Local Sports

Class 3A Rankings Stead, Illini Prairie's Tolono Unity Enters at No. 10

The Class 3A high school football state rankings remained the same with the Monticello Sages remaining at No. 6 after their big 19-15 win over previously No. 5 ranked in 4A Prairie Central Friday night.

 

The Sages used a gritty performance that set up a chance on their final possession when they used a double-reverse flea-flicker that Chris Brown caught in the front corner of the end zone from quarterback Joey Sprinkle. 

 

Tolono Unity enters the top-10 at No. 10. Williamsville remains No. 1, followed by Byron, Princeton - who received a vote for No. 1 - then Wilmington and Rock Island.

 

Maroa-Forsyth remains No. 1 in Class 2A. Decatur St. Teresa dropped from No. 2 to No. 4 moving Quincy Notre Dame to No. 2 followed by Breese Mater Dei. Tri-Valley checks in at No. 10 in a tie with Bismarck-Henning. 

 

In Class 1A, Central A&M stayed steady at No. 4. Lena-Winslow despite being 1-1 remains No. 1.

Rochester is No. 1 in Class 4A and Mt. Zion checks in at No. 8.

 

Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin is No. 1 in Class 5A. Decatur MacArthur fell out of this week's rankings. 

 

Peoria Central dropped from No. 4 to No. 6 in Class 6A and Chatham-Glenwood drops a spot to No. 9. 

 

Normal Community gained a spot in the Class 7A rankings to No. 9. 

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Lady Maroons Fall to Riverton

Clinton 25 Riverton 22
Clinton 11 Riverton 25
Clinton 14 Riverton 25

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Andrew Vaughn Makes White Sox Opening Day Roster

The Chicago White Sox announced on Tuesday that they will purchase the contract of Andrew Vaughn, the No. 3 pick in the 2019 draft, ahead of Opening Day. 

 

Vaughn, a natural first baseman, is expected to see action in left field during Eloy Jimenez's absence. Jimenez recently tore a pectoral muscle while trying to rob a home run. (White Sox manager Tony La Russa did suggest he might start Leury Garcia in left on Opening Day.)

 

Vaughn appeared in 24 games this spring, hitting .271/.377/.458 with two home runs and eight walks. Baseball Reference's calculations suggest he faced an average quality of opponent who spent the 2019 season in between High- and Double-A. In 55 minor-league games in 2019, he hit .278/.384/.449 across three levels.

 

Vaughn is the second notable addition the White Sox will make ahead of Opening Day, joining veteran corner infielder Jake Lamb. Lamb joined the White Sox earlier this week after being released by the Atlanta Braves. 

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Illinois State Tops Eastern Illinois

The Illinois State baseball team topped Eastern Illinois, 4-3, in a 7-inning, rain-shortened contest at Monier Field.

 

The Panthers (13-11 overall) threatened in the 7th and final inning by reducing their deficit to one run with the bases load, but the 'Birds escaped on a ground ball induced by sophomore Derek Salata. 

 

Junior Jack Anderson threw five innings, giving up just two hits and one earned run to get the win for Illinois State (8-14 overall). Anderson retired the last 11 batters he faced. 

 

Junior Aidan Huggins recorded was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two runs scored while junior Tyson Hays had two hits and drove in Huggins twice. 

 

The game was the Redbirds' final tune-up before traveling to Southern Illinois Friday-Sunday to begin Missouri Valley Conference play.  

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Blackhawks Edge Hurricanes

Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat scored in a 3:33 span early in the second period, Kevin Lankinen made 31 saves and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 on Tuesday night.

 

Chicago ended Carolina's three-game winning streak and handed the Hurricanes their second regulation loss in 15 games (11-2-2) despite being outshot 32-16.

 

Chicago was badly outplayed early, but managed to buckle down defensively after getting a two-goal lead and limiting the Hurricanes. Andrei Svechnikov scored late in the second for Carolina, which missed a chance to leapfrog both Tampa Bay and Florida into first place in the Central Division.

 

The Blackhawks snapped a two-game slide and won for just the third time in nine games (3-6-0) as they battle for fourth place and the final playoff spot in the Central.

 

Strome connected after missing Sunday's contest for the birth of his first child, Weslie Margaret.

 

DeBrincat's team leading 19th goal was his third in two games.

 

Alex Nedeljkovic made 14 saves.

 

The Hurricanes dominated the scoreless first period, outshooting the Blackhawks 9-1 in the opening six minutes and 13-5 in the frame.

 

Chicago struck quickly in the second.

 

Strome opened the scoring on the first shot of the second, firing in his sixth goal from the right circle just 29 seconds in. His shot glanced off Nedeljkovic's upper left arm and found the net.

 

DeBrincat's quick power-play goal at 4:02 made it 2-0. Patrick Kane stripped the puck from Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce in the slot, and fed DeBrincat at the right edge of the crease for a tap-in.

 

The Blackhawks and Lankinen held on in the final minutes after Carolina pulled Nedeljkovic for an extra attacker.

 

The teams meet again Thursday in Chicago. 

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NFL Approves 17-Game Season

The NFL is increasing the regular season to 17 games and planning to have full stadiums for those games.

 

While reducing the preseason to three games the league will be able to generate additional revenue, of course. America’s most popular sport also will provide more content for the broadcast partners who soon will be spending a total of about $10 billion a year on rights fees.

 

Team owners at a virtual meeting on Tuesday approved the 17th game as expected, marking the first time in 43 years the regular season has been increased. It went from 14 to 16 games in 1978.

 

The Super Bowl now will move back a week to Feb. 13, which places it directly in the middle of the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Coincidentally, NBC has the broadcast rights to both.

 

Each extra NFL game will be an interconference matchup based on where teams finished in the previous season. AFC teams will be hosting the 17th game in 2021.

 

Beyond next season, the league plans for some of the extra games to be played at international sites, with regular hosts London and Mexico City possibly joined by other venues.

 

The Super Bowl will be played in Los Angeles at SoFi Stadium.

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Lady Maroons Volleyball Falls to Martinsville

Martinsville rallied in the middle and rubber sets with Clinton to beat the Lady Maroons in non-conference girls volleyball action Monday night. 

 

After Clinton took the first set 28-26, Martinsville took the next two 25-19 and 25-22.

 

Mallory Cyulik and Chloe Griffin each recorded seven kills to lead the Lady Maroons. Marlee Fatheree had 18 digs and Phoenix Bieber added 15 assists.

 

The Lady Maroons have a quick turnaround hosting Riverton tonight.

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Warriors Drop Bulls

Stephen Curry made a triumphant return from a five-game absence with a bruised tailbone to score 32 points with six 3-pointers, and the Golden State Warriors snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the Chicago Bulls 116-102 on Monday night.

 

Draymond Green contributed 11 points, nine assists and five rebounds as all five Golden State starters scored in double digits to keep the team from a season-worst fifth straight defeat. Rookie James Wiseman had four blocks.

 

Nikola Vucevic had 21 points, nine rebounds and six assists in his second game with Chicago since being traded from the Magic. But the Bulls lost their fourth straight and sixth in seven.

 

A heat wrap on his backside during extended breaks, Curry shot 11 for 24 in his 18th 30-point performance of the season. The two-time MVP hurt the tailbone March 17 at Houston.

 

He made three quick 3-pointers and had 13 points in the opening quarter. Curry landed hard on his backside late in the first and spent the second quarter again with a wrap.

 

Coby White tried to warm up but wound up missing the game with neck pain. 

 

The Bulls haven't won on Golden State's home floor in eight tries since a 113-111 overtime victory on Jan. 27, 2015.

 

The Bulls are at Phoenix on Wednesday.

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Wizards Topple Pacers

Russell Westbrook had 35 points, a season-high 21 assists and 14 rebounds for his NBA-leading 16th triple-double, helping the Washington Wizards to a 132-124 win over the Indiana Pacers on Monday night.

 

Westbrook also claimed the franchise career triple-double record in just his 38th game with the Wizards, this one coming while teammate and NBA leading scorer Bradley Beal sat out with a bruised hip. Darrell Walker had 15 triple-doubles in 283 games for Washington between 1987-1991.

 

Rui Hachimura scored 26 points and Chandler Hutchison had 18 in his debut with the Wizards, who won their second straight after losing eight of nine.

 

Domantas Sabonis had 35 points and 11 rebounds for the Pacers, who lost for the second time in six games.

 

Indiana entered in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, two games ahead of Chicago for the 10th and final play-in spot. The Pacers are now four games ahead of the Wizards, who began the day in 13th.

 

Malcolm Brogdon added 26 points for Indiana, which was outrebounded 55-37.

 

The Pacers host Miami on Wednesday.

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Joey Logano Takes Checkered Flag at Bristol on Dirt

Joey Logano got a jump on Denny Hamlin on the overtime restart to earn his third career victory at Bristol. But this was not the Bristol of old, the track had been covered with 2,300 truckloads of red Tennessee clay so that NASCAR could add a dirt track to the Cup schedule for the first time since 1970.

 

Logano became the seventh race winner through seven races this season and gave Team Penske back-to-back victories. Ryan Blaney won in a Penske Ford last week.

 

The Logano victory closed a weekend of uncertainty and even some hysteria as NASCAR launched this drive through the dirt. It was broadcast partner Fox who wanted a dirt race on the Cup schedule and Speedway Motorsports, seeking some new energy at its beloved Bristol bullring, said it would take the race.

 

So NASCAR awarded the experiment to Bristol, bypassing dozens of quality established dirt tracks across the country. The snub extended to Tony Stewart, who had successfully hosted seven Truck Series races at his Eldora Speedway dirt track in Ohio but said was never considered for a Cup race.

 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., a veteran dirt racer, was second for his highest finish of the season. Hamlin, who had last raced on dirt in go-karts when he was 8, finished third.

 

Daniel Suarez was a season-best fourth for new team Trackhouse Racing, which is part-owned by Pitbull. Suarez’s first drive on dirt came in Friday practice and he caught on so quickly that he led his first laps of the season — 58 of them in all — and even bumped Logano out of his way to take over the point.

 

But Logano took over with 61 laps remaining and wasn’t challenged until the final restart when the race went to a two-lap overtime.

 

Seven of the Cup regulars entered the Truck Series race just to get some track time on an unknown surface, a decision that bought them two additional practice sessions as well as Monday’s earlier race. Truex, a dirt novice, dominated the field to win the trucks and led a race-high 126 of the 253 laps.

 

Suarez was the other benefactor of adding the truck to his schedule with a breakthrough finish for his brand new team. Of the so-called dirt experts, it was Stenhouse with a quiet runner-up finish who delivered.

 

Ryan Newman, who in the past few years began racing a bit on dirt with some regularity, finished a season-high fifth.

 

There had been serious pre-race concern that the 3,400-pound Cup cars were too heavy for the Goodyear tires on the dirt surface. The combination on Friday, in addition to kicking up serious dirt, caused the tires to wear to the cords while deep ruts developed on the track.

 

The rain that washed out Sunday racing also washed away much of the problems, and an all-nighter by the Bristol track prep crew had the surface ready to go for the doubleheader. It wasn’t perfect and the dust was an absolute visibility hazard for the drivers, so much so that midway through the race NASCAR ordered all restarts would be single-file to mitigate the sudden burst of airborne dirt.

 

NASCAR is off for Easter and the Cup Series resumes Saturday night April 10 under the lights at Martinsville Speedway. Martin Truex Jr. is the defending race winner.

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Martin Truex, Jr. Wins Truck Race at Briston on Dirt

Martin Truex, Jr. dominated the Monday afternoon truck race and then quickly turned his attention to the main event at Bristol Motor Speedway.

 

NASCAR’s first Cup Series race at a dirt track was delayed a day when torrential rain flooded Bristol’s parking lots and campgrounds and turned Monday into a doubleheader. Truex was one of seven Cup drivers entered in the trucks’ opener in their attempt to learn how to race the surface.

 

Truex, who ran one Truck Series race in both 2005 and 2006, had almost no dirt experience before Bristol. He led 105 of the 150 laps, won all three stages and beat series regulars Ben Rhodes, Raphael Lessard and Todd Gilliland for the win.

 

Chase Briscoe, a Cup Series rookie with a dirt racing background, finished fourth.

 

Truex won in a Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports and gave the organization its third consecutive win this season.

 

As soon as Truex took the checkered flag, the Bristol crew went to work prepping the track for the Cup race.

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ISU Finishes Out Suspended Saturday Game for Win; Drops Series Finale

The Illinois State baseball team won the second game of the series against Arkansas State, 10-9, before dropping the series finale, 13-6, on a windy Sunday at Duffy Bass Field. 

 

The Redbirds (7-14 overall) and Red Wolves (5-14 overall) resumed Saturday's game, which was postponed due to weather, in the bottom of the 4th inning. 

 

Freshman Ryan Cermak accumulated four hits (1B, 2B, 3B, HR) and six RBIs between the two games. Senior Jordan Libman was walked seven times and blasted a 414-foot home run to center field over the two contests. 

 

Sophomore Hayden Jones hit a three-run home run in the nightcap.

 

The Redbirds were out-hit in both contests, with ASU holding 12-10 and 19-7 advantages on the day.

 

In the resumed game, ISU plated three runs in the 5th inning, headlined by a two-run Cermak triple. 

 

Cermak's homer in the 7th inning to put the 'Birds up 8-2 before the Red Wolves cut the lead to 9-8 in the 8th inning but Libman's solo home run provided ISU with a much-needed insurance run as ASU scored one run in the 9th inning. Derek Salata used one pitch to record his second save of the season, stranding a runner on second. 

 

In the second game, ASU scored the game's first three runs, but a Cermak RBI tied it at 3-3 in the 5th inning. 

 

Jones' 5th inning home run put the 'Birds up, 6-3. 

 

The Red Wolves plated the game's next 10 runs to seal the victory. 

 

Illinois State is scheduled to face Eastern Illinois on the road on Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. CT. The 'Birds then travel to Southern Illinois on Friday to begin Missouri Valley Conference play. 

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Northwestern Takes Weekend Series With Illini After Sunday Rubber Match Win

The Northwestern Wildcats got off to a fast start Sunday and never looked back as they beat Illinois 12-5 Sunday in the weekend home opener for Illinois. 

 

Sunday was the rubber match between Illinois and Northwestern after an Illini win on Friday and a Wildcats victory on Saturday. 

 

After one inning of play the score was tied at 1-1. Sophomore catcher Ryan Hampe (1-for-4, 2 RBIs) got the Illini on the board in the first with a sacrifice fly. Following that inning, Northwestern (9-5) led the game the rest of the way courtesy of five home runs for the Wildcats.

 

Sophomores Branden Comia, Jacob Campbell and Cam McDonald each had two-hit performances on Sunday. 

 

Comia's career-long on-base streak is up to 33 games dating back to the 2019 season.

 

Freshman Justin Janas extended his on-base streak to a career-best 13 games with a hit and a run scored. Fellow freshman Andrew Kim launched his first career home run with one out in the ninth inning.

 

Illinois (7-8) will be back at Illinois Field next weekend for a three-game set against Nebraska. The scheduled start times for the series are 4 p.m. CT on Friday and 1 p.m. CT on both Saturday and Sunday.

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Murray State Rallies Past Eastern Illinois

As heard on WHOW, Damonta Witherspoon scored two rushing touchdowns and Preston Rice threw and ran for scores and Murray State overcame a two-touchdown deficit late to beat Eastern Illinois 41-27 on Sunday.
 

The two were knotted at 10 at halftime when Mark Williams came up with a 38-yard pick-6 against Rice to start the third. Aaron Baum tied a school record with a 58-yard field goa l to bring the Racers (5-0, 5-0 Ohio Valley Conference) within 17-13.

 

On Eastern Illinois’ (1-4, 1-4) following drive, Jordan Smith ran 80 yards for a 24-13 lead, and Stone Galloway’s 29-yard field goal made it a 14-point game with 9:29 left in the third. Smith finished with 142 rushing on 13 carries.

 

Murray State proceeded to score back-to-back touchdowns before the quarter ended as Rice found DeQuan Dallas on a 15-yard touchdown pass with 7:40 left in the third before running Rice ran it in from 2-yards out 2-1/2 minutes later to tie it.

 

Baum followed with field goals of 26 and 37 yards and Witherspoon’s 4-yard touchdown run with 3:33 sealed it.

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Bears Make It Official With RB Williams

The Chicago Bears signed former Kansas City Chiefs running back and Super Bowl 54 star Damien Williams to a one-year contract on Friday, giving them depth to go with David Montgomery.

 

Williams, who opted out last season because of COVID-19 concerns and to spend time with his mother as she battled stage 4 cancer, was released by the Chiefs on March 16. He ran for 498 yards and five touchdowns in 2019 and played a huge role in Kansas City's 31-20 Super Bowl victory over San Francisco. He scored two TDs in the closing minutes on a 5-yard catch and 38-yard run, and finished with 104 yards rushing in the game.

 

Williams has 1,231 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns in six seasons with Miami and Kansas City. He has 1,106 yards receiving and 10 TD catches.

 

Williams also has 11 touchdowns in six playoff games, running for six scores and catching five.

 

The Bears also re-signed cornerback Artie Burns to a one-year deal.

 

He signed with Chicago last March, only to miss the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during practice in August. He was drafted by Pittsburgh with the 25th overall pick in 2016 and played his first four seasons with the Steelers.

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Ducks Down Blues

Josh Manson scored in opening minutes of overtime and the Anaheim Ducks rallied from a two-goal deficit and beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 Sunday night.

 

Adam Henrique and Can Fowler scored in regulation for Anaheim, which completed a two-game sweep over the Blues. Anaheim won 4-1 Friday.

 

Ducks goaltender Anthony Stolarz made 37 saves in his first start of the season. Stolarz started his first game since March 11, 2020, also against St. Louis, in the teams' last game before the COVID-19 shutdown. Stolarz won for the first time since Feb. 12, 2019, as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.

 

Manson scored his first goal of the season 1:42 into overtime on a pass from Stolarz. Anaheim won for the first time in 15 games this season when trailing after two periods.

 

Jordan Binnington made 21 saves, and Ryan O'Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko scored for the Blues, who are 0-5-2 in their last seven home games.

 

Tarasenko scored his second goal of the season on a power play with 4:01 remaining in the first period to put St. Louis up 2-0. It was Tarasenko's first goal in since March 12 against Vegas, snapping a seven-game scoring drought.

 

O'Reilly scored his 12th goal of the season 2:27 into the game on a feed from Vladimir Tarasenko. It marked the first time St. Louis had scored first in its last nine games.

 

The NHL announced that the Blues play at Los Angeles on May 10 to make up their game against the Kings that was postponed on March 15, with Los Angeles unable to leave Denver due to winter weather.

 

The Blues play at Colorado Friday night for the first of back-to-back games in Denver.

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Preds Roll Blackhawks

Roman Josi scored with 6:33 left in the third period and the surging Nashville Predators beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on Sunday night for their fifth straight victory.

 

Viktor Arvidsson and Calle Jarnkrok scored on fluky plays in the first period for Nashville, which won for the seventh time in eight games and moved into a tie with Chicago for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division. Pekka Rinne stopped 27 shots.

 

The Predators had to bounce back late in this one to sweep a two-game set in Chicago after the Blackhawks' Alex DeBrincat scored two goals 1:50 apart in the third period to tie the score at 2. Malcolm Subban finished with 28 saves.

 

Chicago, which dropped its second game in two nights to the Predators, has lost six of eight. The Blackhawks were limited once again for most of the game by defense-minded Nashville, which won 3-1 on Saturday.

 

With Nashville ahead 2-0, DeBrincat got Chicago on the board at 7:35 of the third when he whipped in a one-timer from the right circle after Rinne had lost his stick. Patrick Kane's pinpoint cross-ice pass set it up.

 

DeBrincat tied it with his 18th goal at 9:25. He sped around defenseman Dante Fabbro, cut across the crease and tucked in a shot to cap a nifty play.

 

Blackhawks C Dylan Strome didn't play because of the birth of his first child.

 

The Blackhawks host Carolina on Tuesday in the first of a two-game set.

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Race on Dirt at Bristol Postponed to Monday

Torrential rains flooded campgrounds and parking lots surrounding Bristol Motor Speedway and created a rut for NASCAR far deeper than anything the Cup Series drivers encountered on the track.'

NASCAR canceled all Sunday activity because even if Bristol’s converted dirt track could eventually be readied for night racing, the entire facility was a swampy mess. Grandstand seats that had been covered in dust were caked in mud, while pit road and the apron around the 0.533-mile bullring held several inches of standing water.'

After 2 1/2 inches of rain fell across “Thunder Valley,” NASCAR made an atypical decision to call an early washout. The first Cup Series race on dirt since 1970 was rescheduled for 4 p.m. Monday; trucks were set to run at noon.

 

The track was ready in time to host the Bristol Dirt Nationals a week ago, when Super Late Models, Sport Mods, Modifieds and 602 Late Models raced largely without issue.

 

Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon competed and NASCAR leaned on both for guidance during this weird weekend.

 

Issues began to crop up Friday when Cup and Trucks held their practice sessions. The dust that kicked up from the dirt was thick, but the main concern was the durability of the tires provided by Goodyear. Drivers reported significant wear down to the cords on their tires and the 3,400-pound stock cars were tearing up the track surface.

 

NASCAR made tweaks to in-race procedures to allot additional time for track prep and granted teams an additional set of tires for the race. When rain stopped Saturday, the trucks were sent out to start heat races, but it took just one lap for the rain-soaked track to splatter windshields with a thick layer of mud and cake the front grilles — putting every competitor into a blinding situation with a fear of an overheating engine.

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Billy Horschel Takes Home WGC Match Play Championship

Billy Horschel made only one birdie in the championship match against Scottie Scheffler, and that was on the fifth hole when he chipped in from below the green. Even with nothing but pars and one bogey the rest of the way, he never lost a hole at the Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas.

 

On two par 5s, Horschel was in the fairway and Scheffler had to take a penalty drop, and both times they halved the hole with a par (No. 6) and a bogey (No. 12). On another par 5 with a chance to close out the match, Horschel again was in the fairway and Scheffler was in the trees with barely a shot out to the fairway. Horschel had to get up and down from a bunker behind the green to halve the 16th.

 

It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t easy. But he won on the 17th hole when Scheffler couldn’t make a 10-foot birdie to send the match down the final hole.

 

Max Homa had a putt to send him home on Friday. Horschel had to make a 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole against Tommy Fleetwood in the quarterfinals, and then won that match when Fleetwood hit out-of-bounds on the first extra hole. Even then, Horchel had to make a 5-foot putt.

 

And it helped that at the end of the five-day tournament, neither Victor Perez in the semifinals nor Scheffler in the championship match had their best stuff. By the end of the week, it seems no one did.

 

Perez lost three holes on the back nine with bogeys.

 

Scheffler, who had made 15 birdies in 31 hole to beat Ian Poulter and Jon Rahm on Saturday, and who made a 10-foot birdie on the 17th hole that led to a tough win over Matt Kuchar in the semifinals, didn’t make anything in the last match. His only birdie was conceded from 35 feet because Horschel had hit into a hazard.

 

Horschel has never played in the Ryder Cup, and while he remains outside the top qualifying spots, he still has four majors and a World Golf Championship on his schedule.

 

Horschel played in the Walker Cup against Rory McIlroy in 2007 at Royal County Down, where he got under McIlroy’s skin with his passion for team play and beat him in singles and foursomes match before McIlroy returned the favor by beating Horschel in Sunday singles.

 

But match play hasn’t always worked out for him as a pro. In four previous trips to this event, Horschel never got to the weekend. The one loss that stings was against McIlroy — him again — at Harding Park in 2015, when McIlroy birdied the last two holes and beat him on the 20th hole with a par.

 

Timing wasn’t on his side the one shot he had at the Ryder Cup. The captain’s picks were made the week before Horschel won the last two FedEx Cup playoff events, and beat McIlroy at East Lake to capture the cup.

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Late Trick Play Lifts No. 6 Monticello Past No. 5 Prairie Central

Joey Sprinkle hit Chris Brown on a double-reverse-flea-flicker and no. 6 (3A) Monticello beat No. 5 (4A) Prairie Central 19-15 Friday night in Illini Prairie Conference football action from Lewis Field in Fairbury. 

 

As heard on WEZC, Prairie Central scored on a ten-yard touchdown run by junior Conner Casner with 1:09 and the Hawks converted the two-point conversion to make the score 15-12.

 

The ensuing kickoff was returned 30-yards by Brown to set the Sages up for their go-ahead score.

 

The Hawks drove 68 yards on the opening possession to take a 7-0 lead but did not score again Casner’s touchdown late. 

 

After a slow start offensively, Joey Sprinkle kept a play alive with under a minute left in the second quarter and hit Tristan Foran for a 45 yard pass and then found Foran wide open in the back of the end zone on the next play for a nine-yard touchdown to bring them to 7-6 at the half.

 

Sprinkle connected with Hayden Graham on a 25-yard touchdown pass on a wheel route and gave the Sages a 12-7 lead. 

 

Sprinkle finished 10-for-21 and 120 yards and three touchdowns and added 37 yards on the ground. 

 

Hunter Williams picked off Kaden King on a third down with the Hawks driving. 

 

Foran hauled in four catches for 64 yards with his touchdown. Brown was again limited Friday, managing only 12 yards on the ground and his 15-yard touchdown reception. 

 

The Sages improve to 2-0 on the season and are scheduled to host Rantoul next Friday night.

 

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Clinton Maroons fall to Tuscola Warriors

As heard on WHOW, the Clinton Maroons fall to the Tuscola Warriors by a score of 50-27 on Friday night.

 

The Maroons were led by Zeke Hickman who was 6 for 15 passing for 47 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also had 2 rushing for 94 yards and a touchdown. Andrew Pagel was 8 rushing for 21 yards. The B-Roc Design player of the game was Seth Constance.

 

The Warriors were led by Peyton Armstrong who was 4 for 13 passing for 30 yards and a touchdown. He was also 16 rushing for 131 yards and 2 touchdowns. Grant Hardwick had 10 rushing for 80 yards and 2 touchdowns.

 

With the loss, the Maroons fall to 0-2 overall. Tuscola improves to 1-1 overall.

 

Tune in Friday, April 2nd as the Maroons take on Warrensburg-Lathem. You can hear the game live on the Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW, online at dewittdailynews.com, on the WHOW mobile app, and on Amazon Alexa.

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Lady Maroons Volleyball Takes Down Sullivan

The Clinton Lady Maroons took sets one and three to drop Sullivan 25-22, 24-26, and 25-22 Thursday night at Clinton High School.

 

Phoenix Bieber led the Lady Maroons with 13 assists, Marlee Fatheree had seven digs and Chloe Griffin led Clinton with eight kills. 

 

The Lady Maroons are 1-1 overall.

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Clinton Takes on Tuscola

The Clinton Maroons will look to rebound from a 56-0 loss to Decatur St. Teresa last Friday night when they head to Tuscola to take on the Warriors tonight.

 

Central A&M rolled Tuscola last Saturday 42-23. 

 

After a split of Friday and Saturday games last week, CIC games will all be played tonight. 

Hear tonight's action on 92.3 FM WHOW, at dewittdailynews.com, ath the WHOW mobile app, and Amazon Alexa.

 

Central Illinois Conference matchups tonight:

 

Decatur St. Teresa vs. Sullivan-Okaw Valle
Central A & M vs. Warrensburg-Latham
Shelbyville vs. Meridian

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Central Illinois Outdoors All About Crappie Fishing This Weekend

It's all about crappie on Central Illinois Outdoors this week.

 

Host Jared White has a trio of guests this week that will discuss crappie fishing as the fishing season starts to pick up. The Archer's Alley Catch of the Week takes us to Lake Shelbyville this week as well....

 

 

Get all the details and find podcasts of the show at centralillinoisoutdoors.com. 

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Monticello Travels to Prairie Central

Perhaps the game of the week in central Illinois takes place in Fairbury when Class 3A No. 6 Monticello travels to Prairie Central - ranked No. 5 in Class 4A. 

 

The Sages held off Bloomington Central Catholic last Friday 20-7. The Hawks matchup with Rantoul last week was canceled. 

 

Game time tonight 7 pm. Hear all the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.

Illini Prairie matchups tonight:

 

Bloomington Central Catholic vs. Olympia
Pontiac vs. St. Joseph-Ogden
Tolono Unity vs. Illinois Valley Central

 

Week 2 spring football matchups:

 

Apollo

 

Charleston vs. Effingham
Mahomet-Seymour vs. Mt. Zion
Mattoon vs. Taylorville

 

Big Twelve

 

Bloomington vs. Normal West
Champaign Centennial vs. Danville (Sat.)
Peoria vs. Peoria Manua at Peoria Stadium (Sat.)
Peoria Notre Dame vs. Peoria Richwoods at Richwoods Stadium (Sat.)
Urbana vs. Champaign Central at Tommy Stewart Field (Sat.)

 

Central State Eight

 

Decatur MacArthur vs. Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin
Jacksonville vs. Chatham-Glenwood
Rochester vs. Springfield at Memorial Stadium (Sat.)
Springfield vs. Springfield Lanphier at Memorial Stadium (Mon.)
Springfield Lanphier vs. Decatur Eisenhower at Eisenhower
Springfield Southeast vs. Normal U-High at ISU Hancock Stadium

 

Heart of Illinois

 

El Paso-Gridley at Eureka (Sat.)
Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley at Tri-Valley (Sat.)
Dee-Mack at Fieldcrest (Sat.)
Fisher vs. LeRo (Sat.)
Tremont vs. Ridgeview (Sat.)

 

Lincoln Prairie

 

Sangamon Valley vs. Cerro Gordo-Bement
Tri-County vs. Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond
Toledo-Cumberland vs. Arcola
Villa Grove-Heritage vs. Argenta-Oreana

 

Mid-Illini

 

Limestone vs. Metamora
Dunlap vs. Washington 
East Peoria vs. Canton 
Morton vs. Pekin

 

Sangamo

 

Athens vs. Maroa-Forsyth

 

Non-Conference action this week:

 

Cerro Gordo-Bement vs. Heyworth
Champaign St. Thomas More vs. Flanagan-Cornell
Decatur LSA vs. Danville Schlarman
Blue Ridge vs. Milford (Thu.)

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Illinois State Hosts Arkansas State for Weekend Series

The Illinois State baseball team is set to host Arkansas State for a three-game weekend series from March 26-28.

 

Illinois State is 5-13 coming into this weekend's matchup as Arkansas State enters play 4-12 and 0-3 in Sun Belt action. 

 

Illinois State fell short against Eastern Illinois at home on Wednesday, 9-7.

 

Illinois State produced its second-highest output in hits (14) and total bases (23) led by three hits from third-year sophomore Hayden Jones.  

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Eastern Illinois Travels to Murray State

Coming off their first win of the season, the Eastern Illinois Panther travel to take on Murray State Sunday afternoon.

 

Eastern Illinois picked up its first win of the 2021 spring football season on Sunday with a 28-20 win over Tennessee Tech.  It was the first home win for second-year head coach Adam Cushing as the Panthers lone win in 2019 was on the road at Tennessee State. 

 

Linebacker Jason Johnson was named the OVC Defensive Player of the Week after making 15 tackles in the home win over Tennessee Tech.  Johnson had ten solo stops with two tackles for loss and a sack.  He is the first EIU player to make 15 or more tackles in a game since Pono Choy had 15 stops at Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 10, 2016.   Johnson currently leads the OVC in tackles with 44 and ranks 16th in the FCS. 

 

Arron Foulkes hauled in two touchdown passes from quarterback Otto Kuhns in Sunday's win over Tennessee Tech. 

 

Marcus Bornslater had a big special teams play to start the Panthers scoring on Sunday against Tennessee Tech.  Bornslater blocked the first punt attempt of the game for TTU and then recovered the loose football in the end zone for a touchdown.  He became the first player to score a touchdown off a blocked punt since Mack Weaver recovered a blocked punt on Sept. 16, 2017 against Illinois State.   It was the second blocked punt this season by EIU's special teams as DeAirious Smith had a blocked punt resulting in a safety at UT Martin.

 

Game time Sunday is 2 pm. Hear the action on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW, at dewittdailynews.com, the WHOW mobile app, and at Amazon Alexa.

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White Sox Slugger Jimenez Out 5-6 Months

Chicago White Sox slugger Eloy Jiménez is expected to be sidelined for five to six months after rupturing his left pectoral tendon trying to make a play in the outfield during an exhibition game.

 

Jiménez needs surgery to repair the injury, putting his season in jeopardy. General manager Rick Hahn said the team will know more when he begins the rehab process.

 

Even before the diagnosis, the injury immediately led to another round of questions about whether Jiménez might be better suited for designated hitter than left field — where he has gotten hurt a couple times since his big league debut in 2019.

 

Chicago is looking for a deep postseason run after it made the playoffs last year for first time since 2008. With Tim Anderson, AL MVP José Abreu and Yoán Moncada, it has one of the most potent lineups in baseball, but Jiménez’s prolonged absence leaves the team without one of its most dangerous hitters.

 

The 24-year-old Jiménez, who throws and bats right-handed, was acquired in a July 2017 trade with the crosstown Cubs. He hit 31 homers in his first year in the majors in 2019. He batted .296 with 14 homers and 41 RBIs in 55 games during the pandemic-shortened season.

 

Jiménez got hurt when he tried to make a leaping grab at the wall on Sean Murphy’s solo homer for Oakland in the second inning of their spring game. Jiménez’s left arm barely moved as he walked off the field with a trainer.

 

Leury García, Adam Engel, Nick Williams and Billy Hamilton are among the potential replacements for Jiménez in left. Engel is expected to begin the season on the injured list with a strained right hamstring, but he could return in April.

 

The most intriguing option might be Andrew Vaughn, a first baseman who was selected by the White Sox with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 amateur draft. Vaughn, who has yet to make his big league debut, did some outfield work at the team’s auxiliary site last summer and has continued to take some balls in the outfield during spring training.

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Illinois Hosts Northwestern for Home Opener

The Illinois baseball team is set to open its home slate this weekend against Northwestern on Friday. The game on Friday will be the first at Illinois Field in 388 days.

 

Illinois (6-6) is coming off a four-game weekend split in Ann Arbor which they faced No. 13 Michigan and Michigan State for two games apiece. The Illini won their games on Friday and Sunday and dropped both ends of the doubleheader on Saturday.

 

Sophomore SS Branden Comia had a strong weekend at the plate. Comia went 7-for-13 with two doubles, two RBIs and four runs scored. He currently has a career-long 30-game on-base streak dating back to May 18, 2019 at Michigan State.

 

With this being the first three-game series of the season, the Illini have to make an adjustment to their weekend rotation. Sophomore RHP Andrew Hoffmann will get the ball on Friday, while Saturday will be sophomore RHP Ty Rybarczyk and freshman LHP Cole Kirschsieper will go to the hill on Sunday.

 

At this time, no fans are permitted in accordance with the local health department, campus, and Division of Intercollegiate Athletics COVID-19 operations restrictions. Two direct family members for each Illinois student-athlete will be allowed this weekend. The current policy will continue to be evaluated as the spring season goes along.

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NASCAR Heads to Bristol - On Dirt

Bristol Motor Speedway has trucked 23,000 cubic yards of dirt into its famed bullring to host NASCAR’s first Cup Series race on literal earth since 1970. This wild experiment was pushed by broadcast partner Fox at the same time NASCAR was looking to diversify its uninspiring schedule.

 

Speedway Motorsports said it was game — elbowing out Tony Stewart and his well-established Eldora Speedway dirt track in Ohio — and offered up “The Last Great Coliseum” for Sunday’s adventure.

 

Steve Swift, the senior vice president of operations and development at Speedway Motorsports, traveled to 18 different dirt sites in a 150-mile radius to find the perfect native, red Tennessee clay for the job. Swift said he sent the samples to “a gentleman out in California by the nickname of Dr. Dirt” for analysis.

 

Ed Davis, a scientist/farmer/dirt racing enthusiast at S&E Organic Farms in Bakersfield, California, whittled the samples down to three for this weekend’s race.

 

A layer of sawdust was spread over the 0.533-mile concrete oval and then 2,300 truckloads of dirt were dumped on the track. The next layer is soil from the Outlaws races two decades ago, followed by dirt from a campground near the track and a final top layer from nearby Bluff City.

 

The track is done and Bristol successfully hosted late model racing all last week as a tune-up for the event. The Bristol Dirt Nationals drew a handful of current Cup drivers who wanted to get a look at the surface and they included Kyle Larson, one of the winningest dirt racers in the country.

 

Seven full-time Cup drivers have entered Saturday night’s Truck Series race for extra track time.

 

Kevin Harvick. who last raced a truck in 2015, is one of them.

 

Three ringers have entered the Cup race because of their experience on dirt. Stewart Friesen, a Truck Series regular, will make his Cup debut alongside newcomers Chris Windom, the USAC champion, and sprint car driver Shane Golobic.

 

Brad Keselowski earlier this month ran a Crate Late Model race at Cochran Motor Speedway in Georgia to gain some dirt experience, while Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Chris Buescher, Corey LaJoie, and Cole Custer were among those who raced last week at Bristol in either modifieds or dirt late models.

 

NASCAR will hold a pair of Friday night practice sessions, followed by Saturday heat races to determine the starting lineup. NASCAR also decided pit stops will be controlled and teams will only be permitted to change tires and fuel at the stage breaks — a ruling that will keep most pit crews at home so that fabricators and mechanics can take those roster spots to attend to the damage done during the first traditional three-day race weekend since the start of the pandemic.

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Pacers Topple Cavs

Caris LaVert's seventh Pacers start was his best yet with 28 points in a 116-111 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.

 

LeVert's fourth 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds remaining enabled the Pacers to snap a six-game home losing streak.

 

The Pacers (20-23) ended their worst winless stretch at home since losing six in a row in 1985. The Pistons (12-31) have the Eastern Conference's worst record.

 

Edmond Sumner scored 18 points off the bench and Malcolm Brogden scored 16 for the Pacers.

 

Jerami Grant led the Pistons with 29 points. Saddiq Bey and Wayne Ellington each scored 16.

 

Levert accounted for the Pacers' last eight points of the first half for a 57-51 lead. The guard scored 15 of 17 first-half points in the second quarter.

 

The Pistons committed nine of their 15 turnovers in the second quarter to continue a seasonal trend of erratic ballhandling. That meant playing catch-up in the second half.

 

The Pistons rallied to cut the deficit to 78-76 with 2:15 remaining in the third, but the Pacers bench responded as reserves George Bitadze and Jeremy Lamb sank 3-pointers. The Pacers finished the quarter with an 86-79 lead.

 

The Pistons tied the game at 92 on an Ellington jumper with 8:23 remaining.

 

Detroit had a chance to tie or go ahead in the final minute, but Delon Wright committed a turnover.

The Pacers visit Dallas on Friday.

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Cavaliers Beat Bulls

Darius Garland had 22 points and nine assists, Jarrett Allen added 19 points and nine rebounds, and the Cleveland Cavaliers used a balanced attack to defeat the Chicago Bulls 103-94 on Wednesday night without leading scorer Collin Sexton.

 

Larry Nance, Jr. had 14 points and pulled down 14 rebounds as Cleveland limited Chicago's top scorers Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen in the second half. Isaac Okoro finished with 12 points for Cleveland, which won for just the fourth time in its last 10.

 

Garland, a 21-year-old second-year pro, quarterbacked Cleveland's attack and strong second half. The point guard had 14 points in the half to help Cleveland nudge ahead to a six-point lead after three quarters before the Cavs put it away in the fourth.

 

LaVine led Chicago with 22 points, getting 18 by the half on 6-for-8 shooting, including four 3-pointers. But the All-Star didn't connect again until late and was held to two baskets on 12 shots in the second half.

 

Markkanen had 13 points in the first half before cooling off and finishing with 17.

 

Coby White and Tomas Satoransky each had 11 points for Chicago, which has lost four of five.

 

Sexton sat out after he experienced right hamstring soreness in the morning shootaround.

 

Bickerstaff said the injury to the guard averaging 24 points wasn't serious.

 

The Bulls led 55-53 after a tight first half, during which each team hit 22 shots from the floor. But Chicago was more efficient, shooting at 53.7% opposed to Cleveland's 43.1%.

 

Both teams hit cold shooting stretches early and the Bulls committed six turnovers in the first quarter. That helped Cleveland open an eight-point lead with 4:32 left in the quarter, the biggest for either team in the half.

 

The Bulls pulled into a 25-all tie at the end of the quarter as LaVine lofted in a 3 as time ran out.

The Cavaliers opened a 78-72 lead after three quarters as the Bulls cooled off, shooting just 6 for 20 from the floor. LaVine went 0 for 5.

 

The Bulls are at San Antonio on Saturday to start a four-game road trip.

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Blues Great Bob Plager Killed in Car Accident

Former St. Louis Blues defenseman Bob Plager was killed Wednesday in a car crash in St. Louis. He was 78.

 

Police said Plager was alone in his vehicle when it collided with a vehicle carrying two women on Interstate 64 in St. Louis about 1:30 p.m. One of the women sustained minor injuries. No other details were released.

 

Plager was an original Blue, moving over from the New York Rangers when the NHL expanded in 1967-68. He played 11 seasons for St. Louis — teaming for a stretch with brothers Barclay and Bill — and later worked for the organization in a variety of roles. He coached the team for 11 games in 1992.

 

From Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Plager played 29 games in parts of three seasons with the Rangers before coming over to the Blues. He had 20 goals, 126 assists and 802 penalty minutes in 644 regular-season NHL games and added two goals, 17 assists and 195 penalty minutes in 74 playoff games. The Blues retired his No. 5 jersey in 2017, and it joined brother Barclay’s No. 8 in the rafters.

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Cantlay, Rahm Highlight First Day of WGC Match Play Championship

Jon Rahm and Patrick Cantlay thrust their fists in celebration with birdies on the final hole to win, the kind of emotions typical for a final round. In the Dell Technologies Match Play, every day can feel like Sunday.

 

The opening round of group play Wednesday featured 16 of the 32 matches going the distance, Rory McIlroy suffering his worst loss in 10 years and some of the best moments belonging to newcomers to this fickle event.

 

That starts with Antoine Rozner, the 28-year-old from Paris who only got into this World Golf Championship by winning the Qatar Masters two weeks ago with a 60-foot birdie putt on the final hole.

 

Clinging to a one-shot lead over U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, a tree blocking the 54 yards that separated him from the flag, Rozner hit a bold flop shot that settled 8 feet behind the hole. Finishing with a flair, the Frenchman holed the putt for a 2-up victory over DeChambeau.

 

Next up was Bob MacIntyre of Scotland, dropping two eagles over the final five holes in a 2-and-1 victory over Kevin Na. The second one was at the par-5 16th, where MacIntyre holed a bunker shot to seize control.

 

With the talent pool in golf as deep as it has ever been, it’s hard to call any match an upset.

 

McIlroy was so discouraged walking off after 13 holes that he declined to talk about his match for the second straight time in this event. The previous occasion was in 2019 when he lost to Tiger Woods in the knockout stage on the weekend.

 

This loss was to Poulter, who did so much right — a 7-iron to a dangerous pin to 8 feet on No. 9, a 4-iron from 247 yards to 7 feet for eagle on the par-5 12th — that McIlroy couldn’t afford to do much wrong. 

 

McIlroy found the water on a hole with no water hazard at No. 5 — his driver bounced off a path, over the fence and into the swimming pool of a house. He had a 12-foot birdie to win a hole and three-putted to lose. And the match ended on No. 13 when McIlroy’s eagle chip from behind the green went all the way into the water.

 

It was his biggest loss in Match Play since Ben Crane beat him, 8 and 7, in the second round of 2011.

 

Justin Thomas (2) joined DeChambeau (5) as the top seeds who lost their opening matches. Collin Morikawa (4), Xander Schauffele (6), Patrick Reed (7) and Tyrrell Hatton (8) had to settle for ties.

 

Thomas fell 5 down to Matt Kuchar on the front nine, too big a hole from which he could rally.

Coming off a victory in The Players Championship, he wound up losing to Kuchar on the 16th hole.

 

Kevin Kisner, the defending champion from 2019 — the Match Play was the third event to be canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic — won his seventh straight match by beating Louis Oosthuizen.

 

Since the format switched to group play in 2016, Kisner is the only player to have lost his first match and gone on to win. So there’s hope for Thomas, DeChambeau and McIlroy. They still have a chance to win their group, with the 16 winners advancing to the knockout stage on the weekend.

 

It won’t be easy, even for those who win. Dustin Johnson, the top seed, lost momentum when he found the water on the par-5 12th and three-putted from 15 feet to lose the 13th. He finally closed out Adam Long on the 18th hole.

 

Sebastian Munoz rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt on the last hole, forcing Rahm to make his 8-footer to win. He rolled it in and chased it to the hole with a fist pump.

 

Two groups later, Cantlay made an 18-footer to finally put away Brian Harman, 1 up. The normally reserved Cantlay also gave a short fist pump and for good reason. He was never out of a hole and never made worse than par. He holed out a short wedge for eagle and made six birdies, and might have made another if the hole wasn’t conceded.

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Monticello Checks In At No. 6 in First 3A Poll

The Monticello Sages are No. 6 in the first Class 3A high school football poll of the season.

 

Coming off a hard fought 20-7 win over Bloomington Central Catholic Friday, in the pandemic shortened season, the Sages looked rusty at times but the explosive offensive had its moments as well.

 

They will travel to Prairie Central this Friday night, ranked No. 5 in the Class 4A poll.

 

 Williamsville checks in at no. 1 in the 3A poll. The Illini Prairie's IVC received votes in the 4A poll but did not make the top 10. 

 

Maroa-Forsyth is no. 1 in the 2A poll followed by Decatur St. Teresa at No. 2. 

 

Central A&M from the Central Illinois Conference checks in at No. 4 in the 1A poll. Argenta-Oreana received votes in the 1A poll but did not make the top 10. 

 

GCMS and Tri-Valley received votes in the 2A poll. 

 

Rochester is No. 2 in the 4A poll with Mt. Zion at No. 10.

 

Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin is No. 1 in the 5A poll and Decatur MacArthur checks-in at no. 9. 

Normal Community is No. 10 in the 7A poll.

 

 

Hear this Friday night's Monticello football game at Prairie Central on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

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Blackhawks Get By Panthers

Kevin Lankinen made 33 saves, Patrick Kane had two assists and the Blackhawks stopped a four-game slide by holding off the Florida Panthers for a 3-2 win.

 

Dominik Kubalik, Pius Suter and Carl Soderberg scored for Chicago in the opener of a six-game homestand. It was the Blackhawks' first victory against the Panthers in five games this season.

 

When the final seconds ticked off, Lankinen raised his arms excitedly before celebrating with the rest of the team. Chicago had dropped six of seven overall.

 

Anton Stralman and Alex Wennberg scored for the Panthers, who lost for the third time in four games. Chris Driedger made 29 stops.

 

Florida played without captain Aleksander Barkov, who was scratched because of a lower-body injury. Coach Joel Quenneville said he wasn't sure exactly when he got hurt, and the team will know more about the situation on Wednesday.

 

Barkov has six goals and 12 assists in his last 13 games, including two assists during Sunday's 5-3 loss at Tampa Bay.

 

Chicago went ahead to stay with two in the first period. Kubalik got a slick pass from Brandon Hagel and slid the puck between Driedger's legs at 6:24, and Suter tipped Nikita Zadorov's long shot into the net with 1:30 left.

 

It was Kubalik's 11th goal of the season. He has two goals and four assists during a six-game point streak.

 

The Blackhawks opened a 3-0 lead when Kane set up Soderberg's power-play goal 4:22 into the second. The tap-in play was Soderberg's first point since he scored at Dallas on March 11.

 

The teams play again Thursday night. Then the Blackhawks host Nashville on Saturday night.

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Illinois' Cockburn Targeted in Racist Post After Loss to Loyola-Chicago

Illinois big man Kofi Cockburn is the second player to face racist comments on social media following a loss in the NCAA Tournament.

 

Cockburn shared on Instagram a racist social media post directed at him after the top-seeded Illini lost to No. 8 Loyola Chicago on Sunday.

 

Cockburn, who was born in Jamaica but later moved to New York, posted a screenshot of the post and responded by writing: “I blame his parents.”

 

Cockburn’s post came a day after Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell received threatening and insulting social media messages following the second-seeded Buckeyes’ loss to No. 15 seed Oral Roberts. He posted images of the messages, including one that said “I hope you die I really do.” Other messages included racist insults.

 

Liddell posted on Twitter, quote - “Honestly, what did I do to deserve this? I’m human.”

 

Ohio State has contacted police about the language directed at Liddell.

 

An school spokesman said Illinois is still gathering information before deciding whether to involve law enforcement.

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Jazz Roll Bulls

Donovan Mitchell scored 30 points, Rudy Gobert added 21 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high nine blocks, and the Utah Jazz pounded the Chicago Bulls 120-95 on Monday night.

 

The Western Conference leaders took control in the first half and rolled to their second straight win after losing five of eight.

 

Mitchell made five 3-pointers, one shy of his season-high. The two-time All-Star also had six rebounds and six assists.

 

Gobert just missed the first triple-double by a Jazz player since Feb. 13, 2008, when Carlos Boozer had 22 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists at Seattle. He also surpassed his previous high of eight blocks.

 

Joe Ingles made 5 of 6 3s and finished with 17 points. Jordan Clarkson scored 16, and Mike Conley added 15 points.

 

Zach LaVine led Chicago with 27 points, though he made just 10 of 25 shots. Thaddeus Young added 14 points and nine rebounds.

 

But Lauri Markkanen scored just eight points in 19 minutes as the Bulls lost for the third time in four games. 

 

The Bulls host Cleveland on Wednesday.

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Bears Sign LB Attaochou

The Chicago Bears signed former Denver Broncos linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu to a two-year contract.

 

The team announced the deal Sunday night, but financial terms were not disclosed.

 

The 28-year-old Attaochu spent the last two seasons with the Broncos and had 8 1/2 sacks, including five last year, in 25 games.

 

He was drafted by the Chargers in the second round in 2014 out of Georgia Tech. Attaochu has also spent time with the 49ers, Jets, and Chiefs. The Broncos signed him in October 2019.

 

Attaochu has 20 1/2 career sacks, 128 tackles, 31 tackles for loss, and 41 quarterback hits.

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Bucks Blast Pacers

Jru Holiday had 28 points and 14 assists to help the Bucks breeze past the Indiana Pacers 140-113 on Monday night for their seventh consecutive victory.

 

Milwaukee played without Giannis Antetokoumpo due to a sprained left knee, but the Bucks still shot 61.5% (24 of 39) from 3-point range and 56.4% overall.

 

With Antetokounmpo out of the lineup, Pat Connaughton made his first start of the season and collected 20 points and nine rebounds while shooting 6 of 7 from 3-point range. Khris Middleton had 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

 

The Bucks also played without reserve forward P.J. Tucker because of a sprained left ankle. Tucker played 12 minutes and was scoreless Monday in his second game since he was acquired in a trade with Houston last week.

 

The Pacers were missing Malcolm Brogdon (sore lower back) and Myles Turner (sprained left ankle) and remained without T.J. Warren, who hasn't played since Dec. 29 due to a stress fracture in his left foot.

 

Even without Antetokounmpo, the Bucks made short work of the Pacers. Holiday recorded season highs in both points and assists.

 

Indiana's Doug McDermott opened the game with a 3-pointer, but the Bucks scored the next 19 points and stayed in command the rest of the way.

 

The Bucks went 9 of 10 from 3-point range in the first 9 1/2 minutes and led 48-26 by the end of the first quarter. That 48-point outburst represented the fifth-highest point total the Bucks have ever recorded in a single quarter.

 

Indiana got 22 points from Domantas Sabonis, 21 from Jeremy Lamb, 20 from McDermott and 19 from Caris LeVert.

 

The Pacers host Detroit on Wednesday for just their third home contest in their last 13 games.

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Vegas Topples Blues

23-year-old rookie Keegan Kolesar scored his first NHL goal, Robin Lehner made 15 saves and the Golden Knights beat the St. Louis Blues 5-1.

 

Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson added goals for Vegas, which improved to 4-0-0 on the second of back-to-back games.

 

One night after having their five-game win streak snapped in Los Angeles, the Golden Knights earned their season-high fifth straight home win while improving to 13-2-1 at home, tying Tampa Bay and the New York Islanders for the most home wins this season.

 

Vince Dunn scored for the Blues, who were playing their fourth road game in six days. Jordan Binnington finished with 30 saves.

 

St. Louis closes out its five-game trip at Minnesota on Thursday.

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Lakers Great, Elgin Baylor, Dies

Hall of Fame forward, Elgin Baylor, died Monday of natural causes in Los Angeles with wife Elaine and daughter Krystal by his side, the team said. He was 86.

 

Baylor changed the very direction of basketball when he joined the NBA and brought his vertical feats of athletic brilliance to a largely horizontal game.

 

He filled scoresheets and sparked young imaginations with his trailblazing aerial style, and every high-flying player of the past 60 years has followed his path.

 

Although the Lakers’ first superstar in Los Angeles never won a championship ring, Baylor still looms high above the franchise and the game he loved.

 

An 11-time All-Star who soared through the 1960s with high-scoring artistry that became the model for the modern basketball player, Baylor played a major role in revolutionizing basketball from a ground-bound sport into an aerial show.

 

With a silky-smooth jumper and fluid athleticism, Baylor spent parts of 14 seasons with the Lakers in Minneapolis and Los Angeles, teaming with Jerry West in one of the most potent tandems in basketball history.

 

Baylor was the first NBA player to score 70 points in a game, and he still holds the single-game NBA Finals scoring record with 61 against Boston in 1962. He averaged 27.4 points and 13.5 rebounds over his career, and he even averaged a career-best 38 points during a season in which he only played on weekend passes while on active duty as an Army reservist.

 

Baylor’s Lakers lost six times in the NBA Finals to the Boston Celtics and another time to the New York Knicks. Los Angeles won the 1971-72 title, but only after Baylor retired nine games into the season, dissatisfied with his standard of play due to his ailing knees.

 

After struggling academically in high school, Baylor played at Seattle University from 1956-58, averaging 31.3 points a game and leading the team to the 1958 NCAA championship game, where it lost to coach Adolph Rupp’s Kentucky Wildcats.

 

Baylor was the No. 1 NBA draft pick in 1958 by the Minneapolis Lakers, who were near bankruptcy after a steep fall from their first championship era. Baylor immediately saved the Lakers with his scoring and style.

 

He won the Rookie of the Year award and led the Lakers to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the fledgling Celtics dynasty in the first of the rivals’ 12 championship series meetings.

 

Besides his wife and daughter, Baylor is survived by a son and daughter, Alan and Alison, from a previous marriage, and sister Gladys Baylor Barrett.

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Loyola-Chiago Knocks Off Top-Seeded Illinois

Loyola Chicago moved to the Sweet 16 with a 71-58 win over Illinois, the first No. 1 seed bounced from this year’s NCAA Tournament.

 

Cameron Krutwig delivered a 19-point, 12-rebound masterpiece and the quick-handed, eighth-seeded Ramblers (26-4) led wire to wire. They befuddled a powerful Illinois offense to return to the second weekend three years after their last magical run to the Final Four.

 

The Ramblers will next play No. 12 seed Oregon State in a Midwest Regional semifinal.

 

Illinois (24-7) earned top seeding for the first time since its own Final Four run in 2005, but fell behind by double digits in the first half and never got within striking range. The Illini committed 16 turnovers and scored 23 points fewer than their season average.

 

Illinois’ 7-foot second-team All-American Kofi Cockburn finished with 21 points on 7-for-12 shooting but worked hard for every shot.

 

And Loyola’s handsy guards, Lucas Williamson and Keith Clemons, kept first-team All-American Ayo Dosunmu from ever finding his comfort zone. He finished with nine points, 11 under his season average.

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Illinois Splits Weekend Pod-Series in Michigan

The final of four games at Ray Fisher Stadium this weekend with a 7-3 win over Michigan State. 

 

The Illini got an early lead with a run in the first inning courtesy of a Branden Comia RBI fielder's choice. They would go on to score four runs in the third inning and two in the fifth.

 

Sophomore Cam McDonald led the way at the plate for Illinois on Sunday. McDonald went 2-for-2 with a double, three RBIs, two runs and two walks. He delivered a 2-run single in the third and then an RBI double in the fifth. Sophomore Kellen Sarver also added an RBI double in the third inning.

 

Comia (2-for-3, 2B, RBI, 2 R) had another productive day and extended his on-base streak to a career-best 30 games. Over his four games this weekend, Comia hit .538/.600/.692 (7-for-13), with two doubles, two RBIs and four runs scored.

 

On the mound, freshman LHP Cole Kirschsieper (4.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 SO) started for the Illini.

Despite allowing seven hits, his only run allowed came after he departed the game with runners on first and third base. Freshman LHP Ryan O'Hara (W, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO) came in the game for Kirschsieper and earned his first career win. He recorded all four of his outs via strikeout.

 

The Illini went 2-2 on the weekend, splitting their pair of games with both No. 13 Michigan (8-2) and Michigan State (5-5).

 

Illinois (6-6) will host their first series of the season next weekend against Northwestern in a three-game set at Illinois Field. First pitch of the home opener on Friday is scheduled for 4 p.m. CT, while Saturday and Sunday will begin at 1 p.m. CT.

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No. 9 East Carolina Sweeps Illinois State

The Illinois State baseball team fell at No. 7 East Carolina,11-8, in a game that featured 10 unearned runs between the two teams on Sunday at Lewis Field at Clark-LeClair Stadium. 

 

Illinois State (5-12 overall), which had eight different players score a run, plated the game's first three runs, but gave up the lead for good after a key Redbird error ultimately resulted in four unearned runs in the bottom of the 1st. 

 

Jordan Libman, Jeremy Gaines, and Jack Butler, and Ryan Cermak each recorded two hits. Jack Butler had a 2-RBI single in the 1st inning to start the game's scoring. 

 

The Redbirds jumped out to a 3-0 lead after Jack Butler had a 2-RBI single and scored with a nifty slide at plate following a single to right field by Cermak. 

 

Sean Sinisko appeared to have gotten out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the 1st, but a throwing error on a ground ball by the 'Birds scored two runs for ECU before the Pirates capitalized a scored two more, taking a 4-3 lead after one inning. 

 

ECU added the game's next five runs to lead 9-3 after four innings. 

 

Illinois State is scheduled to face Eastern Illinois on Tuesday at Duffy Bass Field with a 6:00 p.m. CT first pitch.

Derek Salata threw just 14 pitches to record six outs out of the Redbird bullpen. 

 

Seth Caddell had four RBIs and three runs scored to lead East Carolina (16-3 overall). 

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Illinois State Opts Out of Rest of Spring Season

Illinois State football head coach Brock Spack announced Sunday that the Redbirds will opt out of their remaining four 2021 spring football games. The decision was made to protect the health and safety of the players and ensure their readiness for the upcoming 2021 fall 11-game slate.

 

In a statement released Sunday afternoon, Spack indicated he has wrestled with this decision for a couple weeks now, but felt like it's a necessary move to protect player's health and safety and their ability to be ready come this fall.

 

He pointed to injuries in key positions, especially defensive line where more injuries in their win Saturday resulted in more setbacks. 

 

The Redbirds most recently picked up a 26-18 win over in-state foe Western Illinois at Hancock Stadium on Saturday in their fourth game of the spring season. 

 

The Redbirds are set to host Butler on Saturday, September 4 this fall. 

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Pacers Get By Heat

Justin Holiday scored 15 points and hit consecutive 3-pointers in overtime to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 109-106 victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday.

 

Myles Turner finished with 16 points and five blocks, Doug McDermott scored 15 points and Domantas Sabonis had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Pacers, who swept their two-game series in Miami.

 

The Pacers erased a 103-98 Heat lead on Holiday's conversions from beyond the arc. Malcolm Brogdon added another 3-pointer, increasing Indiana's lead to 107-103.

 

Miami rallied from a 94-87 deficit in the final 4:26 of regulation and tied it at 98 on Jimmy Butler's first of two free with throws with 15 seconds remaining. Butler missed the second attempt.

 

Bam Adebayo scored 29 points and Butler finished with 21 for Miami, which has lost three straight.

 

The Pacers visit Milwaukee on Monday.

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Bulls Topple Pistons

Laurie Markkanen had 16 points and eight rebounds and the Chicago Bulls used a strong defensive performance for a 100-86 win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night.

 

Zach LaVine scored 18 points for the Bulls, who had lost two straight.

 

Jerami Grant scored 26 points for the Pistons, who had won two straight.

 

The Bulls trailed for most of the first half, but used a late run to take a 46-45 lead. Chicago shot 60% on 3-pointers while holding the Pistons to 20%.

 

The Bulls return home to host the Utah Jazz tonight.

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Eastern Illinois Gets By Tennessee Tech

As heard on WHOW, Otto Kuhns threw for 153 yards and a pair of scores — both to Arron Foulkes — and Eastern Illinois beat Tennessee Tech 28-20 on Sunday.

 

The Panthers (1-3, 1-3 Ohio Valley Conference) led the entire game.

 

Kuhns threw touchdown passes of 17 and 36 yards to Foulkes for a 28-10 advantage that Tennessee Tech could not recover from.

 

Eastern Illinois got on the board after Marcus Bornslater recovered a blocked Tennessee Tech punt on the game’s first drive. Later, Jaelin Benefield ran it in from 4-yards out at the end of a six-play, 77-yard drive for a two-score lead.

 

The Golden Eagles (1-3, 1-3) narrowed their deficit when Bailey Fisher threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Worthy with 10:56 left before halftime, and Hayden Olsen’s 51-yard field goal made it 14-10.

 

Kuhns then directed a nine-play, 75-yard drive that ended with the 17-yarder to Foulkes. The drive took 5:15 and occurred with 26 seconds before intermission.

 

Fisher threw for 230 yards and a score but was intercepted three times.

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Cubs Minor Leaguer Arrested on Drug Possession Charges

A minor league baseball player is facing drug charges after police in Colorado found 21 pounds of methamphetamine and 1.2 pounds of oxycodone pills in his Chicago Cubs duffel bag.

 

The Vail Daily reports Jesus Camargo-Corrales, 25, of Tempe, Arizona, appeared in Eagle County Court on Thursday on charges including unlawful distribution of methamphetamine and oxycodone, both class 1 drug felonies, as well as charges of unlawful possession of each drug, both class 4 drug felonies.

 

The Major League Baseball website says he was first signed to a minor league contract with the Chicago Cubs in 2014.

 

He was ordered held on $75,000 bond by Judge Rachel Olguin-Fresquez.

 

The Eagle County jail confirmed he was still in custody as of Saturday. It’s unclear if Camargo-Corrales has an attorney who can speak on his behalf.

 

Camargo-Corrales was stopped on Interstate 70 in a silver BMW Wednesday morning near the ritzy ski area of Vail, Colorado after an Eagle County sheriff’s deputy saw the car speeding and drifting lanes, according to the arrest affidavit.

 

Camargo-Corrales was driving with two other passengers, who were also interviewed but police said were not aware of the drugs. They said they were driving to Denver from Phoenix but gave different accounts of the trip.

 

Camargo-Corrales told police he was going to Denver to teach a kids baseball clinic and claimed there were no drugs because he said he followed the Chicago Cubs’ anti-doping policy.

 

But police said a K-9 named Zane alerted authorities to the car’s rear wheel well and the back seat and Camargo-Corrales gave permission to a police search of the vehicle.

 

Officers then found a white bag with cologne and $1,000 held by a rubber band. In the trunk, a Chicago Cubs duffel bag that Camargo-Corrales said was his held baseball gloves and cleats, as well as several packages wrapped in white plastic marked “CO” and two packages wrapped in green plastic, according to the affidavit.

 

Police said Camargo-Corrales agreed to be interviewed and claimed a friend in Sinaloa, Mexico — where the notorious Sinaloa Cartel is based — offered him $500 to deliver the duffel bag to Denver. Camargo-Corrales, who is also from Sinaloa, said that he thought the bag had contained shoes or clothing, but also indicated he knew there were drugs inside.

 

He’s expected back in court on March 30.

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Blaney Sneaks By Larson To Win at Atlanta

Ryan Blaney became the sixth driver to win in six races to start NASCAR’s Cup season, surging to the front with nine laps to go after Kyle Larson easily won the first two stages and led 269 of 325 laps on the 1.54-mile trioval.

 

Larson’s tires didn’t stand up to the punishing track after making his final pit stop with 56 laps to go.

Blaney stayed close enough to make his move, hugging the outside wall through the fourth turn an=d cutting to the inside to pass Larson as they crossed the line in front of the main grandstands.

 

Blaney pulled away to win by 2.083 seconds in his No. 12 Team Penske Ford, having gone just as long as Larson on the final set of tires but getting much more out of them.

 

He led just 25 laps, but was out front for the one that mattered.

 

When it was over, Blaney strolled over to the stands and grabbed the checkered flag, which he handed to a young fan wearing the driver’s T-shirt.

 

It was a bitter loss for Larson, who missed a chance to become 2021′s first two-time winner after a victory at Las Vegas two weeks ago.

 

Still, he is off to a strong start in his new job at Hendrick Motorsports, less than a year after blurting out a racial slur on the livestream of a late-night video racing game, which cost him his job at Chip Ganassi Racing.

 

Pole-sitter Denny Hamlin continues to lead the season standings after another strong run. He was fourth behind Blaney, Larson and Alex Bowman.

 

Hamlin has finished in the top five in every race but Homestead, where he was 11th.

Stewart-Haas Racing is off to a tough start in 2021.

 

Kevin Harvick, who had won two of the last three races in Atlanta, was never in a mix after having to make an extra pit stop early on to change a flat that resulted from a broken tire stem.

 

He did battle back for a 10th-place finish.

 

The other Stewart-Haas drivers were even farther back: Cole Custer 18th, Aric Almirola 20th and Chase Briscoe 23rd. None has cracked the top 10 this season.

 

Kurt Busch had the look of a contender until the restart to begin the second stage.

 

As the cars stacked up behind Larson, Busch got bumped from behind by Hamlin and slammed into the outside wall going into turn one, sustaining heavy damage that ended the No. 1 Chevy’s day.

 

Busch conceded that Hamlin “didn’t do anything vicious or malicious,” but he was still ticked off.

 

It was also a tough day for defending Cup champion and home-state favorite Chase Elliott.

 

Scheduled to start from the fifth position, he had to take the green from the back of the field after failing multiple inspections before the race.

 

Then, shortly after a restart to begin the final stage, Elliott’s No. 9 Chevy blew the engine coming off turn four. The car was pushed to the paddock with a 38th-place finish.

 

The series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway next Sunday for the highly anticipated dirt race on the half-mile oval.

 

It will be the first dirt race for NASCAR’s top racers since 1970 — two years before a revamp of the series led to what is known as the modern Cup era.

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Monticello Holds Off Bloomington Central Catholic

After a 15-play scoring drive to open the game that spanned eight-plus minutes, Monticello held Bloomington Central Catholic High School scoreless the rest of the way and came away with a 20-7 Friday night Illini Conference football action from Monticello High School.

 

Jake Slaughter had 14 of his 24 first-half carries on the opening possession and capped the 15-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.

 

But after that, Monticello’s defense tightened up and did not allow the Saints to find the end zone again.

 

On the ensuing possession, Joey Sprinkle was thrown to the ground after a third-down incompletion with the ball at the 1-yard line and a roughing the passer penalty set the Sages up for a 1st and goal from the half-yard line. Sprinkle powered in over the left guard for the score on the next play to make it 7-6. 

 

Sprinkle added a 14-yard touchdown run on a scramble play in the second quarter to make it 12-7. 

 

Sprinkle added a 10-yard touchdown to Tristan Foran to create separation, 20-7.

 

Sprinkle finished with 142 yards passing on 10-for-14 with a touchdown and ran for 53 yards and two scores. 

 

Star tailback Chris Brown was held quiet on the ground throughout the night but finished with two catches for 45 yards. 

 

Foran also finished with two catches for 45 yards and his touchdown. Hayden Graham added three receptions for 31 yards and Jacob Tackett made several big plays on defense and also had a 37-yard reception that set up Foran’s 10-yard touchdown catch a few plays later.

 

The Sages improve to 1-0 and travel to Prairie Central next Friday night. Hear the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and dewittdailynews.com.

 

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Clinton Maroons fall to St. Teresa Bulldogs

As heard on WHOW, the Clinton Maroons fell to the St. Teresa Bulldogs by a score of 0-56 on Friday night. The Maroons were led by the B-Roc Designs player of the games Cole Young for 5 rushing for 31 yards. Andrew Pagel was 9 rushing for 23 yards. Zeke Hickman was 3 for 8 in passing for 20 yards.

 

The Bulldogs were led by Denim Cook who was 16 rushing for 164 yards and 3 touchdowns. Chord Miller was 7 of 15 passing with 89 yards and a touchdown, was 6 rushing for 78 yards and a touchdown.

 

With the loss, the Maroons fall to 0-1 overall. The Bulldogs improve to 1-0 overall.

 

Tune in Friday, March 26th, as the Maroons take on Tuscola. You can hear the game live on The BIG 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW, online at dewittdailynews.com, on the WHOW mobile app, and on Amazon Alexa.

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Top-seeded Illinois cruises past Drexel 78-49 to open NCAAs

Kofi Cockburn muscled his way to 18 points and Illinois cruised past 16th-seeded Drexel 78-49 Friday in the Illini’s first NCAA Tournament game as a No. 1 seed in 16 years.

 

Illinois (23-6) will face eighth-seeded Loyola Chicago or ninth-seeded Georgia Tech in the second round of the Midwest Regional on Sunday.

 

Maybe that will be more of a test for the Big Ten champions. Drexel (12-8) never really had chance at containing the 7-foot, 285-pound Cockburn, who was 8 for 11 from the field.

 

“I thought it was a matter-of-fact game,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said.

 

The Illini are back in the NCAAs for the first time since 2013 with a team full of first-timers to March Madness after the pandemic canceled last year’s tournament.

 

“It was a really good experience, especially for me,” Cockburn said. “It was just about enjoying the moment.”

 

James Butler — 6-8 and 242 pounds — drew the daunting task of trying to handle Cockburn, without much success. The senior did have 10 points and 10 rebounds for Drexel.

 

The Dragons closed the season with four straight victories, including three during a surprising run through the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament, to earn a bid to the NCAAs for the first time since 1996. They managed to stay competitive for about seven minutes, taking an 8-7 lead.

 

Indiana Farmers Coliseum, home of IUPUI of the Horizon League and a minor league hockey team, hosted the Midwest Region games Friday. The 82-year-old building that was the site of the Beatles’ only concert in Indiana normally holds about 6,800 for basketball, but capacity was capped at 1,200 for its first NCAA games because of COVID-19 restrictions.

 

Illini fans, excited to see the their team as a top seed for the first time since a Final Four run in 2005, seemed to get their hands on most of the tickets. They dotted the stands with blue and orange and cranked up an “I-L-L” chant late in the game.

 

It took their team a few minutes to find a groove.

 

All-American Ayo Dosunmu didn’t score his first points until he swooped in for a layup with 6:19 left in the first half.

 

Still sporting a black Batman mask to protect the broken nose he suffered last month, Dosunmu finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.

 

Cockburn got loose for 10 straight Illinois points in the first half, capping his personal run with a slam off a flip from Dosunmu.

 

“It’s not just his size,” Drexel coach Zach Spiker said of Cockburn. “It’s his ability to score in different ways.”

 

The Illini closed the half on a 32-13 run.

 

“Even if the offense doesn’t work for us for a couple of minutes like it didn’t, we still kept ourselves in the game with our defense,” Cockburn said.

 

The lead got to 20 points after a minute in the second half and never dipped below that the rest of the way.

 

Drexel: The Dragons had to finish with a flourish to shoot 31% for the game. They were held to 22% in the first half. There just weren’t many good looks against the longer and quicker Illini.

 

“I thought the quality of our shots were not as good as they have been throughout the season and the credit goes to Illinois for doing that,” Spiker said.

 

Illinois: Maybe the best news for the Illini: Coming off a tough Big Ten Tournament that ended with an overtime win on Sunday, nobody had to play more than 32 minutes.

 

The Illini are 12-3 all-time against in-state rival Loyola, last playing the Ramblers in 2011. They are 7-2 against Georgia Tech, with the last meeting in the 2013-14 season.

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Clinton Opens 2021 Pandemic Altered Football Season Hosting Decatur St. Teresa

The Clinton Maroons football team will hit the gridiron for their first game in over a year tonight when they host Decatur St. Teresa in Central Illinois Conference high school football action.

 

Coach Chris Ridgeway says there's been several challenges so far this year. The program is dealing with a reduction in players and players bouncing around from different sports.

 

 

Coach Ridgeway says St. Teresa is always a tough challenge and he says they have some kids back from injury and perhaps some other additions as well. 

 

Game time tonight is 7 pm. Hear it on 92.3 FM WHOW, at dewittdailynews.com, at the WHOW Mobile app and at Amazon Alexa.

 

Central Illinois Conference action this week:

 

Meridian vs. Sullivan-Okaw Valley
Tuscola vs. Central A & M
Warrensburg-Latham vs. Shelbyville 

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Monticello Opens Season Hosting Bloomington Central Catholic

The Monticello Sages will open the 2021 pandemic altered spring football season tonight at home hosting Bloomington Central Catholic in Illini Prairie Conference high school football action. 

 

The Sages were last in action for a first round playoff game in October of 2019 at DeQuion where they were knocked off to end their season. 

 

After not having football in the fall and with no postseason on the horizon, Monticello can display their playmaking seniors like runningback Chris Brown and wide receiver Hayden Graham and defensive back Hunter Williams while developing young players like junior quarterback Joey Sprinkle.

 

The Sages will add a wrinkle to their schedule as the Illini Prairie has partnered with the Apollo Conference for games. The Sages will host Mattoon on Saturday, April 9 at 2 pm. 

 

Additionally, the Sages wrap the season on Saturday, April 24 hosting St. Joseph-Ogden for senior day.

 

Hear tonight's action kicking off at 7 pm on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

 

Illini Prairie Conference games this week:

 

Prairie Central vs. Rantoul 
St. Joseph-Ogden vs. IVC (Sat.)
Olympia vs. Argenta-Oreana

 

8-Man Football

 

Blue Ridge vs. North Fulton at Cuba H.S.
Kincaid South Fork vs. Champaign St. Thomas More

 

Apollo

 

Effingham vs. Mahomet-Seymour
Lincoln vs. Charleston at Charleston

 

Big Twelve

 

Bloomington at Quincy Notre Dame

Champaign Centennial at Urbana (Sat.)
Danville vs. Champaign Central at Tommy Stewart Field (Sat.)
Normal West vs. Normal Community
Peoria vs. Peoria Notre Dame 
Peoria Manual vs. Peoria Richwoods (Sat.)

 

Heart of Illinois 

 

Eureka vs. Dee-Mack (Sat.)
Fieldcrest at G.C.M.S. (Sat.)
Ridgeview vs. LeRoy (Sat.)
Heyworth vs. Tremont (Sat.)

Lincoln Prairie

Cerro Gordo-Bement vs. Villa Grove-Heritage

Mid-Illini

Canton vs. Morton at Morton
Metamora vs. East Peoria
Pekin vs. Dunlap
Washington vs. Limestone

 

Non-Conference High School football this week:

 

Mattoon at Mt. Zion
Pawnee at Decatur LSA
Pontiac vs. Taylorville

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Top-Seeded Illinois Takes on Drexel Friday Afternoon

The top-seeded Illinois Fighting Illini open Friday with a Midwest Region contest in Indianapolis against Colonial Athletic Association champ Drexel in the 1 vs. 16 matchup.

 

Winning seven in a row and 14 of 15, as the 23-6 Illini have done, while playing in the nation's best conference this season will certainly get everyone's attention. With the exception of unbeaten and top-ranked Gonzaga, Illinois is the hottest team in college basketball.

 

National Player of the Year candidate Ayo Dosunmu (20.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists per game) and 7-foot center Kofi Cockburn (17.6 points, 9.6 rebounds) form quite a 1-2 punch. But the Illini aren't just a two-man show.

 

Six Illinois players scored in double figures in a 91-88 overtime decision against Ohio State that cinched the Big Ten tourney crown, including three off the bench. Dosunmu, Cockburn and Andre Curbelo each tallied 16, Da'Monte Williams added 13, Georgi Bezhanishvili hit for 12 and Trent Frazier had 10.

 

The Illini rank in the top 20 nationally in scoring, field-goal percentage, rebound margin and assists. While they occasionally get loose with the ball and can struggle at the line, those issues have yet to haunt them when it matters.

 

Meanwhile, Drexel (12-7) had trouble finding a rhythm in this pandemic-shortened season, enduring 12 postponements for COVID-19 reasons. The Dragons' longest winning streak is the four-game run they are on at the moment, including three straight in the CAA tourney.

 

Entering the CAA event as the sixth seed, Drexel stopped College of Charleston and Northeastern to reach the final. Eighth-seeded Elon was waiting there for the Dragons, who won a 63-56 grinder to earn their first NCAA bid in 25 years.

 

Game time is 12:15 local time this afternoon. 

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Illinois State Baseball Takes on East Carolina

The Illinois State baseball team is headed to consensus top-10 East Carolina for a three-game series this weekend. 

 

Colton Johnson gets the ball Friday. He's started his 2021 campaign with a 1.33 ERA and 24 strikeouts over 20 1/3 innings. Sean Sinisko and Jordan Lussier will get the ball Saturday and Sunday. 

 

Illinois State dropped 3-of-4 games against Missouri, in a series that was originally scheduled to be played in Columbia but was moved to Normal due to weather. 
 

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Illinois Baseball Travels to Michigan for Quad Event

The Illinois Fighting Illini baseball team (4-4) will make a trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan this weekend to play four games from Friday through Sunday. Two will be against Michigan and the other two will be with Michigan State. First pitch on Friday is slated for 3 p.m. CT against Michigan.

 

Illinois took three of four games at Minnesota last weekend at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. 

Jacob Campbell hit his second home run of the season in as many days Sunday. 

 

The Illini make their home debut next Friday, March 26 for a three-game weekend series hosting Northwestern. 

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Illinois State Hosts Western Saturday

After competing in back-to-back road games against top-5 nationally ranked teams, the Illinois State Redbirds (0-3) are excited to return to the nest Saturday to host Western Illinois Leathernecks (0-3) for an 11 a.m. contest at Hancock Stadium.

 

The Redbirds and the Leathernecks will meet for the 103rd time on the gridiron, with WIU leading the all-time series 51-48-3 which dates back to 1904. The Redbirds have won nine out of the last 10 meetings overall, including a 28-14 last October in Macomb. 

 

The one thing coaches had commented about redshirt freshman tailback Nigel White was his speed, and that was on full display against North Dakota State. The Florida product rushed for a career-high 87 yards against the vaunted Bison defense and put together chunk runs of 20, 17 and 32 yards. White averaged 5.8 yards per carry on 15 attempts and showed why the coaching staff is so high on the freshmen duo of White and Pha'leak Brown. 

 

Week three of the spring season saw the Western Illinois football team suffer a 38-21 setback to North Dakota to drop to 0-3 on the season. Freshman Iosefa Pua'auli was the standout for the Leathernecks, as he posted a two-touchdown performance in the loss to the Fighting Hawks.

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Eastern Illinois Hosts Tennessee Tech

The Eastern Illinois Panthers will look to get on the winning track this Sunday when they host Tennessee Tech in Ohio Valley Conference football action.

 

Superback Jay Vallie hauled in a pair of second quarter touchdown passes on Sunday at Tennessee State from quarterback Otto Kuhns.  Vallie, a graduate transfer from Dayton, made touchdown catches of four and 13 yards.  It was the second straight year that a Panther had caught a pair of touchdown passes against Tennessee State as last season superback James Sheehan had two touchdown receptions.  Vallie has eight catches for 86 yards this season and his two touchdown receptions are 26th in the FCS.

 

Freshman quarterback Otto Kuhns made his first career start on Sunday at Tennessee State becoming the first true freshman quarterback to start a game at that position since 2010 when Jimmy Garoppolo started against No. 4 ranked Jacksonville State.  Kuhns was 19-of-30 for 145 yards with two touchdown passes.  


With the 2020 schedule still underway, EIU announced this week that it will play its 2021 season opener in a Week Zero game on August 28, 2021 at Indiana State.

 

Hear Sunday's action on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW, at dewittdailynews.com, at the WHOW mobile app and at Amazon Alexa. 

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Central Illinois Outdoors 10th Episode Features YouTube Star, Youngster in 'Catch of the Week'

Central Illinois Outdoors on WHOW, WTIM, and 96.5 The Winner airs its 10th episode this weekend.

 

The wildly popular outdoors show and podcast hosted by Jared White continues to be a hit among listeners all over central Illinois and White says this week's show features a young man who made a sizeable catch and a YouTube star. 

 

 

Central Illinois Outdoors airs every:

 

Saturday at 10a on 870 WTIM - Taylorville

Sunday at 8a on 1520 WHOW - Clinton

Sunday at 8a on 96.5TheWinner-Taylorville

Monday podcast at centralillinoisoutdoors.com

 

Brought to you by:

 

Bob Ridings in Pana

Clinton Illinois Chamber of Commerce

Archers Alley

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Masks Required for High School Football Players

High school football games begin this weekend in Illinois. Among the rules players must follow, they must wear masks along with the traditional mouth guard and helmet—a tough combination says Mercer County head football coach Andrew Hofer.

 

 

Only one team representative can go out for the coin toss before the game and the sideline for teams has been extended from the 10-yard line to the 10-yad line.

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Kings Rout Blues

Drew Doughty, Carl Grundstrom and Trevor Moore scored in a dominant first period, leading the Los Angeles Kings to a 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night.

 

Moore had a goal and an assist for his first multipoint game of the season, while captain Anze Kopitar scored an empty-net goal from the opposite goal line and added an assist. Cal Petersen made 19 saves to end his five-start losing streak for the Kings, who looked sharp in just their third win in 10 games.

 

Los Angeles and St. Louis were scheduled for two consecutive games at Staples Center this week, but Monday's game was postponed after a blizzard stranded the Kings in Denver, where they had just lost back-to-back games to the Avalanche.

 

Mike Hoffman scored and Jordan Binnington stopped 20 shots for the well-rested Blues, who have lost five straight. Despite having the previous three days off, St. Louis got off to a timid start and failed to earn a point for only the second time in nine games.

 

Los Angeles won for the fifth time in seven meetings this season with its West Division rivals.

The Blues are at the Sharks on Friday.

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IHSA Hoping for Normal Schedule for Fall of '21

Illinois High School Association Executive Director Craig Anderson expecting to return to a normal schedule for high school sports next school year.

 

 

The IHSA is operating under a modified schedule this school year, with high school football games starting this weekend.

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Heat Trades Meyers Leonard to Thunder

The Miami Heat have turned Meyers Leonard’s contract into an opportunity to see if Trevor Ariza can help them for the rest of this season.

 

And for their trouble, the Oklahoma City Thunder got yet another draft pick.

 

Leonard — who had likely played his final game for the Heat, even before drawing widespread criticism for using an anti-Semitic term while live streaming a video game last week — was traded Wednesday to the Thunder in exchange for Ariza and a second-round pick in the 2027 draft.

 

The Thunder have no plans to keep Leonard, and may either trade him in the coming days or simply elect to not pick up his $10.2 million option for next season. He “will not be an active member of the organization,” the team said.

 

Ariza has not played an NBA game since March 10, 2020, but the Heat clearly felt he was worth the low-risk gamble.

 

Leonard needed to sign off on the trade because of his contract status and did so quickly, according to a person who was familiar with the negotiations leading up to the swap being finalized. He had been away from the Heat for more than a week after a video surfaced of him using the slur.

 

He apologized for the incident, which was roundly criticized by the Heat, Jewish groups, other athletes and celebrities. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver fined Leonard $50,000 and barred him from being around the Heat for one week. The team had previously said Leonard would be away from the team indefinitely.

 

Silver has said that he believes Leonard “is genuinely remorseful” for using the slur.

 

Leonard’s mandate from the league to participate in a cultural diversity program will remain in place. He has already met with representatives from the Anti-Defamation League, a prominent Jewish organization that works to stop extremism and delivers anti-bias education.

 

The second-round pick the Thunder will get is to be conveyed in 2027, and gives Oklahoma City — which has collected more than 30 picks to use over the next seven years through various other trades — four second-rounders in that year’s draft alone.

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Illinois' Dosunmu First Team All-American; Cockburn Second Team

Gonzaga's Corey Kispert and the Baylor's Jared Butler led the way with first-team nods Tuesday from the national panel of 63 media members for this year's Associated Press All-America teams.. They were joined by unanimous pick Luka Garza of Iowa, a two-time selection, along with Ayo Dosunmu of Illinois and Cade Cunningham of Oklahoma State.

 

The Bulldogs also landed big man Drew Timme and freshman sensation Jalen Suggs on the second team while Joel Ayayi was an honorable mention pick. The Bears had Davion Mitchell on the third team and MaCio Teague as an honorable mention.

 

Joining them were a trio of post players: Kofi Cockburn of Illinois, Hunter Dickinson of Michigan and Evan Mobley of USC.

 

Dosunmu, the two-time All-Big Ten guard, led the Illini to the conference tournament title last weekend and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney.

 

Baylor’s Mitchell was joined on the third team by Quentin Grimes, the high-scoring guard from Houston; Herb Jones of Alabama; Cameron Krutwig of mid-major darling Loyola Chicago; and Chris Duarte of Oregon.

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Clinton's Mallory Cyrulik Named Central Illinois Conference First Team, Kaitlyn Rauch Second Team

Clinton High School's Mallory Cyrulik was named a Central Illinois Conference first-team girl's basketball selection Monday.

 

Cyrulik led the Lady Maroons in scoring at 19 points a game and 14.1 rebounds per game. 

 

Addison Newbon from Decatur St. Teresa, Sullivan's Emily White, Brynn Tabeling from Tuscola, Trinity Wade from Shelbyville and Jillyan Burgener from Central A&M were first-team selections.

 

Kailtyn Rauch averaging 17 points and 5.4 rebounds per game was a second-team selection. Marissa Russo from Tuscola, Taylor Orris from Sullivan, Brooke Oakley from Warrensburg-Latham, Meridian's Emily Johnson, Mia Wade from Shelbyville and Jerra Goad from Sullivan were fellow second-team selections.

 

The Lady Maroons finished 13-3 overall and 5-2 in the Central Illinois Conference.

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Bears Sign QB Dalton

The Chicago Bears have a new quarterback in the fold. On Tuesday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Bears agreed to terms with former Dallas Cowboys backup Andy Dalton on a one-year, $10 million deal with a chance to earn another $3 million in incentives. 

 

CBS NFL insider Jonathan Jones confirmed the one-year deal. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network also reported that Dalton received interest from several teams around the league, including the San Francisco 49ers.

 

Dalton was originally drafted in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals out of TCU. He accumulated a record of 70-61-2 with Cincinnati before being released following the drafting of Joe Burrow last offseason. 

 

When he signed with the Cowboys, Dalton was expected to serve as Dak Prescott's backup, but he was thrust into the spotlight following Prescott's season-ending ankle injury in Week 5. 

 

In 11 games played with nine starts in 2020, Dalton completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 2,170 yards, 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

 

Dalton now joins another veteran quarterback in Nick Foles. With Dalton's addition, it also makes it seem unlikely former No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky will be returning in 2021. 

 

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Bears made "a very aggressive pursuit" of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, but were told that Seattle was not trading him at this time.

 

Just last week, CBS NFL insider Jason La Canfora reported that the Bears were prepared to throw a "boatload" of picks at the Seahawks for Wilson, or the Houston Texans for Deshaun Watson. If the Bears are unable to woo either star quarterback to Chicago via a trade, there's a good chance Dalton could be the starter in 2021.

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Bulls Topple Thunder

Zach LaVine scored 40 points on 15-for-20 shooting, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 123-102 on Tuesday night for their second straight win.

 

LaVine led the way as Chicago shot 51% (48 for 94) from the field. The All-Star guard was 7 for 12 from 3-point range in 31 minutes of playing time.

 

Lauri Markkanen had 22 points for the Bulls, and Thaddeus Young added 17 points and nine rebounds. Tomas Satoransky finished with 13 points and seven assists.

 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 21 points for Oklahoma City, which had won three of four. Moses Brown had 20 points and 16 rebounds, and Kenrich Williams scored 14.

 

LaVine made his first five shots - including four 3-pointers - as Chicago raced to a 42-28 lead after one quarter.

 

But the Thunder stormed back with a 15-0 run and took a 50-49 lead with 6:32 left in the half on Williams' 3-pointer from the corner.

 

LaVine returned to the lineup and Chicago got back on track offensively, outscoring Oklahoma City 21-14 heading into the intermission.

 

LaVine stayed hot early in the third quarter, sinking his first three shots on layups. Chicago outscored Oklahoma City 31-16 in the third to up its lead to 102-79.

 

Bulls host San Antonio on tonight.

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Illinois Finishes Regular Season No. 2 in Polls

Gonzaga (26-0) received all 60 first-place votes to stay atop Monday’s final poll, becoming the first team since Kentucky in 2014-15 to be No. 1 in every poll and the 14th overall. Gonzaga, named the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, will try to become the first unbeaten national champion since Indiana in 1976.

 

Illinois jumped to No. 2 after winning the Big Ten Tournament, swapping spots with Baylor — which fell one spot after spending 15 of 17 polls sitting in second place. Michigan was next at No. 4, with all three of those teams joining Gonzaga in earning No. 1 seeds for the NCAA Tournament.

 

The NCAA selection committee had Baylor as its overall No. 2 seed and Illinois at No. 3.

 

Alabama was No. 5, with the Crimson Tide reaching their highest ranking since December 2006 after winning the Southeastern Conference Tournament for the first time since 1991. Houston, Ohio State, Iowa, Texas and Arkansas rounded out the top 10.

 

Shaka Smart’s Longhorns had the biggest jump in the final poll, rising four spots from No. 13 after winning the program’s first Big 12 Tournament title.

 

No. 16 San Diego State jumped three spots, while Ohio State rose two after reaching the Big Ten title game. In all, 12 teams climbed from last week’s poll.

 

 

 

The Coaches Poll released on Monday returned Gonzaga (26-0) to the unanimous No. 1 spot in the rankings as the NCAA Tournament rapidly approaches. The Bulldogs garnered all 32 first-place votes.

 

After winning the Big Ten Tournament on Sunday, Illinois jumped to No. 2 with Baylor, Michigan and Alabama rounding out the top five. 

 

In recent weeks, Michigan and Baylor's rise had pulled away from coaches reaching consensus.

This unanimous decision, however, gives Gonzaga its proper due as the clear favorite entering March Madness. In defeating Saint Mary's and BYU in the WCC Tournament, the Zags became just the 20th team in NCAA history to enter the NCAA Tournament with an undefeated record. On Sunday, they earned the No. 1 overall seed in the 68-team bracket.

 

Houston, Ohio State, Iowa, Texas and Arkansas comprise the 6-10 spots.

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Nuggets Roll Pacers

Nikola Jokic notched his 35th double-double with 32 points and 14 rebounds, leading the Denver Nuggets over the travel-weary Indiana Pacers 121-106 on Monday night.

 

Michael Porter Jr. and Will Barton each scored 20 points for the Nuggets, who used a big fourth quarter to get the win.

 

Malcom Brogdon led Indiana with 24 and Justin Holiday had 19. Domantas Sabonis finished a rebound shy of a triple-double with 10 points and 10 assists.

 

The start of the game was moved back an hour because the Pacers were unable to fly from Phoenix into Denver until Monday afternoon. A snowstorm that officially dropped 27 inches at Denver

International Airport closed the runways from late Sunday morning. Four runways were reopened mid-afternoon Monday.

 

Indiana rallied from 20 down in the first half to take a 79-74 lead midway through the third quarter.

 

The Pacers led 91-87 after three, but the Nuggets opened the fourth with 14 straight points to take a 101-91 lead.

 

The Pacers didn't score their first points until nearly five minutes into the fourth and were outscored 34-15. Caris LeVert didn't want to blame the travel issues for the loss.

 

The Pacers host Brooklyn on Wednesday night.

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Panthers Double-Up Blackhawks

Aleksander Barkov scored a tiebreaking short-handed goal in the third period, and the Florida Panthers beat the slumping Chicago Blackhawks 6-3 on Monday night.

 

Barkov poked in a loose puck from right in front with 6:34 left. It was the Panthers' first short-handed goal this season. Barkov also had a pair of assists.

 

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 26 shots and won his sixth straight start. Down 3-1, the Panthers scored five unanswered goals to win their fourth straight game.

 

Florida defenseman Gustav Forsling scored his first goal of the season and had an assist. Owen Tippett scored his third goal in four games, and Aaron Ekblad also scored. Carter Verhaeghe and Alex Wennberg added empty-netters.

 

But it was Barkov who made the difference. The captain has five goals and 10 assists in his last 10 games.

 

Patrick Kane, Philipp Kurashev and Brandon Hagel scored for the Blackhawks, who lost for the fourth time in five games. Kevin Lankinen made 30 saves.

 

Lankinen lost track of the puck as it bounced in the paint before Barkov got it into the net.

 

Chicago opened a 3-1 lead on goals by Kurashev and Hagel in the second. The Panthers then rallied on goals by Ekblad and Forsling 62 seconds apart. Ekblad scored during a power play, and Forsling's shot through traffic tied it at 3 with four minutes left in the period.

 

The Blackhawks visit Tampa Bay on Thursday.

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Blues, Kings Postponed Over Travel Concerns

The Blues did not play the Kings on Monday after the game was postponed due to travel concerns for the Kings, NHL Public Relations reports.

 

The Kings played in Colorado on Sunday night, and the Denver area received several feet of snow over the weekend. In turn, the Kings are unable to travel back to Los Angeles on short notice to play the Blues. This game will be rescheduled. For now, the Blues are still scheduled to face the Kings on Wednesday.

 

Tyler Bozak (upper body) skated with the team Monday and will play in Wednesday's game against the Kings, Lou Korac of NHL.com reports.

 

Bozak will be activated from long-term injured reserve before Wednesday's contest. The 34-year-old hasn't played since Jan. 26, when he suffered an upper-body injury as a result of a high hit from Golden Knights forward Mark Stone. Bozak should center the third line upon return, and he'll provide an immediate boost to the team's penalty kill.

 

Jaden Schwartz (lower body) skated with the team Monday and is getting close to a return, Jim Thomas of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

 

Head coach Craig Berube says Schwartz is getting close, and he should draw into the lineup at some point on the five-game road trip.

 

Berube added Monday Colton Parayko (back) has yet to start skating but is making progress, Lou Korac of NHL.com reports.

 

Parayko will remain on injured reserve for the time being. It sounds like he's making concrete steps toward a return to the lineup, but he'll need to take the ice before a definitive timeline is provided. Justin Faulk and Torey Krug will continue to man the top defensive pairing until Parayko returns.

 

Robert Thomas (thumb) skated on his own after Monday's practice, Lou Korac of NHL.com reports.

Berube notes Thomas is making good progress, and he could join the team for practice Tuesday.

 

The 21-year-old isn't expected to return for at least a couple more weeks. However, this is an encouraging sign that he'll be at full speed at that time. Prior to breaking his thumb, Thomas put up a goal and five assists across 12 games.

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OL Linsley Signing With Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers are taking a huge step toward upgrading their offensive line, agreeing to terms on a five-year contract with All-Pro center Corey Linsley, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.

 

NFL Network reported Linsley will become the highest-paid center in the league at $62.5 million.

Monday began the two-day “legal tampering” period when teams could reach out and start negotiating with unrestricted free agents.

 

The Chargers were also able to retain one of their own, re-signing cornerback Michael Davis for three years. The team officially announced the move Monday afternoon.

 

Linsley is expected to upgrade a Chargers offensive line that was one of the worst in the league last season. Los Angeles allowed the fourth-most hurries, putting Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert under heavy pressure. Linsley allowed a league-low four pressures last season among centers who played 13 or more games, while LA's Dan Feeney was tied for the most at 33.

 

Linsley, who spent the past seven seasons with Green Bay after being a fifth-round selection in 2014, will solidify a position in flux the past two seasons. Mike Pouncey signed with the Chargers in 2018 and went to the Pro Bowl before injuries sidelined him five games into 2019. Pouncey was on injured reserve last season and announced his retirement last month.

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Illinois Topples Ohio State for Big Ten Tournament Title, Secures No. 1 Seed

As the Fighting Illini celebrated their first Big Ten Tournament title since 2005 with a 91-88 overtime victory over No. 9 Ohio State on Sunday, they quickly turned the focus to their No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and the opportunity it presents.

 

Despite playing the regular season in front of minimal fans, the Illini (23-6) hoisted the trophy underneath the mid-court video board and watched the selection show with a throng of loud, orange-clad fans inside Lucas Oil Stadium.

 

Ayo Dosunmu, Kofi Cockburn and Andre Curbello all scored 16 points. Cockburn and Dosunmu each had nine rebounds and they made the key plays in overtime. Cockburn sank the go-ahead free throws with 1:39 to go, Dosunmu followed that with a back-breaking 15-footer with 50 seconds left to make it 84-81 and Illinois finally sealed it at the free-throw line.

 

Illinois will start its next quest against 16th-seeded Drexel on Friday, having won seven straight overall and 14 out of 15 with six consecutive wins over top-10 foes.

 

Duane Washington Jr. had a career-high 32 points and Justice Sueing added 22 as the Buckeyes refused to go away despite the numerous times Illinois appeared to be in control.

 

After missing their first nine shots and falling into an early 27-10 deficit, Ohio State got within 40-35 at the half and as close as 47-45 early in the second half. When Illinois answered with a 10-1 run to make it 57-46, the Buckeyes again rallied and even took a 67-65 lead with 5:35 left in regulation.

 

The Illini answered with seven straight but still couldn’t put it away. and Sueing’s three-point play with 23.6 seconds left tied the score at 77. Two big defensive plays forced overtime and then Cockburn and Dosunmu delivered, ending one chapter of this season and beginning another.

 

The Illini are big, fast and strong — making them a legitimate national title contender. And after being shut out of the regular-season crown, they were on a mission to earn some hardware in Indy. Now that they have, they want to add a few more to the collection before leaving town.

 

Curbello also had six rebounds and five assists and Giorgi Bezhanishvili had 12 points.

 

Illinois opens NCAA Tournament play Friday against 16th-seeded Drexel, the Colonial Athletic Association champ. 

 

The third-ranked Fighting Illini anchor an intriguing region filled with surprising upstarts and mid-major monsters.

 

Seventh-ranked Houston earned the No. 2 seed after romping past Cincinnati on Sunday to earn its first American Athletic Conference Tournament title. West Virginia was seeded third and Big 12 rival Oklahoma State fourth after making a run to the Big 12 Tournament title game, where Cade Cunningham and the Cowboys lost to Texas.

 

Fifth-seeded Tennessee drew a first-round game against No. 12 seed Oregon State, which won the Pac-12 Tournament title after the Beavers were picked to finish last in the preseason poll. March darling Loyola Chicago was the No. 8 seed and will face ninth-seeded Georgia Tech, who earned an automatic bid with a stunning Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament title.

 

Syracuse was considered a bubble team but squeaked into the field as the No. 11 seed. The Orange will play sixth-seeded San Diego State with the winner facing the Mountaineers or No. 14 seed Morehead State for a spot in the Sweet 16.

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Packers Agree to Deal With RB Jones

Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones has agreed to a new deal with the Green Bay Packers and won’t be exploring free agency.

 

Drew Rosenhaus, Jones’ agent, confirmed that his client had agreed on a four-year deal worth $48 million that includes a $13 million signing bonus.

 

ESPN and NFL Network first reported the terms.

 

The move removes one of the biggest names from the market at the start of a week in which NFL teams can begin negotiating with free agents. The Packers faced the possibility of having both of their top two running backs — Jones and Jamaal Williams — leaving via free agency in the same offseason.

 

Green Bay instead will have Jones back to lead a rushing attack that also will feature A.J. Dillon, a 2020 second-round pick from Boston College, even if Williams heads elsewhere.

 

Jones, 26, rushed for 1,104 yards and nine touchdowns and also caught 47 passes for 355 yards and two touchdowns last season. That came after a 2019 season in which he had 16 touchdown runs and three touchdown catches.

 

Jones and Jim Brown are the only players in NFL history to rush for at least 3,000 yards and 35 touchdowns while averaging at least 5 yards per carry over their first four seasons. The 2017 fifth-round pick from UTEP is one of only three players to rush for at least 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns over the past two seasons, joining Tennessee’s Derrick Henry and Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook.

 

Now that Green Bay has signed Jones, the Packers’ top remaining free agents are All-Pro center Corey Linsley, cornerback Kevin King and Williams. The Packers have posted a 13-3 regular-season record and have lost in the NFC championship game each of the past two years.

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Tennessee State Walks Off Eastern Illinois

As heard Sunday afternoon on WHOW, Antonio Zita made 62- and 51-yard field goals and hit a 35-yarder as time expired to give Tennessee State a 21-20 victory over Eastern Illinois on Sunday.

 

Stone Galloway made a 37-yard field goal with 41 seconds remaining to give Eastern Illinois a 20-18 lead, but Isaiah Green completed a 48-yard pass to Cam Wyche to the 19 and, one play later,

Zita won it for the Tigers (1-2 Ohio Valley Conference).

 

Zita had the 51-yarder in the first quarter, then added the conference record-tying 62-yarder with just over four minutes left in the game. He matched the Ohio Valley record set by Murray State’s Paul Hickert in 1986. It was a yard shy of the FCS record.

 

Eastern Illinois (0-3) built a 17-3 halftime lead before the Tigers rallied with a pair of short touchdown runs, then Zita’s 62-yarder.

 

Green threw for 257 yards, and Shawn McColley and Devon Starling ran for scores.

 

Otto Kuhns threw for two touchdowns to Jay Vallie for the Panthers. Jaelin Benefield rushed for 120 yards on 16 carries.

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Martin Truex Jr. Wins at Phoenix

Martin Truex Jr. blew past Joey Logano on the final restart and pulled away for his first NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season and 28th overall. That set off a hearty celebration from his Joe Gibbs Racing team, especially after a frustrating 2020 season that included just one win.

 

Truex beat the four championship finalists from last year. He had failed to advance into the season-ending finale for the first time in four years and could only watch as Chase Elliott beat Logano, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski for the title at the desert oval. All four tailed Truex across the finish line Sunday.

 

Phoenix Raceway will again host the championship race in November.

 

The 40-year-old Truex struggled earlier this year, finishing 25th at Daytona. But he’s raced much better in recent weeks, finishing third at Homestead and sixth at Las Vegas last week.

 

He was dominant during the final half Sunday and became just the second driver from last year’s 16-car playoff field to qualify for the postseason. It was good day for Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing, which had the winner in Truex and Hamlin in the third spot.

 

Logano finished second. He said even if he was able to hold Truex on the restart, he probably would have passed him before the checkered flag.

 

Kyle Larson — who raced to his first victory with Hendrick Motorsports last week in Las Vegas — had to start at the back of the field after a pre-race inspection failure. He worked his way back to the front and briefly led about halfway through the race.

 

But soon after he made a critical error, getting flagged for speeding on pit road. He had to pass through pit road as a penalty, causing him to fall to the back of the lead lap in 22nd place. He finished seventh.

 

Logano — who led 143 laps — won the second stage after leading the final 35 laps during a long stretch of green-flag racing. But he couldn’t hold back Truex, who won his ninth race with JGR.

 

Hamlin was fast early in the race, leading for 31 laps until the competition caution midway through the first stage. But he fell back a few spots after a pit stop that allowed Ryan Blaney a window to get to the front of the field. Blaney won the 75-lap first stage after leading 35 laps.

 

NASCAR makes the long trip across the country for a race at Atlanta Motor Speedway next weekend. Kevin Harvick won at the track last season.

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Justin Thomas Takes PLAYERS Championship

Coming off two missed cuts in four starts since his world felt like it was crashing in around him, Justin Thomas was outside the cut line with nine holes to play on Friday when he made four birdies. From there, he matched the lowest final 36-hole score (64-68) at the treacherous TPC Sawgrass for a one-shot victory over Lee Westwood.

 

The ball striking was so sublime that Thomas, who rallied from three shots behind with a 4-under 68, was on the verge of becoming the first winner to hit every green in the final round. He hit the fringe on the final hole.

 

He won for the seventh straight year, his 14th career title, and became only the fourth player to win a major, The Players Championship, the FedEx Cup and a World Golf Championship.

 

Thomas was four shots behind when he walked off the green on the par-3 eighth with a three-putt bogey. Four holes later, he walked off the 12th green with a two-shot lead.

 

He hit a 5-iron to 20 feet to set up a two-putt birdie on the par-5 ninth. He took on a tough pin at No. 10 for a 6-foot birdie. He drilled a 4-iron to 20 feet for an eagle at No. 11 for his first lead of the week, and he capped off the run with a nifty pitch from behind the green on the reachable par-4 12th for birdie.

 

Westwood was a hard-luck runner-up for the second straight week — to Bryson DeChambeau at Bay Hill, to Thomas at The Players, two major champions who were born in 1993, the year the 47-year-old Westwood turned pro.

 

He was tied for the lead until he couldn’t match Thomas, playing in the group ahead, on the par-5 16th.

 

Thomas teed it low and slung a hard, low draw that ran out some 40 yards and set up a 5-wood into 50 feet, which he lagged down for a two-putt birdie. Westwood’s 3-iron clipped a tree and dropped into the sand, and that quirky 65-yard shot went into another bunker and forced him to scramble for par.

 

He made birdie on the 18th to finish alone in second. DeChambeau (71) and Brian Harman (69) were another shot behind.

 

Thomas finished at 14-under 274. He was outside the cut line after nine holes Friday, made it with two shots to spare and then tied The Players Championship record with a 12-under 132 weekend.

 

Westwood hit his tee shot into the water on the fourth hole and had to make an 8-footer to save bogey. He hit his approach out of the pine straw that clipped two branches and found water on the par-5 second hole to make bogey. But he was never far away from the lead, and Westwood regained a share of the lead with an 8-foot birdie putt on the 14th.

 

His hopes ended with a three-putt bogey on the par-3 17th.

 

Thomas won $2.7 million from the $15 million purse, and he found some peace between the ears that required talking to plenty of people and pouring out some of his emotions. He said he was in a good place when he teed off, and he felt even better when he was posing with the trophy.

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Cockburn scores 26 as No. 3 Illinois beats No. 5 Iowa 82-71

Kofi Cockburn scored 18 of his 26 points in the first half, and No. 3 Illinois beat No. 5 Iowa 82-71 on Saturday to advance to the Big Ten Tournament title game.

 

The Fighting Illini (22-6) have won six straight, with three coming against top-10 foes. If Illinois wins one more, against No. 9 Ohio State, it would claim its first tourney title since 2005.

 

Ayo Dosunmu scored 18 points for Illinois, and reserve guard Andre Curbelo finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.

 

Luka Garza had 21 points and 12 rebounds for Iowa (21-7). Jordan Bohannon scored 20 points.

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Freshman secures N.D. State's 21-13 win over Illinois State

Freshman quarterback Cam Miller capped a 13-play, 84-yard drive with a 6-yard scramble for a touchdown to clinch North Dakota State’s 21-13 win over Illinois State on Saturday.

 

Miller, who entered the game with no pass attempts and two runs for 7 yards, picked up 17 yards with his arm and 25 yards with his feet, scoring with 3:39 to play.

 

Miller finished 5 of 7 for 61 yards with 11 rushes for a team-high 57 yards.

 

An 85-yard punt return by Jayden Price and 15-yard touchdown run by Kobe Johnson gave the Bison (3-1, 2-1 Missouri Valley Football Conference), who played one game in the fall, a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.

 

The Redbirds (0-3, 0-3) got back in the game on a Bryce Jefferson 4-yard pass to Tanner Taula midway through the third quarter. Then Tyler Pennington capped an 80-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge but the PAT was blocked by Spencer Waege.

 

NDSU had just a 287-257 advantage in total yards but also four turnovers.

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Clinton Falls to St. T

In a game heard on WHOW, the Clinton Maroons fell to the St. Teresa Bulldogs by a score of 79-47 on Saturday afternoon. The Maroons were led by freshman Dawson Graves with 14 points. B-Rok Designs Player of the Game Tyler Ward added 9 points. Senior Zeke Hickman finished his high school career with 8 points.

 

The Bulldogs were led by senior Chord Miller with 24 points. Senior Sammy Tapscott added 20, and sophomore Christian Harper chipped in with 13.

 

With the loss, the Maroons end the season 2-15. St. Teresa end the year 9-4.

 

Tune in Friday, March 19, as the Clinton Maroons host St. Teresa to start the 2021 high school football season. You can hear the game live on the Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW, online at dewittdailynews.com, on the WHOW mobile app, and on Amazon Alexa. Kickoff is set for 7 pm with the broadcast beginning shortly before.

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Lady Maroons Finish 13-3 with Win Over St. T

As heard on WHOW, the Clinton Lady Maroons defeated the St. Teresa Lady Bulldogs by a score of 57-24. Junior Kaitlyn Rauch led all scorers with 20 points. B-Rok Designs Player of the Game Raya Swartz had 15 points. Junior Mallory Curulik added 14.

 

St. Teresa was led by sophomore Jaida Taylor with 11 points. Freshman Joella Livingston scored 8 points.

 

With the win, the Lady Maroons finish the season 13-3. The Lady Bulldogs' season ends 5-8.

 

Tune in this afternoon, Saturday, March 13, as the Maroons take on St. Teresa in boys basketball action. You can hear the game live on the Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW, online at dewittdailynews.com, on the WHOW mobile app, and on Amazon Alexa. Tipoff is set for 3:30 pm.

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Illini Baseball Heads to Minnesota for Weekend Series

The Illinois baseball team hits the road for a second straight week. The Illini are headed to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to play a four-game series from Friday-Sunday against Minnesota (1-3) at U.S. Bank Stadium. Saturday will be a doubleheader, with the first contest scheduled to be a 7-inning game.

 

Illinois (1-3) dropped its first three games of the season before defeating Ohio State in the Sunday matchup. The Illini produced a shutout in Sunday's game with a score of 8-0. It was their first shutout in a conference game since May 3, 2019 vs. Indiana and the first in a conference game away from Illinois Field since May 22, 2015 vs. Michigan State.

 

The Illini's pitching in the opening weekend was highlighted by LHP Cole Kirschsieper (W, 5.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 6 SO) and RHP Andrew Hoffmann (ND, 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 8 SO). Hoffmann will start on Friday night, while Cole Kirschsieper will get the call on Sunday. RHP Riley Gowens and Ty Rybarczyk will start games one and two on Saturday, respectively.

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Illinois Draws Rutgers for Big Ten Tournament Quarters

The quest for getting a top seed in the Big Dance begins Friday night when Illinois, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, faces seventh-seed Rutgers in the quarterfinals at Lucas Oil Stadium. A win would all but cement a No. 1 seed for the Illini (20-6, 16-4 Big Ten), who have won four straight, the last three coming against ranked teams Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State.

 

Illinois has won the Big Ten Tournament twice in school history, with its last win coming in 2005, the year the Illini made a run to championship game in the NCAA Tournament.

 

The return of national player of the year candidate Ayo Dosunmu is expected to spark Illinois throughout the postseason. After missing three games with a facial injury, Dosunmu returned to score 19 points in Illinois' 73-68 regular-season finale victory over Ohio State.

 

Dosunmu and center Kofi Cockburn were named first-team All-Big Ten, while freshman Andre Curbelo was named the Big Ten's sixth man of the year.

 

Rutgers (15-10) advanced with a 61-50 win over 10-seed Indiana on Thursday night. Rutgers won with balance and defense, with four scorers in double figures and by holding Indiana to 37.5 percent shooting from the floor. The Hoosiers missed their final 13 shots in the loss.

 

Illinois and Rutgers played once in the regular season, with the Scarlet Knights beating the Illini 91-88 in Piscataway, N.J. It was the highest-scoring game in the Big Ten for the Scarlet Knights, who shot 46.8 percent from the field and 40 percent (8-20) from 3-point range.

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ISU Baseball Hosts Missouri for Weekend Series

After originally being scheduled for a four-game series in Columbia, Missouri, the Illinois State team will host Missouri for four games over March 12-14. 

 

The Redbirds will turn to Colton Johnson for game one of the weekend four-game set. Johnson is off to a great start to his season with a 2.19 ERA in 12.1 innings with eight punchouts.

 

Jordan Lussier and Sean Sinisko get the ball for Saturday's doubleheader. Sinisko has a 2.25 ERA through his first 12 innings but only one strikeout. 

 

Cameron Mabee gets the ball for Sunday's series finale. 

 

The Redbirds edged Western Illinois, 2-1, in 10 innings. This was ISU's earliest home opener in school history (120 seasons) and first home game since 5/24/2019 (655 days).

 

Fourth-year junior Jack Butler recorded a walk-off single to score fourth-year junior Jeremy Gaines.


Fourth-year junior Colin Wyman fired five scoreless innings in relief while third-year sophomore Derek Salata was credited with the win after throwing a six-pitch 1-2-3 10th inning. 

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Eastern Illinois Looks to Right the Ship Saturday At Tennessee State

The Eastern Illinois Panthers will look to right the ship Sunday afternoon when they hit the road for a second straight week to the State of Tennessee taking on Tennessee State for a 1 pm kickoff.

 

Eastern Illinois special teams blocked a punt which resulted in a safety on Sunday at UT Martin and with two touchdown passes on Sunday, senior quarterback Harry Woodbery moved into a tie for 10th on the Eastern Illinois career charts for touchdown passes, however, the Panthers came up short.

 

Last season EIU won at Tennessee State, 49-38, giving head coach Adam Cushing his first win as the Panthers head coach. 

 

Hear Sunday's action at approximately 12:30 pm on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

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Illinois State Football At North Dakota State

The start to the 2021 spring season for No. 22 Illinois State does not get any easier this week, as the Redbirds travel to Fargo, North Dakota, to take on the defending national champion and No. 5 ranked North Dakota State Bison at the Fargodome. The road trip is the second leg of a March swing that sees ISU play on the road against three team currently ranked in the FCS Top 10.

 

It was a tale of two defenses Saturday afternoon, as No. 13 Illinois State held No. 1 North Dakota State without a touchdown at home for the first time since 2002, but the defending national champion Bison were able to hold the Redbirds to just a field goal in a 9-3 victory in the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs at the Fargodome back in December of 2019. 

 

When the 2021 spring campaign schedule was re-done after Indiana State announced it would not be competing, it surely did no favors to the Redbirds during the middle of the slate. After opening with games at Missouri State and hosting South Dakota, the Redbirds will play three of their next four games on the road all against opponents currently ranked in the Top 5 in the country. Road tilts at No. 3 Northern Iowa, No. 1 North Dakota State and No. 5 South Dakota State in the month of March will surely show what the Redbirds are made of. It doesn't get much easier when the calendar flips to April, as ISU hosts No. 24 ranked Southern Illinois at Hancock Stadium.

 

Game time is 2:30 pm central time Saturday afternoon. 

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Bulls Open Second Half of Season With Loss to Sixers

Tobias Harris scored 24 points and the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Chicago Bulls 127-105 Thursday night even though they were missing stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons for contact tracing.

 

With Harris and six other Sixers in double figures, the Eastern Conference leaders had more than enough to get by.

 

Dwight Howard scored a season-high 18 and grabbed 12 rebounds, and Tony Bradley chipped in with a season-high 14 on 7-for-7 shooting. The 6-foot-10 center also got this shoutout on Twitter from Embiid during the game: ''That's it!!! I've seen enough. Build around Tony Bradley (at)sixers''.

 

Furkan Korkmaz added 16 points, and the Sixers came out on top even though their stars were not available.

 

Embiid and Simmons both traveled to Atlanta for Sunday's All-Star game, only to learn the night before they were flagged for contact tracing. Though neither player tested positive for COVID-19, the barber they visited before leaving did.

 

Embiid, who scored a career-high 50 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in a win over the Bulls last month, is expected to return Friday at Washington. Simmons is to miss one more game.

 

Lauri Markkanen, back from a sprained right shoulder, led Chicago with 23 points. The 7-footer from Finland made all seven 3-pointers in his first appearance since Feb. 5.

 

All-Star Zach LaVine scored 19, and Coby White finished with 18 points. But coach Billy Donovan called it a ''huge step backward'' for the Bulls.

 

They were dominated in the paint 78-42 and committed 19 turnovers compared to just 11 for Philadelphia. It was just a listless effort overall.

 

The Bulls were basically at full strength with Markkanen and Otto Porter Jr. available. Porter had three points in 18 minutes after being sidelined since Feb. 1 because of back spasms. 

 

The Bulls host Miami on tonight.

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Bears Extend K Santos

Fresh off a career year headlining the Bears' special teams, Chicago has secured veteran kicker Cairo Santos for the long term with a big payday.

 

According to the Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs, the Bears have agreed to terms with Santos on a new five-year contract worth up to $17.5 million. The final two years of the deal are voidable, per Biggs, so it's essentially a three-year, $9 million deal worth up to $11 million. Either way, the extension marks the long-anticipated end to a "kicker carousel" in Chi-Town, not to mention a substantial pay raise for the 29-year-old Santos, who hadn't stayed with a team for more than one season since beginning his career with the Chiefs.

 

Santos counted just $700,000 against the Bears' salary cap in 2020. Under the three-year extension, he'll average a maximum of $3.66 million per year, making him one of the top 15 highest-paid kickers in the NFL.

 

Undrafted out of Tulane in 2014, Santos spent the first four years of his career in Kansas City, connecting on more than 80% of his field-goal tries in each of his first three seasons. A groin injury limited him early in 2017 before the Chiefs released him from injured reserve, and he spent the next three seasons as a journeyman, appearing in 16 games between the Bears, Rams, Buccaneers and Titans. After rejoining Chicago in 2020, he replaced the injured Piñeiro and hit on 30 of 32 field goals, as well as 36 of 37 extra points.

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Blackhawks Double Up Stars

Carl Soderberg and Alex DeBrincat scored power-play goals in the second period and the Chicago Blackhawks scored on four of their first eight shots in a 4-2 victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.

 

Thirty-seven-year-old defenseman Duncan Keith had his first goal in exactly a calendar year, Dominik Kubalik also scored and rookie Kevin Lankinen made 28 saves.

 

Patrick Kane and Adam Boqvist each had two assists to help the Blackhawks close their four games in Dallas this season at 3-1-0. In the opener of the two-game series Tuesday night, the Stars beat the Blackhawks 6-1.

 

Roope Hintz and John Klingberg scored for the Stars. They finished a six-game homestand 2-3-1.

 

Anton Khudobin made only four saves, all on penalty kills, before being replaced by rookie Jake Oettinger in the third period.

 

The Blackhawks reached the midpoint of the 56-game season with 33 points and hold down the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division with a seven-point lead over fifth-place Columbus.

The Blackhawks are at Florida on Saturday and Monday.

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Sergio Garcia Rolling at The PLAYERS

Sergio Garcia fired off a 7-under 65, capped off by a birdie-birdie-eagle finish for a two-shot lead over Brian Harman Thursday in The Players Championship from TPC Sawgrass. 

 

Garcia only had to look next to him to see what kind of damage the Stadium Course inflicted, even on a pristine day of pleasant sunshine and a mild breeze.

 

Rory McIlroy, the defending champion, opened with a double bogey from the trees. He hit two in the water on the 18th and made a quadruple-bogey 8. He wound up with a 79, his worst score since his opening round at Royal Portrush in the 2019 British Open.

 

When darkness brought the first round to a halt — 21 players didn’t finish — there already were 13 scores of 80 or higher. That included Henrik Stenson with an 85, his highest score ever on the PGA Tour.

 

There were 22 scores of triple bogey or worse.

 

Garcia took eight shots to play his final three holes. Byeong Hun An took 11 shots on the par-3 17th hole.

 

Harman played in the afternoon and was hanging around par until he began the back nine with three straight birdies, shot 31 on the back and wound up with a 67.

 

British Open champion Shane Lowry took bogey on his final hole for a 68 and was tied with Corey Conners and Matt Fitzpatrick. Bryson DeChambeau, coming off his victory last week at Bay Hill, had to take a little off his driver on the par-5 16th and had 9-iron left, setting up a birdie-birdie-par finish to join the group at 69.

 

Rickie Fowler had three double bogeys in his round of 77, leaving him in danger of missing the cut and likely missing out on the Dell Match Play in two weeks.

 

Dustin Johnson took double bogey on the par-5 11th and eagle on the par-5 16th in his round of 73. Jordan Spieth missed only two fairways and had to settle for a 70.

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Illini Beat Writer Weighs In On Big Ten 'Title', Tournament

Should Illinois be dubbed 'Co-Big Ten Champ'? Will Illinois play on national TV Sunday afternoon for the conference tournament championship?

 

Illini beat writer at the Champaign News-Gazette Bob Asmussen says the debate over regular-season 'co-Big Ten champs' with Michigan is a fun debate for fans but believes the there are bigger things to worry about, like this weekend's Big Ten tournament and then the NCAA tournament which tips off next week.

 

 

As Illinois gets set to open the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis Friday night taking either Rutgers or Indiana, Asmussen believes the Illini have a great chance to be playing Sunday afternoon in front of a national audience ahead of the selection show.

 

 

This year's NCAA tournament will be played exclusively in Indiana and the round of 64 will tip off on Friday, March 19 rather than its traditional spot of Thursday, and the round of 32 will wrap up Monday, March 22.

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The PLAYERS Championship Returns Marking One-Year Since Sports Shutdown

Hideki Matsuyama made a 25-foot eagle putt on his final hole of the first round at The Players Championship and earned a spot in the record book as the ninth player to post a 63 at the TPC Sawgrass.

 

And then it was gone.

 

The opening round last year wasn’t complete because eight players failed to finish before dark. The entire tournament wasn’t complete because of the COVID-19 pandemic that wiped out the final three rounds at Sawgrass and the following three months in golf.

 

Now it’s about starting over. The defending champion is still Rory McIlroy, who won in 2019 and who began last year with a 72, leaving him nine shots behind. On Thursday, everyone is back to even.

 

McIlroy was No. 1 in the world at The Players last year and building momentum toward the Masters, his missing leg of the career Grand Slam. He had seven consecutive top-5 finishes around the world, including a World Golf Championship title.

 

He returns to Sawgrass at No. 11, out of the top 10 for the first time in three years. And after another pedestrian finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week.

 

 Rickie Fowler has gone more than two years without winning and has dropped to No. 70 in the world, with no guarantee he will get in the Dell Match Play in two weeks or the Masters next month.

 

Justin Thomas hasn’t had a dream start to his year, starting with a barely audible anti-gay slur he muttered to himself at Kapalua that was heard by enough television viewers that it led to one sponsor dropping him and another giving him a public reprimand. And then with a chance in Phoenix, he learned his grandfather — his dad’s father, a PGA professional — had died.

 

On the upswing are a pair of first-time major champions, Bryson DeChambeau and Collin Morikawa, who approach the game in vastly different manners. Morikawa, the consummate iron player, was flawless at times in winning his first World Golf Championship two weeks ago. DeChambeau had another must-see week at Bay Hill by trying to drive a par 5 and winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

 

They are reminders that the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass historically does not favor anyone. The winners include power players like McIlroy and Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, precision players like Webb Simpson, Fred Funk and Matt Kuchar, and even a few surprises like Craig Perks.

 

The Players marks a milestone on the PGA Tour as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the first of the cancellations that led to a dozen tournaments on the schedule that were not played.

 

It has been two years since McIlroy won. He has played 42 times around the world since then, yet he still feels like he has a title to defend this week.

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Panarin Rejoins Rangers After Brief Absence

Artemi Panarin rejoined the New York Rangers for practice in Boston on Wednesday after taking a two-week leave of absence.

 

Coach David Quinn said Panarin won’t play Thursday night against the Bruins and his timeline for getting back to game action is unclear. But there’s a buzz around the Rangers that their highest-paid and best player is back.

 

Panarin left the team Feb. 22 after a Russian tabloid printed allegations from a former coach that he attacked a woman in Latvia almost a decade ago, which he denies.

 

The team called it a fabricated story designed to intimidate Panarin for his political views. Andrei Nazarov, a former NHL enforcer who coached Panarin in the Kontinental Hockey League, said he was motivated to speak about the alleged incident because he disagreed with Panarin’s repeated criticism of the Russian government.

 

Panarin, 29, has been a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and earlier this year posted his support on social media for opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

 

Trouba said Rangers players talked about Panarin’s situation and welcomed him back with open arms, calling it “business as usual.”

 

Panarin, who was an MVP finalist last season, has missed the past eight games. The Rangers are 4-4 without him.

 

Panarin is in his second season with the Rangers after signing an $81.5 million, seven-year contract with them in 2019. He was New York’s leading scorer when he stepped away.

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ISU Walks Off Western Illinois in Extra Innings

Jack Butler singled up the middle in the 10th inning to plate fifth-year junior Jeremy Gaines, pushing the Illinois State baseball team past Western Illinois, 2-1, on Tuesday at Duffy Bass Field.

 

Gaines pinch-ran for third-year junior Hayden Jones, who singled with one out to get the offense moving, and advanced to second on a walk drawn by fifth-year senior Joe Butler prior to Jack Butler's game-winning single to center field.

 

Derek Salata was credited with the win after tossing a six-pitch, 1-2-3 10th inning. Fourth-year junior Colin Wyman continued with impressive start to 2021, firing five scoreless innings in relief while conceding just two hits and one walk, striking out one.

 

Western Illinois (2-7 overall) out-hit Illinois State (4-6 overall), 8-4, but made two errors while ISU played a clean defensive game.

 

Western Illinois recorded five hits in the first two innings, including a solo home run to left field in the 2nd inning, but had just three hits the rest of the way.

 

A sacrifice fly by third-year sophomore Gunner Peterson plated fourth-year sophomore Jake McCaw to tie the game at 1-1 in the 2nd inning.

 

Wyman recorded inning-ending double plays in both the 7th and 8th innings to help keep the Leathernecks at bay.

 

In the 10th, Jones singled and Joe Butler walked before Jack Butler's single to center scored the pinch-runner, Gaines.

 

Illinois State is set to travel to Missouri for a four-game set over March 12-14. 

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Bears Franchise Tag WR Robinson

Wideouts Chris Godwin, who helped the Buccaneers win the Super Bowl, and Chicago’s Allen Robinson were tagged just before Tuesday’s NFL deadline. So were tackles Taylor Moton of Carolina and Cam Robinson of Jacksonville, defensive tackle Leonard Williams of the New York Giants, and safety Marcus Williams of New Orleans.

 

Previously announced as tagged players were safeties Marcus Maye of the New York Jets and Justin Simmons of the Denver Broncos, and All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff by Washington.

 

Leonard Williams, Scherff and Simmons were tagged for a second straight year. Barring their teams working out long-term deals by July 15, they will earn about $19 million, $18 million and $13.7 million, respectively.

 

Godwin, a budding star with the Buccaneers — so much so that the team apparently will allow top linebacker Shaq Barrett to test the open waters — and the veteran Allen Robinson will be paid approximately $16.4 million apiece in 2021.

 

Robinson was on a three-year, $42 million contract. He earned his money by catching a career-best 102 passes for 1,250 yards last season in quarterbacks-weak Chicago.

 

The 26-year-old Leonard Williams, the first player the Giants have tagged twice, has flourished with the team after being acquired on Oct. 29, 2019, from the other local New York club, the Jets. He was the Jets’ first draft pick, sixth overall, in 2015.

 

Williams had a team-leading 11 1-2 sacks in 2020, the most by a Giant since Jason Pierre-Paul’s 14 1-2 in 2014 and were 7 1-2 more than any of his teammates. He ranked third in the NFL with 30 quarterback hits and tied for sixth with 14 tackles for loss. Williams was fifth on the Giants with 57 tackles (29 solo).

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Former Illinois Big Man Leaves Heat Amid Racial Slur Controversy

The Miami Heat said Tuesday night that Meyers Leonard will be away from the team indefinitely, sharply criticizing his use of an anti-Semitic slur while playing a video game that was being livestreamed.

 

Leonard apologized for using the term, insisting he did not know what it meant when he used it Monday. The Heat learned of the matter Tuesday, and Leonard’s future with the team is now in serious doubt.

 

The team also said it will cooperate with the NBA’s investigation.

 

Leonard acknowledged that he used the term Monday while streaming. In his apology, posted on social media, he said “my ignorance about its history and how offensive it is to the Jewish community is absolutely not an excuse and I was just wrong.”

 

Leonard also said he was apologizing to team managing general partner Micky Arison and his family, the team’s players, coaches and front office, his family and the Jewish community, among others.

 

The video began circulating widely on social media Tuesday afternoon and the fallout was almost immediate, first with online criticism and then sharp rebukes by the league, the Heat and even other organizations.

 

The NBA said it was “in the process of gathering more information.”

 

Leonard, a 7-foot center in his ninth NBA season out of Illinois, sustained a season-ending shoulder injury in January and appeared in only three games for the Heat this year. He could become a free agent this summer; the Heat hold a team option on him for next season worth about $10 million.

 

Most players and coaches chose to kneel last summer for the playing of the U.S. and Canadian national anthems when the NBA season resumed inside a bubble at Walt Disney World in Central Florida. Leonard stood instead, his hand over his heart, and did so with the support of Heat teammates.

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Stars Blast Blackhawks

Joel Kiviranta scored 100 seconds in and added an assist, rookie Jason Robertson had four assists for his first four-point game and the Dallas Stars dominated the Chicago Blackhawks 6-1 on Tuesday night.

 

Joe Pavelski got his team-best 13th goal for the Stars. Roope Hintz had a goal and an assist, and defensemen Jamie Oleksiak, John Klingberg and Esa Lindell also scored. Anton Khudobin stopped 21 shots for Dallas, which has won two of three by a combined 11-1 after dropping four straight games.

 

Mattias Janmark scored for the Blackhawks, who have allowed six goals each in losing their last two games. Malcolm Subban made 31 saves.

 

Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane played his 1,000th NHL game nine days after scoring his 400th career goal.

 

Thursday's game will be the last of four between the team this season in Dallas before playing four in Chicago.

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NHL, ESPN Agree to Seven-Year Deal

The National Hockey League will return to ESPN beginning next season.

 

The two sides have reached agreement on a seven-year contract that includes four Stanley Cup Finals, people familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.

 

ESPN and the NHL had no comment. The deal was first reported by SportsNet in Canada.

 

NBC is in the final season of a 10-year contract worth $2 billion that gives it national NHL rights, but the league will air on multiple networks in its next agreement.

 

ESPN started airing NHL games when it went on the air in 1979 by making deals with individual teams. It had the national NHL rights from 1985-88 and 1992-2004.

 

NBC has aired games since 2005 and is still among the bidders for the other part of the deal, which includes three Stanley Cup Finals.

 

Most of NBC’s games air on NBC Sports Network, but that channel is being shut down by the end of the year. Most of NBCSN’s events are being shifted to USA Network.

 

Fox Sports and CBS are also likely to put in bids. Fox had NHL rights from 1995-99. Where all three networks stand could become clearer after the NFL’s television rights are finalized.

 

NBC’s deal with the English Premier League, which expires at the end of next season, is also up for renewal.

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Clinton Falls to ALAH

As heard in WHOW, Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond came from behind in the fourth quarter, and the Clinton Maroons fell 64-55 on Tuesday night. B-Rok Designs Player of the Game Zeke Hickman had 18 points, with six of those being 3-pointers. Freshman Dawson Graves scored 14 points, and freshman Nick Feather added 10.

 

ALAH were led by senior Wyatt Romine with 19 points. Senior Jamison Rocke and sophomore Kaden Feagin added 14 points each.

 

With the loss, the Maroons fall to 2-13 on the season. ALAH improve to 10-2.

 

Tune in Saturday, March 13, as the Maroons host St. Teresa. You can hear the game live on the Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW, online at dewittdailynews.com, on the WHOW mobile app, and on Amazon Alexa. Tipoff is set for 5:30 pm.

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ALAH Upset Lady Maroons on Senior Night

In a game heard on WHOW, the Clinton Lady Maroons fell to the Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond Lady Knights by a score of 43-35 on Tuesday night. Lady Maroons were led by B-Rok Designs Player of the Game Mallory Cyrulik with 11 points. Junior Kaitlyn Rauch also had 11, and senior Raya Swartz chipped in with 6.

 

ALAH, were led by sophomore Charley Condill and junior Alexa Miller with 10 apiece.

 

With the loss, the Maroons fall to 12-3 overall. With the win, ALAH improves to 13-2.

 

Tune in Saturday, March 13, as the St. Teresa Lady Bulldogs come to town. You can hear the game live on the Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW, online at dewittdailynews.com, on the WHOW mobile app, and on Amazon Alexa. Tipoff is set for 12:30 pm.

 

 

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Monticello Boys Basketball Game Hosting St. Joe-Ogden Canceled

Tonight's Monticello boy's basketball game hosting St. Joseph-Ogden has been canceled.

 

The Monticello Athletics Twitter accounted tweeted shortly after 2:30 pm, due to COVID cases, and out of an abundance of caution, the game will be canceled.

 

Tonight's contest was to be senior night at the Sievers Center, the Tweet notes the athletic department will find a way to recognize the five Sages, senior basketball players.

 

Because Tuesday's game was to be the final game on the schedule, the Sages finish the year 8-3 overall and 5-3 in the Illini Prairie Conference. 

 

Hear Monticello football action starting next Friday night, March 19, on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

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Lady Maroons Crush Villa Grove

Kaitlyn Rauch scored 19 points and Mallory Cyrulik added 14 points as the Clinton Lady Maroons obliterated Villa Grove 67-10 in non-conference girl's basketball action Monday night for their sixth straight win.
 

While no other players scored in double-figures, the scoring was balanced throughout the book. Raya Swartz scored nine points, Kylie Raymer had eight points, Kaile Beck and Alaina Soberalski chipped in with five points apiece, Makayla Koeppel added three points and Ashley Armstrong and Heidi Humble each scored two points.

 

The Lady Maroons move to 12-2 overall while Villa Grove falls to 5-6.

 

Clinton gets a quick turnaround when they host Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond tonight at 6 pm. Hear the game live on 92.3 FM WHOW, at dewittdailynews.com, the WHOW mobile app, and at Amazon Alexa.

 

Also tonight, hear Clinton Maroons boy's basketball action as the varsity boy's squad also hosts ALAH at 7:30 pm.

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After Big Week, Illinois Inching Closer to No. 1 Seed in NCAA Tournament

Gonzaga received 61 of 63 first-place votes from a media panel in The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll released Monday as they attempt to become the first wire-to-wire No. 1 since Kentucky in 2014-15.

 

Baylor had two first-place votes and moved back into the No. 2 slot after dropping a spot last week.

Illinois, Michigan and Iowa rounded out the top 5. No. 8 Arkansas is in the top 10 for the first time since reaching No. 1 in 1994-95.

 

No. 12 Oklahoma State and No. 16 Virginia had the biggest jumps of the week, moving up five spots each. 

 

No. 25 Oklahoma had the biggest drop, falling nine places after losing four consecutive games, including 69-65 to No. 13 Texas on Thursday. 

 

Southern California moved into the Top 25 at No. 24 after beating Stanford and rival UCLA last week. 

 

Wisconsin dropped out from No. 25 following losses to Iowa and No. 23 Purdue.

 

 

Michigan may have gotten the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and a claim of the regular-season championship, but AP voters are giving the nod to Illinois as the best team in the conference after the Fighting Illini handed the Wolverines one of their two losses in the final week of the season.

 

No. 1 Gonzaga was off all week, and held its spot at No. 1 with 61-first place votes. Baylor moved up one spot to No. 2 in the reshuffling of the top four, picking up two first-place votes after a tremendous week that included three wins against ranked teams, and Illinois was bumped up to No. 3, one spot ahead of Michigan. The voters appear to be honoring the head-to-head result over winning percentage, which was used to crown the Wolverines as league champions heading into the conference tournament.

 

Oklahoma State moved up five spots to No. 12 after a busy week that included a sweep of rival Oklahoma, a loss to Baylor that included Cade Cunningham suffering an ankle injury and then a Cunningham-less win at West Virginia. The Mountaineers went 1-2 last week, sandwiching a win against TCU between losses to the Bears and Cowboys, and fell four spots to No. 10.

 

Villanova and Florida State were both notable for finishing the regular season with a loss, the Wildcats against Providence and the Seminoles at Notre Dame, and each dropped four spots in the rankings to No. 14 and No. 15, respectively. Virginia got a boost after its two wins helped propel it to the program's fifth ACC regular-season title in the last eight years, moving up five spots to No. 16.

 

The biggest movement in either direction was Oklahoma's nine-spot drop to No. 25 following losses to Oklahoma State and Texas. Wisconsin was the only team to drop out of the rankings, clearing the way for USC's arrival at No 24 following its epic buzzer-beating win at UCLA.

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Monticello Boy's Basketball Team Wraps Season Up Hosting St. Joseph-Ogden

The Monticello boy's basketball team will host Illini Prairie Conference rival St. Joseph-Ogden tonight on Senior Night at Monticello High School to wrap up the 2021 pandemic altered basketball season.

 

The Sage pulled away late from Bismarck-Henning to win 62-50 on Saturday at the Sievers Center at Monticello High School.

 

Monticello bounced back from a tough 48-46 walk-off win by Prairie Central Friday night on the road.

 

The Sages had several standout performances Saturday. Senior Jake Edmondson grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds despite not scoring. Joey Sprinkle recorded his first career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds and Ben Cresap dished out seven assists to zero turnovers.

 

Tonight, Monticello will have its hands full with 6-foot-6 sophomore Ty Pence, likely an All-State selection, and the Spartans who enter play 8-2 overall and 6-2 in the Illini Prairie Conference.

The Sages are 7-3 and 5-3 in the Illini Prairie.

 

Game time is 7 pm tonight from the Sievers Center. Hear the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.

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White Sox, Cubs to Have Fans For Opening Day

Thousands of masked fans of the Cubs and White Sox will get to see their teams play in person beginning on opening day, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Monday. Each team will be limited to 20% capacity, but it was enough to send some fans off to Wrigley to celebrate.

 

The capacity limitations mean the White Sox can admit as many as 8,122 fans to Guaranteed Rate Field, and the Cubs will be allowed to admit as many as 8,274 fans per game.

 

Though the announcement clears the way for fans in the stands for the first time since the 2019 season, the mask requirement is just one of several changes that will make the experience of going to the ballpark look and feel a bit different. Cash will not be accepted at concession stands or in souvenir shops. Also, everyone from players to fans “can expect comprehensive screening and sanitization procedures based on the latest scientific guidance,” according to the city’s news release.

 

At Wrigley, according to a team release, the food menu will be limited to individually packaged items and the only bags fans will be allowed to bring into the park are small clutch purses, medical bags and, if they have infants, diaper bags.

 

Both teams will implement pod seating to keep groups of fans a safe distance from each other.

Major league teams have been announcing in recent weeks that fans will be allowed to return to stadiums. Some teams have not specified how many fans will be allowed. Other teams that have set their opening-day capacity at 20% include the Philadelphia Phillies and the Los Angeles Angels. The Milwaukee Brewers and the Colorado Rockies will limit capacity to 25% and St. Louis Cardinals have set the capacity limit at 32%. The Kansas City Royals will limit capacity to about 30%, according to the team.

 

In Chicago, the announcement comes after the city, because of a drop in the number of COVID-19 cases, recently started allowing limited indoor seating. Just last week, the restaurants and bars in the city were told they can increase their indoor seating capacity to 50%.

 

There was no word on when fans might be able to return to the United Center, the home of the NBA’s Bulls and NHL’s Blackhawks. According to a statement from the two teams and the facility, they are working with city and state leaders “to evaluate conditions and determine a timeline for welcoming fans back to the United Center.”

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Sharks Outlast Blues

Evander Kane scored 41 seconds into overtime and the San Jose Sharks ended a disappointing homestand on a high note by beating the St. Louis Blues 3-2 Monday night.

 

The Sharks had lost five of their first six games on their longest homestand of the season before rallying to beat the Blues by getting a tying goal in the third period from Logan Couture and the winner from Kane off a feed from Erik Karlsson on a 2-on-1 rush.

 

Marc-Edouard Vlasic also scored for San Jose, and Devan Dubnyk made 24 saves after getting starts in back-to-back games for the first time this season.

 

The Blues won the first four games of their road trip before stumbling a bit at the end with overtime losses in Los Angeles and San Jose.

 

Niko Mikkola got his first career goal and Brayden Schenn also scored for St. Louis. Ville Husso made 17 saves.

 

The Blues controlled play in the second period, earning three power plays and outshooting San Jose 16-5. But the Sharks had the only goal on Vlasic's first of the season on a rush before St. Louis finally capitalized late on its third attempt of the period with the man advantage.

 

Ryan O'Reilly sent a cross-ice pass to David Perron, whose one-timer deflected off Schenn's stick and fluttered past Dubnyk with 54 seconds left in the period to make it 2-1. It marked the fifth straight game that St. Louis scored a power-play goal.

 

The Sharks tied it midway through the third on the power play when a rebound of Ryan Donato's shot hit off Couture's skate and went into the net.

 

San Jose's Kurtis Gabriel and St. Louis' Kyle Clifford got into a fight on their first shift of the game. The two enforcers spent part of the pregame skate jawing at center ice and it carried over into a spirited fight early in the game. It was the second fight in three games for Gabriel, who squared off with Vegas' Ryan Reaves on Friday night.

 

The Blues and Sharks had some bad blood from their past meeting when St. Louis goalie Jordan Binnington nearly got into three tussles with Sharks players on his way off the ice after getting pulled in the second period.

 

The Blues host the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday night.

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Miller Media Group's All-Sports Station THEWINNER965.COM Streaming Entire Big Ten Mens Tournament

The Miller Media Group's all-sports radio station, "THE WINNER 96-5" streamed on-line at THEWINNER965-DOT-COM, will broadcast the entire Big Ten Mens Basketball Tournament live from Indianapolis this week.

 

Compass Media Networks is providing the coverage to "THE WINNER."

The Big Ten currently has 6 teams ranked in the Top 25, and is the conference with the most depth in College Basketball.

 

Follow your favorite Big Ten team thru the Big Ten Tournament, which airs this Wednesday, March 10th thru this Sunday, March 14th, on "THE WINNER 96-5" streamed on-line at THEWINNER965-DOT-COM.

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Illini Shut Out Ohio State to Take Series Finale

Freshman LHP Cole Kirschsieper picked up right where he left off last season, throwing five scoreless innings in an 8-0 shutout in the series finale at Fluor Field. The Illini rebounded after dropping the first three games of the series to the Buckeyes.

 

Kirschsieper (5.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 6 SO) has not lost a game in his college career. Last season, he went 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA. Freshman Joseph Glassey, sophomore Ryan Kutt and freshman Payton Hutchings came out of the bullpen to complete the combined three-hit shutout. Ohio State (3-1) was shutout for the first time in a conference game since April 20, 2018 vs. Indiana (4-0).

 

Illinois (1-3) produced their highest scoring game of the season with eight runs. 

 

Freshman Justin Janas went 3-for-3 with an RBI, walk and two runs scored. Janas' RBI came on a single in the third inning, which also marked his first career hit. Sophomore Ryan Hampe contributed a 2-for-4 day at the plate with a double and two RBIs. Junior Taylor Jackson added a pair of hits as well.

 

Right out of the gate in the first inning, leadoff hitter Taylor Jackson hit a ground-rule double. Illinois scored three in the first, courtesy of a Branden Comia RBI single, a Cam McDonald RBI groundout and a Ryan Hampe RBI single. It was the second consecutive game the Illini put up runs in the first inning.

 

The Illini added two runs in the fifth from a Janas RBI single and a Hampe RBI double to extend the lead to 5-0. Illinois would add three more insurance runs in the eighth inning, including freshman Cal Hejza recording his first career hit with an RBI double down the right field field line.

 

Illinois will travel to Minneapolis next week to take on the Golden Gophers at U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings. The weekend series will be four games, with a doubleheader played on Saturday. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m. CT on Friday, 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. CT on Saturday, and 6 p.m. CT on Sunday.

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UT-Martin Rolls EIU

As heard on WHOW Sunday afternoon, John Bachus threw two of his three touchdown passes to tight end Rodney Williams, John Ford returned an interception 50 yards for a score, and UT Martin never trailed in its 28-15 win over Eastern Illinois on Sunday.

 

Bachus was 24-of-36 passing for 259 yards with an interception and Williams finished with eight receptions for 95 yards. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound redshirt senior went into the game with career totals of 41 catches for 473 yards and no touchdowns.

 

Bachus connected with Williams for a 21-yard touchdown to open the scoring late in the first quarter and then hit Donnell Williams for a 16-yard TD with 9:07 left in the second. Two plays from scrimmage later, Ford’s pick-6 gave the Skyhawks (1-1, 1-1 Ohio Valley Conference) a 21-0 lead.

 

Harry Woodbery had 279 yards passing and two touchdowns for Eastern Illinois (0-2, 0-2).

 

UTM had 12 tackles for loss and limited the Panthers to 59 yards rushing on 25 attempts.

 

The game was originally scheduled for Feb. 21 but was postponed due to winter weather in the area.

EIU takes on Tennessee State next Sunday afternoon.

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Illinois State Drops Series Finale At Southeast Missouri

Fresh off a 13-run offensive output, the Illinois State baseball team's bats fell flat at SEMO as the team dropped the series finale, 8-1, on Sunday at Capaha Field. 

 

Fifth-year senior Joe Butler was 2-for-4 with a home run, double, RBI, and run scored for Illinois State (3-6 overall). The run was his 100th career run scored, becoming the 44th Redbird to score 100 career runs. 

 

Fifth-year senior Jordan Libman was also 2-for-4, recording his third-straight two-hit game and extending his season-opening hitting streak to nine games. 

 

SEMO (5-6 overall) got seven of its 10 hits out of the 7-8-9 batters in the lineup. 

 

The Redbirds dropped three of four after dropping the first two games of the four-game set before taking the second of a Saturday doubleheader.

 

ISU hosts Western Illinois Tuesday evening at 6 pm. 

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Illinois Locks Up No. 2-Seed in Big Ten Tournament

The bracket is set for the 2021 Big Ten Tournament. The 24th annual event will be held March 10-14 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

 

The Fighting Illini (20-6, 16-4) are the No. 2 seed, earning a double-bye to the quarterfinal round for the second consecutive season. Illinois will open play on Friday (March 12) at 5:30 p.m. CT on BTN, facing the winner of No. 7 seed Rutgers vs. No. 10 seed Indiana. 

 

Illinois' 16 Big Ten wins are its most in school history. The Illini won 11 of their last 12 games, highlighted by three straight on the road against ranked teams over the final eight days of the regular season.

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Lightning Double Up Blackhawks

Yanni Gourde had two goals and two assists, and the Lightning used their power play to rally for a 6-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.

 

Gourde had one of Tampa Bay's three power-play goals during its four-goal second period. Pat Maroon added his 100th career goal in the third, giving the Lightning a season-high four goals with the man advantage.

 

Ondrej Palat and Victor Hedman also scored power-play goals in the second. Alex Killorn scored for the third straight game, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 22 stops.

 

Mattias Janmark had a goal and an assist for the Blackhawks. Philipp Kurashev and Pius Suter also scored, and Kevin Lankinen made 33 saves.

 

Coming off a 4-3 shootout win Friday night, the Blackhawks controlled much of the first period. Kurashev got his sixth of the season on a nice backhand in front, and Janmark finished a pretty passing sequence for a power-play goal at 15:34.

 

The Blackhawks open a six-game trip at Dallas on Tuesday night.

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Kyle Larson Conquers Vegas, Takes Penzoil 400

On Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kyle Larson raced to his first NASCAR victory since he was reinstated from a nearly yearlong suspension. He ran just the first four races last season and was hired by Hendrick Motorsports when NASCAR said the suspension would lift at the start of this year.

 

Larson wasn’t sure he’d ever race again in NASCAR, and if he could, he didn’t know who would even hire him.

 

It was Rick Hendrick who took the chance on a driver many believed was radioactive for sponsors. Larson’s use of a racial slur while participating in an online race last April cost him his job, his reputation and his ability to attract the corporations that fund a race team.

 

Hendrick said he’d pay for the car himself because he was that confident that Larson, reformed after months of self-work, could be redeemed.

 

Larson then celebrated his first career win on an intermediate track with smoke-filled burnouts, including one on the backstretch for friends watching from a motorhome on the hillside above the track. 

 

Larson’s move to Hendrick was expected to be electric.

 

Larson is considered one of the top talents in NASCAR but won just six times in six seasons with Chip Ganassi Racing. Paired with mighty Hendrick, everyone suspected Larson would at last reach his full potential.

 

The victory gave Hendrick back-to-back victories. William Byron won last week at Homestead-Miami Speedway, so Hendrick has two of its four drivers locked into the playoffs just one month into the new season.

 

Larson’s last victory was Oct. 6, 2019, at Dover.

 

His seventh career win made him the third driver so far who was not part of the 16-driver playoff field last season to grab one of the spots. The season opened with three consecutive surprise winners in Michael McDowell, Christopher Bell and then Byron.

 

Larson isn’t exactly a surprise and Las Vegas was supposed to be the track in which the large teams finally took control. The 1.5-mile intermediate is the bread-and-butter of the NASCAR schedule and the top organizations have the depth and resources to dominate the circuits.

 

The top-nine finishers Sunday all represented NASCAR’s elite teams, with Erik Jones for single-car Richard Petty Motorsports the only surprise with a 10th-place finish.

 

Brad Keselowski of Team Penske was second in a Ford and followed by hometown driver Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin in Toyotas for Joe Gibbs Racing.

 

Ryan Blaney was fifth for Penske and then Martin Truex Jr. and Bell put all four JGR cars in the top seven. Byron was eighth and defending race winner Joey Logano was ninth for Penske.

 

NASCAR heads 300 miles south to Phoenix Raceway, where Chase Elliott won in November for his first Cup championship. The Phoenix race last March, won by Joey Logano, was NASCAR’s fourth event of the season and last before the pandemic.

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Dechambeau Puts on Power Display en Route to Win at Bay Hill

Bryson DeChambeau played the final 17 holes without a bogey, entertaining thousands with another monstrous drive over the water and delivering one last par with a 5-foot putt on the final hole for a one-shot victory over Lee Westwood Sunday to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

 

DeChambeau closed with a 71, matching the low score of the final round in which no one broke 70 on Sunday at Bay Hill for the first time since 1980.

 

Westwood, who turns 48 next month, was up to the task.

 

Never mind that DeChambeau’s rocket over the water on the 565-yard sixth hole was 168 yards beyond Westwood. Their second shots were only 6 feet apart and both made birdie.

 

Westwood fought to the end. He fell out of a share of the lead with a three-putt bogey from 40 feet on the 14th. Just as critical was failing to make birdie on the par-5 16th with a wedge for his second shot from the fairway, and DeChambeau having to scramble for par.

 

The two were never separated by more than one shot over the final 15 holes. DeChambeau finished at 11-under 277.

 

The long ball came in handy for DeChambeau, as much with the putter as the driver. He holed a 40-foot birdie putt on the fourth hole to regain a share of the lead. More critical was the 50-foot par putt he made on No. 11 to stay one ahead.

 

Westwood tied him with a 30-foot birdie putt on the par-5 12th, only to give it back with a three-putt on the 14th. The tournament turned on the par-5 16th, where it was Westwood who had the advantage.

 

DeChambeau’s drive went up against the lip of a bunker and he had to lay up short of the water. Westwood had 158 yards and hit a poor wedge that came up short of the green. He chipped nicely, except that it rolled out 6 feet by the hole on the lightning-quick greens and he missed the birdie for a chance to tie.

 

DeChambeau took the one-shot lead to the 18th and hit his most important drive of the day — in the fairway. Westwood’s tee shot settled in a divot, and he did well to get it on the green and two-putt from 65 feet. DeChambeau’s birdie putt slid by some 5 feet and he shook his arms in celebration when the par putt dropped.

 

Westwood closed with a 73, not a bad score considering the average of 75.49 was the highest for a final round since 1980.

 

Corey Conners stayed in the mix until the very end. The Canadian holed a 15-foot eagle putt on the 16th to get within one shot, only to find a bunker on the par-3 17th and miss a 6-foot par putt. With a bogey on the final hole, he shot 74 to finish alone in third.

 

Jordan Spieth was part of a four-man race on the front nine and briefly tied for the lead with a birdie on the par-5 sixth. That turned out to be his last birdie of the day. He took bogey on three of his last four holes for a 75, dropping him into a three-way tie for fourth with Andrew Putnam (71) and Ricky Werenski (73).

 

For Spieth, it was his third top-five finish in his last four events.

 

DeChambeau rose to No. 6 in the world with his ninth victory worldwide, and he became the first player this season with multiple victories, to go along with his U.S. Open title in September. It matched the longest it took for a multiple winner on the PGA Tour since 1969. Nick Price won his second title in the 21st week of the season in 1994.

 

Rory McIlroy, who started four shots out of the lead, was never in the mix. He came undone on the par-5 sixth, where he hit two tee shots into the water and then hit the fairway, green and made the putt to salvage double bogey. He shot 76.

 

The Tour heads to The Stadium Course for this week's PLAYERS Championship in Palm Valley, Florida. Brooks Koepka announced yesterday he has withdrawn.

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WHOW To Air White Sox Baseball This Season

White Sox Baseball will be heard in the 2021 regular season and during the playoffs, on WHOW THE BIG 1520 across Central Illinois, 92-point-3 FM in Dewitt County, and soon coming to 106-point-5 FM in McLean County.

 

Miller Media Group president Randal J. Miller made the announcement today.  Miller said that with the many changes the White Sox organization has made, including some key trades, they are expected to do well this season and WHOW is excited about bringing the White Sox to Central Illinois listeners.

 

White Sox broadcasts begin April First on WHOW AM and FM.

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No. 3 N. Iowa wins defensive slugfest against Illinois St.

Tyler Hoosman ran for 63 yards and his 13-yard touchdown run with 3:24 left helped seal No. 3-ranked Northern Iowa’s 20-10 win over 15th-ranked Illinois State on Saturday.

 

The Panthers’ (2-1, 2-1 Missouri Valley Football Conference) four-play, 24-yard drive was set up when Jared Brinkman recovered a fumble forced by teammate Spencer Cuvelier on a sack of Illinois State quarterback Bryce Jefferson.

 

In what was a defensive scrum throughout, both defensive units tended get the better of each others offenses than the other way around.

 

Under pressure throughout, Jefferson finished 13-for-27 passing for 69 yards and ran for 60 yards on 14 carries. Northern Iowa quarterback Will McElvain was only slightly better off at 14 for 33 for 148 yards and running for score as well though he threw a pick-6.

 

McElvain’s 11-yard TD run on the opening drive ended a brief 35-yard scoring drive set up by Quan Hampton’s 65-yard return of the opening kickoff. Matthew Cook’s 43-yard field goal made it 10-0 a little more than halfway through the first period.

 

Following Aidan Bresnahan’s 49-yard field goal to put the Redbirds (0-2, 0-2) on the board, Kenton Wilhoit intercepted McElvain and returned it 29-yards for a touchdown to even the score. Cook’s 44-yard field goal to start the fourth quarter put Northern Iowa in the lead for the remainder.

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Dosunmu's return powers No. 4 Illinois over No. 7 Ohio State

Ayo Dosunmu played the part with a 19-point performance, and the No. 4 Illini rallied late to beat reeling No. 7 Ohio State 73-68.

 

Andre Curbelo matched Dosunmu’s 19, and Illinois (20-6, 16-4) got its second straight road win over a top 10 team after routing No. 2 Michigan on Tuesday. The Illini have won 11 of 12 and enter next week’s Big Ten Tournament with a double-bye.

 

When it looked like Ohio State might start to pull away late, the Buckeyes’ shooting went cold. Illinois’ Da’Monte Williams hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 68 with 1:31 left.

 

Dosunmu’s layup and three foul shots in the last 44 seconds provided the margin of victory as Ohio State failed to make another basket in the game. The Buckeyes missed their last 10 shots and didn’t score in the final 3:48.

 

E.J. Liddell led the Buckeyes (18-8, 12-8) with 19 points, and Duane Washington Jr. and Justice Sueing each had 15 for Ohio State, which finished the regular season with four straight losses, three against Top 10 teams.

 

Illinois led by 10 during the first half but a late put-back by Liddell cut the advantage to 41-37 at the break. The teams traded punches in the second half with Ohio State up by four when Illinois mounted the final rally.

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Clinton Falls to St. Thomas More

The Clinton Maroons fell to Champaign St. Thomas More by a score of 42-65 on Saturday afternoon in non-conference boys basketball action.

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Lady Maroons Top St. T

The Clinton Lady Maroons defeated the St. Teresa Lady Bulldogs by a score of 66-32 on Saturday afternoon. Clinton was led by Mallory Cyrulik with 22 points and Kaitlyn Rauch with 19.

 

The Lady Maroons are 11-2 on the season and 5-2 in the Central Illinois Conference.

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Late Surge Sends Monticello Past Biskmarck-Henning

Monticello finished a dominant fourth quarter with an 8-0 run in the last 3 minutes of regulation as several players had career games in a 62-50 win over Bismarck-Henning in non-conference boy’s basketball action from the Sievers Center at Monticello High School Saturday afternoon. 

 

Ben Cresap went over his career-high in points with two free throws at 2:58 remaining in regulation and added another basket a minute later to push him to 26 points.

 

The score was tied at 48 after the three quarters when the Blue Devils nearly doubled their first-half offensive output with a 23-18 quarter after trailing 30-25 at the intermission.

 

But Monticello dominated the fourth quarter, holding Bismarck-Henning to just one basket on 13 attempts and the Sages finished strong holding the 14-2 edge. The Blue Devils went five-for-six from distance in the third quarter. 

 

Joey Sprinkle recorded his first career double-double with a career-high 13 points and 11 rebounds. 

 

Jake Edmondson was shut out from the scorer’s column but grabbed a season-best 11 rebounds.

 

Cresap not only scored a career-high 26 points but he dished out seven assists to zero turnovers and as a team, the Sages dished out 18 assists to only nine turnovers.

 

Monticello also dominated the glass 37-22 with 13 offensive rebounds and scored 13 second-chance points.

 

The Sages scored 34 points in the paint.

 

After making five three-pointers in the third quarter, the Blue Devils came up empty on nine attempts in the final frame.

 

Trevor Fox added 12 points and Andrew Rudolph chipped in with eight points for Monticello.

 

The Sages improve to 8-3 overall while the Blue Devils fall to 11-3.

 

Monticello concludes the pandemic altered basketball season on Tuesday night hosting St. Joseph-Ogden for senior night. Hear all the action starting at 7 pm on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.

 

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Buzzer-Beating Three Lifts Prairie Central Past Monticello

Trey Buzzell hit a three-pointer from the top of the key as time expired to lift Prairie Central to a 48-46 win over Monticello in Illini Prairie Conference boys basketball action from Fairbury Friday night.

 

Ben Cresap gave Monticello a 46-45 lead with 7 seconds left hitting a five-foot floater barreling over Bazzell in the process.

 

Prairie Central inbounded the ball and Monticello had the ball well defended on the sideline before Bazzell got it, dribbled to the top of the key and hit a step-back three over Tristan Foran who played good defense on the Hawks star in the second half.

 

Monticello played a very solid first quarter, holding Bazzell scoreless and trailed just 10-9 but Bazzell caught fire in the second scoring 14 of his game-high 27 points. The Hawks defense picked up as well holding the Sages to just six second-quarter points, outsourcing them 17-6 and took a 27-15 advantage to the break.

 

The Sages rebounded in the third, slowly chipping away at the Prairie Central lead fueled by fiery play from Cresap along with Foran and the Monticello defense holding Bazzell to just one field goal in the third and Monticello finally broke through in the fourth quarter taking a 35-34 lead on a Trevor Fox layup who got free in transition on a brilliant feed from Cresap. 

 

Cresap scored 11 of his team-high 22 points in the third quarter. Joey Sprinkle scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

 

In addition to Bazzell’s game-high 27 points, he also grabbed a game-high nine rebounds. 

 

Monticello held the rebounding edge 26-24. 

 

The Sages committed 14 turnovers which led to 12 Hawks points. Monticello forced 12 turnovers and turned them into 11 points. 

 

Prairie Central outscored Monticello in the paint 24-22. 

 

The Sages used nine offensive rebounds to create eight second-chance points while the Hawks turned seven offensive boards into seven second-chance points. 

 

Each team shot 44-percent from the floor and each team shot 5-for-15 from distance. 

 

The Hawks may have had a more comfortable victory if it hadn’t been for a 3-for-9 finish from the foul line. 

 

Prairie Central improves to 9-3 overall while Monticello drops to 7-3 overall and 5-3 in the Illini Prairie Conference.

 

The Sages return to the hardwood this afternoon hosting Bismarck-Henning at the Sievers Center. Hear the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.

 

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Illinois Closes Out Regular Season Saturday at Ohio State

Fourth-ranked Illinois can extend its winning streak to four games and hand No. 7 Ohio State its fourth straight loss Saturday in Columbus, Ohio.

 

The Illini (19-6, 15-4 Big Ten) are coming off one the most impressive victories in college basketball this season, 76-53 at No. 2 Michigan on Tuesday despite not having injured national player of the year candidate Ayo Dosunmu.

 

Yet, in the landmine that is the Big Ten, another challenge is ahead against the struggling Buckeyes (18-7, 12-7), who were ranked as high as fourth before losing to Michigan, Michigan State and No. 5 Iowa.

 

Ohio State defeated the Illini 87-81 on Jan. 16 behind 26 points by Illinois native E.J. Liddell.

 

The Buckeyes haven't played since a 73-57 home loss to Iowa on Sunday, and Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said a break from games was needed.

 

It is unclear if Dosunmu, who averages 21.0 points and 6.3 rebounds, will be available for the Illini. He sustained a broken nose and other facial injuries against Michigan State on Feb. 23, and Underwood said Tuesday he is still in concussion protocol.

 

In Dosunmu's absence against the Wolverines, Trent Frazier had 22 points; Andre Curbelo added 17 points and six rebounds and Kofi Cockburn had 12 points and seven rebounds.

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Southern Illinois Gets By Bradley in Missouri Valley Conference Tournament

Ben Harvey had a season-high 24 points as ninth-seeded Southern Illinois got past eighth-seeded Bradley 73-63 in the first round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tourney on Thursday.

 

The Salukis face top-seeded and 20th-ranked Loyola Chicago in the first quarterfinal game on Friday.

 

Trent Brown had 13 points for Southern Illinois (12-13). Kyler Filewich added 12 points. Steven Verplancken Jr. had 10 points.

 

Rienk Mast scored a career-high 24 points and had 10 rebounds for the Braves (12-16). Sean East II added 16 points. Ville Tahvanainen had six rebounds.

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Northern Iowa Gets By Illinois State in Missouri Valley Conference Tournament

Austin Phyfe matched his season high with 21 points as Northern Iowa narrowly defeated Illinois State 65-60 in the first round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tourney on Thursday night.

 

Tenth-seeded Illinois State face No. 2 seed Drake in the quarterfinals on Friday.

 

Tywhon Pickford had 11 points and nine rebounds for Northern Iowa (10-15). Nate Heise added six rebounds. James Betz had three blocks.

 

Trae Berhow, whose 13 points per game entering the contest was second on the Panthers, shot only 20 percent for the game (2 of 10).

 

Dusan Mahorcic had 15 points and seven rebounds for the Redbirds (7-18). He also committed seven turnovers. Antonio Reeves added 10 points. DJ Horne had 10 points and seven rebounds.

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Illinois Baseball Opens New Season Today

The Illinois baseball team begins its 2021 season Friday with a trip to Greenville, S.C.with a four-game series Friday-Sunday against Ohio State at Fluor Field. Saturday's action will be a doubleheader, with the first contest being a 7-inning game.

 

Illinois is returning to the field for the first time since March 8, 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic ended the 2020 season early. The Illini were 8-5 through their first 13 games last season.

 

This year, the team will have 24 players back from last season's roster and welcome 11 newcomers. Much of the offensive production is back with 86% of last season's hits and 83% of the team's runs scored returning.

 

Sophomore righty Andrew Hoffmann will get the ball for the Illini on Friday. Hoffmann transferred from John A. Logan Community College following last season. He went 5-0 with a 2.08 ERA in five starts in 2020. Illinois will send junior Riley Gowens to the mound in game one on Saturday and sophomore Ty Rybarczyk in game two. The weekend finale will have freshman left-hander Cole Kirschsieper on the hill.

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Illinois State Looking for Bounce Back Win At Northern Iowa Saturday

Illinois State will look to bounce back from a disappointing season opener last week at home against South Dakota, when the No. 15 ranked Redbirds (0-1) travel to Cedar Falls, Iowa, to take on No. 3 ranked Northern Iowa (1-1) Saturday afternoon at the UNI Dome in Missouri Valley Conference college football action.

 

Sophomore quarterback Bryce Jefferson, in his home starting debut against South Dakota, set career highs for completions (15), passing yards (280), rushing yards (65) and touchdown passes (1) against the Coyotes, and had three completions of over 50 yards in the contest. However, he also accounted for four interceptions and two fumbles in the contest, which featured big moments in the first half and tough outcomes in the second half.

 

Dom Williams scored two touchdowns, and the UNI defense held Youngstown State to just 135 yards of offense as the Panthers improved to 1-1 on the season with a 21-0 win over the Penguins last Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium. 

 

Walk-on offensive lineman Chase Arends was named the MVFC Offensive Lineman of the Week after stepping into the starting lineup for the Panthers in the win over Youngstown State. Three Panther starters for week one were unavailable for week two because of COVID protocols and contact tracing, which gave Arends the start at center. He and the rest of the offensive line helped the Panthers pickup 191 yards rushing and he did not give up a sack.

 

ISU has won four of the last seven games against the Panthers, but have not won at the UNI Dome since a 33-21 victory in 2012. The Panthers won the last meeting between the two teams 27-10 last season at Hancock Stadium and have won the last two meetings overall.

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Illinois State Baseball Travels to Southeast Missouri

After dropping three-straight contests at No. 17 Oklahoma State, the Illinois State baseball team travels to face SEMO for a four-game series over March 5-7.

 

The Redbirds--despite out-hitting No. 17 Oklahoma State in game one and each team recording seven hits in games two and three--were swept by the Cowboys with scorelines of 3-2, 8-2, and 6-0.

 

Fifth-year senior Colton Johnson threw 6.1 innings with four hits, one earned run, four strikeouts, and two walks. Fourth-year junior Jack Butler was 4-for-9 on the weekend.

 

Johnson gets the ball in game one at 3 pm today. Sean Sinisko will get the nod for game two of the series on Saturday at noon then Jordan Lussier will throw in the second of the Saturday doubleheader. Cameron Mabee will toe the rubber for the series finale set for Sunday.

 

SEMO is off to a 2-5 start in 2021, most recently being swept by now top-ranked Arkansas.

 

SEMO is expected to start Dylan Dodd on Friday, who fanned 10 batters at No. 2 Arkansas. Andrew Keck has been the most productive offensive player for SEMO in 2021 thus far, batting .321 with four RBI, two HR, and five stolen bases.

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Eastern Illinois, UT-Martin Make Up Postponed Season Opener Sunday

Eastern Illinois and UT Martin are both looking for their first win of the season as the two teams meet on Sunday in a game rescheduled from the opening weekend (Feb. 21) due to winter weather.  EIU lost to No. 21 Southeast Missouri in the opener while UT Martin lost at Murray State.

 

Running back Kendi Young broke loose for a 72-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter against Southeast Missouri.

 

Sophomore corner JJ Ross picked up where he left off last season in defending passes as he finished with five solo tackles, two pass break-ups and a fumble recovery.  Ross ranks fourth in the NCAA in passes defended.  Last season he earned Freshman All-American honors leading the team with four interceptions including two in the final game of the season at Austin Peay.

 

Game time Sunday is 1 pm and can be heard on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

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Nuggets Hold Off Pacers

Michael Porter, Jr. had 24 points and 11 rebounds Thursday night, outshining Nikola Jokic, in leading the Denver Nuggets past Indiana 113-103.

 

Porter has five double-doubles in the last six games, a stark contrast from an 0 for 8 performance Feb. 16, the first of eight road games in a 10-game stretch.

 

But with Porter rolling and Jokic playing at his usual All-Star level, the Nuggets are rolling. They've won four straight road games for the first time since 2011-12.

 

And everyone has a part. While Jokic had 20 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, Jamal Murray finished with 23 points, his 12th straight with 22 or more.

 

The Pacers need to find some fixes, too, after losing for the fifth time in six games and their fifth straight at home.

 

Indiana was led by Myles Turner's 22 points and a season-high-tying 12 rebounds. Domantas Sabonis had his fourth triple-double of the season with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

 

Denver took control early in the second quarter then pulled out to a 66-54 lead early in the third. But after the Pacers tied the score at 68, Denver outscored Indiana 14-6 over the final 5 1/2 minutes of the third and sealed the victory with a 12-0 spurt midway through the fourth.

 

One day after T.J. McConnell recorded the second triple-double of his career, he finished with 10 points, five rebounds and four assists. Doug McDermott had 20 points and Justin Holiday had 16.

 

The Pacers open the second half March 12 at the Los Angeles Lakers.

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Lightning Zap Blackhawks

Victor Hedman jumped on the ice and got the puck from Alex Killorn. He heard Tampa Bay's bench yell ''Shoot,'' so he flung the puck toward the net.

 

Killorn got a piece of Hedman's shot and the puck crossed the goal line right before the overtime horn, lifting the Lightning to a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.

 

Steven Stamkos and Anthony Cirelli also scored for Tampa Bay in its sixth consecutive victory, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 35 saves in another stellar performance for the Stanley Cup champions.

 

Chicago forward Alex DeBrincat had a shot go off the post in OT, and Tampa Bay defenseman Mikhail Sergachev shot one off the crossbar.

 

DeBrincat and Ryan Carpenter scored for the Blackhawks, who had won three of four. Lankinen finished with 31 saves.

 

Chicago jumped in front in the second in perhaps its best period of the season. Vasilevskiy held off the Blackhawks for a while, turning away good looks by Pius Suter and DeBrincat, but some hustle by Brandon Hagel set up the first goal of the game.

 

With Chicago forward Phillipp Kurashev in the penalty box, Hagel chased down a loose puck in the Tampa Bay end and took a shot from the left circle that went off Vasilevskiy and popped into the air.

 

Lightning forward Pat Maroon then mishandled the puck in front and Hagel passed it over to Carpenter, who beat Vasilevskiy high on the stick side at 7:24.

 

The two teams meet again tonight.

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Prairie Central Steamrolls Monticello in High School Girl's Basketball Action

Chloe Sisco scored 16 first-quarter points and 21 of her game-high 23 points in the first half propelling Prairie Central to a 69-49 win over Monticello Thursday night in Illini Prairie Conference girl’s basketball action from the Sievers Center at Monticello High School.

 

Sisco set the tone early as the Lady Hawks used suffocating defense and transition to get ahead early and stay ahead. Mariya Sisco added 11 points and Madison Kinkade and Natalie Graf each chipped in with 10 points. 

 

Monticello was led by Rennie Fultz’s 19 points. 

 

It was senior night at Monticello and the Lady Sage’s lone senior, Hailey Moore score 12 points, all in the second half, in her final game at Monticello High School.

 

Lizzie Stiverson finished with 10 points for Monticello.

 

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Clinton Girl's Basketball Coach Humbled to Reach 200 Career Victories

Over the weekend, Clinton High School girl's basketball coach Josh Williams reached career win no. 200 in a victory over Argenta-Oreana. 

 

In his 12th season at the helm of the girl's basketball program, Williams thanked the players that helped him get there and the assistant coaches he's worked with along the way.

 

 

The Lady Maroons are 10-2 overall on the season. They are back in action Saturday for a makeup game with Decatur St. Teresa at 12:30 pm at Clinton High School. 

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Illinois State Faces Northern Iowa, Bradley Battles Southern Illinois to Open Missouri Valley Conference Tournament

Southern Illinois and Bradley are set to do battle in the MVC tournament opener tonight from the Enterprise Center in St. Louis.

 

The teams split the regular-season series at one win apiece. The teams last met on Feb. 7, when the Salukis shot 47.4 percent from the field en route to a one-point victory.

 

Bradley’s Ja’Shon Henry, Darius Hannah and Jayson Kent have collectively accounted for 21 percent of the team’s scoring this season, including 22 percent of all Braves points over the last five games.

 

Both squads use efficient ball movement to create buckets. Bradley has an assist on 41 of 78 field goals (52.6 percent) over its previous three contests while Southern Illinois has assists on 36 of 68 field goals (52.9 percent) during its past three games.

 

Game time tonight is just after 5 pm tonight. 

 

Illinois State is set to match up against Northern Iowa in the opening round of the MVC tournament tonight from the Enterprise Center in St. Louis. 

Northern Iowa swept the two-game regular-season series. The teams last went at it on Feb. 27, when the Panthers created 20 Illinois State turnovers and turned the ball over just 11 times on the way to a 94-87 victory.

 

DJ Horne has connected on 43.2 percent of the 139 3-pointers he’s attempted. He’s also converted 83.3 percent of his foul shots this season.

 

The Panthers are 0-12 when they score 69 points or fewer and 9-3 when they exceed 69 points. The Redbirds are 0-15 when they fail to score more than 68 points and 7-2 on the season, otherwise.

 

Illinois State and Northern Iowa are the class of the MVC when it comes to tempo. The Redbirds are ranked first in the conference with 71.1 possessions per game this season while the Panthers are ranked second at 68.8 possessions per game.

 

Game time tonight is just after 8 pm. Both games can be watched on NBC Sports Chicago. 

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Bulls Topple Hornets

Zach LaVine capped a 36-point performance with a driving layup and four free throws during the final minute, and the Chicago Bulls held off a late rally to beat the mercurial New Orleans Pelicans 128-124 on Wednesday night.

 

Coby White scored 25 for the Bulls, who led by as many as 19 and were still up 18 in the fourth quarter before the Pelicans' late surge pulled them as close as 117-113 on Jaxson Hayes alley-oop dunk as he was fouled with 1:49 left.

 

Hayes missed the free throw, however, and Zion Williamson, who scored 28 points, missed two free throws with a chance to cut it to two with 1:23 left.

 

The Bulls, pulled out of a three-minute dry spell that included five missed shots and three turnovers when Wendell Carter Jr.'s putback made it 119-113 with 1:05 to go.

 

It was the middling Bulls' second victory this season over the mystifying Pelicans, who came out flat after knocking off the NBA-leading Utah Jazz on Monday night.

 

Thaddeus Young scored 18 points and Carter grabbed 15 rebounds for Chicago, which began to pull away for good when White's four-point play on a 3-pointer as he was fouled by Ingram pushed the Bulls' lead to 51-41 with 3:37 left in the first half.

 

Young's layup as he was fouled by Williamson and Garrett Temple's free throws capped a 20-4 run to close the half and put Chicago up 64-45.

 

The Bulls begin their All-Star break and don't resume play until March 11 at home against Philadelphia.

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Pacers Edge Lowly Cavaliers

 T.J. McConnell set an NBA record with nine steals in the first half and posted his second career triple-double with 16 points, 13 assists and a franchise-best 10 steals, leading the Indiana Pacers to a 114-111 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

 

McConnell also went 8 of 8 from the field in 36 minutes off the bench as Indiana rallied from a 19-point deficit in the third quarter to end its four-game losing streak. Malcolm Brogdon scored 29 points and Domantas Sabonis had 18 points for the Pacers.

 

The NBA record of 11 steals in a game is shared by New Jersey's Kendall Gill on April 3, 1999, against Miami, and San Antonio's Larry Kenon on Dec. 26, 1976, at Kansas City.

 

McConnell's previous career best was six steals on two occasions, the last on Feb. 12, 2018, against New York, when he had his first triple-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. The sixth-year pro leads the league in steals with 2.0 per game.

 

Collin Sexton had 32 points, 10 assists and three steals, and Jarrett Allen had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who committed 26 turnovers and had their four-game winning streak snapped. They held an 81-62 lead midway through the third.

 

Indiana went up for good at 108-106 on a 3-pointer by Justin Holiday with 1:18 left. After a Dylan Windler layup pulled Cleveland within 112-111, Brogdon made two free throws with one second left and the Cavaliers were unable to get off a potential game-tying shot.

 

Sexton had 14 points and 10 assists at halftime and became the first Cavaliers player to have double-digit assists in the opening half since LeBron James on Feb. 6, 2017, at Washington.

 

The Pacers host Denver Thursday. Following the All-Star break, Indiana will go on the road for three games beginning March 12 at the Lakers.

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Blues Down Ducks

The St. Louis Blues converted on all three of their chances with the man advantage in Wednesday night's 3-2 victory over the last-place Ducks.

 

Oskar Sundqvist, Brayden Schenn and Zach Sanford each had a goal for St. Louis, which is 6 for 10 with the man advantage against Anaheim this season. Overall, the Blues have scored on just 17.1% of their power plays - which ranks 24th in the NHL.

 

Anaheim came into the game seventh in the league in killing penalties but dropped to 10th after the game. Six of the 12 power-play goals the Ducks have allowed have been to the Blues.

 

Jordan Binnington made 27 saves for St. Louis, which has won all four meetings against the Ducks this year and six of their last seven dating to last season.

 

The Blues remain in Southern California to face the Los Angeles Kings Friday night. 

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Arnie's Tournament Underway at Bay Hill

Tyrell Hatton received an enormous ovation after he rolled in a short par putt to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational for his first PGA Tour victory in 2020. It wasn’t the loudest ever at Bay Hill, not with Tiger Woods winning eight times or Palmer hitting driver off the deck onto the 18th green in his final appearance.

 

The Houston Open last fall allowed daily ticket sales for 2,000. The Phoenix Open had only a fraction of its typical attendance, but at 5,000 a day, it was still something.

 

That’s about what Bay Hill is anticipating this week, with tournament officials saying attendance will be limited to 25% capacity. A limited number of fans will be allowed in subsequent weeks at least through the Masters.

 

Even during the pro-am Wednesday, where Bryson DeChambeau tried (unsuccessfully) to drive over all the water on the right-to-left, 555-yard sixth hole, spectators milled about the course and the practice area.

 

The Arnold Palmer Invitational was a big step for Hatton, the Englishman who since has starred on the golf course and in the latest European Tour social media video on anger management.

 

Bay Hill was the last PGA Tour event before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down golf for three months. Hatton contended in his next two events after the restart, and then he picked up the biggest win of his career at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, where he used to attend as a kid. He started this year winning in Abu Dhabi against a strong field.

 

Hatton was No. 31 in the world before Bay Hill a year ago. Now he is No. 6, making him the top-ranked player in the field.

 

The stars are not out at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, mainly due to its spot on the schedule — it follows marquee events at Riviera and a World Golf Championship in Florida, with The Players Championship next week and the Masters approaching.

 

Rory McIlroy is playing, and Jordan Spieth makes his debut at Bay Hill. The 27-year-old from Dallas never has been able to squeeze it into his schedule with a busy West Coast swing, a World Golf Championship and then the Texas events that precede the Masters. This year, he was ineligible for the WGC for the first time in eight years.

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Illinois LB Hansen Returning for Fifth Season

Linebacker Jake Hansen is returning to the University of Illinois, he announced Monday. Hansen led the nation in takeaways over the last two seasons (14) and will be one of the most accomplished linebackers to return to the Big Ten and college football in 2021.

 

Illinois will have 21 "super seniors" on its 2021 roster who will be using the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Illini have more returning scholarship "super seniors" than any Power-5 team in the nation, according to a report by the Associated Press, and five more than any other program in the Big Ten.

 

Hansen tested the NFL Draft process in 2021 before electing to return to Illinois. The NCAA granted Hansen a final year of eligibility and he will continue pursuing a master's degree in recreation, sport, and tourism after graduating from the University of Illinois with a degree in kinesiology.

 

Hansen was an All-Big Ten second team selection by the media in 2020 and the No. 3 tackler in the nation according to PFF. He ranked fifth in the Big Ten in TFLs, eighth in forced fumbles, 10th in fumble recoveries, 10th in tackles, and 12th in interceptions last season.

 

Hansen has been involved in 14 takeaways in the last two seasons, the most of any player in the nation. He has eight forced fumbles recovered by Illinois, three fumble recoveries (on fumbles he did not force), and three interceptions. The 2019 Butkus Award semifinalist is tied for third in Illinois history in forced fumbles (10), behind only Illinois legends Simeon Rice (13) and Whitney Mercilus (11).

 

Hansen enjoyed a breakout season in 2019 with 72 tackles, 7.5 TFLs, 3.5 sacks, one interception, seven forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries on the season. He led the nation in forced fumbles (7) and forced fumbles per game (0.78) on his way to Butkus Award semifinalist status.

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No. 4 Illinois Dominates No. 2 Michigan

Trent Frazier led the way with 22 points, Andre Curbelo scored 11 of his 17 in the first half, and the Illini dismantled No. 2 Michigan with a smothering defensive performance, routing the Wolverines 76-53 on Tuesday night.

 

Kofi Cockburn added 12 points for Illinois. Playing again without injured star Ayo Dosunmu, the Illini (19-6, 15-4 Big Ten) kept Michigan from clinching the conference title and boosted their own chances at a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

 

Eli Brooks scored 11 points and was the only player in double figures for Michigan. The Wolverines (18-2, 13-2) looked physically overwhelmed for much of the night, unable to create good shots and unable to keep the Illini off the boards. It was an eye-opening blowout — especially since Michigan has rolled to similar margins of victory against other good teams this season.

 

Both teams had a hard time scoring in the first half, but Curbelo’s ability to drive to the basket helped Illinois to a 33-22 lead at the break. Then the Illini kept pouring it on.

 

Illinois outscored Michigan 22-5 in second-chance points and held the Wolverines to 35% shooting from the field.

 

The Big Ten confirmed before the game that it will use winning percentage to determine the league champion. Michigan can still wrap that up with a win in either of its last two regular-season games — or if Illinois loses its last game this weekend.

 

The Illini still have an uphill climb to win the Big Ten, but if they finish a game or two behind Michigan in the loss column, their fans will likely be heard from on the topic. The Wolverines are scheduled to play three fewer games than Illinois, and the size of this blowout — without Dosunmu — will resonate. Dosunmu has missed the past three games after breaking his nose, but the Illini have won them all. Brad Underwood said Dosunmu has also been in concussion protocol.

 

The Illini play at No. 7 Ohio State on Saturday.

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Illinois State Baseball Adds March 9 Contest With Western Illinois

The Illinois State baseball team's first home game appears to be coming 17 days sooner than initially expected, after the team added a home contest against Western Illinois on March 9 at 6:00 p.m. 

 

The game will be the first Redbird game at Duffy Bass Field since 5/24/2019, a span of 655 days. ISU's initial schedule had the first home game set for March 26, the start of a three-game set against Arkansas State.

 

Illinois State is scheduled for a four-game series at SEMO over March 5-7.

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ISU G DJ Horne Named To Missouri Valley All-Conference Third Team

llinois State sophomore DJ Horne has been named to the All-Missouri Valley Conference third team, announced by the Conference office on Tuesday morning.

 

Horne, a native of Raleigh, N.C., averaged a team-best 15.3 points per game – fourth-best in the MVC – in 23 games played during the season. He has also made 60-of-140 three-point attempts this season, for a percentage of 42.9, both best in the MVC, and his percentage ranks 16th in the country, while his makes per game is 62nd-highest in NCAA Division I.

 

Illinois State is set to take on Northern Iowa for the third consecutive time – the first time that has happened within the MVC since the 1919-20 season when Oklahoma State and Oklahoma faced each other in four consecutive games.

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Monticello Rolls Pontiac

Four players scored in double-figures and Monticello overcame the absence of their leading scorer in rolling to 70-46 win over Pontiac Tuesday night in Illini Prairie boy’s basketball action from the Sievers Center at Monticello High School.

 

Ben Cresap scored a game-high 19 points, Conner Landreth added a career-high 16 points, Joey Sprinkle chipped in with 13 points and Jake Edmondson returned to the lineup by scoring ten points. 

 

Monticello was crips on offense to the tune of 17 assists to just four turnovers and shot 46-percent from the floor for the game and went 7-for-17 from the three-point line. 

 

The defense held the Indians to just 33-percent shooting.

 

The Sages held the rebounding advantage 37-29.

 

Monticello improved to 7-2 overall and 5-2 in the Illini Prairie Conference. They return to the hardwood Friday night at Prairie Central at 7 pm. Hear the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.

 

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Maroons Fall to Meridian

As heard on WHOW, the Clinton Maroons fell to the Meridian Hawks by a score of 97-58 on Tuesday night. The Maroons were led by freshman Mason Walker with 15 points. Freshman Nick Feather added 11 points. The B-Rok Designs Player of the Game Max Johnson chipped in with 10 points.

 

Meridian Junior Graham Meisenhelter led all scorers with 23 points. Junior Riley Day had 21.

 

With the loss, the Maroons fall to 2-10 overall and 1-6 in the CIC. Meridian improves to 10-2 on the season and 7-0 in conference play.

 

Tune in Tuesday, March 9, as the Maroons and Lady Maroons take on Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond in a varsity doubleheader. The Lady Maroons tipoff is set for 6 pm. You can hear the game live on The BIG 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW, online at dewittdailynews.com, on the WHOW mobile app, and on Amazon Alexa.

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Despite Last Week's Loss, Illinois Up in AP Poll, Stays No. 4 in Coach's Poll

Despite last week's loss at Michigan State, Illinois climbed one spot to fourth and Iowa gave the Big Ten three teams in the top five in the Associated Press men’s college basketball poll on Monday.

 

Gonzaga continued to hold down the top spot in the Top 25, just as it has all season, receiving 59 of 63 first-place votes among national media members. But the Michigan Wolverines picked up the other four to climb into second while the Baylor Bears, whose unbeaten season was foiled by the Jayhawks on Saturday night, dropped back to third place.

 

West Virginia continued its steady climb, up four spots to No. 6 after its third consecutive win. Ohio State fell three spots to seventh after its loss to the Hawkeyes. Alabama, Houston and Villanova rounded out the top 10.

 

 

 

Another week, another major shakeup in college basketball's weekly Coaches Poll. The rankings released Monday feature a makeover in the top five with Baylor's first loss of the season triggering a new No. 2. It also heavily spotlights Big Ten powers, with four programs from the conference littered about the top 10.

 

Most prominent among those is Michigan, which jumped a spot to its highest ranking of the season at No. 2. Illinois held steady at No. 4, while Iowa's strong week boosted it four spots to No. 8. Rounding out the quartet of contenders is Ohio State, which dropped its third straight on Sunday but managed to hang around at No. 10. Its five-spot drop was the second-largest among ranked teams behind Virginia and USC both tumbling six spots.

 

The week's biggest riser in the poll was West Virginia. It defeated TCU and Kansas State in the last week to improve to six wins in its last seven games. The Mountaineers are No. 5 in the poll this week, their highest ranking all season.

 

Gonzaga received 31 of this week's possible 32 first-place votes, which is the most all season. It's the first time Baylor, which started the season at No. 1 in the Coaches Poll, did not earn a first-place vote. The only remaining first-place vote this week that did not go to Gonzaga went to Michigan. 

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Illinois Gets Big Test Again Tonight at No. 2 Michigan

Illinois has proved it can win without the player coach Brad Underwood believes is the best in college basketball.

 

Still, the No. 4 Fighting Illini (18-6, 14-4 Big Ten) surely would like to have Ayo Dosunmu back in action for Tuesday's powerhouse matchup with No. 2 Michigan (18-1, 13-1).

 

Dosunmu missed the past two games with a broken nose and it's uncertain whether he'll return for the showdown in Ann Arbor, Mich.

 

Illinois recorded a 16-point home victory over last-place Nebraska on Thursday, then held off No. 23 Wisconsin 74-69 for a road win on Saturday.

 

Dosunmu is averaging 21.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists for Illinois, which sits in second place in the Big Ten. The Wolverines can clinch the regular-season conference championship with a victory on Tuesday.

 

The teams originally were scheduled to meet on Feb. 11 but the game was postponed due to coronavirus issues at the Ann Arbor campus.

 

Illinois also had a makeup game last week against Michigan State, a loss in which Dosunmu suffered his injury.

 

Illinois' top post player, Kofi Cockburn, has filled in as the top scoring option in Dosunmu's absence. Cockburn had 24 points against the Cornhuskers and 19 against the Badgers. Guard Andre Curbelo contributed 17 points and seven rebounds on Saturday.

 

Cockburn will be matched up against one of the top freshmen in the country in Hunter Dickinson. In Michigan's 73-57 road victory over Indiana on Saturday, Dickinson had 13 points and seven rebounds.

 

The forward combination of Franz Wagner and Isaiah Livers combined for 37 points and 16 rebounds.

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Nuggets Outlast Bulls

Nikola Jokic dominated with 39 points and 14 rebounds, and the Denver Nuggets beat the Chicago Bulls 118-112 on Monday night.

 

Jokic finished with nine assists, just missing his 50th career triple-double. The three-time All-Star came up huge in the fourth quarter, scoring 17 to help the Nuggets come away with the win after blowing a 15-point lead.

 

Jamal Murray scored 24. Michael Porter Jr. added 17 points and 15 rebounds, and the Nuggets won for the third time in four games.

 

All-Star Zach LaVine led Chicago with 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Coby White added 20 points and 10 rebounds.

 

The Bulls performed better down the stretch in this one after getting dominated late in a loss to Phoenix on Friday. But they dropped their second straight after winning three in a row.

 

The Bulls visit New Orleans on Wednesday.

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Sixers Roll Pacers

Shake Milton scored 26 points, Furkan Korkmaz had 19 and the reserves sparked the Philadelphia 76ers to 130-114 win over the Indiana Pacers on Monday night.

 

The Sixers followed one of their worst losses of the season to the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday with a smackdown of the mediocre Pacers. Joel Embiid had 24 points and 13 rebounds on a sore left ankle. Ben Simmons had 18 points and six rebounds.

 

Korkmaz and Milton blew the game open for the Sixers in the second quarter and built a 20-point lead. Korkmaz, averaging 7.6 points, and Milton 13.4, about crushed those numbers in the quarter. Milton was 4 of 6 for nine points; Korkmaz sank four 3-pointers and scored 13.

 

Milton hit fellow reserve Matisse Thybulle on an alley-oop and found Embiid for an 11-footer to give the Sixers a 72-55 lead at the break. The Sixers' bench scored 26 of their 39 points in the second and made five of their six 3s.

 

The Pacers play Wednesday at Cleveland.

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Blues Hold Off Ducks

Dakota Joshua scored in his NHL debut and Zach Sanford got two goals in the St. Louis Blues' 5-4 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.

 

Ville Husso made 29 saves for St. Louis in the same arena where he earned his first career win on Jan. 31. Jordan Kyrou and David Perron also scored for the Blues, who won their second straight to open a seven-game road trip despite nearly blowing a three-goal lead in the third period.

 

Isac Lundestrom scored three goals for the Ducks, whose winless skid stretched to a season-worst seven games. John Gibson stopped 30 shots, but Anaheim couldn't quite finish its comeback in a three-goal third period.

 

After taking his first pregame NHL warmup skate without a helmet because his teammates hid it, Joshua became the 17th player to score in his Blues debut. His shot hit Gibson's blocker, but arced over the Ducks goalie and into the net during the second period.

 

Joshua is a 24-year-old forward who was drafted by Toronto in 2014, but went to Ohio State. He was acquired by the Blues shortly after leaving college in 2019, and he got that unexpected callup from the AHL last weekend when Jacob De La Rose joined St. Louis' lengthy injured list alongside Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko and others.

 

The teams meet again Wednesday in Anaheim.

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Clinton Lady Maroons Defeat Warrensburg-Latham

As heard on WHOW, the Clinton Lady Maroons defeat the Warrensburg-Latham Lady Cardinals by a score of 47-34 on Monday night. The Maroons were led by Kaitlyn Rauch with 23 points. Mallory Cyrulik added 13 points. Kaile Beck also added 6 points. 

 

Lady Maroons Coach Josh Williams was honored prior to the game for his 200th career victory earned Saturday against Argenta-Oreana.  In recognition of the milestone, Coach Williams was awarded this week's B-Rok Designs custom travel mug recipient.  

 

The Lady Cardinals were led by Brynn Hickey with 14 points. Ema Dutcher added 8 points.

 

With the win, the Lady Maroons improve to 10-2 overall and 4-2 in the conference. The Lady Cardinals fall to 1-11 overall and 0-7 in the conference.

 

Tune in Tuesday, March 9th as the Lady Maroons take on ALAH at 6p.  You can hear the game live on the Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW, streamed online at dewittdailynews.com, on the WHOW mobile app, and on Amazon Alexa.

 

The Maroons take on Meridian Tuesday night around 7:30 on WHOW. 

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No. 17 Oklahoma State Blanks ISU In Weekend Finale

The Illinois State baseball team dropped the series finale at No. 17 Oklahoma State, 6-0, on Sunday at O'Brate Stadium. It completed a weekend sweep for the Cowboys. 

 

Fourth-year junior Colin Wyman recorded two scoreless innings with three strikeouts for Illinois State (2-3 overall).  

 

Second-year freshman Cameron Mabee also recorded a clean inning in relief and fifth-year seniors Joe Butler and Jordan Libman each had a pair of singles. 

 

The Cowboys (6-0 overall) hit three home runs and had six players with at least one hit and a run scored. 

 

The Redbirds had their lead-off batter reach base in each of the first three innings and had baserunners in every inning except for the 8th inning but never scored.

 

Illinois State is scheduled for a four-game series at SEMO over March 5-7. 

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Southeast Missouri State Rolls Eastern Illinois in Football Season Opener

As heard on WHOW Sunday afternoon, Zion Custis and Geno Hess ran for two touchdowns each and Southeast Missouri beat Eastern Illinois 47-7 in both teams’ spring opener.

 

The Redhawks (1-1, 1-0 Ohio Valley Conference) played their first game since losing to Southern Illinois on Oct. 20 in their only fall contest.

 

Andrew Bunch was 23-of-37 passing for 302 yards and a touchdown to Johnny King, who caught seven passes for 115 yards.

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Illinois' Bielema Capitalizing on Extra Year of Eligibility for Seniors

Bret Bielema saw a unique opportunity to accelerate a turnaround at Illinois when he returned to college football as head coach of the Illini in December.

 

The NCAA’s decision to grant every fall sport athlete who played through the pandemic an extra season of eligibility meant Illinois could bring back a large group of experienced players to be the foundation of Bielema’s first team in Champaign.

 

Schools are not obligated to bring back those players and give them scholarships, but Bielema said he made it clear at his first team meeting that all were welcome.

 

As major college football returns to normal in 2021, one of the lingering effects of the pandemic season will be the return of hundreds of extra, older players who choose to stick around for another year. With spring practice approaching, more than 1,000 scholarship players are expected to take advantage of the NCAA’s eligibility mulligan, according to an Associated Press review of rosters provided by 129 schools.

 

The number of these super seniors on each team is subject to change and likely to go down as players continue to assess the value of playing an extra year of college football, but their presence is likely to have a major impact on the 2021 season.

 

Normally, the top teams in returning production will be around 87%, said Bill Connelly, who created SP+, a metric used to measure returning production using everything from yards and points scored to tackles and interceptions. Currently, three teams are expected to have more than 90% of their production from 2020 back in 2021.

 

Illinois expects to have 17 scholarship super seniors, the most of any Power Five school.

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Blackhawks Blast Red Wings

Patrick Kane scored his 400th career goal, Kevin Lankinen made a career-high 44 saves and the Chicago Blackhawks closed out a successful February with a 7-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday night.

 

Kane and Alex DeBrincat got loose for a 2-on-1 midway through the third period. The 32-year-old Kane kept the puck, waited for sprawled Detroit defenseman Filip Hronek to slide by him and then beat Thomas Greiss on the stick side for his team-best 11th of the season.

 

Carpenter, Pius Suter, Dominik Kubalik and DeBrincat also scored in the third as Chicago broke open a tight game against lowly Detroit. Carpenter also scored in the first, DeBrincat added three assists and Kane posted a three-point night in his 996th NHL game.

 

Bouncing back nicely from a 5-3 loss to the Red Wings on Saturday night, the Blackhawks closed out a 9-3-1 February with their third win in four games.

 

The Blackhawks open a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.

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Bulls Game Sunday Postponed Due to COVID

The Toronto Raptors' issues with the coronavirus have worsened, prompting the NBA to call off their game scheduled for Sunday night against the Chicago Bulls.

 

The league said the Raptors are dealing with positive test results, without disclosing how many, and that combined with ongoing contact-tracing issues meant they would not have the league-required eight players available to play.

 

Toronto played Friday without head coach Nick Nurse, several other assistants and staffers and starting forward Pascal Siakam because of virus-related issues. Assistant coach Sergio Scariolo coached the team to a win over Houston and had been in line to coach again Sunday.

 

The Raptors-Bulls game is the 30th to be postponed so far this season because of COVID-19 testing or contact tracing.

 

It was the first postponement this season for the Raptors, who are playing their home games in Tampa, Florida, because of coronavirus restrictions in Canada. Chicago has now had four of its games pushed back, all because its opponent for each of those contests was going through a virus-related problem.

 

The only teams that have not had a game postponed by virus issues so far this season are Brooklyn, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers.

 

All NBA players and coaches are tested daily.

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William Byron Pulls Away for Win at Homestead-Miami

William Byron was the third surprise winner through three races this season with his victory Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Byron joined Michael McDowell and Christopher Bell as unlikely winners to start this season.

 

Byron controlled most of the final two stages at Homestead to win for the second time in 111 Cup starts. His first one came at Daytona last August and landed him one of the final spots in the playoffs.

 

Tyler Reddick was second Sunday, nearly 3 seconds behind Byron. McDowell had his third straight top-10 finish. Chris Buescher ran up front for the first part of the race.

 

McDowell and Bell were first-time winners to open the season. This rare run already has tightened the playoff race less than a month into NASCAR’s long season. A victory earns an automatic berth, and it’s unusual to have multiple unique winners in a season.

 

Few could have predicted this trio would have put a squeeze on some of NASCAR’s top teams. Two-time series champion Kyle Busch currently sits below the top 16 in the standings, as do Alex Bowman, Ryan Blaney and Aric Almirola – all playoff qualifiers a year ago.

 

Buescher dominated the race early, winning the opening stage (the second stage win of his career). The Roush Fenway Racing driver led five times for a total of 57 laps, but he started to fade “when as sunset neared. Buescher dropped from sixth to 23 after a restart early in the final stage.

 

Byron took over from there and left some of the biggest names playing catchup for the first time in years.

 

The series heads west for a two-week stretch, beginning with the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway next Sunday. Joey Logano is the defending race winner.

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Morikawa Takes Home WGC-Workday Championship

Staked to a two-shot lead, Colin Morikawa shook off an early mistake, regained control around the turn, delivered two clutch putts and then played a steady hand on a Concession Golf Club course known for calamity.

 

His 3-under 69 gave him a three-shot victory for his first World Golf Championship.

 

He became the 24th player to win a major and a World Golf Championship title, and the 24-year-old Californian joined Tiger Woods as the only players to win both before turning 25.

 

Morikawa, who finished at 18-under 270, won for the fourth time in his last 34 starts on the PGA Tour. He finished three ahead of Brooks Koepka (70), Viktor Hovland (67) and Billy Horschel (70), who played with Morikawa in the final group and witnessed the supreme iron play that made him so hard to catch.

 

Several players wore the ensemble that Woods made famous - Sunday black trousers with a red polo - and Tony Finau took it an extra step by arriving at Concession with his cap turned backward.

 

Woods suffered serious injuries to his right leg and foot when his SUV crashed off a road and tumbled down a hill in the Los Angeles suburbs on Tuesday. After a prolonged surgery to put the shattered bones back together, he is recovering and was said to be in good spirits.

 

Horschel caught Morikawa after three holes and tried to stay with him. Koepka had the last good chance to catch him until, trailing by three with a 35-foot eagle chance on the 17th hole, he three-putted for par.

 

Hovland, who finished his second round with a quadruple bogey, might have had the best chance of all. Hovland someone managed to punch out of the wire grass and onto the green to make birdie on the par-5 13th, his seventh birdie of the round that pulled him with one shot.

 

His hopes effectively ended on the next hole. Just as Morikawa was pouring in an 8-foot birdie putt on the short par-4 12th hole, Hovland ran his 40-foot birdie putt some 15 feet past the hole on the par-3 14th, and missed the par putt.

 

Morikawa’s lead was back to three shots, and he never flinched the rest of the day.

 

Scottie Scheffler also was in the mix with six birdies in 12 holes. He drove into the water on the 16th and made double bogey, and shot 68 to finish fifth.

 

Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed, both dressed in red and black, never got anything going. McIlroy closed with a 71 to tie for sixth, while Reed shot a 72 and to finish another spot back.

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