Local Sports

Clinton Boy's Basketball Coach Resigns

Clinton High School has announced the resignation of varsity boy's basketball coach Dan Luketich.

 

Athletic Director Matt Koeppel confirmed to Regional Radio Friday the second-year coach resigned. He declined to comment further on the situation. 

 

Luketich led the Maroons to its most successful season since 2018-19 with an 11-21 mark. In the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season, Clinton was 2-14 under Luketich. 

 

Since 2000, the Clinton boy's basketball program has had one Regional title and just three winning seasons. 

 

The Maroons will seek its seventh coach in that same time frame. 

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Cardinals Score 29 Against Nationals in Pujols' Spring Training Debut

It was only spring training, but the first game of Albert Pujols' second stint with the St. Louis Cardinals could not have gone better. Pujols went 1 for 3 in his Grapefruit League debut Wednesday and his Cardinals teammates went on to beat the Nationals 29-8. 

 

Veteran Anibal Sanchez, signed to give the Nationals innings this summer, was tagged for 12 hits and 10 runs in four innings, and that's not even the worst pitching performance of the day. Righty Cade Cavalli, Washington's No. 2 prospect, gave up 11 runs (10 earned) in only 2 1/3 innings. St. Louis put 15 runs on the board in the eighth inning.

 

Eight players had multiple hits for the Cardinals and eight players drove in multiple runs. Big leaguers Paul DeJong, Paul Goldschmidt, and Yadier Molina hit the only home runs for St. Louis. They went 15 for 25 with runners in scoring position to plate those 29 runs.

 

While spring training record-keeping is spotty, especially going back more than a few years, it's unknown whether the 29 runs are any sort of spring record. Only four times in the regular season and postseason has a team scored at least 29 runs in a game:

 

As for Pujols, he signed with the Cardinals earlier this week, and Wednesday was his first game action.

 

Pujols has said this will be his final season. At age 42, he will be a part-time player and platoon bat who faces mostly lefties. 

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Illinois' Underwood Receives Contract Extension

University of Illinois Director of Athletics Josh Whitman announced Wednesday an extension for men's basketball head coach Brad Underwood, pending approval by the UI Board of Trustees at its May 19 meeting. 

 

The new agreement will keep Underwood on a six-year contract through the 2027-28 season.

 

Whitman said in a statement Underwood has led a remarkable resurgence of the men's basketball program including Big Ten championships, one of the best three-year runs in the history of Fighting Illini men's basketball and the Big Ten Conference, and reestablished ourselves on the national stage. 

 

Underwood led Illinois to the 2022 Big Ten championship, navigating a challenging schedule with a frequently depleted roster to post a 15-5 league record and earn the school's first regular season conference title in 17 years. Illinois went 23-10 overall, with Underwood recording his third-straight 20-plus win season. The Illini ended the year at No. 19 in the AP poll to register a third-straight Top 25 finish, the program's longest streak since 2000-06.

 

Illinois was a No. 4 seed in the 2022 NCAA Tournament, becoming one of just six programs to receive top-4 seeds in back-to-back tournaments after earning a No. 1 seed in 2021. Illinois stands as one of just 12 schools to advance to the Round of 32 in each the last two NCAA Tournaments, which also marks Illinois' first time advancing in consecutive NCAA Tournaments in 16 years.

 

No team has fared better in the Big Ten since 2020 than the Fighting Illini, who are 44-16 (.733) in Big Ten play the last three years of the Underwood era. Illinois owns the most wins and best winning percentage in the league over the last three Big Ten campaigns.

 

The 44 Big Ten victories mark the winningest three-year run in school history, and the sixth-winningest three-year stretch by any Big Ten school in conference play. Illinois has won at least 13 Big Ten games in three straight years for the first time in program history, with Underwood claiming Illinois' two all-time winningest Big Ten seasons (16 in 2021, 15 in 2022), and three of the top seven (13 in 2020).

 

Underwood said in a statement Wednesday said he is thankful for the way he and his family have been welcomed into the Champaign-Urbana and U of I communities. Adding there is no better place to live, no better school to represent, and no better program to lead. 

 

Underwood's proposed contract calls for an annual $300,000 increase in base compensation and a $200,000 increase in the annual retention bonus. It is fully guaranteed through the next four seasons, with Underwood's buyout – what he would owe the University to accept employment elsewhere – increasing as well. The contract will continue to include bonus opportunities for advancement in the NCAA Tournament and other agreed-upon metrics.

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Blues Down Canucks

Ryan O'Reilly had a goal and an assist as the St. Louis Blues beat Vancouver 4-3 on Wednesday night, further dimming the Canucks' faint playoff hopes.

 

Nick Leddy, Robert Thomas and Nathan Walker also scored for the Blues (37-20-9). David Perron added two assists.

 

Elias Pettersson scored twice for the Canucks (32-28-9), who were playing their fifth game in eight nights. Alex Chiasson also had a goal.

 

A 22-save performance earned St. Louis goalie Ville Husso his 18th win of the season. Thatcher Demko stopped 20 shots for Vancouver.

 

The Blues also beat the Canucks on Monday, and swept the three-game season series.

 

Vancouver is five points behind the Vegas Golden Knights, who hold the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Canucks will face Vegas in their next two games.

Pettersson got the Canucks back within a goal with less than five minutes left, snapping a shot past Husso from in tight for his second of the night.

 

Vancouver pressed for the equalizer, but couldn't get another shot past Husso.

The goalie made one of his biggest stops with 70 seconds remaining, robbing Tanner Pearson with a glove save.

 

A blocked shot turned into a goal for the Blues midway through the third period.

 

Canucks defenseman Travis Dermott went down to stop a shot from Mackenzie MacEachern but the puck bounced off him to Walker, who sent it soaring into the Vancouver net to make it 4-2.

 

St. Louis took a lead into the final period thanks to O'Reilly's power-play goal.

 

Vancouver rookie Vasily Podkolzin was called for holding after he hauled down Brandon Saad on the rush, and the Blues made the Canucks pay.

 

Perron sent the puck to Brayden Schenn below the goal line and Schenn instantly dished it to O'Reilly at the hash marks. O'Reilly one-timed a shot past Demko for his 15th goal 17:16 into the second.

 

The Blues' short-handed goal tied it 2-all earlier in the period. Pettersson coughed up the puck in his own zone and Thomas streaked down the ice. He beat Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes for a breakaway, then put a shot past Demko glove side.

 

Pettersson gave Vancouver a 2-1 lead midway through the second with a beautiful goal from the top of the slot. The Swedish center intercepted a pass near the blue line, took a couple of strides and then released a rocket for his 21st of the season.

 

Nic Petan got an assist on the play, his first point for the Canucks.

 

The Blues got on the board 7:26 into the second when Leddy sent a long drive under Demko's glove for his second of the season, tying it at 1.

 

Vancouver took the lead 31 seconds into the second. Brad Richardson sent Chiasson a blind, backhand pass and the winger swiped in a shot from the top of the crease for his seventh goal of the season.

 

Richardson got an assist on the play, marking his first point since being claimed off waivers from the Calgary Flames on March 21.

 

Some stellar saves by Demko kept the game scoreless through the first.

 

His best of the period came at the 10:20 mark when the All-Star goalie made a diving glove save to deny Vladimir Tarasenko from the side of the net.

 

The Blues play at Edmonton on Friday night.

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Clinton Tops Tuscola in CIC Opener

Dominick Thayer pitched into the seventh inning and drove in two runs at the plate as Clinton got by Tuscola 5-4 in the Central Illinois Conference opener Tuesday afternoon in Tuscola.

 

Thayer struck out nine, allowing four runs on six hits and issued four walks. 

 

Mason Walker recorded the final two outs for the Maroons to pick up the save. 

 

Thayer finished 1-for-3 with two RBIs. Walker reached base three times on three walks and scored twice. 

 

Tuscola's Peyton Armstrong hit a home run in the top of the first inning to put the Warriors up 1-0. The Maroons answered with a three run frame in the fourth inning. 

 

Caeden Baer's two-run home run in the fourth inning tied the game at 3 and Tuscola took the lead in the bottom of the sixth, pushing a run across on another RBI hit by Baer but the Maroons scored two in the top of the seventh inning to take the lead. 

 

Baer finished 2-for-3 for the Warriors with three runs batted in.

 

Monday's action was the first game of the season for Clinton as they go to 1-0 overall and 1-0 in the CIC. The Maroons did not schedule games the first week of the season and had all their scheduled matchups last week canceled due to weather.

 

The Maronos are scheduled to host Central A&M on Thursday.

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Girl's Softball: Tuscola Rolls Clinton

Ella and Ava Boyer hit home runs for the Tuscola Lady Warriors as they beat Clinton 15-4 in Central Illinois Conference high school girl's softball action from Tuscola Tuesday afternoon.

 

The Lady Warriors used a six-run second inning and seven-run fourth inning to fuel them past the struggling Lady Maroons. 

 

Both Boyer's drove in three and scored twice. Marissa Boyer and Isabelle Wilcox drove in two runs for Tusola.

 

Heidi Humble paced the Lady Maroons' offense going 2-for-3 with a single, double and an RBI. Brooke Reeves, Morgan Fortune, and Kate Goebel drove in runs for Clinton. 

 

The Lady Maroons are 0-4 and drop to 0-1 in the CIC. They are scheduled to host Central A&M Thursday.

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Mt. Pulaski Blasts Illini Central

The Mt. Pulaski Hilltoppers boy's baseball team had an offensive explosion as they blasted Illini Central 24-0 in Tomahawk Conference high school boy's baseball action Tuesday in Mason City.

 

Landon Smith was a home run short of the cycle going 3-for-3 with two runs batted in and two runs scored. 

 

Liam Smith finished 2-for-2 with three runs batted in and two runs scored. Jackson Fricke was 4-for-4 with three runs batted in and three runs scored. Kolin Gibbs finished 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and four runs batted in. 

 

Clay Aylesworth, Colt Selinger, and Luke Farris drove in a pair of runs as well for the Hilltoppers.

 

Farris threw three shut out innings in the starting role for Mt. Pulaski allowing a hit, issued three walks and struck out four. Selinger closed the game out with a clean, scoreless inning in relief.

 

The Hilltoppers are 3-0 overall and 1-0 in conference action. They'll take on Decatur LSA Thursday afternoon.

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Bulls Get By Wizards

DeMar DeRozan scored 14 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter, and the Chicago Bulls pulled away for a 107-94 victory over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night.

 

Nikola Vucevic scored 27 points for Chicago, which is trying to stay in the top six in the Eastern Conference and avoid the play-in round of the postseason. The Bulls (44-32) took a half-game lead over Toronto (43-32) for fifth place in the East, and they lead seventh-place Cleveland (42-33) by 1 1/2 games.

 

Chicago has played 12 of its last 15 on the road, but the Bulls now have only six games remaining in the regular season - and the next five are at home.

 

Rui Hachimura scored 21 points for the Wizards, who had their modest two-game winning streak snapped.

 

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 20 points for the Wizards.

 

The Bulls rebounded from a loss to the New York Knicks the previous night, and they overcame a scoreless first half from Zach LaVine, who finished with 14 points. DeRozan was just 2 of 12 from the field at the half, but he went 10 of 15 in the second.

 

Chicago led 75-73 after three quarters, but the Bulls made their decisive run early in the fourth. DeRozan's breakaway dunk made it 90-80 - the first double-digit lead for either team - and Chicago comfortably closed the game out from there.

 

Vucevic scored 20 points in the first half, and the Bulls led 51-46 after two quarters.

 

Bulls guard Javonte Green scored nine points on 4-of-4 shooting. That included a one-handed dunk in the second quarter and an alley-oop moments later. 

 

The Bulls host the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night.

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Mizzou Gets By Illinois

The Fighting Illini baseball team fell to Missouri in the 2022 Braggin' Rights game in Sauget, Illinois on Tuesday night, 11-7. 

 

Illinois recorded seven runs on 10 hits en route to their first Braggin' Rights loss since 2014. Both Ryan Hampe and Justin Janas homered in the game for the Illini.

 

Illinois (10-12) opened up the scoring in the second inning as sophomore infielder Brody Harding drove in outfielder Taylor Jackson on a two-out RBI single, his seventh RBI of the season. Missouri (14-7) responded with two runs in the second inning on a two-run home run, followed by another two runs in the third to take a 4-1 lead through the first three frames.

 

Missouri tacked on another two runs before the Illini responded in the top of the sixth as Ryan Hampe connected on a two-run opposite-field homer, his second of the season to cut the deficit to 6-3. The two teams continued to trade runs while the Tigers held on to a lead throughout the latter innings of the ballgame. Illinois was able to bring the tying run to the on-deck circle in the top of the ninth inning, but the comeback effort ultimately fell short.

 

Up next, the Illini will host Purdue for the first home Big Ten series of the season. The first game of the series will begin at 6 p.m. CT on Friday evening.

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Bears Sign QB Siemian

The Chicago Bears signed veteran quarterback Trevor Siemian to a two-year contract on Tuesday to back up Justin Fields.

 

Siemian has appeared in 33 games and started 29 while throwing for 6,843 yards, 41 touchdowns and 27 interceptions for the Denver Broncos (2015-17), New York Jets (2019) and New Orleans Saints (2020-21). He starred at Northwestern before getting drafted by Denver in the seventh round in 2015.

 

Fields is coming off a shaky rookie season after Chicago traded up to draft him with the No. 11 overall pick. The Bears also have Super Bowl 52 MVP Nick Foles on their roster.

 

The Bears decided to make big changes after going 6-11 and missing the playoffs for the ninth time in 11 years. They hired general manager Ryan Poles to replace Ryan Pace and Matt Eberflus to take over for Matt Nagy. Chicago also traded star pass rusher Khalil Mack to the Los Angeles Chargers.

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White Sox Acquire Former Phillies First Round Pick

The Chicago White Sox added to their outfield depth on Tuesday, acquiring Adam Haseley in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies.

 

Chicago sent minor league pitcher McKinley Moore to Philadelphia for Haseley, a .264 hitter over parts of three big league seasons. Outfielder Blake Rutherford was designed for assignment by the reigning AL Central champions to make room on their 40-man roster.

 

The White Sox lost Andrew Vaughn on Sunday when he got hurt making a diving catch in the outfield. The 23-year-old Vaughn, the No. 3 pick in the 2019 amateur draft, was diagnosed with a hip pointer, but he could start playing in games again in one to two weeks.

 

Haseley was selected by Philadelphia with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2017 amateur draft. He has appeared in 72 games in center field, 35 in left and 19 in right.

 

He made his big league debut in 2019, batting .266 with five homers and 26 RBIs in 67 games.

 

Haseley was the Phillies’ opening-day center fielder last year, but he appeared in just nine games with the big league club. He hit .233 in 56 games in the minors.

 

Moore, 23, was selected by Chicago in the 14th round of the 2019 draft. The 6-foot-6 right-hander went 2-2 with a 4.20 ERA in 37 games in the minors last year.

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HS Softball: GCMS Rolls Clinton

Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley scored two runs in the top of the sixth inning to go up by ten runs and kept Clinton off the scoreboard in the bottom half of the frame to come away with a 12-2 ten-run rule victory in non-conference high school girl's softball action from Clinton Monday afternoon.

 

Cally Kroon was a home run short of the cycle for the Lady Falcons. Kroon went 3-for-4 with four runs batted in and three runs scored. 

 

From the leadoff spot, Ashley Hyatt finished 3-for-5. Sadie Christensen and Kyra Kietzman each recorded a multi-hit afternoon for the Lady Falcons.

 

Heidi Humble doubled in Ella Steward and Brooke Reeves in the fifth inning to cut the Clinton deficit to 10-2 at the time. Reeves went 1-for-2 for the Lady Maroons. 

 

Reeves took the loss in circle for the Lady Maroons. She allwed 12 runs, but five were earned as the Lady Maroons committed seven errors. She allowed eleve hits, issued four walks nd struck out two.

 

The Lady Maroons fall to 0-3 on the season while GCMS moves to 1-2. 

 

Clinton travels to Tuscola this afternoon to open Central Illinois Conference play.

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Knicks Get By Bulls

RJ Barrett scored 28 points, Alec Burks had 27 and the New York Knicks beat the Chicago Bulls 109-104 on Monday night for their fourth straight victory.

 

Obi Toppin had 17 points for the Knicks, who remained 4 1/2 games behind Atlanta for 10th place in the Eastern Conference and the final play-in spot with only six games remaining. But they'd rather keep trying for that, as unlikely as it is, than lose a few more games to potentially better their draft position.

 

DeMar DeRozan scored 37 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter. But he missed a jumper and then was called for an offensive foul in the final 45 seconds, cutting short Chicago's comeback attempt.

 

Zach LaVine added 27 points but Chicago fell into a tie with Toronto for the fifth-best record in the East.

 

Toppin played most of the fourth quarter in place of struggling Julius Randle and had eight points in the period. His dunk while being fouled led to a three-point play and an 89-79 advantage early in the period but DeRozan, who has 573 points in the fourth quarter this season, kept Chicago from ever falling too far behind.

 

His three-point play cut it to 104-103 with 1:17 left, but after his missed jumper Burks knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner to make it 107-103 with 22 seconds to go. Randle then hit two free throws after DeRozan's offensive foul to put it away.

 

Mitchell Robinson finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks. Randle was 1 of 9 for five points, though he did grab 13 rebounds.

 

Nikola Vucevic had 16 points and 13 rebounds.

 

Former Bulls Coach, now Knicks Coach Tom Thibodeau still isn't sure if Derrick Rose will return this season. He said the point guard has increased his workload to include basketball activity but still not contact as he recovers from a procedure for a skin infection on his surgically repaired right ankle. 

 

Rookie guard Quentin Grimes missed his second straight game with soreness in his right knee after recently returning from an injury to the knee. Thibodeau said Grimes was day to day.

 

The Bulls visit Washington on Tuesday.

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Blues Down Cnaucks

Vladimir Tarasenko had two goals and an assist, leading the St. Louis Blues to a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night.

 

Tarasenko has 23 goals this season, and the three-point game gave him 500 points in his NHL career.

 

David Perron and Marco Scandella also scored for the Blues, who had lost of three of four. Robert Thomas had two assists.

 

Ville Husso rebounded after allowing five goals Saturday and recorded 35 saves. He is 8-3-3 in his last 14 starts.

 

Brad Hunt scored for Vancouver. Former Blues goal Jaroslav Halak had 25 saves.

 

It was the first of a home-and-home set against the Canucks. The teams play in Vancouver on Wednesday.

 

St. Louis, outscored 12-4 in its last two games, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period.

 

The Blues struck first when Scandella scored his second goal of the season at 6:37 of the opening period. Tarasenko's shot went over Halak. Standing in front of the net, Scandella alertly pushed the puck in for the goal.

 

It was the first time in six games that the Blues scored first in a game.

 

The Blues converted on a 2-on-1 break to go up 2-0 at 14:02. Ivan Barbashev picked the puck from Conor Garland and passed to Perron. From the right circle, Perron's wrist shot went high and beat Halak, who faced his former teammates for just the fourth time in his 16-year career. He is 0-3-1 against St. Louis.

 

Perron has 14 goals in his last 13 games. Perron had an eight-game point streak (10 goals, four assists) snapped Saturday against the Hurricanes. He has posted 22 points over his last 16 games (14 goals, 8 assists).

 

Tarasenko's goal came just 49 seconds into the third period. Tarasenko was robbed by Halak on his first shot. The puck came back to him and he knocked in his rebound.

 

The Canucks cut the lead to 3-1 on a goal by Hunt at 2:13. It was Hunt's third goal this season.

 

Halak was pulled with 3:17 to play. Tarasenko scored an empty-net goal at 17:47.

 

St. Louis acquired D Brady Lyle from the Boston Bruins in exchange for future considerations on Monday. Lyle will report to the Blues' AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds. The 6-foot-1, 211-pound Lyle, 22, has dressed in 48 games for the AHL's Providence Bruins this season, recording nine points (two goals, seven assists) and 10 penalty minutes.

 

The Blues have signed D Matt Kessel to a two-year, entry-level contract that will begin with the 2022-23 season. Kessel, who was drafted by the Blues in the fifth round (150th overall) of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, will report to the Blues' AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds, on a tryout and will be a member of the Thunderbirds for the remainder of the season. The 6-foot-3, 201-pound Kessel, 21, has spent the past three seasons at UMass-Amherst.

 

St. Louis is at Vancouver on Wednesday night.

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Bills Match Offer Sheet for OL Bates

The Buffalo Bills will retain Ryan Bates by matching the four-year qualifying offer the offensive lineman signed with the Chicago Bears, general manager Brandon Beane said on Monday.

 

Beane made the announcement while attending the NFL’s owners meetings in Florida, four days after Bates signed the Bears’ offer sheet. The Bills had five days to match the offer or lose Bates without compensation.

 

The third-year player was a restricted free agent, whose rights the Bills retained by tendering him a one-year, $2.433 million contract two weeks ago.

 

He’s a third-year player who went undrafted out of Penn State and was acquired by Buffalo in a trade that sent defensive end Eli Harold to the Philadelphia Eagles in August 2019. Noted for his versatility for being able to play each position on the line, Bates appeared in 41 games, including four starts last season with the Bills. 

 

In a separate move, the Bills re-signed offensive lineman Ike Boettger to a one-year contract. Boettger, who had 10 starts at guard in Buffalo last season, spent the past four seasons with the Bills and was an unrestricted free agent after completing the final year of his contract.

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Sabres Rally Past Blackhawks

Tage Thompson scored the tiebreaking goal on a fortunate bounce with 10.6 seconds left and the Buffalo Sabres rallied from four down to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-5 on Monday night.

 

Victor Olofsson had two goals and an assist to help the Sabres win for the first time in three games. Kyle Okposo, Vinnie Hinostroza and Alex Tuch also scored for Buffalo.

 

Thompson, the team leader with 28 goals, broke his stick on a shot from left-wing. The puck caromed off the boards behind the net and hit Chicago goaltender Kevin Lankinen's left skate before going in.

 

Tuch forged Buffalo's second tie of the night with a slot deflection of Olofsson's pass with 2:14 to play. Olofsson took Casey Middlestadt's feed and relayed it to Tuch.

 

Alex DeBrincat gave Chicago a 5-4 advantage midway through the third period with his 38th goal of the season and fourth in four games, but the Blackhawks blew yet another lead.

 

Calvin de Haan, Sam Lafferty, Jonathan Toews and Seth Jones also scored for Chicago, which led 4-0 in the second.

 

Buffalo's comeback began when Olofsson scored twice in just under six minutes, beating Lankinen on a one-timer from the right circle with the Sabres on a power play, then sending a wrist shot over Lankinen's glove from the left circle 10:24 into the second.

 

Buffalo cut the deficit to 4-3 on Okposo's deflection of Dylan Cozens' shot at 14:32, a drive that caromed off the right skate of Blackhawks defenseman Erik Gustafsson just before it beat Lankinen.

 

The Sabres tied it on former Blackhawk and Chicago native Hinostroza's 11th goal, a tip rebound off a slot scramble 2:39 into the third.

 

Lankinen made 29 saves. Dustin Tokarski had 15 for Buffalo.

 

The Blackhawks dominated the first 22 minutes, scoring four times on nine shots. Then the Sabres countered with a 15-shot second period and pulled within a goal after 40 minutes.

 

De Haan opened the scoring at 7:53 of the first, converting Taylor Raddysh's feed. Lafferty made it 2-0 at 13:44 with a deflection of Jake McCabe's point shot.

 

The Blackhawks led 3-0 on Toews' 10th goal of the season in his 999th NHL game. His power-play backhand was set up by Philipp Kurashev on a give-and-go with 3:05 left in the first.

 

At 1:21 of the second, Jones' three-quarter speed wrist shot beat Tokarski to make it 4-0.

 

De Haan's goal gave him two in a season for the first time since 2016-17. The defenseman had scored once in each of the last four seasons. 

 

Chicago forward Tyler Johnson came off injured reserve and out of concussion protocol before the game, going back in the lineup on the third line. Kirby Dach didn't dress because of a non-COVID-19 illness.

 

The Blackhawks begin a two-game road swing at Florida on Thursday.

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Big Sixth Inning Sends Monticello Past Lincoln

In a game heard on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com, a five-run sixth inning propelled the Monticello Sages past the Lincoln Railsplitter 8-2 in non-conference high school boy's baseball action Monday afternoon in Monticello.

 

Setting up the big sixth inning was a bizarre sequence in the bottom of the fifth inning and the Railers up 2-1. Lincoln's Wyatt Mammen struck out Dawlton Chupp and Joey Sprinkle to start the inning, the two and three hitters in the Monticello lineup. Then with one-ball and two-strike counts on Jacob Trusner, Thomas Swartz, and Spencer Mitze, Mamnen hit each consecutively setting up Eli Craft with the bases loaded and two outs. 

 

During Craft's at-bat allowed, a passed ball first allowed Trusner to score and tie the game at 2-apiece. Then a passed ball three pitches later allowed Swartz to score and give the Sages the lead, 3-2. 

 

Monticello's big sixth inning started with ninth-place hitter Logan Chupp drawing a lead-off walk to lead the inning off. Biniam Lienhart drew a walk to follow Chupp. 

 

The Sages called Tylor Bundy off the bench to pinch-hit for Dawlton Chupp's place in the lineup and the speedy Bundy laid down a perfect bunt up the right side of the infield and there was no play at any base, loading the bases for Joey Sprinkle.

 

The senior popped a mile-high fly ball to left and was misplayed allowing each runner to move up a base and scored Dylan Brown from third base, running for the catcher Chupp, to make the score 4-2. 

 

With the Railers infield drawn in, Trusner from the cleanup spot hit a flare to right-center field that nearly cleared the bases but Sprinkle was thrown out at the plate by three steps trying to score from first. Lienhart and Bundy scored easily to stretch the Sages advantage to 6-2.


Following Trusner's two-run single, Swartz singled to left, moving Trusner to third base. With Mitze batting, Swartz took off for second base. The throw skipped in to shortstop Andrew Graue and that allowed Trusner to score from third base and make the score 7-2.

 

The Sages would tack on the final run they'd score when Mitze singled home Swartz to make the score 8-2.

 

Equally as impressive as the Sages late scoring bursts were sophomore pitchers Luke Teschke and Jacob Long.

 

Teschke, who earlier last week committed to playing baseball at Illinois State University, pitched into the fifth inning in the third week of the season. The sophomore right-hander struck out nine Railers over 4 1/3 innings, walking three and allowed two unearned runs.

 

Teschke started the game with a fielding error when Daulton Miller grounded one up the first base line. Teschke's throw was over the head of first basemen Trusner and Miller end up coming around to score when Teschke walked Alex Hoeffert with the bases loaded.

 

Jaden Leadley started the fifth inning with a strikeout for Lincoln but reached on a passed ball error. He would later come around to score when Sean Raffa singled. 

 

After Leadley reached base, Long relieved Teshke after he recorded his ninth strikeout of Miller. The sophomre southpaw allowed Sean Raffa to single home a run. After the run-scoring single, Trent Koehler's single in the hole at shortstop set up first and second with one out.

 

On a ground ball to Craft at third base, the freshman made a heads up play to step on the bag and throw across to Trusner at first base to close out the inning with a double play. 

 

Long finished the win out for Monticello going 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief with no walks and four strikeouts. He allowed four hits. 

 

Koehler, who started on the mound for Lincoln, finished 1-for-4. He went four innings, allowing a run on two hits, three walks and struck out ten. Raffa paced the Lincoln offense going 2-for-2 with an RBI and a pair of walks. 

 

Trusner finished 1-for-3 with two runs batted in and two runs scored. Swartz finished 2-for-2 with a pair of runs scored, a stolen base, a walk and was hit by a pitch.

 

Mitze finished 1-for-3 with an RBI for Monticello and Lienhart went 1-for-2 with a walk, two runs scored and a stolen base.

 

Lincoln drops to 1-2 on the young season while Monticello moves to 6-2.

 

The Sages travel to Champaign St. Thomas More on Wednesay to open Illini Prairie Conference action. 

 

The next Sages baseball broadcast on 95.9 FM WEZC will be next Thursday when Monticello hosts Olympia. 

 

Hear girl's softball action on WEZC and at dewittdailynews.com this Thursday afternoon when the Lady Sages host Tri-Valley. 

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Boy's Baseball Monticello hosts Lincoln on WEZC

The Monticello Sages boy's baseball team will host Lincon in non-conference high school boy's baseball action this afternoon in Monticello.

 

The Sages have started the season 5-2 with its most recent win a 7-4 home victory Friday over Westville.

 

The Railsplitters have struggled to get games in so far and sit at 1-1. They beat Warrensburg-Latham in the season opener and most recently fell to Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin last Monday.

 

Game time this afternon is 4:30 pm and can be heard on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

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Young Lady Maroons Softball Squad Looking to Overcome Early Adversity

An already very young Clinton Lady Maroons varsity softball squad is deal with some early season challenges.

 

Head Coach Andrea Rhoades indicates they have been bit by the injury bug in the early season so they are asking some players to take on unfamiliar roles and young players to step up.

 

 

Coach Rhoades explains some of the injuries they are dealing with are from players they had hoped would be key contributors this year but gives credit to the girls they've asked to try out new positions and step up in bigger roles.

 

 

Coach Rhoades praises the way the team enjoys being around each other and the way her seniors are mentoring the young players they have.

 

 

The Lady Maroons roster breaks down to four seniors, two juniors, six sophomores and five freshman. Clinton has started the season 0-2 and will be in action this afternooon taking on GCMS.

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SLU Gets By ISU Sunday

The Illinois State baseball team scored in the 1st inning on Sunday but dropped the series finale, 8-2, to split the series with Saint Louis at Duffy Bass Field.

 

Sophomore Sean Sinisko threw four scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and striking out two.

 

Illinois State drops back to .500 at 9-9 while Saint Louis jumps to 12-9.

 

An RBI in the 1st inning from junior Connor Olson opened the game's scoring.

 

Saint Louis scored three times in both the 5th and 7th innings to lead 6-1.

 

ISU loaded the bases in the 7th inning but came away with just one run, trailing 6-2.

 

SLU responded with a pair of runs in the 8th inning.

 

Junior Jake McCaw's nine-game hitting streak was snapped Sunday.

 

The Redbirds had its Saturday matchup with the Billikens canceled. Illinois State is scheduled to host Iowa on Tuesday before Eastern Illinois on Wednesday. Both games are at 5:00 p.m. CT.

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Michigan State Gets Best of Illinois in Series Finale

Illinois dropped the final game of the Big Ten opening weekend series against Michigan State at Illinois Field Sunday afternoon. 

 

Illinois took two wins in a Friday double header in East Lansing, Michigan but weather forced the series finale to Champaign. 

 

Outfielder Taylor Jackson went 2-for-4 with two RBI to lead the Illini at the plate. Cam McDonald picked up his team-high 24th RBI with a double down the left field line in the fourth inning which also extended his hitting streak to 19 games. 

 

McDonald has reached base in every game this season.

 

Michigan State (11-9, 1-2) scored three runs in the second inning and another two in the third, but Illinois (10-11, 2-1) responded with three runs in the top of the fourth to pull within two of the Spartans. 

 

Sophomore Alex Vera entered in relief of Jack Crowder and threw 3.2 scoreless innings, giving up just three hits. The Illini bullpen held Michigan State to zero runs in the final seven frames of the ballgame, but the offense was unable to bring a run across to spark a comeback.

 

Illinois travels to Sauget, Illinois on Tuesday to take on Missouri in a neutral site game against the Tigers. The game will be played at GCS Credit Union Ballpark and will begin at 6 p.m. CT.

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Cardinals Reportedly Bringing Back 1B Pujols

Albert Pujols is returning to St. Louis after agreeing to a one-year deal with the Cardinals, according to published reports.

 

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which first reported the agreement late Sunday night, said the contract with the 42-year-old slugger — who is 21 home runs shy of 700 for his career — was pending a physical.

 

The deal brings Pujols back to where he began his major league career, becoming one of the game’s most powerful and dangerous all-around hitters. The NL Rookie of the Year in 2001 spent his first 11 years in St. Louis, helping the Cardinals win the World Series in 2009 and 2011. He hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons in St. Louis.

 

A wildly popular player in St. Louis, his last game for the Cardinals was the team’s Game 7 win over Texas in the 2011 World Series.

 

Pujols was selected the NL MVP three times and made nine All-Star teams with the Cardinals before signing a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels in 2012. He was waived by the Angels last May and signed with the Dodgers, for whom he hit 12 homers and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.

 

Back with the Cardinals, Pujols could help serve as the team’s designated hitter with the National League now adopting the rule that had long been in place in the American League.

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Bears Ink Bills OL

The Buffalo Bills stand to lose Ryan Bates after the offensive lineman agreed to sign an offer sheet to play for the Chicago Bears.

 

The Chicago Tribune first reported the move late Thursday.

 

Once the offer sheet is filed with the NFL, the Bills will have five days to match the Bears’ offer or lose Bates without compensation. A restricted free agent, Bates’ rights were retained by the Bills last week when the team tendered him a one-year, $2.433 million contract.

 

The value of the offer sheet was not revealed.

 

Buffalo has very limited space under its salary cap, which already counts Bates’ contract, and the team would have to free up additional space to match the Bears’ offer.

 

He’s a third-year player who went undrafted out of Penn State and was acquired by Buffalo in a trade that sent defensive end Eli Harold to the Philadelphia Eagles in August 2019. Noted for his versatility for being able to play each position, Bates appeared in 41 games, including four starts last season with the Bills.

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Cubs Trade OF Ramirez to Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays acquired outfielder Harold Ramírez in a trade with the Chicago Cubs on Friday.

 

Ramirez batted .268 with seven homers and 41 RBIs in 99 games with Cleveland last season. He was acquired by the Cubs for cash in November.

 

Chicago got minor league infielder Esteban Quiroz in the deal with Tampa Bay. The 30-year-old Quiroz hit .268 with 12 homers and 48 RBIs in 68 games with Triple-A Durham last year.

 

A native of Cartagena, Colombia, Ramirez, 27, is a .271 hitter over parts of three seasons with Miami and Cleveland. He ranked sixth among NL rookies with 116 hits for the Marlins in 2019.

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Ross Chastain Bangs Way to First NASCAR Win

Ross Chastain and Trackhouse Racing became first-time Cup winners Sunday when Chastain bashed and banged his way around the final lap of overtime at the Circuit of the Americas road course.

 

He tangled with friend and former teammate AJ Allmendinger to secure his first victory in 121 Cup starts. Chastain won in his sixth race with Trackhouse, which is co-owned by Pitbull.

 

The win is complex for Chastain, who justified his aggressive last-lap moves against Allmendinger as what’s required to win in the Cup Series. Chastain gave initial pause at what damage he may have done in the relationship with his one-time mentor. The two were Xfinity Series teammates at Kaulig Racing.

 

Overtime produced the most aggressive action of a long Sunday of racing on the permanent road course used primarily for Formula One. The race had nine cautions and ran 3 hours, 20 minutes.

 

Tyler Reddick had pushed his way to the led on the single lap run between the eighth and ninth caution, while Chastain and Allmendinger restarted overtime from second and third. Sitting in fourth was Alex Bowman, the driver often chided for “backing into victories.

 

For a moment, it looked as if another win would indeed fall in Bowman’s lap. Overtime featured four lead changes, two by Chastain, one by Allmendinger and Bowman even got to the front, but Chastain decided the race by divebombing inside of Allmendinger.

 

Bowman finished second for Hendrick Motorsports and a Chevrolet sweep. Christopher Bell was third for Toyota and followed by Chase Elliott of Hendrick, the defending race winner. Reddick was fifth and pole-sitter Ryan Blaney was the highest-finishing Ford driver in sixth.

 

The Cup Series races Sunday at Richmond Raceway in Virginia. Alex Bowman is the defending race winner and Martin Truex Jr. won the playoff race at Richmond last September.

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Packers Sign CB Nixon, Lose CB Sullivan

The Green Bay Packers have signed former Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Keisean Nixon.

 

Nixon appeared in 40 games and made two starts during his three seasons with the Raiders. He made 20 tackles on defense and 18 on special teams. He had a team-high nine tackles on special teams as a rookie in 2019.

 

This move reunites Nixon with new Packers special teams coach Rich Bisaccia, who went 7-6 as the Raiders’ interim head coach last season after the resignation of Jon Gruden. Bisaccia had been the Raiders’ special teams coordinator before taking over for Gruden.

 

The 24-year-old Nixon joined the Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 2019. He played two years at South Carolina after transferring from Arizona Western College.

 

Meanwhile, former Packers cornerback Chandon Sullivan signed with the Minnesota Vikings on Friday, the latest player to switch from one NFC North rival to another.

 

The 25-year-old Sullivan played more than 76% of the snaps on defense last season for Green Bay, mostly in the slot position in the nickel package. He didn’t miss a game in three years with the Packers and had five interceptions and 16 passes defensed from 2019-21.

 

Undrafted out of Georgia State, where he became the program’s career interception leader, Sullivan broke into the NFL in 2018 with Philadelphia.

 

The Vikings have made a habit of signing ex-Packers over the years, including their most recent addition earlier this week: outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith.

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HS Softball: Lady Maroons Fall To Maroa-Forsyth

In a game heard Friday evening on WHOW, the Clinton Lady Maroons fell to Maroa-Forsyth 12-2 in five innings.  The non-conference matchup was relocated to Millikin University's turf softball complex due to wet field conditions.  
 

The Trojans jumped out to 4-0 lead in the top of the first, and never looked back.  They were led by Mariana Rohman, who threw two shutout innings of one hit ball with four strikeouts for the Trojan win.  At the plate, Maroa-Forsyth was led by Reese Tirpak, who went 2 for 2 with a two-run homerun and a triple. Val Foulke also went 2 for 3 with two runs batted in on a homerun and triple.  The Trojans are now 4-0 on the season. 
 

The young Clinton team is facing a slew of injuries already this season, especially in the pitching department.  Usual starting center fielder Brooke Reeves got the start.  She took the loss on five innings of work; allowing 12 runs on 13 hits with four strikeouts, five walks, and on hit batter. 
 

The Lady Maroons were led at the plate by the Serv-Pro of Piatt/Dewitt County Player of the Game Alaina Soberalski.  The junior catcher went 2 for 3 at the plate.  Heidi Humble and Brooke Reeves also went 1 for 3 for Clinton.  
 

Clinton falls to 0-2 on the year.  They next play Monday at home against GCMS. 

 

Next week's "Maroons Game of the Week" broadcast on WHOW is scheduled for Thursday at 4:30 as Clinton hosts Central A&M in a CIC conference matchup. 
 

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HS Softball: Monticello Rolls Decatur Eisenhower

In a game heard on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com, Lizzie Stiverson hit a two-run home run and scored three runs helping Monticello shut out Decatur Eisenhower 15-0 in four innings Friday afternoon from Monticello High School in non-conference high school girl's softball action.

 

Stiverson's two-run blast through a stiff wind Friday capped a four-run second inning to lead 6-0 and the Lady Sages tacked on eight more runs in the third to open up a 14-0. A run in the fourth ended the game on the 15-run rule.

 

Stiverson was the Piatt/DeWitt County Player of the Game and finished 2-for-2 with a run-scoring double in the first inning and scored three runs. Addison Wallace was 2-for-2 with three runs scored, a double and drove in two. 

 

Hannah Uebinger was 1-for-3 with an RBI, a run scored and a stolen base. 

 

Reese Patton tossed four shutout innings, striking out eight on zero walks and only one hit. 

 

The Lady Sages even their record at 2-2.

 

The next Monticello sports broadcast on WEZC and at dewittdailynews.com is Monday when the Sages baseball team hosts Lincoln. 

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Pelicans Drop Struggling Bulls

Devonte' Graham hit five 3-pointers on his way to a season-high 30 points, CJ McCollum scored 25 and the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Chicago Bulls 126-109 on Thursday night.

 

Jonas Valanciunas added 16 points and 19 rebounds for the Pelicans, who won for the fourth time in six games as they try to solidify their hold on a Western Conference play-in spot.

 

Zach LaVine scored 39 points and Coby White added 23 for Chicago, which played without leading scorer DeMar DeRozan (left groin) and lost for the fifth time in six games. The slumping Bulls are in danger of sliding out of a top-six seed in the East (the seventh and eighth seeds have to host the play-in round).

 

Pelicans undrafted rookie Jose Alvarado scored 13 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, hitting a driving layup, floater and 3 in succession to help fuel a pivotal surge in which New Orleans built a 15-point cushion. Graham's deep 3 and Valanciunas' 10-foot turnaround capped the spurt and made it 107-92 with 6:26 to go.

 

Javonte Green and Alex Caruso each hit a 3 to help Chicago pull to 109-102 before Graham hit a momentum-halting driving layup as he was fouled. Graham added two more free throws to give him five straight points.

 

McCollum's bank shot made it 116-102 with 2:01 left and Chicago removed its starters soon after.

 

LaVine scored 16 points in the first quarter, when he hit five of his first six shots, including all three 3s he attempted, and helped Chicago build a lead as large as nine.

 

But the Pelicans erased the deficit in the second. Graham's 29-foot 3, followed by his driving floater while being fouled, put New Orleans up 52-50.

 

The Pelicans were ahead by four late in the period on Herb Jones' putback, but White drained his fourth of five 3s on the night to pull Chicago to 63-62 at halftime.

 

The Bulls visit Cleveland on Saturday night in the third of five straight road games.

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Blackhawks Top Kings in Shootout

Thursday night, Collin Delia picked up the biggest win of his fledgling NHL career and outdueled Jonathon Quick.

 

Delia made 43 saves and stopped all three of Los Angeles' attempts in the shootout to give the Chicago Blackhawks a 4-3 victory.

 

Delia grew up in Southern California going to Los Angeles Kings games and watching Quick in goal.

 

Alex DeBrincat had a goal and an assist in regulation and then had the only score in the shootout for the Blackhawks, who have won two straight for the first time since getting four consecutive victories in the middle of January.

 

Delia made only his third NHL appearance this season. The 27-year old goalie began the season with Rockford of the AHL before being called up two months into the season. With Chicago playing on back-to-back nights, Delia found out before Wednesday's game in Anaheim that he was going to get the start.

 

Delia will be seeing more action over the final month of the season. He is the Blackhawks' backup goaltender after Marc Andre-Fleury was traded to Minnesota and Kevin Lankinen assumed No. 1 duties.

 

Patrick Kane also had a goal and an assist for the Blackhawks. Sam Lafferty also scored.

 

Phillip Danault scored twice for the Kings for his fourth multigoal game of the season. Quick made 28 saves.

 

Trevor Moore added a short-handed score for Los Angeles. He's the first Kings player since Mike Richards in 2011 to have a short-handed goal in two straight games.

 

Kane, who has four straight games with a point, has 23 in March (five goals, 18 assists). That's second to Nashville's Roman Josi, who has 26 points this month. Kane was in position after DeBrincat's shot took a big bounce off the endboards and put it past Quick at 16:44 of the first period.

 

Shortly after Los Angeles' Troy Stecher was sent to the penalty box for hooking, the Kings evened it on Moore's breakaway short-hander 2:13 into the second. Moore has 13 goals this season, but four are short-handed - which ties him with Columbus' Gustav Nyquist, Florida's Aleksander Barkov, Ottawa's Alex Formenton and Anaheim's Isac Lundestrom for the league lead.

 

DeBrincat scored his team-leading 36th of the season nine minutes later on a one-timer after a feed from behind the net by Dylan Strome.

 

Both of Danault's goals were rebounds in front of the net. His first score at 16:50 of the second period gave him his third goal in the last four games and tied it at 2.

 

After Lafferty's backhander in front of the crease put the Blackhawks back on top with 1:51 remaining in the second, Danault would tie it again at 9:07 of the third when he was able to fight through traffic and knock it in.

 

With the Kings still missing seven key players due to injuries, coach Todd McLellan thought this was the first time there were major breakdowns in communication. Despite being short-handed, Los Angeles is in second place in the Pacific Division by two points over Edmonton.

 

The Blackhawks conclude their three-game road trip against the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday.

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Flyers Blast Blues

Travis Konecny scored twice, Hayden Hodgson had a goal and an assist in his NHL debut and the Philadelphia Flyers beat the St. Louis Blues 5-2 on Thursday night.

 

The Flyers snapped a 13-game winless streak on the road, winning away from home for the first time since Dec. 29 at expansion Seattle.

 

Patrick Brown also scored, Joel Farabee added an empty-netter, and Martin Jones made 26 saves for Philadelphia. Cam York and Kevin Hayes each two assists.

 

Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexei Toropchenko scored for St. Louis, and Jordan Binnington made 22 saves. The Blues have lost three of four.

 

The Flyers had the jump from the start, outshooting the Blues 9-4 and taking a 2-0 lead in the opening period.

 

Konecny gave the Flyers the lead at the 6:27 mark with a quick wrister from the left dot. Kevin Connauton had the primary assist, giving him his first point in 29 games this season.

 

Brown extended the lead with 5:09 left in the first. It was his fourth of the season, snapping a nine-game goal drought.

 

Tarasenko's power-play goal at 1:47 of the second period cut it to 2-1.

 

Seconds after Pavel Buchnevich's turnover, Konecny's slap shot trickled through Binnington's pads to give the Flyers a 3-1 lead with 7:31 left.

 

Toropchenko scored for the Blues with 4:00 left in the second, immediately after Martin mishandled the puck behind the Flyers' net.

 

Hodgson gave the Flyers some insurance, banging home a rebound off Hayes' shot with 8:26 left in the third.

 

Blues LW David Perron's career-high seven-game goals streak was snapped, but he got an assist on Tarasenko's goal to give him an eight-game points streak. Perron has points in 11 of his last 12 games and has 19 points (13 goals, 6 assists) during that span.

 

Blues D Torey Krug (upper body) is out week-to-week after suffering the injury at Washington on Tuesday.

 

Blues F Tyler Bozak (lower body) was placed on the injured reserve and D Calle Rosen was recalled from Springfield, the team's AHL affiliate.

 

The Blues host Carolina on Saturday night.

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Keselowski Hit With Huge Punishment for Modifications

NASCAR issued steep penalties against Brad Keselowski and his new race team on Thursday for illegally modifying a supplied part on the Next Gen car.

 

Keselowski was docked 100 driver points and the No. 6 Ford team docked 100 owner points. Matt McCall, his crew chief, was fined $100,000 and suspended from the next four Cup races.

 

The penalty plunged the 2012 NASCAR champion from 16th in the current standings to 35th — behind every other full-time driver in the field. Keselowski is in his first season as driver and part-owner of RFK Racing.

 

Additionally, should Keselowski qualify for NASCAR’s playoffs, he will be docked 10 points at the reset ahead of the first round.

 

The infraction was discovered in a teardown technical inspection of the No. 6 Ford at NASCAR’s research and development center in Concord this week. The RFK Racing entry was brought to NASCAR headquarters after Sunday’s race at Atlanta, where Keselowski was sent to the back of the field at the start for unapproved adjustments.

 

Keselowski finished 12th at Atlanta.

 

NASCAR announced a more stringent penalty structure for 2022 and its new Next Gen car, which is a spec car consisting of primarily single-source parts from distributors. Modifications are not permitted, and the Fords from RFK and Team Penske were already found to have made changes to their wheels ahead of the Daytona 500. Both organizations escaped penalty for the first offense.

 

NASCAR’s new penalty system is three-tiered and designed to deter teams from altering its new race car. Keselowski received an L2-level penalty, which allows for points deductions up to 120 points and fines of up to $250,000.

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NASCAR Series Heads to Texas for First Road Course of Season

The first road course of the 2022 NASCAR season is up this weekend when the circuit heads to Austin, Texas to take on the Circuit of the Americas road course.

 

Last year, road course master Chase Elliott won. William Byron pulled off the race-record 46th lead change on lap 315 of 325 and outran Christopher Bell and Ross Chastain to win in Atlanta last Sunday afternoon. 

 

Byron was among a race-record 20 race leaders. He gave Hendrick Motorsports three different winners through five races. Bell was penalized for an illegal pass on the final lap and relegated to 23rd place, the last spot on the lead lap. The race weekend was the first on the track since a major repaving and reconfiguration since the series raced at the 1.54-mile track last July. Chastain’s finish came despite a crash that put him two laps down. Kyle Busch also rallied after a crash to finish third.

 

The 68 lap, 231.88 mile race takes place Sunday at 2:30 pm. Practice is Saturday morning at 9 am with qualifying 10 am. 

 

The XFinity Series Pit Boss 250 runs Saturday in Austin at 3:30 pm. Pole-sitter Kyle Busch won last year. 

 

Ty Gibbs passed Ryan Sieg on the final lap of a second overtime and beat Austin Hill by 0.178 seconds to win at Atlanta last weekend.

 

Gibbs led just the final lap and earned his second victory in five starts this season and his sixth in 23 career starts. The race included a race-record 10 caution flags that slowed the pace for 56 laps. A.J. Allmendinger ran third, followed by Riley Herbst and Landon Cassill. Noah Gragson’s streak of four consecutive top-three finishes and Justin Allgaier’s streak of 16 consecutive top-10 finishes ended.

 

Practice for the XFinity racers is tonight at 4 pm with qualifying at 4:30 pm. 

Todd Gilliland won after starting fifth last year at COTA in the Camping World Truck Series. 

 

Corey Heim passed Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Chandler Smith on the last lap and won at Atlanta, his first career victory in just his fifth career start last week. 

 

Ben Rhodes rallied to finish second, followed by Ty Majeski and Smith at Atlanta. Smith is the points leader by 13 over Tanner Gray. Gray and third-place Majeski are the only drivers with three top-10 finishes in as many races.

 

The 42 lap, 143.22 mile race runs at noon Saturday with practice this afternoon at 2 pm and qualifying 2:30 pm. 

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Illinois Routs Wheaton In Impromptu Non-Conference Matchup

Illinois baseball took down Wheaton on Wednesday evening at Illinois Field, 13-5. 

 

The Illini pitching staff held Wheaton to just five hits while the Illini offense registered 12 hits in the win. Cam McDonald kept his 16-game hitting streak alive with a single in the first inning, while Branden Comia, Jacob Campbell, and Brody Harding each recorded multi-hit games. Campbell and Harding both homered in the game. It was Harding's first homerun of the season.

 

Wheaton (3-10) scored first in the top of the second inning, but Illinois (8-10) responded in the fourth as Jacob Campbell destroyed a three-run homerun to left field to put the Illini on top. The Illini tallied another three runs in the fifth inning and two in the sixth to take an 8-1 lead heading into the final three frames.

 

Illinois tacked on another five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to extend their lead before Wheaton scored four more in the top of the ninth. Crayton Burnett earned his first collegiate win on the mound, pitching 2.0 innings in relief while tallying two strikeouts and giving up no hits.

 

 The Illini improve to 8-10 on the season before opening up Big Ten conference play this weekend at Michigan State. 

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Blackhawks Double Up Ducks

Patrick Kane had a goal and two assists as the Blackhawks defeated the skidding Ducks 4-2 on Wednesday to snap a three-game losing streak.

 

Kane has been hot not only against the Ducks, but the rest of the NHL as well. He has 16 points in Chicago's last seven games overall, but only two goals. On March 8 in Chicago, Kane posted a career-high six points in an 8-3 win over Anaheim.

 

Kane gave the Blackhawks a 2-1 advantage at 11:37 of the second period with a slap shot from the right circle on a power play. He had a chance to score on a breakaway five minutes into the third, but was stopped by John Gibson.

 

Dylan Strome scored the go-ahead goal with 3:50 remaining when he redirected Riley Stillman's shot from near the blueline past goalie Gibson to give the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead. Alex DeBrincat put it out of reach on an empty-net goal with 1:03 left.

 

Kevin Lankinen stopped 27 shots in his first game as Chicago's No. 1 goalie. Lankinen rose into that role after the Blackhawks traded Marc-Andre Fleury to the Minnesota Wild on Monday.

 

Strome and DeBrincat each had a goal and an assist. Taylor Raddysh also scored for Chicago.

 

Sam Carrick - playing in his 100th NHL game - scored twice for Anaheim, marking the first multigoal game of his six-year career and snapping a 19-game goal drought.

 

Gibson made 24 saves.

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Illinois State Rolls Illinois-Chicago

The Illinois State baseball team never trailed in Wednesday's 9-5 win over UIC at rain-soaked Duffy Bass Field.

 

Sophomore Ryan Cermak homered in his first two at-bats before senior Nick Gile delivered a two-run shot in the 5th inning.

 

Senior Colin Wyman retired the nine batters he faced to record the win for Illinois State (8-8, 2-0 at home).

 

Future Missouri Valley Conference member UIC (5-11) scored its five runs in innings five-to-seven.

 

Illinois State is scheduled to play Saint Louis on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Duffy Bass Field.

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Mt. Pulaski Baseball Looks To Build on State Finals Appearance This Season

The Mt. Pulaski Hilltoppers boy's baseball team finished fourth in the state last year in Class 1A and with a good number of players from that team returning, early practices are already showing the determination to return to Peoria in the spring of 2022.

 

Coach Joel Washko says obviously the bulwark of last year's team was Drew Martin who is now at Heartland Community College playing baseball but he's really excited about the young players that were contributors last year that return for 2022.

 

 

Coach Washko says replacing all the things Martin could do on the mound, in the field and with the bat is going to have to be a team effort but he he is confident in this group of players to do that.

 

 

According to Coach Washko, the little things are what makes his program stand out. He believes the emphasis on things like base running and fielding and pitchers throwing strikes are what make high school programs successful.

 

 

The Hilltoppers won its season opener Monday with a 5-2 win over Central A&M and had its Tuesday game with Pawnee rained out. They return to action Thursday at Pawnee and a Friday game with Blue Ridge.

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Bucks Get By Bulls

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 25 points and 17 rebounds in his return to action and the Milwaukee Bucks extended their recent mastery of the Chicago Bulls with a 126-98 blowout on Tuesday night.

 

Antetokounmpo missed the Bucks' 138-119 loss at Minnesota on Saturday due to a sore right knee. Milwaukee played without All-Star forward Khris Middleton, who was dealing with a sore left wrist.

 

Jrue Holiday had a game-high 27 points to go along with seven assists and no turnovers as the Bucks won for the 15th time in their last 16 meetings with the Bulls, including all three matchups this season. Chicago's lone win during that stretch came in the 2019-20 regular-season finale, when the Bucks rested their starters because they were locked into the East's No. 3 playoff seed.

 

Brook Lopez had 10 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes for Milwaukee after making his first start since the season opener. The 7-footer had come off the bench for the Bucks' last three games after missing 67 due to a back injury that required surgery.

 

The Bucks shot 61% from the floor and had seven players score in double figures. The Bulls shot just 42.4%.

 

Nikola Vucevic had 22 points for the Bulls, who opened a five-game trip one night after a 113-99 victory over the Toronto Raptors. DeMar DeRozan and LaVine added 21 points each as the Bulls lost for the ninth time in 12 games.

 

Milwaukee took command with a 23-4 spurt that began late in the first quarter and continued in the second.

 

After trailing by 23 late in the second period, the Bulls cut the lead to 64-54 early in the third. But the Bucks regrouped and pulled away again, eventually leading by as many as 35.

 

Milwaukee's Serge Ibaka and Chicago's Tristan Thompson each received technical fouls late in the fourth quarter after they got into a brief tussle on an inbounds pass attempt.

 

The Bulls are at New Orleans on Thursday. The Bulls beat the Pelicans 128-112 in Chicago on Oct. 22.

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Blues Roll Caps

An injury ravaged St. Louis Blues squad put together a strong 60-minute effort to beat the Washington Capitals 5-2 Tuesday night and snap a three-game skid, but lost defenseman Torey Krug to an apparent left hand or wrist injury.

 

Krug left the game in the second period after getting slashed by Nick Jensen and did not return. Krug, after getting slashed, skated the rest of the shift holding his stick only in his right hand before going to the bench.

 

Coach Craig Berube refused to say anything more than Krug left with an upper-body injury. His team was already missing winger Rob Thomas to injury and Vladimir Tarasenko for a second consecutive game because of an illness.

 

Krug going down looks like just another obstacle for St. Louis to overcome.

 

Ideally the Blues keep putting in performances like that to keep pace in a tight Central Division playoff race. They left Washington with an important victory thanks to a goal and an assist from Brandon Saad and Brayden Schenn, the game-winner from Nathan Walker hours after he was called up and 19 saves from Ville Husso.

 

David Perron added an empty-netter to extend his goal-scoring streak to seven games. Every goal but Perron's was scored in tight around the net, which was a point of emphasis going in.

 

Thanks to a series of turnovers and defensive zone miscues, the Capitals lost a second consecutive game in regulation to fall to 7-2-1 in March. Tom Wilson had a goal and an assist, Evgeny Kuznetsov scored and Vitek Vanecek allowed four goals on 37 shots.

 

Walker, who won the Cup with the Capitals four years ago after they drafted him in 2014, was only in the Blues lineup because of a combination of injury, illness, the salary cap and a move made before the trade deadline Monday. The only Australian player in league history, Walker scored in the NHL for the first time since Dec. 12 - his fifth goal of the season after a hat trick Dec. 9.

 

The Blues host the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.

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DT Reed Reportedly Signs With Packers, LB Za'Darius Smith Headed to Minnesota

Free agent defensive tackle Jarran Reed says he’s heading to the Green Bay Packers.

 

Reed indicated his choice Tuesday by tweeting, “Let’s gooooo #GoPackGo so thankful for the opportunity to continue my career in Green Bay.” The Packers haven’t announced his addition yet.

 

The 29-year-old Reed should fortify a defensive line that features playmaking tackle Kenny Clark but lacks depth.

 

Reed played for the Kansas City Chiefs last season and had 2½ sacks plus a fumble recovery. He spent his first five seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, who selected him in the second round of the 2016 draft out of Alabama.

 

He has 24½ career sacks, including 10½ in 2018 and 6½ in 2020.

 

The Packers had spent much of the free agency period focusing on keeping their own players. Over the last week, they reached deals to keep All-Pro linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, cornerback Rasul Douglas and tight end Robert Tonyan in Green Bay. They also signed former Chicago Bears punter Pat O’Donnell.

 

The Packers’ major loss on defense has been outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith, who was released in a cap-saving move.

 

Smith recorded a combined 26 sacks in 2019-20 before a back injury limited him to one regular-season game and one playoff game last year. Smith agreed to a three-year, $42 million deal with the Minnesota Vikings on Tuesday.

 

The 29-year-old Smith was a Pro Bowl pick in 2019 and 2020 with a combined 26 sacks in 32 games for Green Bay, but he had a major back injury last season and appeared in only one game for the NFC North champions.

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Bulls Down Raptors

DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine each scored 26 points and Nikola Vucevic had 19 points and 13 rebounds as the Chicago Bulls beat the Toronto Raptors 113-99 on Monday night.

 

DeRozan shot 11 for 14 as the Bulls snapped a three-game losing streak and remained in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

 

Toronto hung around until LaVine scored six-straight points to break the game open in the third quarter as the Bulls pieced together a 21-8 run. LaVine scored 14 of his 26 points in the third, going 6 of 8 from the floor in that span.

 

Pascal Siakam led Toronto with 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting and had five rebounds. Fred VanVleet scored 19 points on 7-for-22 shooting from the field and 3-for-12 sniping from 3-point range. Chris Boucher had 19 points, and a team-high 10 rebounds.

 

VanVleet said it was fair to say the Raptors ran out of gas during the third quarter. Chicago took advantage, building its lead as Toronto endured a six-minute scoring drought.

 

The Raptors, who had won six of seven heading into Monday's game, remain in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

 

Toronto forward Thaddeus Young got the deficit under 10 points with a layup with 35.1 seconds left in the third quarter, but LaVine buried a 3-pointer from the left corner to put the Bulls back up by double digits, 84-73, to start the fourth quarter.

 

The Bulls assisted on 28 baskets and turned the ball over just six times, despite Toronto building a 62-48 scoring edge in the paint.

 

Chicago forward Patrick Williams returned to the court for the first time since Oct. 28 after undergoing surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left wrist.

 

After undergoing left knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus in January, G Lonzo Ball will miss more time, according to Coach Billy Donovan. Ball and the medical staff met and decided to stop running and cutting for 10 days in the hope of eliminating pain as Ball also recovers from a bone bruise. 

 

The Bulls are at the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.

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Cardinals C Molina Reports to Camp, Claim LHP Naughton From Angels

Yadier Molina is back, and both he and the St. Louis Cardinals couldn’t be happier.

 

After missing the first week of camp for personal reasons, the 39-year-old Molina arrived at the Cardinals’ complex on Monday for what will likely be his final spring training.

 

When St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol welcomed Molina back during a closed team meeting, the cheers and applause from his teammates could be heard outside the concrete building.

 

Prior to that, a grinning Molina couldn’t take more than a handful of steps without a different teammate walking over to embrace him.

 

With 20 starts together this season, Wainwright and Molina will have 325 as a battery, breaking the major league record held by former Detroit Tigers players Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan.

 

When Marmol, a rookie manger, writes Molina’s name on the lineup card for the first time, he’ll be inserting a 10-time gold glover and nine-time all-star behind the plate. He’ll also have an unquestioned team leader on the field.

 

Molina knew he would be late to camp for some time, but couldn’t inform the Cardinals because of the lockout rules banning communication between teams and players.

 

The Cardinals claimed left-hander Packy Naughton off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels on Monday.

 

The 25-year-old Naughton, who fills out the Cardinals’ 40-man roster, was chosen by the Reds in the ninth round of the 2017 first-year player draft. The former Virginia Tech star made his major league debut for the Angels last season, going 0-4 with a 7.15 ERA in five starts and seven total appearances.

 

Naughton spent most of his season in the minors, going 2-2 with a 4.90 ERA in 10 starts and 14 appearances at Double-A Rocket City and Triple-A Salt Lake City. He did not pitch the previous season because COVID-19 shut down the minors.

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Olympia Routs Clinton in High School Softball Opener

The Olympia Lady Spartans started fast and didn't look back as they rolled the Clinton Lady Maroons 16-1 in the season opener for Clinton Monday night in Stanford.

 

Olympia jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead after the first and expanded the lead to 10-0 after two. 

 

The Lady Maroons scratched a run across in the top of the fourth inning on a Heidi Humble base hit but Olympia scored 6 in the bottom half of the frame to close out the 15-run win. 

 

Brooke Reeves and Humble each finished 1-for-2 for Clinton. Reeves scored the only run for the Lady Maroons. 

 

Clinton committed four errors and ten of the 16 runs Reeves allowed were earned. Reeves struggled with her control for ten walks, ten hits and struck out one. 

 

The Lady Spartans move to 3-0 on the young season while the Lady Maroons drop to 0-1. 

 

The schedule doesn't let up for Clinton who hosts St. Joseph-Ogden Thursday, Maroa-Forsyth Friday and after a Monday matchup with GCMS, takes on Tuscola next Tuesday.

 

Hear Friday's home matchup with Maroa-Forsyth on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM/106.5 FM WHOW and at all the WHOW digital platforms. 

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Clinton High School Baseball Opens Spring Campaign This Week

The high school baseball and softball seasons have been underway for a week now and the Clinton Maroons boy's baseball team opens its spring 2022 campaign this week.

 

Coach John Hickman says there are several variables to opting to begin the season a week later than most teams. He points to the weather not allowing most team time outside for the first few weeks of practice but they also want a chance to get pitchers' arms in shape.

 

 

For Coach Hickman, the early season practices are aimed to get kids back into baseball shape and a baseball routine. With several multisport athletes and kids doing other things, he recognizes some may not have been able to focus on baseball when practices start back up.

 

 

This year's Maroons squad is going to be very senior-heavy. Coach Hickman indicates they have nine returning seniors and a new senior coming out for ten seniors on the roster. With so much returning talent from last year's team, Coach Hickman is already seeing the benefits of that experience.

 

 

Coach Hickman is optimistic heading into the season. He says pitching and defense will be keys for them and is hoping for some improvement offensively for his team. 

 

The Maroons are scheduled to host Mahomet-Seymour tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon before road games at Olympia Thursday, at Ridgeview for a Saturday doubleheader, and then opening conference action at Tuscola next Tuesday. 

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Illinois Knocked Out By Houston in NCAA Tournament

Taze Moore scored 21 points and Jamal Shead added 18 as the Houston Cougars, a Final Four team last season, advanced in the South Region of the NCAA Tournament with a 68-53 win Sunday over Illinois, ousted in the opening weekend for the second straight year.

 

The fifth-seeded Cougars (31-5) are making another serious run at a national title despite losing their two best players to season-ending injuries. Now, with a trio of transfers and a defense with some serious teeth, they’re headed home to Texas for the next round — in San Antonio, against either Arizona or TCU.

 

Kyler Edwards added 15 points for Houston, a team often overlooked but making major noise again this March.

 

With Houston’s fans chanting “Sweet 16, Sweet 16” in the closing seconds, Edwards dropped one last 3-pointer from the corner and seconds later lifted Moore, another of Houston’s transfers, off the floor.

 

The Cougars faced major adversity in December when guards Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark, two of the holdovers from last year’s talented squad, were lost to injuries. But instead of folding, Houston’s players formed an even tighter bond.

 

For Illinois, it’s another year of deep disappointment. The fourth-seeded Fighting Illini (23-10) were determined to go farther after being bumped by Loyola Chicago last year, but couldn’t get past the second round again.

 

All-American center Kofi Cockburn did his part, scoring 19 in 38 minutes to lead Illinois. The big man spurned the NBA last year for a shot at some tournament redemption, only to come up short in what was likely his last college game.

 

Illinois coach Brad Underwood credited Houston’s defense, but didn’t have an answer for his team’s poor shooting (6 of 25 on 3s) or turnovers (17). He got a nice lift from freshmen Luke Goode and RJ Melendez, but not enough from his other regulars.

 

Down by 12 in the first half, Illinois battled back and was within 56-49 after Alfonso Plummer’s four-point play.

 

But after Shead hit a floater, Houston’s Fabian White Jr. made the play of the game by racing into the backcourt and swatting the ball before it went out of bounds with his left hand to Moore for a layup.

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Illinois Falls to Southern Illinois in Series Finale

The Illinois baseball team dropped the Sunday rubber match at Southern Illinois, 7-5 from Carbondale, finishing the weekend losing the final two games after winning a slugfest 11-10 Friday night. 

 

Five Illini hitters registered multi-hit games, including junior OF Cam McDonald who notched three hits and two RBI to lead the Illini at the plate. McDonald has now reached base safely in every game this season (18 consecutive games) and is currently riding a 16-game hit streak.

 

Illinois (7-10) scored two runs in the top of the first inning as sophomore first baseman Justin Janas logged his first of two doubles on the afternoon. The Illini added another run in the fifth, but Southern Illinois (15-5) would respond with a three-run inning to knot the score heading into the sixth.

 

Both teams scored two more runs apiece to tie the score at five. With the game-winning run on third base and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Cam McDonald made an incredible full extension diving catch down the left field line to send the game to extra innings. Southern Illinois ended up winning on a walk-off two-run homerun in the bottom of the tenth inning, also taking the three-game weekend series.

 

The Illini return home to host Bradley Tuesday afternoon at 4 pm. 

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No. 19 Purdue Too Much for ISU

The Illinois State baseball team dropped a doubleheader at 19th-ranked Purdue at Alexander Field on Sunday. The 'Birds fell, 9-2, in game one before falling, 7-6, in 10 innings in game two.

 

Illinois State, which led 6-5 after eight innings in game two, drops to 7-8 while Purdue jumps to 17-1. The 'Birds had a chance to take the series after defeating the Boilermakers, 4-3, on Thursday in Normal.

 

Senior Aidan Huggins. recorded five hits on the day, including four in the nightcap.

 

Purdue started hot with three runs in the 1st inning of the opener but Illinois State got one back in the 3rd inning on a single from Huggins. The Boilermakers scored the game's next six runs as junior Justin Schubert provided two innings of scoreless relief. A double from second-year freshman Jonathan Sabotnik added a run for the Redbirds in the 9th inning.

 

Illinois State stranded five runners in the first three innings of the second game, scratching across a run on an RBI from sophomore Luke Cheng. Purdue added four runs (three unearned) in the 3rd inning to lead, 4-1.

 

A 5th-inning wild pitch scored first-year freshman JT Sokolove before senior Nick Gile knocked in Huggins cut the deficit to 4-3. Purdue answered with a solo home run in the bottom of the inning but an RBI triple from sophomore Greg Nichols brought the 'Birds back within one. Sokolove laced an RBI single to tie the game in the 8th before a Huggins sac fly gave the 'Birds a 6-5 lead but the 'Birds stranded the bases loaded in the 8th after scoring the two runs.

 

Purdue tied the game in the 9th before the 'Birds left the bases loaded in the 10th. A walk-off single in the 10th lifted the Boilermakers to a 7-6 win.

 

Illinois State is scheduled to play Wednesday against UIC at Duffy Bass Field.

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Blackhawks Fall to Jets

Jansen Harkins scored twice, Kyle Connor got his 39th goal of the season and the Winnipeg Jets beat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4 Sunday night.

 

Nikolaj Ehlers, Josh Morrissey and Blake Wheeler also scored, and Connor added two assists for the Jets. Andrew Copp added three assists, and Winnipeg won for the third time in four games to get within five points of the Western Conference's final wild-card spot.

 

Jonathan Toews, Dylan Strome, Taylor Raddysh and Philipp Kurashev each scored for Chicago. Patrick Kane set up the goals for Strome and Raddysh.

 

Chicago led 2-1 when Harkins tipped Dylan DeMelo's drive from the right point and beat goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, the subject of trade rumors less than 24 hours before the deadline. It was the first of four Winnipeg goals on eight shots in the last 17 minutes of the second period.

 

Harkins added his second goal from the doorstep on a perfect pass from Copp at 11:13, while Connor and Morrissey, the latter on a power play, scored from the slot two minutes apart late in the second period.

 

Fleury, who lost his glove just before Connor's goal, slammed his stick against the boards going to the bench at the end of the period.

 

Ehlers opened the scoring with a wraparound goal that deflected off Fleury's skate 9:14 into the game.

 

Toews tied it on a deflection of Raddysh's pass from the right corner 1:13 into the second period. The Blackhawks took the lead on Strome's goal into an open net after Kane corralled the puck and waited for goaltender Connor Hellebuyck to commit before passing to Strome.

 

Hellebuyck stopped 32 shots, and Fleury made 26 saves.

 

The struggling Blackhawks are 6-12-2 in the last 20 games.

 

Chicago starts a three-game trip Wednesday in Anaheim, followed by games at Los Angeles and Vegas.

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Bears Make Signings, Signing With DE Oginjobi Off

The Chicago Bears signed Indianapolis Colts defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad to a two-year contract and Kansas City Chiefs receiver and kick returner Byron Pringle to a one-year deal on Sunday.

 

They also re-signed safety DeAndre Houston-Carson to a one-year contract.

 

Muhammad spent the past four seasons in Indianapolis and is reuniting with new Bears coach Matt Eberflus and defensive coordinator Alan Williams. Eberflus was the Colts’ defensive coordinator, and Williams was their safeties coach.

 

Muhammad has 11 sacks, 30 quarterback hits and three forced fumbles over five seasons with New Orleans and Indianapolis. He had a career-high six sacks last year.

 

Pringle played on a Super Bowl-winning team and had 898 yards on 67 receptions after joining the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent out of Kansas State in 2018. He caught 42 passes for 568 yards last season and returned 25 kickoffs for 621 yards, an average of 24.8 yards that ranked fifth in the NFL.

 

Pringle goes from a team that went 12-5 and lost to Cincinnati in the AFC championship game after back-to-back Super Bowl appearances to one that is rebuilding. He also goes from catching passes from one of the game’s best quarterbacks in Patrick Mahomes to one coming off an uneven rookie season in Justin Fields.

 

Houston-Carson has two interceptions, seven passes defensed and four fumble recoveries with one returned for a touchdown in six seasons with Chicago.

 

Defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi failed a physical Thursday, undoing Bears general manager Ryan Poles’ first big free-agent deal.

 

Poles announced the situation in a statement Friday when the former Cincinnati Bengals player was set to appear for an introductory news conference at Halas Hall.

Ogunjobi injured his right foot during the Bengals’ wild-card victory over the Las Vegas Raiders and was lost for the remainder of the playoffs.

 

Ogunjobi was the most established player the Bears signed in free agency so far, as they tried to rebuild their defensive line in a 4-3 approach. According to an NFL Network report, the Bears agreed initially to pay him $40.5 million over three years.

 

Fifth-year defensive tackle Justin Jones from the Los Angeles Chargers signed a two-year deal with the Bears, while the team finalized a contract with Green Bay Packers wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown. Earlier in the week, they had announced the signings of Packers center/guard Lucas Patrick and Raiders linebacker Nicholas Morrow.

 

The Bears decided to make big changes after going 6-11 and missing the playoffs for the ninth time in 11 years. They hired general manager Ryan Poles to replace Ryan Pace and Eberflus to take over for Matt Nagy.

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Packers Sign Former Bears Punter, Resign CB Douglas, TE Tonyan

The Green Bay Packers signed punter Pat O’Donnell on Friday.

 

O’Donnell, who has spent the past eight seasons with the Chicago Bears, is an apparent replacement for Corey Bojorquez who is an unrestricted free agent.

 

The 31-year-old O’Donnell has a career gross punting average of 45.1 yards and a net average of 39.3. His net average ranks first in Bears history.

 

O’Donnell played all 17 games for the Bears last season and posted a gross average of 46.2 yards and a net average of 38.5. Nineteen of his 62 punts were downed inside the 20-yard line.

 

The Bears selected O’Donnell in the sixth round of the 2014 draft. He played for Cincinnati from 2009-12 before finishing his college career at Miami.

 

Bojorquez finished the 2021 season with a gross punting average of 46.5 yards, the highest single-season average in Packers history for anyone with at least 35 attempts. His net average was 40.0. He also was the holder for field-goal attempts.

 

The Packers sent a 2023 sixth-round pick to the Los Angeles Rams in a Sept. 4 trade that brought them Bojorquez and a 2023 seventh-round selection.

 

Free-agent cornerback Rasul Douglas and tight end Robert Tonyan are staying with the Green Bay Packers.

 

A person familiar with the situation says Douglas and the Packers have agreed to terms on a three-year, $21 million deal that could get up to $25.5 million. Another person familiar with the situation said Tonyan also has agreed to terms with the Packers.

 

NFL Network first reported that Douglas had agreed to stay with the Packers. ESPN reported the terms. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported Tonyan’s deal.

 

Douglas was the biggest surprise of the Packers’ 2021 season, while Tonyan had a breakthrough performance a year earlier.

 

The Packers signed Douglas off the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad in early October and watched him develop into a big-play performer.

 

Douglas, 27, made a game-clinching interception in the end zone in the final minute of a 24-21 victory at Arizona. He scored touchdowns on interception returns in back-to-back wins over the Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Bears.

 

He finished the season with five interceptions and 52 tackles in 12 games.

 

Tonyan, who turns 28 on April 30, had 18 receptions for 204 yards and two touchdowns in five games last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

 

But he had a much bigger impact in 2020. Tonyan caught 52 passes for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns that year to tie the franchise record for touchdown catches by a tight end in a single season. Paul Coffman also had 11 TD catches as a Packers tight end in 1984.

 

The news of Douglas and Tonyan returning comes one day after the Packers formally announced their trade of All-Pro receiver Davante Adams, a move that cleared about $20 million in cap space. The Packers sent Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders for a first-round pick and a second-rounder.

 

Before joining the Packers, Douglas played for the Philadelphia Eagles (2017-19) and Carolina Panthers (2020).

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William Byron Wins at Remodeled Atlanta

While William Byron cruised to the checkered flag for the third victory of his NASCAR Cup career, one last crash unfolded behind him Sunday in an appropriate finish to a chaotic, thrilling race at remodeled Atlanta Motor Speedway.

 

Byron had a freight train in his rearview mirror. A sitting duck, it seemed. Fortunately for him, all those challengers started jostling against each other rather than working together to take down the leader.

 

The track makeover — with new pavement and steeper banking — lived up to predictions of frenzied pack racing at blistering speeds approaching those seen at Talladega and Daytona.

 

It was like a short-track race at a superspeedway.

 

There were 46 lead changes among an Atlanta-record 20 drivers, a traffic jam of tightly bunched cars that never got too far away from each other in a more than four-hour race, nine wrecks that took out several top contenders, and a bunch of smashed-up race cars to lug home.

 

Bryon was leading off the final restart with 13 laps to go. Bubba Wallace briefly grabbed the top spot, only to have the No. 24 Rick Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet pass him right back.

 

Going for his second career victory, Wallace still seemed to be in the most enviable position, especially if he could get a helpful push for a slingshot on the final lap. But everyone behind Byron started dueling for position, all of them wanting to put themselves in position to make the winning move.

 

That worked out perfectly for Byron, who pulled away to win by 0.145 seconds over Ross Chastain while the final wreck of the day sent four cars — including Wallace — spinning across the line.

 

Wallace finished 13th. The remainder of the top five was Kurt Busch, Daniel Suárez, and Corey LaJoie in his best career showing.

 

In one last twist, Christopher Bell actually crossed the line second, but NASCAR penalized him for dipping below the double white line on the backstretch of the last lap to get past Chastain. Bell was dropped to 23rd.

 

The Cup series heads to Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, for the first of six road races this season. Chase Elliott won the inaugural COTA race a year ago.

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Plummer's late free throws lift Illini by Chattanooga 54-53

The Illini dug in behind Kofi Cockburn and guard Alfonso Plummer, whose go-ahead free throws with 12 seconds to go helped them pull out a 54-53 NCAA Tournament win over Chattanooga that maybe they didn’t deserve but will certainly take.

 

Plummer scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half, including three 3-pointers that kept Illinois (23-9) within striking distance. The 7-foot Cockburn, fending off bodies left and right, finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds while absorbing 11 fouls. His putback with 45 seconds left gave the Illini the first of just two leads they held all night.

 

Chattanooga still had two chances to pick up its first NCAA Tournament win since 1997 in the closing seconds but sophomore star Malachi Smith missed twice. His runner with 4 seconds left was blocked by Coleman Hawkins. Smith chased down the rebound and pulled up from about 12 feet, but the ball clanged off the rim and into Hawkins’ hands, capping a 4 for 20 performance for the Southern Conference Player of the Year.

 

Illinois didn’t exactly light it up either. Senior Trent Frazer missed all six of his shots but did make two free throws with 3:37 to go. Andre Curbelo was 1 for 7. The Illini made just 3 of 17 3-pointers, turned it over 14 times — including a couple of baffling passes to nowhere that sailed out of bounds — and survived anyway.

 

Paris promised to throw multiple bodies at Cockburn in an effort to keep the 7-footer in check. It worked early, as the Mocs harassed him nearly every time down the floor.

 

It led to a lot of pushing, a lot of shoving and — for a while — a lot of fouls. Josh Ayeni and Silvio De Sousa each drew three whistles in the first half alone. Cockburn struggled to take advantage, missing 5 of 8 free throws early before he and the Illini started to get into a rhythm after the Mocs were forced to go small.

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Illinois Looks for Better Showing in 'Big Dance' From 2021

Everyone knows that Kofi Cockburn is the engine of Big Ten Conference regular season co-champion Illinois.

 

He was named a first team All-American on Tuesday after averaging 21.1 points and 10.6 rebounds.

 

But if the fourth-seeded Fighting Illini (22-9) are to make a significant run in the NCAA Tournament, starting with Friday night's first-round game in the South Region against 13th-seeded Chattanooga in Pittsburgh, Cockburn will need help.

 

That's where guys like Alfonso Plummer enter the picture. The Utah transfer lived up to his billing as a 3-point sniper and then some in his only season with Illinois, averaging 14.8 points and burying 41.3 percent of his 3-point attempts.

 

With defenses frequently devoting double and triple-team attention to Cockburn in the lane, Plummer and teammates get a lot of open looks from behind the arc. Should one of those opportunities come to win or lose a game, Plummer vows to be ready.

 

Plummer averages three 3-pointers per game. His 93 3-pointers were the most by any Big Ten player. He's capable of shooting opponents right out of the building, as proven by consecutive games in February when he strafed Ohio State and Michigan for 14 of 19 from behind the arc.

 

That's not even his best performance. In a 2020 Pac-12 first-round game against Oregon State, Plummer drilled 11 3-pointers in a Utah loss. It's largely forgotten because of the outcome and because COVID-19 brought the sports world to a halt the next day.

 

Ironically, the pandemic is why Plummer is in this position. Because all athletes got an extra "COVID-19" year via an NCAA ruling, Plummer is a "super-senior," playing his fifth year.

 

Chattanooga (27-7) is more than capable of turning that special feeling into a rotten one. The Mocs boast the size to play Cockburn straight-up, the shooting to hurt any opponent from deep and a go-to guy in Malachi Smith (20.1 ppg, 50.5 percent shooting).

 

And Chattanooga also has March Madness' most dramatic ending so far. It trailed Furman by two points with just over four seconds left in overtime of the Southern Conference title game on March 7. That was just enough time for David Jean-Baptiste to dribble into the frontcourt, rise over two defenders and swish a 30-footer to win the game 64-63.

 

Jean-Baptiste scores 14.6 ppg, and Kansas transfer Silvio De Sousa (11.1 ppg, 7.0 rebounds, 29 blocked shots) provides inside muscle. De Sousa also offers some NCAA tourney experience, as he was a reserve for the 2018 Kansas team that reached the Final Four before falling to eventual champion Villanova.

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Packers Trade WR Adams to Raiders

The Las Vegas Raiders are making a blockbuster move to keep up in the AFC West, acquiring All-Pro receiver Davante Adams from the Green Bay Packers.

 

The Raiders are sending the No. 22 overall pick in the April draft and additional compensation to the Packers to reunite Adams with his college quarterback, Derek Carr. 

 

NFL Network reported that Adams has agreed to a new five-year deal with the Raiders that will pay him $141.25 million in the richest deal ever for a wide receiver.

 

This was an aggressive move by the Raiders new regime led by coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler and the latest in an AFC West arms race as teams try to catch Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Denver traded for quarterback Russell Wilson and the Chargers acquired edge rusher Khalil Mack.

 

Carr has a strong history with Adams, playing two seasons together in college at Fresno State. In their final year together in 2013, Adams had 131 catches for 1,719 yards and 24 TDs.

 

Adams reportedly bought a house in Las Vegas recently and Carr tweeted after reports of the deal became public, “Welcome home.”

 

Adams has been one of the most productive receivers in the NFL in recent years. His 432 catches, 5,310 yards receiving and 47 TD receptions lead the NFL over the past four seasons.

 

He had 123 catches for 1,553 yards and 11 TDs last season when he made his second straight All-Pro team.

 

This trade comes less than two weeks after the Packers placed the franchise tag on Adams and two days after the Packers announced that two-time reigning MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers had signed a contract extension.

 

The franchise tag meant Adams would have been due to receive just over $20 million for the 2022 season if he and the Packers didn’t work out an extension before July 15. Adams, who has said he wants to be the game’s highest-paid receiver, was asked late in the season about the prospect of getting the franchise tag.

 

His departure leaves a major hole in Green Bay’s offense. The Packers have their MVP quarterback but must figure out who’s going to catch Rodgers’ passes.

 

The Packers return veteran Randall Cobb but aren’t certain to bring back any of their other proven wideouts.

 

Allen Lazard is an unrestricted free agent who received a second-round tender this week. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, the team’s top deep threat, is an unrestricted free agent. Tight end Robert Tonyan also is an unrestricted free agent.

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WR Robinson Headed to Rams

The Los Angeles Rams agreed to terms Thursday on a three-year contract for receiver Allen Robinson, one of the NFL’s most dependable veteran pass-catchers during his eight seasons in the league.

 

Robinson has three 1,000-yard seasons during a productive career split between Jacksonville and Chicago. He caught 38 passes for 410 yards while limited to just 12 games by injuries for the Bears, but he racked up 2,397 yards and 13 TDs in his previous two seasons combined in Chicago.

 

Robinson is the latest big-name receiver to join the Rams, who have had one of the NFL’s deepest groups at the position for much of coach Sean McVay’s half-decade in charge. Robinson also is the first outside free agent signed this month by the Rams, who have lost several key players to free agency and retirement over the past week.

 

Robinson has never played with a quarterback of Matthew Stafford’s caliber, but he will be a key component of Los Angeles’ offense for its title defense.

 

Cooper Kupp led the NFL in all three major receiving categories last season before winning the Super Bowl MVP award, while Odell Beckham Jr. revitalized his career as a midseason addition.

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Cardinals P Flaherty Seeks Second Opinion on Ailing Shoulder

St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Jack Flaherty will seek a second medical opinion on his ailing pitching shoulder.

 

Flaherty underwent imaging tests on his right shoulder Tuesday. He has not thrown off a mound since spring training opened.

 

Flaherty, 26, was 11-8 with a 2.75 ERA in 2019, went 4-3 with a 4.91 during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and 9-2 with a 3.22 in 17 starts last year, when he was slowed by an oblique injury.

 

Potential rotation replacements include right-handers Johan Oviedo, Jake Woodford and Drew VerHagen.

 

Reliever Giovanny Gallegos was expected to start workouts Friday after a late arrival.

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Penguins Get By Blues

Bryan Rust scored the deciding goal in a shootout and goalie Tristan Jarry picked up his 30th victory in the Pittsburgh Penguins' 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

 

The fourth shooter for the Penguins, Rust snapped a wrist shot from the slot past goalie Ville Husso.

 

Rust is 3 for 3 this seasons in shootout and 5 for 5 in his career.

 

Jarry improved to 30-12-6, thwarting all four St. Louis shooters in the tiebreaker. He made 23 saves in regulation and overtime.

 

Mike Matheson and Chad Ruhwedel scored in regulation for Pittsburgh.

 

Ivan Barbashev and David Perron scored for St. Louis, and Husso made 43 saves.

 

Perron's goal in the second period got the Blues back in the game that Pittsburgh was dominating.

 

The Blues tied it at 2 in the third period when Barbashev scored his 19th goal at 1:49. Barbasev poked in the rebound of Brandon Saad wraparound attempt.

 

Blues coach Craig Berube was pleased his team rebounded from being down 2-0.

 

The Blues are at Columbus on Saturday.

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Cubs Add SS Villar in Host of Moves

The Chicago Cubs stayed busy on Thursday, agreeing to contracts with infielder Jonathan Villar and pitchers Mychal Givens, Daniel Norris and Robert Gsellman.

 

The Cubs also finalized right-hander Chris Martin’s one-year deal and placed left-hander Brad Wieck on the 60-day injured list with a left elbow strain.

 

Villar’s $6 million, one-year deal is pending a physical. He is slated to make $4.5 million in salary in 2022, and there is a $10 million mutual option with a $1.5 million buyout. He earns a $500,000 performance bonus for reaching 500 plate appearances.

 

The 30-year-old Villar spent last year with the New York Mets, batting .249 with 18 homers and 42 RBIs in 142 games. He can play second, third and shortstop.

 

Givens’ one-year contract is worth $5 million. Givens also can earn $1.25 million in bonuses.

 

The 31-year-old Givens finished last season with Cincinnati, going 1-1 with a 4.22 ERA and eight saves. He could get the opportunity to pitch at the back end of Chicago’s bullpen.

 

Norris’ one-year contract is worth $1.75 million and the left-hander can earn up to $2 million in incentives. 

 

Gsellman is in Cubs camp on a non-roster contract.

 

Martin pitched for the World Series champion Braves last year, going 2-4 with a 3.95 ERA in 46 appearances. The 35-year-old right-hander also took the mound in five postseason games, allowing one run and four hits in 4 1/3 innings.

 

Wieck’s elbow issue popped up during a bullpen session this week. The 6-foot-8 Wieck pitched 17 scoreless innings over 15 appearances with the Cubs in 2021, but he missed much of the season because of a heart issue.

 

Norris played for Detroit and Milwaukee last year, going 2-3 with a 6.16 ERA in 56 games. Norris, who turns 29 on April 25, was selected by Toronto in the second round of the 2011 amateur draft and made his big league debut with the Blue Jays in 2014.

 

Norris is 20-34 with a 4.65 ERA in 167 major league games, including 83 starts.

 

Gsellman spent his first six seasons with the New York Mets, going 20-16 with a 4.59 ERA in 176 games. He went 0-1 with a 3.77 ERA in 17 appearances last year.

 

Thursday’s additions are the latest in a flurry of moves for the Cubs since they opened spring training — especially on the pitching side. There is concern across the majors about pitching depth with baseball’s adjusted schedule after the lockout.

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NASCAR Headed to Atlanta

The NASCAR Cup Series departs the west coast to head east beginning with Atlanta Motorspeedway this weekend.

 

Chase Briscoe held on at Phoenix through two late-race restarts to claim his first victory in NASCAR’s premier series becoming the 200th different race winner in series history.

 

Briscoe led for 101 laps, second to Blaney’s 144 out front. Joey Logano moved into the points lead by four over Kyle Busch and five over Chase Elliott. Busch and Aric Almirola share the series lead with three top-10 runs through four races.

 

Ryan Blaney won the spring race last year.

 

Practice time for the Cup Series is this afternoon at 4 pm with qualifying tomorrow morning at 11:30 am and race time is 2 pm on Sunday. 

 

Meanwhile in the XFinity Series, Riverton-native Justin Allgaier will look to defend his win at Atlanta last spring. 

 

Allgaier and A.J. Allmendinger both have four top-10 finishes and Berry has three top-fives. Noah Gragson led 114 of 200 laps at Phoenix to claim his first victory of the season. 

 

Gragson has finished in the top three in all four races and leads the points standings by 39 over Ty Gibbs. Gibbs rallied for a sixth-place finish after a bump from Josh Berry sent him spinning on lap 56. The final 100 laps at Phoenix were all green-flag racing. 

 

Practice is this afternoon at 3 pm with qualifying at 10:30 am Saturday morning and the green flag drops at 4 pm on Saturday afternoon.

 

The Camping World Truck Series returns to action this weekend in Atlanta. 

 

Chandler Smith won at Las Vegas for his third career victory. Zane Smith, winner of the season-opener at Daytona, is just 12th in points after being disqualified at Las Vegas. Tanner Gray is second in points and the only driver with top-five showings in the first two races. Ty Majeski and Matt DiBenedetto are the only others with two top-10 runs.

Kyle Busch won last year's Atlanta spring race. 

 

The trucks practice this afternoon at 2 pm and qualify at 9:30 am Saturday with race time at 2:30 pm Saturday afternoon.

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Monticello Rolls Villa Grove in High School Boy's Baseball Action

Senior slugger Joey Sprinkle returned to the Monticello baseball lineup Wednesday afternoon and Jack Buckalew had a big afternoon helping Monticello down Villa Grove 9-2 in non-conference high school boy's baseball action Wednesday in Villa Grove.

 

Buckalew threw two scoreless innings of relief and all six outs were strikeouts. He also laced three doubles to pace the Sages offense. 

 

Sprinkle, who missed the Monday season opener against LeRoy to rest after being in action for the basketball team's state title run in Champaign, was among a trio of Sages with a multi-hit afternoon.

 

Luke Teschke started on the mound forthe Sages throwing two scoreless innings with five strikeouts. The Sages sophomore also had two hits.

 

Thomas Swartz and Dawlton Chupp had two RBIs apiece.

 

Monticello starts the season 2-0 and will travel to southern Illinois this weekend for its annual spring break trip and will start a scheduled four-game weekend with a matchup at Vienna.

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Jazz Roll Bulls

Donovan Mitchell tries to keep his cool with the officials.

 

In a tie game against Chicago, Mitchell protested a non-call with an especially vocal and demonstrative outburst in the third quarter. He got a technical foul and the switch was flipped.

 

Mitchell went on to score a Utah-record 25 of his 37 points in the third quarter, Jordan Clarkson added 26 and the Utah Jazz beat the Bulls 125-110 on Wednesday night.

 

Mitchell made a franchise-record seven 3-pointers in the third period on nine attempts. He broke Karl Malone's team mark of 22 points in a third quarter. Mitchell finished with nine 3-pointers, besting his previous career best of seven.

 

Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 14 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter.

 

Zach LaVine, who has been affected by a sore left knee, made five 3s and had 33 points in tying his highest scoring output in four months. DeMar DeRozan added 25 points. The Bulls have dropped seven of nine.

 

Ayo Dosunmu's layup trimmed Utah's lead to 103-99 before the Jazz responded with a clinching run.

 

Alexander-Walker had two 3-pointers from the corner in a 14-0 run that featured suffocating defense and floor-spacing offense. Rudy Gobert's free throws capped the run and lifted the Jazz to a 117-99 lead with 4:38 to play.

 

Mitchell's huge third quarter pushed the Jazz ahead 89-81 entering the fourth quarter.

Gobert had 14 points, 20 rebounds and three blocks while Mike Conley had in 14 points and seven assists.

 

The Jazz played without second-leading scorer Bojan Bogdanovic (left calf strain), along with key reserves Trent Forrest (right wrist sprain), Danuel House (left knee bone bruise) and Udoka Azubuike (right ankle sprain).

 

The Bulls are at Phoenix on Friday night.

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Bears Announces Free Agency Signings

The Chicago Bears added a disruptive force, signing Cincinnati Bengals stalwart defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi to a three-year contract on Wednesday.

 

The Bears also finalized a two-year deal with Green Bay offensive lineman Lucas Patrick and a one-year contract with Las Vegas Raiders linebacker Nicholas Morrow.

 

The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Ogunjobi played an important part in Cincinnati’s big jump in his lone year with the Bengals. And he figures to play a key role as Chicago switches from a 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme.

 

Ogunjobi set career highs with seven sacks, 16 quarterback hits and 12 tackles for loss before suffering a season-ending foot injury in the first-round playoff win over the Las Vegas Raiders. The Bengals went 10-7 and reached the Super Bowl for the third time in franchise history, falling to the Los Angeles Rams, after winning just four games the previous year.

 

Ogunjobi has 21 1/2 sacks, 41 tackles for loss and 53 quarterback hits over five seasons with Cleveland and Cincinnati.

 

Patrick made 34 starts and played in 74 games over five seasons with Green Bay. He started 11 games at center, one at left guard and one at right guard last year after spending most of his time at right guard in 2020. New Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy was the Packers’ quarterbacks coach the past three seasons.

 

Morrow had 20 tackles for loss, 20 passes defensed, four sacks, and two interceptions for Las Vegas from 2017 to 2020. He missed last season with a foot injury.

 

The Bears also finalized the trade sending star linebacker Khalil Mack to the Los Angeles Chargers for a second-round draft pick this year and a sixth-rounder in 2023. They also released veteran linebacker Danny Trevathan and versatile running back and return specialist Tarik Cohen, who has been sidelined for nearly two years because of a knee injury.

 

Chicago signed long snapper Patrick Scales to a one-year extension and offensive lineman Lachavious Simmons to a one-year contract.

 

Scales has played in 88 games over six seasons with the Bears and one with the Baltimore Ravens. He made a career-high four special teams tackles in 2021. Simmons, a 2020 seventh-round pick out of Tennessee State, played in his first two career games last season.

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Cardinals Pitchers Flaherty, Reyes Unlikely to be Ready to Start Season

Shoulder issues will likely keep pitchers Jack Flaherty and Alex Reyes from being available for the St. Louis Cardinals’ opener against Pittsburgh on April 7.

 

Flaherty underwent imaging tests on his right shoulder Tuesday.

 

Reyes, a 27-year-old right-hander, was scheduled to receive what manager Oliver Marmol termed a therapeutic injection on Wednesday at the Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze, Florida.

 

The Cardinals were barred by Major League Baseball from contacting their players during the lockout and learned of the injuries when the players reported.

 

Flaherty, 26, was 11-8 with a 2.75 ERA in 2019, went 4-3 with a 4.91 during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and 9-2 with a 3.22 in 17 starts last year, when he was slowed by an oblique injury,

 

The oft-injured Reyes had 29 saves last season. He is expected back at camp on Friday.

 

All-star catcher Yadier Molina is absent because of what the Cardinals say are personal reasons. Marmol doesn’t know when the 39-year-old will arrive.

 

Reliever Giovanny Gallegos, who replaced Reyes as the Cardinals’ primary closer late last season, was expected to arrive at camp on Thursday. He, too, was delayed because of personal reasons.

 

Reliever Genesis Cabrera arrived after flight delays.

 

Adam Wainwright will start Friday’s exhibition opener against Houston. Miles Mikolas and Steven Matz will get the next two starts.

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Cubs Agree to Deal with Slugger Suzuki, Kris Bryant to Colorado

Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki agreed to an $85 million, five-year deal with the Chicago Cubs Wednesday. 

 

Chicago will pay an additional $14,625,000 as a posting fee to Suzuki’s club, the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of Japan’s Central League.

 

The Cubs also agreed to a one-year deal with veteran reliever David Robertson and placed right-hander Codi Heuer — recovering from Tommy John surgery — on the 60-day injured list.

 

Veteran slugger Kris Bryant has agreed to a $182 million, seven-year deal to join the Colorado Rockies.

 

President of baseball operations Jed Hoyer has been busy over the past year retooling a team that didn’t quite deliver the way the Cubs hoped after a drought-busting World Series championship in 2016. He broke up the title-winning core prior to last season’s trade deadline, part of a series of moves he hopes will help lead the franchise back toward the top.

 

A five-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner over nine seasons with the Carp, he could give some much-needed pop to an offense that ranked among the worst in the majors in 2021. The Cubs struck out a major-league record 1,596 times, and were 21st in runs and 24th in batting average at .237.

 

Suzuki batted .317 with 38 home runs and 88 RBIs in 132 games last season and had nearly as many walks (87) as strikeouts (88). He is a career .315 hitter with 182 homers and 562 RBIs for Hiroshima.

 

Suzuki plays right field, a position five-time Gold Glove winner Jason Heyward has manned for the Cubs since signing a $184 million, eight-year contract before the 2016 World Series championship season. But while Heyward has provided strong defense and leadership, he hasn’t performed at the plate the way Chicago hoped. The 32-year-old veteran’s average dropped from .265 in 2020 to .214 last season, and he finished with eight homers and 30 RBIs in 104 games.

 

The Cubs also have Ian Happ, Clint Frazier and Rafael Ortega in the outfield, with prized prospect Brennen Davis in the system. The advent of the designated hitter in the National League gives manager David Ross more flexibility.

 

Bryant is headed to his third team in eight months after spending his first six major league seasons with the Chicago Cubs, who traded him to San Francisco last July.

 

The 2016 NL MVP and World Series champion batted a combined .265 with 25 homers and 73 RBIs last season, and he pounded out eight hits in the Giants’ five-game playoff loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite a midseason slump that precipitated the trade, Bryant earned his fourth career All-Star selection during a solid rebound from a rough year at the plate in 2020.

 

Bryant is a career .278 hitter with 167 homers, 487 RBIs and an .880 OPS, but he is about to get the full benefits of playing at hitter-friendly Coors Field, where he has batted .263 (15-for-57) with two homers, nine RBIs and a .757 OPS in his career.

 

The Cubs are looking to regroup after finishing fourth in the NL Central at 71-91 in 2021 and missing the playoffs for the second time in three years. It was their worst record since the 2013 team went 66-96.

 

Chicago traded ace Yu Darvish to the San Diego Padres before last season and let Jon Lester and Kyle Schwarber go as free agents. The Cubs went from leading the NL Central at 42-33 after Zach Davies and the bullpen combined to no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 24 to dropping the next 11 games.

 

Chicago made a big move to boost the pitching staff just before the lockout by agreeing to a $71 million, three-year contract with Marcus Stroman. The 30-year-old right-hander was 10-13 with a 3.02 ERA and tied for the major league lead by making 33 starts for the Mets last season.

 

They also added veteran left-hander Wade Miley in November. And they finalized a deal with slick-fielding shortstop Andrelton Simmons on Tuesday.

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White Sox Finalize Deal With INF Josh Harrison

Two-time All-Star Josh Harrison has finalized a $5.5 million, one-year contract with the Chicago White Sox.

 

Harrison has a $4 million salary this year as part of the deal announced Tuesday, and the White Sox have a $5.5 million option for 2023 with a $1.5 million buyout. The option price can escalate by up to $500,000 based on plate appearances this year: $125,000 each for 400, 450, 500 and 550.

 

Harrison has played second base, third base, shortstop and all outfield positions over 11 seasons with Pittsburgh, Washington, Detroit and Oakland. He is likely to play second base, allowing Leury Garcia to remain in a utility role.

 

Harrison is a career .274 hitter. He made All-Star teams in 2014 and 2017.

 

Harrison batted a combined .279 for Washington and Oakland last season. The Nationals traded him and catcher Yan Gomes to the Athletics prior to the July 30 deadline as part of a major shakeup in which they also dealt ace Max Scherzer and star shortstop Trea Turner to the Los Angeles Dodgers and reliever Daniel Hudson to San Diego.

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Maroa-Forysth Basketball Coach Reflects on One School's Most Successful Seasons

Winning a Regional Championship topped off one of the most successful seasons the Maroa-Forsyth boy's basketball team has had in over a decade.

 

Coach Aaron Ennis says his team set out to win a Regional this year and was very proud of his team for hitting their stride at the right time down the stretch.

 

 

Coach Ennis felt one thing that made his team so tough this year was the fact they had great balance among their starting five. He notes they did play some higher scoring games but believes that's a product of the style of basketball they play.

 

 

Consistency was something Coach Ennis takes note of that his team was able to figure out during the course of the year. He explains his team votes on a 'Trojan Pride' award where the kids vote on a teammate that goes above and beyond for that award. Six different players received a vote for that award and he believes that shows the buy-in for the program.

 

 

Coach Ennis says around the start of May they will return to the gym and get to work again. He wants to focus on getting his players that are going to have to fill roles for three departing seniors to start to get some reps and continue to build on the culture of winning.

 

The Trojans finished the season 19-12 overall with an overtime Regional championship win on their home floor late last month.

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Illinois' Cockburn Named First Team All American

Illinois junior center Kofi Cockburn has been voted a first-team Associated Press All-American, one of three Big Ten players selected to the first team.

 

The AP First-Team features Ochai Agbaji, Kansas, Johnny Davis, Wisconsin, Keegan Murray, Iowa, and Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky.

 

Kofi was the only player in the nation averaging 20+ points (21.1 ppg) and 10+ rebounds (10.6 rpg) and the only player ranked in the top 20 nationally in both scoring (12th) and rebounding (8th).

 

Cockburn is just the second Illinois player ever to earn first-team All-America honors by the AP, after Ayo Dosunmu became the first Illini to do so last season.

 

After garnering second-team All-America honors last year as a sophomore, Cockburn is just the third two-time AP All-America selection in school history, joining Dike Eddleman and Dee Brown.

 

Kofi was also a First Team All Big Ten selection. 

 

The Illini will battle Chatanooga in the round of 64 on Thursday. 

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Bruins Edge Blackhawks in Overtime

Matt Grzelcyk scored at 1:40 of overtime and the surging Boston Bruins beat the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 on Tuesday night.

 

After taking a cross-ice feed from Taylor Hall, Grzelcyk whipped the puck past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to end it on Boston's 48th shot. Hall had two assists as Boston won its third straight to start a four-game trip and improved to 10-1-1 in its last 12 overall.

 

Grzelcyk, a defenseman, jumped up to the right circle skating on the 3-on-3 with Hall and high-scoring David Pastrnak. Grzelcyk netted his third goal - and second game-winner - in 53 games this season.

 

Fleury sparkled in net, making 46 saves as the Bruins dominated and outshot the Blackhawks 48-20. Fleury wasn't beaten until Patrice Bergeron snapped a scoreless tie early in the third on Boston's 40th shot.

 

Linus Ullmark made 19 saves for Boston.

 

Bergeron finally put the Bruins on the board at 4:43 of the third.

 

Boston kept the pressure on Chicago after its fourth power play expired. From a frantic scrum, Bergeron batted in his 17th goal, underneath Fleury and just over the goal line after Marchand and Hall had whacked at the puck.

 

Hagel tied it 1-all on a deflection at 9:36 of the third. Cutting across the crease, he screened Ullmark and tipped in Caleb Jones' shot.

 

An apparent go-ahead goal by Boston's Charlie Coyle with 4:45 left in regulation was waved off by referee Pierre Lambert because of goalie interference. Coyle turned and whipped in a loose puck, but Lambert ruled Craig Smith made contact with Fleury.

 

Cassidy challenged the on-ice ruling and asked for a video review. He lost the challenge but Chicago failed to convert the resulting power play.

 

The game headed to overtime with Boston leading 46-20 in shots.

 

The Blackhawks play at Minnesota on Saturday.

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Illinois Rolls Butler

The Fighting Illini took down Butler 13-4 at Illinois Field Tuesday afternoon for their first home win of the season.

 

Five Illini tallied multiple base hits and Jack Crowder threw six innings of one-hit baseball, picking up his first win of the season to lead the Orange and Blue over the Bulldogs.

 

Illinois (6-8) put up a crooked number in the first inning as Jacob Campbell picked up his sixth extra base hit of the season with an RBI-double off the left field wall. Illinois plated two more runs in the home half of the first to take a 3-0 lead. The Illini followed up with another four runs on four hits in the second inning to jump out to a 7-0 lead through two innings.

 

Butler (8-8) got on the board with a solo home run in the 6th inning, and the Illini responded in the bottom half as Branden Comia crushed his third homer of the season, a three-run shot to left field. Comia went 2-for-4 with three RBI and three runs scored on the afternoon.

 

Both the Illini and the Bulldogs added three more runs apiece in the final three innings. Andrew Pogue, Isaak Siefken, Tommy Green, and Calvin Shepherd each saw action out of the bullpen in the final three innings.

 

 The Illini have now won three of the last four games and have scored 36 runs during that span. Illinois travels to Southern Illinois this weekend for a three-game series against the Salukis in Carbondale.

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Monticello Pulls Away From LeRoy in High School Baseball Season Opener

A three-run second inning was the difference as Monticello pulled gradually pulled away from LeRoy Monday night in the season opener for both teams in non-conference high school boy's baseball from Rantoul Monday.

 

Wet conditions at Monticello High School caused the game to be moved to the new Rantoul Family Sports Complex where the two squads played on an all artificial turf field and were the first extended time playing outside for each side.

 

Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the second inning, Luke Teschke and Eli Craft drew back-to-back one out walks and Biniam Lienhart reached on an infield single to load the bases. Dawlton Chupp hit a grounder to shortstop that looked like it was going to be an inning-ending double play but Ian Johnson at first base could not handle the low relay throw from Tanner Holoch at shortstop. 

 

Teschke scored easily from third but Craft hustled all the way from second base with head-first slide to tie the game at 3. Chupp moved up to second on the throw to the plate. 

 

Jacob Trusner then ripped a single past shortstop to score Chupp and that gave Monticello the lead for good.

 

Lienhart would walk in a run in the third inning and Monticello took advantage of eight walks and four hit batsmen to pull away. 

 

Garrett Hudson went yard with a solo home run to start the second inning for the Panthers. That tied the score at 2. Ninth-hitter Noah Company laced a double to left-center field in the second to put LeRoy on top 2-1. 

 

Holoch blasted a solo home run with one out in the seventh inning and a late rally by the Panthers fell short as they brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh inning but Johnson grounded out to second to end the game against Spencer Mitze.

 

Trusner finished 2-for-3 for Monticello while Lienhart went 1-for-2 with an RBI and stolen base. Chupp, Jack Buckalew, and Mitze finished 1-for-3 for the Sages. 

 

Chupp recorded the only extra-base hit for Monticello Monday.

 

Mitze went 2 2/3 innings in relief Monday allowing two runs, six hits and struck out three to zero walks. Jacob Long threw two scoreless innings of relief allowing three hits and struck out two.

 

Hudson and Blake Roundtree finished 2-for-4 for LeRoy.

 

The Panthers start the season 0-1 while Monticello moves to 1-0.

 

The Sages are at Villa Grove on Wednesday. 

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Packers Extend Preston Smith, Release Za'Darius Smith, Billy Turner

The Green Bay Packers signed outside linebacker Preston Smith to a contract extension and released outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith and offensive lineman Billy Turner in a flurry of moves before the start of the free-agency period.

 

Releasing Za’Darius Smith and Turner creates about $19 million in cap savings for the Packers, who had entered the week about $46 million over the cap. But it leaves Green Bay without two veterans who played key roles in helping the Packers win three straight NFC North titles.

 

Za’Darius Smith, 29, had a combined 26 sacks for the Packers from 2019-20 before a back injury caused him to play just one regular-season game and one playoff game last year. Turner, 30, made a combined 43 regular-season starts and five playoff starts during his three-year Green Bay tenure.

 

After spending his first four NFL seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, Za’Darius Smith had 13 ½ sacks for the Packers in 2019. He had 12 ½ sacks in 2020 and earned second-team honors in the All-Pro balloting.

 

He dealt with back trouble last season. After playing in a season-opening loss to New Orleans, Smith didn’t get back on the field until the playoffs. Smith had a sack in the Packers’ divisional playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

 

Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith aren’t related, but they both arrived at Green Bay before the 2019 season to upgrade the Packers’ pass rush.

 

The Packers didn’t announce terms of Preston Smith’s contract extension. NFL Network first reported the deal and said Smith was getting a four-year extension with $52.5 million in new money.

 

Preston Smith, 29, has delivered 25 sacks during his three seasons at Green Bay; he had nine sacks last season. He has missed only one game in his seven-year career, which includes four seasons in Washington.

 

The performance of Preston Smith and Rashan Gary, who had 9 1/2 sacks last season, helped the Packers withstand the absence of Za’Darius Smith.

 

Turner’s versatility made him a valuable contributor on Green Bay’s offensive line.

 

He spent the 2019 season as the Packers’ starting right guard. He made six starts at right tackle, four at right guard and four at left tackle in 2020. He started at right tackle throughout the 2021 regular-season but started at left tackle in the playoff game.

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Clinton High School Boy's Basketball Coach Reflects on 2021-22 Season

The Clinton Maroon's boy's basketball team finished its 2021-22 season 11-21 but its second-year coach is very pleased with the progress his team made.

 

Coach Dan Luketich says something he noticed was games in the first half of the season where his team would be leading late in the game but coming up short were games they would finish down the stretch.

 

 

The Maroons were a very young team with no seniors among their regulars and a bench that featured two to three freshmen at times. Coach Luketich admits his style of play requires not only some familiarity through experience but also a deep and quality bench, something he hopes to have next year.

 

 

Prior to his first year as the Maroons head varsity coach, Coach Luketich did not have a summer to work with his team so this season was really the first time he was able to work extensively with them. Now he has a full summer to get in the gym with the kids and work on the things he wants to dial in on.

 

 

While rarely the tallest team on the floor on a given night, Coach Luketich says his kids may not be able to control their stature, they can control how strong they are and he indicates getting in the weight room will be a focus this offseason as well. 

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Bears Release NT Goldman

The Chicago Bears released nose tackle Eddie Goldman on Monday.

 

Slowed by knee and ankle injuries as well as a stint on the COVID-19 list last season, Goldman set career lows with a half-sack and one tackle for loss. He sat out the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns and never regained the form he showed in 2019, when he was a Pro Bowl alternate.

 

Drafted out of Florida State by Chicago in the second round in 2015, Goldman has started 73 of the 81 games he has played and has 13 sacks and 18 tackles for loss.

 

The Bears decided to make big changes after going 6-11 last season and missing the playoffs for the ninth time in 11 years. They fired general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy, replacing them with GM Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus.

 

Last week, Chicago agreed to a blockbuster trade sending star pass rusher Khalil Mack to the Los Angeles Chargers in exchange for two draft picks.

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Kings Down Bulls

De'Aaron Fox had 34 points, six assists and six rebounds as the Sacramento Kings beat the stumbling Chicago Bulls 112-103 on Monday night.

 

Domantas Sabonis added 22 points and seven rebounds after missing two games, and Sacramento ended a four-game skid with its third victory in 10 tries. Davion Mitchell scored 16 and Donte DiVincenzo had 15.

 

Zach LaVine had 27 points and six assists for Chicago. Nikola Vucevic added 23 points and 10 rebounds, and DeMar DeRozan scored 21. The Bulls, who entered the night fourth in the East, have lost six of eight.

 

With 14 games remaining, Chicago's postseason hopes are uncertain. There are three games separating the Bulls from the seventh-place Raptors in the Eastern Conference.

 

Chicago trailed by 20 at halftime but DeRozan scored seven points in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter to cut Sacramento's lead to 90-89.

 

After Coby White missed a 3-pointer that would have given the Bulls the lead, Fox scored on a driving layup, Trey Lyles made one of two free throws and DiVincenzo added a 3.

 

The Bulls got within 108-103 but Fox and DiVincenzo each sank two free throws over the final 37 seconds.

 

Fox shot 13 of 25 while registering his third consecutive game and 12th of the season with 30 or more points.

 

The Bulls stay on the road to face the Jazz on Wednesday. Chicago beat Utah at home earlier this season but has lost three straight in Salt Lake City.

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High School Baseball Season Opens Today: Monticello Preview

The high school baseball season will have a beautiful day to open the 2022 spring campaign as dozens of area high school baseball teams get things going with opening day today.

 

For the Monticello high school boy's baseball team, it will be about gradually building things up throughout the early season. Coach Chris Jones says they've been fortunate to be outside for a few early season practices but not many so the transition to a full game outside will be a little different.

 

 

Coach Jones is very excited about the kids he returns from last year. Monticello lost a trio of very good seniors but he feels they fill in those spots with some kids with a lot of potential.

 

 

Coach Jones will be transitioning several of his regulars from the basketball team that just wrapped up a state runner-up finish in the 2A high school postseason in Champaign this past weekend. He explains he'll give those athletes a few days to recharge before they transition to baseball.

 

 

Coach Jones is being assisted this season by Ray Wichus, Daniel Peterson, and Matt Crook. Peterson and Crook were players for Jones while Wichus has served on his staff in the past.

 

The Sages open the season taking on LeRoy at the Rantoul Family Sports Complex where they have artificial turf to play on. Game time this afternoon is 4:30 pm and can be heard on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

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Illinois Splits Sunday Double Dip to Take Weekend Series Against Western Kentucky

The Illinois Fighting Illini baseball team won this weekend's three-game series at Western Kentucky on Sunday with a 9-4 victory over the Hilltoppers in game one of the Sunday doubleheader. Illinois and Western Kentucky split the Sunday doubleheader as the Hilltoppers took game two. The Illini offense combined for 21 runs and 27 hits in the first two games of the series.

 

Danny Doligale set a new career-high with four hits as the Illini racked up a season-high 14 hits while scoring nine runs. Five of Illinois' 14 hits were extra-base hits, and all nine Illini starters scored a run.

 

Cam McDonald extended his hit streak to ten games in the opener with a two-RBI double, the second double of the inning for the Illini. Illinois scored four runs in the top of the first inning, the second time this weekend scoring four runs or more in the first.

 

Riley Gowens earned his second win of the season in two starts, going 4.1 innings and giving up four runs while striking out four. Joseph Glassey entered in relief of Gowens, throwing an impressive 2.1 innings without allowing a run and tallying four strikeouts to earn his first save of the season.

 

Jacob Campbell put the Illini on the board with a solo homerun to left field in the eighth inning of game two with a no-doubt shot for his second of the season. The Illini also added one more run in the ninth and brought the tying run to the plate, but the comeback effort fell short.

 

Illinois is back home at Illinois Field on Tuesday, hosting Butler at 4 p.m. CT.

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Illini Receive No. 4 Seed in NCAA Tournament, Will Take on Chattanooga

The bracket is officially set for the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

 

The Big Ten regular-season champion Illinois Fighting Illini (22-9) are the No. 4 seed in the South region and will open their NCAA Tournament run against No. 13 seed Chattanooga (27-7) in the first round on Friday in Pittsburgh. Game time is set for 5:50 p.m. CT and will be televised on TNT. 

 

Illinois is making its 32nd overall NCAA Tournament appearance, and second in a row after earning a No. 1 seed last year.

 

Illinois owns an all-time NCAA Tournament record of 41-32. 

 

Coach Underwood, meanwhile, will be making his sixth NCAA Tournament appearance in nine years as a head coach.

 

The Big Ten has a conference-record nine teams in the Tournament for the second straight year.

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Jets Outlast Blues in Overtime

Pierre Luc-Dubois scored in overtime and Connor Hellebuyck made 28 saves in the Winnipeg Jets' 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Sunday night.

 

The Jets have won 10 of their last 12 games in St. Louis. The Blues have lost five of seven.

 

Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele scored 1:03 seconds apart in the third period to give the Jets a 3-2 lead. Nikolaj Ehlers also scored for Winnipeg. The Jets improved to 4-17-2 when trailing after two periods.

 

David Perron, Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko scored for St. Louis.

 

The Jets won two of three games on the recently completed road trip.

 

Tarasenko broke an eight-game scoreless skid by whipping a shot past Hellebuyck with 27 seconds left in the second period to put the Blues up 2-1.

 

Tarasenko, who also added an assist, reached the 20-goal mark for the seventh season.

 

The Blues continue to struggle in overtime and have lost six of seven in extra sessions this season.

 

The Blues host Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

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Briscoe Powers to First Career Win at Phoenix

Chase Briscoe raced to his first Cup Series victory, executing two great restarts over the final 20 laps to pull away from Ross Chastain and Tyler Reddick on Sunday at Phoenix Raceway. Briscoe’s childhood idol was NASCAR great Tony Stewart and the Indiana native now drives Stewart’s car for Stewart-Haas Racing.

 

Briscoe channeled some of Stewart’s late-race moxie during an intense battle between three drivers who had never won in the Cup Series. It’s more evidence of the parity across the series in the Next Gen cars, with four drivers winning the first four races this season.

 

Briscoe was one of the top drivers in the Xfinity Series in 2019 and 2020 before getting the invitation from Stewart-Haas Racing to take over the No. 14. He had just three top 10s as a rookie and finished 23rd in the season standings.

 

But got off to a good start this season with a third-place finish at Daytona in February.

Now, a victory.

 

Reddick’s been among the fastest drivers in the Cup Series all season but fell just short of his first win. He battled leg numbness in the Next Gen car over the first few weeks but didn’t appear to have any problems Sunday. He’s had two straight top 10 finishes after finishing seventh at Las Vegas last week.

 

Ryan Blaney started on the pole and dominated the first half of the race, winning the second stage after leading 138 of the first 185 laps. He settled for fourth. Kurt Busch was fifth.

 

Kyle Larson won the series championship last year after a fall victory at Phoenix, but engine trouble ended his day early. He finished 34th. It was the end of a frustrating day for Larson, who qualified seventh but had to move to the rear of the starting grid because of unapproved steering wheel changes.

 

Now that the annual three-week West Coast swing is over, the series moves back across the country to Atlanta Motor Speedway next weekend.

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Monticello Falls in 2A State Title Game to Nashville

Saxton Hoepker's layup with 21.1 seconds remaining was the game-winning basket as the Nashville Hornets escaped with a 32-31 state championship victory over the Monticello Sages Saturday afternoon in the Class 2A state title game from the State Farm Center.

 

As heard on 95.9 FM WEZC and at dewittdailynews.com, Tanner Buehnerkemper missed an open layup that would have put the Sages up 33-30 but the senior, who was tremendous all game, especially on the glass, came up just short down the stretch setting up the game-winner for the Nashville second-team all-state senior. 

 

A gracious Buehnerkemper after the game said one miss and one loss didn't define the season for the Sages and Coach Kevin Roy agreed with his senior.

 

 

The Sages started the game slowly, shooting 3-for-16 for the first half but led Nashville 11-10 thanks to forcing the Hornets into five turnovers. Monticello went 5-for-7 from the floor in the second quarter to open it up to a 25-21 lead after three.

 

When Joey Sprinkle knocked down a wide-open layup on an offensive scramble to make it 31-25, it looked like the Sages were going to be able to find looks to keep the Hornets at bay but Nolan Heggemeier knocked down a three on the next Nashville possession and Monticello could not find the basket the rest of the way.

 

Kolten Gajewski (gaw-che-ski) grabbed an offensive rebound and made the put-back with 59-seconds left to cut the Nashville deficit to 31-30.

 

After Buehnerkemper's miss, Hoepker drove the lane and made a layup to put the Hornets up for good.

 

Despite the defeat, Coach Roy spoke highly of his team.

 

 

The seven Sages seniors were in seventh grade when Monticello was last in the State Tournament and Joey Sprinkle says he and his teammates want to be good role models for the younger Sages making their way through the ranks now because that team in 2017 was that to them. Trevor Fox says second-place for them, while disappointing, is something they are proud of. 

 

 

Monticello was able to play just a short nearly 30-minute drive from the Sievers Center in Monticello to the State Farm Center in Champaign. Dylan Ginalick says it was almost like they were playing on their home floor and wanted to show Illinois basketball fans what the Sages were all about.

 

 

Ginalick led the Sages with 11 points and three assists. Tanner Buehnerkemper grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds. 

 

Gajewski finished with a double-double for Nashville with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

 

Monticello shot 35.5-percent from the floor while Nashville shot 36.4-percent. The Hornets went 2-for-12 from distance while the Sages finished 3-for-11.

 

Monticello went 6-for-9 from the foul line and Nasvhille went 6-for-10 from the line.

 

The Hornets outrebounded Monticello 26-18 and turned 11 offensive rebounds ten points. 

 

The score was tied twice and there were eight lead changes. 

 

The Sages came into the state title game having won 13 in a row. They finish the year 33-4 overall, the winningest team in school history.

 

The next Sages sports broadcast on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com will be Monday when the Sages open the baseball season in Rantoul taking on LeRoy. 

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NASCAR Heads to Pheonix

Alex Bowman made a two-tire stop pay off in overtime at Las Vegas, outrunning Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson for the victory. Now the NASCAR Cup Series shifts to Phoenix Raceway where Martin Truex, Jr. won the spring race but Larson won the Championship race in the fall. 

 

Hendrick placed three drivers in the top five with William Byron running fifth. Larson, the defending series champion, moved into the points lead by six over Truex. Denny Hamlin, who finished third in the standings last season and had 25 top-10 finishes in 36 races, has been running at the finish just once in three races and is 30th in the point standings.

 

Practice is at 12:30 pm Saturay and qualifying is at 1:35 pm. Race time is 2:30 pm Sunday afternoon.

 

The Xfinity race runs at 3:30 pm Saturday with practice at 10:30 am and qualifying at 11 am. 

 

Ty Gibbs pulled away on a restart with six laps remaining at Las Vegas and claimed his first victory of the season.

 

Gibbs jumped to second in the standings behind Noah Gragson, who finished second at Las Vegas. Gragson, A.J. Allmendinger and Justin Allgaier have finished in the top 10 in all three races. Gragson has finished in the top five in all three. The race featured 17 lead changes, 11 caution flags and a 42-minute red flag for light snow and rain.

 

Last year Austin Cindric won after starting third. 

 

The Camping World Truck Series returns when the circuit shifts to Atlanta Motorspeedway. 

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David Pastrnak breaks late tie, Bruins beat Blackhawks 4-3

David Pastrnak snapped a tie with 17.2 seconds left and the Boston Bruins beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on Thursday night for their eighth victory in 10 games.

 

Pastrnak finished with two goals and an assist. Jack Ahcan scored his first career goal, and Charlie Coyle also scored for the Bruins.

 

Cassidy wasn't pleased that the Bruins, coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to Los Angeles at home Tuesday night, got pushed to the brink of overtime by the Blackhawks, who aren't going to the playoffs and managed just three shots on goal in the second period. But Brandon Hagel's second goal of the night tied it at 3-all 3:24 into the third and set up a thrilling finish.

 

Hagel scored twice for Chicago, and Alex DeBrincat extended his streak to five straight games with a goal, giving him 34 for the season.

 

Patrick Kane got an assist for his eighth point in the last two games for the Blackhawks, who lost for the fourth time in six games and felt they let at least a point, perhaps two, slip away.

 

Chicago goalie Kevin Lankinen stopped 32 shots, including 18 in the third before a loose puck bounced to Pastrnak in front and he batted it in for his 33rd goal. The play came just after a faceoff, which Chicago won but Boston's Taylor Hall was able to dig a loose puck out of the corner and get it in front to Pastrnak.

 

Jeremy Swayman had 22 staves for the Bruins.

 

Boston got a pair of power-play goals in the second while holding Chicago to just three shots on goal in the period. Ahcan, a rookie defenseman playing in just his eighth game, got his first NHL point when he scored a power-play goal on a wrist shot while backing across the slot at 11:57, tying it at 2.

 

Boston jumped on the short-handed Blackhawks again after Connor Murphy was called for interference 14:31 into the second. Pastrnak scored on a one-timer from the left circle with six seconds left in the power-play opportunity.

 

Coyle put Boston up 1-0 when a rebound popped right to him at the left circle 4:12 into the game.

 

DeBrincat tied it at 1 when he fired a one-timer past Swayman off a crossing pass from Kane during a 4-on-1 rush with only Ahcan back for the Bruins.

 

Hagel then skated in alone on Swayman, circled behind the net and tucked a backhand in the far side to put the Blackhawks in front 4:12 into the second. Hagel picked up his 20th of the season 3:24 into the third when Swayman couldn't contain a rebound and the puck squirted out to Hagel alone in front of the crease during Chicago's third power play of the game.

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Thomas scores twice as Blues beat Rangers 6-2

Robert Thomas scored twice and the St. Louis Blues beat the New York Rangers 6-2 Thursday night to snap a four-game losing streak.

 

David Perron, Jake Walman, Ivan Barbashev and Ryan O'Reilly also scored for the Blues, who were 0-3-1 in their skid and remained two points ahead of Minnesota in second place in the Central Division. Ville Husso made 27 saves to improve to 14-4-3 on the season.

 

Ryan Strome and K'Andre Miller scored for the Rangers. Igor Shesterkin gave up four goals on 17 shots before he was replaced by Alexander Georgiev.

 

Georgiev finished with 16 saves as the Rangers lost their second in a row after winning three straight.

 

Thomas tapped in a feed from Jordan Kyrou past Shesterkin for his ninth goal of the season to put St. Louis up 1-0 with 6:55 left in the first period.

 

Barbashev scored his 18th goal of the season 45 seconds later on a pass from Brandon Saad to expand St. Louis' lead to 2-0.

 

Thomas followed with his second goal of the game and career-high tying 10th of the season with 4:19 remaining in the first to make it 3-0.

 

Strome scored his 13th goal of the season on a power play with 1:23 remaining in the period to get the Rangers on the scoreboard.

 

O'Reilly roofed his 13th over Shesterkin 15 seconds into the second to put St. Louis up 4-1 and end Shesterkin's night.

 

Walman, a last-minute addition to the lineup, scored his third of the season on a delayed penalty at 7:07 to make it 5-1 and Perron added his 14th just 38 seconds later for a five-goal lead.

 

Miller scored his fifth goal of the season on a power play with 7:37 remaining in the second close the scoring. Artemi Panarin assisted on the goal giving him assists in four straight games.

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Monticello Gets By Rockridge to Advance to State Championship

The Monticello went 16-for-16 from the foul line in the second half and neutralized All-State guard Nate Henry en route to a 54-38 victory over Rockridge in a 2A State semifinal matchup from the State Farm Center in Champaign.

 

The Sages defense has been its calling card all season and limited the 6-foot-4 guard to just two first half points as Monticello led 16-8 at the intermission.

 

The Sages were just 2-for-5 from the foul line in the first half but finished perfect in the second half and gradually pulled away.

 

Ben Cresap, who was named to the second-team All State Wednesday, finished with 11 of his 12 points in the second half. Joey Sprinkle led Monticello with 17 points. Trevor Fox scored 14 points and Dylan Ginalick finished with 10.

 

Freshman Landon Bull led the Rockets with 20 points.

 

Monticello moves to 33-3 overall and will take on either DePaul Prep or Nashville for the State Championship Saturday afternoon at 12:30 pm. Hear the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

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Monticello Battles Rockridge in State Semifinal Action

A magical season for the Monticello Sages boy's basketball team culminates in its second state finals appearance in five years this weekend in Champaign when they take on Rockridge in Class 2A high school boy's basketball state semifinal action this afternoon from the State Farm Center.

 

Monticello has won 12 straight and comes into play tonight at 32-3 overall. The Sages rolled PBL to start postseason play. 53-30. After that game, things were not easy for Monticello.

 

The Sages needed overtime to get by Prairie Central, 55-51 in the Regional Championship. Monticello was able to pull away late from Herscher in a 37-25 Sectional semifinal victory and then held off El Paso-Gridley, 51-46. 

 

Monday in Supersectional play, the Sages blew away Bloomington Central Catholic, 62-44 to advance to this weekend's sate finals. 

 

For the 26-6 Rockridge Rockets, they have won 15-straight games including a blowout 91-14 Regional quarterfinal win over West Carroll. The Rockets rolled Prophetstown, 56-38 in Regional semifinal action and topped Port Byrton-Riverdale 58-52 to take home the Regional title.

 

Rockridge then beat Eureka 55-48 in Sectional semifinal action and rolled Farmington 47-30 for the Sectional crown. 

 

Monday night at the Sterling Supersectional, Rockridge downed Rockford Lutheran, 57-52.

 

Game time this afternoon is 2:30 pm from the State Farm Center in Champaign. Hear the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.

 

The winner of this afternoon's matchup takes on either Nashville or DePaul College Prep Saturday afternoon, while the losers meet up for a third-place contest this evening at 8:30 pm. 

 

Class 1A State semifinal action:

 

At Champaign State Farm Center

 

Steeleville 10:00am

Yorkville Christian

 

Liberty 11:45am

Scales Mound

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Bulls Rally Past Pistons

DeMar DeRozan scored 16 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter and the Chicago Bulls beat the Detroit Pistons 114-108 on Wednesday night to snap a five-game losing streak.

 

Zach LeVine added 25 points for the Bulls, and Nikola Vucevic had 21 points. They won despite only hitting three 3-pointers.

 

Cade Cunningham had 22 points for the Pistons, but no one else scored more than 12.

Detroit had won three straight.

 

The Pistons led 99-92 with 8:59 left before DeRozan and Zach LeVine took over.

 

DeRozan's layup gave the Bulls a 101-99 lead with 5:44 left and, after a Detroit miss, LeVine made two free throws to finish an 11-0 run. Two more baskets from DeRozan made it 109-101, and the Pistons couldn't hit enough shots down the stretch.

 

Neither team led by more than eight points in the first three quarters, but Hamadou Diallo's put-back dunk gave the Pistons a 91-84 advantage going into the fourth.

 

The Bulls were 31-35 from the free-throw line, including 11-13 in the fourth quarter. 

 

The Bulls host Cleveland on Saturday night.

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Illinois Big Man, Cockburn, Named to Second-Team All Big Ten

Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis is The Associated Press player of the year in the Big Ten Conference and the Badgers’ Greg Gard is coach of the year.

 

Davis won top honors over Iowa’s Keegan Murray on Tuesday, and both were unanimous picks for spots on the AP All-Big Ten team along with Purdue’s Jaden Ivey in voting of journalists who cover the conference.

 

Nebraska freshman Bryce McGowens is newcomer of the year.

 

Joining Davis, Murray and Ivey on the all-conference first team are Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell and Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn. Liddell is a repeat first-team pick, and Cockburn was on the second team a year ago.

 

The second team is made up of Rutgers’ Ron Harper Jr., Illinois’ Trent Frazier, Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis, Purdue’s Zach Edey and Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson.

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Illinois State Downs UT-Martin

Illinois State freshman Trey Krause completed a 25-month return from Ewing's Sarcoma in the Redbirds' 6-1 victory at UT-Martin (4-7) on Tuesday at Skyhawk Baseball Field.

 

After being diagnosed in February 2020, Krause was deemed cancer-free in December 2020 before throwing his first bullpen back in September 2021. Krause struck out the first batter he faced in his one-inning start.

 

Illinois State (6-4) got eight innings of scoreless relief, headlined by five innings from sophomore Cameron Mabee. Junior Kolton Scherbenske and sophomores Keegan Gagliardo and Erik Kubiatowicz each posted a scoreless inning in relief. 

 

The 'Birds were led by junior Jake McCaw, who recorded a trio of hits and two RBIs.

 

An RBI from sixth-year senior Aidan Huggins tied the game at 1-1 after three innings.

 

In the 5th inning, third-year sophomore Ryan Cermak recorded an RBI before a two-out, two-RBI double from McCaw.

 

The 'Birds tacked on two more in the top of the 9th as third-year sophomore Adrian Flores laced a ball to third base, resulting in two runs coming home.

 

Illinois State is scheduled to play this weekend at Murray State.

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Eastern Illinois Gets By Illinois

The Fighting Illini dropped the Illinois Field season opener to Eastern Illinois on Tuesday afternoon, 4-2. Cam McDonald led the Illini offensively, going 2-for-3 with a home run while scoring both of Illinois' runs.  

 

Eastern Illinois (7-3) plated two in the top of the third to take a 2-0 lead before the Illini responded with a run in the home half of the third on an RBI single by OF Danny Doligale. Illinois (3-7) knotted the score in the fifth on a Cam McDonald solo homer to right field.

 

Eastern Illinois took the lead back in the sixth, and extended their lead on a two-out infield single in the top of the ninth inning.

 

Cam McDonald hit his team-leading second home run of the season with a solo shot to right field.

 

Illinois will be back on the road this weekend for a three-game slate at Western Kentucky.

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Packers, Rodgers Agree to Return; Franchise Tag WR Adams

Aaron Rodgers is planning to come back to the Green Bay Packers for an 18th season, a move that keeps the reigning MVP off the trade market and answers the question that had dominated NFL offseason discussions.

 

Rodgers sent out a tweet Tuesday afternoon confirming his return.

 

Rodgers said the reports about signing a contract are inaccurate.

 

NFL Network and Pat McAfee, the host of “The Pat McAfee Show” on SiriusXM and YouTube, had both reported earlier in the day that Rodgers was staying with the Packers. Rodgers makes a weekly appearance on McAfee’s show during the season.

 

NFL Network reported that the 38-year-old Rodgers had agreed to a four-year, $200 million contract that includes $153 million in guaranteed money. McAfee disputed the terms and said the contract wasn’t signed yet, and Rodgers’ tweet backed up McAfee’s account.

 

Rodgers’ decision comes nearly a month after he won his second straight MVP award. The four-time MVP quarterback has spent his entire career in Green Bay.

 

The reports of his decision surfaced the same day the Packers placed the franchise tag on All-Pro receiver Davante Adams. 

 

Adams and the Packers now have until July 15 to work out a long-term extension. If they don’t come to terms, Adams would play this season for just over $20 million because a player’s franchise tag tender is either the average of the five largest salaries from the prior year at the position - $18.4 million for receivers - or 120% of his previous season’s salary. The player receives the higher amount; in Adams’ case, he gets the 120%.

 

Adams, 29, has earned All-Pro honors each of the last two seasons and was a unanimous selection in 2021. He set Packers single-season records for catches (123) and yards receiving (1,553) while also scoring 11 touchdowns.

 

He’s the only player in NFL history to have at least 110 catches, 1,350 yards receiving and 11 touchdown receptions in three separate seasons. Adams has joined Marvin Harrison and Larry Fitzgerald as the only players to have 600 catches, 8,000 yards receiving and 70 touchdown receptions over their first eight seasons.

 

The Packers still have plenty of other issues to address in their receiving corps. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown and tight end Robert Tonyan are unrestricted free agents. Allen Lazard is a restricted free agent.

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Blackhawks Blast Ducks

Patrick Kane had a goal and five primary assists for a career-high six points, and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the banged-up Anaheim Ducks 8-3 on Tuesday night.

 

Dylan Strome had three goals and an assist, and DeBrincat finished with a goal and three assists. Jonathan Toews, Brandon Hagel and Ryan Carpenter also scored as the Blackhawks turned a fast start into their third win in nine games.

 

Strome, who turned 25 on Monday, could be on the move ahead of the NHL trade deadline on March 21. But he has 12 goals and 11 assists in his last 23 games, and his obvious chemistry with Kane and DeBrincat could lead new general manager Kyle Davidson to hold onto him for now.

 

Kane is up to 10 goals and 18 assists in his last 16 games, and DeBrincat has scored in four straight games.

 

Trevor Zegras scored a power-play goal for Anaheim, which was coming off a 3-3 homestand. Jakob Silfverberg and Adam Henrique also scored, and Sam Steel had two assists.

 

The Ducks played without captain Ryan Getzlaf and fellow forward Isac Lundestrom. Getzlaf missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury, and Lundestrom was held out after he left the win against the Sharks with a lower-body injury.

 

John Gibson played just one period in his return from an upper-body injury that sidelined the All-Star goalie for Sunday night's 3-2 overtime win over San Jose. He made eight saves on 13 shots before he was replaced by Anthony Stolarz, who finished with 16 stops.

 

The Blackhawks jumped all over the Ducks, scoring five times in the first period for the first time since Feb. 18, 2019, against Ottawa.

 

The Blackhawks are at Boston on Thursday night.

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Senators Down Blues

Tim Stutzle and Josh Norris each scored a power-play goal, sparking the Ottawa Senators to a 4-1 victory Tuesday over the St. Louis Blues.

 

St. Louis native Brady Tkachuk and Alex Formenton also scored for the Senators, and Anton Forsberg stopped 20 shots. The victory snapped a five-game losing streak for Ottawa.

 

David Perron scored the lone goal for St. Louis, which is 0-3-1 in the last four games - the Blues' longest losing streak of the season.

 

Blues goalie Jordan Binnington had 24 saves, but left the ice with 3:35 remaining.

 

Stutzle's power-play goal on a backhander at 11:35 of the first period gave Ottawa a 1-0 lead. Perron's turnover followed by a tripping penalty against Tkachuk gave the Senators a man advantage.

 

It was the fifth time in last six games the opposing team has scored first on the Blues.

 

St. Louis, which had won six of its previous seven games against the Senators, had just three shots on goal in the second period.

 

The Blues recalled forwards Mackenzie MacEachern and Alexei Toropchenko from AHL affiliate Springfield Thunderbirds. St. Louis also assigned forwards Dakota Joshua and Klim Kostin to Springfield.

 

The St. Louis host the New York Rangers on Thursday night.

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UPDATED: Monticello Rolls BCC To Advance to State

In a game heard on WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com, the Monticello Sages used a big second quarter, including four three-pointers, to beat Bloomington Central Catholic 62-44 in Class 2A Supersectional action from the Bank of Springfield Center Monday night and advance to the Class 2A state finals in Champaign.

 

Leading 9-8 after the first quarter, Dylan Ginalick hit back-to-back three-pointers sandwiched between a Colin Hayes basket for the Saints, Triston Foran added another three followed by a Ben Cresap three-pointer with 4:11 to play, allowing Monticello to open a 21-10 lead. 

 

The Sages led 25-12 at the intermission and opened up a 35-20 lead after Trevor Fox hit a three at the 4:17 mark of the third. 

 

The Sages finished the third quarter with a nifty layup from Ginalick and Monticello forced a turnover that Fox threw up for a last second shot at the buzzer of the third and banked it in to make a 46-27.

 

Ginalick scored a game-high 18 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out five assists. Ginalick was the Piatt/DeWitt County ServPro Player of the Game.

 

Fox finished with 13 points for the Sages while Cresap added 10 points and Joey Sprinkle finished with nine points.

 

The Sages 12th straight win was highlighted by 14 assists on 20 field goals and only five turnovers. Monticello forced BCC into nine turnovers and converted those into 13 points. 

 

The Saints shot 47-percent from the floor for the game while shooting 7-for-13 from three-point range.

 

Monticello outrebounded BCC 25-19. Cole Certa led the Saints with 10 points as they finish their season 20-16 overall. 

 

Monticello moves to 32-3 overall and will battle Rockridge who beat Rockford Lutheran 57-52 Monday night. Game time Thursday afternoon is 2:30 pm from the State Farm Center in Champaign and can be heard on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

 

Class 2A Supersectional scores:

 

At SIU

 

Nashville 44

Teutopolis 18

 

Class 1A Supersectional scores:

 

At SIU

 

Meridian 47

Steeleville 68

 

At ISU

 

Yorkville Christian 71

Lexington 33

 

Class 3A Supersectional action Monday:

 

At Ottawa

 

Wheaton St. Francis 44

Metamora 60

 

At Bank of Springfield Center

 

Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin 60

East St. Louis 50

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New ISU Hoops Coach Introduced

Illinois State bowed out of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament on Friday after falling to Northern Iowa 78-65. The final buzzer may have sounded at the Enterprise Center on the Redbirds season, but the University was still hard at work finding it's next head coach. An hour after ISU's season culminated, Ryan Pedon(pee-den) was announced as the next head coach of the men's basketball program. A current assistant for the Ohio State Buckeyes, Pedon laid out his plan for Redbird basketball's future.

 

 

Pedon(Pee-den) has 21 years of experience coaching basketball, and this is his first stop as a head coach. Pedon contract lasts for 5 seasons, earning $550,000 annual.

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Sixers Get By Bulls

Joel Embiid had 43 points and 14 rebounds, and the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Chicago Bulls 121-106 Monday night in a showdown between two of the Eastern Conference's top teams headed in opposite directions.

 

James Harden added 16 points and 14 assists, and Tyrese Maxey added 17 points for the 76ers, who have won six of seven and stayed perfect with Harden in the lineup.

 

The 76ers improved to 5-0 with Harden since the blockbuster deal at the trade deadline that sent Ben Simmons to the Nets in exchange for the 2017-18 MVP. Harden sat out Philadelphia's 99-82 loss at Miami on Saturday to rest his hamstring.

 

Harden is averaging 24.6 points, 12.4 assists and 7.4 rebounds as a member of the 76ers.

 

Harden set up 76ers for open shots and driving dunks, like Embiid's slam with 6:31 left in the third and Matisse Thybulle's jam with 1:51 to play.

 

Embiid, the league's leading scorer, made 15 of 27 field goals and 12 of 16 free throws.

 

The MVP frontrunner scored at least 40 points for the 10th time this season while upping his season average to 29.7 points per contest.

 

Zach Lavine scored 24 points and DeMar DeRozan added 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulls, who have lost five in a row.

 

The Bulls couldn't beat the 76ers without Harden, and it certainly didn't get any easier with the 10-time All-Star point guard directing Philadelphia's offense.

 

The Bulls have had trouble against the conference's elite and dropped to 0-9 versus Miami, Philadelphia and Milwaukee - the three teams ahead of them in the standings. Philadelphia began play tied with the Bucks for second in the East, three games back of the Heat. The 76ers ended the season series with Chicago with a four-game sweep.

 

The Bulls were without third-leading scorer (17.9 ppg) and top rebounder (9.6 rpg) Nikola Vucevic due to hamstring tightness. Lonzo Ball (left knee surgery), Patrick Williams (wright) and Alex Caruso (wrist) worked out on Sunday during practice, but did not participate in any contact.

 

The Bulls are at Detroit on Wednesday.

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Monticello Battles Bloomington Central Catholic at Supersectionals

The Monticello Sages boy's basketball team will look to punch its first ticket to the State Finals since 2017 tonight when they battle Bloomington Central Catholic from the Springfield Supersectional in Class 2A high school boy's basketball action.

 

The Sages held off El Paso-Gridley 51-46 Friday night to take home the Clifton Sectional title.

 

The Sages matchup with the Saints tonight is the third Illini Prairie Conference opponent Monticello will face in this postseason run and guarantees the Illini Prairie will be represented in Champaign later this week for the state finals.

 

Monticello and BCC matched up in Bloomington on January 14 with Monticello coming away with a 65-54 victory. The Saints are 20-15 coming into tonight's action while the Sages are 31-3 overall and will put an 11-game win streak on the line tonight.

 

Since that January matchup, BCC is 13-5 while Monticello is 13-2. 

 

The Saints had to get by Auburn and Quincy Notre Dame in Sectional play to get to tonight's matchup with Monticello. Before Monticello held off EP-G Friday, the Sages rallied past Herscher Tuesday night.

 

The winner of tonight's action battles Rockford Lutheran or Rockridge Thursday afternoon from the State Farm Center in Champaign. 

 

Game time tonight from the Bank of Springfield Center is 6 pm and can be heard on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

 

Class 2A Supersecational action tonight:

 

At SIU

 

Nashville 7:30pm

Teutopolis

 

Class 1A Supersectional action tonight:

 

At SIU

 

Meridian 6:00pm

Steeleville

 

At ISU

 

Yorkville Christian 6:00pm

Lexington

 

Class 3A Supersectional action tonight:

 

At Ottawa

 

Wheaton St. Francis 7:00pm

Metamora

 

At Bank of Springfield Center

 

Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin 7:30pm

East St. Louis 

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Illinois Rallies Past Iowa, Clinches Share of Big Ten Title

No. 20 Illinois locked up a share of the Big Ten regular-season title when Kofi Cockburn had 21 points and 14 rebounds to lead a 74-72 win over No. 24 Iowa Sunday night.

 

The Fighting Illini’s hopes for a conference crown were kept alive when Nebraska upset No. 10 Wisconsin earlier Sunday. They didn’t let the opportunity go to waste, claiming at least a share of the Big Ten championship for the first time since winning it in 2004 and ’05.

 

Illinois (22-8, 15-5) erased a 15-point first-half deficit, but Alfonso Plummer led the charge back en route to 15 points. Coleman Hawkins added nine points and 11 rebounds.

 

Iowa (22-9, 12-8) missed five of its first six shots but eventually got on a 13-0 scoring run. The burst started with Kris Murray’s 3, the first of nine straight made shots for the Hawkeyes. Peyton Sandfort hit a 3 and then made another jumper on the next possession before Tony Perkins’ layup put Iowa ahead 32-19.

 

Plummer revived Illinois’ offense with back-to-back 3s, and the Illini closed the half on a 9-0 run as Plummer drove and scored with 4 seconds left to make it a 43-37 deficit.

 

Hawkins hit a 3 to put Illinois in front 65-63 with 7:03 to go, and they didn’t trail again.

 

Keegan Murray had 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Hawkeyes, while Perkins had 17 points and 12 boards. Kris Murray added 13 points.

 

Curbelo had 14 points and six assists off the bench for Illinois.

 

No one will enter the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis feeling as good as the Illini, who have won three games in a row and will take the No. 1 seed after holding the tiebreaker over Wisconsin due to an 80-67 win over the Badgers on Feb. 2. The Illini will be in action Friday in Indianapolis.

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Illinois Baseball Falls Short Against Kansas Sunday, Finishes 1-2 at Cambria College Classic

The Illinois baseball team fell 10-7 to Kansas on Sunday to finish the Cambria College Classic at U.S. Bank Stadium. Justin Janas had two hits and three RBIs to lead the Illini.

 

Illinois (3-6) went 1-2 on the weekend with a win over No. 25 West Virginia on Saturday. Cam McDonald was the Illini's best bat of the weekend, going 5-for-11 with a double, homer and three RBIs.

 

Kansas (4-6) won the game on Caleb Upshaw's three-run homer to center field in the bottom of the eighth inning to break a 7-7 tie. The game featured five lead changes, including Illinois leading on three occasions.

 

Branden Comia gave Illinois its last lead on an RBI single to right field in the sixth to make it a 7-6 game, as the Illini held that lead into the bottom of the seventh before Kansas tied it up on a fielder's choice. Janas provided the Illini with their biggest hit of the day, a two-out, three-run triple to left center field that flipped a two-run deficit to a one-run lead in the fourth inning.

 

Illinois' home opener is scheduled for Tuesday at Illinois Field against Eastern Illinois. The Illini then travel to Western Kentucky for a three-game series next weekend.

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ISU Drops 2 out of 3 at Arkansas State

Colin Wyman fired five scoreless innings on 42 pitches in relief to lead Illinois State in a doubleheader split Arkansas State (4-5) at Tomlinson Stadium-Kell Field on Saturday.

 

The 'Birds dropped game one, 2-1, before responding with a 7-1 win in game two.

 

Illinois State (5-4) got five runs in the 7th inning of game two on a two-RBI single from junior Jake McCaw and a bases-clearing double from sophomore Greg Nichols.

 

Derek Salata recorded a career-high eight strikeouts over six innings in game one.

 

Arkansas State got things rolling in the opener, scoring a run in both the 2nd and 3rd innings to lead 2-0.

 

Aidan Huggins and Connor Olson recorded a successful double steal in the 5th inning as the ASU catcher attempted to catch Huggins at second base. The throw got away, allowing Olson to score.

 

Nick Gile singled in the 9th inning before pinch-running JT Sokolove swiped second. The Redbirds were unable to cash in as ASU closed the game.

 

Illinois State scored in the 2nd inning of the second game as Nichols grounded home Gile, who led off the inning with a double.

 

A two-RBI single by McCaw gave the 'Birds some breathing room and a 3-0 lead before Nichols cleared the bases with a three-RBI double.

 

ASU got one back in the 8th inning, but Matt Darr recorded a 9th-inning RBI single in his first at-bat as a 'Bird to push the lead to 7-1.

 

Illinois State is scheduled to play Tuesday at UT-Martin.

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Devils Use OT to Get By Blues

Dougie Hamilton scored in overtime and rookie Nico Daws made 19 saves and the New Jersey Devils edged the St. Louis Blues 3-2 on Sunday.

 

Hamilton scored his ninth goal of the season at 1:12 of the extra session with a high shot to beat Blues netminder Ville Husso. Pavel Zacha and Jack Hughes assisted on the winning goal.

 

Torey Krug finally broke through for the Blues at 2:08 of the third with his seventh goal before Kyrou tied it at 5:44 with his team-leading 22nd goal of the season.

 

Kyrou and Vladimir Tarasenko assisted on Krug's goal. Brayden Schenn and Tarasenko assisted on Kyrou's goal.

 

The Blues are still 6-2-2 in their past 10 games.

 

Husso made 30 saves in defeat and is 10-2-2 since the start of 2022. The 27-year-old Finnish netminder is 13-4-3 thus far in his second NHL season.

 

The Blues are returning home after four-game road trip to hosting Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.

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Lightning Double Up Blackhawks

Victor Hedman scored twice, Mikhail Sergachev had a goal and two assists and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-3 on Sunday night.

 

The two-time defending Stanley Cup champions came from behind with a five-goal outburst over seven minutes bridging the second and third periods. Hedman, Corey Perry and Sergachev scored Tampa Bay's last three goals in a 32-second span in the third.

 

Cal Foote and Taylor Raddysh also scored for Tampa Bay. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 24 shots and picked up his league-leading 30th victory of the season. Tampa Bay won its second straight and seventh in eighth games.

 

Dylan Strome, Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat scored for Chicago. Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves.

 

After closing to within three games of .500, the Blackhawks are 5-11-2 since Jan. 17. 

 

Anaheim visits the Blackhawks on Tuesday.

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Bowman Takes Overtime Win at Vegas

Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson went wheel-to-wheel Sunday in a two-lap overtime shootout at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The racing was clean from the restart to the checkered flag and Bowman bested the reigning NASCAR champion for his first win of the season.

 

The win made it two straight for Hendrick through three Cup races. The winningest owner in NASCAR now has 281 victories.

 

Owner Rick Hendrick called a meeting after Larson and Chase Elliott collided racing for the lead at California. Larson said he didn’t see Elliott when he squeezed him into the wall and apologized. Elliott was furious, and Hendrick put the matter to rest.

 

Just a week later, though, the Hendrick cars again had to race one another for the win and make sure to do it without any bumping or banging. The Hendrick chance came when a spin by Erik Jones with three laps remaining brought out the 12th caution of the race and shifted the fight from a pair of Joe Gibbs Racing cars to the Hendrick cars.

 

Las Vegas native Kyle Busch and teammate Martin Truex Jr. had been in a lap-by-lap chess match for the win until Jones’ crash. Busch thought he’d inched ahead of Truex and had the win locked up until the caution.

 

The Hendrick trio of Bowman, Larson and William Byron all changed just two tires to get off pit road first through third. Busch, who had gone to the pits as the leader, took four tires and came off pit road in fourth.

 

Larson, the defending Las Vegas winner and winner last week in California, chose the outside line for the restart with Bowman on his inside. The two were in a drag race over the final two laps and Bowman only got significant as he closed in on the checkered flag.

 

Bowman, who led three times for 16 laps, beat Larson to the finish line by 0.178 seconds.

 

Ross Chastain finished third for TrackHouse Racing and a podium sweep for Chevrolet. Chastain, who had led just 75 laps over 117 previous starts, led a race-high 83 laps.

 

Busch finished fourth in a backup Toyota after crashing in Saturday morning practice when his tire went flat. The wreck destroyed his car and because backups are in short supply at the start of NASCAR’s rollout of the Next Gen model, the only option JGR had was a “parts car” not meant for competition.

 

Byron was fifth to give Hendrick three drivers in the top five and Aric Almirola was sixth and the highest-finishing Ford. Almirola is the only driver to finish inside the top-10 through NASCAR’s first three races of the season.

 

The Cup Series next goes to Phoenix Raceway, where Truex is the defending race winner. Larson won in November to win his first Cup title.

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Williamson lifts Loyola Chicago past Bradley 66-50 in MVC

Lucas Williamson registered 13 points as Loyola Chicago topped Bradley 66-50 in the Missouri Valley Conference Tourney quarterfinals on Friday.

 

Ryan Schwieger had 11 points for Loyola Chicago (23-7). Tate Hall added seven rebounds.

 

Bradley scored 23 second-half points, a season low for the team.

 

Terry Roberts had 17 points for the Braves (17-14). Rienk Mast added 11 points and 13 rebounds. Connor Hickman had 10 points.

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Northern Iowa gets past Illinois State 78-65 in MVC tourney yesterday

AJ Green had 17 points as Northern Iowa beat Illinois State 78-65 in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament quarterfinals on Friday.

 

Noah Carter added 16 points for the Panthers (19-10), while Trae Berhow chipped in 15. Carter also had five assists.

 

Antonio Reeves had 20 points and three blocks for the Redbirds (13-20). Liam McChesney added 13 points.

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Monticello Tops El Paso-Gridely, Advances to Supersectional

In a game heard on WEZC and at dewittdailynews.com, three players scored in double figures and Monticello held on against El Paso-Gridley for a 51-46 Sectional Championship win in Class 2A high school boy's basketball postseason action from Clifton Central High School.

 

Tanner Buehnerkemper scored 11 of his team-high 13 points in the first half helping the Sages overcome foul trouble from Dylan Ginalick, who went scoreless in the first half and scored all nine of his points in the second half.

 

Ben Cresap and Trevor Fox each scored 11 points. Cresap grabbed a game-high nine rebounds and dished out a game-high five assists. He also added four steals.

 

Statistically, the two teams were very even throughout, as neither team led by more than seven as there were seven ties and seven lead changes. 

 

The Titans shot 42.5-percent while the Sages shot 45.7-percent. The Monticello turned EP-G over 16 times to 16 points while EP-G turned over Monticello 13 times for 13 points.

 

Each team grabbed 22 rebounds. Monticello held points in the paint edge, 22-20. 

 

Perhaps the difference was the Sages finished 17-for-22 from the foul line to the Titans' 8-for-9.

 

With Friday's win, Monticello has won 11 straight and moves to 31-3. EP-G finishes its season 28-3. 

 

The Sages take on Illini Prairie Conference rival Bloomington Central Catholic in Supersectional action Tuesday night at 6 pm at the Bank of Springfield Center in Springfield. Hear the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

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Monticello Goes for Sectional Title Tonight

The Monticello Sages boy's basketball team will look to punch its first ticket to a Supersectional appearance since 2017 when they take on El Paso-Gridley for a Sectional title tonight in Clifton in high school boy's basketball Class 2A postseason action.

 

Monticello needed a late rally-in to get by Herscher 37-25. EPG pulled away late from St. Joseph-Ogden to win 45-32.

 

Both the Sages and the Titans were ranked in the Class 2A polls last week. EPG was No. 4 while Monticello was No. 6, so tonight's matchups should be a realy heavyweight battle.

 

The Titans enter play 28-2 overall while Monticello is 30-3.

 

Hear tonight's action from Clifton Central High School at around 7 pm on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.

 

Class 2A Sectional final action tonight:

 

At Flora

 

Teutopolis 7:00pm

Mt. Carmel

 

At Olympia

 

Bloomington Central Catholic 7:00pm

Quincy Notre Dame

 

Class 1A Sectional final action tonight:

 

At Abingdon-Avon

 

Peoria Christian 7:00pm

Augusta Southeastern

 

At Effingham St. Anthony

 

Tuscola 7:00pm

Meridian

 

At Watseka

 

Lexington 7:00pm

Decatur St. Teresa

 

Class 3A Sectional final action tonight:

 

At Danville 

 

Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin 7:00pm

Decatur MacArthur

 

At Highland

 

Chatham-Glenwood 7:00pm

East St. Louis 

 

At Bradley University

 

Metamora 7:00pm

Rock Island 

 

Class 4A Sectional action tonight:

 

At Collinsville

 

Quincy 7:00pm

Normal Community

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Illinois Holds Off Pesky Penn State Nittany Lions

Da’Monte Williams made four 3-pointers on his way to a season-high 14 points, helping No. 20 Illinois hold off Penn State 60-55 on Thursday night.

 

The victory kept the Illini (21-8, 14-5 Big Ten) in contention for a share of the conference title if they beat Iowa and Wisconsin loses to Nebraska on Sunday. The Badgers have already clinched at least a share of the Big Ten title, and could win it outright by beating the Cornhuskers.

 

Jalen Pickett had 18 points, seven assists and five rebounds to lead Penn State (12-15, 7-12).

 

Williams scored the Illini’s final eight points of the first half, knocking down two 3s and a pair of free throws. Penn State was intent on limiting Alfonso Plummer and Trent Frazier’s looks from distance, and Williams often found himself with open jumpers.

 

Williams finished the game 4 of 11 from 3-point range, while Kofi Cockburn scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds. Trent Frazier added 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting.

 

Illinois led for much of the first half, but didn’t hit a shot during the last 4:24 of the first half — while Penn State hit four of its final five shots of the period to take a 30-29 lead into the break.

 

Illinois took a 46-41 lead after Andre Curbelo found Cockburn open for a dunk off an inbounds pass, then Frazier stole the ball from Sam Sessoms and sprung Jacob Grandison for a layup with 9:21 left.

 

Penn State hit its next four shots, including back-to-back scores from John Harrar, to tie the game at 49. A 3-pointer from Dallion Johnson briefly lifted Penn State into the lead before Grandison hit a corner 3 at the 4:34 mark that put Illinois ahead for good.

 

The Nittany Lions missed 10 of their last 11 shots, including a 3 from Myles Dread that would’ve tied it at 55 with 41 seconds to go. Illinois made five of six free throws in the final minute to close out the win.

 

 On a poor shooting night, Illinois got just enough from its veterans, proving it can win ugly when Cockburn isn’t as influential as usual. Holding Penn State to a 3-of-14 clip from 3-point range in the second half was a big help.

 

Illinois hosts Iowa on Sunday to wrap up the regular season.

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Hawks Get By Bulls

Bogdan Bogdanovic's 3-pointer with 1:41 left gave Atlanta the lead and Trae Young scored 39 points in the Hawks' 130-124 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night.

 

The Hawks began the night 10th in the conference, fighting to keep the last spot in the play-in tournament while still hoping to move higher in the final 20 games of the regular season.

 

Young made seven 3-pointers, including two after Bogdanovic's go-ahead 3, to seal the win.

 

Chicago suffered its third consecutive loss and fell percentage points behind Philadelphia in the battle for second place in the East, each 2 1/2 games behind Miami.

After Bogdanovic's 3 made it 119-118, Chicago's DeMar DeRozan's had a turnover, and Young padded the advantage with two 3s in the final 1:12.

 

Young had 13 assists and made 7 of 10 3s and all 10 of his free throws. Bogdanovic had 20 points.

 

DeRozan and Zach LaVine each had 22 points for the Bulls. Nikola Vucevic had 21 points and 11 rebounds.

 

LaVine blocked Young's last jumper of the first half, leaving the Bulls with a 63-56 halftime lead.

 

When LaVine opened the second half with a 3-pointer for a 66-56 lead, the Bulls were 10 of 19 and on pace to match their season high of 18 3s. They made only four 3s the remainder of the game, finishing 14 of 26.

 

The Hawks surged as they began outworking the Bulls under the basket. DeAndre Hunter, who had 18 points, grabbed a rebound of his own miss and scored for a 72-70 Atlanta lead.

 

The Hawks made 24 of 28 free throws. The Bulls made six of seven.

 

The Bulls host Milwaukee tonight.

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Illinois State Rallies Past Indiana State in Missouri Valley Tournament

Antonio Reeves registered 15 points as eighth-seeded Illinois State defeated ninth-seeded Indiana State 58-53 in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament’s opener on Thursday night.

 

Josiah Strong had 13 points for Illinois State (13-19). Kendall Lewis added eight rebounds. Howard Fleming Jr. had six rebounds.

 

Zach Hobbs had 12 points for the Sycamores (11-20). Kailex Stephens added 12 points and seven rebounds. Julian Larry had eight rebounds.

 

ISU takes on Northern Iowa this afternoon.

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Blackhawks Get By Oilers in Overtime

Alex DeBrincat got a pass from Patrick Kane and scored 2:23 into overtime, and the Blackhawks beat Duncan Keith and the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 on Thursday night.

 

Kane, Dominik Kubalik and Sam Lafferty also scored for Chicago, which went 2-1-0 against Edmonton this season. Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves.

 

With Edmonton star Leon Draisaitl in the penalty box for tripping Caleb Jones in overtime, Kane set up DeBrincat for the winning one-timer. It was DeBrincat's 30th goal of the season.

 

The game was tied at 2 when Kubalik made the most of a mistake by Mikko Koskinen. The veteran goaltender played the puck from behind the Edmonton net right to Kubalik, who fired it in 2:49 into the third period.

 

It was Kubalik's first goal since Jan. 26 and No. 11 on the season.

 

Chicago carried the lead all the way to the final minute, but Edmonton tied it when Evander Kane played the puck toward the middle and it appeared to go off the stick of Chicago defenseman Seth Jones and into the net.

 

vander Kane scored twice for Edmonton, which closed out a 2-2-1 road trip. Draisaitl had a goal and an assist, and Koskinen made 28 stops.

 

The Blackhawks had dropped four of five. But they were bolstered by the return of Toews (concussion protocol), fellow forward Tyler Johnson (neck surgery) and defensemen Calvin de Haan (right groin strain) and Riley Stillman (left shoulder) from injuries.

 

Lafferty put Chicago in front when he beat Koskinen through the goaltender's legs at 2:34. But Edmonton responded when Connor McDavid set up Draisaitl on the power play for his NHL-high 38th goal at 14:35.

 

The teams then exchanged goals one more time in the first. Patrick Kane got a pass from Dylan Strome and converted a one-timer from the right circle, but Draisaitl found a streaking Evander Kane for the tying goal for Edmonton with 26 seconds left.

 

De Haan had a chance to get the lead back for Chicago in the second, but he sent a shot off a post about 13 minutes into the period.

 

The Blackhawks are at the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.

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NASCAR In Sin City This Weekend

NASCAR leaves an eventful Fontana, California race at the Auto Club Speedway for Sin City this weekend headlined by the Penzoil 400 from Las Vegas Motorspeedway.

 

Kyle Larson's first win of his championship campaign came at the spring race in Vegas last year. Larson passed Daniel Suarez with two laps to go and held off a challenge by Austin Dillon to win by 0.195 seconds at Fontana, California. Larson’s victory was his 11th in the last 35 Cup Series races. He won despite starting at the rear of the field after unapproved adjustments to his Camaro and a late dust up with teammate Chase Elliot.

 

Tyler Reddick won the first two stages at Fontana and led 90 laps before crashing with a a flat tire. After two races, Aric Almirola is the only driver with a pair of top 10 finishes. The race featured 32 lead changes among nine drivers in the second race for the Next Gen car.

 

The cup cars practice at 12:30 pm Saturday afternoon with qualifying at 1:05 pm and race time is 2:30 pm Sunday afternoon. 

 

The XFinity series practices tonight at 5:30 pm and qualifying is at 6 pm. A.J. Allmendinger won after starting 10th last year in the spring race at Vegas.

 

Cole Custer outran Noah Gragson in the third overtime to win for the second time in his career at Fontana, California. Allmendinger leads Gragson by one point and Justin Allgaier by three points through two races. They are among six drivers with two top-10 runs. Gragson is the only driver with two top-five finishes. Defending series champion Daniel Hemric is ninth in the standings.

 

Race time is 3:30 pm Saturday afternoon. 

 

The Gander Mountain Truck Series returns this week with a 3:30 pm practice time and qualfying at 4 pm. 

 

John Hunter Nemechek won after starting third last year in the Vegas spring race. Zane Smith won at Daytona in overtime after a 17-car pileup on the final lap. Smith was the championship runner-up to Ben Rhodes last season. Rhodes is second in points after one race. 

 

Former NHRA racer Tanner Gray finished fourth in the season-opener at Daytona and is fourth in the standings.

 

Race time is 8 pm tonight. 

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Clinton's Mallory Cyrulik Named Second Team All-State

Clinton High School senior basketball star Mallory Cyrulik has been named a second team all-state selection in Class 2A by the AP Wednesday.

 

Cyrulik led the Lady Maroons to a 27-6 record, the most in school history, and is one of the program's leading scorers with over 1,000 career points. 

 

Chicago Noble Butler had two first-team selections with Camille Jackson and Ximiya Walton. Abbey Schreacke from Quincy Notre Dame, Miyah Brown from Winnebago, and Jilian Hamilton from Pana were first-team selections.

 

Cyrulik was joined on the second team by Alecia Doyle from Carterville, Ellie Cahill from Eureka, Ashlyn May from Fieldcrest and Caydee Kirkham from Illini West.

 

Lincoln High School's Kloe Froebe was a first-team selection in Class 3A. Froebe led the Lady Railsplitters to one of the most successful seasons in school history with a recent Class 3A Sectional final loss to Mahomet-Seymour. 

 

Mahomet-Seymour's Cayla Koerner was an honorable mention selection.

 

The girl's basketball state finals open today (Thursday) at Redbird Arena in Normal. 

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High School Boy's, Girl's Basketball Scores

Class 1A Sectional semifinal action Wednesday:

 

At Effingham St. Anthony

 

South Central 57

Meridian 60

 

At Watseka

 

Decatur St. Teresa 61

Milford 57

 

Class 2A Sectional semifinal action Wednesday:

 

At Clifton Central

 

El Paso-Gridley 45

St. Joseph-Ogden 32

 

At Flora

 

Pana 56

Mt. Carmel 67

 

At Olympia

 

Maroa-Forsyth 42

Quincy Notre Dame 60

 

Class 3A Sectional semifinal action:

 

At Danville 

 

Mahomet-Seymour 62 F-OT

Decatur MacArthur 65

 

 

 

Class 1A Girl's State semifinal action:

 

At Redbird Arena

 

Brimfield 10:00am

Neoga  

 

Serena 11:45am

Galena

 

Class 2A Girl's state semifinal action:

 

At Redbird Arena

 

Pana 2:30pm

Quincy Notre Dame

 

Winnebago 4:15pm

Fieldcrest

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Rangers Squash Blues Rally

After giving up three quick goals late in the second period to fall behind, the New York Rangers kept their composure. They bounced back in the third and avoided their longest losing streak of the season.

 

Chris Kreider scored a tiebreaking power-play goal in the three-goal third and the Rangers rallied to beat the St. Blues Blues 5-3 on Wednesday night to snap a two-game skid.

 

Artemi Panarin had a goal and two assists, and Alexis Lafreniere, Ryan Strome and Patrik Nemeth also scored for the Rangers, who improved to 5-1-1 in their last seven at home. Adam Fox had three assists and Igor Shesterkin finished with 28 saves.

 

New York has not lost three in a row in regulation all season, and the Rangers' longest stretch without a win was when they went 0-1-2 in early November.

 

Ryan O'Reilly and David Perron each had a goal and an assist, and Ivan Barbashev also scored for St. Louis, which had won four straight. Ville Husso stopped 24 shots in the Blues' first regulation loss in eight games (6-1-1).

 

St. Louis had 23 shots blocked by the Rangers.

 

Nemeth, back in the lineup after missing three games for the birth of his son, tied it 3-all with his first goal of the season at 7:27 of the third when his shot deflected off Barbashev's skate on the right side and in while Husso was down on the ice out of position.

 

Kreider put the Rangers back ahead with 8:20 remaining when he tipped Fox's shot past Husso for his 35th goal of the season. It was his NHL-leading 18th on the power play, the most by a Rangers player since Jaromir Jagr had a franchise-record 24 in 2005-06.

 

Panarin added an empty-netter with 1:52 left for his 15th of the season.

 

Trailing 1-0 after one period, the Blues nearly tied it a minute into the second when Brandon Saad's shot squirted through Shesterkin's legs, but Mika Zibanejad stopped the puck before it crossed the goal line to keep St. Louis off the board.

 

Strome made it 2-0 as he got a pass from Panarin on the left doorstep and put it in between Husso's right pad and the goalpost with 3:24 remaining for his 12th.

 

The Blues then scored three times on three consecutive shots over a 2:14 span to take the lead. O'Reilly got it started just 54 seconds after Strome's goal as he converted off a pass from Saad on a rush for his 12th.

 

Barbashev tied it when he beat Shesterkin from the left circle over the goalie's left shoulder for his 17th with 1:23 remaining in the period.

 

Perron put St. Louis ahead with 16 seconds left as he scored from right circle over Shesterkin's right shoulder for his 12th.

 

The Rangers outshot the Blues 8-7 in a first period that saw both teams endure long stretches without a shot on goal.

 

Lafreniere got the Rangers on the scoreboard at 8:55 as he got the rebound of Fox's shot from the point in front, spun around and put it past Husso on the left side. It was Lafreniere's 13th, topping his total from his rookie season last year.

 

Pavel Buchnevich faced the Rangers for the first time since he was traded to St. Louis in the offseason. Buchnevich had 79 goals and 116 assists in 301 games over five seasons in New York. The Rangers honored the left wing with a brief video tribute during a stoppage in play in the first period. He raised his arm in acknowledgment and received mild applause from Rangers fans.

 

The Blues are at the New York Islanders on Saturday in the third of four straight on the road.

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Monticello Rallies Past Hersher

Trailing 23-20 entering the fourth quarter, Ben Cresap had back-to-back steals propelling Monticello to a 9-0 run to begin the final frame and the Sages rallied past the Herscher Tigers for a 39-25 win in a Class 2A Sectional semifinal matchup from Clifton Central High School Tuesday night.

 

In action heard on WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com, Cresap stole the inbound pass to start the fourth quarter in the backcourt and hit Joey Sprinkle for a layup to make the score 23-22. Then he took away the dribble from Trey Schwartzkof and hit Sprinkle again in transition to give Monticello the lead for good 24-23. 

 

Cresap later grabbed an offensive rebound on a Dylan Ginalick miss and found Tanner Buehnerkemper who finished another layup for the Sages to go up 26-23 with 6:24 to play. 

 

A quick shot was missed by the Tigers, Cresap grabbed the board and on the following possession hit a three in the corner to make it 29-23. 

 

Another Sprinkle layup made it 31-23 with 3:21 left and Monticello held on from there after things got briefly chippy late.

 

Things were a physical slugfest early as Herscher led 8-7 after the first quarter.

 

Monticello held Herscher to just one point through the first 7:55 of the second quarter but Herscher finished the half on a 4-0 run. Carson Splear made two free throws with 5.5 seconds left and after an errant pass by All-State quarterback Sprinkle turned it over with 4.8 seconds left, Joe Holohan made a free throw line jumper as time expired to tie the score at 13-13 going to the half.

 

Cresap was the Piatt/DeWitt County ServPro Player of the Game and finished with 12 points and five rebounds. Surprisingly, the sure-handed senior did not record an assist. Sprinkle finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists. 

 

The Sages shot just 39-percent for the game, but after a 25-percent shooting percentage in the first half, they went 9-for-17 in the second half. 

 

The Tigers shot just 2-for-17 from three and 25.6-percent for the game.

 

Monticello outrebounded Herscher 27-23 and dished out 11 assists on its 13 field goals. 

 

Heading into a matchup with either St. Joseph-Ogden or El Paso-Gridley, the Sages have won 10 straight improving to 30-3 overall. 

 

Game time for the Sectional title Friday night is 7 pm. Hear all the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

 

Class 2A Sectional action Tuesday:

 

At Olympia

 

Auburn 46

Bloomington Central Catholic 58

 

Class 1A Sectional scores Tuesday:

 

At Abingdon-Avon

 

Peoria Christian 57

Lewistown 48

 

At Effingham St. Anthony

 

Tuscola 51

Effingham St. Anthony 48

 

At Watseka

 

Lexington 69

Decatur LSA 61

 

Class 3A Sectional Scores Tuesday:

 

At Danville 

 

Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin 58

Champaign Centennial 50

 

At Highland

 

Centralia 38

Chatham-Glenwood 42

 

At Bradley University

 

Metamora 70

Rochelle 42

 

Class 4A Sectional Scores Tuesday:

 

At Pekin

 

Normal Community 61

Moline 44

 

Class 1A Sectional semifinal action tonight:

 

At Effingham St. Anthony

 

Farina South Central 7:00pm

Meridian

 

At Watseka

 

Decatur St. Teresa 7:00pm

Milford

 

Class 2A Sectional semifinal action tonight:

 

At Clifton Central

 

El Paso-Gridley 7:00pm

St. Joseph-Ogden

 

At Flora

 

Pana 7:00pm

Mt. Carmel

 

At Olympia

 

Maroa-Forsyth 7:00pm

Quincy Notre Dame

 

Class 3A Sectional semifinal action tonight:

 

At Danville 

 

Mahomet-Seymour 7:00pm

Decatur MacArthur

 

At Bradley University

 

Rock Island 7:00pm

Peoria Manual

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Bears Sign LB Thomas

The Chicago Bears signed veteran inside linebacker Joe Thomas on Tuesday.

 

Thomas has 16 starts over seven seasons with the Green Bay Packers (2015-17), Dallas Cowboys (2018-20), Houston Texans (2021) and Baltimore Ravens (2021). He has 12 tackles for loss and 10 pass breakups.

 

The Bears made big changes after going 6-11 last season, hiring general manager Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus to replace the fired Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy. Chicago also is switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme.

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Illinois State 1B McCaw Named Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week

Illinois State junior Jake McCaw has been named Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week after his performances at Western Carolina, as announced by the conference office on Monday.

 

The Bloomington native led the Redbirds with five hits over 11 at-bats (.455) as the 'Birds swept WCU. McCaw blasted three home runs to center field (the first Redbird to homer in three-straight games since Collin Braithwaite in 2018), recording eight RBIs and eight runs scored.

 

McCaw added two walks and two HBPs for a .563 OBP, swiping two bases and recording a sacrifice fly. He was perfect in the field with 30 putouts and an assist.

 

The Redbirds have already surpassed their total MVC weekly awards received in 2021 as fifth-year junior Jared Hart was named MVC Pitcher of the Week last week. McCaw was First-Team All-MVC in 2021 but had not previously won an MVC weekly award.

Illinois State heads to Arkansas State from March 4-6 for a three-game series.

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Monticello Takes on Herscher in Sectional Semifinal Action

Off a thrilling, come from behind 55-51 overtime victory over Prairie Central Friday night to capture a Regional title, the Monticello Sages boy's basketball team heads north to Clifton Central High School to take on Herscher tonight in sectional semifinal action.

 

The 29-3 Sages trailed most of the game Friday night, including a four-point deficit with under a minute to play but a four-point possession off a missed free throw followed by a three-pointer that tied the game reversed the fortunes of the Sages as they were able to overcome a very poor performance through the first three quarters from the free-throw line.

 

Herscher enters action tonight 24-8 overall and beat Beecher 43-34 to take its first Regional in a decade.

 

The winner of tonight's game matches up against the winner of Wednesday night's game between St. Joseph-Ogden and El Paso-Gridley Friday night in a Sectional final. 

 

Game time tonight  from Clifton Central is 7 pm and can be heard on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.

 

Class 2A Sectional action tonight:

 

At Olympia

 

Auburn 7:00pm

Bloomington Central Catholic

 

Class 1A Sectional action tonight:

 

At Abingdon-Avon

 

Peoria Christian 7:00pm

Lewistown

 

At Effingham St. Anthony

 

Tuscola 7:00pm

Effingham St. Anthony

 

At Watseka

 

Lexington 7:00pm

Decatur LSA

 

Class 3A Sectional Action Tonight:

 

At Danville 

 

Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin 7:00pm

Champaign Centennial

 

At Highland

 

Centralia 7:00pm

Chatham-Glenwood

 

At Bradley University

 

Metamora 7:00pm

Rochelle

 

Class 4A Sectional Action Tonight:

 

At Pekin

 

Normal Community 7:00pm

Moline

 

Girl's Basketball Class 1A Supersectional action from Monday:

 

Class 1A:

 

At Serena

 

Ridgeview 34

Serena 46

 

At Wayne City

 

Goreville 48

Neoga 50

 

Class 2A:

 

At Beardstown

 

Normal U-High 28

Quincy Notre Dame 30

 

At Vandalia

 

Pana 64

Carterville 56

 

Class 3A

 

At Highland

 

Bethalto Civic Memorial 53

Mahomet-Seymour 48

 

At Streator 

 

Chicago Heights Marian 40

Morton 49

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Big Start Propels Heat Past Bulls

Gabe Vincent and Tyler Herro each scored 20 points, and the Heat topped the Chicago Bulls 112-99 on Monday night for their ninth win in their last 10 games. The Heat moved a season-best two games clear of the second-place Bulls in the East.

 

Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo each had 15 points for Miami. Max Strus had all 13 of his points in the fourth quarter for the Heat.

 

Chicago guard DeMar DeRozan's streak of 10 consecutive games with at least 30 points ended; he finished with 18.

 

Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 22 points, while Ayo Dosunmu had 18 and Nikola Vucevic added 14 for Chicago.

 

The Heat are now 3-0 against Chicago, ensuring Miami would hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bulls if one is needed to determine seeding. The Heat led most of the way, building as much as a 24-point cushion.

 

Chicago has the sixth-best record in the NBA, but is now 1-8 against the five teams with better marks - Phoenix, Golden State, Memphis, Utah and Miami. The win was against the Jazz in October.

 

The Bulls missed 14 of their first 15 3s before Dosunmu made one from the right corner early in the third quarter, getting Chicago within 65-51. But the Bulls never made a serious run in the second half, and Miami wasn't threatened in the fourth.

 

Miami outscored Chicago 36-21 in the third, pushing its lead to 24 points going into the final 12 minutes. It matched the third-largest deficit for the Bulls after three quarters this season, plus it was the fifth-largest advantage for the Heat at that point in a game this season.

 

The Bulls visit Atlanta on Thursday.

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Rodgers, Packers Reportedly Working on Lucrative Contract

Aaron Rodgers might not desire to be the highest-paid player in league history, but he certainly wouldn't mind being the NFL's top earner for 2022 should he return to the Packers. It appears that would be the case should Rodgers return to Green Bay next season, as the two sides are currently working on a short-term deal that would make Rodgers the league's highest-paid player, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. 

 

The contract talks are obviously contingent on Rodgers returning to the Packers in 2022. As of now, the league's reigning two-time MVP has not made a decision on whether he will play for the Packers, elsewhere or anywhere next season. Should Rodgers decide that he wants to continue his career in a new city, that would require the Packers' assistance given that the 38-year-old quarterback is still under contract. 

 

Rodgers recently denied reports stating that he desires to become the highest-paid player in league history. He may, however, desire to be the highest-paid player for the upcoming season. That would mean that he would have to be paid at least $45 million to match Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes' current annual salary. While that type of money isn't cap friendly, it certainly isn't out of line for the NFL's best player to ask to be paid as such. 

 

The futures of both Rodgers and All-Pro receiver Davante Adams (who is no longer under contract) were recently addressed by Green Bay general manager Brian Gutekunst. A day after Rodgers said that he has had positive meetings with the Packers' brass, Gutekunst said that he is "very confident" that the Packers will be able to field a competitive team should Rodgers and Adams return despite the team's current salary cap issues. 

 

Green Bay, which is currently north of $40 million over the cap, cleared $10.8 million in cap space last week after they restructured defensive lineman Kenny Clark's contract. The Packers then saved an additional $3 million after running back Aaron Jones agreed to a contract restructure. 

 

Rodgers said last week on The Pat McAfee Show that, while he does not have a timetable on his decision for next season, he hopes it will be a swift process between him and the Packers' organization. It's assumed that a decision will be made between now and March 16, the start of the new league year. 

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