Local Sports

Bielema remembers Leach

The Illini Football team is prepping to play in the Relia-Quest Bowl on Monday against Mississippi State.

 

Illini Head Coach Brett Bielema will be thinking about the passing of Mississippi State Head Coach Mike Leach – who died unexpectedly on December 12. Bielema was talking to Leach just days prior to his passing.

 

 

The Illini and Mississippi State play on January 2 at 11 am.

Dainja scores 22 as Illinois defeats Bethune-Cookman 85-52

Dain Dainja scored a career-high 22 points and led five players in double-digit scoring as Illinois returned from a week off to power past Bethune-Cookman, 85-52 on Thursday night.

 

Neither team scored for more than two minutes to start the game. Illinois scored first on Coleman Hawkins’ layup at the 17:36 mark. The Wildcats went scoreless for the first five minutes and trailed 47-19 at intermission.

 

Dainja, who scored in double digits in the Illini’s first four games, accomplished the feat for the first time since posting 13 points in Illinois’ 79-70 win over UCLA on November 18.

 

Terrence Shannon Jr. came into the game averaging 18.2 points per game and finished with for Illinois. Sencire Harris scored 12 points, grabbed four rebounds and had three assists, Coleman Hawkins added a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds. Jayden Epps pitched in with 10 points off the bench. Mathew Mayer had his string of games with at least 14 points snapped at four, finishing with seven on 2-for-9 shooting. He is now 11 points shy of 1,000 for his career.

 

Kevin Davis scored 13 points to lead Bethune Cookman (4-9). Reserve Dylan Robertson added 12 points.

Rosen, Binnington spark Blues to 3-1 win over Blackhawks

Calle Rosen scored unassisted and Jordan Binnington stopped 21 shots to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 3-1 victory over the struggling Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.

Rosen's goal in the second period snapped a 1-all tie and gave St. Louis victories in both its games against Chicago this season. The Blues won 5-2 in Chicago on Nov. 16.

 

Josh Leivo and Brendon Saad also scored for St. Louis. Patrick Kane scored for Chicago.

 

Rosen scored the only goal in the second period. An errant pass by Chicago's Boris Katchouk went right to Rosen, who was at the top of the slot. Rosen snapped a shot past goalie Alex Stalock, who finished with 26 saves, for a 2-1 lead at 8:40.

Rosen has points in three straight games.

 

The Blues went up 1-0 when Leivo lifted a tap-in high at 3:12. A power-play goal by Chicago's Kane at 9:13 tied it 1-1. Kane snapped a wrist shot from the left circle that sailed through traffic. Kane has 68 points (27 goals, 41 assists) in 71 games against St. Louis.

 

Binnington had a big save on a breakaway by Taylor Raddysh with seconds showing in the period to keep the score tied.

 

Saad's empty net goal came at 19:49.

HS GBBall: Tuscola Pulls Away Late From Clinton For Holiday Hoopla Title

The Clinton Lady Maroons hung around with Tuscola for three quarters but could not muster the offense late as the Lady Warriors pulled away late for a 55-44 girl's basketball Holiday Hoopla Championship from the Sievers Center at Monticello High School Wednesday night.

 

The two teams went back and forth throughout the third quarter and the Lady Maroons led 38-37 going to the fourth.

 

Tuscola led by as many as 15 late.

 

The Lady Warriors had three players score in double figures. Sydney Moss had 15 points and eight rebounds while Ella Boyer also scored 15 points. Izzy Wilcox added 12 for Tuscola. Harley Woodard also grabbed eight boards. 

 

Clinton was led by MaKayla Keoppel with 14 points and six rebounds. Clara Dempsey scored eight points. 

 

Tuscola shot 49-percent for the game and held Clinton to 32.7-percent shooting. 

The Lady Maroons did a good job on the boards, being outrebounded just 32-30. 

 

The Lady Warriors turned 16 Clinton turnovers into 16 points and had ten points in transition.

 

Tuscola wins the Holiday Hoopla and remains undefeated at 18-0. Clintonfalls to 10-8. 

 

The Lady Maroons return home next Thursday night to host Tri-Valley.

HS BBBall: Tuscola Outlasts Monticello

The Tuscola Warriors used suffocating defense to roll past Monticello 42-32 and win the 2022 Holiday Hoopla boy's basketball tournament Wednesday night at the Sievers Center at Monticello High School.

 

The Sages offense sputtered all night, starting right out of the gate where Tuscola scored the first eight points and led 12-2 at point. The Warriors led 12-4 after the first.

 

The Sages were shut out for the second time in a quarter this season when Tuscola opened up a 29-13 lead after three quarters. The Warriors offense wasn't much more efficient, scoring just six points in the frame.

 

Monticello made it close late but could not get the deficit under ten.

 

Jordan Quinn led all scorers for the Warriors with 15 points and six rebounds. Kam Sweetman scored 10.

 

Monticello was led by Trey Welter's 12 points and four assists. Drew Sheppard added seven points and six rebounds. 

 

The Warriors scored 30 of its 42 points in the paint.

 

Tuscola goes to 13-1 overall while Monticello drops to 8-5.

 

After the New Year's holiday, the Sages host Teutopolis at the Sievers Center at 7 pm Tuesday night. Hear the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

Decatur LSA Takes Down Maroa-Forsyth at Decatur St. Teresa Holiday Tournament

Decature LSA jumped ahead early and held off Maroa-Forsyth in a 49-40 win at the Decatur St. Teresa Holiday Tournament Wednesday night.

 

Sebastian Hill helped set the tone for the LSA early, scoring ten of his game-high 19 points in the first quarter as the Lions led 19-10 after the first.

 

The Trojans mounted a comeback in the third, trailing 37-32 after three quarters but could not finish the comeback. 

 

Jamerr Campbell scored 10 points for LSA.

 

The Trojans were led by Kaiden Maurer's 12 points. 

 

Decatur LSA is undefeated at 13-0 overall. 

 

The Trojans fall to 5-8 overall. They will continue tournament action tonight taking on Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond at 6 pm. 

Illinois-Chicago Takes Down Illinois State

Toby Okani’s 18 points helped UIC defeat Illinois State 55-51 on Wednesday night.

 

Okani also had seven rebounds and seven blocks for the Flames (9-5, 1-2 Missouri Valley Conference). Jace Carter scored nine points and added seven rebounds. Filip shot 2 for 6 (1 for 5 from 3-point range) and 4 of 4 from the free throw line to finish with nine points.

 

Darius Burford finished with 10 points for the Redbirds (6-8, 1-2). Malachi Poindexter added nine points for Illinois State. Seneca Knight also had eight points.

 

Okani scored seven points in the first half for UIC, who led 33-17 at halftime. UIC was outscored by 12 points in the second half but hung on for the victory. Okani led the way with 11 second-half points.

 

Illinois State hosts Northern Iowa Saturday.

Belmont Topples Bradley

Drew Friberg's 21 points helped Belmont defeat Bradley 63-60 on Wednesday night.

 

Friberg had six rebounds for the Bruins (9-5, 2-1 Missouri Valley Conference). Keishawn Davidson scored 15 points and added five assists. Ben Sheppard shot 4 for 15, including 2 for 5 from beyond the arc to finish with 11 points.

 

Rienk Mast led the way for the Braves (9-5, 2-1) with 12 points. Malevy Leons added 11 points for Bradley.

 

Friberg scored nine points in the first half and Belmont went into halftime trailing 38-34. Belmont outscored Bradley by seven points in the second half. Friberg led the way with 12 second-half points.

 

Bradley hosts UIC on Saturday.

Maroons Take Third At Hoopla

In a game heard Wednesday afternoon on WHOW, the Clinton Maroons downed GCMS, 57-37, to take third place in convincing fashion at the 25th Annual Monticello Holiday Hoopla. 
 

Clinton jumped out to a 15-8 first quarter lead, and never looked back.  The Maroons built the advantage to 17 by the half, and cruised the rest of the way.  
 

Clinton's scoring was led by Junior Dawson Graves with 16 points.  Junior Brooks Cluver dropped in 14 as well. Maroons Junior Mason Walker was named the Serv Pro of Piatt/Dewitt County Player of the Game.  He added 13 points, including a couple of highlight reel plays. 
 

Gibson City was led by Junior Ty Cribbett with 12 points. The loss drops the Falcons to 10-3 on the season.  
 

The Maroons improve to 13-2 with the win, and will next travel to Leroy on January 3rd. Our next Maroons "Game of the Week" broadcast on WHOW is set for Friday, January 6th, when Clinton hosts Sullivan in Central Illinois Conference play.  

HS BBBall: Monticello Pulls Away From Clinton to Advance to Second Straight Holiday Hoopla Championship

In a special simulcast broadcast on WHOW, WEZC, at dewittdailynews.com, and the WHOW online digital platforms, Monticello overcame a fast start by Clinton to advance to its second straight Holiday Hoopla Championship with a 65-43 win in Holiday Hoopla action from the Sievers Center at Monticello High School Tuesday afternoon.

 

Brooks Cluver and Dawson Graves made back-to-back threes to start the game and the Maroons opened a 13-5 lead after the first quarter but Monticello chipped away at the deficit and tied it at 20-20 going into the half.

 

From there, Monticello overcame Clinton's physicality and aggressive defense to gradually pull away in the second half. After shooting just 1-for-12 in the first quarter, the Sages shot 19-for-28 the rest of the way and shot 50 percent for the game.

 

Monticello used good ball movement to score 28 points in the paint and assist 13 times on 20 field goals. 

 

Trey Welter went 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter on his way to a game-high 20 points. Drew Sheppard added 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds. 

 

Sheppards ability to play through the physicality and aggressiveness on offense earned him the Monticello Sages ServPro of Piatt/DeWitt County Player of the Game.

 

A day after setting a Sievers Center scoring record, Dawson Graves was limited to 15 points and Brooks Cluver added 11 for Clinton. 

 

Cluver's consistency for the Maroons on both ends of the floor earned him the Clinton ServPro of Piatt/DeWitt County Player of the Game.

 

Clinton's loss drops them to 12-2 overall. They will play for third place tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon at 3:30 pm. Hear the action on WHOW and the many online digital platforms.

 

Monticello will go for its second straight Hoopla title at 7:30 pm. Hear the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

Lady Maroons Defeat Monticello in Holiday Hoopla

The Clinton Lady Maroons defeated the Monticello Lady Sages 53-21 Tuesday afternoon in the final pool play game from the Holiday Hoopla. The Lady Maroons were led by the ServPro Player of the Game Heidi Humble with 17 points. Regan Filkin and Avery Smith each had 13.

The Lady Sages were led by ServPro Player of the Game Lydia Burger with 13 points.

 

Clinton improves to 10-7 overall and will play for the championship game against Tuscola tomorrow night. Monticello drops to 4-10. 

 

Our next Lady Maroons broadcast will be Thursday, January 5 against Tri-Valley. You can hear that game live on all of WHOW's platforms.

 

The next Lady Sages broadcast will be Thursday, January 12 against PBL. Catch that game on 95.9 FM WEZC and streamed live on dewittdailynews.com.

Maroons Take Two in Day 1 Action From Monticello Holiday Hoopla

Juniors Dawson Graves and Brooks Cluver led the Clinton Maroons to victory in its first two games of this year's Holiday Hoopla Basketball Tournament from Monticello High School.

 

The Maroons toppled Ridgeview in the tournament opener 68-36 Monday morning led by Graves' 29 points. The junior grabbed six boards. Cluver added 13 points and a team-high eight rebounds. 

 

Clinton's defense turned 28 Mustangs' turnovers into 35 points and scored 46 points in the paint. 

 

The Maroons held just at 37-33 edge on the boards but turned 18 offensive rebounds into 18 points. 

 

Kam Kelly led Ridgeview with 19 points and Cale Hoffman grabbed a game-high ten rebounds.

 

Ridgeview lost its second game of the night to Monticello.

 

In the nightcap for Clinton, Cluver scored a game-high 20 points as Clinton held off Oakwood, 57-49. 

 

Clinton as a team had more assists than turnovers despite shooting just 39 percent from the floor. 

 

Despite shooting 48 percent from the floor, Oakwood struggled from distance and 15 turnovers resulted in 18 points for the Maroons.

 

Junior Mason Walker added 16 points. Graves had a quiet second game, finishing with nine points and seven rebounds. 

 

Oakwood drops to 0-2 in pool play of the Hoopla after its tournament-opening loss to Monticello. 

 

Clinton improves to 12-1 overall and can win its way into the tournament title game with a win over Monticello this afternoon. Game time today is 3:30 pm. Hear all the action on WHOW, its online digital platforms as well as on 95.9 FM WEZC and at dewittdailynews.com.

Monticello Takes Two in Opening Day of Holiday Hoopla Basketball Tournament

Trey Welter and Will Ross helped Monticello to a pair of victories in day one action from the Monticello Holiday Hoopla basketball tournament at the Sievers Center at Monticello High School on Monday.

 

Welter scored 15 points in the tournament opening 59-53 over Oakwood Monday morning. 

 

Tyler Blythe scored 15 points. Drew Sheppard scored eight points with six boards and three assists. 

 

The Sages played efficient offense, dishing out 15 assists to 12 turnovers. Monticello turned 11 offensive rebounds into 11 points and turned 16 Comets turnovers into 15 points. 

 

Oakwood lost its second game of pool play to Clinton.

 

In the nightcap, Ross recorded his first career double-double with 12 points and ten rebounds leading Monticello over Ridgeview, 51-42. 

 

Sheppard contributed 11 points as Monticello dominated in the paint and turned 14 Mustangs turnovers into 18 points and used 13 offensive rebounds to go with 17 second-chance points. 

 

Monticello again used strong ball control in the nightcap with 14 assists on nine turnovers and shot 47-percent. 

 

Moving to 7-4 overall and 2-0 in pool play, the Sages can play for its second straight Hoopla championship with a win this afternoon over Clinton. Hear all the action starting at 3:30 pm on WHOW, its many online digital platforms, as well as at 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

HS GBBall: Clinton Sweeps First Two of Monticello Holiday Hoopla

The Clinton Lady Maroons used balanced scoring to run away with its first two games at the Monticello Holiday Hoopla tournament in high school girls' basketball action from Miller Gym at Monticello High School.

 

Clara Dempsey scored 20 points in a 57-27 tournament-opening win Monday morning over Ridgeview. Regan Filkin chipped in with ten points. 

 

The Lady Maroons had 13 steals and dished out seven assists to six turnovers.

Heidi Humble and MaKayla Koeppel scored eight points apiece for Clinton.

 

Ridgeview beat Monticello Monday night.

 

In the nightcap, the Lady Maroons raced by Stark County 55-35.

 

Dempsey led the way again for Clinton with 21 points. Filkin added 11 while Avery Smight contributed nine points. Koeppel added eight more for Clinton as well.

 

The Lady Maroons move to 2-0 in pool play and a win this afternoon (Tuesday) punches its ticket to the tournament championship Wednesday. They take on Monticello this afternoon at 2 pm. Hear the action on WHOW, its many online digitial platforms, as well as on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

HS GBBall: Monticello Girls Drop First Two Holiday Hoopla Games

Monticello dropped the first two games of its Holiday Hoopla action from Monticello Monday in high school girl's basketball action from Miller Gym.

 

A slow second half doomed Monticello as they lost the opener, 35-34 to Stark County. 

 

Leading 25-11 at the intermission, the scores basically flipped in the second half. Maia High had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. 

 

31 turnovers did not help Monticello's struggling offense and the absence of leading-scorer, Megan Allen. 

 

Kylee Frisby scored 14 points to lead Stark County while Lindley Johnson contributed six points. 

 

Stark County lost to Clinton in its second game of the tournament. 

 

The nightcap didn't provide much new life for Monticello as they fell 27-21 to Ridgeview in the nightcap of its first day of Holiday Hoopla action.

 

No one reached double figures in the low-scoring contest. Jacq Maxey led the way with seven points and ten rebounds. Monticello again committed 27 turnovers. 

 

Pearl Glaze scored six for Monticello.

 

Brinley Stevens' 11 points led Ridgeview. The Lady Mustangs lost its first game of the tournament to Clinton.

 

Monticello will look to avoid an 0-3 pool play mark this afternoon when they take on Clinton. Game time is at 2 pm. Hear the action on 95.9 FM WEZC, as well as at dewittdailynews.com, and on WHOW and its online digital platforms.

Rockets Topple Bulls

Kevin Porter Jr. scored a season-high 36 points and the Houston Rockets used a 17-1 run in the third quarter to beat the Chicago Bulls 133-118 on Monday night, snapping a five-game losing streak.

 

Alperan Sengun added 25 points and Jalen Green had 24 for Houston, which scored the first 10 points of the game but blew an 18-point lead before its third-quarter spurt.

 

DeMar DeRozan scored 31 for the Bulls, who won their previous three games. DeRozan passed George Gervin for 44th place on the career scoring list with 20,727 points.

 

After taking their first lead on a 3-pointer by Zach LaVine with 30 seconds left in the second quarter, the Bulls surged to a 74-67 advantage early in the third before the Rockets regrouped.

 

Chicago cut the deficit to 109-100 early in the fourth, but Porter countered with two consecutive 3-pointers. The Rockets made 50 of 90 shots, scored 60 points in the paint and outrebounded the Bulls 56-43.

 

It marked the first time in five games that DeRozan, LaVine and Nikola Vucevic failed to score at least 20 points apiece. LaVine finished with 22 points and Vucevic had 10.

 

LaVine, who missed his first five shots and was assessed a technical foul with 2:18 left in the first quarter, helped spark a late second-quarter rally.

 

Coby White stole a pass, and his behind-the-back dribble near the sideline at midcourt enabled him to spot LaVine for a dunk that closed the deficit to 61-59. Following a turnover, LaVine sank a 3 to put the Bulls in front.

 

Green countered with a 3-pointer, but Goran Dragic drained a 3 at the buzzer to cap a 39-point second quarter and give the Bulls a 65-64 edge at halftime.

 

The Rockets scored the first 10 points, and Sengun sparked Houston to a 23-5 lead thanks to his 4-for-4 shooting and 11 points less than five minutes into the game. They scored 22 of their 36 first-quarter points in the paint.

 

Houston guard Eric Gordon returned after missing five games because of a bruised left thumb and scored 12 points.

 

Sengun grabbed 11 rebounds, marking his 10th double-double of the season. He scored 20 points or more for the sixth time.

 

Bulls G Alex Caruso (concussion) missed his third consecutive game despite passing all protocols. The problem, according to coach Billy Donovan, is Caruso's right shoulder sprain that has prevented him from performing contact drills on the court. 

 

Javonte Green (right knee soreness) missed his fifth consecutive game after going through pregame work. 

 

Derrick Jones Jr. (left ankle sprain) missed his third straight game.

 

The Bulls host Milwaukee on Wednesday.

HS BBALL: Monticello, Maroons, Lady Maroons Win Early Hoopla Games

In a game heard Monday on WEZC, the Monticello Sages topped the Oakwood Comets, 59-53, in pool play at the Monticello Holiday Hoopla.

Monticello managed to stay out in front of the Comets throughout most of the ball game, but Oakwood never fell behind by more than nine.

The Sages were led by the Serv-Pro of Piatt/ DeWitt County Player of the Game Trey Welter.  The Junior point guard had 15 points, including several late free throws to seal the win.  Tyler Blythe dropped in 15 as well for Monticello.  Tylor Bundy had 9, and Drew Sheppard added 8 for the Sages.

Oakwood was led by Dalton Hobick with 16.  Brody Talfinger added 12 for the Comets.

Monticello improves to 6-4 on the season, and 1-0 in Hoopla pool play.  They next play Ridgeview at 7:30 Monday night.  Oakwood falls to 9-4 on the season, and 0-1 in Hoopla pool play.  

The next Monticello Sages broadcast on 95.9 WEZC comes your way Tuesday afternoon with a special double header from the Hoopla.  The Lady Sages take on Clinton at 2pm, and then the Sages take on the Maroons at 3:30p.  Hear both games on WEZC.


Also from the Hoopla...
The Clinton Maroons won their first game of the day downing Ridgeview, 68-36.  Clinton's Dawson Graves set a new Sievers Center record with 29 points in the game.  Clinton takes on Oakwood at 6p Monday night at Monticello.  

The Clinton Lady Maroons are also 1-0 in Hoopla pool play.  Clinton downed Ridgeview 67-37 Monday morning in Monticello.  They'll face Stark County Monday night at 7:30p.  

Hear both the Lady Maroons & Maroons take on Monticello Tuesday afternoon at 2 & 3:30pm on all WHOW platforms.

Tagovailoa throws 3 picks, Packers defeat Dolphins 26-20

The Packers intercepted Tua Tagovailoa three times in the fourth quarter to complete their comeback and defeat the Dolphins 26-20 to keep their playoff hopes alive.

 

Aaron Rodgers threw for 238 yards and a touchdown and was intercepted once, helping the Packers (7-8) to their third straight win. The team is looking to make a playoff push after starting the season 4-8.

 

After losing four consecutive games, Miami (8-7) now needs two wins or a win at New England and the New York Jets to lose to Seattle in Week 17 to make the postseason.

 

After leading by as many as 10, the Dolphins trailed by six points with a chance to take the lead in the final two minutes, but Tagovailoa threw his third interception in three possessions to end Miami's comeback bid. He threw a pick with about six minutes left that set up a Packers field goal.

 

Packers kicker Mason Crosby made the go-ahead field goal early in the fourth after back-to-back turnovers by both offenses.

 

Undrafted Miami rookie Kader Kohou intercepted a pass by Rodgers intended for Allen Lazard, but the Dolphins gave it right back when Alexander intercepted Tagovailoa on the very next play.

 

Miami's defense held the Packers to six points off turnovers in the second half, and also held Green Bay to two TDs and three field goals in five trips to the red zone.

 

A.J. Dillon led the Packers with 36 yards rushing on 11 carries, and Lazard had 61 yards receiving on five catches.

 

Tyreek Hill had four catches for Miami to give him 113 for the season, setting a Dolphins' single-season receptions record previously held by Jarvis Landry. Jaylen Waddle added five receptions for 143 yards.

 

But Miami spoiled those big receiving days with turnovers. Raheem Mostert fumbled in the first half, and Tagovailoa's three interceptions were the most he has thrown all season.

 

The Dolphins ran four times for 38 yards on their opening drive and took a 3-0 lead, and Green Bay countered with a field goal to tie it after Keisean Nixon's 93-yard kickoff return set up the Packers at the 9-yard line.

 

Miami built a 20-13 halftime lead after an 84-yard TD by Waddle and 1-yard TD run by Jeff Wilson.

 

Dillon's 1-yard touchdown run on Green Bay's first possession of the third quarter tied the game.

 

Tight end Marcedes Lewis also had a 1-yard TD catch in the first quarter.

Brown scores 31, Missouri upsets No. 16 Illinois 93-71

Kobe Brown set career highs with 31 points and eight assists, and D’Moi Hodge added 20 points to lead Missouri to a 93-71 victory over No. 16 Illinois in their annual neutral site contest Thursday night.

 

Brown’s 31 points were the most in school history against Illinois.

 

Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 22 points and Matthew Mayer added 16, but Illinois (8-4) has dropped two of three contests since upsetting then-No. 2 Texas on Dec. 6 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

 

DeAndre Gholston added 15 points and Ronnie DeGray III had 10 for Missouri (11-1), which scored 33 points off 17 Illinois turnovers while the Illini managed 10 points off 10 Tigers turnovers.

 

Missouri scored the first six points. Illinois recovered to take a 12-10 lead, but that was the last lead of the night for the Illini.

 

Missouri then outscored Illinois 41-15 for the remainder of the first half, including 15-0 and 10-0 runs.

 

Missouri opened up its largest lead of the night when Hodge hit a layup to put the Tigers up 76-41 with 12:14 remaining in the second half.

Bradley defeats Akron 74-55

Rienk Mast had 15 points in Bradley's 74-55 win over Akron on Thursday night.

 

Mast added 13 rebounds and three steals for the Braves (9-4). Ville Tahvanainen shot 4 for 7, including 4 for 6 from beyond the arc to add 14 points. Duke Deen recorded 14 points and was 5 of 10 shooting (4 for 7 from distance).

 

The Zips (7-5) were led by Xavier Castaneda, who recorded 19 points and six rebounds. Enrique Freeman added 11 points, 10 rebounds and two steals for Akron. In addition, Trendon Hankerson had nine points and nine rebounds.

 

Bradley led Akron 36-19 at the half, with Malevy Leons (nine points) the high scorer before the break. Bradley outscored Akron by two points over the final half, while Mast led the way with a team-high 11 second-half points.

Roman Josi scores as Predators beat skidding Blackhawks 4-2

Roman Josi had a goal and an assist, and the Predators handed Chicago its eighth straight loss with a 4-2 victory over the Blackhawks.

 

Thomas Novak, Matt Duchene and Nino Niederreiter also scored as Nashville earned its second straight win since a six-game slide. Juuse Saros made 37 stops, including a terrific right pad save on Patrick Kane with about 16 minutes left.

 

Connor Murphy and MacKenzie Entwistle scored for the last-place Blackhawks, and Petr Mrazek made 33 saves.

 

Chicago led 2-1 before Duchene scored his ninth goal with 5 seconds left in the second period. Mattias Ekholm found a streaking Duchene on the side of the net for an easy one-timer.

 

Nashville went ahead to stay when Josi converted a backhand 1:27 into the third. Josi then got his record-breaking point when he assisted on Novak's power-play goal at 6:09.

 

Chicago went 0 for 4 on the power play.

 

Nashville jumped in front when Niederreiter scored 9:23 into the first period, sending a shot from the high slot past Mrazek on the goaltender's glove side. It was Niederreiter's 11th goal of the season.

 

Nashville forward Tanner Jeannot then received a double minor for a high stick to the face of Chicago defenseman Jake McCabe. But the Blackhawks came up empty on the ensuing power play, and McCabe never returned to the game.

 

The Blackhawks got on the board in the second, scoring two goals in 37 seconds for their first lead since a 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Dec. 3.

 

Murphy got one when his long slap shot went off Nashville's Cody Glass on its way to the net at 16:03. Entwistle then made it 2-1 when his shot went off the stick and right leg of Predators defenseman Jeremy Lauzon before fluttering past Saros on the glove side.

Packers Have Grueling Three-Game Stretch If They Hope to Make Postseason

Aaron Rodgers realizes the easy part is over for the Green Bay Packers as they try to continue their improbable path from a 4-8 hole to a playoff berth.

 

The climbs are much steeper going forward.

 

Green Bay (6-8) maintained its postseason hopes by producing back-to-back victories over the Chicago Bears (3-11) and Los Angeles Rams (4-10). The Packers’ final three opponents are all .500 or better.

 

The Packers visit Miami (8-6) on Christmas Day before hosting the NFC North champion Minnesota Vikings (11-3) and Detroit Lions (7-7) in their final two regular-season games.

 

Even if the Packers win all three games, they’ll need plenty of help to earn their fourth straight postseason berth. But the Packers at least have some incentive as they enter this stretch run.

 

Miami’s high-powered offense will test the progress of Green Bay’s defense, which has shown signs of bouncing back from its season-long struggles.

 

The Packers won 28-19 at Chicago by allowing just three second-half points and picking off passes to end the Bears’ last two series.

 

They followed that up by getting a season-high five sacks and allowing a season-low 156 yards against the Rams.

 

After scoring two touchdowns earlier in the game, runningback A.J. Dillon left midway through the second half to get evaluated for a concussion. Packers coach Matt LaFleur said Tuesday that Dillon cleared that evaluation, an encouraging sign for the running back’s potential availability against Miami.

 

LaFleur also indicated that running back Aaron Jones has been playing at far less than full strength. LaFleur said the Packers wanted to limit Jones’ snaps on Monday, but Dillon’s exit didn’t make that feasible. Jones’ situation could affect his practice time.

 

The Packers prepare for Sunday’s game at Miami, a matchup between two teams that really need a win. The Dolphins have lost three straight as they chase their first playoff berth since 2016.

Ayo Dosunmu beats buzzer, Bulls beat Hawks 110-108

Ayo Dosunmu banked in a putback jumper as time expired and the Chicago Bulls rallied after blowing an 18-point lead to win their second straight game, 110-108 over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.

 

Dosunmu inbounded a pass from the Chicago sideline with four seconds remaining to DeMar DeRozan, who missed a jumper with an airball from the left baseline with De'Andre Hunter defending, but Dosunmu was in place to grab the rebound to beat John Collins to the ball in the paint and score at the buzzer.

 

DeRozan led Chicago with 28 points, Zach LaVine added 22 points and Nikola Vucevic had 20.

 

Trae Young scored 34 points for Atlanta, and Dejounte Murray had 15 points and 10 assists.

 

Rookie AJ Griffin made a corner 3-pointer to make it 88-87 and give the Hawks their first lead with 9:31 remaining. The rookie followed with a right-wing 3 at the 7:48 mark to put Atlanta up 95-90, and the Hawks led until LaVine hit consecutive jumpers to make it 106-104 with 44.7 seconds remaining.

 

Consecutive alley-oop dunks by Onyeka Okongwu, who finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, made it 108-all, but Dosunmu had the final say.

 

Young hit a season-high seven 3-pointers for the Hawks, who overcame a sloppy shooting in the first half by chipping away at the lead in the third and finally taking control with a 19-7 run in the fourth.

Clinton's Scott Webb Signs to Play Football at Western Illinois

Clinton High School football star Scott Webb signed his National Letter of Intent to play football at Western Illinois University on National Signing Day.

Webb says his recruitment to Western started over the summer and he knew it was a real possibility to play there on his second visit.

 

 

Webb says he enjoyed the campus and that it isn't a big campus. The program is in the midst of a rebuild and he looks forward to being a part of it.

 

 

Clinton High School football Coach Ron Bass calls Webb a tremendous player and raved about the progress he's made in the last year. He looks forward to what he can accomplish at Western.

 

 

Webb was a first team Central Illinois All-Conference selection on both the offensive and defensive lines. He is being recruited as an offensive tackle. He credits offensive line coach Darren Moser for his influence in his development and recruitment to Western. 

 

Webb was part of a 21-player signing class for the Leathernecks.

HS BBBall: Monticello Holds Off Warrenbsurg-Latham

In a game heard on WEZC, Drew Sheppard recorded his third double-double this season as Monticello took down Warrensburg-Latham 37-28 in non-conference high school boy's basketball action from the Sievers Center at Monticello High School Tuesday night.

 

Sheppard scored seven of his 20 points in the opening quarter, going 5-for-6 at the foul line in the frame. Leading scorer Trey Welter struggled from the floor but finished a career-best nine boards.

 

Monticello turned a young Cardinals squad over 13 times for 14 points - Warrensburg-Latham committed ten first half turnovers.

 

The Sages scored 22 of its 37 points in the paint.

 

Sheppard's third double-double of the season and his career, as well as commanding play earned him another Serv Pro of Piatt/DeWitt County Player of the Game award.

 

Monticello improves to 5-4 overall. It's off to Holiday Hoopla play for Monticello when they open the holiday tournament on Monday morning at 11:30 am. Hear the action on 95.9 FM WEZC as well as at dewittdailynews.com. 

 

The Sages return to the floor Monday night at 7:30 pm.

Bears OL Jenkins May Practice This Week

Chicago Bears offensive lineman Teven Jenkins might practice this week after being carted from the field with a neck injury.

 

Jenkins was at the team’s practice facility Tuesday, two days after he was injured against the Philadelphia Eagles. Coach Matt Eberflus said “it’s a possibility” Jenkins practices this week with Chicago set to host the AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills on Saturday. The Bears held a walkthrough on Tuesday.

 

The news wasn’t as good for rookie linebacker Jack Sanborn. He was placed on injured reserve because of an ankle injury he suffered against Philadelphia.

 

Eberflus said Sanborn likely would have been able to return had the injury occurred earlier in the season. A Chicago-area product who went undrafted out of Wisconsin, he started six games.

 

The Bears also designated running back Khalil Herbert to return from injured reserve on Tuesday. He is expected to play this week.

Illinois Extends Bielema Through 2028

Illinois signed coach Bret Bielema to a new six-year contract through 2028 on Tuesday, a big reward for transforming a struggling program into a winner in his second season.

 

Bielema, 13-11 with Illinois, gets a bump in salary from $4.2 million to $6 million. The deal, which is pending approval by the school’s board of trustees in January, includes various bonuses like a $500,000 annual retention incentive. He is also eligible for four one-year extensions if certain performance thresholds — which were not disclosed in the announcement — are met.

 

The Illini (8-4, 5-4 Big Ten) are wrapping up their best season since the 2007 Rose Bowl team won nine games. They were ranked in the AP Top 25 poll for five straight weeks and made the College Football Playoff rankings for the first time. They’re set to face Mississippi State in the ReliaQuest Bowl on Jan. 2 in Tampa, Florida, after finishing with losing records the previous 10 years.

 

The 52-year-old Bielema, who led Wisconsin to three Rose Bowls before a disappointing run at Arkansas, is 110-69 in 14 seasons as a college coach. He is from western Illinois.

Bulls Roll Heat

Nikola Vucevic had 29 points and 12 rebounds, DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points and the Bulls stopped a four-game slide by beating the short-handed Miami Heat 113-103 on Tuesday night.

 

Zach LaVine scored 21 and Coby White added 14 for the Bulls, who used a 30-7 run in the second half to take control - and looked nothing like the team that lost 150-126 to Minnesota on Sunday.

 

Bam Adebayo made his first nine shots and scored 27 points. Adebayo also had 12 rebounds for the Heat, who got 19 points from Tyler Herro, 18 from Haywood Highsmith, 14 from Victor Oladipo and 13 from Duncan Robinson.

 

Miami was without three starters - Jimmy Butler (gastrointestinal illness), Kyle Lowry (left knee soreness) and Caleb Martin (sprained left ankle) - and had its season-best, four-game winning streak snapped.

 

And for one night, all was well with the Bulls again.

 

The 11-18 start entering Tuesday had clearly taken a toll. Players were confronting one another in the locker room at halftime of what became Sunday's rout.

 

Herro made a 3-pointer to open the second half and put Miami up by eight. Chicago responded with its 30-7 run, highlighted by 14 consecutive points in one stretch, and Patrick Williams' 3-pointer put the Bulls up 82-67.

 

The lead stayed in double digits for most of the rest of the way.

 

The Bulls visit Atlanta tonight.

Kraken Knock Off Blues

Ryan Donato continued his hot streak of goal scoring and got the Seattle Kraken off to the start they needed against an opponent they've struggled with in their first two seasons.

 

Donato scored in his fourth straight game, Carson Soucy, Daniel Sprong and Jared McCann scored in Seattle's three-goal second period, and the Kraken beat the St. Louis Blues 5-2 on Tuesday night.

 

Seattle won consecutive games for the first time in nearly three weeks, snapped the Blues' four-game win streak and beat St. Louis for the first time in the Kraken's two seasons.

 

St. Louis looked as if fatigue finally caught up. The Blues were playing their third back-to-back in the last nine days. The Blues had swept through Western Canada with wins in Edmonton, Calgary and Monday night in Vancouver before running out of steam in Seattle.

 

Colton Parayko scored his second of the season for St. Louis at 5:59 of the third period, and Pavel Buchnevich scored with one second left on a power play at 10:54 to pull St. Louis within 4-2. Greiss made 28 saves.

 

The Blues also were without leading scorer Jordan Kyrou due to an upper-body injury, one night after recording his first career hat trick in a 5-1 win over Vancouver. Kyrou was checked into the boards by Vancouver's Kyle Burroughs with 1:31 left in the game and didn't play another shift.

 

Kyrou had been on a hot streak with nine points - six goals and three assists - in the first three game of the Blues' road trip. Kyrou began the night as St. Louis' leading scorer with 16 goals and 32 points.

 

The Blues close out the road trip at Vegas on Thursday.

HS GBBall: El Paso-Gridley Pulls Away From Clinton

Four player scored in double figures for El Paso-Gridley as the Lady Titans pulled away throughout the game from Clinton in a 62-49 final in non-conference girl's basketball action from El Paso-Gridley High School.

 

Madi Ehrardt scored 18 points to lead EP-G. Isabelle Vargas added 16 points while Kaylea Randall scored 15 points and Myli Ehrardt finished with 11 points.

 

Regan Filkin scored a game-high 23 points to pace the Lady Maroons. 

 

Clinton kept the game close, trailing 14-11 after the first quarter and 31-21 at the intermission. The Lady Titans kept the Lady Maroons at bay the rest of the way for its sixth win of the season, moving to 6-5 overall.

 

Clinton falls to 7-7 overall. 

 

It's off to Holiday Hoopla action next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday for the Lady Maroons. They play two games Monday, a game Tuesday afternoon and a placement game on Wednesday.

HS GBBall: Decatur St. Teresa Rolls Monticello

In a game heard on WEZC and at dewittdailynews.com, Lucy Corly scored 15 of her 25 points in the second half propelling Decatur St. Teresa over Monticello 45-20 in non-conference high school girl's basketball Monday from the Sievers Center at Monticello High School.

 

Corly scored eight points in the opening frame staking St. T to a 14-3 lead. Both teams struggled offensively in the second quarter but St. T put things away in the third quarter, opening up a 41-13 lead after three and hit a 30-point advantage early in the fourth quarter to active the running clock the rest of the way.

 

Monticello was paced by Jobi Smith's 10 points. Maia High grabbed ten rebounds. 

 

St. T moves to 5-5 overall while Monticello falls to 4-8.

 

It's off to Holiday Hoopla action for Monticello next week Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. They will play two games Monday, a game Tuesday afternoon and its placement game Wednesday.

 

Hear Tuesday's action on 95.9 FM WEZC, also at WHOW and its many digital platforms as well as at dewittdailynews.com.

Illinois State Tops Chicago State

Luke Kasubke scored 14 points off the bench to help Illinois State defeat Chicago State 66-52 on Monday night.

 

Kasubke was 5 of 6 shooting (2 for 3 from distance) for the Redbirds (6-7). Seneca Knight added 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Kendall Lewis recorded 11 points.

 

Jahsean Corbett led the way for the Cougars (3-11) with 14 points. Elijah Weaver added 10 points, three steals and two blocks. DeShawn Jean-Charles had nine points and nine rebounds.

 

Illinois State led Chicago State 33-23 at the half behind 10 points from Knight.

Packers Rumble Over Rams

A.J. Dillon ran for two scores, Aaron Rodgers threw a touchdown pass to Aaron Jones and the Packers kept their playoff hopes afloat with a 24-12 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night amid freezing conditions. The temperature was 15 degrees (minus-9 celsius) with a wind chill of 7 just before the opening kickoff.

 

The Packers (6-8) likely must win out and get plenty of help to earn a fourth straight postseason berth. They visit Miami (8-6) on Sunday before hosting the Minnesota Vikings (11-3) and Detroit Lions (7-7) in their final two games.

 

Dillon put Green Bay ahead for good with a tiebreaking 8-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and also scored from 1 yard out in the third period. He ran for 36 yards on 11 carries before leaving the game midway through the second half to be evaluated for a concussion.

 

Rodgers went 22 of 30 for 229 yards with a touchdown and interception to win his ninth straight ''Monday Night Football'' start, even though the four-time MVP acknowledged he's at the stage of his career when these late kickoffs aren't so much fun. The longest ''Monday Night Football'' winning streak by any starting quarterback is owned by Kenny Stabler, who won 11 straight from 1975-80.

 

Rodgers' lone touchdown pass was a 7-yarder to Jones, who rushed for 90 yards and had four catches for 36 yards.

 

The Rams (4-10) have matched the highest loss total by any defending Super Bowl champion. When John Elway retired after leading Denver to consecutive Super Bowl titles in the 1997 and 1998 seasons, the Broncos finished 6-10 in 1999.

 

Los Angeles played this game without several notable injured players, including three-time defensive player of the year Aaron Donald and All-Pro receiver Cooper Kupp. Quarterback Baker Mayfield made his first Rams start with injuries sidelining Matthew Stafford and John Wolford.

 

Mayfield had rallied the Rams to a 17-16 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Dec. 8, less than 48 hours after they had claimed him off waivers from Carolina. Mayfield wasn't as effective Monday, going 12 of 21 for 111 yards with a touchdown and interception

 

His touchdown was an 8-yarder to Tyler Higbee, the first touchdown by a Rams tight end this season.

 

Mayfield was sacked five times while working behind an offensive line missing center Brian Allen, who injured a calf on the game's first play from scrimmage. Preston Smith recorded two sacks for Green Bay.

 

The Rams also got field goals of 33 and 55 yards from Matt Gay, who also sent an extra-point attempt wide right. Gay's 55-yarder matched the third-longest field goal anyone has ever made at Lambeau Field.

 

Mason Crosby had a 34-yard field goal for Green Bay while playing his 255th consecutive regular-season game to tie Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre for the longest streak in franchise history.

 

The Packers are at Miami on Sunday.

Blues Blast Canucks

Jordan Kyrou had three goals for his first career hat trick and had an assist as the St. Louis Blues beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 on Monday night.

 

Robert Thomas had a power-play goal and an assist, and Nathan Walker scored his first goal of the season for the Blues, who won their fourth straight and for the fifth time in seven games. Vladimir Tarasenko had three assists and Nicky Leddy added two, and Jordan Binnington stopped 33 shots.

 

Ilya Mikheyev scored for the Canucks, who lost their third straight at home to fall to 5-9-1 on the season. Spencer Martin made 22 saves.

 

Kyrou scored twice in the third period, giving him six goals in three games and 10 points in the last four.

 

Kyrou put the Blues ahead 4-1 on a power play 1:07 into the third with a shot through traffic. He made it 5-1 with a wrist shot at 9:19.

 

The first period was scoreless with both goalies making big stops. Binnington denied Brock Boeser on a backdoor play on a power play early in the period, while Martin got in front of a point shot from Alexey Toropchenko through traffic.

 

The teams combined for three goals in 2:37 midway through the second period.

 

Kyrou opened the scoring with 9:35 remaining. Martin stopped a hard shot from Leddy, who got his own rebound and passed it to Kyrou.

 

The Canucks tied it 1:39 later after Mikheyev took a pass from defenseman Quinn Hughes, outskated the Blues' defense, and deked Binnington to stuff the puck in the far corner.

 

Walker made it 2-1 for St. Louis with just under 7 minutes remaining on a shot from the hash marks that sailed over Martin's glove.

 

Thomas gave the Blues a two-goal lead on a power play with 1:10 left in the middle period when he wired a pass from Pavel Buchnevich from the faceoff circle into the top corner of the net.

 

St. Louis is at Seattle on Tuesday in the third game of a five-game trip.

Bradley Rolls Stonehill

Duke Deen scored 26 points as Bradley beat Stonehill 79-50 on Monday night.

 

Deen was 8 of 12 shooting, including 7 for 11 from distance, and went 3 for 3 from the line for the Braves (8-4). Rienk Mast added 13 points while finishing 6 of 8 from the floor, and he also had 10 rebounds. Connor Hickman recorded 12 points and was 5 of 9 shooting (2 for 6 from distance).

 

The Skyhawks (4-9) were led by Andrew Sims, who posted 13 points. Thatcher Stone added nine points for Stonehill. Max Zegarowski also had seven points and two steals.

 

Bradley entered halftime up 40-22. Hickman paced the team in scoring in the first half with nine points. Deen scored 20 points in the second half to help lead the way as Bradley went on to secure a victory, outscoring Stonehill by 11 points in the second half.

Eagles Hold Off Late Charge from Bears

Jalen Hurts tied a career high by running for three touchdowns and Philadelphia outlasted the struggling Chicago Bears 25-20 on Sunday.

 

The Eagles came in with the best record in the NFL and walked away with a tighter-than-anticipated win. At 13-1, they matched the best start in franchise history, achieved previously by the 2004 team that reached the Super Bowl.

 

Hurts had trouble feeling his hands. With bone-chilling wind whipping through Soldier Field, he even found it difficult to see. Some big hits only added to his pain.

None of that prevented him from leading the Eagles to their franchise record-tying 13th win of the season.

 

Chicago's Justin Fields ran for 95 yards to reach exactly 1,000 on the season, joining Michael Vick and Lamar Jackson as the only quarterbacks to rush for 1,000 or more. He also set a franchise single-season rushing record for a QB. But the Bears (3-11) lost their seventh straight game - their worst skid since dropping eight in a row in 2002 to match a franchise record.

 

Hurts is also closing in on history as a ball-carrier. He has 13 rushing touchdowns, one short of the NFL record for a QB, set by Cam Newton during his rookie year in 2011.

 

Hurts finished with 61 yards rushing and has 747 this season. He completed 22 of 37 passes for 315 yards, shaking off two first-half interceptions while playing in temperatures recorded at 18 degrees Fahrenheit at game time.

 

The Eagles' do-it-all QB ran for a 22-yard touchdown in the closing minute of the second quarter and 1-yard TD early in the third that made it 17-6. Hurts added another 1-yard score and ran in the 2-point conversion with 4:20 left in the game to put Philadelphia ahead 23-13. But the Bears weren't finished.

 

Fields - who hobbled to the sideline because of leg cramps on the previous possession and briefly exited the game - hit a wide-open Byron Pringle for a 35-yard touchdown that pulled Chicago within five with 2:43 remaining.

 

But the Bears didn't get the ball back. After the two-minute warning, Hurts connected with A.J. Brown for 12 yards on third-and-6, allowing Philly to run out the clock.

 

Brown caught nine passes for a career-high 181 yards, including a 68-yarder that set up the final touchdown. DeVonta Smith had five receptions for 126 yards.

 

Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat and Javon Hargrave each had two of Philadelphia's six sacks, helping the Eagles squeeze by after winning their previous two games by a combined 51 points.

 

Fields said he doesn't intend to make 1,000-yard rushing seasons a regular occurrence for him. But he called reaching the milestone ''an honor.''

 

He broke Bobby Douglass' previous franchise rushing record for a QB of 968 yards in a 14-game season in 1972. Jackson holds the NFL mark with 1,206 in his 2019 MVP season.

 

After passing for a season-high 254 yards two weeks earlier against Green Bay, Fields threw for 152 and two touchdowns.

 

David Montgomery ran for a touchdown for Chicago, which remained winless since a surprising victory at New England on Oct. 24.

 

The Bears host Buffalo on Saturday.

Packers Host Rams in Matchup of 2022 Disappointments

When the league's slate of prime-time games came out in the spring, a mid-December matchup between the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams and the three-time defending NFC North champion Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field sounded like TV ratings gold.

 

Surely visions of gorgeous wide-angle shots of the falling snow and big-time playoff implications were dancing in their heads.

 

But instead of a playoff preview, the ''Monday Night Football'' audience will get two of the NFL's most disappointing teams when the Rams (4-9) visit the Packers (5-8).

 

Although both teams are still mathematically in playoff contention, the Rams are assured a sub-.500 record, and the Packers could win out and still miss the postseason for the first time under coach Matt LaFleur.

 

Before newly added quarterback Baker Mayfield rallied the Rams to a 17-16 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders last week - just two days after being claimed on waivers from the Carolina Panthers - the defending champs looked like they were playing out the string.

 

But their Mayfield-fueled comeback has at least brought some energy to what could have been a lifeless final month of the season.

 

Packers rookie second-round pick Christian Watson's eight touchdowns over the past four games made him the second rookie wide receiver in NFL history to score eight TDs from scrimmage over four games, per the Elias Sports Bureau. Minnesota's Randy Moss was the first to do it, in 1998.

 

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the MVP the past two seasons, enters the Packers' final four games having thrown nine interceptions - the most he's had in a season since he threw 11 during the team's Super Bowl-winning season of 2010. His passer rating of 92.4 would be his lowest in 15 years as a starter.

 

How much of his statistical downturn can be traced to the broken right thumb he suffered in London against the New York Giants on Oct. 9 is hard to say, but Rodgers said the thumb is close to fully healed and the rib injury he suffered against the Eagles is also much improved.

Timberwolves Dominate Bulls

Anthony Edwards had season highs with 37 points and 11 assists and the Minnesota Timberwolves broke the franchise record for points in a game, routing the Chicago Bulls 150-126 on Sunday night.

 

D'Angelo Russell added 28 points after missing two games and Minnesota made a season-high 23 pointers to roll past Chicago despite missing four regulars.

 

Rudy Gobert missed his second straight game because of a sprained left ankle. Karl-Anthony Towns (right calf strain) and top reserves Jordan McLaughlin (left calf strain) and Taurean Prince (right shoulder) also sat out.

 

Starting a four-game trip, Chicago lost its fourth straight and sixth in eight games. It is the fourth-most points the Bulls have ever given up in regulation; the most since allowing 152 to Detroit on Nov. 3, 1982.

 

Nikola Vucevic added 23 points and Zach LaVine had 22.

 

Edwards scored six points in a 9-1 surge for a 106-89 lead late in the third quarter. But Edwards saved his best shot of the quarter for a buzzer-beater.

 

With 2.1 seconds left, he stole an inbounds pass on the logo at center court, continued right and made a 32-foot pull-up jumper. As the ball went through the hoop to make it 113-97, Edwards turned to face the crowd and, after a couple of seconds of basking with a huge smile, began to high-five the fans.

 

Russell made seven of his eight first-half shots, including 6 of 7 from deep. That included a 34-foot desperation heave from the logo early in the second quarter as the shot clock expired.

 

The Bulls are at Miami on Tuesday night.

Rangers Blast Blackhawks

Former Chicago Blackhawk Artemi Panarin had a goal and two assists, Igor Shesterkin stopped 29 shots and the New York Rangers beat the Blackhawks 7-1 on Sunday night for their seventh straight win.

 

Vincent Trocheck, Filip Chytil and Kappo Kakko each had a goal and an assist, and Vitali Kravtsov, Braden Schneider and Jacob Trouba also scored for the Rangers. Adam Fox had three assists, and Alexis Lafreniere and Mika Zibanejad each had two.

 

The Rangers have outscored opponents 33-14 during their winning streak.

 

Philipp Kurashev scored for Chicago and Arvid Soderblom finished with 19 saves.

 

The Rangers have not lost since a 5-2 defeat at home to the Blackhawks on Dec. 3. Chicago has lost seven straight since then and is 1-14-1 since mid-November.

 

Panarin has 18 points in his last 13 games, while Trocheck had 10 points in his last seven. Chytil has six points in six games since coming back from a lower-body injury. He was checked hard by Sam Lafferty early in the second period and did not return.

 

Shesterkin improved his road record to 9-0-1, becoming the 11th goalie in NHL history to open a season with points in his first 10 road games.

 

Blackhawks forwards Toews and Patrick Kane were in the starting lineup to mark their 1,000th game together, the 11th such pair in NHL history to reach the milestone. Chicago is 530-347-123 in those games. If they stay with the team, they could match defensive pair Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith, in the same lineup for 1,069 games early next season. However, Toews and Kane are both in the last year of $10.5 million contracts and it's possible one or both could ask for a trade to a contending team.

 

Chicago hosts Nashville on Wednesday night.

Monticello Falls to Breese Mater Dei in Greenville

In a game heard on WEZC and at dewittdailynews.com, Breese Mater Dei drained seven first half three-pointers, propelling them to a 56-35 victory over Monticello in non-conference high school boy's basketball action from the Greenville Shootout Saturday evening.

 

The Knights had three players score in double digits led by Drake Wagner and Connor Loepker's 12 points. Dalton Markus had a double-double with ten points and ten rebounds. Jacob Hustedde grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.

 

Trey Welter led the Sages again with 13 points and was the ServPro of Piatt/DeWitt Counties Player of the Game. Drew Sheppard scored seven points and grabbed five rebounds. 

 

Mater Dei improves to 4-3 overall while Monticello drops to 4-4 overall.

 

The Sages return home Tuesday night to host Warrensburg-Latham at 7 pm. Hear the action on WEZC and at dewittdailynews.com. 

 

Hear girl's basketball action on WEZC Monday night against Decatur St. Teresa at 7 pm.

HS BBALL: Maroons Hold Off Tri-Valley For Tenth Win

In a game heard Saturday evening on WHOW, the Clinton Maroons held off the Tri-Valley Vikings, 61-54, in non-conference boys basketball action. 
 

Clinton jumped out to a 21-11 lead at the end of the first quarter, and led by as much as 15 throughout the game.  However, Tri-Valley cut the lead to 4 with one minute remaining.  The Maroons hit some timely shots late to hold onto the 7 point win. 
 

Clinton was led by Junior Dawson Graves, who poured in 33 points.  Junior Mason Walker added 13, and was named the Serv Pro of Piatt/DeWitt County Player of the Game.  Junior Brooks Cluver added 7. 
 

The Vikings were led by Junior Kyler Zook with 13 points.  Sophomore Brayden Stombaugh added 11.  Tri-Valley falls to 4-6 with the loss. 
 

The Maroons improve to 10-1 on the year, and now take some time off. They'll next play December 26th at the Monticello Holiday Hoopla.  
 

Our next WHOW Maroons broadcast is December 27th at 3:30p in Monticello.  

HS GBBall: Clinton Blows By Argenta-Oreana

The Clinton Lady Maroons made quick work of the Argenta-Oreana Lady Bombers 62-15 in non-conference high school girl's basketball action from Clinton High School Thusday night.

 

The Lady Maroons led 21-2 after the first quarter, stretching the lead to 42-7 at the half and shut out the Lady Bombers to open up a 56-7 lead after three.

 

Heidi Humble led all scorers with 17 points. Clara Dempsey added 14 points for Clinton as each player that logged minutes scored.

 

Clinton improves to 7-6 overall. The Lady Maroons play their final game before the Christmas holiday Monday at El Paso-Gridley. Then it's off to the Monticello Holiday Hoopla Dec. 26-28. 

HS GBBall: GCMS Rolls Blue Ridge

The Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Lady Falcons used steady offense to roll pas Blue Ridge 55-26 in non-conference high school girl's basketball action Thursday night in Farmer City.

 

Sophie Ray scored a game-high 20 points for GCMS. Reagan Tompkins chipped in with ten points.

 

While the Lady Knights had balanced scoring, it wasn't nearly enough. Kylie Madden had a team-high seven points. 

 

Blue Ridge drops to 3-9 overall. They begin action at the Meridian Holiday Tournament tomorrow taking on Mt. Pulaski.

HS BBBall: Monticello Rolls Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond

In a game heard on WEZC, the Monticello Sages scored the first 20 points and never looked back, rolling to a 54-38 win over Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond Tuesday night from Arthur in non-conference high school boy's basketball action.

 

Trey Welter followed up a career night against Maroa-Forsyth Saturday with 14 points Tuesday to lead all scorers. Welter scored a career-best 26 on Saturday at the Sievers Center.

 

While Welter was the only Sages player in double-figures Tuesday, scoring was balanced. Drew Sheppard added eight points, Will Ross scored six and Tylor Bundy, Mick Wright and Maddox Quick each scored five points.

 

Easton Frederick scored 10 fourth quarter points to lead the Knights.

 

Monticello shut out ALAH in the first quarter, leading 15-0 and scored the first five points of the second quarter to open a 20-0 lead and led 31-9 at the break.

 

Monticello scored 22 points in the paint Tuesday night and had 19 second chance points off 15 offensive rebounds. The Sages shot 47-percent from the floor and finished 7-for-17 from beyond the arc. 

 

The Knights drop to 4-5 overall while Monticello improves to 4-3. They take a two game winning streak into Saturday's matchup at the Greenville Shootout against Breese Mater Dei.

 

Game time from Greenville Saturday is 5:30 pm. Hear the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.

HS GBBall: Slow Second Quarter Dooms Clinton in Loss to Cerro Gordo-Bement

The Clinton Lady Maroons did not score in the second quarter and struggled on offense in the second half in a 49-25 loss to Cerro Gordo-Bement Tuesday night in non-conference high school girl's basketball action from Cerro Gordo.

 

The Lady Broncos led 12-11 after one quarter while they only mustered nine points in the second, they held Clinton scoreless to go up 21-11. They moved that lead to 39-18 after three and outscored the Lady Maroons 10-7 in the final frame.

 

Avery Smith scored seven points to lead Clinton.

 

The Lady Broncos were led by Haley Garrett's 18 points and Jazzi Hicks scored 15 points.

 

Cerro Gordo-Bement goes to 9-2 overall. 

 

Clinton falls to 6-6. The Lady Maroons host Argenta-Oreana Thursday night. They wrap up the pre-Christmas slate at El Paso-Gridley next Monday before heading to the Monticello Holiday Hoopla starting Monday, Dec. 26.

Illinois Basketball Adds Home-and-Home Series With Tennessee

Illinois has signed a 2-year contract with Tennessee for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 men's basketball seasons. The Illini will travel to Knoxville next season, playing at Tennessee on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023. The Volunteers will return to Champaign the following year for a Saturday showdown at State Farm Center on Dec. 14, 2024.

 

Tennessee is currently ranked No. 6 in the AP poll, while the Illini are at No. 18.

 

Illinois and Tennessee have met just three times, with the Volunteers owning a 2-1 edge in the series. The programs played for the first time on Dec. 15, 1967 in the Volunteer Classic, a 66-42 win for the host Vols. Tennessee also defeated the 10th-ranked Illini in Knoxville on Dec. 10, 1985 by the score of 54-51. No. 20 Illinois rolled past the Vols, 103-79, on Jan. 17, 1988 in the lone match-up in Champaign.

Caps Blast Blackhawks

Alex Ovechkin scored three times to become the third NHL player with 800 career goals, and the streaking Washington Capitals beat the lowly Chicago Blackhawks 7-3 on Tuesday night.

 

Ovechkin moved within one goal of Howe for second all-time. Gretzky has the record with 894 goals, but the 37-year-old Ovechkin is showing no signs of slowing down.

 

Mantha, Nic Dowd, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Dmitry Orlov also scored for Washington. Conor Sheary had two assists, and Charlie Lindgren made 26 stops.

 

The Capitals went 6-2-1 during a nine-game stretch that included only one home date. They play seven of their next nine at home, beginning Thursday night against Dallas.

 

Chicago dropped to 1-11-1 in its last 13 games. It has scored just four goals during a four-game slide.

 

Ovechkin scored on his first two shots, beating Petr Mrazek 24 seconds into the game before stuffing one home on a power play with 11:46 left in the first period. The winger then completed his 29th career hat trick when he knocked Mantha's pass over a sprawled Mrazek 6:34 into the third.

 

Toews, Max Domi and Tyler Johnson scored for Chicago, and Mrazek finished with 23 saves.

 

It was Johnson's first game since Oct. 25. He had been sidelined by a right ankle injury.

 

The Blackhawks host the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night.

White Sox RHP Cease Receives Largest Amount of New $50-Million Pre-Arb Bonus

Chicago White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease will receive the largest amount in the new $50 million pool for pre-arbitration players, earning $2,457,426.

 

Houston Astros designated hitter Yordan Alvarez is second with $2,381,143, according to figures compiled by Major League Baseball and the players’ association under the March lockout settlement. Toronto right-hander Alek Manoah is third at $2,191,023.

 

Eleven players are receiving $1 million or more.

 

Arizona right-hander Zac Gallen gets $1,670,875, followed by Seattle center fielder Julio Rodríguez ($1,550,850), Atlanta outfielder Michael Harris II ($1,361,435), Cleveland closer Emmanuel Clase ($1,354,962), Guardians second baseman Andrés Giménez ($1,308,805), Baltimore catcher Adley Rutschman ($1,177,555), Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker ($1,146,555) and Braves right-hander Spencer Strider ($1,077,294).

 

A total of 100 players will receive the payments under a plan aimed to get more money to players without sufficient service time for salary arbitration eligibility: 2 years, 116 days of major league service for 2022.

 

Cease had a $750,000 salary this year, Alvarez $764,600, Manoah $706,200, Gallen $745,600 and Rodríguez the $700,000 major league minimum.

 

Rodríguez agreed in August to a $209.3 million, 12-year contract that starts next season and Alvarez agreed in June to a $115 million, six-year deal that starts in 2023.

 

Under the March agreement, an eligible player receives $2.5 million for winning a MVP or Cy Young Award, $1.75 million for second in the voting, $1.5 million for third, $1 million for fourth, fifth or selection to the all-MLB first team, $750,000 for Rookie of the Year, $500,000 for second in Rookie of the Year voting or all-MLB second team.

 

All-MLB teams are voted by fans, media members, broadcasters, former players and officials.

 

A player is eligible to receive the bonus for one achievement per year, earning only the highest amount. The remaining money is allocated by a WAR formula.

 

Cease was second in AL Cy Young voting, Alvarez third in AL MVP voting, Manoah third in AL Cy Young balloting.

 

Houston shortstop Jeremy Peña receives $417,247. He won the League Championship and World Series MVP award for the champion Astros, which did not figure into the bonus pool.

 

The smallest amounts go to San Diego outfielder Trent Grisham ($201,700) and Oakland left-hander Cole Irvin ($201,978).

 

Each of the 30 teams is charged $1,666,666 to its luxury tax payroll.

Maroons Down Hawks Tuesday Night

In a game heard Tuesday night on WHOW, the Clinton Maroons clipped the Riverton Hawks, 63-27, in non-conference action. 
 

Clinton jumped out to the lead on a Mason Walker three pointer on their first possession, and then never trailed.  They led 31-16 at half, and then outscored Riverton 23-6 in the third before pulling away for another 30-plus point win.  Clinton beat Heyworth by 34 last time out on Saturday night.  
 

The Maroons were led Tuesday by Junior Dawson Graves with 20 points.  He was named the WHOW Serv Pro of Piatt/Dewitt County Player of the Game.  Sophomore Colton Walker & Junior Brooks Cluver each added 11 for Clinton; while Junior Mason Walker had 9 points. 
 

Riverton was led by Antonyo Davis with 8 points.  The Hawks fall to 1-7 with the loss. 
 

Clinton improves to an impressive 8-1 under Head Coach Vic Binkley.  They'll host Argenta-Oreana Thursday night at CHS.  
 

Our next Maroons broadcast on WHOW comes up Saturday evening at 5:30pm as Clinton travels to Tri-Valley. 

HS GBBall: Slow Second Half Dooms Monticello

In a game heard on WEZC, Maia High was fouled on a last second three pointer as time expired on the first half, made all three free throws and staked Monticello to a halftime lead but the offense went away in the second half as Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond took over for a 45-32 win in non-conference high school girl's basketball action Monday from the Sievers Center at Monticello High School.

 

High's free throws made the score 19-17 at the break but Monticello mustered just one field in the third quarter and finally came alive late to close the gap late but it was too little too late.

 

Monticello had balanced scoring for the game led by Megan Allen's nine points. Isa Beery had eight points, Jobi Smith contributed seven points and High had six points. 

 

Smith's efforts for the night earned hear the ServPro of Piatt/DeWitt County Player of the Game. 

 

Kailee Otto and Charley Condill each had 11 points to pace the Lady Knights. Ruby Burton scored nine points.

 

ALAH improves to 8-3 overall while Monticello drops to 4-6. 

 

The next Monticello girl's basketball broadcast comes up next Monday, Dec. 19 against Decatur St. Teresa. Game time is 7 pm.

 

Tonight, hear boy's basketball on WEZC and dewittdailynews.com as the Sages travel to Arthur to take on ALAH. Game time is 7 pm.

HS BBBall: Normal Calvary Christian Academy Takes Down Blue Ridge

Normal Calvary Christian Academy made free throws down the stretch to pull away from Blue Ridge 54-43 in non-conference high school boy's basketball action in Normal Monday.

 

Blue Ridge pulled to a 28-26 lead at the intermission but Normal retook the lead 38-36 after three and made five of eight free throws in the final quarter to pull out the victory. 

 

Colin Michaels paced Blue Ridge with 14 points. Corbin Colbert added ten points. 

 

Blue Ridge drops to 4-5 overall and will host Ridgeview Wednesday night. 

Bears Defense on the Mend

The Chicago Bears would like to come out of their bye week the same way they came out of a mini-bye weekend following a Thursday night game earlier this season.

 

It was the previous time the Bears won a game, 33-14 against New England on Oct. 24.

 

It’s definitely not going to be easy as they’re hosting Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

 

In fact, they finish the season with the Eagles, Buffalo, Detroit and Minnesota.

 

At least they have better health working on their side to try to snap a six-game losing streak as starting safety Jaquan Brisker and cornerback Kyler Gordon are now out of the NFL concussion protocol. The two rookies will return to the lineup for the first time since a Nov. 20 loss to Atlanta.

 

Brisker, their second pick in the draft, actually leads the Bears in sacks with three off blitzes.

 

Gordon was their top draft pick earlier in Round 2, and his season hasn’t gone quite as well.

 

They’ll need a full group together to stop quarterback Jalen Hurts, whose ability to run or throw on the run is similar to their own quarterback Justin Fields.

 

The Bears offense is counting on continued pass-blocking improvement so Fields can avoid too much contact as he comes off a shoulder injury.

 

For the first time this season, the Bears allowed no sacks in their previous game against Green Bay. They led the NFL in sacks allowed through much of the season, but have dropped to fifth most at 42.

 

The biggest problem the Bears have had hasn’t been injured defensive backs or even their offensive line’s blocking — it’s finishing games.

 

Even against good teams they have managed to stay close, but have failed in six straight attempts to win or tie when they had chances to do so on their last possession.

Blues Outlast Preds in Overtime

Brayden Schenn scored at 2:23 of the extra session to lead the Blues to a 1-0 win over the Nashville Predators on Monday night in a battle of Central Division rivals.

 

Jordan Binnington made 25 saves in his second shutout of the season and the 12th of his career. He was the sixth goalie this season to start a game on back-to-back days. On Sunday, he stopped 28 of 31 shots in an overtime loss to Colorado.

 

Schenn broke his stick just seconds into the overtime. He then lost his voice while screaming to the bench that he needed assistance in getting a new stick.

 

Just over two minutes later, Schenn popped in the rebound of a shot by Jordan Kyrou to seal the victory.

 

Saros made 23 saves for the Predators, who have lost three in a row.

 

Binnington stopped Matt Duchene early in the overtime and helped secure the win for the Blues, who had lost six of their last seven games.

 

Binnington recorded his 100th victory to become the sixth goalie in franchise history to hit the 100-win mark.

 

St. Louis LW Pavel Buchnevich missed his fourth straight game with a lower-body injury. He has nine goals and 11 assists. Coach Craig Berube said Buchnevich is close to returning.

 

The Blues play at Edmonton on Thursday in the first of a five-game trip.

Clinton Lady Maroons Clip Hawks

In a game heard Monday night on WHOW, the Clinton Lady Maroons downed the Meridian Hawks, 71-26, in CIC conference play at Clinton High School.  
 

Clinton jumped out to a 19-point lead in the first quarter, and never looked back.  They led 42-8 at half. 
 

Sophomore Reagan Filkin led the Maroons with 20 points.  Junior Heidi Humble was named the Serv Pro of Piatt/DeWitt County Player of the Game. She added 18 points, including 6 unanswered to end the first quarter, as well as numerous steals. Freshman Avery Smith contributed 15 points for Clinton as well.  
 

Meridian was led by Freshman Shelby Renfro with 6 points.  
 

Clinton improves to 6-5 overall, and 3-0 in the Central Illinois Conference. Meridian falls to 3-8 overall, and 0-2 in conference. 
 

The Lady Maroons travel to Cerro Gordo-Bement Tuesday night.  
 

Our next Clinton High School sports broadcast on WHOW is Tuesday night when the Maroons host Riverton.  Hear varsity action around 7:30pm on all WHOW platforms!

Buzzer-Beating Alley-Oop By Hawks Drops Bulls

A.J. Griffin hit a 6-footer on an alley-oop pass at the overtime buzzer and the Atlanta Hawks snapped a three-game losing streak with a 123-122 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night.

 

DeMar DeRozan sank three free throws with 0.5 seconds remaining in overtime to finish with 33 points as it appeared the Bulls had the game wrapped up. But Griffin took sideline alley-oop pass from Jalen Johnson and scored on a turnaround jumper with Derrick Jones Jr. defending for the win.

 

It was Griffin's second overtime buzzer-beater in his rookie season, the first coming in a 124-122 win over Toronto on Nov. 19.

 

Trae Young hit a 20-footer with 1 second left to give the Hawks a 121-119 lead in the extra period, and Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 17 of his 28 points in the first half for Atlanta.

 

DeRozan calmly swished the free throws after taking the inbound pass and firing up a 3 in which he was fouled by Bogdanovic. He knew the game wasn't over, however.

 

DeRozan had 12 points in the fourth quarter but he missed a layup that would've given Chicago a one-point lead with 16.5 seconds remaining.

 

Jones hit one of two free throws that could've given the Bulls a one-point victory, but instead sent the game to overtime.

 

Young had 19 points and 14 assists for the Hawks. The team's leading scorer, Young was 5 for 18 from the field, including 2 for 8 on 3s, but his runner with 1:45 remaining gave the Hawks the lead at 107-105. He followed with a 3 to make it 110-107 with 50.6 seconds left in regulation.

 

Young has struggled lately, beginning the night 7 of his last 41 on 3s over his last six games and fourth in the league in turnovers.

 

One night after scoring a season-high 144 points and shooting 63.5% in a lopsided win over Dallas, the Bulls shot 48%, including 28.9% on 3s.

 

Clint Capela got his eighth straight double-double and 16th of the season, finishing with 15 points and 14 rebounds for the Hawks.

 

Bulls G Javonte Green was cleared to play despite being listed as questionable with right knee soreness. He had two points in 11 minutes despite missing the last three games. G Alex Caruso (lower back contusion) stayed in Chicago to get treatment. G Ayo Dosunmu had an abdominal contusion late in the second quarter and didn't return.

 

The Bulls host New York on Wednesday and Friday.

Avalanche Get By Blues

Mikko Rantanen scored in the final seconds of regulation and the first minute of overtime to complete his fifth career hat trick and give the Colorado Avalanche a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.

 

Rantanen's second goal of the game came with nine seconds left in regulation, forcing the extra period. He sealed the comeback win 29 seconds into overtime. Pavel Francouz made 30 saves and the Avalanche snapped a five-game winless streak.

 

Vladimir Tarasenko and Brandon Saad scored for the Blues, losers of eight of their last 10 games. Jordan Binnington stopped 28 of 31 shots for the Blues, who had allowed four goals in nine straight games.

 

Rantanen scored his 19th of the season early in OT when he pushed the rebound of a shot by Cale Makar past Binnington, completing his second hat trick of the season.

 

Rantanen swatted a loose puck in the crease past Binnington in the final seconds of regulation to tie the game.

 

Brayden Schenn was serving a penalty for interference when Saad beat J.T. Compher to a puck in the Colorado zone and scored his sixth of the season to give St. Louis a 2-1 lead with 1:36 remaining in the third.

 

Tarasenko tied the game 1-all with his eighth the season on a power play nine seconds after Cale Makar was sent off for a double-minor penalty for high sticking 7:59 into the third period.

 

Rantanen opened the scoring 10:58 into the second period.

 

Blues LW Pavel Buchnevich missed his third straight game with a lower body injury, but Craig Berube said before the game that he expects Buchnevich to return Monday. . Avalanche C Nathan MacKinnon missed his third straight game with an upper-body injury.

 

The Blues close a three-game homestand Monday against Nashville.

HS BBBall: Monticello Survives Maroa-Forsyth

Trey Welter scored a career-high 26 points and Monticello survived a frantic comeback by Maroa-Forsyth for a 54-48 win Saturday afternoon at the Sievers Center at Monticello High School.

 

The Trojans trailed by as many as 18 with 7:07 left in the game but had trimmed the lead to 45-39 at the 2:04 mark after they had a steal in the backcourt on Monticello's inbound. 

 

The Trojans would get within four after AJ Massey hit his third straight three-pointer with 14 seconds left but the Trojans were out of timeouts and Welter sunk two free throws to put the game out of reach.

 

Drew Sheppard added nine points and five rebounds for Monticello. Will Ross had a career-best eight rebounds to go with five points for the Sages.

 

Kaiden Maurer led Maroa-Forsyth with 13 points and five assists. Massey and Mitch Williams added nine points apiece.

 

Welter's efforts Saturday earned him the Serv Pro of Piatt/DeWitt Counties Player of the Game. 

 

Monticello moves to 3-3 while Maroa-Forsyth falls to 2-5. 

 

The Sages travel to Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond Tuesday night for a 7 pm tip. Hear the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

HS GBBall: IVC Holds Off Monticello

Sage Geltmaker scored a game-high 17 points and IVC held off Monticello 36-23 in Illini Prairie Confernce high school girl's basketball action Saturday morning from the Sievers Center at Monticello High School.

 

A high-scoring first quarter was followed by a very slow final three quarters. The Lady Grey Ghosts led 20-12 after the first quarter but only led 28-18 at the break.

 

A total of seven points in the third quarter put IVC up 32-21 after three. 

 

Maia High led Monticello with 10 points. Megan Allen added six.

 

Mary Zerfass added eight points for the Lady Grey Ghosts while Gabi Kramer scored six points.

 

IVC moves to 5-4 overall while Monticello falls to 4-5.

 

Monticello hosts Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond Monday night in Monticello. Hear the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

Maroons Broadcasts Saturday Night Canceled

Unfortunately the scheduled WHOW broadcast of the Clinton vs Heyworth boys/girls double header Saturday night has been canceled due to illness amongst the broadcast crew.  Our apologies, and we hope our listeners understand.  
 

The Clinton girls varsity host Heyworth at 5p at Clinton High School; with the boys varsity taking place right after.  Folks are encouraged to get out and support both varsity teams tonight.  
 

You can view the listing of the remainder of our scheduled WHOW "Game of the Week" broadcasts by clicking the Sports Broadcast Schedule link in the Sports Section here on DDN. 

Blue Ridge Drops Fisher

The Blue Ridge Knights used a big finish to pull away from Fisher 49-29 in non-conference high school boy's basketball action from Fisher High School Friday.

 

Colin Michaels led the Knights with 15 points. Zach Lewis added 12 points.

 

The Knights trailed 8-4 after a slow first quarter but they opened up a 21-15 lead at the intermission. The Knights led 33-24 after three and Blue Ridge outscored the Bunnies 16-5 to finish strong in the fourth. 

 

Blue Ridge is 3-4 overall. They return to action Monday night taking on Calvary Christian Academy on the road in non-conference action. 

St. T Gets By Maroa-Forsyth in Macon County Tournament Championship

Decatur St. Teresa had three players score in double figures and edged Maroa-Forsyth 47-39 in the Macon County Tournament Friday night at Warrensburg-Latham High School. 

 

Shadow Sumner scored 13 points to lead all scorers Friday. Ryheem Tyus added 12 points while Billy Guyse added 11 points. 

 

St. T led 10-8 after the first quarter and 19-17 at the break. A 14-8 edge in the third quarter opened up the Bulldogs' lead to 33-25.

 

Grant Smith led Maroa-Forsyth with ten points.

 

The Trojans fall to 2-4 overall. They travel to Monticello tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon for a 3:15 tip time. Hear the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

Mt. Zion Gets By Monticello

In a game heard on WEZC, Drew Sheppard recorded his second straight double-double but it wasn't enough as Monticello fell to Mt. Zion 61-39 in non-conference high school boy's basketball action Friday night in Mt. Zion.

 

Sheppard had 12 points and 11 rebounds but the Sages mustered little else on offense. Tyler Blythe and Trey Welter had six points apiece.

 

The Braves turned the Sages over 24 times and Monticello shot just 28 percent from the floor for the game. The Sages went just 3-for-18 from distance. 

 

Mt. Zion didn't fare much better offensively, shooting 40 percent and 6-for-22 from beyond the arc.

 

Sophomore Lyncoln Koesoter had 15 points to lead the Braves. 

Grant McAtee added 11 points.

 

Sheppard's efforts earned him his third straight ServPro of Piatt/DeWitt County Player of the Game award.

 

Mt. Zion improved to 7-1 overall. 

 

The Sages dropped its second straight to go to 2-3 overall. They return home tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon to host Maroa-Forsyth at 3:15 pm. Hear the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

HS GBBall: Clinton Recovers From Slow Start, Rolls Shelbyville

Shelbyville jumped out quickly on Clinton but the Lady Maroons recovered and rolled to a 53-41 Central Illinois Conference high school girl's basketball win Thursday night from Shelbyville.

 

The Lady Maroons fell behind 14-6 after the first quarter but dominated the rest chipping away to get withing 23-20 at the break and then blew things open with a 20-7 third quarter to go up 40-30 after three.

 

It was another balanced scoring night for the Lady Maroons as well. Clara Dempsey scored a game-high 19 points. Regan Filkin added 12 points. MaKayla Koeppel added nine while Avery Smith scored eight.

 

The Maroons go to 2-0 in league play and 5-4 overall in winning its fourth straight.

 

It will be a doubleheader Saturday with the boy's basketball team as they play host to Heyworth. Hear the girl's action starting at 5 pm on WHOW and its many digital platforms.

HS GBBall: Mt. Zion Topples Monticello

Mt. Zion rolled past Monticello 48-20 in non-conference high school girl's basketball action Thursday night from Mt. Zion.

 

Megan Allen led Monticello with 12 points. She was 6-for-6 at the foul line. Maia High added eight.

 

Monticello is 4-4 overall and will host IVC Saturday at the Sievrs Center at 11:15 am.

HS BBall: Maroa-Forsyth Trounces Warrensburg-Latham

Marao-Forsyth used balanced scoring to roll past Warrensburg-Latham 47-21 from the Macon County Tournament Thursday night at Warrensburg-Latham High School.

 

Kaiden Maurer led the way with a game-high 19 points. Zayn Giles was the only other scorer in double-figures with ten but Brayton Mitchell scored seven points and Mitch Williams added five.

 

The Trojans move to 2-3 overall and resume tournament action tonight before a road contest at Monticello on Saturday.

HS GBBall: Toledo-Cumberland Smashes Blue Ridge

Toledo-Cumberland blasted Blue Ridge 52-12 in Illini Prairie Conference girl's basketball action Thursday night from Blue Ridge High School. 

 

Phoebe Reynolds paced the Blue Ridge attack with seven points. Leah Gray scored 17 points for the Lady Pirates.

 

Blue Ridge drops to 1-6 overall. They travel to Fisher tonight.

Monticello Announces Holiday Hoopla Schedule

The Monticello High School athletic department has announced its schedule for the annual Holiday Hoopla basketball tournament starting Monday, December 26 through Wednesday, Dec. 28. 

 

On the boy's side of the round-robin action, pool 'Purple' features Monticello, Clinton, Ridgeview, and Fithian Oakwood. This pool will play two games starting Monday with one game on Tuesday and then the placement games on Wednesday.

 

Pool 'Gold' will feature GCMS, Neoga, PBL, and Tuscola. They will play a single game on Monday, two games on Tuesday, and then the placement games on Wednesday.

 

On the girl's side, Pool 'Purple' will feature Monticello, Clinton, Ridgeview, and Stark County. This pool will play two games on Monday, and Tuesday, and the placement game on Wednesday.

 

Pool 'Gold' will feature GCMS, Neoga, PBL, and Tuscola. This pool plays a single game Monday, two games on Tuesday, and the placement game on Wednesday.

 

Action starts each day at 10 am. The girls play in Miller Gym while the boys play in the new Sievers Center. 

 

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

Jets Blast Blues

Pierre-Luc Dubois scored twice and had an assist, Connor Hellebuyck made 29 saves and the Winnipeg Jets beat the St. Louis Blues 5-2 on Thursday night.

 

Kyle Connor, Blake Wheeler and Cole Perfetti also scored and Mark Scheifele added a pair of assists. The Jets have won three straight and seven of eight. They are 7-0-1 in their last eight games against St. Louis.

 

Robert Thomas and Josh Leivo scored for the Blues, who lost for the fifth time in their last six games. Thomas Greiss, playing in back-to-back games for the first time this season, made 15 saves.

 

Thomas got the Blues on the board with 1:24 left in the second, extending his points streak to five games.

 

Leivo scored midway through the third for the Blues, and Perfetti iced the game for the Jets with an empty-net goal.

 

The Blues host Colorado on Sunday.

Illinois State Edges Eastern Michigan

Colton Sandage scored 28 points as Illinois State beat Eastern Michigan 87-81 on Wednesday night.

 

Sandage shot 6 for 9 (3 for 6 from 3-point range) and 13 of 14 from the free throw line for the Redbirds (4-6). Kendall Lewis scored 22 points while shooting 8 of 13 from the field and 5 for 7 from the line, and added 10 rebounds and three steals. Seneca Knight shot 5 for 9 (0 for 4 from 3-point range) and 3 of 5 from the free throw line to finish with 13 points, while adding nine rebounds and five assists.

 

Tyson Acuff finished with 14 points and four assists for the Eagles (2-8). Legend Geeter added 13 points for Eastern Michigan. Orlando Lovejoy also had 11 points and three steals.

 

Sandage scored 14 points in the first half for Illinois State, who led 41-35 at the break. Lewis led Illinois State with 14 points in the second half.

 

The Redbirds host Eastern Michigan Saturday afternoon. 

Bulls Get By Wizards

DeMar DeRozan scored 15 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, Nikola Vucevic had 25 points and 11 rebounds, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Washington Wizards 115-111 on Wednesday night.

 

The Wizards lost their fourth in a row and played without leading scorer and three-time All-Star Bradley Beal. He strained his hamstring Sunday in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers and will be re-evaluated next week.

 

Zach LaVine added 25 points as Chicago bounced back after a 2-4 road trip.

 

Vucevic's basket gave the Bulls a 106-105 lead with 2:50 left, and he then blocked a shot that led to a jumper by DeRozan. After Kristaps Porzingis missed a 3-pointer, DeRozan had a three-point play to put Chicago ahead 111-105 with 1:43 left.

 

DeRozan was held to six points in the first half.

 

Porzingis scored 28 points with nine rebounds and Kyle Kuzma added 21 points for Washington.

 

Corey Kispert started in Beal's place and scored 10 points.

 

Bulls G Javonte Green missed his second game with a knee contusion. Alex Caruso started after being listed as questionable with an ankle sprain.

 

The Bulls host Dallas on Saturday night.

Cardinals Sign C Contreras

Willson Contreras is going to St. Louis to replace Yadier Molina at catcher, agreeing to an $87.5 million, five-year contract with the Cardinals on Wednesday.

 

The addition of Contreras fills a major void for St. Louis, which won the NL Central this season with a 93-69 record. Molina retired after spending his entire 19-year career with the Cardinals, making 10 All-Star teams and winning nine Gold Gloves.

 

Contreras was one of the Chicago Cubs’ last holdovers from their 2016 World Series championship. He made his big league debut that year and helped the franchise to its first title since 1908.

 

The fiery, strong-armed catcher hit .243 with 22 homers and 55 RBIs in 113 games in his last season with his first major league team. He was on the market this summer — leading to an emotional day at Wrigley Field for what looked like his final home game with Chicago — but he remained with the team after the trade deadline.

 

The 30-year-old Contreras received a $19.65 million qualifying offer from Chicago, but he turned down the proposal.

 

Contreras was the best option in a thin market for free agent catchers that also included Christian Vázquez and Gary Sánchez.

 

Contreras also has played first base, third base and the corner outfield spots in the majors. The three-time All-Star made 39 starts at designated hitter this year.

 

The Venezuela native is a .256 hitter with 117 homers and 365 RBIs in 734 career games over seven seasons. He hit a career-best 24 homers in 2019 and drove in a career-high 74 runs in 2017.

Cubs Sign RHP Taillon to 4-Year Contract

The Chicago Cubs have added Jameson Taillon to their rotation, agreeing to a four-year contract with the right-hander that is worth roughly $68 million.

 

The 31-year-old Taillon is coming off a solid season with the New York Yankees, going 14-5 with a 3.91 ERA. He matched his career high with 32 starts and worked 177 1/3 innings, his best total since he logged 191 innings in 2018.

 

The move puts Taillon back in the NL Central after he began his career with Pittsburgh. Taillon made his major league debut in 2016 and went 29-24 with a 3.67 ERA in 82 starts in his first four seasons with the Pirates.

 

Taillon missed the 2020 season after he had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow for a second time. He was traded to the Yankees in January 2021 for four prospects.

 

Taillon, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 amateur draft, moves into a rotation that also includes Marcus Stroman, who finalized a $71 million, three-year contract last December. Kyle Hendricks is hoping to return to form after he missed the last part of the season with shoulder trouble.

 

Chicago went 74-88 this year and finished third in the NL Central. But it went 40-31 in its last 71 games. The rotation had a 2.89 ERA after the All-Star break, third in the majors behind the Astros (2.70) and Dodgers (2.73).

 

The Cubs also got Cody Bellinger on Tuesday, agreeing to a $17.5 million, one-year contract with the 2019 NL MVP. Bellinger figures to play center field, but he also could get some work at first base.

 

The team could add another starting pitcher, and it is monitoring the shortstop market.

Cubs Radio Voices Hughes Wins Frick Award

Pat Hughes, the longtime radio voice of the Chicago Cubs, won the Hall of Fame’s 2023 Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in baseball broadcasting on Wednesday.

 

The 67-year-old Hughes is the third Cubs broadcaster to receive the award, joining Jack Brickhouse in 1983 and Harry Caray in 1989. He has been the team’s radio announcer for 27 seasons after spending 1983 with Minnesota and 1984-95 with Milwaukee.

 

Hughes has called Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout game in 1998, eight Cubs no-hitters and nine postseason appearances. He was at the mic in 2016 when Chicago won its first pennant since 1945 and captured its first World Series championship since 1908.

 

Hughes will be honored July 22 as part of the Hall of Fame induction weekend. He was one of 10 finalists for the award along with Boston’s Joe Castiglione, the Mets’ Gary Cohen and former major leaguers Dave Campbell, Steve Stone, Duane Kuiper and Ernie Johnson Sr. Longtime Montreal Expos announcer Jacques Doucet, Cleveland’s Tom Hamilton and former Toronto Blue Jays voice Jerry Howarth also were finalists.

Williamsville Stymies Monticello

A slow second quarter allowed Williamsville to take the game over and get by Monticello 50-38 in non-conference high school boy's basketball action from Williamsville Tuesday night.

 

The Sages offense has struggled more than it'd like in the early season. The Sages were held to just one field goal in the second quarter Tuesday night, outscored 13-2. 

 

That negated an excellent start where Monticello led the Bullets 14-10 through the first period. 

 

Monticello was shut out in the final frame of its season-opening loss to Pleasant Plains and scored just two points in the opening quarter of its next game against Riverton. The Sages were able to overcome that slow start to beat the Hawks.

 

Starting the second quarter, the Bullets kicked the defensive intensity into another gear as the Sages not only struggled to take shots, but make passes. 

 

Monticello turned the ball over 19 times in total and shot just 32 percent from the floor. 

 

Drew Sheppard led the way for Monticello with a game-high 16 points and 11 rebounds. He earned his second consecutive Serv Pro of Piatt/DeWitt County Player of the Game honor. 

 

Trey Welter made four three points in the first quarter to finish with 12 points. 

 

Blake Shoufler led Williamsville with 12 points, six assists and four rebounds. 6-foot-9 senior Jacob Finley had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Bullets. Colven Fleck had nine points and grabbed eight rebounds. 

 

The Bullets move to 3-0.

 

Monticello falls to 2-2. They will travel to Mt. Zion Friday night for a non-conference road tilt. Hear the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.

Balanced Scoring Leads Maroa-Forsyth Over Meridan in Macon County Tournament Opener

Four players scored in double figures as Maroa-Forsyth opened the Macon County tournament with at 61-50 victory over Meridian from Warrensburg-Latham High School Tuesday night in high school boy's basketball action.

 

Mitch Williams led the attack with 16 points. Breyton Mitchell added 11 points while Kaiden Maurer and Grant Smith added 10 points apiece. 

 

Zayn Giles scored eight for the Trojans.

 

Britt Brown scored 16 points for the Hawks and Ray Rahlston scored 11.

 

The Trojans resume tourney action Thursday night.

Big Second Quarter Sends Blue Ridge Past Urbana Uni

The Blue Ridge Knights rebounded from a slow start to get by Urbana University High School 70-67 in non-conference high school boys' basketball action from Blue Ridge High School Tuesday night.

 

The Knights trailed after the first quarter 16-8 but rallied to outscore Urbana 23-13 and open a 31-29 lead at the intermission.

 

The game remained close the entire way but the Knights were able to hold on led by Colin Michales 21 points.

 

Zach Lewis added 19 for Blue Ridge.

 

With the win, the Knights go to 2-4 overall. They travel to Fisher Friday night for a non-conference road game.

No. 16 Illinois Rallies Late to Stun No. 2 Texas

Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 12 of his 16 points in overtime, including the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:34 remaining, and No. 17 Illinois rallied to hand second-ranked Texas its first loss of the season, 85-78 on Tuesday night in the Jimmy V Classic.

 

Jayden Epps added 11 points, including the final five points of regulation — a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left and two tying free throws with 8 seconds remaining. Epps then blocked Marcus Carr’s jumper in the lane just before the buzzer to force overtime in an entertaining showdown at Madison Square Garden.

 

Matthew Mayer, who faced Texas several times at Baylor, tied a career high with 21 points as he made his first seven shots and finished 8 of 10.

 

Shannon, who missed eight of nine shots in regulation, took over in the extra period to help Illinois (7-2) beat a ranked foe for the second time this season. He opened overtime with a jumper after Carr was called for traveling and then hit an open 3 from the right wing over Brock Cunningham for a 73-70 lead.

 

Shannon converted a reverse layup and finished a three-point play to make it 77-70 with 2:16 left. Carr hit two free throws to get Texas within one with 1:28 remaining.

 

Jayden Epps made a layup, RJ Melendez sank two free throws to put Illinois ahead by five, and Shannon made two free throws with 27.7 seconds left.

 

Timmy Allen scored a season-high 21 points for Texas (6-1), which failed to open 7-0 for the first time since 2014-15. Tyrese Hunter added 10 points but Carr was held to nine points on 3-of-14 shooting as Texas had 12 shots blocked and shot 42%.

 

Illinois hosts Penn State in its second Big Ten game on Saturday.

Bradley Rallies Past Southern Illinois-Edwardsville

Rienk Mast scored 12 points as Bradley beat SIU-Edwardsville 56-54 on Tuesday night.

 

Shamar Wright's layup pulled the Cougars to 55-54 with seven seconds left. Connor Hickman made a free throw with a second left to seal it.

 

Mast also added eight rebounds for the Braves (7-3). Hickman added 12 points while shooting 4 for 11 (2 for 4 from 3-point range) and 2 of 4 from the free throw line, and they also had five rebounds. Darius Hannah finished 6 of 8 from the floor to finish with 12 points.

 

The Cougars (7-3) were led by Wright, who posted 11 points and three steals. Jalen Hodge added 11 points for SIU-Edwardsville. In addition, Lamar Wright had nine points and two blocks. The loss ended a six-game winning streak for the Cougars.

 

Hannah scored six points in the first half and Bradley went into the break trailing 33-25. Mast led Bradley with seven points in the second half as his team outscored SIU-Edwardsville by 10 points over the final half.

 

Bradley visits No. 9 Arkansas Saturday afternoon.

Cubs Sign OF Bellinger to One-Year Contract

Former National League MVP Cody Bellinger and the Chicago Cubs have agreed to a $17.5 million, one-year contract.

 

Bellinger, the 2019 NL MVP, was cut by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Nov. 18 after the 27-year-old outfielder hit .210 with 19 homers, 150 strikeouts and a .654 OPS in 144 games.

 

Bellinger figures to play center for the Cubs. He had a $17 million contract this season and likely would have received a slight raise in arbitration.

 

Bellinger was limited to 95 games during the 2021 regular season when he was on the injured list three times and batted .165. He hit .353 in 12 games in that postseason and had the go-ahead RBI single in Game 5 of the NL Division Series against the rival San Francisco Giants. Bellinger also had a tying, three-run homer against Atlanta in Game 3 of the NL Championship Series.

 

In 2020, Bellinger hit .239 with 12 home runs in 56 games during the pandemic-shortened season. He homered three times in the NLCS, and the Dodgers beat the Braves to reach the World Series. They went on to defeat Tampa Bay in six games to win the franchise’s first title since 1988.

 

Bellinger has battled injuries since his MVP season, including having surgery on his right shoulder in November 2020.

 

Before his precipitous drop-off, Bellinger was the 2017 NL Rookie of the Year and 2018 NLCS MVP. He made two All-Star teams, and won a Gold Glove in 2019.

HS GBB: Clinton Rolls Peoria Heights

Three Clinton Lady Maroons scored in double figures as Clinton rolled past Peoria Heights 58-36 in non-conference high school girl's basketball action Monday night from Clinton High School.

 

Clara Dempsey paced Clinton with 15 points. Avery Smith and Regan Filkin each had 11 points. MaKayla Koeppel added nine points.

 

The Lady Maroons turned an 8-7 first quarter lead into a 24-15 lead at the break and stretched it to 42-21 after three quarters.

 

Tania Cox had a game-high 18 points for the Lady Patriots.

 

Peoria Heights drops to 3-5 overall.

 

The victory Monday was the third straight for Clinton who moves to 4-4 overall. The Lady Maroons travel to Shelbyville Thursday night for a Central Illinois Conference showdown.

Rangers Rally Past Blues

K'Andre Miller, Alexis Lafreniere and Chris Kreider scored in the third period as the New York Rangers rallied to beat the St. Louis Blues 6-4 on Monday night.

 

Vincent Trochek had a goal and an assist, and Braden Schneider and Adam Fox also scored for the Rangers, who won for the second time in seven games (2-4-1) and snapped a four-game skid (0-3-1) at home. Artemi Panarin had two assists, Lafreniere added one, and Igor Shesterkin made 25 saves.

 

Jordan Kyrou had a goal and an assist, and Pavel Buchnevich, Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O'Reilly also scored for the Blues, who have lost six of seven since a seven-game winning streak. Jordan Binnington had 18 saves.

 

St. Louis led 4-3 entering the third period before Miller tied it with his first goal of the season at 4:48.

 

Lafreniere's go-ahead goal came at 8:16 as he tipped a long shot by Zibanejad past Binnington for his fourth.

 

After Trocheck took a hooking penalty with 6:21 remaining, Kreider scored on a short-handed breakaway 25 seconds later. Kreider's 13th goal of the season sparked a loud celebration of relief from the crowd at Madison Square Garden, where the Rangers had squandered leads in three of the four defeats.

 

The Blues had won all seven games this season when leading after two periods.

 

The Rangers opened the scoring when Schneider fired a puck past Binnington with 2:46 left in the first period. It was his third.

 

The Blues tied it 50 seconds later as former Ranger Buchnevich fired a shot that bounced off Fox's skate and in for his ninth. It was the second game back at the Garden for Buchnevich who was traded to St. Louis in July 2021 after parts of five seasons with the Rangers.

 

Buchnevich has 14 points in his last 10 games (eight goals and six assists) while the player the Rangers got in exchange - Sammy Blais - has yet to score a goal in 38 games for New York.

 

The Rangers went ahead 2-1 with 28 seconds remaining in the first on a power-play goal by Fox, his seventh of the season.

 

Tarasenko then tied it again for the Blues just 12 seconds into the second. It was his seventh.

 

Trocheck then put the Rangers ahead 3-2 at 1:07 with his ninth goal.

 

Kyrou scored on a power play to tie it at 11:04 with his team-best 10th, and O'Reilly gave St. Louis its first lead of the night with his eighth 91 seconds later. Kyrou had an assist on O'Reilly's goal, giving him 18 points in his last 15 games.

 

The Blues are at the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.

Illinois to ReliaQuest Bowl in Tampa

The Illinois football team has accepted an invitation to play in the 2023 ReliaQuest Bowl in Tampa, Florida, it was announced Sunday. Illinois will play Mississippi State at Raymond James Stadium on Monday, Jan. 2 at 11 a.m. CT on ESPN2.  

 

The Illini qualified for the 20th bowl game in Illinois history and the program's top bowl game since the 2007 team played in the 2008 Rose Bowl Game. It will be a homecoming for 18 Illini that hail from Florida, including seven starters on Illinois' nationally ranked defense.

 

Illinois has had one of its most successful seasons in decades, going 8-4 overall and 5-4 in the Big Ten behind the nation's second-leading rusher, Chase Brown, and one of the top five defenses in the country. The Illini were ranked in the AP Top 25 for five straight weeks and Illinois was ranked in the College Football Playoff rankings for the first time in school history. 

 

Illinois ranked in the top 10 in the nation in 17 major defensive categories during the regular season, including leading the nation in interceptions (22), ranking second in scoring defense (12.3), and third in total defense (263.8). A pair of Illini are national awards finalists for the first time since 1995: RB Chase Brown (Doak Walker Award) and CB Devon Witherspoon (Paycom Jim Thorpe Award).

 

Illinois will make its second ever appearance in the ReliaQuest Bowl, which was formerly known as the Hall of Fame Bowl (1986–1995) and Outback Bowl (1996–2022). The Illini fell to Clemson in the 1991 Hall of Fame Bowl to finish the 1990 season.

Packers Pull Away From Bears

Aaron Rodgers led three fourth-quarter scoring drives, receiver Christian Watson took an end-around 46 yards for a touchdown in the closing minutes after Jaire Alexander intercepted Justin Fields, and Green Bay rallied to beat Chicago 28-19 on Sunday.

 

The Packers (5-8) looked like they were on their way to another loss after dropping seven of eight. They trailed by 13 in the second quarter and were down 19-10 through three before before outscoring Chicago 18-0 in the fourth on the way to their eighth straight win over their rival. The Bears (3-10) lost their sixth game in a row.

 

AJ Dillon ran for a 21-yard touchdown in the opening minute of the fourth. Mason Crosby kicked a 32-yard field goal to give Green Bay a 20-19 lead with just under five minutes left after Chicago's Cairo Santos had a 40-yard attempt blocked.

 

The Bears drove to the Packers 43 before Alexander stepped in front of a pass intended for Equanimeous St. Brown. Three plays later, Watson sprinted untouched to the end zone, leaping across the goal line with his arms spread. The Packers opted to go for 2, and Rodgers completed a pass to Mercedes Lewis, making it 28-19 with 1:51 remaining.

 

Fields was then intercepted at the Green Bay 5 by Keisean Nixon.

 

The Bears were left frustrated and vowing to do better after failing to convert late in a game yet again. Chicago has six losses by one score, and this was almost the seventh.

 

Rodgers, who exited last week's loss to Philadelphia with a rib injury and has been dealing with a broken right thumb since early October, improved to 25-5 against Chicago including the playoffs. The four-time MVP completed 18 of 31 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown.

 

Watson had 48 yards receiving and a touchdown reception - the rookie's seventh in the past four games - to go with that huge run. Dillon ran for 93 yards, and the Packers moved ahead of Chicago for the NFL lead in regular-season wins with 787.

 

Fields, who missed last Sunday's game with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder, ran for a 55-yard touchdown in the first quarter and finished with 71 yards on six attempts. That gave him six straight games rushing for at least 50 yards and one TD, the longest such streak by a Bear since Gale Sayers had six in a row in 1969.

 

Fields also threw a 56-yard pass to St. Brown that set up a 7-yard TD run by David Montgomery that made it 16-3 in the second quarter. Fields were

20 of 25 for 254 yards but threw two interceptions.

 

St. Brown caught three passes for 85 yards, and Cole Kmet added 72 yards receiving.

 

The Bears and Packers are on bye next week.

Big Second Half Sends Illinois State Past Belmont

Liam McChesney scored 25 points as Illinois State beat Belmont 87-77 on Sunday.

 

McChesney had eight rebounds for the Redbirds (3-6). Seneca Knight scored 17 points and added five rebounds. Luke Kasubke shot 4 for 8 (4 for 7 from 3-point range) and 1 of 4 from the free throw line to finish with 13 points. The Redbirds ended a five-game skid with the win.

 

Ben Sheppard led the way for the Bruins (5-4) with 23 points and two steals. Belmont also got 13 points and three steals from Ja'Kobi Gillespie. In addition, Drew Friberg had 10 points.

 

The Redbirds host Eastern Michigan Wednesday night.

Kings Down Bulls

Malik Monk scored 20 points off the bench and the Sacramento Kings overcame Zach LaVine's 41 points to beat the Chicago Bulls 110-101 on Sunday.

 

Domantas Sabonis had 11 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists for the Kings. Sabonis recorded the first Kings triple-double since the 2018-19 season.

 

Zach LaVine scored 15 points in the third quarter to cut into the Kings' 18-point lead. The Bulls cut it to two points in the fourth quarter.

 

Harrison Barnes had 17 points, Kevin Huerter added 12 and rookie Keegan Murray finished with 11. All five Kings starters scored in double figures.

 

Nikola Vucevic had 12 points and Patrick Williams finished with 10 for Chicago. Williams started in place of Javonte Green, who didn't play because of right knee soreness.

 

The Bulls have lost 10 of 14 games.

 

DeRozan was given a Flagrant-1 foul in the third quarter and LaVine also received a technical foul with 2:32 left.

 

The Bulls host Washington on Wednesday.

Islanders Blank Blackhawks

Matt Martin, Zach Parise and Brock Nelson scored second-period goals and Semyon Varlamov made 21 saves as the New York Islanders downed the Chicago Blackhawks 3-0 on Sunday night.

 

The Islanders fired 40 shots at Blackhawks netminder Arvid Soderblom in snapping a two-game losing streak and improving to 9-4-0 at home.

 

The Blackhawks had ended an eight-game losing streak on Friday, winning 5-2 over the Rangers. But Chicago generated minimal offensive chances against the Islanders and Varlamov, who recorded his first shutout of the season and the 37th of his career.

 

The Blackhawks visit New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.

Monticello defeats Marshall in a commanding win

As heard on WEZC, The Monticello Sages defeated Marshall by a score of 75-49 Saturday night. The sages were led by the Surfpro player of the game Drew Sheppard who had 14 points, Tyler Blythe who also had 14 points, and Trey Welter who had 11 points.

 

With the win, the Sages improve to 2-1 on the season 

 

Tune in Tuesday night as the Sages take on Williamsville. You can hear the game live on 95.9 FM WEZC  and online at dewittdailynews.com

No. 22 Maryland tops No. 16 Illinois 71-66 to stay unbeaten

Kevin Willard has already brought the buzz back at Maryland.

Jahmir Young scored 24 points, including a crucial 3-pointer with 14.3 seconds remaining that helped the No. 22 Terrapins stay undefeated with a 71-66 victory over No. 16 Illinois on Friday night.

As impressive as the win was, the atmosphere may have been even more significant. Former Maryland coach Gary Williams and tennis star Francis Tiafoe were part of a raucous crowd that seemed thrilled about Willard’s work in his first season as coach.

“I want to get this program back to a championship level,” Willard said. “To get it back to a championship level, you need a building like that.”

The announced attendance was 16,380. For Maryland’s previous home game against Coppin State, it was under 11,000.

“This is what it should be about in the Big Ten,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. “You got nine more of those. I’m a Kevin fan, he does a great job, and I hope they do it up for the other nine games they’ve got in league play.”

The Terrapins (8-0, 1-0 Big Ten) led 67-66 and had the ball, with about a 12-second difference between the shot clock and the game clock. That’s when Young connected from near the top of the key to push the lead to four.

 

“I know if we hit a 3 it would be a two-possession game,” Young said. “I practice that shot, coach believes in me so, just knock it down.”

Coleman Hawkins missed a 3 at the other end for Illinois (6-2, 0-1), and the Terps closed out the game from there.

Willard became the first coach in Big Ten history to win each of the first seven games of his tenure by at least 15 points. Victory No. 8 wasn’t nearly that easy, but the Terps never trailed in the second half, even after a spirited Illinois comeback.

The Illini went on a 9-0 run after Maryland led 55-45, and the game was tied a couple times down the stretch, but the Terps came away with the win.

Willard was already the first coach in program history to have Maryland nationally ranked in his first season. This game was the start of a tougher stretch in the schedule. The Terps will face Wisconsin, Tennessee and UCLA in the next couple weeks.

Terrence Shannon Jr. led Illinois with 19 points.

BIG PICTURE

Illinois: The defending Big Ten champ played tough on the road, but the Illini couldn’t snap their losing streak at Maryland, which is now at five games. Xfinity Center is the only Big Ten venue where Illinois hasn’t won during Underwood’s tenure.

In 2019 at Maryland, Anthony Cowan Jr. made the winning free throw for the Terps with 2.1 seconds remaining after being fouled in a scrum some 75 feet from the basket.

That game evidently stuck with Underwood.

“You don’t want to make me go into the one three years ago,” Underwood said. “There’s a long story about that one now.”

Maryland: The Terps have looked like one of the Big Ten’s better teams to start the season, but this was their first major test. They passed.

OUT IN FRONT

Maryland hasn’t trailed by more than three points at any point this season, and that was also Illinois’ biggest lead Friday. The Illini led for 4:44 in the game. Through their first seven games, the Terps had trailed for a total of only 3:23

 

Maryland forward Donta Scott (24) handles the ball against Illinois guard RJ Melendez during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Terrance Williams)

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Kevin Willard has already brought the buzz back at Maryland.

Jahmir Young scored 24 points, including a crucial 3-pointer with 14.3 seconds remaining that helped the No. 22 Terrapins stay undefeated with a 71-66 victory over No. 16 Illinois on Friday night.

As impressive as the win was, the atmosphere may have been even more significant. Former Maryland coach Gary Williams and tennis star Francis Tiafoe were part of a raucous crowd that seemed thrilled about Willard’s work in his first season as coach.

“I want to get this program back to a championship level,” Willard said. “To get it back to a championship level, you need a building like that.”

The announced attendance was 16,380. For Maryland’s previous home game against Coppin State, it was under 11,000.

“This is what it should be about in the Big Ten,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. “You got nine more of those. I’m a Kevin fan, he does a great job, and I hope they do it up for the other nine games they’ve got in league play.”

 

The Terrapins (8-0, 1-0 Big Ten) led 67-66 and had the ball, with about a 12-second difference between the shot clock and the game clock. That’s when Young connected from near the top of the key to push the lead to four.

“I know if we hit a 3 it would be a two-possession game,” Young said. “I practice that shot, coach believes in me so, just knock it down.”

Coleman Hawkins missed a 3 at the other end for Illinois (6-2, 0-1), and the Terps closed out the game from there.

Willard became the first coach in Big Ten history to win each of the first seven games of his tenure by at least 15 points. Victory No. 8 wasn’t nearly that easy, but the Terps never trailed in the second half, even after a spirited Illinois comeback.

The Illini went on a 9-0 run after Maryland led 55-45, and the game was tied a couple times down the stretch, but the Terps came away with the win.

Willard was already the first coach in program history to have Maryland nationally ranked in his first season. This game was the start of a tougher stretch in the schedule. The Terps will face Wisconsin, Tennessee and UCLA in the next couple weeks.

Terrence Shannon Jr. led Illinois with 19 points.

BIG PICTURE

Illinois: The defending Big Ten champ played tough on the road, but the Illini couldn’t snap their losing streak at Maryland, which is now at five games. Xfinity Center is the only Big Ten venue where Illinois hasn’t won during Underwood’s tenure.

In 2019 at Maryland, Anthony Cowan Jr. made the winning free throw for the Terps with 2.1 seconds remaining after being fouled in a scrum some 75 feet from the basket.

That game evidently stuck with Underwood.

“You don’t want to make me go into the one three years ago,” Underwood said. “There’s a long story about that one now.”

Maryland: The Terps have looked like one of the Big Ten’s better teams to start the season, but this was their first major test. They passed.

OUT IN FRONT

Maryland hasn’t trailed by more than three points at any point this season, and that was also Illinois’ biggest lead Friday. The Illini led for 4:44 in the game. Through their first seven games, the Terps had trailed for a total of only 3:23.

 

Illinois did outscore Maryland 32-30 in the second half, the first time all season the Terps were outscored in any half. They were one of three teams in the country, along with No. 1 Houston and No. 8 Connecticut, who had won every half they’d played.

UP NEXT

Illinois: The Illini face another tough matchup away from home when they meet No. 2 Texas in New York on Tuesday night.

Maryland: The Terps play at Wisconsin on Tuesday night.

 

HS Boy's BBall: Clinton Maroons Defeat Trojans

As heard on WHOW, the Clinton Maroons defeated the Maroa-Forsyth Trojans 62-55 in a Route 51 rivalry match. The Maroons were led by junior Dawson Graves with 19 points. ServPro Player of the Game Mason Walker had 16. Junior Brooks Cluver added 13 points and sophomore Colton Walker had 8.

 

The Trojans were led by junior Kaiden Maurer with 16 points. Junior Braxton Mitchell added 14 and senior AJ Massey had 12.

 

With the win, the Maroons improve to 5-1 overall. Trojans fall to 0-2 on the season.

 

Tune in Saturday, December 10, for a Lady Maroons and Maroons varsity doubleheader at Heyworth. Girls' game starts at 5pm with boys to follow. You can hear the game live on the BIG 1520 AM/92.3 FM/106.5 FM WHOW, online at dewittdailynews.com, on the WHOW mobile app, and on Amazon Alexa.

HS Girl's BBall: Clinton Rolls Sullivan

The Clinton Lady Maroons jumped on Sullivan early and cruised to a 49-34 Central Illinois Conference win in high school girl's basketball action Thursday from Clinton High School.

 

Freshman Avery Smith paced the Lady Maroons with 18 points. Regan Filkin chipped in with ten points. 

 

Clinton led 16-8 after the first quarter and took a 29-15 lead into the intermission.

 

Clara Dempsey and MaKayla Koeppel each added five points for Clinton.

 

The Lady Maroons are 3-4 overall and start 1-0 in the Central Illinois Confernece.

They will host Peoria Heights on Monday.

HS Girl's BBall: Mt. Pulaski Rolls Monticello

Alexis Wade scored 18 points to pace Mt. Pulaski over Monticello 48-18 Thursday night in non-conference high school girl's basketball action from Mt. Pulaski High School.

 

Wade was the lone Lady Hilltoppers scorer in double figures but led a balanced attack as Mt. Pulaski improves to 3-3. 

 

Monticello was led by Maia High's eight points.

 

Monticello drops to 4-3 overall and travels to Mt. Zion next Thursday night. 

HS Boy's BBall: Big Second Quarter Sends Donovan Past Blue Ridge

Donovan outscored Blue Ridge 26-7 in the second quarter propelling the Wildcats to an 86-45 victory in non-conference high school boy's basketball action Thursday from Donovan.

 

Ty Miller scored 30 of his game-high 37 points in the first half. Jacob Onnen added 22 points while Griffen Walters contributed ten points.

 

Wyatt Pearl scored 14 points to pace the Knights. 

 

Blue Ridge drops to 2-4 overall. They'll host Urbana Uni Tuesday night.

Illinois Football Learns Bowl Game Destination This Sunday

The Illinois Fighting Illini football team will find out where they are headed for it's first bowl game since the 2019 Red Box Bowl on Sunday.

 

The 8-4 Illini struggled down the stretch but eight wins have put Illinois on the map as a legitimate Big Ten football program under second-year coach Bret Bielema. Illini HQ beat writer Bob Asmussen says Illinois should find themselves in a terrific bowl game, perhaps a Jan. 1 or Jan. 2 game.

 

 

The Illini success this season is due in large part to superstar talents like second-team all Big Ten RB Chase Brown and Big Ten defensive back of the year Devon Witherspoon. Asmussen anticipates with those two guys having a lot on the line for draft stock, they will likely sit out the bowl game.

 

 

Coach Bielema and his family have been dealing with a difficult second half of the season as he lost his mother and father-in-law just a week apart late in November. 

Murray State Topples Illinois State

Rob Perry scored 20 points, including five in the overtime, as Murray State took down Illinois State 70-67 on Thursday night.

 

Perry was 6 of 13 shooting, including 4 for 8 from distance, and went 4 for 4 from the line for the Racers (4-3). Jamari Smith scored 16 points, shooting 6 of 11 from the field and 3 for 6 from the line. Jacobi Wood shot 5 for 13, including 1 for 6 from beyond the arc to finish with 12 points.

 

Seneca Knight led the way for the Redbirds (2-6) with 20 points, 12 rebounds and two steals. Kendall Lewis added 13 points, six rebounds and two steals for Illinois State. Malachi Poindexter also put up 13 points and four assists.

 

Smith put up nine points in the first half for Murray State, which led 35-27 at the break. Murray State was outscored by eight points in the second half and the teams finished regulation tied 62-62. Perry went 1 of 3 from the field on the way to his five points in the overtime.

 

The Redbirds take on Belmont on Sunday.

Bears, Packers Battle Sunday

Aaron Rodgers has a knack for sticking it to the Bears. And he has done it more than a few times at Soldier Field. He will get a chance to show again that he still owns Chicago when the Green Bay Packers visit the Bears on Sunday.

 

There was a win in the 2011 NFC championship game en route to the Super Bowl 45 championship and that meeting in 2016 when the Bears rallied from 17 down in the fourth quarter to tie it. The Packers came out on top 30-27 when Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson with a 60-yard pass to set up Mason Crosby's field goal as time expired.

 

As for where last year ranks on his list of big moments at Soldier Field? Rodgers puts it nowhere near the top.

 

Rodgers has owned the Bears throughout his career, with a 24-5 record against them, counting the playoffs. The NFL's oldest rivalry has been a one-sided affair in recent years with Green Bay winning seven straight.

 

The Packers (4-8) are banking on that to continue with their playoff hopes hanging by a thread. They've dropped seven of eight after losing 40-33 to NFC East-leading Philadelphia last week.

 

Rodgers exited that game with a rib injury. He also has been playing with a broken right thumb he suffered on the final play of a 27-22 loss to the New York Giants in London on Oct. 9.

 

The Bears (3-9), meanwhile, have lost five in a row. Quarterback Justin Fields missed last week's game at the New York Jets because of a separated left shoulder. Backup Trevor Siemian played through an oblique injury, and Chicago was staring at the possibility of starting third-stringer Nathan Peterman.

 

The Packers allowed 363 yards rushing last week, the most they'd given up in a single game since 1977. Jalen Hurts rushed for 157 yards, the highest single-game total ever by an Eagles quarterback.

Now, the Packers' 31st-ranked run defense must deal with a Bears offense featuring the mobile Fields, if he's healthy enough to play.

 

Even if he can't go, the Bears' rushing attack still could bother Green Bay. Chicago's David Montgomery rushed for a season-high 122 yards on 15 carries in the Bears' 27-10 loss at Green Bay in Week 2.

 

Packers receiver Christian Watkins has caught six touchdown passes in his last three games. The second-round pick out of North Dakota State is the first Packers rookie to have a touchdown catch in three straight games since Billy Howton in 1952.

 

It's a remarkable surge for Watkins, considering his only touchdown before this three-game stretch came on a 15-yard run in a 27-24 overtime victory over the New England Patriots on Oct. 2.

 

Chicago has been hit hard by injuries to the secondary, and a failure to generate pressure has left the team tied with Las Vegas for a league low with 16 sacks. The Jets' Mike White threw for 315 yards, the most by one quarterback against the Bears this season.

Hurricanes Blast Blues

Jordan Martinook had a hat trick to help the Carolina Hurricanes beat the St. Louis Blues 6-4 on Thursday night.

 

After a turnover, Martinook scored the winning goal with 4:35 left, beating goalie Jordan Binnington on a wrist shot. Martinook also scored in the second period and completed the hat trick with nine seconds left for his second career hat trick.

 

Brent Burns, Seth Jarvis and Jordan Staal also scored.

 

The Hurricanes scored three goals in 1:04 in the second period to take a 3-2 lead.

 

Antti Raanta made 12 saves on 15 shots. Pyotr Kochetkov came in the game with four seconds left in the second period. He made 10 saves on 11 shots.

 

Pavel Buchnevich, Noel Acciari, Torey Krug and Ryan O'Reilly scored for St. Louis. Binnington made 30 saves, missing a chance for his 100th victory.

 

The Blues have lost four of their last five and have been outscored 21-9 in the last four.

 

The Blues are at Pittsburgh on Saturday night.

Illini RB Brown Named Big Ten Second Team All-Conference

Illinois had eight offensive players earn All-Big Ten accolades, the conference office announced Wednesday. 

 

RB Chase Brown was a second-team all-conference selection. He was the nation's second-leading rusher with 1,643 yards and led the Power-5 in rushing from start to finish during the 2022 regular season. A Doak Walker Award finalist, Brown is third in the nation in all-purpose yards (1,883), second in the nation in rushes of 10+ yards (48), and is tied for the national lead in 100-yard games (10). 

 

Brown rushed for at least 98 yards in 11 of Illinois' 12 games and has scored 13 total touchdowns (10 rushing, three receiving).

 

C Alex Pihlstrom, and OT Alex Palczewski each earned second team honors, while OG Isaiah Adams landed on the third team. 

 

Illinois had 19 players earn All-Big Ten honors in 2022, the most in program history, and 31 honorees in the last two seasons with Bret Bielema as head coach, the Illini's most ever in a two-year span. 

 

Illinois' seven honorees on the All-Big Ten first and second teams are the Illini's most since the 2001 Big Ten championship team had 10.

 

The Illini now await their bowl destination, which will be announced on Sunday afternoon. 

Big Second Half Sends Bradley Past Northern Iowa

Duke Deen had 18 points in Bradley's 68-53 win against Northern Iowa on Wednesday night.

 

Deen shot 7 for 14, including 4 for 9 from beyond the arc for the Braves (5-3). Rienk Mast scored 13 points while going 6 of 8 from the field, and added 11 rebounds.

Connor Hickman was 4 of 10 shooting, including 3 for 6 from distance, and went 2 for 5 from the line to finish with 13 points, while adding six rebounds.

 

Bowen Born led the Panthers (2-4) in scoring, finishing with 22 points. Tytan Anderson added eight points, eight rebounds and three steals for Northern Iowa. In addition, Trey Campbell had eight points and two steals.

 

The Braves travel to Missouri State Saturday night.

Oilers Get By Blackhawks

Leon Draisaitl had two goals and an assist, helping the Edmonton Oilers top the slumping Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 on Wednesday night for their third straight win.

 

Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Mattias Janmark each had a goal and an assist as Edmonton improved to 2-0 in Chicago this season. Brett Kulak had two assists, and Stuart Skinner made 21 saves.

 

The Blackhawks lost their eighth consecutive game and dropped to 2-10-4 in their last 16 overall. Max Domi had two goals, and MacKenzie Entwistle and Boris Katchouk also scored.

 

McDavid got Edmonton some breathing room when he skated past Chicago defenseman Jack Johnson at the blue line and beat Arvid Soderblom on the goaltender's stick side, making it 3-1 with his team-best 18th goal 1:18 into the third period.

 

After Janmark finished a 2-on-1 with Nugent-Hopkins midway through the third, Domi and Entwistle scored 19 seconds apart to get Chicago (6-12-4) back in the game.

 

But Edmonton's two biggest stars went right back to work. McDavid set up Draisaitl's 15th goal on a one-timer with 4:39 left.

 

Chicago made one last push, closing to 5-4 on Domi's second power-play goal with 1:11 left. But the Blackhawks couldn't come up with the tying score in the final moments.

 

Skating in his 500th NHL game, Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse found Draisaitl at the side of the net for an easy tap-in goal 54 seconds into the period.

 

A streaking Nugent-Hopkins made it 2-0 at 9:48 with his 10th goal, converting a nice feed by Puljujarvi from behind the net.

 

Edmonton also had a goal overturned in the first because of goaltender interference on Zach Hyman, who scored after he pushed Chicago defenseman Seth Jones into Soderblom. Hyman sent a shot off the inside of the post in the opening period.

 

Chicago got one back when Johnson's long shot went off Katchouk and into the net 14:33 into the second. It was Katchouk's first point in his 12th game of the season.

 

The Blackhawks are at the New York Rangers on Saturday night.

Booker's Big Night Leads Suns Past Bulls

Devin Booker scored a season-high 51 points in just three quarters, Deandre Ayton had 30 points and 14 rebounds and Phoenix stretched its winning streak to six games with a 132-113 victory Wednesday night.

 

Booker scored 25 points in the first half and had 26 more in a sublime third quarter that included 10 of 11 shooting. 

 

The three-time All-Star had a steal late in the third before sprinting downcourt and flushing home a dunk for his 50th and 51st points. He added six assists and four rebounds.

 

Booker didn't play in the fourth quarter with the Suns holding a healthy lead.

 

Even more remarkable than Booker's point total was his efficiency. He shot 20 of 25 from the field, going 6 of 7 from 3-point range. He is the second player over the last 25 years with 50 points and 80% shooting through the first three quarters of a game, joining James Harden in 2017, according to ESPN Stats and Info.

 

It was Booker's second straight 40-point game. He had 44 in a victory at Sacramento on Monday night. The Suns have the best record in the Western Conference at 15-6 and have won 12 out of 13 home games.

 

The Bulls struggled on defense the entire night, particularly against Booker and Ayton. Chicago coach Billy Donovan was particularly irritated in the third quarter, angrily calling a time-out after Phoenix scored a couple of easy buckets.

 

DeMar DeRozan led Chicago with 29 points. Zach LaVine added 21.

 

The Suns took a 64-43 lead at halftime. Booker roasted the Bulls with 25 points before the break, repeatedly finding open mid-range jump shots.

 

Phoenix shot 58% in the first half. Chicago made just 1 of 14 (7.1%) of its 3-point attempts.

 

Alex Caruso scored 14 points off the bench.

 

The Bulls are at Golden State on Friday.

Packers QB Rodgers Would Keep Open Mind if Packers Asked Him to Rest

Aaron Rodgers said he’d have an open mind if the Green Bay Packers get eliminated from playoff contention and team officials approach him about resting to allow more game reps for his backup, Jordan Love.

 

He’s just hoping the Packers (4-8) make it a moot point by winning out.

 

Rodgers has played through a broken right thumb for Green Bay’s last seven games and left the Packers’ 40-33 loss at Philadelphia on Sunday with injured ribs. Rodgers, who turns 39 on Friday, has said he wants to keep playing as long as he’s able and the Packers remain in playoff contention.

 

Rodgers also says he’s healthy enough to play Sunday when the Packers visit Chicago (3-9), although he might need to wear protective gear for his ribs. The Packers have beaten the Bears seven straight times. Rodgers has completed 76.1% of his passes for 16 touchdowns with no interceptions in his last five meetings with the Bears.

 

Rodgers didn’t practice Wednesday, but that’s been his usual routine since breaking the thumb on the final play of a 27-22 loss to the New York Giants on Oct. 9.

 

The Packers still have faint postseason hopes, though they probably would have to win their last five games and get plenty of help.

 

The Packers could benefit in the long run from getting an extended look at Love, their 2020 first-round pick whose only career start came last season in a 13-7 loss at Kansas City when a positive COVID-19 test sidelined Rodgers.

 

Love filled in for the injured Rodgers at Philadelphia and delivered his best performance thus far, going 6 of 9 for 113 yards with a 63-yard touchdown pass to Christian Watson.

 

Rodgers is on pace to have his worst passer rating since 2015 after leading the NFL in that category each of the last two seasons. He has been picked off nine times, his highest interception total since 2010 and four off his career high.

Bears QB Fields Status Still in Question for Sunday

Justin Fields threw lightly on the field prior to the Chicago Bears’ game last week, hoping he would be able to play through an injury to his non-throwing shoulder after being listed as questionable on the team’s final report.

 

It didn’t work out that way.

 

Whether Fields will be ready to play when the Bears host Aaron Rodgers and the rival Green Bay Packers after sitting out last week’s 31-10 loss at the New York Jets remained in question on Wednesday.

 

Fields said his injury is improving, but it remained to be seen if he will be healthy enough to play this week.

 

The Bears (3-9) have a bye following the game against Green Bay that could give him extra time to recuperate. But he and coach Matt Eberflus insisted that won’t factor into the decision this week.

 

If Fields isn’t available, the Bears might have to go with third-string quarterback Nathan Peterman. They were about to do that last week.

 

The Bears announced Peterman would start after backup Trevor Siemian strained an oblique in warmups. Siemian gritted through the injury. The veteran did not practice Wednesday and his availability is in question.

 

The uncertainty at quarterback led to the Bears signing Tim Boyle to the active roster from Detroit’s practice squad. He has experience with offensive coordinator Luke Getsy from their time with Green Bay.

 

Against the Jets, Chicago wasn’t the same without Fields.

 

The Bears struggled to keep drives going, converting just four of 13 third downs after averaging about 30 points the previous five games. They lost their fifth in a row.

 

Fields has been on a spectacular run after a slow start with the Bears calling more designed carries. The former Ohio State star leads all quarterbacks and ranks seventh overall with 834 yards rushing. He is averaging 6.8 yards per carry — second in the NFL.

 

But while the Bears have shown they can run the ball whether Fields is playing or not, they still need to improve their struggling passing game. And they’ll have to do it without their top receiver after Darnell Mooney suffered a season-ending ankle injury last week.

 

Mooney leads Chicago with 40 receptions and 493 yards. No other wide receiver has more than 14 catches or 195 yards for Chicago this season.

 

Mooney’s absence could create more opportunities for Byron Pringle and Chase Claypool. Pringle, who caught his first touchdown of the season last week, has been limited to six games because of a calf injury in his first year in Chicago. Claypool had his best outing since a trade from Pittsburgh on Nov. 1, with catches of 31 and 20 yards.

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