one away early, going up by 21 late in the first quarter after Paul's four-point play. But the Bulls got more physical in the second and cut it to 60-55 at halftime.
 
The Bulls tied it on a 3 by Valentine to start the third and two free throws by Robin Lopez. Dunn gave Chicago its first lead since the early going, 64-62, just under three minutes into the quarter.
 
The Bulls visit the New York Knicks on Wednesday.
 
>>Pacers Down Bucks
 
The Indiana Pacers seized control early by forcing 13 turnovers in the first 17 minutes, built a 29-point lead and never allowed the Milwaukee Bucks to make a serious run over the final 42 minutes of a 109-96 victory.
 
Domantas Sabonis finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Pacers. Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner and Thaddeus Young each had 15 points on a night when seven Pacers players scored at least 10.
Indiana has won two straight since a five-game losing streak.
 
Khris Middleton led Milwaukee with 19 points and Giannis Anetetokoumpo had 17 - not nearly enough against an intense defense on a mission.
 
Indiana broke it open by scoring 20 straight points in the first quarter to turn a 15-14 game into a blowout. The Pacers finished the period on a 22-2 spurt to make it 37-16.
 
The Pacers extended the lead to 48-21 midway through the second quarter before the Bucks finally fought back with a 9-1 run to cut the deficit to 19. Indiana immediately answered with seven straight points and led 64-38 at halftime.
 
Milwaukee couldn't get any closer than 16 until the final two minutes.
 
The Pacers will host Miami on Wednesday, looking for their 11th straight regular-season home win in the series.

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Villanova New No. 1 In CBB

After a week that saw 14 of the AP top 25 teams lose -- including five of the top seven -- a shakeup in the poll was inevitably in order and has been made in the latest rankings released on Monday.
 
The result is a new No. 1 team in the rankings and an entirely reshuffled top 5. At the top is Villanova, which is no stranger to the top spot this season, followed by West Virginia at No. 2, Virginia at No. 3, and Michigan State and Wichita State rounding out the top 5.
 
Previous No. 2 Duke fell to No. 7, a spot below Purdue and ahead of Texas Tech and Oklahoma.
 
The biggest mover up the poll this week is No. 18 Texas Tech, which jumped from No. 18  after going 2-0 last week with wins at Kansas and vs.  Kansas State at home as the Red Raiders built their record to 14-1 in the process. North Carolina, meanwhile, was the biggest mover down the poll, as the Tar Heels went 0-2 this week with losses to Florida State and Virginia as part of a grueling two-game road trip and fell from No. 12 to No. 20.
 
There is once again a new No. 1 team at the top of the USA Today coaches poll released on Monday.
 
After three of last week's top five teams fell over the weekend including 11 of the top 25, Villanova is the top team in the country and the rest of the rankings is now a beautifully muddled mess as no team is ranked the same as it was a week ago.
 
Just like the AP Top 25, West Virginia and Virginia are in at Nos. 2 and 3, followed by Michigan State and Wichita State rounding out the top 5.

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'Bama Rallies Past Georgia

Freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who had played mostly mop-up duty this season, came off the bench to spark a comeback and threw a 41-yard touchdown to DeVonta Smith that gave No. 4 Alabama a 26-23 overtime victory against No. 3 Georgia on Monday night for the College Football Playoff national championship.
 
Tagovailoa entered the game at halftime, replacing a struggling Jalen Hurts, and threw three touchdown passes to give the Crimson Tide its fifth national championship since 2009 under coach Nick Saban.
 
Smith streaked into the end zone and moments later confetti rained and even Saban seemed almost giddy after watching maybe the most improbably victory of his unmatched career.
 
After Alabama kicker Andy Pappanastos missed a 36-yard field goal that would have won it for the Tide (13-1) in the final seconds of regulation , Georgia (13-2) took the lead with a 51-yard field goal from Rodrigo Blankenship in overtime.
 
Tagovailoa took a terrible sack on Alabama's first play of overtime, losing 16 yards. On the next play he found Smith, another freshman, and hit him in stride for the national championship.
 
Tagovailoa was brilliant at times, though he had a few freshman moments. He threw an interception when he tried to pass on a running play and all his receivers were blocking. He also darted away from the pass rushers and made some impeccable throws, showing the poise of a veteran. Facing fourth-and-goal from 7, down seven, the left-hander moved to his left and zipped a pass through traffic that hit Calvin Ridley in the numbers for the tying score with 3:49 left in the fourth quarter.
 
He finished 14 for 24 for 166 yards. The winning play was, basically, four receivers going deep.
 
Saban now has six major poll national championships, including one at LSU, matching the record set by the man who led Alabama's last dynasty, coach Paul Bear Bryant.
 
The Tide trailed 20-7 in the third quarter after Georgia's freshman quarterback, Jake Fromm, hit Mecole Hardman for an 80-yard touchdown pass that had the Georgia fans feeling good about ending a national title drought that dates back to 1980.
 
Fromm threw for 232 yards for a while it looked as if he was going to be the freshman star for the game, the first to true freshman to lead his team to a national title season since Jamelle Holieway for Oklahoma in 1985.

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Monticello Overcomes Slow Start To Beat Rantoul

The Monticello Lady Sages used an 11-0 run as part of a 23-9 second quarter to overcome a slow start and run past Rantoul 57-36 in Illini Prairie Conference girls basketball action from Monticello High School Monday night.

 

The Lady Sages opened up a 30-21 halftime advantage after trailing 12-7 after a sluggish first quarter then outscored the Lady Eages 19-4 in the third quarter and put the game away.

 

Zanna Myers scored 12 of her game high 16 points in the second quarter. Jayna Burger finished with 11 points and Tatum McCall added 10 points for the Lady Sages, who improved to 13-0 overall and 1-0 in Illini Prairie action.

 

Emily Wilson added nine points for Monticello.

 

The Lady Eagles were led by Kaylie Wilson’s 12 points. Faith Johnson added eight and Courtney Sutherland added seven points.

 

Rantoul drops to 4-15 overall.

 

The Lady Sages return to action Thursday at home. The next Lady Sages girls basketball broadcast on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com will be Thursday, January 18 when Monticello hosts Maroa-Forsyth at 7:30 pm.

 

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Bears Continue Coach Interviews

The Chicago Bears say they were interviewing Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo for their head coaching job.
 
In his second year as the Eagles' QBs coach, DeFilippo has helped Carson Wentz emerge as one of the best passers in the league. The No. 2 overall draft pick in 2016, he threw for 3,296 yards with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions before suffering a season-ending knee injury last month.
 
In Chicago, DeFilippo would be working with another quarterback drafted second overall - Mitchell Trubisky last spring.
 
The Bears were meeting with DeFilippo in Philadelphia on Saturday. They have also interviewed Minnesota and New England offensive coordinators Pat Shurmur and Josh McDaniels, Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards and Chicago defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
 
The Chicago Bears were interviewing Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy for their head coaching job.
 
Nagy has spent 10 seasons working under Andy Reid in Philadelphia and Kansas City. He did not call plays until late this season, but has drawn praise for his work with Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. In Chicago, he would be trying to develop No. 2 overall draft pick Mitchell Trubisky.
 
The Chiefs won the AFC West, only to blow an 18-point halftime lead in a playoff loss to Tennessee on Saturday. The Bears met with Nagy in Kansas City on Sunday.
 
The Bears fired John Fox after a 14-34 record in three years and a .292 winning percentage that ranks as the second-lowest in franchise history. They were 5-11 this past season.

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Illinois State Wins; Illinois, Bradley Loses This Weekend

>>Illinois Loses Fourth Straight Big Ten Game
 
Isaiah Livers helped Michigan through a first-half struggle, and Moe Wagner scored 11 of his 14 points in the second to lift the Wolverines to a 79-69 victory over Illinois on Saturday.
 
Michigan (14-3, 3-1 Big Ten) won its seventh straight game, but only after a difficult first half in which the Fighting Illini caused problems with their defensive pressure. The Wolverines trailed 19-11 when Livers came in. The 6-foot-7 freshman contributed a 3-pointer and three dunks, the last of which put Michigan up 25-23.
 
Illinois was ahead 34-31 at halftime, but while the Wolverines took better care of the ball in the second half, turnovers remained a problem for the Illini (10-7, 0-4). Michigan had 12 turnovers in the first half to nine for Illinois. In the second half, the Wolverines only had three, and the Illini had eight.
 
Charles Matthews, Michigan's leading scorer, was called for a foul in the first minute of the game and immediately came out. When he returned a few minutes later, he picked up a quick second foul and sat the rest of the half. Matthews and Wagner were both called for their third fouls early in the second half, but that didn't stop the Wolverines from keeping Illinois at bay.
 
Michigan shot 64 percent from the field in the second half and finished with six players in double figures.
 
Kipper Nichols led Illinois with 17 points.
 
The Illini play four of their first five games on the road this month. The lone home game is up next, against Iowa on Thursday.
 
>>Illinois State Gets By Missouri State
 
Phil Fayne and Milik Yarbrough scored 23 points each as Illinois State forced Missouri State into uncharacteristic turnovers, handing the Bears their first Missouri Valley Conference loss, 72-68, Sunday.
Illinois State (9-7, 3-1) showed why it owns the best turnover margin in the MVC, forcing Missouri State into a season-most 18 turnovers, 11 in the first half, turning those into 23 points while the Redbirds only turned the ball over six times. The Bears had the fewest turnovers in conference.
 
Missouri State, which lost a four-game win streak as well as its 3-0 start in MVC, fell behind by as many as 10 in the second half but fought back into a 58-56 lead on a J.T. Miller tip-in and foul shot with 4:44 to play.
 
Fayne regained the lead with back-to-back dunks inside the final two minutes, converting the second dunk into a 3-point play. Illinois State was up 65-62 and Yarbrough, Keyshawn Evans and Fayne made 5 of 8 free throws in the last 15 seconds while a 3-pointer and a drive by Jarred Dixon couldn't regain the lead.
 
Miller, Ronnie Rousseau and Alize Johnson scored 16 each for the Bears (13-4, 3-1).
 
>>Evansville Topples Bradley
 
Ryan Taylor hit four 3-pointers and scored 21 and Dru Smith had 14 points and six assists to lead Evansville to a 68-44 romp over Bradley on Saturday.
Blake Simmons chipped in with 12 points, five assists and three steals for Evansville (11-6, 1-3 Missouri Valley Conference), which shot 49 percent from the floor, made 8 of 15 from 3-point range and made all 10 of its free throws. Dainius Chatkevisius grabbed seven rebounds to help Evansville control the boards 35-22.
 
Taylor scored the last five points in a 20-4 run and the Purple Aces pulled away from a tie at 10 to lead 30-14. Noah Frederking's jumper pushed the lead to 21 midway through the second half and Evansville coasted to snap a four-game slide.
 
Donte Thomas topped the Braves (12-5, 2-2) with 12 points, while Elijah Childs scored 10. Bradley made just 15 of 43 shots (35 percent) and hit 3 of 14 from long range.

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Blackhawks Win; Blues Lose Sunday

>>Blackhawks Get By Oilers
 
Anton Forsberg made 32 saves, Nick Schmaltz and Alex DeBrincat scored in the first period, and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the slumping Edmonton Oilers 4-1 on Sunday.
 
Brandon Saad and Jordan Oesterle also scored for the Blackhawks, who got their first home win since a 4-1 victory against Minnesota on Dec. 17. Jonathan Toews extended his point streak to four games.
 
It was Forsberg's first win since Nov. 11 and just the second of his first season in Chicago. Forsberg had been the backup all year, but his role had come into question after Jeff Glass came up the minors and played well with starter Corey Crawford sidelined by an upper-body injury.
 
Edmonton has dropped six of seven, including a 5-1 loss at Dallas on Saturday. The Oilers have been outscored 20-3 in their last five games.
 
Darnell Nurse's sharp-angled backhander trimmed Chicago's lead to 2-1 at 4:12 of the second. Jujhar Khaira got a look at the tying goal after Brent Seabrook's turnover with about six minutes left in the period, but Forsberg smothered his shot.
 
Chicago's top line of Vinnie Hinostroza, Toews and Saad then combined for a big play in the final seconds of the second. Hinostroza got the puck up to Toews, who muscled his way toward the net before shaking free for a shot that Saad deflected past Talbot at 19:50.
 
Oesterle added his third of the season midway through the third. Talbot finished with 25 saves.
 
Chicago was coming off a disappointing 5-4 loss to expansion Vegas on Friday night, prompting coach Joel Quenneville to shuffle his lineup. Defensemen Connor Murphy and Cody Franson were benched in favor of Michal Kempny and Jan Rutta, and John Hayden was a healthy scratch with Ryan Hartman returning from an upper-body injury.
 
The Blackhawks got off to a slow start against the Golden Knights and then blew a 4-3 lead in the third period. They were much better in the first against the Oilers.
 
Schmaltz jumped on a loose puck and slipped a backhand through Talbot's legs for a 1-0 lead at 8:03, extending his goal streak to three straight games with his 10th of the season. Chicago then caught a break when DeBrincat's centering pass went off the right skate of Edmonton forward Mark Letestu and past Talbot for the rookie's 14th goal at 9:29.
 
The Blackhawks visit Ottawa on Tuesday night.
 
>>Washington Outlasts St. Louis in Overtime
 
Nicklas Backstrom scored at 4:17 of overtime and Alex Ovechkin had a power-play goal and an assist to help the Capitals beat the St. Louis Blues 4-3 on Sunday.
 
The Capitals have won four in a row overall and nine consecutive home games, the longest active streak in the NHL. Since Nov. 22, the Metropolitan Division leaders are 15-3-2.
Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and an assist for the Blues. They have lost two in a row and six of their last seven road games.
 
Recognizing a change of possession in Washington's end late in overtime, Backstrom headed down ice, received a long pass from T.J. Oshie and beat goalie Carter Hutton for his ninth goal of the season.
 
Backstrom scored his 197th goal to tie Alexander Semin for fifth on the Capitals' goals list. Backstrom also assisted on Ovechkin's goal.
 
Ovechkin tied it at 2 on the power play 8 eight minutes into the third with his league-leading 27th goal, and Lars Eller gave the Capitals the lead with 9:11 left. The lead did not last long, with Carl Gunnarson credited with a goal after his shot into pack of players evaded goaltender Braden Holtby with 4:09 remaining.
 
Holtby made 30 saves for the Capitals including save key stops late in regulation and overtime.
 
Alexander Steen snapped a lengthy power-play drought and put St. Louis up 2-1 5:02 into the second period. St. Louis had failed to score on 21 consecutive power plays dating to its Dec. 20 loss at Calgary.
 
St. Louis dominated the second with had two goals on 12 shots before Washington recorded its first shot on goal in the period.
 
The Blues tied it at 1 1:18 into the second period on Tarasenko's 18th goal.
 
The Blues host Florida on Tuesday night before receiving a weeklong break without games.

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Saints Defeat Maroons

The Clinton Maroons fell to the Bloomington Central Catholic Saints by a score of 66-39 on Saturday night. The Maroons were led by Country Financial's Player of the Game, Austin Baker, with 10 points. Seth Westfall also contributed 10 points.
 
The Saints were led by James Morris with 14 points and Austyn Ellison added 13 points.
 
With the loss the Maroons fall to 8-5 on the year.
 
Tune in Tuesday for a 7 pm tip as the Maroons take on the Monticello Sages. You can hear the game live on The Big 1520 AM/ 92.3 FM WHOW and on our sister station 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.

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Maroons vs BCC

The Saints won the game with a score of 66-38.

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Monticello Uses Big Second Half To Get By Olympia

The Monticello Sages outscored Olympia 39-11 in the second half and ran away after a slow start, 66-39 in non-conference action Saturday afternoon at Monticello Middle School.

 

The game was filled with a few quirks. To start, the two teams are now Illini Prairie Conference opponents, but Saturday’s matchup did not count towards their conference marks. Additionally, a water main break earlier in the day Friday shifted the site of the game to Monticello Middle School.

 

Monticello shot 8-for-23 in the first half then finished 12-for-22 in the second half and shot 22-for-25 at the foul line.

 

Ben Singleton scored 11 of his game high 16 points in the second quarter and accounted for 11 of Monticello’s 15 points in the second quarter to help keep the Sages close as their leading scorers Luke Stokowski and Calvin Fisher combined for nine points in the first half and finished 11 apiece.

 

The Sages forced 22 turnovers resulting in 28 points.

 

Leading 34-30 with 3:05 left in the third, Spartans leading scorer, Trey Wilson picked up his fourth personal foul and was hit with a technical foul as he was being substituted for and was subsequently out of the game.

 

Prior to the technical foul, Singleton made the first of two free throws, he made both technicals foul shots but missed the second of the two personal foul free throws and Stokowski made a layup to complete the five-point possession.

 

The Spartans converted just one field goal in the third quarter and Olympia went scoreless for 10:49 between the third and fourth quarters.

 

Dalton Spencer led the Spartans with 14 points and dished out a game high four assists. Wilson added 12 points, all in the first half.

 

Singleton pulled down a game high six rebounds.

 

The Spartans drop to 6-8 overall. The two squads will match up in mid-February for the Illini Prairie Conference finale for both teams.

 

Monticello is not 9-1 overall and will host Clinton Tuesday night at 7:30 pm.

 

Hear the action on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW and online at dewittdailynews.com. Also simulcast on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.

 

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Monticello High School Changes Site of Saturday Varsity Boys Basketball Game

A change in the location for tomorrow's Monticello High School boys basketball games has been announced by the district early Friday.
 
Due to a water main break at the high school, the junior varsity and varsity boys basketball games have been shifted to Monticello Middle School, located at 2015 East Washington Street.
 
Game times are still set for 1 pm JV tip and 2:30 pm varsity tip. 
 
The last time the varsity played at Monticello Middle School, they wrapped up a 2017 Sectional title against Paxton-Buckley-Loda. 
 
Hear the action Saturday on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

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Maroons In Action Friday, Saturday This Weekend

It's a big weekend for the Clinton Maroons boys basketball squad who is off to the team's best start in nearly two decades.
 
The Maroons start the weekend tonight in Shelbyville to meet up with the Central Illinois Conference's leaders and then plays at home in the night-cap of the New Year's Shootout at Clinton High School.
 
The Rams sit atop the conference at 12-2 overall while Clinton is 8-3, the conference's third best out of conference mark. It will be the conference opener for both squads.
 
The Maroons will host 4-5 BCC Saturday night at 7:30 pm. You can hear the action on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

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Blues Double Up Vegas

Paul Stastny broke a third-period tie with his eighth goal of the season, Carter Hutton continued his hot play in goal and St. Louis beat the Vegas Golden Knights 2-1 on Thursday night.
 
Alexander Steen also scored for the Blues, who won their third straight. Hutton made 32 saves, including two tough stops early in the third while the game was tied.
 
Erik Haula scored for Vegas, which had its NHL expansion record eight-game winning streak snapped. Marc-Andre Fleury made 37 saves but lost for the first time in six starts.
 
Stastny's first goal in 12 games gave the Blues a 2-1 lead at 5:58 of the third period. Stastny poked in his own rebound after Fleury lost sight of it.
 
Steen gave the Blues a 1-0 lead midway through the first period. It was his second goal in 23 games and his first non-empty-net goal since Nov. 16 at Edmonton.
 
The tally also tied Steen with Keith Tkachuk for eighth on the Blues' career points list with 427.
 
Fleury kept Vegas within a goal by making several saves during a prolonged flurry by Steen's line early in the second period.
 
Haula tied it on a one-timer from James Neal midway through the second. A check from former Blue David Perron created the turnover that led to the Vegas goal.
 
Hutton kept the game tied with a glove save on Neal early in the third period. He then ranged way out of the crease to stall Alex Tuch's potential breakaway.
 
Hutton also stood tall late, making four saves in the game's final minute as the Golden Knights made a final push with the extra attacker.
 
The Blues play at Philadelphia on Saturday.

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Sages Return Action Saturday Afternooon

Fresh off their second straight third place finish in the Holiday Hoopla Tournament at Monticello High School, the Sages will play host to Olympia Saturday afternoon at 2:30 pm.
 
While the two squads are in the Illini Prairie Conference, the matchup Saturday will not count towards their conference record.
 
The two squads were seeking a final game during the scheduling process and decided they would meet ahead of conference play in a non-conference format.
 
The Sages enter action 8-1 overall and will have a week between games when they tip at 2:30 Saturday from Miller Gym at Monticello High School. They were recently ranked 8th in the first poll of 2018 in Class 2A following their first loss of the season to Ridgeview, the top team on 1A. 
 
The Spartans enter action at 6-7 overall.
 
The teams conference matchup will be the final game of conference play later in February.
 
Hear all the action Saturday afternoon on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.

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Dodgers, White Sox, Royals Make Three Team Trade

The NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers have acquired left-handed reliever Scott Alexander from Kansas City in a three-team trade that also included the Chicago White Sox.
 
The White Sox got veteran relievers Luis Avilan and Joakim Soria and cash. The Dodgers also obtained minor league infielder Jake Peter and the Royals added a pair of minor leaguers in the deal Thursday.
 
The 28-year-old Alexander emerged as a key pitcher for the Royals last season, going 5-4 with four saves and a 2.48 ERA in 58 games. The Dodgers lost durable Brandon Morrow from their bullpen when he signed with the Chicago Cubs, and lefty Tony Watson became a free agent.
 
Avilan was 2-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 61 games last season for the Dodgers. The 28-year-old lefty struck out 52 in 46 innings.
 
Soria was 4-3 with one save and a 3.70 ERA in 59 games for the Royals last season. The 33-year-old righty has 204 career saves.
 
The 24-year-old Peter hit a combined .279 at Double-A and Triple-A in the White Sox organization.
 
Kansas City got 24-year-old starter Trevor Oaks, a righty who went 4-3 with 3.83 ERA at Triple-A for the Dodgers, and 23-year-old infielder Erick Mejia, a switch-hitter who spent most of the season at Double-A for Los Angeles, batting .278 with 28 stolen bases overall in the minors.

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Bears Interview Vikings DC Edwards for Coaching Job

The Chicago Bears say they have interviewed Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards for their coaching job.
 
The 50-year-old Edwards has coached 28 seasons - 20 in the NFL - and has been Minnesota's defensive coordinator since 2014. The NFC North champion Vikings gave up a league-low 275.9 yards and 15.8 points per game. They were also second against the run and the pass.
 
The interview with Edwards in Minnesota on Thursday was the Bears' second since they fired John Fox this week. Chicago also met with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio at the team's headquarters on Wednesday.
 
Fox was let go after posting a 14-34 record in three years and a .292 winning percentage that ranks as the second-lowest in franchise history. The Bears were 5-11 this past season.

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Clinton Lady Maroons Defeat Tri-Valley

In a game heard on WHOW, the Clinton Lady Maroons defeated the Tri-Valley Lady Vikings by a score of 42-27 on Thursday night. The Lady Maroons were led by senior Alyssa Saulsbery with 12 points. Freshman Kaile Beck was named the Country Financial representative Brad James Maroons Player of the Game for chipping in with 12 points.

 

For Tri-Valley, they were led by junior Libbie Kussmann with 10 points.

 

With the win, the Lady Maroons improve to 7-11 on the season and Tri-Valley falls to 2-14.

 

Tune in Thursday, January 11, as the Lady Maroons take on Tuscola. You can hear the game live on the Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW, online at dewittdailynews.com, and on the WHOW app.

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Blackhawks Pull Away From Rangers

Patrick Sharp broke a tie early in the third period and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the New York Rangers 5-2 on Wednesday night.
 
Nick Schmaltz, Vinnie Hinostroza, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane also scored, and Jeff Glass made 23 saves. The 32-year-old Glass made his third straight start with Corey Crawford on injured reserved.
 
Nick Holden and Mika Zibanejad scored for New York in the Rangers' second regulation loss at home since Nov. 28.
 
Sharp, a three-time Cup winner with Chicago who returned this season after spending the previous two years in Dallas, scored at 2:24 of the third when his wrist shot sailed past goalie Henrik Lundqvist's glove.
 
Toews and Kane had empty-net goals in the final minute.
 
Hinostroza opened the scoring with 3:51 left in the first period. After an offensive zone faceoff win, Toews retrieved a loose puck in the corner and slipped a backhand pass to Hinostroza.
 
The Rangers tied it two minutes later when Nick Holden fired a slap shot from the right point past Glass.
 
Chicago took a 2-1 lead midway through the second when Nick Schmaltz converted a breakaway. Rangers defenseman, Marc Staal, inadvertently put the puck in his own net before knocking the net off the moorings.
 
Zibanejad tied it on a one-timer with 7:28 to go in the period.
 
The Blackhawks host Vegas on Friday night.

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Bradley Wins; Illinois, Illinois State Lose Wednesday

>>Minnesota Holds Off Illinois
 
Jordan Murphy had 17 points and 17 rebounds while Nate Mason added 17 points and 6 assists as Minnesota defeated Illinois 77-67 on Wednesday.
 
All five starters scored in double figures for Minnesota (13-3, 2-1 Big Ten). Amir Coffey had 16 points, Dupree McBrayer scored 12, and Reggie Lynch finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 7 blocked shots.
 
Leron Black led Illinois (10-6, 0-3) with 14 points, all in the second half, while Trent Frazier added 12. The Illini shot a season-low 35 percent from the floor, including a 1-for-19 stretch to open the game.
 
Murphy, the Big Ten's scoring and rebounding leader, had 11 boards by halftime as he extended the nation's longest double-double streak to 16 games.
 
Minnesota scored the game's first 11 points as the Illini missed their first 11 shots. The Gophers run eventually stretched to 17-2, capped by two long Mason passes that led to dunks by Murphy and Coffey.
 
Mason returned after missing Minnesota's last game recovering from a sprained ankle he suffered on Dec. 23 against Florida Atlantic. He didn't miss a beat, shooting 6-for-13 from the field and hitting three 3-pointers on the night.
 
Mark Alstork hit a 3-pointer with 7:38 to go in the first half, the only 3-pointer the Illini made out of 13 first-half attempts. They finally concentrated on working the ball inside in the latter stages of the half and Greg Eboigbodin scored eight points to help cut the halftime deficit to 39-26.
 
Illinois played much of the first half without Black, who picked up his second foul just three minutes into the game. The junior forward, who averages a team-high 14.8 points per game, ended the first half scoreless on 0-for-4 shooting in just five minutes.
 
Minnesota led by 15 when the Illini went on a 13-2 run midway in the second half to climb back into the game. The key play was a steal and 3-pointer by Frazier off a sloppy Minnesota inbounds pass.
 
The Gophers appeared to get some breathing room when Mason corralled a McBrayer airball in the corner and drained a 3-pointer to make it 68-60. But the Gophers missed three of four free throws before Lynch hit a short jumper and Mason found Murphy for a dunk to put it away.
 
The Illini opened Big Ten play in early December with a pair of overtime losses to Northwestern and Maryland and started a stretch of four road games in their next five by missing 18 of their first 19 shots.
 
Illinois is at Michigan on Saturday. 
 
>>Bradley Rallies Past Valpo
 
Donte Thomas scored 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as Bradley beat Valparaiso 80-71 in Missouri Valley Conference action on Wednesday night.
Koch Bar and Nate Kennell added 14 points apiece for the Braves (12-4, 2-1). Darrell Brown had 12 points and seven assists and Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye pulled down 14 rebounds in addition to his six points.
 
The teams were tied 33-all at intermission and Bradley pulled away on a 16-11 run early in the second half to lead 49-44 with 13:03 to play. The Braves led the rest of the way.
 
Valparaiso closed to 70-65 with 2:30 left but Thomas, Brown, Kennell and Jayden Hodgson combined to hit 8 of 8 from the line after that to help keep the Braves on top.
 
Tevonn Walker scored with 25 points and seven rebounds for the Crusaders (9-7, 0-3) who have lost four straight. Markus Golder added 11 points off the bench.
 
>>Drake Trounces ISU
 
Reed Timmer hit six 3-pointers and finished with 28 points and Nick McGlynn had his fourth double-double of the season to help Drake beat Illinois State 87-62 on Wednesday night for the Bulldogs' fourth win in a row.
McGlynn finished with 11 points, a career-high 13 rebounds and two blocks. De'Antae McMurray had 12 points, seven rebounds and seven assists and Jalen Gibbs also scored 12 for Drake (9-7, 3-0 Missouri Valley).
 
McGlynn's dunk about seven minutes in made it 10-9 and the Bulldogs led the rest of the way. Drake scored 11 of the final 14 points, including seven by Timmer, to take a 40-26 lead into the break and Illinois State trailed by double figures throughout the second half.
 
Keyshawn Evans scored 13 points and Milik Yarbrough added 11 points, five rebounds, seven assists and two blocks for Illinois State (8-7, 2-1). The Redbirds tied their lowest scoring output of the season and had their four-game win streak snapped.
 
Drake hit 15 of 30 from 3-point range.

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Bulls, Pacers Lose Wednesday

>>Raptors Beat Bulls
 
DeMar DeRozan had 35 points, Delon Wright set career highs with 25 points and 13 rebounds, and the Toronto Raptors beat the Chicago Bulls 124-115 on Wednesday night.
 
DeRozan came up big again after scoring a franchise-record 52 points in a win over Milwaukee on New Year's Day. Held to nine in the first half this time, he scored 18 in the third quarter. He also shot 5 of 8 on 3-pointers and converted all 10 free throws.
 
Wright had his first career double-double and hit four 3s.
 
Serge Ibaka scored 16 points for Toronto. Fred VanVleet added 13 and the Raptors pulled away in the fourth quarter for their ninth win in 11 games.
 
Justin Holiday led Chicago with 26 points, and Lauri Markkanen added 22 points and 12 rebounds. Nikola Mirotic scored 20, but the Bulls dropped their third straight.
 
Chicago was leading 92-90 early in the fourth when Toronto went on a 16-2 run. Kyle Lowry hit a 3 to make it 106-94 with 6:39 remaining, and the Raptors remained in control the rest of the way.
 
The Bulls visit the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.
 
>>Bucks Get By Pacers
 
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 31 points and 10 rebounds before getting a well-earned break in the fourth quarter, and the Bucks pulled away for a 122-101 win over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.
 
Antetokounmpo had his way around the rim with his usual array of dunks and layups, shooting 12 of 18. He clinched his double-double with 1:01 left in the third quarter, passing an offensive rebound to Thon Maker in the corner.
Maker hit an open 3-pointer to extend what had been a 10-point halftime lead to a 93-74 edge. It was one of the Bucks' five 3s in the third to put the game out of reach.
 
Khris Middleton added 27 points, while Malcolm Brogdon added 17 off the bench for the Bucks.
 
The lead was so safe that Kidd rested Antetokounmpo for the entire fourth quarter. The 6-foot-11 star played just 29 minutes, nine fewer than his season average.
 
Minus leading scorer Victor Oladipo (24.9 points per game) for a fourth straight game because of a knee injury, the Pacers couldn't keep up with Antetokounmpo's athleticism on both ends of the floor .
 
Domantas Sabonis had a career-high 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting for Indiana, which lost its season-high fifth straight. Darren Collison added 17 points.
 
The Pacers shot just 20 percent (3 of 15) from 3-point range.
 
The Pacers open a four-game homestand on Saturday by hosting the Chicago Bulls.

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Bears Interview Fangio

The Chicago Bears say they have interviewed defensive coordinator Vic Fangio for their head coaching job.
 
The interview on Wednesday was the first for the Bears since they fired John Fox two days earlier.
 
In his three seasons as Chicago's defensive coordinator, Fangio has helped transform a unit that ranked among the worst in franchise history prior to his arrival. The Bears' defense ranked 10th overall this season despite injuries to several key players, including linebacker Leonard Floyd.
 
Fangio was defensive coordinator for Carolina (1995-98), Indianapolis (1999-2001), Houston (2002-05) and San Francisco (2011-14).
 
Fox was let go after posting a 14-34 record in three years and a .292 winning percentage that ranks as the second-lowest in franchise history. The Bears were 5-11 this past season.

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Maroons Drop LeRoy

Clinton held LeRoy to single digit outputs in the first two quarters and ran away from the Panthers for a 63-50 non-conference win Tuesday night in boys basketball action at LeRoy.
 
Austin Baker paced the Maroons with 16 points and Seth Westfall added 13 points. Chase Reynolds also added 11 points as the Maroons were balanced in the scoring column Tuesday night.
 
Nick Perry led the Panthers with 18 points and Will Dooley chipped in with 10 points.
 
After the game, head coach of the Maroons, Clay Haurberg said quote - "We got our to a good start in the first half.. We played solid defense and made them take tough shots. We did a really good job of keeping Perry out of his rhythm (4 first half points). Offensively we were getting inside looks and transition baskets which helped us stretch our lead. They (LeRoy) made a really strong run at us in the second half, as Perry got into a groove and we had a few too many turnovers. We were able to maintain our composure and hit our foul shots in the fourth (7 of 8) to come away with the win."
 
The Maroons improve to 8-3 overall and the Panthers drop to the same record. 
 
The Maroons have a busy weekend as they open Central Illinois Conference play with Shelbyville at Clinton High School Friday then host the Saints of Bloomington Central Catholic Saturday in the New Year's Shootout at Clinton High School.
 
Hear Saturday's action on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW and online at dewittdailynews.com.

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Blues Outlast Devils

Carter Hutton stopped 24 shots through overtime and both attempts he faced in the shootout to help the Blues to a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.
 
Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko scored in the tiebreaker to give St. Louis its ninth straight win against New Jersey, dating back to a 7-1 loss to the Devils on Jan. 21, 2014. Tarasenko and Vladimir Sobotka scored in regulation for the Blues, who have a 30-11 scoring edge during the win streak.
 
Hutton improved to 7-3-0 on the season. He made an eye-popping pad save on Marcus Johansson with 2:09 left in overtime, and then stopped Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri in the shootout.
 
Nico Hischier and Hall scored for New Jersey. Keith Kinkaid made 27 stops through overtime, but failed on both shootout shots. The Devils have lost three straight.
 
Hall tied the score at 2-2 by banking a shot off the back of Hutton from a wide angle at 1:17 of the third period. The power play goal was the first in 24 chances for the Devils.
 
Jesper Bratt appeared to give New Jersey a 3-2 lead six minutes into the third but the goal was disallowed due to Johansson being offside on the entry after a four-minute video review.
 
Tarasenko scored his 17th goal of the season midway through the opening period, tying Schenn for the team lead and giving St. Louis a 1-0 lead.
 
Hischier tipped in a shot by Sami Vatanen to tie it with 7 1/2 minutes left in the second period.
 
Sobotka then put St. Louis ahead with just under two minutes to go in the period.
 
Blues: Host Vegas on Thursday night.
 

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Michigan State No. 1 in Coaches Poll

There's a new No. 1 team in college basketball. A week filled with upsets and previously unbeaten squads falling has shaken up the top of the latest USA Today Coaches Poll and ushered in Michigan State's first appearance at the top of the poll this season.
 
The Spartans (14-1) survived an upset-heavy week that saw the three undefeated teams in the sport all fall on Saturday, while they knocked off Cleveland State and Savannah State by a combined margin of 92 points last week. They will face an uptick in competition this week, however, as they resume Big Ten play on Thursday by welcoming Maryland into town Thursday before a daunting trip to Columbus, Ohio, to face Ohio State.
 
Rounding out the new-look top five behind Michigan State this week is Duke, Villanova, Xavier and West Virginia. 

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Packers Moving on From Thompson as GM

The Green Bay Packers, one of the most stable franchises in football, are apparently ready to transition to a new era by shaking up their front office.
 
Packers general manager Ted Thompson wasn't expected to be on the hot seat, but on Monday night, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that Thompson will transition to a new role with the team and the Packers will search for a new GM. 
 
Thompson has been the Packers' GM since 2005 and he's posted a 125-82-1 record.

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Georgia Rallies Past Oklahoma in Epic Rose Bowl

Sony Michel burst through the line for a 27-yard touchdown run to give No. 3 Georgia a 54-48 victory Monday night against No. 2 Oklahoma, winning the first overtime Rose Bowl and sending the Bulldogs to the College Football Playoff championship game.
 
Michel, who had a fumble in the fourth quarter returned for a go-ahead Oklahoma touchdown, ran for 181 yards and three scores for the Bulldogs (13-1), but none bigger than the last one in the second overtime.
 
In the final game of one of his great career, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns, and caught a touchdown pass that gave the Sooners a 17-point lead with 6 seconds left in the first half.
 
But the Heisman Trophy winner could not get the Sooners into the end zone in the first overtime when a touchdown would have ended the game.
 
The first overtime Rose Bowl was also the highest scoring, surpassing last year's 52-49 USC victory against Penn State. 
 
After an offside penalty on Georgia gave Oklahoma a first down on third-and-five in the second OT possession, the Sooners stalled again and Austin Seibert came out for a 27-yard field goal. Leaping through the line, Lorenzo Carter got his outstretched hand on the kick and the ball fluttered down short of the uprights.
 
Any score would have ended it for the Bulldogs, and on the second play Michel slipped one tackle and was home free. 
 
Michel and his running mate Nick Chubb were awesome for Georgia. Chubb ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns, including a 2-yarder on a direct snap with 55 seconds left in regulation to tie it.
 
Both teams settled for field goals in the first overtime, first Georgia's Rodrigo Blankenship from 38 to make it 48-45.
 
Then it was Mayfield's turn. A touchdown would have sent the Sooners to Atlanta, but on a third-and-2 from the 17 Georgia All-America linebacker Roquan Smith nailed Jordan Smallwood a yard short of the first down.
 
Seibert kicked a 33-yarder and the Bulldogs and Sooners played on, but not for much longer.

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Rangers Hold Off Sabres in Annual Outdoor Game

J.T. Miller scored a power-play goal 2:43 into the extra period to lift the Rangers to a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday in the NHL's 10th Winter Classic at Citi Field.
 
The Rangers went on the power play 2:15 into overtime when Jacob Josefson was whistled for tripping Jimmy Vesey. On the winner, Kevin Shattenkirk fired a shot that rebounded right to Miller, who put it in.
Paul Carey and Michael Grabner scored in the first period for the Rangers, who improved to a league-best 4-0 in outdoor games during the season. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 31 shots to help New York improve to 6-2-3 in its last 11 overall.
 
Rasmus Ristolainen had a goal and an assist, Sam Reinhart also scored and Kyle Okposo had two assists for the Sabres. Robin Lehner finished with 39 saves for Buffalo, which has just 10 wins this season but is 4-3-5 in its last 12 games.
 

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Bears fire coach John Fox after a 5-11 season

The Chicago Bears have fired John Fox after a 5-11 season, ending one of the least successful coaching stints in team history.
 
The Bears announced the move Monday, one day after a loss at NFC North champion Minnesota.
 
Fox was 14-34 in his three years with Chicago, a .292 winning percentage that ranks as the second lowest for the Bears. Only Abe Gibron was worse - 11-30-1 (.274) from 1972-74.
 
Chicago has four consecutive losing seasons - each with 10 or more losses. The Bears haven't finished above .500 since they let Lovie Smith go following a 10-6 finish in 2012 and haven't been to the playoffs since 2010.

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Michigan State New No. 1 in College Basketball

An unhinged weekend that saw the majority of conference play kick off across the country did not disappoint, as three of the final unbeaten teams in college basketball fell on Saturday — including Villanova, the No.1 team in last week's AP Top 25 poll. 
 
As a result, the top of the rankings is a mired mess with a makeover and a new name at the top.
Welcome to the No. 1 spot, Sparty!
 
Michigan State (14-1) began the season 1-1 but hasn't lost since, steadily idling in the top 5 all season before pouncing in the middle of the madness this weekend. The Spartans face a hobbled Maryland team Thursday as they look to defend their spot atop the standings.
 
Behind Michigan State is Duke (13-1). Villanova and Arizona State each fell to No. 3 and N. 4, respectively, after watching their unblemished records slip away this weekend. Rounding out the top five is Xavier, which moved up one spot from last week.
 

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McCollum scores 32, leads Blazers over Bulls 124-120 in OT

Monday night, McCollum scored 25 of his 32 points after halftime, including the tiebreaking basket with 56.5 seconds remaining in overtime, and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Chicago Bulls 124-120.
 
Al-Farouq Aminu added a season-high 24 points and Evan Turner also had his season best with 22 for Portland, which was without leading scorer Damian Lilliard for a fifth straight game.
 
Kris Dunn scored 22 points and Nikola Mirotic had 18 points off the bench for Chicago, which blew a late lead for a second straight game. The Bulls lost for only the fourth time in 14 games since Mirotic returned to the lineup.
 
Though he missed his first seven shots, McCollum was pivotal as Portland rallied from a six-point deficit in the final 2 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter. McCollum scored the final four points in regulation to tie the score at 112 and answered after Lauri Markannen, who finished with 19 points, made a jumper from the corner that tied it at 120 with 1:14 left in overtime.
 
McCollum then made his short floater and added a pair of late free throws.
 
Led by Mirotic and Bobby Portis, the Bulls' bench helped them overcome a sluggish start. Each had nine points in a second quarter in which Chicago's reserves outscored Portland's 18-7.
 
But both were on the bench for the final 7 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter and all of overtime. Portis finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
 
Bulls: Host the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.

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Black, Williams help Illini hold off Grand Canyon, 62-58

Leron Black scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Illinois past Grand Canyon University 62-58 on Saturday.
 
Da'Monte Williams only scored 3 points for the Illini, but he made them count. With Illinois up by one with 17 seconds left, Williams sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key to seal the victory for the Illini.
 
Trent Frazier scored 14 points and Michael Finke added 9 for Illinois (10-5).
 
Grand Canyon (10-5) was led by Keonta Vernon's 14 points, while Alessandro Lever scored 13 and Oscar Frayer added 10 points.
 
The Antelopes led 32-27 at the half. The lead changed hands five times in the first half.
 
Illinois went 25-57 from the field (44 percent), while Grand Canyon went 23-64 (36 percent). The Illini out-rebounded the Antelopes 44-33.

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Illinois State holds on for 84-81 OT win against Indiana St

Milik Yarbrough scored 29 points and tied a career-high with 10 rebounds, Phil Fayne scored 17 with 11 rebounds and Illinois State beat Indiana State 84-81 in overtime on Sunday.
 
Yarbrough's jumper to start overtime put Illinois State (8-6, 2-0 Missouri Valley) ahead. Indiana State's Brenton Scott made a pair of free throws to tie it at 73 before Taylor Bruninga nailed a 3 with 3:32 to play.
 
Indiana State (6-8, 1-1) missed four of its final five shots, one on a Yarbrough block of Scott, who drove for a layup with three seconds left and the Sycamores trailing 84-81.
 
Fayne grabbed the rebound, was immediately fouled and went to the free-throw line and missed both. Clayton Hughes grabbed the second miss but missed a last-second heave.
 
Fayne's tipin with 31 seconds left in regulation tied it at 70. Illinois State's Madison Williams blocked Jordan Barnes' 3-point attempt, and Hughes missed a jumper after gathering the offensive rebound.
 
Barnes led Indiana State with 17 points and Scott scored 15.

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Bradley run sends Braves past N. Iowa 72-53

Darrell Brown scored 24 points, Nate Kennell scored 14 and Donte Thomas grabbed 10 rebounds and Bradley used the second half to pull away from Northern Iowa 72-53 on Sunday.
 
The Panthers led 33-32 at halftime before Bradley (11-4, 1-1 Missouri Valley) exploded with 22-3 run to put the Braves ahead, 61-45 with 7:49 to play. Brown buried three 3s and a jumper during the run and Elijah Childs added a 3 and a jumper.
 
Northern Iowa (8-6, 0-2) made just six field goals in the second half and finished 18-of-49 shooting (37 percent). The Braves went up 8-2 before Northern Iowa tied it at 11 with Spencer Haldeman's 3 with 12:46 before halftime.
 
Ryan Stipanovich made a 3 and Kennell had a pair of free throws to put Bradley up 24-17 before Northern Iowa closed the half with a 16-8 run.
 
Isaiah Brown led Northern Iowa with 17 points and Haldeman scored 11.

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Lions beat Packers 35-11 and Caldwell stays calm, collected

Matthew Stafford threw three touchdown passes and Detroit beat the turnover-prone and short-handed Green Bay Packers 35-11 Sunday in a matchup of teams out of the playoff race.
 
The Packers (7-9) have a losing record for the first time since 2008, which is also the last time they didn't earn a spot in the playoffs. Their chances this season were crushed by Aaron Rodgers missing nine games with a collarbone injury,
 
Green Bay, without several banged-up players, gave away its chances to close with a win by turning it over three times in the first half to help the Lions lead 20-3 at halftime.
 
The Packers surprised Detroit by opening with an onside kick they recovered, but didn't take advantage because Jamaal Williams bobbled a pass that was picked off by Jarrad Davis. They did take a 3-0 lead on Mason Crosby's 41-yard field goal late in the first quarter, but Detroit tied it on the ensuing possession and took control in the second quarter.
 
Stafford threw a go-ahead, 54-yard pass to Kenny Golladay. After Green Bay's Donatello Brown allowed a punt to hit him, the Lions recovered to set up Stafford's 3-yard pass to Marvin Jones to put Detroit up 17-3. Stafford threw a 71-yard TD pass to Golden Tate late in the third, giving the Lions a 27-3 lead.
 
Brett Hundley threw 17-yard TD pass and 2-point conversion to Randall Cobb to pull the Packers within 16 early in the fourth period. Hundley was 14 of 24 for 172 yards with two interceptions and a fumble. He was replaced by Joe Callahan late in the game.
 
Stafford was 20 of 29 for 323 yards without a turnover. He caught a 2-point conversion pass after Ameer Abdullah, who had just run for a TD, took a direct snap and pitched it to Tate, who easily connected with Stafford in the end zone to put Detroit up 35-11 midway through the fourth quarter.

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Vikings get to 13-3 for playoff bye by beating Bears 23-10

Minnesota's defense turned in another dominant performance and Latavius Murray rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Vikings secure a first-round bye for the playoffs with a 23-10 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
 
Stefon Diggs caught six passes for 65 yards and a touchdown for the Vikings (13-3), who reached 13 wins for only the second time in the history of the 57-year-old franchise after holding a second straight opponent without an offensive touchdown.
 
Mitchell Trubisky finished his rookie season with a turnover-free game, completing 20 of 36 passes for 178 yards. He failed, however, to guide the Bears (5-11) across the goal line despite 11 plays from the 10-yard line or closer in the fourth quarter.
 
The Bears are 1-5 against each of their three NFC North foes under Fox.
 
After a 31-24 loss at Carolina on Dec. 10, the Vikings took advantage of teams playing out the string in the last three games to get set for the playoffs.
 
Murray has rather quietly been one of their most productive players down the stretch, helping the Vikings move the chains and work the clock while the defense holds the lead.

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Beal's 39 points lead Wizards to 114-110 win over Bulls

Bradley Beal delivered when the Wizards needed him most.
 
Beal scored 17 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter to lead Washington to a 114-110 win over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday.
 
Beal scored 15 straight points in the fourth as the Wizards rallied from an eight-point deficit early in the period. He also had nine rebounds and tied a career high with nine assists.
 
Beal became the second player this year to have at least 39 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook had 40 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists on Dec. 29.
 
ikola Mirotic scored 21 points to lead Chicago, which had won 10 of its previous 12. Kris Dunn had 19 points and 11 assists.
 
David Nwaba's two free throws with 1:26 to play gave Chicago a 108-107 lead, and Dunn hit a jumper with 54 seconds remaining.
 
Wall's three-point play with 29.4 seconds left put the Wizards up 112-110. After Beal missed two free throws, Washington got the rebound and Wall added two free throws with 9.1 seconds to play.
 
Wall had 21 points, nine assists, six rebounds and four blocked shots.
 
The difference was 3-point shooting. Washington was 16 for 36 (44.4 percent) while Chicago was 8 for 35 (22.9 percent). The Bulls missed 17 of 20 3-point attempts in the first half.

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Giordano scores in OT to lift Flames over Blackhawks

Mark Giordano scored 52 seconds into overtime to lift the Calgary Flames over the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on Sunday night.
 
Matthew Tkachuk had two goals and Sean Monahan also scored for Calgary, which had lost five of seven home games. Mike Smith turned away 34 shots.
 
Leading 1-0 after the first period thanks to a buzzer beater by Tkachuk, Calgary increased its lead to two when Tkachuk scored his second power-play goal of the night at 4:42, steering in Johnny Gaudreau's centering pass.
 
The Flames took a 3-0 lead 1:05 seconds later with Gaudreau again orchestrating the setup, this time to Monahan in front, who snapped his nine-game goalless drought.
 
Chicago answered right back with two quick goals.
 
Oesterle has goals in two straight games. He went the first 36 games his career without a goal until scoring in the 4-3 win over Edmonton on Friday.
 
Fifty-six seconds later, Oesterle was in the middle of things again, his point shot was kicked out by Smith but Toews buried the rebound.
 
With Corey Crawford (upper body) sidelined, Glass, a Calgary native, made his second-straight and second career start for Chicago and was solid again.

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Monticello Girls Win Holiday Hoopla Tournament Title

Tatum McCall scored 20 points and Zanna Myers added 13 and the Monticello Lady Sages senior guards propelled them to a Holiday Hoopla tournament title with a 53-38 win over PBL Satuday night.

 

The two seniors were aided by nine points from Emily Wilson and six points from Jana Burger as they gradually pulled away.

 

Burger pulled down a game high nine rebounds and Wilson and McCall each had six boards. Burger also had three blocks and five assists.

 

The Lady Sages are now 14-0 overall.

 

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Monticello Rolls PBL For Third At Holiday Hoopla

The Monticello Sages used another lockdown defensive effort to defeat Paxton-Buckley-Loda for the second time this month 55-23 Saturday night at the Monticello Holiday Hoopla tournament and take third place.

 

After suffering a tough loss to Ridgeview Friday afternoon, the Sages played intense defense and PBL didn’t get their first point until Andrew Swanson made a free throw with 17 seconds left in the third and didn’t record their first field goal until the 5:33 mark of the second quarter.

 

The Sages led 16-1 after the first quarter and 36-12 at the intermission.

 

Calvin Fisher paced another balanced Monticello attack with 14 points, 12 came in the first half. Ben Singleton added 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists after recording his first career double-double Friday against Ridgeview.

 

The Sages made 21 field goals from 14 assists and shot 57% from the floor.

 

Senior point guard Johnny Dawson did not play Saturday with a bad ankle. He is expected to return to the lineup next Saturday when the Sages host Olympia.

 

Devin Graham started in Dawson’s absence and scored six points. Cam Dyson added six points for Monticello as well.

 

The Sages host Olympia next Saturday at 2:30 pm at Miller Gymnasium at Monticello High School. Though the two are a part of the new Illini Prairie Conference, the game will not count towards their conference records.

 

Hear the action next week on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.

 

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Big Third Quarter Propels Monticello Girls Past Ridgeview

Zanna Myers and Tatum McCall took over the third quarter and propelled the Monticello Lady Sages past Ridgeview 45-29 Friday from girls Holiday Hoopla action at Monticello High School.

 

McCall and Myers each had eight points in the third quarter as the Lady Sages outscored the Lady Mustangs 20-3 to open up a 39-19 advantage after having just a 19-16 halftime lead.

 

McCall led the way for Monticello with 15 points, finishing 6-for-6 from the free throw line. Myers had a double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds, going 6-for-7 from the line.

 

The Lady Sages as a team went 15-for-17 at the charity stripe.

 

After struggling from beyond the arc in the first half and struggling to just four points and one field goal in the second quarter, the Monticello offense came alive after Emily Wilson knocked down a three to give Monticello a 25-16 advantage.

 

Wilson finished with nine points.

 

The Lady Sages improve to 11-0 on the season and will play for the Hoopla title tomorrow night at 6pm.

 

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Ridgeview Gets Past Monticello

Ben Singleton picked up his first double-double but Monticello’s two leading scorers were held down and the Sages lost for the first time this season, 37-35 to Ridgeview in pool play at the Monticello Holiday Hoopla.

 

Singleton led the Sages with 12 points and ten rebounds. He scored nine points in the first half, helping Monticello keep pace with the Mustangs after Calvin Fisher and Nick Stokowski left with foul trouble. Stokowski only played five minutes in the first half after picking up two quick fouls.

 

Monticello trailed Ridgeview 17-16 at the intermission.

 

The Sages surged ahead in the third quarter after Jacob Donaldson picked up his third and fourth fouls. Monticello finished the third quarter on a 10-2 run after trailing 22-16 to start the quarter.

 

Donaldson quickly picked up his fifth foul 19 seconds into the fourth quarter but Monticello could not capitalize.

 

The Sages looked to be in control with a 33-29 advantage at the 4:50 mark of the fourth, but Ridgeview took control defensively and the Sages could not find a good shot as they missed their last seven shots.

 

A desperation three with time running out was no good by Fisher but he was fouled on the play with 0.4 seconds and missed the first of the three free throws, making the second and an offensive rebound chance for the Sages fell short as time expired.

 

Justin Myers scored 14 points to lead all scorers for Ridgeview. Despite missing virtually the entire fourth quarter, Donaldson finished with 12 points and seven rebounds. Tristan Campbell scored six points with a pair of fourth quarter three’s, one for the go-ahead score from top of the key that gave Ridgeview a 34-33 lead and then from the left wing that broke a 34-all tie with 50 seconds left.

 

Fisher finished with nine points and six rebounds. He was 0-for-5 from beyond the arc. Stokowski added eight points and nine rebounds.

 

The Sages only committed nine turnovers and controlled the glass 37-27, however, they could only get eight points off turnovers and six second chance points. The Sages downfall was the shot making, as they went just 15-for-50 from the floor, for 30-percent.

 

The Sages will play in the 3rd/4th place game Saturday night at 6 pm at Monticello High School. Hear all the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.

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Maroa-Forsyth Holds Off Blue Ridge

Dannish Mahmood scored 25 points to lead three Maroa-Forsyth scorers in double-figures as the Trojans held off Blue Ridge 64-61 Thursday at the Decatur St. Teresa Holiday Tournament.
 
The Trojans trailed 36-33 at the break and were much closer thanks to Mahmood's 12 first half points.
 
The Trojans held a 15-10 third quarter advantage to take control.
 
Hayden Mitchell scored 12 points for the Trojans and Aaron Woodrow added ten.
The Knights were led by Clay Stevens and Tim Crook with 14 points apiece. Dan Houser added 13 points and Nick Burrow chipped in with 12 points for a balanced attack by the Knights.
 
The Decatur St. Teresa Holiday Tournament resumes today. 

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Bucks Beat Timberwolves

Eric Bledsoe scored 26 points and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 22 points and 10 rebounds to help the Bucks rally from a 20-point deficit and win back their crowd with a 102-96 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night.
 
Bledsoe had six points and two key assists down the stretch and the Bucks found their missing defense, holding the Timberwolves to a season-low 12 points in the fourth quarter. Minnesota went cold over the last 4:21 and had its five-game winning streak snapped.
 
Bledsoe took a pass from Antetokounmpo and made an open 3-pointer from the corner to give the Bucks their first lead of the game at 95-93 with 2:25 to go. Bledsoe followed with a three-point play and then found Antetokounmpo under the basket for an easy two points, pushing the lead to 100-93 with 1:04 left.
 
Khris Middleton and John Henson added 14 apiece for Milwaukee.
 
Jamal Crawford scored 11 points.
 
Jimmy Butler finished with 20 points and seven assists. 

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Canucks Roll Blackhawks

Thomas Vanek had two goals and three assists, Brock Boeser added a goal and three assists, and the Vancouver Canucks snapped a four-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.
 
Sam Gagner had two goals and an assist for Vancouver (16-17-5), which returned from its Christmas break with just its second victory in the last 10 games. Jacob Markstrom made 30 saves.
 
Chicago (17-14-5) has lost three in a row after winning five straight. Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman scored for the Blackhawks, and Anton Forsberg made 26 saves while subbing for injured starter Corey Crawford.
 
The Canucks snapped a 1-1 tie with seven minutes left in the second period when Vanek, who was robbed twice by Forsberg in the first, finally broke through. Boeser played the puck behind the net to Gagner, and he set up Vanek's 11th goal with a no-look pass to the forward in front.
 
Gagner then gave Vancouver a two-goal cushion 1:27 into the third when he took a pass from Vanek and beat Forsberg for his sixth of the year. Forsberg got the start after the Blackhawks put Crawford on injured reserve Wednesday with an upper-body injury.
 
Gagner, who once had an eight-point game against Chicago when he played for Edmonton in 2012, has two goals and four assists during his four-game point streak after recording just a goal and an assist over his previous nine outings.
 
Vanek got his second of the night with 3:31 left when Boeser, who retook the NHL rookie scoring lead with his four points, fed a behind-the-back pass in front to set up his linemate's 12th of the season.
 

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Drake Edges Bradley in Missouri Valley Conference Opener

Graham Woodward and Ore Arogundade hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give Drake the lead and Nick McGlynn's two free throws made it stand up for a 66-64 win over Bradley in the Missouri Valley Conference opener on Thursday night.
 
The game was tied at intermission, 33-33, and neither team could build more than a single-digit lead in the second half.
 
The game was tied, 58-58 with under four minutes to play and Darrell Brown gave Bradley the lead on a jumper with 2:55 to play. Woodward's trey gave Drake the lead for good at 61-60 and Arogundade pushed it to 64-60. Brown hit two free throws to get within two before McGlynn's free throws pushed the lead back to four. Luuk van Bree hit a layup with a second left to set the final margin.
 
Arogundade finished with 15 points to lead Drake (7-7, 1-0). Woodward added 13 points and McGlynn added 11 points and 11 rebounds.
 
Brown had 19 points to lead Bradley (10-4, 0-1).

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Monticello Blows By Tuscola

Calvin Fisher and Luke Stokowski scored ten points apiece leading a balanced Monticello attack Thursday night over Tuscola 55-25 in the nightcap of their day-night doubleheader in day one  action at the Monticello Holiday Hoopla tournament.

 

Fisher scored all ten of his points in the second quarter, as the Sages used an 18-5 quarter to open up a 28-9 lead at the intermission.

 

Stokowski scored eight of his ten in the third quarter.

 

Alek Bundy and Johnny Dawson each scored eight, Ben Singleton added six points and Devin Graham and Cam Dyson each had five points.

 

The Sages outrebounded Tuscola 29-23 with 12 offensive rebounds and 17 second chance points. Monticello forced 22 turnovers resulting in 19 points and scored 42-points in the paint.

 

The Sages return to action Friday afternoon with Ridgeview, the number one team in Class 1A.

 

Game time is 3:30 pm from Monticello High School. Hear all the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.

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Lady Sages Hold Off Lady Warriors

The Monticello Lady Sages held off a frantic comeback by the Tuscola Lady Warriors for a 54-42 victory Thursday night from the Monticello Holiday Hoopla tournament in girls basketball action.

 

Leading 45-25 after three quarters, the Lady Warriors outscored the Lady Sages 17-9 but their comeback fell short and Monticello finished day one of Holiday Hoopla play 2-0.

 

The Lady Sages were led by Tatum McCall, who finished with 22 points. Zanna Myers added 16.

 

Marissa Russo was the only Tuscola player to score in double figures. Alexis Koester added eight points, Natalie Bates and Grace Dietrich added six points.

 

The Lady Sages will take on Ridgeview tomorrow afternoon for a chance to play for the Holiday Hoopla championship. Game time is 2 pm. Hear all the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.

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