Local Sports

Illinois Blows Out Minnesota

Ayo Dosunmu produced 23 points and Giorgi Bezhanishvili added 20 points as Illinois used one of its best first halves this season to defeat the Golden Gophers 95-68 and end a five-game skid.

 

The Illini (5-12, 1-5 Big Ten) piled up 51 points in the opening 20 minutes — their second-best output thus far — on the back of hot shooting and a strong glass presence.

 

The Golden Gophers (13-4, 3-3) hadn’t permitted more than 44 points in a first period when they arrived at State Farm Center. They led for just 28 seconds versus Illinois.

 

Backing the college newcomers were Trent Frazier with 15 points and Andres Feliz with 10 points as Illinois shot 56.1 percent from the field.

 

Minnesota, which lost for the second time in its last three bouts, received 17 points from Daniel Oturu and 11 points from Jordan Murphy.

 

Under second-year coach Brad Underwood, Illinois earned its first conference victory since Feb. 25, 2018, and won for the first time since Dec. 15 versus East Tennessee State.

 

Illinois faces No. 23 Iowa on Sunday.

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Drake Drops Bradley

Nick McGlynn had 19 points and 11 rebounds and Drake built a big first-half lead to beat Bradley 69-52 on Wednesday night.

 

Drake (13-5, 2-3 Missouri Valley Conference) has defeated the Braves (8-10, 0-5) in three of the last four meetings.

 

The Bulldogs closed the first half on a 26-6 run for a 33-15 advantage at the break. Brady Ellingson made three 3-pointers during the surge.

 

Tremell Murphy scored eight of his 11 points in the first half and finished with a career-high 11 rebounds. Ellingson had 15 points and D.J. Wilkins chipped in with 10.

 

Elijah Childs had 15 points and a career-best 13 rebounds to lead Bradley. The Braves shot just 19 of 61 (31 percent) from the field that included 12 missed 3-pointers while Drake was 26-of-50 shooting (52 percent).

 

Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye added 13 points and Luqman Lundy had 10 for the Braves.

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Cubs Maddon Says Harper Not Coming To Chicago

The Chicago Cubs were for years considered the favorites to sign Bryce Harper once he reached free agency. There were myriad reasons to connect the dots: Harper and Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant are longtime friends; Harper and his wife have a dog named Wrigley.

 

The Cubs are the third-most valuable franchise in baseball -- of course they'd chase after one of the most desired free agents in recent memory.

 

Recently, the Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported the Cubs were having troubles fitting a free-agent reliever like Adam Warren into their budget. Those limitations would make signing a prized free agent like Harper tough to navigate, if not downright impossible.

 

On Tuesday, Cubs manager Joe Maddon added more water to the fire by answering a fan's question about Harper at the team's annual fan convention. 

 

Maddon is expected to trot out an outfield that includes some combination of Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, Ian Happ, Albert Almora Jr., and Ben Zobrist. 

 

The Cubs' only big addition of the winter has been utilityman Daniel Descalso. While Chicago's payroll is expected to check in around $200 million, a new franchise record, it's hard to believe the Cubs are strapped for cash.

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Maroons Get Big Win Over Decatur St. T

Zeke Hickman and Matthew Overton scored 15 points apiece to lead a balanced Clinton Maroons attack Tuesday night to a 58-54 win over Decatur St. Teresa in Central Illinois Conference action from Decatur.

 

Ben Nelson added ten points as the Maroons overcame a late four-point deficit in the fourth quarter to down the Bulldogs.

 

Hickman and Overton each had three three-pointers.

 

Off of a tough week last week, Coach Clay Haurberg was pleased with his team's effort again Tuesday after a slow start.

 

"This was another hotly contested game, similar to our game with Monticello a week ago. Many lead changes and momentum swings throughout the night. Frankly, we started off terribly, spotting them 9-0 lead. After a timeout and a redirect, we stormed back into the game and were intense and determined for the rest of the night. We shot the ball very well from the 3 point arc tonight by getting the ball inside more often than our last outing. Defensive rebounding was also a plus for us, which limited their second chance points. Matthew Overton and Zeke Hickman were steady all game long, and Jake Torbert provided some great defense and energy coming off the bench. Ben Nelson had a huge fourth quarter for us blocking a couple of shots, rebounding well and hitting some big baskets and free throws. Just a great effort all the way around in an important conference game for us."

Jack Hogan led St. T with 20 points and Austin Fitzpatrick added 13 points. 

 

The Maroons improve to 7-12 overall and are 1-2 in the CIC.

 

The Bulldogs drop to 6-9 overall and are also 1-2 in the CIC.

 

The Maroons take on Sullivan at home Friday night. Hear the action on 92.3 FM, 106.5 FM WHOW and online at dewittdailynews.com.

 

Scores in the CIC Tuescday....

 

Central A&M 63

Tuscola 47

 

Warrensburg-Latham 54

Shelbyville 68

 

Macon Meridian 71

Sullivan 69

 

Scores in boys basketball action from Tuesday....

 

Trinity Catholic 70

Champaign Central 50

 

Ridgeview 53

Lexington 33

 

Okaw Valley 49

Blue Ridge 43

 

Glenwood 47

Rochester 33

 

Williamsville 50

Maroa-Forsyth 30

 

Rantoul 54

Tolono Unity 52

 

Decatur MacArthur 75

Jacksonville 54

 

El Paso-Gridley 60

Heyworth 31

 

Decatur LSA 72

Cerro Gordo/Bement 57

 

Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley 48

Cissna Park 41

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Illinois State Holds On For Win At Southern Illinois

Phil Fayne made the decisive free throw with 5.7 seconds left and Illinois State edged Southern Illinois 59-58 on Tuesday night for its 12th straight series win at home.

 

Fayne, a 67.4 percent free-throw shooter, was fouled from behind on a dunk attempt and made the second of two free throws to give Illinois State a 59-58 lead. After two timeouts, Southern Illinois got it past midcourt but Eric McGill’s errant pass went into the backcourt.

 

Zach Copeland scored 14 points and Milik Yarbrough added 11 for Illinois State (10-8, 3-2 Missouri Valley Conference), which has won four straight at home. Fayne had 13 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and three steals.

 

Armon Fletcher had 17 points and nine rebounds to lead the Salukis (9-9, 2-3), who have lost three straight. McGill chipped in with 10 points.

 

The previous two series matchups went to overtime.

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Pacers Win Tuesday; Bulls Lose

>>Pacers Rout Suns

 

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 20 points and the Pacers wasted little time cruising to a 131-97 victory.

 

The Pacers got off to a fast start thanks to Bogdanovic, who scored the Indiana's first 10 points. The Pacers doubled the Suns' total in the first quarter, leading 38-19 at the end of the period.

 

Myles Turner returned for the first time in four games to finish with 18 points and six rebounds.

 

Cory Joseph scored eight of his 10 points in the first quarter, adding to Bogdanovic's hot start. Thaddeus Young scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half and finished the game with seven rebounds. Joseph was one of three Pacers who scored in double figures off the bench. Tyreke Evans scored 20 and Domantas Sabonis finished with 14 and eight rebounds in their usual reserve roles.

 

Indiana limited Devin Booker to eight points in 26 minutes.

 

Rookie Deandre Ayton finished with 14 points and eight rebounds. T.J. Warren led Phoenix with 18 points and Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 16 points off the bench.

 

The Pacers host Philadelphia on Thursday.

 

>>Lakers Get By Bulls

 

Lonzo Ball scored 13 of his 19 points in the second half as the Lakers handed the Chicago Bulls their eighth straight loss with a 107-100 victory.

 

It was just the fourth win in 11 games for Los Angeles since LeBron James was sidelined with a groin injury.

The game was close for the first 28 minutes before Los Angeles took control. It was tied at 48 with 9:24 remaining in the third quarter when the Lakers went on a 13-7 run, which included eight straight points at the start. Tyson Chandler scored the first two points before Ball scored 11 straight, including three 3-pointers.

 

Chicago got within 72-68 on a 3-pointer by Wayne Seldon, but the Lakers pulled away again with six straight points to end the third and start the fourth.

 

Los Angeles' lead grew to 94-76 with 4:26 remaining in the game before Chicago made a late flurry to get within 103-98 in the final minute.

 

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who got just his fourth start of the season, scored 17 points while Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma scored 16 apiece.

 

The Lakers erased the bitter taste of a 101-95 loss Sunday to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who ended a 12-game skid, and gained some confidence going into a three-game stretch where they face Oklahoma City, Houston and Golden State.

 

Jabari Parker came off the bench to lead Chicago with 18 points and Lauri Markkanen added 17.

 

Both teams struggled shooting from the floor in the first quarter, but the Lakers held a 19-18 lead, marking the first time in eight games they led after the first 12 minutes.

 

Los Angeles held a 44-43 lead at halftime as the first half had 22 lead changes and five ties.

 

The Bulls conclude their five-game road trip against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.

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Islanders Get Past Blues in OT

Valtteri Filppula scored 1:37 into overtime and the Islanders beat the St. Louis Blues 2-1 Tuesday night for their 12th win in 15 games.

 

Jordan Eberle had a goal in the first period for New York, and Robin Lehner stopped 30 shots.

 

David Perron scored the tying goal in the third period for the Blues, and Jordan Binnington - making his fourth straight start and fourth of his career - finished with 23 saves. St. Louis had won three straight and five of its previous seven.

 

The Blues are at Boston on Thursday night to finish a four-game trip.

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Packers Keep DC, Hire Surprising OC

Mike Pettine is staying as defensive coordinator of the Packers.

 

New coach Matt LaFleur announced the decision Friday, answering one of his biggest questions just three days after being hired.

 

In his first year, Pettine installed a 3-4 scheme and had mixed results. First-round draft pick Jaire Alexander showed signs he will become the top cornerback the Packers desperately need, and Green Bay was ranked No. 12 in pass defense (234.5 yards per game), a big improvement over 2017.

 

Green Bay finished 6-9-1 and out of the playoffs for the second straight year. As the Packers wrapped up for the offseason last week, Pettine said he was hoping to return to keep building.

 

Former Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett is about to get a major upgrade at quarterback. 

 

According to NFL.com, the Packers are going to hire Hackett as their next offensive coordinator, which means Hackett will basically be getting an offensive coordinator's dream by going from Blake Bortles to Aaron Rodgers. 

 

With the hire, new Packers coach Matt LaFleur seems to be trying to turn Green Bay into his own mini version of the AFC South. Not only did LaFleur come from the Titans, but Hackett is arriving from Jacksonville, where he spent nearly four seasons before being fired in November. 

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Sages Edge Georgetown-Notre Dame de La Salette 50-43

Three-point shooting proved to be the difference Tuesday night as the Sages made
eight long balls to down Georgetown Notre Dame de La Salette 50-43. Tuesday's
non-conference matchup was tight throughout before the Sages hot shooting extended
the lead to double-digits in the fourth. The victory extends the Sages' win streak to
five.

 

The Sages were led by Ben Singleton with 16 points and three assists on offense, plus
four steals and four blocks on defense. Devin Graham added 10 points in the win.

 

For the Lions, Michael Wernowsky led all scorers with 18 points in a losing effort.

 

The win improves the Sages to 14-3 on the season, while the Lions fall to 11-7.

 

Monticello sports are back on WEZC and dewittdailynews.com Thursday night at 7
PM when the Sages girls basketball team travels to Maroa-Forsyth to take on the
Trojans.

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Maroons At St. T Tonight

The Clinton Maroons get back to action tonight when they head to Decatur for a Central Illinois Conference tilt with St. Teresa.

 

The Maroons had a tough week last week where they lost 52-51 to Monticello on a tie-breaking layup and a go-ahead free throw with just a second left. The Maroons were then beaten handily by Central A&M, 67-44. 

 

Clinton enters action tonight at 6-12 overall 0-2 in the CIC. 

 

The Bulldogs are 6-8 and 1-1 in conference play. Their scheduled matchup with Bloomington Central Catholic was postponed Saturday. Friday St. T edged Meridian, 59-57. 

 

Tip time tonight from Decatur is 7:30 pm. 

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Monticello Hosts Goergetown Notre Dame del Lasette

Monticello returns to the hardwood tonight when they host Georgetown Notre Dame de Lasette.

 

The Sages picked up a couple big wins last week when they edged Clinton 52-51 thanks to Ben Singleton's game-tying putback lay-up and 'and-one' free throw with a second left. 

 

Monticello then returned home for a back-and-forth 49-47 win over Paxton-Buckley-Loda.

 

At 12-3 overall, Notre Dame de Lasette is 11-6.

 

Game time tonight is 7 pm and can be heard on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 

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Blues Win; Blackhawks Lose Monday

>>Blues Down Caps

 

Thanks to three goals in under five minutes, St. Louis beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals 4-1 Monday night to put together its first three-game winning streak of the season.

 

The Blues were the only team in the NHL not to win three in a row, and after a rough start are now just three points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

 

This game featured goals by Ivan Barbashev, Vince Dunn and Perron in a span of 4:42 to bounce back from Alex Ovechkin's league-leading 33rd goal of the season. Dunn banked the puck in on a double deflection for his first goal since October and assisted on Perron's goal with a back-handed pass from along the boards.

 

Following the lead of rookie Jordan Binnington, who went 3-0-0 last week, Jake Allen made 28 saves to pick up his first victory since Jan. 3 - which also came against the Capitals.

 

Vladimir Tarasenko scored on the power play in the third period and has eight goals in his past eight games. St. Louis has won six of its past seven on the road, and Allen is among the league's best goalies away from home.

 

Ovechkin took over sole possession of sixth in NHL history with his 238th career power-play goal and tied Dave Andreychuk at 14th on the all-time list with the 640th goal of his career.

 

Binnington is expected to start in goal when the theBlues visit the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

 

>>Devils Fork Blackhawks

 

Kyle Palmieri and Blake Coleman each scored twice, and the Devils rode a five-goal second period to an 8-5 victory over the struggling Blackhawks on Monday night.

 

Travis Zajac, Sami Vatanen, Kevin Rooney and Brett Seney also scored as the Devils won consecutive games for only the third time since opening the season with four straight wins. Rookie goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made 27 saves in winning for the fifth time in seven decisions.

Despite the win, the Devils are 11 points out of a playoff spot.

 

Patrick Kane scored twice and set up two others for the Blackhawks, who are 1-3-3 in their last seven. Brent Seabrook, Dominik Kahun and Brandon Saad also scored for Chicago, which left goaltenders Cam Ward and Collin Delia defenseless most of the game in giving up at least seven goals for the fifth time this season. The eight goals against tied the most given up by the Blackhawks this season.

 

The Blackhawks visit the New York Rangers on Thursday.

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CBB AP Poll Welcomes Four New Teams

It was a noisy week in college hoops -- but only outside of the Associated Press' top 10 teams in its weekly poll. Nos. 1-10 remain the same this week, with Duke, Michigan, Tennessee and Virginia all still sitting at 1-4 in the rankings and all still receiving first-place votes.

 

Beyond the top 10, there's a lot of movement. Kentucky bumps up from No. 18 to No. 12. Marquette moves up from 21st to 15th. Houston slips from 17th to 21st. Mississippi State takes a big step back from No. 14 to No. 24.

 

The Big Ten and ACC remain potent in the rankings, though. Ten of the 25 teams ranked this week come from those two leagues, with the four teams just outside the rankings also being ACC or Big Ten affiliates. 

 

A few big games await this week between ranked teams: No. 9 Virginia Tech plays at No. 4 Virginia on Tuesday night; No. 14 Auburn hosts No. 12 Kentucky and Virginia plays at No. 1 Duke on Saturday.

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Townes scores 21 points, Loyola-Chicago edges Illinois St.

Marques Townes scored 21 points and Loyola-Chicago held off Illinois State 67-64 on Saturday despite going the final six minutes without a field goal.

 

The Ramblers compensated for the 0-for-6 drought by making 6 of 6 from the line in the last two minutes. They made 12 of 16 free throws for the game.

 

Matt Chastain's dunk tied the game at 61 with 3:37 remaining but Illinois State went scoreless until Zach Copeland's 3-pointer drew the Redbirds within 65-64 with 15 seconds remaining. Loyola's Clayton Custer made two free throws and a few seconds later grabbed the rebound when Copeland missed a 3-pointer, sealing the win.

 

Cameron Krutwig had 13 points, eight rebounds and three assists for Loyola (10-7, 3-1 Missouri Valley) and Custer added 13 points, four rebounds and four assists. The Ramblers have won 18 of their past 22 MVC regular-season games and four in a row against Illinois State.

 

Malik Yarbrough had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Illinois State (9-8, 2-2) and Keyshawn Evans scored 16 points.

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Cook heats up late for Missouri St in 69-64 win over Bradley

Keandre Cook scored five of his seven points in a 55-second span at the end to help complete Missouri State's rally with a 69-64 win over Bradley Saturday night.

 

Cook's 3-pointer brought the Bears within 64-63 with 1:38 remaining. Koch Bar missed a jump shot on Bradley's next possession and Cook snared the rebound. Following Missouri State's timeout, Cook laid it in for the go-ahead basket.

 

The Braves led 30-28 at intermission before starting the second half with an 18-6 run. Elijah Childs made a jumper and a 3-pointer and Luqman Lundy followed with a 3 to jump-start the blitz. But the Bears fought back, and when Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye made a pair of free throws, they were on their way to a 15-6 run and drew within 54-49 with 8:14 remaining.

 

Tulio Da Silva led Missouri State (8-9, 2-2 Missouri Valley Conference) with 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting and 13 rebounds and Jarred Dixon scored 15 points.

 

Darrell Brown led Bradley (8-9, 0-4) with 12 points.

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Raiders Down Maroons 66-47

The Central A&M Raiders started on an 8-0 run and never looked back in a 67-44
victory over the Clinton Maroons Friday night. Maroons coach Clay Haurberg says
turnovers were the difference in the contest and the Maroons were never able to cut
the lead below 12 points. 

 

The Maroons were led in scoring by junior Zeke Hickman in 12 points. Senior Cal
Case added 10 points in the loss.

 

Three scorers finished in double figures for the Raiders, including Griffin Andricks with
a game-high 24 points and a perfect 4-4 from the three-point line. Connor Heaton
added 21.

 

With the loss, the Maroons fall to 6-12 and 0-2 in CIC play. The Raiders improve to
16-3 (2-0).

 

The Maroons are in action on WHOW and dewittdailynews.com
Friday night at 7:30 PM when they take on Sullivan.

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HS BBB: Monticello Holds Off PBL

Ethan Miller hit a three-pointer with 4:04 left in the game that proved to be the game winner as Monticello held off a late rally by Paxton-Buckley-Loda for a 49-47 win Friday night in non-conference boys basketball action from Monticello High School.

 

Miller drained five three-pointers but none were bigger than his three from the left-wing that gave the Sages a 44-42 advantage after the Panthers came back from a 24-13 halftime deficit.

 

After Ryan Reeder made a free throw to give the Sages a 45-42 lead, Miller hit another three from almost the same spot on the left wing that extended the lead to 48-42.

 

With 46 seconds left, Trey VanWinkle made a three-pointer that cut the PBL deficit to 49-47. Alek Bundy missed the front end of a one-and-the-bonus giving the Panthers a chance but Drake Schrodt’s three from the top of the key was airballed and went out of bounce and PBL could not buy a whistle to foul Monticello on the inbound and the Sages ran out the final 25 seconds for the win.

 

Neither team started fast, as PBL led just 7-4 after the first quarter but Monticello started making shots, led by Reeder’s three three-pointers in the second quarter and outscored the Panthers 20-6 to take the lead into the break.

 

PBL gradually chipped away at the lead and in the second half and the two teams traded the lead on consecutive possessions to end the third quarter, with Monticello on top 36-35 after Miller hit his third three of the night with 25 seconds left for the period.

 

Miller led all scorers with a career-high 15 points, finishing 5-for-7 from beyond the arc. Reeder added a career-high 13 points, finishing 4-for-5 from deep.

 

Ben Singleton scored just two points for the Sages but grabbed a game-high ten rebounds.

 

Kyle Poll scored 14 points to pace the Panthers and Austin Gooden added 11 points.

 

With the win, Monticello avenged a 54-49 loss at the Holiday Hoopla tournament in late December.

 

The Panthers are now 10-5 on the season while Monticello improves to 14-3 overall.

 

The Sages are back in action next Tuesday night when they host Notre Dame de la Salle at 7 pm. Hear the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.

 

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Michigan Gets By Illinois

Zavier Simpson scored 16 points, Ignas Brazdeikis had 15 and No. 2 Michigan beat Illinois 79-69 on Thursday night to improve to 16-0.

 

Michigan (4-0 Big Ten) and Virginia are the only unbeaten teams in the country. The Wolverines jumped to a 7-0 lead and easily held off the overmatched Illinois (4-12, 0-5).

 

Charles Matthews added 14 points for the Wolverines, and Jon Teske had 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Ayo Dosunmu scored 23 points for Illinois. Giorgi Bezhanishvili added 15, and Trent Frazier had 13.

 

Michigan led 39-34 at the half. Illinois pulled within five points at 49-44 with 13:30 left on Aaron Jordan’s 3- pointer, but it was the closest the Illini could come, thanks to Michigan’s offense and smothering defense.

 

Illinois continues its woes against top teams, going 0-14 overall against Top 25 teams. The Illini’s last win over a top team was a 68-66 victory over then-No. 20 Iowa on March 10, 2016.

 

Illinois hosts Minnesota on Wednesday night.

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HS GBB: Pontiac Routs Monticello

Pontiac jumped out to a 10-0 start against Monticello and never looked back in a 58-29 win Thursday night at Pontiac High School in Illini Prairie Conference girls basketball action.

 

The Lady Indians had three players score in double figures led by Madi Manenga’s 13 points. Linsay Hunt added 12 points and Amanda Fox chipped in with 11 points.

 

The Lady Sages were led by Renni Fultz who scored ten points.

 

Pontiac improves to 8-13 overall while Monticello drops to 5-12.

 

Hear Monticello girls basketball action on WEZC next week on Regional Radio News when they travel to Maroa-Forsyth.

 

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Lady Maroons Fall to Sullivan

In a game heard on WHOW, the Clinton Lady Maroons fell to the Sullivan Lady Redskins by a score of 49-38 on Thursday night. Freshman Mallory Cyrulik led the Maroons scoring with 17 points.

 

Sullivan was led by Esther Miller with 15 points and Josie Orris chipped in with 13.

 

With the loss, the Lady Maroons fall to 11-9 overall. Sullivan improves to 19-1 on the season.

 

The next Lady Maroons broadcast at the CIC Tournament at St. Teresa. Tune in next Friday, January 18, as the Maroons take on Sullivan at home. You can hear the game live on the Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM/106.5 FM WHOW, online at dewittdailynews.com, and on the WHOW app.

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Broncos Reportedly Pick Bears DC Fangio

Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, 60, has accepted Elway's offer to become the Denver Broncos' next head coach, a person with knowledge of the agreement told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

 

Fangio replaces Vance Joseph , who was fired on New Year's Eve after posting the franchise's first back-to-back losing seasons since the early 1970s.

 

Fangio and Elway, who turns 59 this summer, will make up one of the oldest coach-GM duos in the NFL in 2019.

 

Although Fangio, who turns 61 in August, has no NFL head coaching experience, he has been an assistant for 32 years in the NFL and 34 seasons overall, beginning with the Philadelphia Stars of the old USFL in 1984.

 

Just like former Denver defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, Fangio relates to players less than half his age and commands a deep respect in the locker room.

 

Elway said when he began his search for his fourth head coach in six seasons that he values experience but also recognizes the need to modernize the Broncos' offensive and defensive schemes to keep up with the run-pass option craze that has swept through the NFL and rendered traditional systems antiquated.

 

Elway didn't believe that innovation necessitated a young, up-and-coming head coach, however. So, instead of going with a fresh-faced offensive-minded novice in the mold of the Rams' Sean McVay, he zeroed in on the grizzled gridiron lifer who's more like his first head coaching hire, John Fox, or even the Chiefs' Andy Reid.

 

The 2018 season was his best as Fangio guided a Bears defense that ranked No. 1 in the NFL, allowed a league-low 17.7 points per game and led the Bears into the playoffs for the first time in eight years.

 

When word got out that Elway had chosen Fangio, Bears cornerback Prince Amukamar a tweeted the hashtag "curse words" and Chicago wide receiver Allen Robinson II tweeted the broken heart emoji.

 

Fangio inherits a Broncos team that's coming off back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1971-72, a hard fall for a franchise that was hoisting the Lombardi Trophy just three years ago thanks to Von Miller's MVP performance in Super Bowl 50.

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Bulls, Pacers Lose Big Wednesday

>>Blazers Down Bulls

 

CJ McCollum had 24 points and the Portland Trail Blazers pulled away in the final quarter to send the Chicago Bulls to their fifth straight loss, 124-112 on Wednesday night.

 

Jusuf Nurkic had 18 points and eight rebounds but got into foul trouble and came up just short of his fifth straight game with 20 or more points. Portland has won three straight and five of its last six games.

 

Damian Lillard finished with 16 points and 10 assists for his fifth double-double of the season.

Wendell Carter Jr. had 22 points to lead the Bulls in the first of a five-game road trip.

 

After a tight first half, the Blazers led by as many as 11 points in the third quarter but the Bulls kept the margin from getting any wider until Meyers Leonard's dunk put Portland up 106-94 with just under eight minutes left in the game.

 

A pair of consecutive 3-pointers from McCollum and Seth Curry put the Blazers up 112-96 and Portland went on to lead by as many as 19 points down the remaining stretch.

 

Bulls coach Jim Boylen said before the game that Bobby Portis would be on a 24-minute restriction. Portis returned Sunday from a sprained right ankle that kept him out of seven straight games. He finished with 15 points in 19 minutes against the Blazers.

 

The Bulls visit Golden State on Friday night.

 

>>Celtics Throttle Pacers

 

The Boston Celtics continued to share the offensive load, and the results showed again in a 135-113 rout of the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night for their fourth straight win.

 

Kyrie Irving had 12 points in 24 minutes before getting to rest the entire fourth quarter.

The Celtics had 32 assists - their fifth straight game with 30 or more - and put together their highest scoring game this season.

 

Marcus Morris had 22 points and eight rebounds, Jaylen Brown also scored 22 points and Jayson Tatum had 20 for the Celtics, who have won five of six.

 

Gordon Hayward had 14 points, Daniel Theis added 12 points and six rebounds off the bench, and Terry Rozier had 12 points and five assists.

 

Domantas Sabonis had 20 points and seven rebounds for the Pacers (27-14), who had won seven of eight. Thaddeus Young had 10 points and eight rebounds, and Victor Oladipo scored 17 points.

 

Boston led 68-53 at halftime after shooting 56.5 percent (26 for 46) in the first half.

 

Indiana used a 10-2 run early in the third and cut the margin to 79-67 on Sabonis' hook shot with 5:31 left in the period, but Boston took off again and topped 100 points before the quarter was over.

 

Theis converted a three-point play to start the Celtics on a 12-3 run, and Boston closed out the period with another surge, getting back-to-back 3-pointers by Rozier for a 100-74 lead with 1:27 left.

 

Tyreke Evans scored 15 points and Kyle O'Quinn had 11.

 

The Pacers are at New York on Friday night.

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Preds Outlast Blackhawks in Overtime

Filip Forsberg scored twice, including a timely drive in overtime, and Nashville beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on Wednesday night for its third consecutive victory.

 

Colton Sissons and Viktor Arvidsson also scored to help the Predators improve to 3-0-1 on a six-game trip. Ryan Johansen and Mattias Ekholm each had two assists, and Pekka Rinne made 28 saves.

 

Forsberg just returned to Nashville's lineup on Monday after missing 17 games with a hand injury.

 

Arvidsson was activated from injured reserve on Dec. 27 after missing 21 games with a broken thumb.

 

Reunited with Johansen on one of the NHL's most dangerous lines, Forsberg and Arvidsson are beginning to round into form. Arvidsson also scored Saturday night in a 4-1 victory at Montreal.

 

Nashville had a 3-2 lead before Patrick Kane flipped a pass into the middle to Artem Anisimov, who slid a shot under Rinne with 2:21 left in regulation. Anisimov stopped a seven-game drought with his eighth of the season.

 

But Forsberg stepped up a minute into overtime, going to the net and flipping a shot over Collin Delia's left shoulder for his 16th of the season.

 

Chicago lost for the fourth time in five games. Alex DeBrincat and Jonathan Toews also scored for the Blackhawks, and Kane had two assists. Delia finished with 33 stops.

 

The Blackhawks host the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday night.

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Heisman Winner Murray To Enter NFL Draft

As chatter has emerged about Kyler Murray's future, it's become increasingly clear that the Heisman Trophy winner is not guaranteed to take the money and run to baseball, despite being selected No. 9 overall by the Oakland A's in the 2018 MLB Draft. In fact, it appears Murray is going to at least test the 2019 NFL Draft waters. 

 

"The A's expect" Murray "to declare for the NFL draft," they reportedly don't seem entirely torn up about the issue, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. 

 

"Contractually, it is not a big deal," one source with knowledge of the situation told Slusser. "No harm in doing so."

 

Slusser reports Murray is "leaning towards football," primarily because he believes he could be a first-round pick in a weak quarterback class. If Murray went to the NFL and ditched the A's, he would have to pay his MLB signing bonus back, but the A's would get hosed by not receiving a compensation pick. 

 

In the NFL, if Murray were to be drafted in the first round, he would make significantly more money out of the gate: Lamar Jackson was the 32nd overall pick in last year's draft and signed a four-year contract worth more than $9.47 million. That contract would come with a fifth-year option that would pay Murray another huge chunk of "guaranteed" (for injury anyway) money. And after that, if Murray was successful, he could sign a massive contract with the team that drafted him.

 

Murray, who was taken ninth overall by the A's in the 2019 MLB Draft, has repeatedly made a point to say he would play baseball after he was drafted.

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Illinois State Wins, Bradley Loses Tuesday

>>Illinois State Downs Northern Iowa

 

Milik Yarbrough scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, Phil Fayne added 19 points with seven boards, and Illinois State held off Northern Iowa 70-69 on Tuesday night.

 

Matt Chastain scored 12 points for the Redbirds (9-7, 2-1 Missouri Valley Conference), who trailed 33-32 at halftime but Fayne opened the second half with a basket and they never trailed again.

 

The Redbirds led by 10 points three different times in the second half before the Panthers rallied late, closing to 69-67 on AJ Green’s jumper with seven seconds left. Matt Hein’s made 1 of 2 from the line for a three-point lead. Green’s free throws with two seconds left closed the gap to the final score and the Panthers didn’t get off another shot.

 

Green scored 19 points with three 3-pointers for Northern Iowa (6-10, 1-2). Tywhon Pickford and Wyatt Lohaus added 11 points apiece and Isaiah Brown grabbed 10 rebounds.

 

>>Valpo Knocks Off Bradley

 

Javon Freeman scored 17 points and Valparaiso cruised to a 61-50 victory over Bradley on Tuesday night for its fourth straight win.

Freeman's dunk at the 6:50 mark of the first half gave the Crusaders a double-digit lead they held for most of the game. An 8-0 surge, capped by a dunk and 3-pointer from Luuk van Bree, pulled Bradley to 50-45 with 2:43 remaining. Bakari Evelyn answered with a 3 and Freeman added two dunks as Valparaiso closed on an 11-5 run.

 

Freeman was 7 of 10 from the field. Markus Golder added nine points and eight rebounds for the Crusaders (10-6, 3-0 Missouri Valley Conference).

 

Darrell Brown scored 14 points on 6-of-18 shooting to lead Bradley (8-8, 0-3). Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye added 11 points and made all eight of his free throws. Van Bree made three 3-pointers and finished with 12 points.

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