Local Sports

Monticello Rallies Past Riverton

After a slow start, Monticello rallied past Riverton 56-40 in non-conference high school boy's basketball action from Riverton High School.

 

The Sages fell behind 8-0 early but scored seven unanswered and trailed 12-10 after the first quarter. 

 

The Sages turned up the defensive intensity and led 22-20 at the intermission fueled by ten points in the paint, six points off turnovers and four fast-break points in the second quarter. 

 

After Riverton scored a quick basket right out of the intermission to tie the score at 22, the Sages scored ten unanswered as Dylan Ginalick scored six points in the stretch.

 

Riverton got within 42-33 with 6:37 to play but that would be all the closer the Hawks would get the rest of the way as Monticello closed the game out going 12 for 14 from the line in the fourth quarter. 

 

Ben Cresap led the Sages with 20 points. Tanner Buehnerkemper was the Piatt/DeWitt County ServPro Player of the Game and scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half. He also grabbed a team-high six rebounds.

 

Cresap grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists. Ginalick finished with nine points. 

 

The Sages shot 47-percent from the floor and Riverton to 34-percent shooting and the Hawks only went 7-for-26 from distance. 

 

As a team, Monticello shot 17-for-22 from the free throw line and the home team only shot two free throws. 

 

Monticello improves to 2-0 and Riverton drops to 0-3. 

 

The Sages host Salt Fork for its home opener on Friday night at 7pm.

 

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

Shorthanded Illinois Topples Notre Dame

Kofi Cockburn scored 28 points, Alfonso Plummer added 21 and Illinois defeated Notre Dame 82-72 on Monday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

 

Cockburn, a preseason All-American and player of the year candidate, leads the nation in scoring at 26.6 points per game. He did not take a shot in the first 12 minutes but finished the first half with 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting. For the game, he was 11 of 16 from the field and made 6 of 9 free throws.

 

Cockburn scored eight points early in the second half and his dunk with 14:50 remaining gave the Illini a 56-43 lead. Jacob Grandison’s 3-pointer extended the lead to 59-43.

 

At that point, the pace slowed down for Illinois and Notre Dame drew within 67-62 when Cormac Ryan hit a 3-pointer with just under six minutes to go.

 

Illinois (4-2) pushed the lead to 71-63 at the final official timeout then made 11 of 12 free throws in the final three minutes, including 8 for 8 by Plummer.

 

Freshman Blake Wesley led Notre Dame with a season-high 24 points off the bench. Dane Goodwin had 15 points and Nate Leszewski scored 13 for the Fighting Irish (3-3).

 

The matchup paired two of the top 15 schools in all-time victories. With 1,840 wins, Illinois is 15th on the list and Notre Dame is eighth with 1,918 wins.

Monticello Routs Urbana

As heard on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com; the Monticello Lady Sages held Urbana without a field goal in the first half and rolled to an easy 57-17 victory over the Lady Tigers Monday night in non-conference high school girl's basketball action from the Sievers Center at Monticello High School.

 

Rennie Fultz scored eight of her 19 points in the first quarter. Lizzie Stiverson scored all 14 of her points in the first half.

 

Lydia Burger scored all 10 of her points in the second half for Monticello. Hannah Swanson finished with eight points.

 

The Lady Sages improve to 5-1 overall while Urbana drops to 0-4. 

 

Monticello hosts Mt. Pulaski Thursday night. The next Lady Sages basketball broadcast will be next Thursday night when they host Mt. Zion. 

 

Hear boy's basketball action Tuesday night at Riverton at 7:30 pm on WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

 

Girl's basketball scores from Monday:

 

Meridian 51

Webber 45

 

Tri-Valley 45

El Paso-Gridley 42

 

Westville 48

Villa Grove 46

 

Fieldcrest 60

Heyworth 20

 

Clinton 38

Tolono Unity 20

 

Dee-Mack 54

LeRoy 24

 

St. Joseph-Ogden 55

Tuscola 42

 

ALAH 61

Oakwood 33

 

Eureka 55

GCMS 22

Illinois Drops from Top 25; Duke New No. 1

The Illinois Fighting Illini have fallen out of the latest college basketball top 25 rankings with major shakeups as the season starts to offer more clarity on who passes the eye test. 

 

There's a new No. 1 in men's college basketball. Duke took over the top spot in the latest AP Top 25 poll released Monday as part of a major shakeup in the rankings. It's the first time since 2019 the Blue Devils, who were No. 5 last week, have been ranked No. 1 in the poll. Duke's big move comes amid a 7-0 start to the season after knocking off No. 1 Gonzaga 84-81 on Friday.

 

Purdue moved up one spot to No. 2, its highest AP ranking in more than three decades, after it, too, continued its undefeated season last week with a win over Nebraska-Omaha to improve to 6-0. It has two wins over ranked opponents already on its dossier -- over North Carolina and No. 6 Villanova -- and carries one of the strongest resumes into this week with the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on deck.

 

Gonzaga, the long-time No. 1 in the AP poll, fell only two spots to No. 3. It's the first time in more than a year the Zags aren't ranked No. 1 after going wire-to-wire with the No. 1 ranking last season and opening this season at the top of the poll. 

 

 

 

Beating the No. 1 team in college basketball, turns out, will win you the support of coaches across the country. The Duke Blue Devils did as much Friday by dispatching of the top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs, 84-81, and were rewarded by coaches in the ballot box by supplanting the Zags at No. 1 in the Coaches Poll that updated on Monday, bringing in 19 of a possible 31 first-place votes. Duke also came in at No. 1 in the AP poll earlier Monday.

 

Gonzaga dropped only two spots to No. 3 after the loss, which was its first of the season. It's the first time since Nov. 12, 2020 that it was not No. 1 in a regular-season Coaches Poll ranking. It's the first time Duke has been No. 1 in the poll since Nov. 25, 2019, after it opened the season 6-0. 

 

Duke's 7-0 start to the season has been book-ended thus far by two terrific wins on the resume. It opened the season with a win over No. 10 Kentucky, 79-71, and its win over Gonzaga was easily the most impressive victory by any team in the sport this season (so far). Tests will come quick, though, with a road trip vs. Ohio State on deck Tuesday as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge before a three-game homestand of tune-ups ahead of league play.

 

The rest of this week's Coaches Poll also saw some shifting around throughout, with Purdue up to No. 2, Baylor up to No. 4 and UCLA down to No. 5. Villanova, Kansas, Texas, Arkansas and Kentucky make up the rest of the new-look top-10. 

Timberwolves Edge Pacers

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 16 of his 32 points in the third quarter and Anthony Edwards added 21 as the Minnesota Timberwolves rallied for a 100-98 win against the Indiana Pacers on Monday night.

 

The Timberwolves trailed by 12 early in the third before Towns willed them back into the game. Michael Beasley's 3-pointer for Minnesota with 51.5 seconds left in the fourth broke a 94-all tie.

 

D'Angelo Russell had 21 points and a season-high 11 assists for the Timberwolves, who have won seven of eight.

 

Minnesota held Indiana to 41 points and 29.3% shooting in the second half.

 

Domantas Sabonis had 16 points, a career-high 25 rebounds and 10 assists for the Pacers. Malcolm Brogdon added 25 points but Indiana lost for the third time in four games.

 

With the Wolves clinging to a 94-91 lead, Towns fouled out with 1:34 remaining. Sabonis made three free throws to tie the game, but Beasley hit a corner 3 in the final minute to put Minnesota back in front.

 

Josh Okogie blocked a jumper from Caris Levert and Minnesota was able to close it out from the foul line.

 

Frustration with the officials got the Wolves crowd into the game and seemed to energize Towns and the team. Indiana then became frustrated with the calls as Minnesota took control.

 

The Wolves went on a 22-9 run, with Towns scoring 15 points, to take the lead late in the third.

 

Edwards scored 11 points in the third. He brought the crowd to its feet with a soaring dunk on a breakaway and again when he finished an alley-oop on the break from Taurean Prince.

 

On the ensuing possession, Edwards poked the ball away from Brogdon for a steal and hit a long 3-pointer at the other end to again take the lead after Indiana had come back.

 

Rookie guard Chris Duarte hit a 3 early in the fourth to bring the Pacers within one but then missed a layup on the next possession. He followed with a turnover and barked at the official, getting a technical foul.

 

While Sabonis tried to intervene and move Duarte away, the rookie kept complaining and was ejected with his second technical.

 

A minute later during a Minnesota timeout, Indiana's T.J. McConnell and Carlisle were called for technical fouls.

 

Pacers big man Myles Turner missed the game with a non-COVID-19 illness. McConnell joined the starting lineup as Indiana went small. He had eight points. . Duarte had 14 points off the bench before his ejection, going 3 of 5 from 3-point distance.

 

The Pacers host the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.

Bulls Roll Hornets

The Chicago Bulls took the latest battle of the Ball brothers, riding a stellar performance by Nikola Vucevic to a 133-119 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night.

 

Chicago shot a season-high 59.6% from the field and had five players score in double figures. Vucevic had a season-best 30 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. DeMar DeRozan scored 28 points, and Zach LaVine, a game-time decision because of an illness, finished with 25.

 

With patriarch LaVar Ball watching and wearing a black hat that read ''I Told You So,'' Lonzo Ball helped the Bulls get back on track after dropping three of four. He had 16 points and eight assists, and LaMelo Ball had 18 points and 13 assists.

 

The United Center crowd of 21,366 roared every time the Ball brothers matched up early on. But there was little sign from Lonzo or LaMelo that they were guarding someone they'd guarded since they were kids.

 

Terry Rozier scored 31 points and Gordon Hayward had 22 for the Hornets, who dropped to 0-2 on their four-game trip.

 

Charlotte trimmed a 23-point deficit down to four on Hayward's cutting layup with 7:31 left, but Chicago responded with a 9-0 run.

 

Vucevic sparked the decisive stretch with a layup. The 6-foot-10 center also went 6 for 6 from 3-point range in his highest scoring game of the season - rounding into form after struggling in his return from COVID-19.

 

He averaged 12.3 points on 42% shooting in his previous three games.

 

The Ball brothers were hampered by foul trouble in the second quarter. But Lonzo Ball got the better of his brother with 5:06 left, blocking his shot at the rim, which led to a running slam by Javonte Green at the other end.

 

The Bulls closed the half with a 9-0 run for a 69-58 lead at the break. LaVine found Vucevic for a 3-pointer from the side at the buzzer.

 

Bulls F Patrick Williams (left wrist) has talked about taking some classes at Florida State to work toward his degree, coach Billy Donovan said.

 

Williams, 20, got hurt during a loss to the Knicks on Oct. 28 and is expected to be sidelined for four to six months. 

 

The Bulls are at the New York Knicks on Thursday night. The teams split their first two meetings, both in Chicago.

Mets Finalize Massive Deal for Ace Scherzer; Rangers Sign SS Seager

ight-hander Max Scherzer agreed to a record-setting $130 million, three-year contract with the New York Mets and shortstop Corey Seager struck a $325 million, 10-year deal with the Texas Rangers on Monday as players and teams rushed to reach agreements before an expected lockout.

 

The pair are among among eight players who in recent days have agreed to contracts totalling $1.268 billion in guaranteed pay.

 

Both Scherzer and Seager are leaving the high-spending Los Angeles Dodgers for free agent riches elsewhere with teams that have aggressively added players before what likely will be Major League Baseball’s first work stoppage since 1995.

 

The five-year collective bargaining agreement expires at 11:59 p.m. EST Wednesday, and owners are expected to announce a signing freeze.

 

Scherzer’s $43.33 million average salary under Monday’s agreement is 20% higher than the previous mark, the $36 million Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole is averaging in his $324 million, nine-year contract with New York.

 

A three-time Cy Young Award winner and eight-time All-Star, the 37-year-old was 15-4 with a 2.46 ERA last season for the Washington Nationals and Dodgers, who acquired him on July 30. He struck out 236 and walked 36 in 179 1/3 innings, averaging 94.4 mph with his fastball in the final season of a $210 million, seven-year contract that included $105 million in deferred money payable from 2022-28.

 

New York also has pending deals with center fielder Starling Marte ($78 million for four years), outfielder/first baseman Mark Canha and infielder Eduardo Escobar, all contingent on successful physicals. The Mets could emerge as the top spender following their first full offseason under owner Steven Cohen, who bought the team in November 2020 from the Wilpon and Katz families in a deal that valued the Mets at a baseball-record $2.42 billion.

 

Seager, like Scherzer, is represented by Scott Boras, who in the 2019-20 offseason negotiated more than $1.2 billion in contracts. Both deals are pending physicals, and details on each were provided by a person familiar with the agreement who spoke on condition of anonymity because neither was final.

 

Seager was the World Series MVP in 2020 and a two-time All-Star in his seven seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He hit .306 with 16 homers and 57 RBIs in 95 games this year, when he broke a finger on his right hand after getting hit by a pitch May 15 and missed 2 1/2 months.

HS Girl's BBall: Monticello Rolls Urbana

As heard on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com; the Monticello Lady Sages held Urbana without a field goal in the first half and rolled to an easy 57-17 victory over Urbana Monday night in non-conference high school girl's basketball action from the Sievers Center at Monticello High School.

 

Rennie Fultz scored eight of her 19 points in the first quarter. Lizzie Stiverson scored all 14 of her points in the first half.

 

Lydia Burger scored all 10 of her points in the second half for Monticello. Hannah Swanson finished with eight points.

 

The Lady Sages improve to 5-1 overall while Urbana drops to 0-4. 

 

Monticello hosts Mt. Pulaski Thursday night. The next Lady Sages basketball broadcast will be next Thursday night when they host Mt. Zion. 

 

Hear boy's basketball action Tuesday night at Riverton at 7:30 pm on WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

Packers Topple Rams

Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes and also ran for a score in the Green Bay Packers' 36-28 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. Not bad for someone who hadn't practiced all week.

 

Rodgers went 28 of 45 for 307 yards as the Packers bounced back from a 34-31 loss at Minnesota. The reigning MVP threw touchdown passes of 7 yards to Randall Cobb and 5 yards to A.J. Dillon.

 

His injury had caused him to practice just once in the week leading up to his 385-yard, four-touchdown effort at Minnesota.

 

The Rams outscored Green Bay 11-0 in the fourth quarter, but their comeback attempt ended when Adrian Amos recovered an onside kick with 17 seconds left.

 

Green Bay (9-3) has never lost consecutive games within the same season during Matt LaFleur's three-year coaching tenure. The Packers head into their off week with a 3 1/2-game lead over Minnesota (5-6) in the NFC Central.

 

The Rams (7-4) dropped their third straight game and continually made mistakes to create scoring opportunities for Green Bay, which scored 16 points off three Los Angeles turnovers.

 

Matthew Stafford went 21 of 38 for 302 yards with three touchdown passes. But he also lost a fumble to set up a touchdown and had an interception returned for a touchdown. Stafford has thrown a pick-6 in each of the last three games.

 

Odell Beckham Jr. had five catches for 81 yards with a 54-yard touchdown in his second game as a Ram.

 

Rodgers opened the scoring and put the Packers ahead for good with a 1-yard touchdown to cap a drive that began at the Rams 6-yard line. Green Bay's Rashan Gary, coming back from an elbow injury that sidelined him last week, sacked Stafford and hit the quarterback's elbow to cause a fumble that Preston Smith recovered to give the Packers first-and-goal.

 

In the third quarter, Los Angeles' J.J. Koski was returning a punt when Dominique Dafney forced a fumble that Krys Barnes recovered at the Rams 27. That turnover set up Mason Crosby's 29-yard field goal that extended Green Bay's lead to 30-17.

 

Later in the third, Rasul Douglas made it 36-17 by stepping in front of Stafford's pass to NFL receiving leader Cooper Kupp and scoring his first career touchdown on a 33-yard interception return.

 

Cobb didn't play the second half due to a groin injury. Cobb caught four passes for 95 yards in the first half.

 

The Packers are off next week before hosting Chicago on Dec. 12.

Bucks Top Pacers

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 26 points and 13 rebounds and the Milwaukee Bucks extended their winning streak to seven, routing the Indiana Pacers 118-100 on Sunday night.

 

The Bucks led by five at halftime and pulled away with a 39-27 third quarter. Guard Jrue Holiday scored 11 of his 23 points in the quarter.

 

Much like the surging Bucks, who improved to 13-8, Holiday has been hot in averaging 19.7 points in the last four victories. He also had nine assists and seven rebounds against Indiana.

 

Bobby Portis scored 15 points, Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton each had 14, and Indianapolis native George Hill added 13 for the Bucks.

 

Caris LeVert led the Pacers with a season-high 23 points. Malcolm Brogdon had 16.

fter a season-high 12 assists Friday night in a home win over Toronto, Brogdon had just two. 

 

Domantas Sabonis scored a season-low four points on 1-of-8 shooting.

 

The Pacers are at Minnesota on Monday night.

Sharks Blank Blackhawks

Timo Meier scored on a deflection and added an empty-net goal, James Reimer earned his 42nd career shutout, and the San Jose Sharks beat the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 on Sunday night.

 

The Sharks won for the third time in four starts, all with Reimer in goal. He was only occasionally challenged en route to his first shutout in 22 months, stopping 29 shots.

 

The loss was the third in five games for Chicago, and dropped the Blackhawks to 6-3-0 since Derek King took over as head coach.

 

Chicago forward Dylan Strome was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. He'd been in former coach Jeremy Colliton's doghouse at the start of the season, missing the first four games and six of the first eight.

 

Blackhawks: Start a three-game trip Thursday night in Washington.

Former Bears Star Dan Hampton Arrested on Drunken Driving Charge

Former Chicago Bears defensive lineman Dan Hampton, who was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002, has been arrested in Indiana for allegedly driving a vehicle while drunk.

 

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office in Indiana said Hampton was arrested Nov. 20 on a charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated in Winfield, where he lives. Winfield is about 50 miles (80.47 kilometers) from Chicago.

 

Hampton bonded out of jail the next morning after bail was set at $25,000.

 

Hampton, 64, played for the Bears from 1979, when was drafted with the fourth overall pick, until 1990. He was a member of the Bears’ Super Bowl-winning team following the 1985 season.

 

Hampton played in college at Arkansas, where he was a two-time Southwestern All-Conference selection and Defensive Player of the year in his final season.

 

After retiring as a player, he worked as a TV and radio analyst, including as a host of the “The Hamp & O’B Show” on Chicago’s WGN Radio.

UPDATED: IHSA High School Boys Football State Championship Scores

Class 1A:

 

Lena-Winslow 38, Carrollton 25, F

 

Class 2A:

 

Wilmington 24, Nashville 7, F

 

Class 3A:

 

Byron 35, Tolono Unity 7, F

 

Class 4A:

 

Joliet Catholic 56, Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin 27, F

 

Class 5A:

 

Fenwick 34, Kankakee 15, F

 

Class 6A:

 

Cary-Grove 37, East St. Louis 36, F

 

Class 7A:

 

Wheaton North 35, Chicago St. Rita 6, F

 

Class 8A:

 

Lockport 24, Maine South 6, F

High School Football Championship Weekend

It's the culmination of the high school football season as the State finals shift to DeKalb on the campus of Northern Illinois University.

 

Here are the matchups:

 

Class 1A

 

Lena-Winslow    10:00am
Carrollton

 

Class 2A

 

Wilmington         1:00pm
Nashville

 

Class 3A

 

Byron         4:00pm
Tolono Unity

 

Class 4A

 

Joliet Catholic     7:00pm
Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin

 

Saturday championship matchups:

 

Class 5A

 

Fenwick         10:00am
Kankakee

 

Class 6A

 

Cary-Grove     1:00pm
East St. Louis

 

Class 7A

 

Wheaton North    4:00 pm
Chicago St. Rita

 

Class 8A 

 

Lockport          7:00pm
Maine South

Santos' game-ending FG ends Bears' skid versus winless Lions

Cairo Santos made a 28-yard game-ending field goal to give the slumping Chicago Bears a 16-14 victory over the winless Detroit Lions on Thursday.

 

Detroit made many mistakes, early and late, to extend its winless skid to 15 games since beating the Bears on the road nearly a year ago. The Lions had 10 penalties, including three in a row when they were at midfield that ended their chance to score on their last possession.

 

Andy Dalton, starting in place of injured rookie Justin Fields, led the Bears on an 18-play, 69-yard drive that took the final 8:30 off the clock.

 

Dalton converted a third-and-5 with a 13-yard pass to Damiere Byrd to get the Bears to midfield. Detroit later helped out, giving them 5 yards on a penalty for calling consecutive timeouts without a play in between.

 

On the next snap, Dalton converted third-and-4 with a 7-yard pass to Byrd. With only one timeout left, Dalton was able to kneel to run the clock down to 1 second before calling a timeout to set up Santos' third field goal.

 

Dalton finished 24 of 39 for 317 yards with a go-ahead, 17-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham late in the first half and an interception.

 

Goff was 21 of 25 for 171 yards with two touchdowns and a fumble on a play that was reversed after Nagy challenged. Goff threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Josh Reynolds on his first drive and a 17-yard pass to T.J. Hockenson late in the third that helped Detroit take a 14-13 lead that it simply failed to keep.

Bears Visit Detroit

Who coaches the Chicago Bears after Thursday seems to be the bigger topic now than who their starting quarterback will be this week.

 

Bears coach Matt Nagy said Tuesday Andy Dalton will start against the Detroit Lions for injured Justin Fields, then spent half of his press conference dealing with a report saying he has been told he will no longer coach the Bears after Thursday’s game.

 

The Bears have lost five straight and for three straight years have had losing streaks of four games or more. So Nagy’s job status going forward has been a hot debate throughout Chicago. Chants of “Fire Nagy,” were heard at times in Soldier Field during Sunday’s 16-13 loss to Baltimore — and even at the United Center during a Chicago Bulls game.

 

The report about the firing was by Pulitzer Prize winner Mark Konkol, a former news reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times. It did not indicate a source.

 

Nagy said he normally talks on a regular basis with team general manager Ryan Pace, President Ted Phillips and board chairman George McCaskey, but not this week as there were no meetings scheduled.

 

The Bears have never fired a coach during midseason.

 

Meanwhile, Dan Campbell knows he can’t be picky.

 

With his team at 0-9-1 and seven games left, the Detroit Lions coach would happily take a win on any day at any NFL stadium.

 

Beating the Chicago Bears on Thursday, though, would be even better.

 

It helps that, for one of the first times this year, the Lions seem to have a serious shot at victory. After going into their Week 9 bye giving up an average of 30.5 points per game, Detroit held the Steelers to 16 in a Nov. 14 tie, then allowed 13 in a three-point loss in Cleveland on Sunday.

 

A big part of that improvement has come from forcing five turnovers in Pittsburgh and Cleveland. They had only gotten seven takeaways in their first eight games.

 

The Lions have also discovered a running game, picking up 397 yards in the last two games after struggling to get anything going in the first eight weeks.

 

D’Andre Swift went over 130 yards against Pittsburgh and Cleveland, much to the delight of one of his key blockers.

 

The Bears placed slot cornerback Duke Shelley on injured reserve with a hamstring injury and elevated defensive lineman Margus Hunt from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. Safety Eddie Jackson practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day and the Bears are hoping he can return from a hamstring injury suffered Oct. 31 against San Francisco.

Erne snaps tie, Red Wings beat Blues 4-2 to stop 4-game skid

Adam Erne scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period, Alex Nedeljkovic made 35 saves and the Detroit Red Wings defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-2 on Wednesday night.

 

Dylan Larkin, Robby Fabbri and streaking rookie Lucas Raymond also scored for the Red Wings, who snapped a four-game skid and improved their record to 9-9-3.

 

Making his second straight start, Nedeljkovic turned in several highlight-reel stops - including a sprawling glove save with 13:05 left to preserve a one-goal lead.

 

Pavel Buchnevich and David Perron scored for the Blues, who were playing with a full and healthy roster for the first time this season. Perron's goal snapped a 13-game scoreless drought.

 

Fabbri had two points against his former team, including an empty-net goal to seal the win. 

 

The Blues opened the scoring with a power-play goal from Buchnevich, who sent a one-timer on a pass from Kyrou past Nedeljkovic midway through the first period.

 

Raymond, who leads NHL rookies in scoring, tied it a few minutes later with a breakaway goal for his team-leading 20th point and 11th in the past 11 games.

 

Larkin got his team-leading 10th goal on Detroit's first shot of the second period to break a 1-all tie at 7:45. It was his sixth goal in his last six games, and he's needed only 17 games to surpass his total of nine goals in 44 games last season.

Rockets beat Bulls 118-113 to end 15-game losing streak

Danuel House Jr. had 18 points, Christian Wood added 16 points and 10 rebounds and the Houston Rockets ended their losing streak at 15, beating the Chicago Bulls 118-113 on Wednesday night.

 

Kevin Porter Jr. had 14 points, six rebounds and nine assists after missing three games because of a bruised left thigh. Second overall pick Jalen Green scored 11 points in the first quarter before exiting with a left leg injury.

 

Zach LaVine led Chicago with 28 points. Lonzo Ball added 19 points, DeMar DeRozan had 17 points and seven assists, and Alex Caruso scored 15 points.

 

Nikola Vucevic had 14 points and 13 rebounds in his return after missing seven games in the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

 

Chicago cut Houston's lead to three on LaVine's layup, but House responded with a 3 to increase the lead to 109-103 with 2:23 remaining. After the teams traded baskets, Caruso hit a 3-pointer with 47 seconds left to cut the lead to 111-108.

 

Garrison Matthews responded with a 3-pointer from the corner with 25 seconds remaining, and Houston pushed the lead to eight on two free throws by House with 16 seconds left. LaVine hit a 3-pointer, and after a steal, connected on a long two with two seconds left to cut the lead to 116-113.

 

After a timeout, Matthews hit two free throws to ice the win.

 

Trailing 73-63 midway through the third, Houston finished the quarter outscoring the Bulls 27-9 to take a 90-82 lead on a 3-pointer by House with 30 seconds left in the third. House had 10 points in the run, and Armoni Brooks added eight.

ISU Falls in Cancun Finale to Buffalo

Despite shooting 52 percent from the field and having four players score at least 15 points, the Illinois State Redbirds found themselves on the wrong end of a 106-90 final score against Buffalo, in each program's final game of the 2021 Cancun Challenge.

 

Kendall Lewis scored a team-high 22 points making 8-of-10 shots from the field and all five of his three-point tries. Sy Chatman added 21 points, while Antonio Reeves scored 17 and Josiah Strong 15.

 

ISU struck first in the game with a Sy Chatman three-point play, before Buffalo ran off a 15-3 run, and the Bulls never trailed again in the contest. The Buffalo lead stretched to as many as 13 in the first half at 27-14 before ISU scored 10 straight points to close within three at 27-24 after a Howard Fleming Jr. three-pointer. The Bulls responded with a 10-0 run of their own as they took a 15-point, 49-34 lead into the locker room at halftime.

 

In the second half Illinois state made nearly 70 percent of its shots, making 23-of-33 from the field and scored 56 points; however, Buffalo was equally as hot, making 8-of-10 three-pointers and 63 percent of their shots in the second half, scoring 57 points over the final 20 minutes.

James rallies Lakers past Pacers 124-116 after suspension

After drawing the first suspension of his career because of a fracas Sunday in Detroit, LeBron James delivered tiebreaking and back-breaking 3-pointers in overtime and finished with 39 points to help the Los Angles Lakers rally past Indiana, 124-116.

 

James was 13 of 29 from the field and had six assists and five rebounds. And with All-Star center Anthony Davis out because of flu-like defense, James also was in charge of calling the defensive assignments in a game the Lakers never led until Malik Monk's 3-pointer with 4:35 left in regulation.

 

He helped force overtime by scoring seven straight points to give the Lakers a 110-104 lead with 76 seconds left in regulation.

 

Russell Westbrook made two free throws with 22.6 seconds left to make it 112-109 and only an off-balance 3 by Chris Duarte and James' errant 3 as the buzzer prevented the Lakers from winning in regulation.

 

James's first 3 made it 117-114 with 2:51 left. A minute later, he made the second to extend the margin to six and added a midrange jumper before Wayne Ellington closed it out. Indiana managed only one basket in the final three minutes.

Mt. Pulaski Rallies Past Clinton

In a game heard Wednesday night on WHOW, the Clinton Maroons fell to the Mt. Pulaski Hilltoppers 58-49 in pool play at the 11th annual Bill Rucks Holiday Tournament.  

 

Clinton jumped out to a 13-9 lead in the first quarter, and held on for a 28-26 lead at the half.  A big run in the 3rd propelled the Maroons to a 40-32 lead headed into the 4th, but Mt. Pulaski would rally to outscore Clinton 26 to 9 in the final quarter.   The Hilltoppers took the lead for good, 47-46, around the 3:45 mark of the fourth quarter.

 

The Toppers (2-0) were led by senior guard Lane Murphy with 27 points.  Senior Aiden Schneider added 10 points, all in the fourth quarter.  

 

Clinton (0-2) was led by the Serv-Pro of Piatt & DeWitt County Player of the Game - sophomore guard Dawson Graves with 22 points.  Freshman Colton Walker added 11 points, while sophomores Mason Walker & Brooks Cluver added 7 apiece.  

 

Clinton next plays Tri-City at 5pm Friday at Mt. Pulaski.  Our next Maroons Game of the Week broadcast on WHOW comes your way Friday, December 3rd, at home against Maroa-Forsyth.  

 

In the other games at Mt. Pulaski Wednesday night....

Illini Central topped Calvary, 51-40   &

Tri-City downed Edinburg, 53-43

 

Heyworth Rolls Blue Ridge

Heyworth started fast and easily rolled to a 68-28 win over the short handed Blue Ridge Knights 68-28 in Thanksgiving Tournament action from Cerro Gordo Tuesday night.

 

The Hornets led 21-5 after one frame and opened up a 37-16 lead at the half. 

 

Conner Moore led a balanced attack for Heyworth with 16 points. 

 

Wyatt Cole led Blue Ridge with eight.

 

Blue Ridge schools went to remote learning over the weekend after an outbreak of COVID in the school district. Activities for the week were up in the air until late Monday after consultation with the health department. 

 

The Knights start their season 0-1 and will continue action from the Cerro Gordo Thanksgiving tournament this week.

 

Other high school basketball scores from Tuesday:

 

Clinton 33

Springfield Calvary 53

 

Paxton-Buckley-Loda 36

Tuscola 62

 

Warrensburg-Latham 64

Buffalo Tri-City 32

 

Springfield 49

Triad 48

 

Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond 68

Sullivan 46

 

Taylorville 49

Civic Memorial 38

 

Woodland 44

Ridgeview 42

 

Chicago St. Rita 76

Urbana 47

 

Rochester 74

Hillsboro 67

 

Prairie Central 63

Hoopeston 31

 

Mt. Zion 57

Paris 49

 

Decatur LSA 73

Urbana 46

 

Martinsville 61

Villa Grove 31

 

Chicago Thornton 81

Decatur Eisenhower 34

 

Mendon Unity 64

Hartsburg-Emden 26

 

Tri-Valley 75

Heritage 23

Illinois Rebounds, Beats Kansas State

Kofi Cockburn bruised his way to 23 points and 13 rebounds in his second game back, and Alfonso Plummer hit seven 3-pointers and added 21 points as the No. 14 Illini held off Kansas State 72-64 in the consolation game of the Hall of Fame Classic.

 

Plummer finished 7 of 9 from beyond the arc, and the Illini (3-2) went 12 of 26 from 3 as a team, as they bounced back from a 71-51 blowout loss to Cincinnati in the semifinals to avoid their third consecutive loss.

 

The victory Tuesday night came at a cost, though: Trent Frazier, who scored 23 points against Marquette but was held scoreless by the Bearcats, hurt his left knee midway through the second half. The Illini guard was 0 for 5 from the field but had five assists when he was helped to the locker room by a pair of trainers.

 

Markquis Nowell scored 19 points and Nijel Pack had 15 for the Wildcats (2-2), who committed just four turnovers for the entire game. Ismael Massoud added 13 points after going 0-for-everything against Arkansas in the semifinals.

 

Illinois still wasn’t at full strength even before Frazier got hurt. Andre Curbelo remained slowed by the concussion that he sustained earlier this year, finishing with six points and seven assists while playing only 20 minutes.

 

Kansas State forced the Illini into 17 turnovers and turned them into 23 points, while Illinois only forced four turnovers that led to three points. That disparity was the biggest reason why the Wildcats were able to mount a challenge.

 

The Illini play Rio Grande Valley on Friday night. 

St. Louis Edges Illinois State

Gibson Jimerson registered 19 points as Saint Louis beat Illinois State 82-76 in the Cancun Challenge - Riviera Division on Tuesday night.

 

Jordan Nesbitt had 14 points for Saint Louis (5-1), which earned its fourth consecutive home victory. Terrence Hargrove Jr. added 13 points. Marten Linssen had 10 points.

 

Antonio Reeves had 20 points for the Redbirds (2-3). Sy Chatman added 13 points. Mark Freeman had 13 points.

 

The Redbirds take on Buffalo tonight.

Illini LB Gay Named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week

Illinois OLB Isaiah Gay was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, the conference office announced Monday.

 

Gay had 5.5 TFLs - an Illinois record for a Big Ten game - and a career-high 10 tackles on Saturday at #18 Iowa. Gay's 5.5 TFLs are the third-most in Illinois history, tied for the most by a Big Ten player this season, and tied for the most in a Power-5 vs. Power-5 game this season (Purdue's Leo Chenal, 5.5, at Wisconsin).

 

Gay's 5.5 TFLs are also the second-most TFLs in a game in college football this season (Missouri's Blaze Alldredge, 6.0, vs. Central Michigan).

 

Illinois returns to action Saturday against Northwestern to wrap up the regular season. The Illini and Wildcats kickoff at 2:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium with the Land of Lincoln Trophy on the line.

NASCAR Announces Practice, Qualifying Back in 2022

NASCAR will return both practice and qualifying to its weekend schedule for all three national series in 2022. The on-track activity had been mostly scrapped the last two seasons during the pandemic.

 

NASCAR traditionally hosted three-day weekends for its races but dropped all qualifying and practice when competition resumed in May 2020 following a 10-week shutdown due to the pandemic. Some practice sessions returned this year, and championship weekend this month at Phoenix was the closest yet to a pre-pandemic schedule.

 

NASCAR will use a knockout-style format for qualifying in 2022 that will vary depending on both track type and series. The Cup field be split into two groups for most races and participate in a two-hour practice and qualifying event. NASCAR will class six Cup races, five Xfinity Series races and and eight Truck Series races as “expanded weekends.”

 

An expanded weekend includes one stand-alone, 50-minute practice. Those will be the only weekends that will feature a practice separate from qualifying.

 

The Daytona 500 field will be set the same way as always, with the front determined by Feb. 16 time trials. The rest of the starting lineup will be set by the two qualifying races.

 

The other three superspeedway events, two at Talladega and the August race at Daytona, will not have practice. But the cars will qualify before the race.

Flames Light Up Blackhawks

Matthew Tkachuk broke a tie on a fortunate bounce with 5:35 left and the Calgary Flames beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 on Tuesday night for their fourth straight victory.

 

Tkachuk's centering pass went off the skate of Chicago defenseman Seth Jones and over the shoulder of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to give Calgary a 3-2 lead. Trevor Lewis and Johnny Gaudreau each added an empty-net goal for the Flames (12-3-5), who sit alone atop the Western Conference.

 

Dillon Dube and Milan Lucic also scored for Calgary, which has earned at least one point in seven consecutive games. Jacob Markstrom made 19 saves.

 

Reese Johnson had a goal and an assist - his first two NHL points - to lead the offense for Chicago (6-11-2). Brandon Hagel also scored.

 

Coming off a 40-save shutout Sunday against Vancouver, Fleury had a tough start to the night, getting beaten twice on the first six shots he faced before slamming the door until late in the third. He finished with 34 stops and fell to 5-8-0.

 

Both Blackhawks goals were the result of costly turnovers.

 

After the Flames grabbed the lead just 1:19 into the game, Hagel tied it at 8:57 when Tyler Pitlick coughed up the puck along the sideboards and Hagel whipped a quick shot into the top corner.

 

Lucic's goal at 13:06 gave Calgary a 2-1 lead after the first period, but Chicago tied it 3:51 into the second on another freebie.

 

From behind the net, Markstrom's pass attempt to Elias Lindholm went off the heel of Lindholm's stick and was promptly fired into an open net by Johnson.

 

After that miscue, Markstrom made a string of saves to keep the game tied.

 

First, he squeezed a dangerous shot from Patrick Kane from 20 feet out as he broke in off right wing.

 

On his next shift, Kane got a breakaway, only to see Markstrom turn him aside again, getting a blocker on a shot that also ticked off the post.

 

Later in the period, Markstrom jabbed out his pad to make a skate save on Kirby Dach. Right after that, he acrobatically got across the crease to rob Hagel after he was set up on a 2-on-1.

 

Dube opened the scoring on Calgary's first shot when he fired a wrister off left wing just over the pad of Fleury.

 

After a hectic stretch of nine games in 15 days - including a seven-game Eastern road trip - Calgary has three days to recharge before facing Winnipeg.

 

The Blackhawks host the St. Louis Blues on Friday.

Monticello Starts Fast, Rolls Pleasant Plains

The Monticello Sages started fast and rolled to a season-opening 54-35 win over Pleasant Plains in non-conference high school boy's basketball action from Pleasant Plains High School Tuesday night.

 

Ben Cresap and Dylan Ginalick fueled the Sages fast start early with transition baskets and a three from Ginalick to open an 11-5 lead after the first quarter.

 

Each team showed first game rust before finding their legs. The Sages doing so first appeared to be the difference as they opened up 26-10 lead at the half.

 

The Cardinals offered more energy as they started the second half with a half-court set that led to a dunk by Zach Powell but Trevor Fox buried a three on the ensuing possession and later Cresap was fouled after knocking down a wing three-pointer and completed the four-point play.

 

Despite trailing by double-digits most of the second half, Plains never let down on the energy and were outscored 19-16 in the third period and each team recorded nine fourth-quarter points.

 

Cresap was the Piatt/DeWitt County ServPro player of the game with a team-high 15 points. Ginalick added ten and Joey Sprinkle scored six of his eight points in the second half. 

 

The Cardinals were led by Powell's 15 points.

 

Plains is 0-1 on the season while Monticello is 1-0. The Sages hit the road to take on another Sangamo Conference opponent in Riverton next Tuesday night. Hear the action starting at 7 pm on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

Cincinnati Rolls Illinois

Cincinnati mounted a big first-half charge to take a stunning halftime lead, then steadily pulled away from the No. 14 Illini for a 71-51 victory that pushed them into the championship game of the Hall of Fame Classic.

 

Mike Saunders Jr. scored 20 points and Jeremiah Davenport added 19 to lead the Bearcats (5-0), who went 17 of 20 from the foul line and won the battle of the boards against the bigger Illini (2-2) inside T-Mobile Center.

 

That earned the right to play the winner of No. 13 Arkansas and Kansas State for the tournament title.

 

Kofi Cockburn, who was suspended the first three games of the season for violating NCAA rules, had 18 points and seven rebounds for the Fighting Illini (2-2). Andre Curbelo added 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting with five turnovers.

 

The 7-foot, 275-pound center from Jamaica bullied his way to six straight points to open the game, and the Illini raced to a 19-4 lead before the Bearcats seemed to realize the game had tipped off. At one point, Cockburn had outscored Cincinnati 12-8 as the Illini built a 23-8 advantage nearing the midpoint of the first half.

 

That’s when Bearcats' Coach Wes Miller made a couple of subtle adjustments that got them on track.

 

They slowed Cockburn with physical double-teams in the post, and they began jumping the passing lanes, and at one point the Bearcats held Illinois without a field goal for nearly seven minutes. They pieced together a 14-1 run of their own during the stretch, and David DeJulius made a couple foul shots just before halftime to give Cincinnati a 34-31 lead.

 

The Illini’s slump endured well into the second half.

 

Davenport drilled a 3-pointer right out of the locker room, and Illinois proceeded to miss 10 consecutive field-goal attempts at one point, as the hot-shooting Bearcats’ stunning run eventually reached 22-5 to start the second half.

 

The nation’s top-ranked defense through the first couple weeks of the season suddenly struggled to guard the Bearcats on the perimeter. And regardless of whether Cockburn wasn’t in the lineup, the Illini had trouble chasing down deep rebounds, which gave Cincinnati second and third chances on several trips down the floor.

 

That was enough to send the Bearcats to their first win over a ranked team since beating Tennessee on Dec. 18, 2019.

 

The Illini will play for third place tonight against former Illinois Coach Bruce Weber and the Kansas State Wildcats.

Development Still Name of the Game for Clinton High School Boy's Basketball Team

The Clinton Maroons boy's basketball team will look to continue its development under second-year head coach Dan Luketich while starting to progress towards a winning expectation.

 

Coach Luketich indicates the focus this year is to continue to bring along a talented sophomore class while starting to instill the expectation of winning. The Maroons tip off their 2021-22 season tonight in Mt. Pulaski.

 

 

Coach Luketich is developing a unique system in his program that focuses on a lot of defensive pressure and getting up and down the floor focused on finding quick but quality shots on offense.

 

 

The style of play the Maroons utilize demands a lot of effort at every moment. Coach Luketich says his focus is engaging everyone on the squad and as he calls it, raising the floor.

 

 

As for developing a winning culture while developing his unique style of play; Coach Luketich recognized he uses a lot of cliches but that is how you have to approach it.

 

 

Coach Luketich very much appreciates the way his kids are engaging in the style of play, the way they work and approach learning. His obvious expectation is to start winning more games but at the same time he wants to see improvement.

 

Hear tomorrow night's action at the Mt. Pulaski Thanksgiving tournament when the Maroons take on the host the Hilltoppers at 8 pm on 92.3 FM/106.5 FM WHOW and online at dewittdailynews.com, the WHOW mobile app and at Amazon Alexa.

DuQuesne Rolls Bradley

Leon Ayers III scored 23 points as Duquesne beat Bradley 78-70 on Monday.

 

Tre Williams had 15 points and three blocks for Duquesne (2-4), which broke its four-game losing streak. Amir Spears added 14 points and Jackie Johnson III had 12 points.

 

Terry Roberts had 17 points for the Braves (1-5). Ja'Shon Henry added 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Connor Hickman also scored 14 points.

Blues Rally to Blast Knights

Justin Faulk scored his 100th career goal to cap a quick three-goal outburst by St. Louis in the first period, and the Blues beat the Vegas Golden Knights 5-2 on Monday night.

 

Ryan O'Reilly, Tyler Bozak, Brandon Saad and Niko Mikkola also scored for the Blues, who entered with two wins in their previous 10 games. Jordan Binnington, who had lost six of his last seven starts, was sharp and made 32 saves.

 

Chandler Stephenson and Reilly Smith scored for the Golden Knights, who had won five of six.

 

St. Louis trailed 2-0 before it exploded midway through the first period.

 

St. Louis scored three or more goals in a period for the first time since Nov. 4 at San Jose.

 

Saad scored on the power play early in the second. He has four goals in his past three games and eight this season.

 

Blues C Brayden Schenn (upper body) is day to day. He last played Nov. 4. Blues D Robert Bortuzzo did not play after the club said he was ''dinged up'' in Saturday's game at Dallas. 

 

The Blues are at Detroit on Wednesday.

Pacers Topple Bulls

Domantas Sabonis scored 21 points, Malcolm Brogdon added 16 more, and the Indiana Pacers routed the Chicago Bulls 109-77 on Monday night.

 

Myles Turner also scored 12 points and hauled in 10 rebounds in Indiana's second straight win.

 

DeMar DeRozan led the Bulls with 18 points, while Zach LaVine scored 17 - just the second time this season he was held to fewer than 20 points.

 

It was a one-sided affair for much of the night, with Indiana stretching its lead to as many as 35 points in the fourth. Chicago had a few offensive spurts, but ended up with 36.5% shooting for the game. The Bulls played their reserves for the entire final frame.

 

The Pacers came out of the gate firing on all cylinders offensively, opening with a 26-9 run. Justin Holiday and Caris LeVert scored six points apiece within the first four minutes.

 

Indiana led 67-46 at halftime thanks to a strong effort on the glass, outrebounding the Bulls 28-16 in the first two quarters. DeRozan helped fuel a 10-3 run for Chicago to cut the second-quarter deficit to eight, but key baskets from Brogdon and Kelan Martin down the stretch pushed the Pacers' advantage to 21 points at the break.

 

Chicago, playing on the second night of a back-to-back, looked sluggish early, going 7 of 22 from the floor in the first quarter, including just 1 of 7 3-pointers.

 

All five of Indiana's starters finished the night scoring in double figures.

 

The Pacers host the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night while the Bulls are at Houston on Wednesday night.

 

Monticello to Rely on Seniors in 2021-22 High School Basketball Season

The high school boy's basketball season kicks off this week and the Monticello Sages varsity team will rely on a senior-heavy group this year.

 

It's a group that went 8-3 in the spring and was competitive in every game in the abbreviated, pandemic impacted slate. Coach Kevin Roy called last year a rollercoaster but was pleased with the development of his team in the short time they were able to play.

 

 

Coach Roy describes his seven seniors as close and good friends on and off the court. He praises their coachability and work ethic.

 

 

As the game of basketball changes to a very dribble-drive and three-point reliant style of play, Coach Roy is remaining true to his roots of desiring a lot of ball movement and finding high-percentage shots.

 

 

The Sages open their 2021-22 basketball season Tuesday night at Pleasant Plains. The Sages hit the road for the first few weeks of the season games at Pleasant Plains and Riverton then its first home game on Friday, Dec. 3 at 7 pm. 

 

Hear all Monticello Sages boy's basketball games this season on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

Ravens Score Late to Rally Past Bears

Subbing for Lamar Jackson, Tyler Huntley led a winning drive capped by Devonta Freeman's 3-yard run with 22 seconds remaining, and the Baltimore Ravens beat the Chicago Bears 16-13.

 

Jackson was sidelined by illness for the AFC North-leading Ravens (7-3), who ruled him out 90 minutes before kickoff after he took some throws on the field. The 2019 MVP was a full participant in practice Friday after being held out the previous two days.

 

Justin Tucker kicked three field goals, and the Ravens came away with the win after losing the previous week at Miami.

 

The Bears (3-7) lost their fifth straight.

 

Chicago's Andy Dalton threw two touchdowns, including a 49-yarder to an open Marquise Goodwin in the closing minutes. Justin Fields had left the game with injured ribs in the third quarter.

 

Dalton found Goodwin deep down the middle on fourth-and-11 to cap a 75-yard drive and put Chicago on top 13-9 with 1:41 remaining. Even though the 2-point conversion pass failed, the Bears appeared to be in good shape.

 

But Baltimore answered with the 72-yard touchdown drive. Freeman ran it in after Huntley's 29-yard pass to Sammy Watkins put the ball on the 3, and the Ravens came out on top even without their best player.

 

Huntley completed 26 of 36 passes for 219 yards in his first career start. The second-year pro who was undrafted out of Utah also threw an interception and got sacked six times in his fifth pro appearance.

 

Fields took a big step backward following several promising outings. The rookie was 4 of 11 for 79 yards after throwing for a career-high 291 yards at Pittsburgh two weeks ago.

 

Dalton, who started the first two games before a knee injury in Week 2 against Cincinnati, came in with 8:46 left in the third quarter and quickly threw a 60-yard touchdown to Darnell Mooney on a screen to give the Bears a 7-6 lead. The veteran was 11 for 23 for 201 yards.

 

Mooney caught five passes for 121 yards. Goodwin added 104 yards on four receptions. Robert Quinn had a career-high 3 1/2 sacks. But the Bears remained winless following byes since 2013.

 

It didn't help that Bears were missing star linebacker Khalil Mack, who is expected to have season-ending foot surgery this week. Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (ankle) and receiver Allen Robinson (hamstring) were also unavailable.

 

The Bears visit Detroit on Thursday.

Bulls Topple Knicks

DeMar DeRozan scored 31 points, Zach LaVine added 21 and the Chicago Bulls rallied in the fourth quarter for a 109-103 victory over the New York Knicks on Sunday night.

 

Coby White scored 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter as Chicago won its second straight and fourth in five games.

 

Julius Randle had 34 points on 13-for-18 shooting for New York.

 

The Knicks won the first meeting between the teams on Oct. 28 in Chicago.

 

After trailing by as many as six points in the third quarter and 74-72 heading into the fourth, the Bulls opened the final quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers by White and Derrick Jones Jr. to grab a 78-74 edge.

 

For White, it was his first 3-pointer since being activated Nov. 15 following offseason left shoulder surgery. He had scored a total of two points on 1-for-11 shooting in his first three games.

 

Nikola Vucevic, who's been out with COVID-19 since Nov. 11, has emerged from isolation under the league's health and safety protocols and rejoined the team on Sunday. When he is able to play in a game remains unclear.

 

The Bulls host the Indiana Pacers tonight. 

Vikings Walk Off Packers

Greg Joseph made a 29-yard field goal as time expired to give the Vikings a 34-31 victory over the Packers in a classic back-and-forth with their division rival and longtime nemesis.

 

The only team in the NFL this year to hold a lead of seven or more points in every game, all but one of Minnesota's games have been decided by one score. Kirk Cousins passed for 341 yards and three touchdowns to help the Vikings stay a step ahead of Rodgers for most of the afternoon.

 

Rodgers threw four touchdown passes, all on Green Bay's final four full possessions, excluding a kneel-down to end the first half. All of those drives covered 74 yards or more.

 

Rodgers finished 23 for 33 for a season-high 385 yards for the Packers (8-3). After missing time earlier to COVID-19, Rodgers was unable to practice much this week because of a toe injury.

 

Justin Jefferson had eight receptions for 169 yards and two scores for the Vikings, including a third-down catch against rookie Eric Stokes that Cousins delivered for a 23-yard touchdown while being decked on a blitz by Darnell Savage. Dalvin Cook ran in the 2-point conversion to make up for an earlier missed extra point by Joseph.

 

On the next play from scrimmage, Rodgers threw a rainbow to Marquez Valdes-Scantling streaking past safety Xavier Woods for a 75-yard score to tie the game just before the two-minute warning.

 

When the Vikings regained the ball, Cousins nearly cost himself the comeback by slightly underthrowing Jefferson, whom Savage darted in front of to intercept the ball. He bobbled it on the way down, though, and a replay review overturned the call.

 

Cousins then went 3 for 3 for 51 yards on the next three snaps, and Cook - who rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown - ran for one more first down. Then the Vikings kneeled down twice to set up the final kick by Joseph.

 

Preston Smith had two sacks, but the Packers didn't have the same pass rush with outside linebacker Rashan Gary (elbow) sidelined. Za'Darius Smith and Whitney Mercilus are also out with long-term injuries.

 

Rodgers threw to Davante Adams twice for touchdowns, including an 18-yard strike on third-and-6 midway through the fourth quarter when he was trying to call timeout before the shotgun snap.

 

Elgton Jenkins went down in the fourth quarter with an apparent injury to his left knee and was carted to the locker room. After a Pro Bowl selection in 2020 at LG, Jenkins has replaced David Bakhtiari at LT this season. Bakhtiari has yet to return from a torn ACL suffered last year.

 

The Packers host the Los Angeles Rams next Sunday, trying to avoid consecutive losses for the first time since a three-game skid that prompted the firing of coach Mike McCarthy on Dec. 2, 2018.

Blackhawks Blank Canucks

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 40 shots in his first shutout of the season and the Chicago Blackhawks blanked the Vancouver Canucks 1-0 on Sunday night.

 

Brandon Hagel scored the game's lone goal with a third-period tip-in, while Fleury earned his 68th career shutout - first with Chicago - and improved his recent record against Vancouver to 13-0-2.

 

Thatcher Demko stopped 23 of 24 shots for the Canucks, who controlled play through much of the first two periods but stuttered in the third, giving up an early goal and struggling to generate offense.

 

Hagel finally broke the scoreless deadlock 4:12 into the third, tipping in a long shot from Erik Gustafsson for his fifth goal of the season.

 

Vancouver dominated play through much of the first two periods, outshooting the visitors 30-13. It also killed off three penalties - rare, considering the Canucks came into the game with the NHL's worst penalty kill at 60.3%.

 

The Blackhawks visit Calgary on Tuesday.

High School Football Quarterfinal Round This Weekend

This weekened, high School football programs across the state will have the opportunity to punch their tickets to DeKalb next weekend for the state finals. 

 

Class 1A

 

Ridgeview (8-4) at Lena-Winslow (10-2) Sat. 2:00 pm
Carrollton (11-1) at Central A & M (9-3) Sat. 3:00 pm

 

Class 2A

 

Tri-Valley (12-0) at Wilmington (12-0) Sat. 5:00 pm
Decatur St. Teresa (12-0) at Nashville (11-1) Sat. 1:00 pm

 

Class 3A

 

Byron (12-0) at IC Catholic (11-1) Sat. 4:00 pm
Mt. Carmel (12-0) at Tolono Unity (12-0) Sat. 2:00 pm

 

Class 4A

 

Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin (11-1) at Rochester (11-1) Fri. 6:00 pm

 

Class 5A

 

Morton (10-2) at Kankakee (12-0) Sat. 3:00 pm

Maroa-Forsyth Boy's Basketball Hoping to Take Next Step

For the Maroa-Forsyth Trojans, football usually takes center stage but with a disappointing early exit, boy's basketball coach Aaron Ennis has the football players already in the gym practicing and a cushion of an extra week of practice.

 

The third-year head coach says he's been pleased with early practices and the energy the kids are bringing. Coach Ennis has plans for practices to be competitive leading up to the Trojans' first game Nov. 30.

 

 

The Trojans return just one starter from last year's team but overall Coach Ennis is excited about the talent and skill he has in the program this year. He says they have adjusted their offensive philosophy and are doing a lot of dribble-drive style half-court offense.

 

 

In adjusting the offensive philosophy last year, Coach Ennis indicates they saw their scoring jump by nearly ten points per game.

 

 

According to Coach Ennis, it's been a decade since the program has had a winning season and he feels they have the pieces to go out and break that streak. He is very excited about the culture within the program as he feels they have been very competitive since he arrived three years ago and now hopes to take that next step and start winning games.

Without Coach Bielema On the Sidelines, Illinois Heads to No. 18 Iowa

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz continues to remind the Hawkeyes that experience wins in the Big Ten, and not many teams in the nation had more super seniors return than Illinois.

 

Ferentz and No. 17 Iowa (8-2) entertain Illinois (4-6, 3-4 Big Ten) in Iowa City on Saturday, but Fighting Illini coach Bret Bielema will be on the couch. He tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday despite being vaccinated and receiving a booster shot.

 

Iowa sits at 5-2 in the Big Ten and plays at Nebraska next week, when the potential to end the season on a four-game winning streak could also put the Hawkeyes in contention for a New Year's Six bowl game.

 

Iowa can still win the Big Ten West Division, but needs some help; Wisconsin owns the tiebreaker if both teams win out.

 

Ferentz didn't identify his starting quarterback at midweek but said Spencer Petras could be back to make his 18th career start. Alex Padilla made his first career start against Minnesota last week.

 

Recently the Hawkeyes have owned this series. They've won seven in a row against Illinois and the last loss at Kinnick Stadium to the Fighting Illini came in 1999.

 

Illinois hits the road again, this time with George McDonald acting as head coach, with one goal still attainable -- six wins and bowl eligibility. This is the third road game against a ranked opponent in four weeks for Illinois.

 

Illinois knocked off Penn State and Minnesota. The most dramatic improvement statistically under Bielema has been defensively. Last season, Illinois gave up 34.9 points on average in Big Ten games and ranked dead last in the league in that category. They're at 17.6 points per game vs. Big Ten foes this season.

 

But Illinois isn't entirely unfamiliar to Iowa. Ferentz and Bielema have known each other for decades.

 

The dominant trait for Bielema's team is the running game again, with Chase Brown posting 145-plus rushing yards in the two big conference road victories. Brown is 13th in the nation and second in the Big Ten in rushing yards per game (106.4).

Illinois State Wraps Up Season Hosting Indiana State

Illinois State will look to send their seniors out on a high note against Indiana State, as the Redbirds (4-6, 2-5 MVFC) return home for their final game of the regular season to host the Sycamores (4-6, 2-5 MVFC) on Senior Day at Hancock Stadium.

 

Illinois State freshman running back Cole Mueller heads into the final game of the 2021 season with 878 yards and is just 122 yards rushing away from the 1,000 mark. If he were to eclipse that plateau, Mueller would become just the 16th player in school history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season and would crack the Top 20 single season rushing marks in program history. With a big game, he could also eclipse the freshman single-season rushing record set by Cameron Smith in 1993 of  1,016 yards. 

 

In a year that has seen several young Redbird players get their first game experience, those young players have often stepped up in big ways for the Redbirds and make big contributions in year one. That held true at North Dakota, as freshmen Joshua Wright and J'Kalon Carter started for the first time in their young careers on offense and each played well. Freshman tight end Brett Spaulding also showed up in a big way, as he broke free for a 28-yard touchdown catch from fellow freshman Jackson Waring to tie the game in the fourth quarter. It was Spaulding's first career touchdown, as ISU has now had five newcomers score touchdowns this season.

 

Game time is noon Saturday at Hancock Stadium in Normal.

Eastern Illinois Wraps Up Regular Season Hosting Murray State

Eastern Illinois hosts Murray State for the Panthers final game of the 2021 season.

 

The Panthers are coming off a bye week following a 42-26 loss at Austin Peay on Nov. 6 in the final road game of the year.   EIU enters at 1-9 overall, 1-4 in the OVC.  

 

Murray State has won two straight as the Racers enter at 5-5, 2-3 in the OVC.  The preseason OVC favorite, Murray State is looking to lock up a second straight winning season.

 

Isaiah Hill turned in his second straight standout performance at Austin Peay as he caught ten passes for 140 yards and a touchdown.   Hill had caught 11 passes for 207 yards in the previous game at Southeast Missouri.  In just four games played this season after returning from injury, Hill is already the Panthers leading receiver with 26 receptions and 383 yards.  

 

Defensive back Tyris Harvey had his first career interception against Austin Peay as the second year player picked off a pass in the first quarter and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown. 

 

Game time is noon on Saturday. Hear all the action starting at 11:30 am on WHOW.

Bears Host Ravens Sunday

Lamar Jackson and the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens look to shake off a tough loss when they visit Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears in a matchup between teams with dual-threat quarterbacks.

 

Fields, the No. 11 overall draft pick, hopes to reach Jackson's level. He'll try to build on his best performance as the Bears (3-6) come out of their bye looking to snap a four-game losing streak.

 

The Ravens (6-3), meanwhile, hope to get back to winning after being beaten 22-10 at Miami last week. They had a difficult time dealing with the Dolphins' blitzing, and now coach John Harbaugh expects at least some of the same from Chicago.

 

Jackson, the 2019 MVP, was sacked four times by the Dolphins and held to 39 yards rushing. But the Ravens come in with 12 straight wins against NFC opponents, which is the NFL's longest active interconference run.

 

For the Bears, it has been nothing but losses since they beat the Raiders in Las Vegas on Oct. 10. But at least Fields is showing progress.

 

He threw for a career-high 291 yards against Pittsburgh under the Monday night lights before the bye and helped the Bears take the lead in the closing minutes. The Steelers pulled it out 29-27, making this the third straight year Chicago lost at least four in a row.

 

The last time the Bears won following a bye, Marc Trestman was in his first season as their coach.

 

Chicago beat Green Bay at Lambeau Field in 2013, after Aaron Rodgers fractured his left collarbone being sacked by Shea McClellin on the Packers' first series.

 

The Bears have dropped seven straight after off weeks, including three each under John Fox and Nagy.

Packers Visit Vikings Sunday

In 13 games against the Vikings since head coach Mike Zimmer was hired in 2014, the three-time NFL MVP has 24 touchdown passes and just three interceptions. The four wins Minnesota has under Zimmer against Green Bay in full games Aaron Rodgers has played are nowhere near enough for one of the league's most renowned defensive strategists to feel some relief.

 

This year, Green Bay's defense might actually be a bigger source of stress for the Vikings.

 

They'll be up against a group Sunday that has not allowed an opponent to score for six straight quarters. That's the longest such streak for the Packers since their Super Bowl championship season in 2010.

 

Despite the absence of 2020 Pro Bowl picks cornerback Jaire Alexander and outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith to long-term injuries, the Packers over their last three games surrendered only one touchdown pass and a total of 34 points with four interceptions against the following opposing quarterbacks: Kyler Murray, Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson. 

 

Kirk Cousins, who has the best interception percentage (0.6) in the league and is sixth in passer rating (104.0), has his hands full this week.

 

Cousins is coming off a strong performance in a 27-20 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers in which he more consistently looked to star wide receivers Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen after a lull in the passing attack the previous two weeks.

 

The Packers (8-2) have a 3 1/2-game lead on the Vikings (4-5), well on their way to their third straight NFC North title and currently in control of the No. 1 seed for the playoffs.

 

Green Bay is 13-1 against division opponents in three years under coach Matt LaFleur. According to Elias Sports Bureau research, LaFleur and Steve Mariucci are the only coaches to win 13 of their first 14 divisional games. Mariucci won 16 of his first 17 against the NFC West with San Francisco from 1997-99.

 

The Vikings handed LaFleur his only divisional loss thus far, when Dalvin Cook had 226 yards and four touchdowns from scrimmage in a 28-22 victory at Lambeau Field.

 

The Packers will likely be without 2020 Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones, who sprained his knee last week. Jones, who has rushed for 336 yards and four touchdowns in his last three games against the Vikings, also missed the loss to Minnesota last year because of a calf injury.

 

A.J. Dillon has shown recently he's capable of carrying the load. The 247-pound second-year player scored both touchdowns against Seattle and has 218 total yards over the last two games.

Blues Down Sharks

Brandon Saad scored twice, Ville Husso made 26 saves, and the St. Louis Blues snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night.

 

Husso was sharp while playing for the first time since Oct. 25. He was put on the COVID-19 list on Oct. 31.

 

The Blues' backup goalie had shutouts in his last two starts until Jonathan Dahlen's goal at the 8:16 mark of the second ended the shutout streak at 163 minutes, 2 seconds. Husso had stopped 86 straight shots since May 8, 2021.

 

Saad scored in the first and second periods for his second multi-goal game this season. The other also came against San Jose on Nov. 4.

 

Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou also scored for the Blues, who won their fourth straight against San Jose.

 

James Reimer made 44 saves for the Sharks, who gave up a season-high in shots and have lost three of their last four games.

 

Blues D Scott Perunovich got his first NHL point with a secondary assist on Thomas' goal. Perunovich, a second round pick in the 2018 draft, was playing in his second game.

 

Blues F Brayden Schenn (upper body) missed his seventh straight game but participated in an optional skate Thursday morning. . Sharks F Lane Pederson (lower body) missed his third straight game and could miss up to two weeks after getting injured on a hit by Winnipeg Jets defenseman Logan Stanley on November 11.

 

Blues visit Dallas on Saturday.

Monticello QB Sprinkle Named First Team All-State

Monticello senior quarterback Joey Sprinkle has been named to the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association's first-team all-state announced earlier this week.

 

Sprinkle the 8-3 Sages to a second-round playoff appearance where they were knocked out by Benton. The Rangers were led by fellow first-team all-state quarterback Keegan Glover.

 

Tolono Unity lineman Austin McDaniel and Paxton-Buckley-Loda runningback Tyler Smith were also named to the first team.

 

Benton senior defensive back Chase Thomas was a first-team selection. 

 

Other area First Team selections include in 1A, Ridgeview's Evan Antonio and Kaden Farrell, Arcola's Beau Edwards, and Central A&M's Jarrett Robertson. 

 

Class 2A first team selections include Decatur St. Teresa's Demin Cook, Maroa-Forsyth's Cade Culp, and Tri-Valley quarterback Andrew Petrill.

 

Rochester's do-it-all athlete and Illinois commit Hank Beatty highlights the 4A first team. The Rockets' Johnny Neal was also selected to the first team. Other local selections include Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin juniors Cory West and Ty Lott, Mt. Zion's Christian Keyhea, and Peoria Notre Dame lineman Mikkel Flores.

 

Morton's Seth Glatz and Mac Anderson highlight the Class 5A first-team selections. The Potters' Glatz has had a record-setting season in leading the Mid Illini Co-Champs to a state semifinal appearance. Mahomet-Seymour quarterback Wyatt Bohm was selected to the 5A first team along with Jacksonville quarterback Elijah Owens and Mattoon's Aiden Spurgeon. 

 

In 6A, Normal West's Max Ziebarth and Springfield High's Rashad Rochelle were local first-team selections.

Boy's Basketball: Mt. Pulaski Hilltoppers Have the Makings of a Special Season

The Mt. Pulaski Hilltoppers boy's basketball team has all the ingredients for a special season.

 

Coach Ryan Diebert says it's adding to the fact they are looking forward to a normal basketball season in the winter of 21-22. While they lose a key contributor in their lone senior, Grant Davis, the Hilltoppers bring back a good majority of its minutes for a team that won its second straight Tomahawk Conference title.

 

 

According to Coach Diebert, they like to run the floor but feels like they do the small things well that leads to success. He says they want to play unselfish basketball and make the smart basketball play.

 

 

The Hilltoppers will get a good test in the non-conference with a good amount of Sangamo Conference teams as well as Warrensburg-Latham among others. Coach Diebert is looking forward to being back for a normal and full basketball schedule.

 

The Hilltoppers open its season next week when they host an eight-team Thanksgiving tournament. 

First Year Blue Ridge Boy's Basketball Coach Ready to Hit Ground Running

The Blue Ridge boy's basketball program has a new head coach this year and he's ready to hit the ground running.

 

Colton Reeves comes to Blue Ridge by way of Heyworth last year. Just searching for other assistant coaching jobs in central Illinois, Reeves found the varsity job available and Blue Ridge and decided to take a shot at it.

 

 

According to Coach Reeves, Coach Tom Eller at Heyworth was very influential in his development as a young coach. 

 

 

Coach Reeves says he is looking to have a team that gets out and pushes the basketball in transition. He says with a mostly guard-oriented lineup, it will be important for them to utilize their guards' skills.

 

 

Because Coach Reeves was hired in later in the summer, he missed the traditional summer season coaches usually get with their teams. He was not sure if they would have enough numbers to field a freshman team, but he indicates as the open gyms moved along, they kept getting growth in numbers and will be able to have a freshman team this year.

 

The Knights open its 2021-22 campaign next week at the Cerro Gordo Thanksgiving tournament.

Illinois Football Coach Bielema Tests Positive for COVID, To Miss Iowa Game

Illinois coach Bret Bielema has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss his team’s game at No. 18 Iowa on Saturday.

 

Bielema said Tuesday he was tested for the coronavirus Monday night after developing mild symptoms during the day.

 

Bielema said without elaborating that “through technology” he would be “as present as possible.” Assistant head coach George McDonald will be in charge during Bielema’s absence. Bielema said he hoped to return to the team next week.

 

Athletic director Josh Whitman said the athletic department medical staff was monitoring the team and that precautions have been taken to limit a potential spread within the program.

Murray State Topples Illinois State

Tevin Brown scored 19 points and Murray State topped Illinois State 77-65 on Tuesday night.

 

Justice Hill had 17 points for Murray State (3-0). KJ Williams added 13 points. Trae Hannibal had 10 points and eight rebounds.

 

Antonio Reeves had 19 points for the Redbirds (1-2). Mark Freeman added 15 points. Sy Chatman had 14 points and four blocks.

Bradley Rolls Missouri S & T

Ja'Shon Henry had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead six Bradley players in double figures as the Braves romped past Missouri S&T 92-66 on Tuesday night. 

 

Terry Roberts added 15 points for the Braves. Malevy Leons chipped in 13, Ville Tahvanainen scored 10 and Jayson Kent had 10. Roberts also had six assists.

 

Julien Smith had 17 points for the Miners. Dylan Singleton added 14 points. Alex Strating had 12 points.

Packers LB Mercilus To IR

Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus has gone on injured reserve after hurting his biceps in a 17-0 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

 

The Packers announced the move Tuesday. The designation means Mercilus must miss at least the next three games.

 

Mercilus joined the Packers on Oct. 21, one day after the Houston Texans released him. He has appeared in four games with the Packers and has five tackles and a sack.

 

In other moves Tuesday, the Packers moved linebacker Tipa Galeai from the practice squad to the active roster, signed linebacker La’Darius Hamilton and running back Kerrith Whyte to the practice squad and released defensive lineman Auzoyah Alufohai.

 

The Packers (8-2) visit the Minnesota Vikings (4-5) on Sunday.

Coyotes Get By Blues

Arizona center Barrett Hayton scored twice and Scott Wedgewood made 34 saves as the Coyotes downed the St. Louis Blues 3-2.

 

Kyle Capobianco scored his first goal of the season for Arizona, which snapped a three-game losing streak and won in regulation for only the second time in 16 games this season.

 

Torey Krug scored in his return from COVID-19 protocol for St. Louis, which lost its fourth straight game. Jordan Kyrou also scored and Ryan O'Reilly added two assists for the Blues, who beat Arizona 7-4 on Oct. 18 in Phoenix.

 

Jordan Binnington made 20 saves for St. Louis.

 

Hayton had managed just one assist over his first nine games this season. But he saved his best performance for the perfect time to help the Coyotes to their first road win.

 

Arizona went 2 for 2 on the power play after going eight successive games without a power play goal this season.

 

The Coyotes were missing seven players due to injury and lost two others to COVID-19 protocol.

 

Arizona winger Clayton Keller, who grew up in the St. Louis suburb of Swansea, Illinois, was held without a point against St. Louis for the first time in four games.

 

St. Louis C Oskar Sundqvist returned to the lineup for the first time since March 19. He underwent surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left knee as well as hip surgery to correct a previous ailment.

 

The Blues host San Jose on Thursday.

Roush Changes Team Name to Include Keselowski

During a Tuesday morning speech to his new race team, Brad Keselowski told the assembled group something Jack Roush’s father had taught him as a child.

 

Roush knew he’d made the right decision to sell a piece of Roush Fenway Racing to the 2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion. Keselowski’s addition means a rebranding of the team, which will be known as RFK Racing going forward.

 

The new name is actually Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing but “we are not naive enough to think that anybody will ever write that or say that based on the length of the name,” said team president Steve Newmark.

 

Roush, Keselowski and Newmark left the race shop following the team meeting and headed a few miles down the road to Charlotte Motor Speedway, where the new name and team logos were unveiled. Keselowski will be behind the wheel of the same green and black No. 6 Ford Mustang that he unveiled on both Wednesday and Thursday for a NASCAR test of the Next Gen car.

 

The color scheme chosen for this week’s event is based on the green symbolic of parent holding company Fenway Sports Group, best known for its ownership of the Boston Red Sox and the Liverpool soccer club. The rebranding of the team’s flagship No. 6 was the first change to its imagery in two decades.

 

Keselowski said they wanted the number to honor Mark Martin, the Hall of Fame driver who Roush built his NASCAR team around.

 

RFK Racing enlisted marketing firm RARE Design, which conducted interviews with over 40 Roush Fenway employees, from drivers, owners and executives to crew members and shop employees.

 

RFK Racing will field two Cup teams in 2022 with Keselowski in the No. 6 Ford Mustang and and Chris Buescher in the No. 17 Ford.

 

Matt McCall, crew chief for Kurt Busch the last several seasons, will move to RFK to run Keselowski’s car. Scott Graves will lead the No. 17 team and Buescher. The duo won the 2015 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship together and Graves took over Buescher’s Cup program with five races remaining this season.

 

Keselowski said signing Buescher to a contract extension was important to him joining the team because he believes Buescher can compete in better equipment. Roush drivers have not won a Cup race since 2017.

 

But Keselowski believes the team will have cars that can contend for the victory at next season’s opening Daytona 500 and that results will steadily improve.

 

Roush, a NASCAR Hall of Famer, turns 80 next April and believes Keselowski will get his prized race team turned around.

Marquette Rallies to Upset Illinois

Tyler Kolek converted a steal into a go-ahead layup with 18 seconds left and Marquette forced 26 turnovers for a 67-66 comeback victory over No. 10 Illinois on Monday night.

 

Marquette (3-0) came back from a 12-point deficit in the second half to give new coach Shaka Smart his first signature win, despite going 3 of 9 from the foul line down the stretch.

 

Illinois (2-1) was clinging to a 66-65 lead when Kolek stole the ball from Trent Frazier at midcourt, maintained his balance and made a layup despite getting fouled. Kolek missed the ensuing free throw, but Kur Kuath stole the ball from Illinois guard Andre Curbelo with three seconds left to thwart the Illini.

 

Darryl Morsell scored 21 points, Justin Lewis had 17 and Kolek added 12 points.

 

For the Illini, Frazier had 23 points, including 6 of 10 3-pointers, while Coleman Hawkins scored 13 points and Jacob Grandison 10.

 

Illinois was playing without Associated Press preseason All-America center Kofi Cockburn, who was completing a three-game suspension.

Illinois Up to No. 10 in Latest AP Polls

After a pair of opening season wins, the Illinois Fighting Illini moved up a spot in the latest AP Top 25 men's college basketball poll.

 

Illinois was upset Tuesday to Marquette, assuring the Illini will drop next Monday but Illinois' bump in the polls was thanks to Kentucky's loss last week to Duke.

 

The Blue Devils opened its season ranked No. 9 in the AP Top 25 but a three-game winning streak out of the gate highlighted by a win over No. 10 Kentucky has voters already changing their tune. The Blue Devils were one of the biggest risers in Monday's poll as a result, moving up two spots to No. 7 in the poll. They tied with Michigan, which moved from No. 6 to No. 4, as the biggest riser in the top 10.

 

The Blue Devils' 79-71 win to open the season over the Wildcats was one of the more impressive debuts by a team this season. Led by freshmen Paolo Banchero and Trevor Keels, who combined for 47 points, they looked the part of a real contender. They remain the only ACC team in the top 10 this week. 

 

Kentucky followed up its loss to Duke with a 40-point win over Robert Morris which may have helped its standing among voters. It dropped only three spots to No. 13 in this week's poll, one spot ahead of SEC foe Alabama, three ahead of Arkansas and four ahead of Tennessee.  

Bulls Stay Hot, Beat Lakers

DeMar DeRozan scored a season-high 38 points and Zach LaVine had added 26 in the Chicago Bulls' 121-103 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night.

 

Lonzo Ball had a season-high 27 points, eight assists and seven rebounds against his former team as the promising Bulls rolled to their fourth win in five games, following up their win over the Clippers on Sunday night by sweeping back-to-back games at Staples Center. Chicago also snapped an eight-game skid against the Lakers dating to November 2016 while going to 10-4 in a promising start to the season.

 

DeRozan and LaVine combined for 39 points in the first half at Staples Center, hitting seven 3-pointers in a dynamic two-man display. DeRozan kept it up after halftime, following up his 35-point effort against the Clippers with another dominant night on his hometown floor.

 

DeRozan and the Lakers flirted with each other in free agency during the summer, but the Lakers eventually went with Russell Westbrook over DeRozan, his fellow Los Angeles-area native.

 

Anthony Davis had 20 points and six rebounds before getting ejected by referee Scott Wall with 2:20 left in the third quarter. The Lakers already were well on their way to their fourth loss in the last seven games without LeBron James, who is out with an abdominal strain.

 

Westbrook got 19 of his 25 points in the first half for the Lakers, who wrapped up a five-game, eight-day homestand with three narrow wins and two embarrassing defeats.

 

Three days after Minnesota routed the Lakers with a dominant third quarter, Chicago went ahead by 25 in the third while scoring 37 points.

 

Coby White played 11 scoreless minutes in his season debut after shoulder surgery. White started 54 games last season, but Ball has taken over as Chicago's starting point guard.

 

Former Illini standout Ayo Dosunmu played 20 minutes and scored five points, grabbed a pair of rebounds and dished out an assist while committing four fouls.

 

Another former Illini standout Kendrick Nunn is still ''a ways away'' from his Lakers debut, coach Frank Vogel said. Nunn has a right knee bone bruise. 

 

Alex Caruso played 35 scoreless minutes with six rebounds and five assists in his first game against the Lakers since Los Angeles declined to match the Bulls' free-agent offer last summer.

 

The Bulls are at Portland on Wednesday.

Knicks Rally Past Pacers

Immanuel Quickley came off the bench to score 16 points, and the Knicks limited the Indiana Pacers to two baskets in the fourth quarter to rally for a 92-84 victory on Monday night.

 

Kemba Walker also had 16 points for the Knicks, but he didn't play in the fourth when the reserves and especially the defense won it for New York. Derrick Rose, Walker's backup, added 14 points.

 

The Knicks ended a three-game home losing streak and a two-game skid overall by outscoring the Pacers 23-10 in the final 12 minutes.

 

Indiana shot 2 for 20 in the fourth period.

 

Malcolm Brogdon had 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Pacers, who had won two in a row. Domantas Sabonis added 21 points and 15 rebounds, while Caris LeVert scored 17.

 

The Knicks trailed 74-69 after three quarters before Quickley tied it with the first five points of the fourth. Indiana went back up 82-79 before the Knicks surged ahead with an 8-0 run, with Quickley making a 3-pointer before Rose followed with a basket and an assist on RJ Barrett's dunk.

 

The Pacers didn't have another basket after Brogdon scored with 7:06 to play.

 

Barrett finished with 12 points after missing his first six shots. Julius Randle shot 5 for 15 but had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

 

The Pacers visit Detroit on Wednesday.

Cubs Hire Daniel Moskos as Assistant Pitching Coach

The Chicago Cubs hired former Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Daniel Moskos as their assistant pitching coach on Monday.

 

The 35-year-old Moskos will assist pitching coach Tommy Hottovy on the staff of manager David Ross. He spent the past two seasons coaching in the New York Yankees’ farm system after working for Driveline Baseball, a training center near Seattle.

 

A left-hander from Clemson selected by Pittsburgh with the fourth pick in the 2007 amateur draft, Moskos posted a 2.96 ERA in 31 relief appearances for the Pirates in 2011. He also spent time in the minors with the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres before pitching in the Mexican League in 2018.

Clinton Lady Maroons Top Tri-Valley In Season Tipoff

In a game heard Monday night on WHOW; the Clinton Lady Maroons opened the 8th Annual Turkey Tussle Tournament with a 63-35 win over Tri-Valley.

 

The Lady Maroons jumped out to a 19-10 lead after the first quarter.  They outscored the Vikings 22 to 7 in the second quarter to pull away to a  41-17 lead at the half.  

 

Clinton was led by the Serv-Pro of Piatt & DeWitt County Player of the Game Mallory Cyrulik.  The senior forward led all scorers with 27 points, and went 9 of 14 at the free-throw line.   Senior guard Kaitlin Rauch added 18 for the Lady Maroons, while sophomore Heidi Humble had 9 points.

 

Tri-Valley was led by Addison Ritchie with 17, and Kelsey Bartels with 8.

 

Both teams are back in action Tuesday night at Clinton High School as part of the Turkey Tussle.  Clinton plays Dee-Mack at 7pm, while Tri-Valley plays PORTA Tuesday at 5:30pm.

 

Packers Surge Late, Blank Seahawks

A.J. Dillon rushed for two fourth-quarter touchdowns and Green Bay beat the Seattle Seahawks 17-0 on Sunday as Aaron Rodgers returned after missing a game with COVID-19. Seattle was shut out for the first time in a decade.

 

A week after his positive test caused him to sit out a 13-7 loss at Kansas City, Rodgers went 23 of 37 for 292 yards and threw an interception in the end zone in the third quarter as the Packers won for the eighth time in their last nine games.

 

Although Rodgers was hardly at his best, his return made this much clear: With him, the Packers (8-2) are among the best teams in the NFC and a Super Bowl contender.

 

Seattle's Russell Wilson also struggled in his return after missing three games with an injury to the middle finger on his throwing hand that required surgery. He went 20 of 40 for 161 yards with two interceptions.

 

The Seahawks (3-6) wasted two scoring chances when Kevin King and Adrian Amos picked off Wilson passes in the end zone.

 

Green Bay recorded its first shutout since a 22-0 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 30, 2018. The Seahawks hadn't been shut out since falling 24-0 to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 18, 2011, the year before Wilson's arrival in Seattle.

 

Green Bay's 3-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter matched the second-lowest score through three quarters of any NFL game since 2008. Dallas and Philadelphia were scoreless through the third quarter of a 2017 game that Dallas eventually won 6-0.

 

With 2020 Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones sidelined by a knee injury in the second half, Dillon carried the Packers' rushing attack down the stretch to put the game out of reach. Packers coach Matt LaFleur had no further details about Jones' injury after the game.

 

On a third-and-goal play from the 3, Dillon ran into Bobby Wagner around the line of scrimmage but essentially carried the six-time All-Pro linebacker into the end zone for his first touchdown run of the season. That extended Green Bay's lead to 10-0 with 10:37 left.

 

Dillon also scored on a 2-yard run with 2 minutes left, setting up that TD with a 50-yard reception. He finished with 21 carries for 66 yards and two catches for 62 yards.

 

Packers are at Minnesota on Sunday.

Bulls Topple Clippers

DeMar DeRozan scored 35 points and Zach LaVine added 29 to help the Chicago Bulls beat the Los Angeles Clippers 100-90 on Sunday night, ending the Clippers' seven-game winning streak.

 

Lonzo Ball had 10 points for the Bulls, who used generous amounts of Los Angeles-area talent to earn the victory. DeRozan is a LA native who went to USC, while LaVine and Ball attended UCLA.

 

Paul George scored 27 points and had 11 rebounds for the Clippers, while Eric Bledsoe added 21 points. Los Angeles lost for the first time since Oct. 29 at Portland.

 

George and Reggie Jackson, who lead the Clippers with more than eight 3-point attempts per game, were a combined 5 of 21 from distance. Jackson scored 13 points while going 4 of 17 from the field.

 

The Bulls' Alex Caruso, a former Laker who is in his first season in Chicago, scored just seven points but had nine rebounds and helped thwart the Clippers' long-distance shooters over a team-high 39 minutes.

 

Chicago is 1-1 to open a five-game trip that includes a visit to the Lakers on Monday.

The Bulls had a double-digit lead less than five minutes into the game and had a 17-point advantage one minute into the second quarter after a cutting layup by Ayo Dosunmu. The Bulls led 54-45 at the half.

 

The Clippers did go in front 78-77 with 10 minutes to go on a fall-away, fall-down 10-footer from George. But the Bulls answered with a 9-0 run, capped by a LaVine 3-pointer, for an 86-78 advantage and held on from there.

 

The Bulls stay in Los Angeles to take on the Lakers tonight.

Edmonton Outlasts Blues

Kailer Yamamoto scored in the final minute as the Edmonton Oilers beat the St. Louis Blues 5-4 Sunday night.

 

Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan McLeod also scored for Edmonton, which won in St. Louis for the first time since Dec. 5, 2018.

 

Mikko Koskinen made 35 saves as the Oilers improved to 11-3-0 on the season.

 

Vladimir Tarasenko, Ivan Barbashev, Jordan Kyrou and Robert Bortuzzo scored for the Blues. Jordan Binnington had 27 saves, but St. Louis lost its third straight game.

 

Yamamoto's third goal of the season came on a feed from Draisaitl with just 28 seconds remaining to put Edmonton up 5-4 in what had been a back-and-forth game.

 

Edmonton was leading 4-2 going into the third period. Barbashev scored his fourth goal of the season, roofing a pass from Robert Thomas past Koskinen at 4:06 into the frame that initially appeared to have hit the crossbar. Play was stopped after about 40 seconds when video review revealed that the goal was good, cutting Edmonton's lead to 4-3.

 

Tarasenko then scored his seventh goal of the season nearly four minutes later to tie the game at 4. He has a goal in three straight games.

 

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins put Edmonton up 3-2 when he scored his first goal of the season on a feed from Draisaitl with 3:49 remaining in the second period. Eight seconds later, McLeod scored his first NHL goal to increase the Oilers' lead to 4-2.

 

Kyrou delivered his sixth goal of the season on a one-timer from Pavel Buchnevich with 6:42 remaining to give St. Louis its first goal of the game.

 

McDavid tied the game 1-1 when he scored his 10th goal of the season with just five seconds remaining in the opening period as he has now earned at least one point in each of the Oilers' 14 games this season.

 

The Blues host Arizona on Tuesday night. 

North Dakota wins defensive battle with Illinois State 14-7

Quincy Vaughn completed a go-ahead 3-yard scoring pass to Gaven Ziebarth with 4:26 remaining and North Dakota beat Illinois State 14-7 on Saturday.

 

North Dakota’s go-ahead drive started at the ISU 41 with 6:56 remaining and got into the redzone three plays later when Tommy Schuster lobbed it to Brock Boltmann for a diving catch at the 6. The touchdown grab was Ziebarth’s first of his collegiate career.

 

Schuster, the starting quarterback for North Dakota (5-5, 3-4 Missouri Valley Football Conference), went 19-of-25 passing for 233 yards and a touchdown. Boltmann added four grabs for 77 yards.

 

Jaxson Turner got to the quarterback twice, reaching 21 career sacks to become the leader at the Division I level for North Dakota.

 

Cole Mueller carried it 25 times for 90 yards for Illinois State (4-6, 2-5). The Redbirds tied it on Jackson Waring’s 28-yard touchdown pass to Brett Spaulding early in the fourth quarter.

High School Football Quarterfinal Scores

Class 1A:

 

Abingdon-Avon 12, Ridgeview 51, F

Central A&M 21, Arcola 19, F

Athens 26, Carrollton 28, F

 

Class 2A:

 

Farmington 12, Tri-Valley 34, F

Breese Mater Dei 14, Decatur St. Teresa 48, F

Pana 19, Nashville 43, F

 

Class 3A:

 

Williamsville 7, Tolono Unity 28, F

 

Class 4A:

 

Freeburg 28, Rochester 57, F

Breese Central 14, Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin 55, F

 

Class 5A:

 

Mahomet-Seymour 28, Morton 40, F

 

Class 6A:

 

Crete-Monee 53, Washington 24, F

High School Football Quarterfinal Round of Playoffs

The high school football playoffs continues into the quarterfinal round this weekend and here's a look at this week's matchups.

 

Class 1A

 

#1 Abingdon-Avon (10-1) at #13 Ridgeview (7-4) Sat. 1:00 pm
#9 Central A & M (8-3) at #5 Arcola (9-2) Sat. 2:30 pm
#3 Athens (10-1) at #2 Carrollton (10-1) Sat. 1:00 pm

 

Class 2A

 

#3 Farmington (11-0) at #2 Tri-Valley (11-0) Sat. 1:00 pm
#4 Breese Mater Dei (11-0) at #1 Decatur St. Teresa (11-0) Sat. 3:00 pm
#2 Pana (11-0) at #6 Nashville (10-1) Sat. 1:00 pm

 

Class 3A

 

#4 Williamsville (10-1) at #1 Tolono Unity (11-0) Sat. 2:00 pm

 

Class 4A

 

#4 Freeburg (9-2) at #1 Rochester (10-1) Sat. 4:00 pm
#2 Breese Central (10-1) at #3 Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin (10-1) Sat. 2:00 pm

 

Class 5A

 

#3 Mahomet-Seymour (11-0) at #7 Morton (9-2) Sat. 1:00 pm

 

Class 6A

 

#7 Crete-Monee (8-3) at #6 Washington (9-2) Sat. 1:30 pm

Illinois State Travels to North Dakota

Coming off a thrilling 17-10 overtime win at home over No. 13 ranked Northern Iowa, Illinois State (4-5, 2-4 MVFC) will hit the road for the final time this weekend to North Dakota to take on the Fighting Hawks (4-5, 2-4 MVFC) at the Alerus Center.

 

For the third time this season, a Redbird defender took one to the house for a score as Clayton Isbell recorded a 40-yard pick six in the 17-10 overtime win over No. 13 Northern Iowa.

 

Linebacker Zeke Vandenburgh played the best game of his career when the Redbirds needed it the most to pick up their second-straight win over a ranked opponent. The junior from Freeport, Illinois, recorded a career-high 14 tackles, added two sacks and tallied a career-best 3 tackles-for-loss for the Redbirds in the  17-10 overtime win over No. 12 Northern Iowa. For his efforts, he was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference Defensive Player of the Week.

 

Freshman quarterback Jackson Waring struggled to get much going throughout the game against No. 13 Northern Iowa, but came up big in overtime when it counted the most. On the second play from scrimmage on the first possession of OT, Waring connected on a perfect 27-yard corner fade to the end zone with Austin Nagel to put the Redbirds up 17-10. That play would ultimately be the game winner for the Redbirds and marked the fourth touchdown pass of the season for the young signal caller. It was also the Redbirds' first OT winner since 2015.

 

The Fighting Hawks have posted a 4-5 overall record this season and a 2-4 mark in MVFC play. UND has been as close as it can come in its four conference losses this year, as the Hawks have lost by six, seven, three and four points. Additionally, all four came against teams inside the Top-25 in the current polls.

Jazz suffer first home loss, fall 111-100 to Pacers

Malcolm Brogdon scored a season-high 30 points and grabbed nine rebounds, leading the Pacers to a 111-100 victory on Thursday night that ended Utah's unbeaten home start.

 

Myles Turner, Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles were ejected with 4:01 left. Turner shoved Gobert, planting his shoulder in his back after a missed layup.

 

Gobert responded by bear hugging him and trying to wrestle Turner to the floor. The two players had to be separated near the basket across from the Pacers bench.

 

Brogdon had the eighth 30-point game of his career and T.J. McConnell added 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists off the bench for the Pacers. Turner had 13 points and nine rebounds.

 

Mitchell scored 26 points and Gobert added 19 points and 11 rebounds.

 

Mitchell got off to a fast start and gave the Jazz an early boost. But after Bojan Bogdanovic drove for a layup to give Utah a 42-38 lead midway through the second quarter, the Pacers held the Jazz to just four baskets over the final 6 1/2 minutes before halftime. Meanwhile, Indiana crashed the boards and repeatedly scored second-chance baskets to go back in front.

 

The Pacers closed the half on an 11-3 run punctuated by back-to-back baskets from McConnell and took a 60-51 lead.

 

Gobert scored 11 points in the third quarter to help the Jazz briefly rally. Turner and Brogdon combined to make three 3-pointers on three straight possessions to quell the run and extend the Pacers' lead back to 83-74.

 

Utah drew no closer than five points in the fourth quarter and had any comeback hopes dashed with the ejections of Mitchell and Gobert late in the quarter.

Duchene scores 2nd goal in OT, Predators top Blues 4-3

Matt Duchene scored his second goal of the game 2:01 into overtime, giving the Nashville Predators a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

 

Duchene's wrist shot beat goalie Jordan Binnington on the short side. It was the only shot Nashville had in overtime.

 

Yakov Trenin and St. Louis native Luke Kunin also scored for the Predators.

 

Jordan Kyrou scored twice for the Blues, and Vladimir Tarasenko also had a goal.

 

Tarasenko tied it 3-all when he scored at 8:13 of the third period. Tarasenko made a power move and slipped the puck by goalie David Rittich through a tiny hole at the side with two Predators hanging all over him.

 

Trenin gave the Predators a 3-2 lead at 4:01 of the third with a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle.

 

Just 17 seconds into the period, Duchene snapped in a wrist shot from the top of the slot.

 

Kyrou took a pass from Tyler Bozak and beat Rittich on a wrist shot at 12:23. Kyrou's second goal came on a power play. Colton Parayko passed to Kyrou, who was alone in the right faceoff circle. He snapped in a wrist shot at 16:47.

Bulls Blows By Mavericks

Lonzo Ball made seven of Chicago's 15 3-pointers and Zach LaVine scored 23 points, powering the Bulls to a 117-107 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.

 

Ball went 7 for 10 from deep and finished with 21 points. He is shooting 44.7% from beyond the arc in his first year with the Bulls, continuing his steady rise from shooting 30.5% from 3 during his rookie season in 2017-18 with the Lakers.

 

Five players scored in double figures for Chicago during its second consecutive victory. Nikola Vucevic had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and DeMar DeRozan finished with 17 points.

 

Dallas had won three straight and four of five overall, but couldn't keep up with LaVine and Chicago in the second half. Kristaps Porzingis had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Mavericks, and Luka Doncic finished with 20 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.

 

Dallas trailed by seven in the third quarter before Doncic wrapped the ball around his back and then lobbed to Dwight Powell for a jam over Vucevic with 3:29 left. The play drew an ''ooohhh'' from the United Center crowd of 20,910, but the rest of the period belonged to Chicago.

 

Alex Caruso converted a three-point play and made a jumper to give the Bulls a 95-80 lead after three. The reserve guard finished with 16 points on 6-for-7 shooting.

 

Chicago was never seriously threatened in the fourth, and LaVine punctuated the win when he got an overhead pass from Ball and finished a 360-degree dunk with 1:50 remaining.

 

The Bulls are at Golden State on Friday night. The Bulls have dropped eight in a row against the Warriors.

Bakhtiari Activated from PUP List

Green Bay Packers offensive tackle David Bakhtiari has been activated from the physically unable to perform list as the 2020 All-Pro selection moves closer to making his season debut.

 

The Packers needed to activate Bakhtiari by Wednesday for him to play this season. Bakhtiari hasn’t played since tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament on Dec. 31.

 

This move makes Bakhtiari eligible to play as soon as Sunday when the Packers (7-2) host the Seattle Seahawks (3-5). Packers coach Matt LaFleur hasn’t said when Bakhtiari will return.

 

Elgton Jenkins, a 2020 Pro Bowl left guard, has been filling in for Bakhtiari at left tackle.

Bakhtiari, 30, earned first-team All-Pro honors last season and in 2018.

 

The Packers have been using Jenkins at left tackle, Jon Runyan Jr. at left guard, Lucas Patrick at center, Royce Newman at right guard and Billy Turner at right tackle. Rookie second-round pick Josh Myers opened the season as the starting center but is on injured reserve because of a knee issue.

Nuggets Hold Off Pacers

Will Barton scored a season-high 30 points, helping to make up for the absence of suspended star Nikola Jokic as the Denver Nuggets hung on to beat the Indiana Pacers 101-98 Wednesday night.

 

Zeke Nnaji added 19 points and Jeff Green and Bones Hyland had 12 apiece for the Nuggets, who have won four straight and six of seven.

 

Malcolm Brogdon had 25 points to lead the Pacers. Domantas Sabonis added 20 points and 19 rebounds.

 

Jokic, the reigning NBA MVP, served a one-game suspension for his retaliatory late-game shove Monday of Markieff Morris following the Miami player's hard foul to Jokic's midsection. Both players were ejected and Morris, who was knocked to the floor, drew a $50,000 fine for his role in the fracas.

 

Caris LeVert was held out because of lower back soreness.

 

The Pacers wrap up a four-game trip by completing a back-to-back set Thursday night at Utah.

Greg Brown Named Cubs Hitting Coach

The Chicago Cubs have hired Greg Brown as their hitting coach, the team announced Tuesday night.

 

Brown is Chicago’s seventh hitting coach in 11 seasons. He replaces Anthony Iapoce, who departed after the Cubs hit .237 this year and finished with a 71-91 record.

 

Brown, 41, spent the past two seasons as the minor league hitting coordinator for Tampa Bay. Before joining the Rays, he spent nine seasons as the head coach at Nova Southeastern University. He was an area scout for the Houston Astros from 2009-10.

 

Brown was a catcher during his playing career, appearing in 142 minor league games over four seasons in the Marlins organization.

White Sox Closer Hendriks Named AL Reliever of the Year

Chicago’s Liam Hendriks earned his second straight Mariano Rivera Award as the American League Reliever of the Year on Wednesday, and Milwaukee’s Josh Hader won his third Trevor Hoffman Award as the National League Reliever of the Year.

 

Hendriks had an 8-3 record and 38 saves in 44 chances with a 2.54 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 71 innings during his first season with the White Sox.

 

Hader was 4-2 with a career-best 1.23 ERA and 34 saves in 35 chances. He also won in 2018 and ’19. He struck out 102 in 58 2/3 innings.

 

Voting was based on regular season performance and was conducted among seven former relievers: Rivera, Hoffman, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Lee Smith, John Franco and Billy Wagner.

Speedway Motorsports Buys Dover

Speedway Motorsports has reached an agreement to acquire Dover Motorsports, ending the NASCAR track in Delaware’s run as one of the last independent operators in the sport.

 

Dover Motorsports owned both Dover International Speedway and Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon, Tennessee. Dover ran its first Cup race in 1969 and was the site of two NASCAR weekends each season starting in 1971. One of the dates was shifted to Nashville before the start of the 2021 season.

 

SMI struck an agreement for $3.61 per share in cash for an approximate total equity value of $131.5 million.

 

The deal was announced Monday night.

 

SMI CEO Marcus Smith said the purchase was “a tremendous opportunity for us to continue growing our investment in motorsports.”

SMI already owns Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Sonoma Raceway and Texas Motor Speedway.

Short Handed Illini Get By Jackson State

Jacob Grandison scored a career-high 20 points as short-handed No. 11 Illinois opened the season by rolling past Jackson State 71-47 on Tuesday night.

 

Grandison and Da’Monte Williams, both fifth-year seniors, were the only returning starters on the floor, but the Illini didn’t look out of sync.

 

Sophomore Coleman Hawkins had a career-high 13 points and eight rebounds for the Illini.

 

Illinois guard Andre Curbelo was ruled out shortly before the game with an injury. Star center Kofi Cockburn (three-game suspension), Trent Frazier (shoulder) and Austin Hutcherson (tailbone) were also sidelined.

 

Jayveous McKinnis and Jonas James scored 11 points apiece for Jackson State.

 

Illinois showcased its depth while missing three likely starters in Cockburn, Curbelo and Frazier. Strong performances from Grandison and Hawkins bode well for a frontcourt that is unproven beyond Cockburn. The Illini held a 45-35 edge in rebounds while limiting the Tigers to 37.3% shooting.

 

Illinois hosts Arkansas State on Friday.

South Dakota State Gets By Bradley

Douglas Wilson had 20 points and 10 rebounds as South Dakota State topped Bradley 81-65 in a season opener on Tuesday night.

 

Wilson hit all 10 of his free throws.

 

Noah Freidel had 16 points for South Dakota State. Matt Dentlinger added 13 points. Alex Arians had 11 points and seven rebounds. Baylor Scheierman had 10 points and 14 rebounds.

 

Terry Roberts had 15 points for the Braves. Rienk Mast added 11 points and 15 rebounds. Ja'Shon Henry had 10 points.

Illinois State Gets By UNC-Wilmington

Antonio Reeves had a career-high 29 points as Illinois State narrowly beat UNC Wilmington 68-63 on Tuesday night in the season opener for both teams.

 

Mark Freeman had 11 points for Illinois State. Sy Chatman added 10 rebounds. Liam McChesney had four blocks.

 

Shykeim Phillips had 14 points for the Seahawks. Jaylen Fornes added 12 points. James Baker, Jr. had 10 points. Jaylen Sims had five points and 10 rebounds.

Northern Illinois, Western Illinois Pull Off Stunning Upsets

Trendon Hankerson made six 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 28 points, and Northern Illinois was a winner in coach Rashon Burno’s debut stunning Washington 71-64 on Tuesday night.

 

Northern Illinois (1-0) built a 16-point first-half lead, watched Washington (0-1) chip away and take a 52-51 advantage with 5:26 remaining and then outplayed its Power Five foe down the stretch.

 

Hankerson’s fifth 3-pointer gave Northern Illinois a 54-52 lead and sparked a 13-2 run by the Huskies from the Mid-American Conference. Keshawn Williams added a 3 during the run and Hankerson’s sixth make from beyond the arc pushed the lead to 62-54 with 2:45 remaining.

 

Hankerson made 9 of 15 shots and was 6 of 11 on 3s. Anthony Crump added 11 points for Northern Illinois, who was 3-16 last season.

 

 

 

Trenton Massner scored 21 points and he and Luka Barisic hit 3-pointers in the final 20 seconds to rally Western Illinois to a 75-74 victory over Nebraska in a season opener on Tuesday night.

 

The Leathernecks had a two-point lead after George Dixon’s layup with 3:48 left, but Alonzo Verge Jr. hit a free throw and a layup, and Trey McGowens capped the 5-0 spurt with a dunk to give Nebraska a 72-69 lead with 2:07 to play.

 

C.J. Wilcher hit 1 of 2 free throws to push the lead to four before Massner buried a 3-pointer to get Western Illinois within 73-72 with 20 seconds remaining. Verge sank 1 of 2 free throws before Barisic hit the game-winner with 7 seconds left.

 

Massner sank 4 of 8 from 3-point range and snagged eight rebounds for the Leathernecks. Barisic finished with 12 points and nine boards, while Will Carius scored 11.

 

Verge topped the Cornhuskers with 26 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. Freshman Bryce McGowens hit 10 of 12 free throws and scored 25 points.

 

Nebraska sank 23 of 31 free throws on the night, but made just 2 of 6 in the final 55 seconds. Western Illinois made 6 of 14 foul shots.

Packers, Rodgers to Be Fined; Beckham Reportedly Eyeing Packers

The NFL has concluded its investigation into the Green Bay Packers' breach of COVID-19 protocols. According to ESPN's Rob Demovsky, the Packers have been fined $300,000 for violations of the NFL and NFLPA protocols. Star quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Allen Lazard have been fined $14,650 each. Both players are unvaccinated.

 

Per Demovsky, violations uncovered included Rodgers not wearing a mask during his press conferences and the team not reporting that Rodgers and Lazard had attended a Halloween party. As NFL Media's Mike Garafolo explained, the get-together wasn't "sanctioned" by the team, but the league determined the Packers should have penalized both players.

 

The league also found "a few isolated instances" of Rodgers and Lazard failing to wear a mask in the facility. According to Demovsky, the Packers' cooperation during this investigation was taken into consideration when it came to punishment, but the team was warned that future missteps could bring increased discipline like "change in draft position or loss of draft choice."

 

This all comes after the reigning NFL MVP received serious blowback for his interview on The Pat McAfee Show, in which he defended his decision to not get vaccinated and also claimed the NFL's protocols were not always rooted in science. He publicly admitted to ignoring mask protocol as an unvaccinated player as well. 

 

Less than a week after the initial interview, Rodgers essentially apologized for potentially "misleading" others. 

 

 

 

The NFL world is waiting to see where star wideout Odell Beckham Jr. will land after he was released by the Cleveland Browns and went unclaimed on waivers. According to a new report, he's looking to team up with Aaron Rodgers. 

 

On Tuesday afternoon, Jordan Schultz reported that Beckham has "prioritized" the Green Bay Packers as his top destination should he clear waivers, which he then did. The 7-2 Packers would make a lot of sense for the three-time Pro Bowler. While Green Bay has an All-Pro wideout in Davante Adams, the wide receiving corps could be improved. The 31-year-old Randall Cobb is the Packers' No. 2 receiver with 20 catches for 244 yards and four touchdowns. Green Bay also lost its No. 1 tight end, Robert Tonyan, to a torn ACL two weeks ago.


After a disappointing tenure in Cleveland, it remains to be seen if the 29-year-old Beckham is still one of the best pass-catchers in the NFL. He recorded just 17 catches for 232 yards and zero touchdowns in six games for the Browns this season and averaged just 45.6 receiving yards per game in seven total contests last year before suffering a torn ACL. Either way, Beckham at the very least is an incredibly talented No. 2, and someone who could help the Packers in their pursuit of a Super Bowl. 

Blackhawks Beat Penguins in Shootout

Marc-Andre Fleury made 42 saves and then two more stops in the shootout, and the Blackhawks won again under interim coach Derek King by topping the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 on Tuesday night.

 

King took over after Jeremy Colliton was fired Saturday following a 1-9-2 start for a team that began the season with playoff aspirations. King said he wanted the Blackhawks to have more fun, and they responded with dramatic victories in each of his first two games.

 

Seth Jones and Jujhar Khaira scored in regulation for Chicago, which lost 5-2 at Pittsburgh on Oct. 16. Jonathan Toews and Alex DeBrincat converted their shootout opportunities.

 

Jeff Carter scored twice and Tristan Jarry had 30 saves for Pittsburgh, which lost for the fifth time in six games. The Penguins came up empty on three power-play chances, including a shot by Kasperi Kapanen that went off a post early in the third period.

 

It was a sweet win for Fleury, who allowed four goals on 10 shots in the first meeting between the teams. The veteran goaltender broke into the NHL with Pittsburgh and won three Stanley Cup titles with the Penguins.

 

The Blackhawks played without forwards Brandon Hagel, Henrik Borgstrom and MacKenzie Entwistle.

 

Hagel left Sunday night's 2-1 overtime win against Nashville because of a left shoulder injury. Entwistle was placed on long-term injured reserve with a left ankle injury that is expected to sideline him for four to six weeks. Borgstrom was out because of a non-COVID-19-related illness.

 

King said he thinks he will have an update on Hagel's status Wednesday.

 

Defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk was activated off long-term injured reserve right before the game, but he didn't play against the Penguins.

 

The Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes on Friday night.

Blues Get By Maple Leafs in Shootout

Ryan O'Reilly was the only scorer in the shootout and the St. Louis Blues beat the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 on Tuesday night.

 

Blues goalie Jordan Binnington made 39 saves.

 

Eight skaters took shots in the contest, with O'Reilly beating Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck.

 

Pavel Buchnevich had a goal and assist, and Jordan Kyrou also scored for St. Louis.

Kyle Connor netted his team-leading ninth goal, and defenseman Neal Pionk scored for Winnipeg.

 

Buchnevich set up Kyrou's game-tying goal at 11:54 of the third period, sending the puck to the front of the net for Kyrou, who beat Hellebuyck.

 

St. Louis had possession for most of overtime, outshooting Winnipeg 10-1. Brandon Saad hit the post.

 

Hellebuyck made 31 saves for the Jets after missing the team's past three games. The first absence was for his son's birth, the next two because he was sick with a non-COVID illness.

 

Winnipeg was playing its fourth game of a season-long seven-game homestand.

 

Both teams had a power play in the fast-paced first period, but only the Blues capitalized. Buchnevich scored his third of the season with a shot that went through Hellebuyck's legs at 18:09.

 

The Blues had the second-best power play in the NHL heading into the game at 30.8%, while Winnipeg was fourth (28.1%).

 

Winnipeg outshot St. Louis 17-5 in the second period.

 

St. Louis will host Nashville Predators on Thursday.

Monticello Football Coach Proud of Team After Saturday's Disappointing Exit from 3A Playoffs

The Monticello Sages were unceremoniously knocked out of the Class 3A high school football playoffs with a 42-12 loss to Benton Saturday afternoon but the Sages Hall of Fame coach is proud of his team and was hoping for more time with the kids.

 

Monticello made the long trip to southern Illinois to take on the Ranger of Benton, a team that featured an aerial offense that rivaled any opponent they had seen to that point in the season and perhaps was a prolific as its own. 

 

The Sages turned the ball over four times in the first half and the Rangers capitalized on three of those. Coach Cully Welter called Benton a really good, dynamic team. 

 

 

Coach Welter was disappointed to be exiting the playoffs so early. One of the benefits for playoff teams is the extra practice time for kids that will be returning the next year, something non-playoff teams do not get the luxury of. He explains he was hoping for a few more weeks to spend with his players.

 

 

The Sages graduate a group of seniors that have had unique experiences from being freshmen in the program for the 2018 State Championship team to overcoming the canceled 2020 fall season, having a shortened 2021 spring season, and then getting to get back to a traditional season this fall. Coach Welter praised the group for the impact they made on the underclassman more off the field than on the field.

 

 

Coach Welter felt his team was just a few plays away from being an undefeated team and perhaps getting a better draw in the playoffs. 

 

The Sages end the season 8-3.

Steelers Hold Off Bears

Ben Roethlisberger guided the Steelers 52 yards in seven plays - abetted by Chicago's 12th penalty of the night - to set up Chris Boswell's 40-yard field goal with 26 seconds left, and Pittsburgh won its fourth straight after a 1-3 start as they slipped past the Bears 29-27 on Monday night.

 

A 10-point fourth-quarter lead turned into a one-point deficit following a fumble by punt returner Ray-Ray McCloud and a flash of brilliance by Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields, who put Chicago in front with a 16-yard strike to Darnell Mooney with 1:46 to go.

 

Roethlisberger completed 21 of 30 passes for 205 yards and the two scores to Freiermuth while pulling off the 50th game-winning drive and 38th fourth-quarter comeback of his 18-year career. Rookie running back Najee Harris found the end zone for the fifth straight game and Boswell made three field goals - including two from over 50 yards - into the open end at perpetually windy Heinz Field.

 

Chicago appeared to get a stop on Pittsburgh's ensuing possession only to have linebacker Cassius Marsh - who spent training camp with the Steelers - get flagged for taunting after sacking Roethlisberger on third down.

 

Marsh's celebration looked relatively innocuous, though the league has cracked down on any semblance of taunting this season.

 

The call extended Pittsburgh's drive and allowed the Steelers to take a 26-20 lead with 2:52 remaining.

 

It took Fields all of 66 seconds to put the Bears in front. He took Chicago 75 yards in seven plays, and his strike to Mooney appeared to have the Bears in position to pull off a stunner before Roethlisberger and Boswell came through.

 

Chicago did get the ball to midfield in the final seconds, but Cairo Santos' 65-yard attempt into the closed end of the stadium was well short. Bears coach Matt Nagy praised Fields' resilience on a night he passed for 291 yards with a touchdown and an interception and ran for 45 more, but it wasn't enough.

 

Chicago's dozen penalties ran the gamut, from a pass-interference call that set up a Pittsburgh field goal to an illegal block in the second quarter that negated a 1-yard touchdown pass from Fields to Jimmy Graham. The Steelers, by comparison, were flagged six times for 30 yards.

 

Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt sacked Fields three times to push his season total to 11 1/2. Watt signed a contract in September that made him one of the highest-paid defenders in the league.

 

The Bears are off next week, then welcome Baltimore to Soldier Field on Nov. 21.

Bulls Stay Hot, Roll Nets

DeMar DeRozan scored 28 points, Zach LaVine added 24 and the Chicago Bulls used a 42-point fourth quarter to pull away for a 118-95 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night.

 

Rookie Ayo Dosumnu had a season-high 15 points and played a key role in the late rally as Chicago snapped a two-game losing streak.

 

Kevin Durant, who entered as the NBA's leading scorer with a 28.6 average, had 38 points but Brooklyn had its five-game winning streak snapped. LaMarcus Aldridge added 19.

 

The Nets had played Sunday in Toronto and appeared to run out of gas late.

 

Brooklyn held a 78-76 edge entering the final quarter. Aldridge hit a pair of free throws to open the scoring in the fourth, but Chicago responded with 13 straight points to take command.

 

DeRozan had back-to-back jumpers to tie the score at 80 and Dosunmu put Chicago back on top with a free throw. Dosunmu then converted a three-point play on the next possession to make it 84-80.Chicago stretched the lead to 89-80 before Durant scored the Nets' first field goal of the fourth with 7:46 remaining. Alex Caruso countered with a 3-pointer to stretch the lead to double digits for the first time at 92-82.

 

Last Monday, the Bulls put together a 39-11 fourth to rally for a win in Boston.

 

Nikola Vucevic added 11 points and 13 rebounds for Chicago, which had dropped back-to-back games to the Philadelphia 76ers.

 

Unlike the previous three games, Chicago got off to a fast start and took a 35-27 lead after the first quarter. The Bulls were up 47-45 late in the second quarter before Brooklyn took control with 10 straight points, sparked by two 3-pointers by Joe Harris, for a 55-47 lead.

 

The Nets led 57-51 at halftime, with Durant and Aldridge leading the way with 15 points apiece.

 

Dosunmu, who is from Chicago, quickly has become a crowd favorite and is cheered loudly every time he enters the game.

 

DeRozan said he loves it and the team feeds off it, adding - ''If he sneezes, the crowd goes nuts.''

 

The Bulls host Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.

Cardinals Notes

St. Louis became the first team with five Gold Glove winners when first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, second baseman Tommy Edman, third baseman Nolan Arenado, center fielder Harrison Bader and left fielder Tyler O’Neill earned the NL fielding honor Sunday.

 

Arenado won his ninth Gold Glove, his first since he was traded last winter by Colorado. Goldschmidt won his fourth and first since 2017 with Arizona. O’Neill won his second in a row.

 

Chicago White Sox pitcher Dallas Keuchel won his fifth Gold Glove, and San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford won his fourth.

 

Atlanta pitcher Max Fried, who got the win last week in the World Series finale, won his second in a row. Adam Duvall, traded to the Braves in July from Miami, won in right.

Pittsburgh’s Jacob Stallings won at catcher.

 

Houston’s Yuli Gurriel won at first to go along with his AL batting title, and Astros teammate Carlos Correa won at shortstop. Oakland’s Matt Chapman won at third and Sean Murphy at catcher, and Toronto’s Marcus Semien at second after signing with the Blue Jays and moving from shortstop.

 

Kansas City center fielder Michael A. Taylor and left fielder Andrew Benintendi won their first Gold Gloves. Right fielder Joey Gallo, traded by Texas to the New York Yankees in July, won his second straight.

 

Voting is conducted by major league managers and up to six coaches from each team, and they cannot vote for players on their teams.

 

>>Cardinals Re-Sign LHP McFarland

 

Left-handed reliever T.J. McFarland became the first of this year’s major league free agents to reach an agreement, getting a $2.5 million, one-year contract to stay with the St. Louis Cardinals.

 

McFarland can earn an additional $500,000 for games pitched: $100,000 each for 40, 45, 50, 55 and 60.

 

He stabilized the Cardinals’ bullpen down the stretch after signing as a free agent July 1 for a deal that paid $1 million while in the major leagues and $200,000 while in the minors.

 

The 32-year-old was 4-1 with a 2.56 ERA in 38 games and 38 2/3 innings.

 

The nine-year major league veteran began 2021 at Triple-A with Washington but was granted his release June 29.

 

St. Louis’ 3.47 bullpen ERA in the second half of the season ranked eighth in the majors. With McFarland back, free agent lefty Andrew Miller is the only critical piece from that group not lined up to return in 2022.

Former Mets LH Reliever Dies at 45

Former New York Mets reliever Pedro Feliciano, who pitched so often he earned the nickname “Perpetual Pedro,” has died. He was 45.

 

Friends and former teammates told the Mets that Feliciano was found dead in his sleep Monday at home in Puerto Rico.

 

The left-hander led the majors in appearances for three straight years, pitching 86 games in 2008, 88 in 2009 and a whopping 92 times in 2010.

 

Feliciano was 22-21 with four saves and a 3.33 ERA, all with the Mets, in a nine-year career that stretched from 2002-13. He pitched 484 games overall, second-most on the Mets’ list behind John Franco’s 695, and worked a total of 383 2/3 innings.

 

Longtime Mets star David Wright said Feliciano had a great personality and never saw a left-handed relief specialist have such a presence in the clubhouse. 

 

After going 3-6 with a 3.30 ERA in 2010, Feliciano signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the New York Yankees. But he never pitched in the majors for the Yankees because of shoulder trouble.

 

Feliciano returned to the Mets in 2013 and said in spring training that doctors had found a small hole in the exterior of his heart. He was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called left ventricular noncompaction, caused by the failure of myocardial development from birth.

 

Feliciano wore a heart monitor when he began pitching in exhibition games later that spring. He went 0-2 with a 3.97 ERA over 25 games in his final big league season.

 

A 31st-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995, he later pitched in the minors for Cincinnati. He was traded to the Mets in August 2002 in a deal that sent pitcher Shawn Estes to the Reds.

 

Feliciano played in Japan in 2005 and rejoined the Mets the next season. In 2014, he pitched in the minors for St. Louis and in the Puerto Rican winter league.

Rodgers-less Packers Fall Short to Chiefs

The Kansas Chiefs brought heat just about every down, and the Green Bay Packers were unable to counter it until the fourth quarter as Kansas City hung on for a 13-7 victory that snapped Green Bay's seven-game winning streak.

 

The Chiefs probably scrapped whatever defensive game plan they were pondering the moment they learned Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had tested positive for COVID-19 this week.

 

There's no way they would have blitzed the crafty MVP the way they did his understudy Sunday.

 

The new pressure-filled plan worked against Jordan Love, though.

 

Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, forcing the three-time All-Pro to miss his first game since the 2017 season. Love responded by going 19 of 34 for 190 yards with a touchdown and an interception, both coming in the fourth quarter as the Packers tried to rally from a 13-0 deficit against the defending AFC champs.

 

Love's touchdown pass to Allen Lazard with 4:49 left gave them a chance. But Patrick Mahomes hit Tyreek Hill on third-and-10 near midfield with less than two minutes left for a first down that allowed the Chiefs to run out the clock.

 

Patrick Mahomes was just 20 of 37 for 166 yards - his fewest in a full game in his career - along with a touchdown pass to Travis Kelce. And while the Chiefs (5-4) managed just 237 yards of total offense, that was enough to edge above .500.

 

Mason Crosby yanked a 40-yard field-goal attempt in the first quarter. He had a 37-yarder blocked in the second period. And when the Packers punted later in the half, one of their downfield blockers accidentally touched the ball with his toe and the Chiefs recovered, eventually turning it into a chip-shot field-goal.

 

The Packers nearly did the same thing when Amari Rodgers muffed another punt early in the second half.

 

Green Bay returns home to face Seattle on Sunday.

Blackhawks Get By Preds in Overtime

Alex DeBrincat scored 37 seconds into overtime to give the Chicago Blackhawks a 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Sunday night in Derek King's NHL coaching debut.

 

DeBrincat finished a 2-on-1 break and give-and-go with Patrick Kane to lift the Blackhawks to just their second win. DeBrincat got a return pass from Kane and popped his seventh goal past Juuse Saros from the left side of the net.

 

After scoring, DeBrincat scooped the puck from the back of the net and presented it to King in the dressing room. The 54-year-old King was promoted from the Blackhawks top minor league club, Rockford of the AHL, to Chicago's interim coach after Jeremy Colliton was fired on Saturday following a 1-9-2 start.

 

Chicago's Brandon Hagel and Nashville's Alexandre Carrier scored 1:50 apart in the second period for the only goals in regulation. Hagel left midway through the third period holding his left arm, but King didn't have a medical report immediately after the game

 

Kevin Lankinen stopped 20 shots for Chicago.

 

Saros finished with 30 saves as Nashville earned a point against Chicago for the 11th straight game (8-0-3). The Predators were 7-0-1 vs. the Blackhawks last season.

 

The Blackhawks' coaching change is the latest chapter in a rough stretch for the franchise. The team published a report on Oct. 26 that showed senior leaders with the organization largely ignored allegations that assistant coach Brad Aldrich sexually assaulted former first-round pick Kyle Beach during Chicago's run to the Stanley Cup title in 2010.

 

Stan Bowman, the Blackhawks' general manager and president of hockey operations, resigned in the wake of the independent review, and Al MacIsaac, another top hockey executive, also departed. The NHL fined the Blackhawks $2 million.

 

The coaching switch was the first major move for interim GM Kyle Davidson, who was elevated when Bowman stepped aside.

 

The Blackhawks host Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.

 

Bears Visit Steelers for Monday Night Football

Former Illinois standout Kendrick Green and Dan Moore Jr. were given a nearly impossible task when the Pittsburgh Steelers selected the offensive linemen in last April's draft.

 

The Steelers grabbed Green in the third round and moved him from guard to center, where all he had to do was replace perennial Pro Bowler Maurkice Pouncey. A round later they grabbed Moore, who by September found himself starting at left tackle.

 

No pressure or anything. All the Steelers asked Moore to do was protect 39-year-old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's blindside in hopes of keeping Roethlisberger upright long enough to put together one last playoff push.

 

Green and Moore endured are starting to wear off. Something akin to cohesion has developed. The fact Pittsburgh (4-3) has righted itself following a 1-3 start is no coincidence.

 

The Steelers have won three straight heading into Monday night's visit by the struggling Chicago Bears (3-5), with a real legitimate chance to get into the thick of an AFC North race that appeared to be ready to go on without them a month ago.

 

Meanwhile, Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields has spent his first two months on the job mostly running for his life. Chicago has allowed a league-high 30 sacks, including four in each of its past three games, all double-digit losses.

 

Fields did find enough time to produce a season-best 278 yards of total offense last week against San Francisco, though much of his 103 yards rushing came after his protection broke down, including a spectacular 22-yard touchdown run that showcased why the Bears were so high on him last spring.

 

The Steelers have won an astonishing 19 straight home games on Monday nights, a streak that started following a 23-20 loss to the New York Giants on Oct. 14, 1991.

The Bears' defense has gone from dominant to dominated.

 

Chicago ranks 15th in yards per game and 25th against the run after getting picked apart again last week, this time with star pass rusher Khalil Mack (foot) missing his first game since 2018. The Bears have allowed more than 400 yards and 30 points in back-to-back weeks.

 

Game time is 7:15 pm local time tonight.

Ducks Down Blues

Troy Terry and Benoit-Oliver Groulx each had a goal and an assist, and John Gibson stopped 34 shots to lead the Anaheim Ducks to a 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.

 

Sam Steel and Sam Carrick also scored for Anaheim, and Hampus Lindholm had two assists. The Ducks scored three goals in the third period to win their fourth straight - all at home.

 

Brandon Saad scored for St. Louis and Jordan Binnington had 23 saves.

 

Terry had a power-play goal on a tip off a feed from Sonny Milano at 2:46 to give Anaheim a 2-1 lead. It was the 24-year-old Terry's eighth of the season and extended his point streak to 11 games.

 

Blues captain Ryan O'Reilly was back in the lineup after missing four games since testing positive for COVID-19.

 

The Blues are at Winnipeg on Tuesday night.

Pacers Down Kings

Caris LeVert scored 22 points and the Indiana Pacers held on after blowing a 15-point lead, beating the Sacramento Kings 94-91 on Sunday night.

 

Domontas Sabonis had 17 points and 10 rebounds to help Indiana to its first win in Sacramento since 2018. T.J. McConnell added 17 points and Chris Duarte scored 15 in the Pacers' first road win of the season.

 

Indiana shot well most of the game and led 69-54 midway through the third quarter, but got only one bucket the rest of the period, allowing the Kings to creep back in.

 

Sacramento trailed most of the game before opening the fourth quarter with an 11-1 run and taking a three-point lead. Indiana responded with 10 straight points.

 

McConnell's bucket down low put the Pacers up 93-88 before Tyrese Haliburton's 3-pointer cut the gap to two points with 1:28 remaining.

 

The teams exchanged multiple misses, and Haliburton missed the rim on a deep 3-point attempt late before McConnell made one of two free throws with 2.5 seconds left.

 

The Pacers then intercepted the ensuing inbounds pass attempt.

 

Harrison Barnes scored 22 points for the Kings. Haliburton, De'Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield scored 17 apiece.

 

The Pacers play the Nuggets on Wednesday. 

Cubs Claim LHP Miley Off Waivers from Reds, Exercise Option

The Chicago Cubs have exercised their $10 million option for left-hander Wade Miley.

 

The Cubs announced the move on Sunday. It had been expected since the team claimed Miley off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds on Friday.

 

Miley, who turns 35 on Saturday, went 12-7 with a 3.37 ERA in 28 starts for Cincinnati this season. He threw his first career no-hitter in a 3-0 win at Cleveland on May 7.

 

If Chicago had not picked up Miley’s option, it would have owed him a $1 million buyout.

The Cubs are looking for pitching help after going 71-91 this year for their first losing record since 2014. They finished with a 4.87 ERA, ranking 27th in the majors.

 

Miley is 97-92 with a 4.15 ERA in 11 years in the majors. He also has played for Arizona, Boston, Seattle, Baltimore, Milwaukee and Houston.

White Sox Pick Up RP Kimbrel's Option; Decline Option on 2B Hernandez

The Chicago White Sox have exercised their $16 million club option for reliever Craig Kimbrel and declined their option on infielder César Hernández.

 

The team announced the moves on Saturday.

 

The 33-year-old Kimbrel struggled after he was acquired in a July trade with the crosstown Cubs for infielder Nick Madrigal and reliever Codi Heuer.

 

Kimbrel had a sparkling 0.49 ERA and 23 saves in 39 games with the Cubs, making the NL All-Star team. But the White Sox used the right-hander in a setup role in front of All-Star closer Liam Hendriks, and Kimbrel had a 5.09 ERA in 24 games for the AL Central champions.

 

With Hendriks expected to return, the White Sox could look to move Kimbrel to a team in need of a closer. The eight-time All-Star has 372 saves and a 2.18 ERA over 12 years in the majors.

 

Hernández’s option was worth $6 million. There was no buyout attached to his deal.

 

The 31-year-old Hernández was acquired in a July trade with Cleveland. Hernández, a 2020 Gold Glove winner at second base, batted .232 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 53 games with Chicago.

 

With Madrigal now on the North Side of Chicago, the White Sox could add a second baseman over the winter. They also could make a move for a shortstop or third baseman, and then move Tim Anderson or Yoán Moncada to second.

Kyle Larson Wins Late Drag Race to Claim NASCAR Championship

Suspended nearly all of last season for using a racial slur, Kyle Larson closed his comeback season in NASCAR with his first championship Sunday by with a title-winning victory at Phoenix Raceway.

 

Larson was in tears during his cooldown laps as he reflected on his rebuild from out-of-work NASCAR driver to Cup champion.

 

Larson led seven times for a race-high 108 laps but was running fourth, last among the title contenders, as teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin controlled the championship late in a pair of Toyotas.

 

Then a caution reset everything.

 

Because he won the pole Saturday in qualifying, Larson had the first stall on pit road and the shortest sprint back onto the track of the four title contenders. He silently prayed for a flawless service call from his Hendrick Motorsports crew to get the No. 5 Chevrolet back on track ahead of his three title rivals.

 

Larson’s crew performed its second-fastest stop of the season — a span that stretches 38 races — and Larson went from last among the final four to first.

 

Larson controlled the restart with 25 laps remaining, quickly cleared Truex, then held off several of Truex’s challenges. There was no stopping Larson, just as he’s been impossible to stop all season, and he drove to his 10th Cup victory of the year.

 

He beat Truex to the finish line by an easy .398 seconds.

 

Truex, the 2017 champion, finished second and was followed by Hamlin, his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate. Hamlin is 0 for 5 in championship finales and was the only driver among the final four contenders who did not lead a lap Sunday.

 

Truex has finished second in the championship standings three times in the four seasons since his 2017 title.

 

Chase Elliott, the reigning champion and NASCAR’s most popular driver, led 94 laps but finished fourth.

 

Larson won five of the 10 playoff races and tied Tony Stewart in 2011 for most wins in a single playoff season.

Austin Peay has school-record 6 picks, tops Eastern Illinois

As heard on WHOW, Johnathon Edwards had three of Austin Peay’s school-record-tying six interceptions and the Governors beat Eastern Illinois 42-26 on Saturday.

 

Edwards interceptions all came in the first half, two leading to touchdowns and a 28-20 edge at halftime.

 

Draylen Ellis threw touchdown passes 43, 33 and 59 yards, the latter coming in the third quarter for a 14-point lead that the Governors (4-5, 2-2 Ohio Valley Conference) extended to 41-20 on Brian Snead’s 10-yard TD run — two plays after a pick by Perry Aaron.

 

Ellis finished 11 of 22 for 278 yards and three touchdowns. Drae McCray had 137 yards receiving and two scores and Eugene Minter 132 yards with one TD. Snead had two TD runs.

 

Edwards has six interceptions this season along with two fumble recoveries. Shamari Simmons had the other two Austin Peay interceptions Saturday. 

 

The Governors weren’t immune to turnovers with an interception and two lost fumbles against the Panthers (1-9, 1-4), who lost their fifth straight game.

 

Isaiah Hill had 140 yards receiving and a TD for the Panthers. Zach Weir threw for 296 yards along with four interceptions.

 

 

Benton Routs Monticello

As heard on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com, Benton jumped on four Monticello first half turnovers and ran away for 42-12 victory in the second round of the Class 3A high school football playoffs in Benton Saturday afternoon.

 

On the second play of the game, Joey Sprinkle’s pass was picked off, setting up the first score for the Rangers. The Sages then went 3-and-out. 

 

After Benton punt on the next possession that pinned Monticello at the 2-yard line in their own territory, Sprinkle hit Peyton Scott for a 98-yard touchdown and that was all the scoring Monticello would muster for the remainder of the half and the Rangers ran away from there.

 

Benton quarterback Keagan Glover connected on long touchdowns of 76 and 52 yards to Reid Baumgarte (baum-guard) and ran two touchdowns in from five yards out as the Rangers built a 35-6 lead at the intermission. 

 

Jacob Tackett scored his final varsity touchdown with a 19-yard run in the fourth quarter.

 

Sprinkle finished 11-for-35 for 156 yards, a touchdown and four turnovers (3 interceptions and a fumble).

 

Tackett was the Piatt/DeWitt County ServPro player of the game, finishing ten rushes for 85 yards and a 16 yard reception as well as his touchdown.

 

Peyton Scott had his first 100-yard receiving day of the season thanks to his big touchdown and finished with three catches for 105 yards. 

 

Glover threw for 268 yards and accounted for all six Rangers touchdowns.

 

Benton takes on Mt. Carmel next Saturday and improves to 11-0. 

 

Monticello ends the season at 8-3.

 

Illinois State tops Northern Iowa in overtime, 17-10

 Jackson Waring fired a 27-yard touchdown pass to Austin Nagel in overtime to give Illinois State a 17-10 win over No. 13-ranked Northern Iowa Saturday, the Redbirds first overtime win since 2015.

 

The Redbirds got their only touchdown during regulation when Clayton Isbell picked off a Theo Day pass and returned it 40 yards for the game’s first score. They were held without a first down in the second half. Illinois State managed just 164 yards offense.

 

Illinois State (4-5, 2-4 Missouri Valley) held a 10-0 lead going into the fourth quarter, but the Panthers cut the deficit to seven on a 27-yard field goal by Matthew Cook with 9:48 left.

 

Day set up the tying touchdown with a 60-yard pass to Isaiah Weston that gave Northern Iowa a first-and-goal at the Illinois State 8. After Day ran 4 yards on first down he found Sam Schnee in the back of the end zone.

 

After taking the lead in overtime, Illinois State stuffed a pair of Northern Iowa runs and Day threw incomplete on back-to-back pass attempts to end the game.

Defense dominates for Illinois in 14-6 win at Minnesota

Chase Brown rushed 33 times for 150 yards, and the Illinois defense delivered six sacks and two interceptions of Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan on the way to a 14-6 victory on Saturday.

 

Kerby Joseph picked off Morgan at the Illini 45-yard line with 38 seconds left to halt the too-little-too-late rally by the Gophers (6-3, 4-2), whose four-game winning streak that catapulted them into sole possession of first place in the Big Ten West Division was stopped cold.

 

Morgan scored on a fourth-and-1 bootleg with 4:56 to go after going 7 for 8 for 68 yards on that drive to pull the Gophers within one score.

 

Brandon Peters attempted a season-low nine passes for the Illini (4-6, 3-4), but he was as sharp as he needed to be with seven completions for 80 yards and a score to help keep a bowl game in play.

 

The Illini finished the game with seven consecutive punts, except for a kneel-down at the end of each half, but Brown moved the chains with a 7-yard run off left tackle on third-and-4 near midfield around the 3-minute mark. Blake Hayes pooched his last punt to land it at the 2, leaving only 1:12 remaining and no timeouts for Morgan and the Gophers.

 

After a 38-yard strike to Dylan Wright, Morgan was taken down for an 11-yard sack by Isaiah Gay so hard the Illini linebacker hurt himself on the play.

 

The damage was already done by the Illinois defense, which frequently pressured Morgan and forced him out of the pocket to throw on the run when he wasn’t sacked.

The Gophers never found their usual rhythm, netting a season-low 89 rushing yards after racking up 634 yards on the ground over the previous two games. They crossed the 30-yard line without scoring three times, including a sack by Owen Carney Jr. on fourth-and-6 at the 22 in the third quarter.

UPDATE: IHSA Boys Football State Playoffs Round 2 Scores

Class 1A:

 

Peru St. Bede 20, Ridgeview 47, F

Camp Point Central 6, Central A&M 28, F

Sesser-Valier 28, Athens 57, F

 

Class 2A:

 

Dee-Mack 0, Tri-Valley 42, F

Tremont 12, Farmington 35, F

Vandalia 14, Decatur St. Teresa 68, F

Maroa-Forsyth 7, Pana 29, F

 

Class 3A:

 

Prairie Central 0, Princeton 40, F

Paxton-Buckley-Loda 14, Tolono Unity 21, F

Fairfield 16, Williamsville 35, F

 

Class 4A:

 

Rochester 55, Paris 20, F

Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin 42, Bethalto Civic Memorial 7, F

 

Class 5A:

 

Morton 28, Morris 24, F

Troy (Triad) 14, Mahomet-Seymour 49, F

 

Class 6A:

 

Lemont 72, Springfield 36, F

Washington 27, Champaign Centennial 13, F

 

Class 7A:

 

Pekin 28, Rockton Hononegah 31, F

Normal Community 7, Algonquin Jacobs 17, F

Monticello Travels to Benton For Round 2 Playoff Game

Off a solid 42-7 opening-round win over Greenville in the first week of the high school football postseason last Saturday at Monticello, the Sages will make the trip to Benton for a second-round matchup with the undefeated Rangers.

 

From the Southern Illinois River-to-River Conference, the 10-0 Rangers boast an explosive offense led by Keegan Glover who is a three-year starter at quarterback. Monticello Coach Cully Welter compares Glover to the Texas A&M version of Johnny Manziel. 

 

 

Benton plays on artificial turf and to prepare for the change, the Sages were able to utilize the facilities at Argenta-Oreana High School. Coach Welter says it's good to get on the turf and become familiar with the speed change.

 

 

The Sages will be without linebacker and fullback Blake McDuffie. He left the game against Tolono Unity in week 9. 

 

The Rangers shut out Piasa Southwestern 42-0 last week, running just 32 plays and gained 228 yards of total offense. 

 

Saturday's game kicks at 2 pm. Hear it all on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

 

Second round playoff action:

 

Class 1A

 

#5 Peru St. Bede (8-2) at #13 Ridgeview (6-4), Sat. 1:00 pm

#1 Camp Point Central (9-1) at #9 Central A & M (7-3) Sat. 4:00 pm

#5 Arcola (8-2) at #13 Brown County (6-4) Sat. 2:00 pm

#6 Sesser-Valier (8-2) at #3 Athens (9-1) Sat. 2:00 pm

 

Class 2A

 

#7 Dee-Mack (7-3) at #2 Tri-Valley (10-0) Sat. 1:00 pm

#6 Tremont (8-2) at #3 Farmington (10-0) Sat. 1:00 pm

#8 Vandalia (8-2) at #1 Decatur St. Teresa (10-0) Sat. 2:00 pm

#7 Maroa-Forsyth (8-2) at #2 Pana (10-0) Sat. 1:00 pm

 

Class 3A

 

 #7 Prairie Central (8-2) at #2 Princeton (9-1) Sat. 1:00 pm

#8 Paxton-Buckley-Loda (7-3) at #1 Tolono Unity (10-0) Sat. 2:00 pm

#5 Fairfield (9-1) at #4 Williamsville (9-1) Sat. 2:00 pm

 

Class 4A

 

#1 Rochester (9-1) at #9 Paris (7-3) Sat. 3:00 pm

 #3 Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin (9-1) at #11 Bethalto Civic Memorial (7-3) Sat. 5:00 pm

 

Class 5A

 

#7 Morton (8-2) at #2 Morris (10-0) Sat. 2:00 pm

#6 Troy (Triad) (8-2) at #3 Mahomet-Seymour (10-0) Sat. 5:00 pm

 

Class 6A

 

#1 Lemont (10-0) at #9 Springfield (7-3) Fri. 7:30 pm

#6 Washington (8-2) at #14 Champaign Centennial (6-4) Sat. 2:00 pm

 

Class 7A

 

#15 Pekin (8-2) at #2 Rockton Hononegah (10-0) Sat. 1:00 pm

#3 Normal Community (10-0) at #19 Algonquin Jacobs (7-3) Fri. 7:00 pm

Illinois State Hosts Northern Iowa Saturday

The Redbirds (3-5, 1-4 MVFC) will look to bounce back from a disappointing road loss last week, when they return home this Saturday to host No. 13 ranked Northern Iowa (5-3 overall, 3-2 MVFC) at Hancock Stadium on Military Appreciation Day.

 

Freshman running back Cole Mueller did it again for the Redbirds, as he had another big day carrying the football against Western Illinois. The Wentzville, Missouri, native followed his career-best 178 yard performance a week earlier at South Dakota with 159 yards on 27 carries (5.9 yards per carry) and scored a career-high three touchdowns against the Leathernecks. It was his second-straight 150-plus yard rushing effort and his fourth with over 100 yards this season. 

 

Game time is noon on Saturday.

Illinois at Minnesota Saturday

The Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-2, 4-1) host Illinois on Saturday, when defending Chase Brown will become their top priority. Brown is third in the Big Ten in rushing, with two 200-yard games already on his resume this year. Only three other players in the FBS have done that in 2021.

 

New coach Bret Bielema is back where he belongs in the West Division, bringing the same smash-mouth offense he fostered at Wisconsin a decade ago. The Illini used that to win at Penn State two weeks ago in a nine-overtime slugfest.

 

Minnesota is second in the conference and eighth in the FBS with an average of 93 rushing yards allowed per game, but the work has just begun.

 

The Illini (3-6, 2-4), like the Gophers this season, lean on an experienced offensive line. They like their blockers so much they even rolled out a seven-lineman package against Penn State.

 

The Gophers have a confident group, too, having clearly moved past the mess their run defense was in 2020. Gibbens and Mariano Sori-Marin have solidified the linebacker spots. The defensive line is as deep as it’s been in years, with Clemson transfer Nyles Pinckney playing a vital role at tackle.

 

Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan, one of several starters from the 2019 team, mentioned those losses as a lesson for the Gophers entering this final stretch. This time, they start November against Illinois and travel to Indiana between the game at Iowa and the finale against Wisconsin.

 

Illinois quarterback Brandon Peters, who lost the starting job and regained it when Art Sitkowski broke his arm against Penn State, went 14 for 19 for 190 yards and two touchdowns last week against Rutgers. 

 

The Illini had their final drive halted at the 34-yard line with 1:08 left in the 20-14 defeat by Rutgers. In three other losses, the Illini also had the ball at the end within one score but came up short against UTSA (37-30), Maryland (20-17) and Purdue (13-9).

Eastern Illinois Looking For Win Saturday

Eastern Illinois will play its final road game of the 2021 season as the Panthers travel to Austin Peay on Saturday afternoon.  

 

EIU led Southeast Missouri at the half last weekend but could not hold off a big third quarter by the Redhawks as EIU fell to 1-8 on the season, 1-3 in the OVC. 

 

Austin Peay lost last week to league leader UT Martin as the Skyhawks scored in the final minutes and blocked a late APSU field goal attempt as time expired.  APSU fell to 3-5 overall, 1-2 in the OVC.  

 

The two schools did not meet in the spring as their game was canceled at the end of the season due to COVID-19.

 

Isaiah Hill had the biggest game of his EIU career on Saturday at Southeast Missouri as the 2019 All-OVC Newcomer selection continues his return to the EIU line-up.  Appearing in just his third game this season, Hill hauled in 11 passes for 207 yards on Saturday including one touchdown reception.

 

Game time is 2 pm Saturday and can be heard on WHOW starting at 1:30 pm. 

NASCAR Season's Culmination Championship Race Sunday in Phoenix

Kyle Larson has heard that mental toughness is required to win a championship. He has no idea if that’s true — and if it is required, well, then he doesn’t consider himself the championship favorite this weekend.

 

Toughness, Larson said, makes him think of veteran driver Kevin Harvick. And when he thinks about mental toughness, Larson points to Tony Stewart and the 2011 news conference where Stewart trash-talked Carl Edwards right out of the title.

 

The 29-year-old Larson has been deemed a future NASCAR champion his entire career. He came to the series as a 19-year-old sprint car sensation and those who know such things said Larson was even better than both Jeff Gordon and Stewart, a pair of drivers who started on dirt and are now NASCAR Hall of Famers.

 

He didn’t disappoint upon his 2012 arrival, but his Chip Ganassi Racing equipment was rarely fast enough. Larson tallied an underperforming six wins with Ganassi.

 

Still, he was a highly desired free agent at the end of the 2020 season and Larson likely could have named his price with a new team — right up until he used a racial slur while racing online early in the pandemic. NASCAR suspended him for the season, Ganassi had to fire him to placate angry sponsors and Larson wasn’t sure if he’d ever be back.

 

But here he is, headed into Sunday’s race in Arizona in the comeback of all comebacks. He is the star driver of Hendrick Motorsports, the winningest team in NASCAR that hired him out of his banishment a year ago, and the favorite to close out his nine-win season with a championship.

 

On the track he’s been virtually unbeatable. He also has turned sponsor HendrickCars.com into one of the hottest car-buying sites around. His contract was extended through 2023.

 

Chase Elliott, the defending series champion, will go for the repeat against Hendrick Motorsports teammate Larson and Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. 

 

Truex edged teammate Kyle Busch for his spot and the Penske Racing trio of Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano also was eliminated from contention. 

 

The four championship contenders have combined to win 17 of 35 races, led by Larson with nine, Truex with four, and Elliott and Hamlin with two each.

 

Practice is this afternoon at 4:05 p.m. with a Saturday qualifying at 7:05 p.m. and the race runs Sunday at 3 p.m. onNBC.

 

Noah Gragson will battle for the XFinity Series title against Austin Cindric, the defending series champion, A.J. Allmendinger and Hemric, who has never won in 119 career starts in the series. 

 

Gragson’s victory last week at Martinsville knocked JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier out of the final four for the first time in four years. Also eliminated were Harrison Burton, Brandon Jones and Justin Haley. 

 

Gragson won last week by 0.064 seconds, the series’ closest finish ever at Martinsville.

Practice is tonight at 6:05 p.m. with qualifying Saturday at 5:35 p.m and the race runs at 8:30 p.m. Saturday night on NBCSN.

 

For the Camping World Truck Series, Zane Smith clinched a berth in the championship final four under caution after Todd Gilliland and Stewart Friesen made contact during a three-wide battle for the lead in overtime at Martinsville last week. 

 

Smith, who needed the victory to advance, will contend for the title against three-time series champion Matt Crafton, Ben Rhodes and John Hunter Nemechek. 

 

Among the drivers eliminated was Creed, the defending series champion. 

 

Nemechek’s five victories are more than the other three contenders combined. Smith’s victory was his first of the season, Rhodes won twice — the first two races of the season. Crafton is winless in 2021.

 

Everything happens today for the truck series. Practice is at 11:05 a.m., qualifying is at 5:05 p.m. and race time is 8 p.m. on FS1.

Rodgers-less Packers Head to Kansas City Sunday

The Packers-Chiefs game Sunday was supposed to be a showdown between two teams with Super Bowl aspirations, each led by league MVPs under center and with rabid fanbases that expect nothing less than another deep postseason run.

 

Well, so much for expectations.

 

To start, the Packers will visit Arrowhead Stadium without the reigning MVP after Aaron Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19 this week. Instead of having a three-time All-Pro facing a downtrodden Chiefs defense, they'll turn to second-year pro Jordan Love in his first career start with all of seven regular-season passes to his name.

 

At least the Packers (7-1) have a record commensurate with expectations.

 

On the other side, the Chiefs (4-4) and the 2018 MVP have looked nothing like a championship contender. Patrick Mahomes leads the league in interceptions and turnovers, and Kansas City needed a fourth-quarter comeback Monday night just to beat the lowly Giants and even their record eight games into the season.

 

In other words, the luster that was supposed to accompany Sunday's showdown has dimmed considerably.

 

Game time is 3:25 local time Sunday.

Blues Stay Hot, Blast Sharks

Brandon Saad scored twice in his second game back from the COVID-19 list and the St. Louis Blues used a three-goal second period to beat the San Jose Sharks 5-3 on Thursday night.

 

Saad scored a short-handed goal in the first period and tied the game in the second with an even-strength goal as he looked back up to speed after four games following a positive test for COVID-19.

 

Pavel Buchnevich and James Neal also scored, and Robert Thomas sealed it with an empty-netter for the Blues. That scoring outburst helped Joel Hofer get the win in his NHL debut with 23 saves. He also got an assist on the empty-netter.

 

Brent Burns, Logan Couture and Nick Merkley scored for the short-handed Sharks, who have seven players on the COVID-19 list. Adin Hill made 23 saves.

 

The Blues, playing on back-to-back nights after a shootout loss in Los Angeles on Wednesday, took the lead with a three-goal second period.

 

Buchnevich and Merkley traded goals in a span of 29 seconds early in the period as the Sharks answered to take a 3-2 lead.

 

But Saad then got his second goal when he beat Hill from the top of the circle on the rush.

 

Neal made it 4-3 when he was left alone in front, backhanding a rebound into an open net.

 

There was a parade of penalties in the first period, with Buchnevich getting called for boarding with St. Louis on an early power play, and then Tarasenko getting an unsportsmanlike conduct for his frustration

 

Ivan Barbashev then was called for a double minor for high sticking. The Sharks had 4:51 of consecutive power-play time, including nearly a minute of a two-man advantage.

 

But St. Louis played it even during that stretch with Hofer allowing only a slap shot by Burns to get by him on seven shots. The Blues got that goal back when Saad finished off a two-on-one rush with Tyler Bozak.

 

The Blues visit Anaheim on Sunday.

Aaron Rodgers to COVID List

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is in the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol, leaving the NFL’s hottest team without the reigning MVP.

 

Packers coach Matt LaFleur confirmed Wednesday that Rodgers was in the protocol, but would not say if Rodgers had tested positive nor if Rodgers has been vaccinated. LaFleur acknowledged that Rodgers won’t be available Sunday when the Packers (7-1) put their seven-game winning streak on the line at Kansas City (4-4).

 

NFL officials are planning to review how the Packers have handled COVID-19 related protocols.

 

Before the NFL issued its statement, LaFleur defended the way the Packers have followed health protocols within their facility.

 

LaFleur didn’t speculate on how long Rodgers might be out.

 

Rodgers isn’t the only Packers player to deal with the coronavirus recently. Wide receivers Davante Adams, a 2020 All-Pro, and Allen Lazard missed last week’s victory at Arizona because of COVID-19 protocols. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry tested positive last week and also missed the Cardinals game. Barry and Adams could return to practice Thursday.

 

The Packers placed Rodgers and cornerback Isaac Yiadom on the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday.

 

Green Bay’s backup quarterback is 2020 first-round draft pick Jordan Love, who has thrown seven passes in his short career. Third-stringer Kurt Benkert is on the practice squad but was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list on Tuesday.

 

Former Jacksonville Jaguars starter Blake Bortles, who spent time with the Packers during training camp, flew to Green Bay on Wednesday to join the team’s practice squad. He is expected to get moved up to the 53-man roster later in the week and serve as Love’s backup against the Chiefs.

 

Love’s lone regular-season game appearances came when he played the fourth quarter of a 38-3 season-opening loss to New Orleans, and took three kneel-downs at the end of a 35-17 victory over Detroit. LaFleur said Love has been working primarily with the scout team since the start of the season.

 

Vaccinated players who test positive are allowed to return after they have two negative tests that are taken at least 24 hours apart. Unvaccinated players who test positive are isolated for at least 10 days.

 

Green Bay owns a 3 1/2-game lead over the Minnesota Vikings (3-4) in the NFC North, giving the Packers a nice cushion as they deal with their quarterback’s absence.

Pacers Roll Knicks

Myles Turner scored 25 points, hitting a career-high 7 of 10 3-pointers, and had 13 rebounds in the Indiana Pacers' 111-98 victory over the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.

 

Turner scored the first eight points of the game - and the Pacers never trailed. Caris LeVert added 21 points for Indiana.

 

RJ Barrett led New York with 23 points, and Julius Randle added 18 points and 14 rebounds. The Knicks pulled to 85-83 on Derrick Rose's basket, but the Pacers scored the next five points to regain control. The Pacers held a 31-23 edge in the third quarter.

 

Turner left the game in the second quarter after taking a blow to the head from Julius Randle while taking a charge. He returned in the second half and opened with a 3-pointer in the first minute in the third quarter.

 

Indiana shot 45.3% in the first half to take a 59-50 lead. The Pacers made nine 3-pointers in the opening half, while the Knicks were 4 of 16. The Pacers outrebounded the Knicks 49-46.

 

Kemba Walker made just 2 of 11 shots to finish with four points as the Knicks shot just 41.4%. The Pacers finished with 46.2%.

 

Indiana had a 16-5 edge in 3-pointers. Indiana's largest lead was 15 points.

 

Rose surpassed 12,000 career points with driving layup in the first quarter and finished with 13 points.

 

The Knicks are at Milwaukee on Friday night and the Pacers head to Portland on Friday night.

Sixers Down Bulls

Joel Embiid had 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in his return to the lineup, and Seth Curry scored 22 points and hit a crucial jumper late to lead the Philadelphia 76ers over the Chicago Bulls 103-98 on Wednesday night.

 

Georges Niang added 18 points for the short-handed 76ers, who have won four in a row.

 

In addition to Ben Simmons (personal reasons), who has missed all eight games, Philadelphia was without starters Tobias Harris (health and safety protocols) and Danny Green (hamstring).

 

DeMar DeRozan tied a season high with 37 points for Chicago and grabbed 10 rebounds. Zach LaVine scored 27 for the Bulls, who nearly came back from a double-digit deficit in the second half for the second straight game.

 

Curry hit a tough elbow jumper with 10.7 seconds left to put the 76ers ahead 102-98.

Chicago, which trailed by 15 in the second half, erased its 12-point deficit to start the fourth quarter when DeRozan drained a 16-footer to tie it at 87 with 6:40 to play, as Philadelphia missed nine of 10 shots to begin the final period.

 

But the Bulls went cold from that point, going 0 for 5 with a pair of turnovers until Alex Caruso's dunk with 2:54 left trimmed Philadelphia's lead to 98-91.

 

Embiid helped the Sixers build that advantage, scoring on a putback that made it 94-89 with five minutes left. Although he missed the chance to convert a three-point play, Embiid made a pair from the stripe the next time down and the 76ers were comfortably up 98-89 on Tyrese Maxey's layup with 4:11 left.

 

The Bulls, who came back from a 19-point second-half margin in Monday's 128-114 win at Boston, didn't go away, though. Lonzo Ball's 3 with a minute left and DeRozan's baseline jumper pulled them to 100-98 with 29.9 seconds left.

 

It looked as though the Bulls would have a chance to get closer when Embiid was called for a foul on DeRozan, but officials reversed it after a replay review.

 

Chicago trailed by 18 in the first half when Embiid hit a 16-foot pull-up jumper with 1:48 left before the break. DeRozan had one of the highlights of the first half with a one-handed dunk with 2:49 remaining.

 

Coby White (left shoulder) has missed all eight games after offseason shoulder surgery. Patrick Williams (left wrist) sat out for the third straight game in what is expected to be a 4-6 month absence after being injured against the Knicks on Oct. 26. . LaVine said he banged knees with Embiid on the first play of the game.

 

The Bulls host the 76ers on Saturday night.

Red Hot Hurricanes Rally Past Blackhawks

Jesper Fast and Martin Necas scored 3:09 apart in the third, and Carolina beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on Wednesday night.

Derek Stepan had a goal and an assist as Carolina matched a franchise record with its ninth straight victory. Seth Jarvis added his first career goal in his second game, and Frederik Andersen made 27 saves in the opener of a challenging three-game trip.

 

At 9-0, the Hurricanes moved into a tie with the 2015-16 Montreal Canadiens for the NHL's third-longest win streak to begin a season. Next up is a trip to Florida for a Saturday matchup with the Panthers, who are 8-0-1 heading into their game against Washington on Thursday night.

 

Alex DeBrincat had two goals for Chicago, which lost 6-3 at Carolina on Friday night. Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 stops.

 

The Blackhawks were coming off their first win in their 10th game of the season, but they were unable to build on that 5-1 victory over Ottawa.

 

The Blackhawks led 3-2 after two, but the Hurricanes tied it 17 seconds into the third. After Chicago defenseman Jake McCabe turned it over, Andrei Svechnikov made a nice pass to Fast in the middle and he beat Fleury for his fourth of the season.

 

Necas then put the Hurricanes ahead to stay on a shot from the right circle that trickled past Fleury for his second at 3:26.

 

Chicago had several chances down the stretch, but Andersen kept Carolina in front. The Hurricanes killed off three penalties in the third, including a double minor on Ethan Bear for high-sticking.

 

Kane snapped a 1-all tie when he redirected Riley Stillman's point shot through Andersen's legs 2:49 into the second. Kane also had three goals and an assist in Monday night's victory over the Senators in his first game back after being sidelined by COVID-19.

 

DeBrincat then finished a pretty sequence for Chicago, making it 3-1 at 8:24. A falling Mike Hardman passed backward to Phillipp Kurashev, who set up DeBrincat's team-high sixth goal with a slick backhand pass.

 

The Hurricanes got one back when Jarvis took advantage of a bad pinch by Blackhawks defenseman Erik Gustafsson. Jarvis, the No. 13 overall pick in last year's NHL draft, skated right by Gustafsson and beat Fleury on the breakaway at 12:50.

 

Stillman and forward Jujhar Khaira returned to Chicago's lineup after being sidelined by COVID-19. Forward Henrik Borgstrom was removed from the NHL's COVID-19 protocol on Wednesday but didn't play against Carolina.

 

While Borgstrom cleared protocol, Chicago added forward Tyler Johnson and defenseman Isaak Phillips to its COVID-19 protocol list.

 

The Blackhawks are at the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night.

Kings Win in Shootout Over Blues

After winning only one of their first seven games, the Los Angeles Kings are starting to find their stride despite being without a couple of key players.

 

Arthur Kaliyev scored in the fourth round of a shootout and the Kings extended their winning streak to three games with a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night.

 

It is the first time since November 2009 that the Kings have won consecutive games they trailed going into the third period.

 

Both teams scored twice in the first three rounds of the tiebreaker. Adrian Kempe and Alex Iafallo converted for the Kings. David Perron and Jordan Kyrou made their shots for the Blues.

 

Kempe and Kaliyev scored third-period goals for Los Angeles, which trailed 1-0 after two. Jonathan Quick made 33 saves as the Kings avoided being swept in the three-game season series.

 

Torey Krug sent the game into overtime on a short-handed goal with 7.1 seconds remaining. Anze Kopitar missed a chance to put the game away for Los Angeles when he just missed scoring an empty-net goal on a shot that went wide left.

 

Quick made a glove save on Tarasenko's shot, but Krug was able to get the puck after a mad scramble and fire in a wrist shot for his second goal of the season.

 

Brayden Schenn added a power-play goal and Vladimir Tarasenko extended his point streak to seven games with a pair of assists for St. Louis. Binnington stopped 33 shots.

 

Schenn hammered in a rebound at 6:48 of the second after Quick was unable to cleanly get his glove on Tarasenko's slap shot from the point. Schenn's goal - his third of the season and second in three games - came five seconds after Los Angeles defenseman Alexander Edler was sent to the penalty box for interference.

 

Kaliyev tied it 6:16 into the third with a snap shot from just outside the left faceoff circle that beat Binnington short side.

 

Kempe put the puck into a nearly open net for his second of the season at 12:15 of the third. Binnington was out of position after making a pad save on a wrist shot by Iafallo.

Tarasenko, who has four goals and seven assists during his streak, is one of six players with an active point streak of seven games or more.

 

The Blues travel up the coast to take on the San Jose Sharks on tonight.

Packers Getting Healthy Ahead of Showdown With Chiefs

Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur says he knows whether 2020 All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari will make his 2021 debut on Sunday at Kansas City.

 

He just isn’t planning to announce whether Bakhtiari will be available in order to make the Chiefs have to prepare for either scenario.

 

Bakhtiari hasn’t played since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Dec. 31.

 

He began the season on the physically unable to perform list, meaning he had to sit out the first six games. Bakhtiari has been practicing with the team recently, but the Packers (7-1) haven’t yet activated him.

 

Bakhtiari, 30, was an All-Pro selection in 2018 in addition to 2020.

 

Elgton Jenkins, a Pro Bowl left guard last season, has been filling in for Bakhtiari at left tackle. Yosh Nijman started at left tackle for three games that Jenkins missed with an ankle injury.

 

While LaFleur isn’t saying when Bakhtiari might play again, the coach was more forthcoming on the possible returns of 2020 Pro Bowl receiver Davante Adams and defensive coordinator Joe Barry, who both missed the Packers’ 24-21 victory Thursday at Arizona.

 

Adams was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and Barry tested positive last week. LaFleur said the Packers anticipate having Barry back on Thursday and indicated that Adams was on a similar timeline.

 

The Packers activated wide receiver Allen Lazard from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday while placing tight end Robert Tonyan and running back/kick returner Kylin Hill on injured reserve. Tonyan and Hill both suffered knee injuries at Arizona.

 

Wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling practiced Monday, raising hopes that he could return after missing four games with a hamstring injury.

 

Outside linebacker Za’Darius was back with the team Monday but wasn’t practicing. Smith hasn’t played since the season opener because of a back injury. LaFleur said Smith’s situation was “more of a week-by-week case” and added that the 2020 Pro Bowl pass rusher “hasn’t even really done a whole lot of rehab with our guys yet.”

Chiefs Trying to Right the Ship With Surging Packers Up Next

There was a moment early in the second half of Monday night’s game against the New York Giants when Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes saw the familiar sight of No. 10 streaking wide open down the middle of the field.

 

Mahomes might have released the ball a split second too late. Or perhaps he underthrew it just a bit.

 

Regardless, the ball bounced off the defender for an incomplete pass, rather than land in the outstretched hands of Tyreek Hill.

 

And while the big-play misfire didn’t ultimately end up costing Kansas City in a come-from-behind 20-17 victory inside rainy Arrowhead Stadium, it did seem to neatly summarize the first eight weeks of the regular season.

 

The Chiefs (4-4) are still ridiculously talented. They’re just missing their usual high-octane rhythm by oh-so-much.

 

The Chiefs also committed 12 penalties for 103 yards, committed two more turnovers to run their total to 19 — more than any other season under Andy Reid — and needed two fourth-quarter field goals from Harrison Butker just to survive.

 

Now would be a good time. The Chiefs are still facing an uphill climb in the AFC West and have the Green Bay Packers coming to town Sunday for what some thought could be a Super Bowl preview before the season began.

 

The Packers have lived up to their end of the bargain. The Chiefs are still trying to do the same.

 

One of the NFL’s worst defenses through seven games is finally waking up. The Chiefs sacked the Giants’ Daniel Jones three times and picked him off once, and they limited New York to 4 of 12 on third down and 300 total yards.

 

The Chiefs are still searching for someone to take the heat off Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. Kelce was blanked until late in the fourth quarter while Hill managed 12 catches for 94 yards and a score. But other than Mecole Hardman, who did most of his damage on screen passes, the Chiefs didn’t get much downfield production. Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle were the only other wide receivers to catch a pass: one apiece.

 

Running back Derrick Gore took advantage of his first real NFL opportunity to run 11 times for 48 yards and his first career score Monday night. He provided a nice change of pace to Darrel Williams, who’s been the lead back with Clyde Edwards-Helaire on injured reserve. Williams added 13 carries for 49 yards against the Giants.

 

The Chiefs play the Packers (7-1) on Sunday before a trip to Las Vegas. Then comes three more home games against the Cowboys, Broncos and Raiders that should give Kansas City an opportunity to make a move in the AFC West.

 

After the Packers visit the Chiefs, they'll slide into its week 13 bye hosting Seattle, then they visit division rival Minnesota, and host the Rams for a week 12 and Thanksgiving weekend showdown before the bye. 

Packers Release LB Jaylon Smith

The Green Bay Packers have released Jaylon Smith less than a month after signing the former Dallas Cowboys linebacker.

 

Smith’s agent, Doug Hendrickson, confirmed Tuesday that the 26-year-old Smith has been released. ESPN first reported the move.

 

Smith joined the Packers on Oct. 7, one day after the Cowboys released him. Smith had led the Cowboys in tackles in 2019 and 2020, but he never came close to making that kind of impact with Green Bay.

 

He played a total of 27 defensive snaps in two games with the Packers. Smith was on the field for 27.9% of their defensive snaps at Chicago on Oct. 17 and in 13.9% of their defensive snaps against Washington a week later.

 

The Packers left Smith inactive for their 24-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday even though he hadn’t appeared on the injury report all week.

 

Smith, a 2016 second-round pick, had been productive with the Cowboys earlier in his career and was a Pro Bowl injury replacement in 2019. But his performance had dipped since the start of the 2020 season.

 

The former Notre Dame star won the 2015 Butkus Award as college football’s top linebacker. He was considered a probable first-round pick before a severe knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl caused his draft stock to dip and forced him to miss the entire 2016 season.

 

Green Bay (7-1) visits the Kansas City Chiefs (4-4) on Sunday.

Bowman Shrugs Off Hamlin Insult; Gibbs Condemns Busch's Post-Race Comments

Alex Bowman had barely finished his post-victory obligations and his online merchandise store was already taking orders for a simple black T-shirt with the word “HACK” printed across the front in block purple letters.

 

If a star of the sport is going to call you a hack on live television — twice, with a pair of curse words sprinkled in — might as well make some money off of the episode.

 

Bowman infuriated championship contender Denny Hamlin with six laps remaining Sunday at Martinsville Speedway when he spun Hamlin out of the lead. It sent the race into overtime, which Bowman won for his fourth victory of the season. Hamlin then blocked Bowman’s car on the frontstretch to prevent a proper celebration.

 

It was Hamlin’s post-race assessment of Bowman that really irked the folks at Hendrick Motorsports. Bowman has insisted the contact that spun Hamlin from the lead was accidental, but Hamlin still attacked Bowman’s talent level.

 

The championship will be decided Sunday at sold-out Phoenix Raceway, where Hendrick has two of his four drivers into the winner-take-all finale. Reigning Cup champion Chase Elliott and title favorite Kyle Larson in a pair of Chevrolets will square off against Toyotas driven by teammates Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. of Joe Gibbs Racing.

 

Meanwhile, two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch should not have used a slur referring to the mentally disabled during a post-race interview and NASCAR was right to order the tempestuous driver to undergo sensitivity training, team owner Joe Gibbs said Tuesday.

 

Busch apologized on social media for using the slur while complaining about driver Brad Keselowski following Sunday’s race at Martinsville. NASCAR said Busch must complete the training before the start of the 2022 season because of language used in violation of NASCAR’s conduct guidelines.

 

Gibbs says he thinks Busch knows he shouldn't have used the word and agrees with NASCAR's response. 

 

Busch, the Cup champion in 2015 and again in 2019, has two wins this season for Joe Gibbs Racing but failed to qualify among the championship four drivers for Sunday’s race at Phoenix Raceway.

Bulls Topple Celtics

DeMar DeRozan scored 37 points and the Chicago Bulls rallied from a 19-point, second-half deficit on Monday night to beat the Boston Celtics 128-114 and improve to 6-1 for the season.

 

Zach LaVine scored 26 points and Nikola Vucevic had 11 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for the Bulls, who outscored Boston 39-11 in the fourth quarter to turn a 14-point lead into a 14-point victory.

 

Jaylen Brown scored 28 for the Celtics, who have lost three in a row and left their home court to boos. Al Horford had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Jayson Tatum scored 20 for Boston.

 

The Celtics led 94-75 with about three minutes left in the third quarter and still had a 103-89 lead entering the fourth. But Chicago scored the first 12 points in the fourth to cut the deficit to two points, 103-101, with just over 8 minutes left.

 

Ayo Dosunmu, a second-round draft pick who had his first double-digit NBA game with 14 points, hit a 3-pointer with 6:53 left to put the Bulls up 106-105. The Celtics briefly retook the lead before Chicago scored 18 of the next 20 points.

 

Tatum scored two points on 1-for-8 shooting in the fourth quarter, and Brown was scoreless on just two shots.

 

The Celtics led 35-31 near the end of the first quarter before DeRozan ran off nine straight points, scoring 11 during a 15-0 run that gave Chicago a 46-35 lead. But Brown scored the next 10 on his own - hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to make it a one-point game.

 

After Dosunmu's layup, Brown hit another 3, then Smart made one of his own and the Celtics made it an eight-point lead at halftime.

 

The Bulls visit Philadelphia on Wednesday night.

Illinois All-American Cockburn Suspended for Three Games

No. 11 Illinois will be without preseason Big Ten Player of the Year Kofi Cockburn for its first three games of the season while the star big man sits because of an NCAA suspension. Cockburn sold "institutionally issued apparel and memorabilia" in June before it was permissible to do so under NIL guidelines, according to a statement from Illinois.

 

Under the terms of the suspension, Cockburn will repay the amount he gained from the apparel sales through a charitable donation. The Illini open against Jackson State on Nov. 9 and play Arkansas State on Nov. 12. Illinois should be able to handle those opponents without Cockburn, who averaged 17.7 points and 9.5 rebounds last season. But Illinois' third game against Marquette on Nov. 15 could be a challenge. After serving the suspension, Cockburn will be eligible to make his season debut in the Illini's game vs. Cincinnati on Nov. 22 in the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City.

 

Illinois coach Brad Underwood said in a statement they are disappointed with the three-game suspension because there were unprecedented factors that altered timelines related to his decision to ultimately withdraw from the NBA Draft and return to school.

 

Cockburn announced in mid-June that he would return for his junior season with Illinois after initially indicating that he planned to pursue a professional career. The seven-footer also entered the transfer portal before deciding to join the Illini.

Pacers Roll Spurs

Domantas Sabonis finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds and Myles Turner added 19 points to lead the Indiana Pacers past struggling San Antonio 131-118 on Monday night.

 

It was a welcome change for the Pacers, who snapped a four-game losing streak and won for just the second time in eight games under first-year head coach Rick Carlisle.

 

Dejounte Murray finished with 16 points and Devin Vassell had 15 to lead San Antonio. The Spurs have lost four of their last five with the only win coming Saturday at defending NBA champion Milwaukee.

 

Indiana opened the game by going 8 of 10 from 3-point range and taking a 43-31 lead after one quarter. Then, unlike their previous games, the Pacers continued accelerating. By halftime, the Pacers extended the margin to 78-56 and had five players in double figures.

 

San Antonio couldn't get closer than 18 until the final few minutes in its most lopsided loss this season.

 

Derrick White had 13 points and seven assists while Jakob Poeltl had 11 points six rebounds for San Antonio. Murray had six assists and four players scored 10 points.

 

Despite being without guards Malcolm Brogdon (hamstring), Jeremy Lamb (sprained ankle) and forwards T.J. Warren (foot) and Isaiah Jackson (knee), Indiana still posted season-high scoring totals in the first quarter, first half and third quarter (31). Turner had eight rebounds and Sabonis had six assits.

 

The Pacers finish a three-game homestand Wednesday against New York.

Blackhawks Blast Senators

Patrick Kane had three goals and an assist in his return to the lineup, and the Blackhawks beat the Ottawa Senators 5-1 on Monday night for their first win of the season.

 

Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 29 saves in another solid performance, felt Kane was a bit off in his assessment.

 

Led by Kane, Fleury and Brandon Hagel, who scored twice, Chicago improved to 1-7-2 in front of a half-full United Center. Captain Jonathan Toews had three assists.

 

Kane was sidelined for the previous four games because of the NHL's COVID-19 protocol. He practiced Monday morning, and then convinced coach Jeremy Colliton he was ready to go.

 

Matt Murray made 26 stops for Ottawa in his first game since he was kneed in the head during a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Oct. 23. Alex Formenton stopped Fleury's bid for his 68th career shutout with his second of the season 1:41 into the third.

 

Kane's seventh hat trick in the regular season gave him 408 career goals, moving him ahead of Steve Larmer for third on the franchise list. He also jumped over Denis Savard for third on the Blackhawks' points list with 1,097.

 

The Blackhawks host the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night.

Trio of Lady Maroons Runners Advance to State

A trio of Clinton Lady Maroons cross country runners advanced to the state finals meet in Peoria this weekend. 

 

Lexi Lord, Clare Holland, and MaKayla Koeppel advanced after this weekend's competition in Decatur, doubling the girl's runners to advance to the state meet in the school's history. They join Heather Wise, Chris Holl, and Payne Turney in state appearances.

 

The girl's team finished just three points shy of advancing as a team. 

 

The Maroons boy's runners finished 30th at the Sectional meet in Decatur led by sophomore Drew Moser who finished 14th with a time of 17-minutes and 22.65-seconds. The boys finished seventh. 

 

On the boy's side of the Sectional, Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond took home the Sectional championship. St. Joseph-Ogden, Monticello, Decatur St. Teresa, and Newton round out the top-5 while Shelbyville, Tuscola, Bismarck-Henning, Paxton-Buckley-Loda, and Urbana University rounded out the top-10.

 

In the girl's event, Tolono Unity won the sectional while St. Joseph-Ogden, Monticello, Urbana University, and Robinson round out the top-5. 

 

Monticello senior Ed Mitchell finished fifth on the boy's side and will compete at the State meet in Peoria this weekend. Meanwhile, in the girl's meet, Monticello junior Mabry Bruhn finished third, senior Rachel Koon finished sixth to advance to the State meet. 

Niners Roll Short-Handed Bears

Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 322 yards and ran for two touchdowns, and the San Francisco 49ers beat the short-handed Chicago Bears 33-22 Sunday to snap a four-game losing streak.

 

Garoppolo led three touchdown drives in the second half and another possession that ended with a field goal. He scored from the 2 in the third quarter and ran it in from the 5 in the fourth, tossing the ball into the crowd after he lifted San Francisco to a 30-22 lead.

 

Deebo Samuel had six catches for 171 yards. That gave him 819, breaking Hall of Famer Jerry Rice's club record of 781 through the first seven games of a season set in 1986.

 

Elijah Mitchell carried 18 times for 137 yards and a touchdown, helping San Francisco (3-4) win for the first time since beating Detroit and Philadelphia on the road to start the season.

 

Justin Fields threw for 175 yards and a touchdown. The rookie also ran for 103 yards and a score, becoming the first Bears QB to rush for 100 yards in a game since Bobby Douglass in 1973.

 

Cairo Santos made three field field goals to run his club regular-season record to 38 consecutive conversions. But he missed an extra point after Fields' electric 22-yard touchdown run in the fourth.

 

That happened after Mitchell plowed in from 5 in a rugby-like scrum, and Brandon Aiyuk caught the 2-point conversion less than a minute into the fourth, giving San Francisco a 23-16 lead.

 

Fields then spun away from at least two defenders, avoided a few more and got a huge block by Jason Peters against Fred Warner on that 22-yard touchdown. But Santos was wide right on the extra point, keeping San Francisco on top with 9:32 left.

 

Bears visit the Pittsburgh Steelers next Monday night.

Alex Bowman Wins at Martinsville; Final Four Field Set

Bowman picked up the victory Sunday at Martinsville Speedway in the final elimination race ahead of the winner-take-all season finale. Bowman wasn’t eligible to make the championship round and his overtime victory denied both Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski the final spot in the field.

 

The Cup will be decided next Sunday at sold-out Phoenix Raceway between favorite Kyle Larson and reigning champion Chase Elliott for Hendrick Motorsports, and Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. for Joe Gibbs Racing. It will pit a pair of Hendrick Chevrolets against two JGR Toyotas.

 

Ford was locked out of the championship when Keselowski and Team Penske teammates Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano failed to advance.

 

Busch finished second to Bowman and Keselowski at last settled for third after a frantic push through the third stage. Truex’s car was damaged in several incidents and both Busch and Keselowski were trying to bump Truex out of the final transfer position.

 

It led to spirited racing up and down the grid, especially from Keselowski as he tried to bulldoze his way into the championship round for his final race driving for Roger Penske. He and Busch had hard contact after the checkered flag that caused Busch to spin on the cooldown lap, and Busch seethed after that he should beat up Keselowski.

 

His verbal threats were a milder approach than the one taken by JGR teammate Hamlin after Bowman spun Hamlin from the lead with six laps remaining to send the race into overtime.

 

Hamlin had led 103 laps with victory in sight when Bowman spun him. Hamlin after the race drove his car to the front stretch and parked in front of Bowman to prevent Bowman from a proper celebration on Bowman’s fourth win of the season.

 

Hamlin will try for a fourth time to win his first Cup title. Both he and Larson, the heavy favorite and a nine-race winner this season, have never won a NASCAR championship. Elliott is the reigning champion and Truex, who had to nurse a wounded Toyota to a fourth-place finish Sunday to stop teammate Busch from bumping him out of the finale, has one previous title.

 

Hamlin will try for a fourth time to win his first Cup title. Both he and Larson, the heavy favorite and a nine-race winner this season, have never won a NASCAR championship. Elliott is the reigning champion and Truex, who had to nurse a wounded Toyota to a fourth-place finish Sunday to stop teammate Busch from bumping him out of the finale, has one previous title.

 

The championship finale Sunday at Phoenix Raceway, where Elliott won the race last year to claim his first Cup championship. Truex won in March.

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