Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Get ready for the NH All-Star girls and boys basketball games.

Tonight I'm looking forward to going to Lake Catholic to watch a practice for The News-Herald girls All-Star basketball game. Tomorrow night I'll be at Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin for another practice.
Twenty four of the top girls basketball players in the area will be competing in the all-star game on Saturday, 11 a.m. at Lakeland Community College. The boys all-star game will follow the girls.
Come and enjoy the fun.
It's a great way to wrap up the basketball season.

Here are the rosters for the teams:

Black team
Coach Frank Soria
Paige Rowan (Lake Catholic)
Colette Hounshell (Lake Catholic)
Beth Switzler (Lake Catholic) 
Rachel Borowske (Kirtland)

Kali Deighan (Mentor)
Kelsey Pacholke (North) 
Darmi Warner (Brush) 
Constance Conner (Brush) 
Olivia Palmisano (South) 
Courtney Reese (Cornerstone Christian) 
Taylor Kline (Villa Angela-St. Joseph)
Marlene Keith (Euclid)

Gray Team

Coach Wally Kesling (Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin) 
Mary McDonnell (NDCL)
Lindsay Hammer (NDCL)
Carissa Johnson (Fairport)

Byrnne Walsh (West Geauga)
Meghan Blaha (Perry)
Jacquee Herron (Mayfield)
Kelsey Koskinen (Madison)
Belicia Cooper (Riverside)
Meghann Wright (Berkshire)

Kellie MacDonald (Newbury)
Brittany Layton (Gilmour Academy)
Stephanie Bartol (Chardon)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kentucky deserves some credit, too

I've heard it all over the past week.

Ohio State choked in its 2-point loss to Kentucky in a regional semifinal in Newark, N.J.

The Buckeyes came into the game too cocky. That's why they lost.

OSU believed all the press they were getting and didn't respect the Wildcats.

I mean, seriously. Are those legitimate excuses? Only for Ohio State fans.

Hey Buckeye fans, the other team is trying to win, too. Maybe a little credit their direction is in order.

While it's true the Buckeyes shot only 31 percent in the Sweet 16 loss to Kentucky, the Wildcats' defense has a lot to do with that. There weren't many shots Ohio State took where a hand wasn't in the face of the OSU shooter.

Kentucky was able to get just good enough of a performance from Josh Harrellson in a head-to-head matchup with OSU's Jared Sullinger to allow the other defenders to stay close to OSU's shooters.

The young Wildcats did not let the pressure of playing against the tournament's top overall seed get to them.

Was it Ohio State's best game of the season? No. But that happens in basketball, and when it does, at least some credit should go to the winning team for taking the losing team out of its game.

To say the only reason Ohio State lost to Kentucky was because the Buckeyes came into the game too cocky and overconfident cheapens the performance put forth by the Wildcats.

- John Kampf

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fantasy baseball, the old-fashioned way

Around 11 a.m. on Sunday, I was on my way to partake in a concept that has seemingly become less common with fantasy baseball.

News-Herald assistant sports editor Kevin Kleps and I were on our way in my Saturn to Roaming Shores in order to participate in the live offline draft for the league run by my fellow N-H sportswriter John Kampf.

It seems like a foreign concept, especially in this day and age. People getting together in one room and conducting their fantasy baseball draft seems to be something that has gone the way of the rotary phone.

That said, I personally find the idea appealing. We're getting so used to communicating anymore without even being in the same place with someone - email, Facebook, Twitter, text messages, on and on - being able to go old school and announce who you're drafting and see the fellow owners with whom you're drafting is actually kind of intriguing.

Call me old school, but for this one time each year it's a unique experience.

By the way, I'm writing this blog before I head to Roaming Shores, and there's one thing I know for sure - who my MVP is. It's not any baseball player I have or am going to draft. It's my wife Jenni for having the patience to put up with her husband having three fantasy baseball drafts this weekend for different leagues.

I'm sure there's a joke about getting me out of the house, but I'll leave it alone.

- Chris Lillstrung

Saturday, March 26, 2011

50 years and counting for Buckeyes hoops

It couldn't end this way for Buckeyes basketball fans, could it?

Yes, it did. Kentucky's Brandon Knight's shot in the final seconds ruined what might have been Ohio State's best opportunity at a national title since Jerry Lucas and Co. won it all the way back in 1960.

That's a long time, if you're keeping score at home. The start of next season will make it 51 years and counting.

It ended in a regional semifinal for the tournament's No. 1 overall seed, which proves no team is immune to March Madness. One bad shooting performance (OSU was miserable against Kentucky, just 30 percent) and it's over. It was a very good season for the Buckeyes, but not a great one.

Coming up short again, the Buckeyes lost to Florida in 2007 national championship game, begs the question: Will OSU ever win another national championship in men's basketball? That is tough to answer.

College basketball is predicated on matchups in March. Take it as an excuse if you like, but it's fact from this corner. The Buckeyes landed a tough draw in playing Kentucky in the Sweet 16. Whether its shooting struggles were self induced or courtesy of the Wildcats' defense is debatable.

It doesn't matter much now. What matters for the Buckeyes is where they go from here. Coach Thad Matta needs Jared Sullinger and William Buford to return next season to make another run at the top prize. A solid recruiting class is also expected next winter in Columbus.

Still, the top draw in central Ohio is, and will always be, the OSU football program. That in itself makes it a challenge for the men's basketball program, which has never been held to the standard of its gridiron classmate. It should be, though.

The Buckeyes have every means for contending and winning a national title in men's basketball. There's a top-notch facility, a top-notch coach and the university itself to sell nationally.

The pieces are in place, if Sullinger and Buford return, for another run at a title next season, but the clock continues to tick in Columbus.

- Mark Podolski

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cleveland State football: Plenty of patience, money required

It's been almost a year since a Cleveland State students' vote showed they were interested in football, but not so thrilled about paying for it with student fees.

Those who want to see the Vikings on the gridiron will probably be waiting many more years before toe meets ball on an inaugural kickoff. While CSU completes its search for a permanent athletic director, money has become a bigger issue.

The school is expecting to lose an estimated $15.6 million in state aid in the upcoming Ohio budget. Funding for the sports it fields now is enough of an issue, let alone floating a new sport that would require $11.5 million to $13.1 million in start-up fees.

The reasons for proposing a team aren’t going away, though. CSU is building new dorms to replace the now-vacant Viking Hall, and those rooms need occupants. Also, degree and course completion have become factors in how much state funding schools receive. CSU has so many part-time and commuter students that its graduation rate is affected by those who can’t finish in six years or give up. So it needs as many full-time students as it can get. About 100 full-time-student football players would be a start.

A football initiative would be similar to those at Notre Dame College and Lake Erie College, except that CSU isn’t planning to offer scholarship money to recruits. Once the start-up costs are covered, the school hopes the team would be sustained through student fees and revenue generated by the team.

Ideally, football would boost enrollment, give those new students who move into the dorms something to do on weekends in the fall, attract more people to the neighborhood being planned for north of Chester Avenue and boost the graduation rate while paying for itself.

Anyone have $13.1 million?

-       - Howard Primer

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stuck in the 80s: the best decade ever for March Madness

The best thing about ESPN Classic, save the fact past games can't be converted to high-definition (at least not yet), is when it replays memorable games from all sports, marathon style.

That's been the case this week. It's been a great ride down memory lane. Most of the games replayed are from the 1980s. What a decade the 80s were for March Madness, which I say is the greatest in history. Here's one man's top five NCAA title games from the decade.

5. Kansas 83, Oklahoma 79, 1988: Danny Manning was a one-man show for the Jayhawks, which, some might forget, was coached by Larry Brown.

4. Indiana 74, Syracuse 73, 1987: Keith Smart's baseline jumper finished off a great game.

3. North Carolina State 54, Houston 52, 1983: Even after all these years, Lorenzo Charles' dunk off Derek Wittenberg's airball seems as surreal as ever.

2. North Carolina 63, Georgetown 62, 1982: Where it all began for Michael Jordan. This game was packed with stars, starting with Coaches Dean Smith and John Thompson.

1. Villanova 66, Georgetown 64, 1985: The most improbable March Madness win of all-time.

- Mark Podolski

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I'm addicted to the NCAA Tournament

A year ago, I wasn't into the Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament.
I think it's because I didn't fill out a bracket.
This year is different. I've filled out two brackets and I'm pumped.
On Sunday, I watched back-to-back games and loved every minute of it. One was the Ohio State game. How good is that team? How unselfish are those players? Do they have what it takes to win it all?
Finally, how exciting is it to cheer for a team you actually care about?
Even if Ohio State gets knocked out early, I'll keep watching the tournament until the end. I'm looking forward to the semifinals on April 2. What a great night that will be.
Back-to-back solid games to look forward to.
It's almost better than the championship game itself.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

OSU could be interesting next year

The father of Ohio State freshman phenom Jared Sullinger said on Tuesday that his son will return to Ohio State next season.

We'll believe that one when we see it. Three words to remember - Michael Conley Jr.

Back in 2006, Conley uttered those same words, but still jumped to the NBA draft, which was certainly his right. And if Sullinger goes to the NBA after this current NCAA Tournament run is over, who can blame him? He's a sure-fire lottery pick.

Ohio State fans have to brace for the possibility or probability that they will be looking at an entire new starting five next year. Seniors David Lighty, Jon Diebler and Dallas Lauderdale will be gone, and many think junior William Buford AND freshman Sullinger will enter the NBA draft.

That could make for an interesting 2011-12 season.

Remember the names LaQuinton Ross, Trey McDonald, Sam Thompson, Amir Williams and Shannon Scott. You will be seeing a lot of them next year.

So, for argument's sake, let's say Buford and Sullinger DO bolt.

Ohio State's starting lineup next year very well could be sophomores Aaron Craft, Jordan Sibert and Lenzelle Smith guard, 6-8 Boston College transfer Evan Ravenel at one forward spot and 6-7 sophomore Deshaun Thomas at the other.

Plus five very talented and promising freshmen.

The return of Sullinger and Buford would turn the Buckeyes into a preseason top-five team. But counting on their return might be asking a bit much.

The guess here is there will be a lot of new faces on the court next year for the Buckeyes.

- John Kampf

Browns boost Broadmoor bash

The Broadmoor Bobcats vs. Area Coaches game at Mentor on Monday was another smashing success.

The Cleveland Browns were like the cherry on the sundae.

Unexpectedly, Browns wide receiver Chansi Stuckey and punter Reggie Hodges came to the Bobcats game, played for the coaches and signed autographs at halftime. This wasn't something that was begged or petitioned for by anyone involved with game. This wasn't something done out of a promise of a trade for press or publicity. Stuckey and Hodges simply added to an unbelievable evening, and everyone associated with the game wants to give them a big "THANK YOU".

Stuckey and Hodges were personable, giving, energetic and friendly. At no point did their appearance feel forced or staged. They played their minutes, seemed to have a lot of fun, and stayed until the end without their arms being twisted.

Personally, I am forever a fan of Stuckey and Hodges. I think I can speak for 700 fans at Mentor on Monday night, and a team of Bobcats and their parents when I say that.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Good to be a Kent State fan this week

It's not just Ohio State athletics that is having a good week.

Kent State's athletic program is a proud one this week too.

Wrestler Dustin Kilgore (38-2) became the school's first national champion on Saturday in Philadelphia when he pinned Oklahoma State's Clayton Foster despite trailing at the time, 5-1.

The men's basketball program, despite losing the MAC tournament championship game to Akron, has made the quarterfinals of the NIT and is one win away from advancing to the semifinals at Madison Square Garden.

The Golden Flashes play at Colorado on Tuesday at 9 p.m.

- Mark Podolski 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rooting for ... Michigan!?!?

The first step is admitting you have a problem.

So there I was Sunday afternoon watching March Madness on CBS, following along with the Duke-Michigan game.

Let's face it folks. For many people, choosing to root for one of those schools is like trying to choose what's best between drifting snow and poor road conditions while driving in a snowstorm.

As that game played out, with Duke securing its place in the Sweet 16 with a 73-71 win, I actually found myself - deep breath - rooting for Michigan.

That's right (gulp), rooting ... for ... Michigan.

For someone whose two favorite college sports programs are Ohio State and West Virginia, I couldn't believe my actions.

Really, that's the kind of effect March Madness has. With tournament pools, it would have thrown things completely out of whack had Duke lost. And since it's the tournament, isn't there a small part of you, regardless of who it is, that roots for the underdog to succeed?

Make no mistake. I can't stand Duke. I can't stand Michigan. It's just a personal preference, and if you like those schools, good for you and I don't begrudge you that.

I just never thought there would be a day during which I would want Michigan to succeed at anything.

But it happened, and I feel better for having admitted it. Let's just hope it never happens again.

- Chris Lillstrung

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Wrestler with one leg proves anything is possible

Arizona State wrestler Anthony Robles won the 125-pound NCAA national championship on Saturday night?

What's the big deal about that? Robles was born with just one leg. What an inspiration, and proof that anything is possible. Here's a link to video of Robles winning his title:

- Mark Podolski

High school boys basketball - Cole's Court regional final entry

Tonight we will be playing in the regional championship for the second year in a row. Although most teams would be more than happy getting this far, we feel like we have some unfinished business after last year. Getting that taste of the state championships in Columbus made us all hungrier than ever, the whole city of Mentor included. All year long that has been our goal and where our fans expect us to get to. Like last year, we will be facing another very talented opponent in Garfield Heights. Unlike us, this is their first time making it to regionals so hopefully we can use our experience to our advantage. Although they are a very good team with many great players, we feel like our tough schedule has prepared us well.
At 11:00 today we will be at the high school for a light shoot-around and walk through, followed by a short film session. I have a feeling time will be going by very slow all day long up until game time, because I know the game will be the only thing on my mind. It's weird to think that my high school career is getting closer and closer to its end, a time that I never thought would come. I really just can't wait to get back on that Cleveland State floor again for the last time and play in one of the most anticipated games around the state of Ohio. If we play like we're capable of, I really like our chances of coming out of this game with a W. The only thing that matters after tonight is having that regional medal around my neck as we prepare for our return to Value City Arena. 

- Cole Krizancic
Mentor senior guard

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Unforgettable March Madness stars

It's time for another Ten in the Morning countdown. This time, we're counting down the players who will forever be remembered as, "Oh yeah, he's that March Madness guy."

These players helped make the NCAA tournament what it is today, and made the term "Cinderella" more than just a Disney character. Everyone has their favorite. Here's one man's list, from 10 to 1, with some players you will recognize and some you may not.

10. Olden Polynice: The year after Ralph Sampson graduated, "Life after Ralph" wasn't so bad, as Polynice, a journeyman NBA center in the 80s and 90s, led the Cavaliers to the 1984 Final Four.

9. Ali Farokhmanesh: You haven't forgot about him already, have you? Last season, Farokhmanesh's 3-pointers help Northern Iowa knock Kansas out of the tournament. 

8. Harold Jensen: Made big shot after big shot for Villanova when it shocked Georgetown to win the 1985 title.

7. Ken "Mouse" McFadden: This one is for you, Cleveland State fans.

6. Fennis Dembo: Averaged 27.8 points during the 1987 tournament for Wyoming during its run to the Sweet 16.

5. Roosevelt Chapman: This scoring machine led Dayton to the 1984 West Regional final against Georgetown as a No. 10 seed. Chapman scored 41 points against Oklahoma during that tournament.

4. Bryce Drew: Who can forget his 3-pointer at the buzzer to help Valpo beat Ole Miss in 1998?

3. Bo Kimble: Averaged 38.2 points for Loyola Marymount in four NCAA games during the 1990 tournament, but will always be remembered for his left-handed free throw in honor of his fallen teammate Hank Gathers.

2. Keith Smart: His baseline jumper with seconds remaining lifted Indiana to the 1987 title over Syracuse. Smart didn't do much after that, but did coach as an assistant with the Cavaliers for a while.

1. Harold Arceneaux: Scored 36 points for Weber State in a first-round upset of North Carolina in 1999, then 32 in a second-round loss to Florida. Had the name and the game March Madness fans will never forget.

- Mark Podolski

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What method did you use to fill out your bracket?

I have a confession to make.
My NCAA bracket is not my own.
Instead of painstakingly taking the time to pick and choose each individual team, I used the automatic bracket provided by CBS Sports. I actually did two brackets. One with all of the top seeds advancing and another that some guru picked.
I had every intention to do the brackets myself.
Just to prepare, I gathered all the necessary information I use every year including gambling lines, stats, etc.
So why did I take the easy way out?
It saved me over one hour of my life.
Maybe next year I'll go back to the old fashioned way of picking each team by hand. I pencil in my brackets just so I can fix any mistakes I may have. It's old school, I know. But fun.
So here's to rooting for a bracket that I picked thanks to someone else.
It won't be as fun to follow my bracket this year because it's not my own, but at least it's complete.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Draftees put in bad position

There's a messy separation going on right now in the NFL, with a hurtful lockout between the owners and the players.

Just like some divorces, the kids are getting stuck in the middle.

A report came out this week that the NFL players association - well, members of the decertified union - are advising members of this year's draft class to boycott the upcoming NFL draft. 

That's a tough position to put the youngsters in. They're being told to make a choice - and neither is what they want to do.

Option A is to heed the word of the current NFL players who are being locked out and pretty much thumb their noses at the teams who are selecting them by not showing up at the draft. In other words, do the dirty work of the current NFL players, and in doing so, give up the opportunity to take part in a lifelong dream for most - walking across the stage after hearing their name called out after being drafted.

Option B is to ignore the word of the current NFL players, go against their wishes and attend the draft. But when this whole mess is sorted out, those who ignore the players and attend the draft are going to have to face those whom they ignored when camps eventually open. THAT should be an awkward moment.

There is no good solution for the soon-to-be-drafted rookies.

It's a situation in which they should never have been put.

The current lockout is between the owners and the current players and doesn't and SHOULDN'T involve the rookies.

Just like a messy divorce, the kids are being put in the middle when they shouldn't.

- John Kampf

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bubble trouble once again

Well, that didn't work.

The NCAA Tournament expanded from 64 to 65 a few years ago, and then went to 68 this year to include more at-large teams and cut some of the controversy from those teams on the bubble.

Yep, Selection Sunday went just as I am sure the committee would have hoped.

Colorado, Alabama, Virginia Tech, St. Mary's. All those schools have a legitimate beef. But here are my two major problems with spending too much time complaining about the teams who had their bubble burst, especially now with a 68-team field.

1 - The controversial teams that made the field in question - VCU, UAB  - and the four teams mentioned earlier are all filler teams to round out the field. None of have a chance to win the National Championship, so it seems silly to waste a ton of energy worrying about whether they are in or not, especially if you have no affiliation with the school.

2 - When is enough going to enough? You expand it to 68, and four teams are irate. Expand it to 72, and those four teams are happy, and then half the NIT and CBI field are throwing daggers at the committee.

March Madness is the best time of year for sports in my opinion and it stinks that every single  Selection Sunday is dominated by who didn't make it instead of those who did.

Hey Bama, Colorado, Virginia Tech and others. Win more games. Doesn't matter if you play a tough schedule or cupcake row. Win and you are in. As for UAB and VCU, they are in Dayton getting ready to play. Get over it and let the Madness begin.

Or expand to 228 teams and include all the bubble teams and have a few spots leftover for state champs from Ohio, California, Texas, Florida and New York.

On second thought, if we did that, guarantee the Division V state champ in Idaho would complain about their strength of schedule.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

The comeback of "One Shining Moment"

Last year, CBS made the decision to change the cover of "One Shining Moment" from the one used for much of the last decade by Luther Vandross, believed to be his last-ever recording before his health sadly took a turn for the worse, to a new cover by Oscar winner and "American Idol" alum Jennifer Hudson.

For the most part, the new version of OSM was panned - maybe not so much because of what Hudson brought to the song in the way she performed it, but perhaps moreso in the delivery of the OSM package. Hudson, if memory serves, was reported to have been seen on the March Madness retrospective 11 times, in turn denying the use of highlights and moments which made an argument to be included.

And that's the problem.

I have absolutely nothing against Hudson. She's a beautiful woman, a versatile talent without question and boasts a great voice.

The thing about OSM, however, is it's a tradition focused on the best of March Madness - the players, coaches and fans who make it so. It's not about how many times CBS can mix in shots of Hudson performing the song and say, "Hey, look who we've got doing this song!"

I will be very interested to see how CBS handles the controversy this year. Will they retire Hudson's version, kind of like the fairly short-lived run of Teddy Pendergrass, and bring in someone new? Will they even dust off Vandross' version again? Or will they stick with Hudson?

Only time will tell, but it would be a start no matter what they decide to do if CBS takes the focus off the singer. That's why so many people have loved Vandross' cover. With the exception of its debut year, when you saw Vandross sing, "The ball is tipped....", you never saw him again because the focus was on the tournament.

Granted, it's not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things. But let's get "One Shining Moment" back to what many of us who have grown up with it know and love.

- Chris Lillstrung

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Herbie: So long Columbus

What a sad, pathetic story.

ESPN College GameDay analysis and former Buckeyes quarterback Kirk Herbstreit had a good life living in Columbus with his wife and sons, with the emphasis on HAD.

According to The Columbus Dispatch, Herbstreit and his family has moved from their Columbus home to Tennessee. Why? A small, rabid and "relentless" fan base that won't let up on Herbstreit, who has been criticized by Buckeye Nation for being too critical of OSU.

"Nobody loves Ohio State more than me," Herbstreit told The Dispatch. "But I've got a job to do, and I'm going to continue to be fair and objective. To continue to have to defend myself and my family in regards to my love and devotion to Ohio State in unfair.

"Eighty to ninety percent of the Ohio State fans are great. It's the vocal minority that make it rough. They probably represent only 5 to 10 percent of the fan base, but they are relentless."

The guess here is these pathetic Buckeyes fans are most likely the ones who feel Coach Jim Tressel aced Tuesday's news conference.

- Mark Podolski

Friday, March 11, 2011

Blizzard of basketball

For me, one of the underrated parts of Selection Sunday weekend and the start of the NCAA basketball tournament is that this is the week the weather usually starts turning for the better. At least, it's supposed to.

Usually, it's still cold, but no longer bone-chilling freezing. The sun starts making more than sporadic appearances. Daylight starts lasting longer, and snow storms are fewer and farther between.

Not this year. Friday was a great day to round up everyone and take the family picture for the 2011 Christmas card.

Mother Nature, please let us put down our snow shovels and work on our brackets, OK?

- Howard Primer

Thursday, March 10, 2011

March Madness all around

If you are a fan of NCAA hoops and March Madness, this is your weekend.

Not only do we have the conclusion of all the big college basketball tournaments and Selection Sunday, there are two documentaries debuting this weekend.

For anyone who grew up during the early 1990s, you are in store for a treat.

HBO's "Running Rebels of UNLV" debuts Saturday. I was lucky to get my hands on the DVD for an advance screening, and it's excellent.

A day later, ESPN's "The Fab Five" will air at 9 p.m. on Sunday after the network's NCAA hoops talking heads dissect the brackets. "The Fab Five" looks like a must-see, simply because Chris Webber, Jalen Rose and Co. changed college basketball forever with their brash talk, baggy pants and fine play.

UNLV, with Larry Johnson, Greg Anthony and Co. weren't slouches either. Unfortunately, the two programs in their prime just missed each other. The Fab Five arrived in Ann Arbor, Mich., a year after Johnson, Anthony and the rest left UNLV.

That begs the question: Who would have won, the Fab Five or Johnson's Running Rebels? A close friend and I had a spirited discussion. He said UNLV would roll the Fab Five. I say no way. The Wolverines would hang with the Rebels. I'm not sure U of M would win, but it would be a contest.

College basketball fans can only wonder, but the two documentaries are proof no one will ever forget about either team.

Get out the chips, dip and refreshments college hoops junkies. This is your weekend.

- Mark Podolski

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Cougars have their work cut out for them

Lake Catholic is a big underdog going into its game on Friday against two-time defending state champion Hathaway Brown.
The Cougars (23-2) defeated Struthers, 50-43, on Tuesday to advance to the regional final. They are making their first trip to regionals since 2006 when they finished state runner-up championship.
Lake Catholic coach Frank Soria has the experience and savy to return to state, but do his players have the same characteristics? Sure they are talented, but this group has never made it this far before.
How will they react in a big game against a tough opponent?
They've played a tough schedule against quality teams which should help on Friday. But is it enough?
If senior center Colette Hounshell can get hot, the Cougars have a shot. Struthers held her to just four points and that's not going to get the job done against HB.
The Cougars' outside shooter Delani Stopp will also be counted on big. She scored 17 against Struthers including three 3s in the third quarter.
Senior Beth Switzler can complete the Cougar trifecta if she gets in a groove.
The Cougars will lose if they come out nervous like they did against Struthers. They didn't score a single field goal in the first quarter.
That can't happen against HB.
We'll see what the underdog Cougars are really made of on Friday.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia

Monday, March 7, 2011

NFL lockout drama has no sympathetic characters

I actually heard one of the former NFL players-turned-talking head say on the radio the other day that it's not Peyton Manning or Tom Brady or multi-millionaires like that we should all be worried about if the owners lock the players out. It is the POOR lower-tier players making $500,000 or so.

If you make $35,000 and live paycheck to paycheck and you get your job taken away, I feel bad for you. If you make $500,000 in one year and then are borrowing money because you didn't have enough sense to not spend like a drunken sailor on St. Patrick's Day, I couldn't care less. In fact, if I didn't love watching the NFL so much, I would root for these equally greedy fat-cat owners to call the players' bluff and wipe out the season. I'd love to see some of these guys get a job as a bartender or lawn care technician for a few hundred bucks per month and then complain about their salary or hold out for a new contract. It is ridiculous and fans are getting sick of it in a hurry.

Not that I think the owners are totally innocent here, either. They have the right to not honor a contract in the NFL, increase ticket sales annually and charge $12 per beer. It's billionaires vs. millionaires. A situation most of us can't relate to. But if I had to side one way, it is with the owners.

Players go out and buy 10 cars and then can't afford the insurance and I should weep for their inability to entertain the masses?

Don't think so, folks. I am not capable of playing in the NFL, and those people aren't capable of living or working in the real world.

- Bill Tilton

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Bottom Five: Papua New Guinea

All the glamour goes to Spain, Holland, Brazil, etc., and rightfully so. But what about life at the bottom of the world rankings? In a five-part series, Staff Writer Chris Lillstrung looks at the five international soccer teams at the bottom of the FIFA rankings.


Manager: Joo Wan Jung
Notable players abroad: Reginald Davani (Brisbane Olympic, Australia)
What’s so bad: For one, they can’t seem to get a team on the field. Papua New Guinea hasn’t played a competitive match since 2007 and was disqualified from qualifying for the 2010 World Cup because they didn’t enter a regional tournament. For that reason, they haven’t earned a point in the FIFA rankings.
What’s good: Unlike their other counterparts who are at the bottom of the rankings, Papua New Guinea wins matches. The nation has won 16 matches total since its debut in 1963 and frequently plays neighbors Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands. Their last match in 2007 against Solomon Islands was a 2-1 win. Davani plies his trade in the lower leagues of Australia but has shown an ability to score for his country, with 15 goals in 19 appearances (watch Davani highlights here). The club teams in the country have also been more active than their fellow last-place squads, making some noise in the regional club champions league.

High school gymnasts tough, determined

By Mark Podolski

I will never, ever, try to imagine what it's like to be a high school gymnast.

The acrobatics these athletes perform is impressive, but dangerous. Any gymnast will admit one mistake, and it's over. Worse yet, an injury could be waiting.

That, in itself, makes me marvel at some of the area gymnasts I've covered through the years. This year, however, seems the most impressive.

Starting last week, when Mentor's team made it out of district, and then placed fourth at the state meet on Friday, the Cardinals did so because they were able to overcome injuries throughout the lineup.

The same is true about Riverside senior Maria Salvia, who won the state championship on the beam on Saturday. Salvia said she has competed for most of the season with a herniated disc in her back.

Gymnasts are determined and tough. It showed this postseason.


Friday, March 4, 2011

The NCAA and its unnecessary name changes

True or false: Cleveland is hosting first- and second-round games in the NCAA men's basketball tournament later this month.

False, and this will take some getting used to. What used to be the first and second rounds are now the second and third rounds.

Previously, the setup included the opening round - more commonly referred to as the play-in game - which fed into the traditional first-round games on Thursday and Friday. The second-round games on the weekend fed into the Sweet 16 and so on.

With the expansion to 68 teams for this year's Big Dance, the four games played earlier in the week are called the first round. The NCAA is also calling it the "First Four," which means no one else will use that phrase. Those four winners advance to the second round, which will be on Thursday and Friday, and so on. So if a friend offers you tickets to a third-round game, don't think it's the Sweet 16.

No one called it the opening round when that was the official name, mainly because there was only one game. But "opening round" would make a great name now.

This is similar to the NCAA changing the football divisions from I-A and I-AA to Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision. The changes weren't needed.

- Howard Primer

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wilt's 100 a cause for celebration

By Mark Podolski

My favorite sports record is one that is truly a cause for celebration.

Why? It's on my birthday.

Yours truly was born on March 2, 1970. Eight years prior to that on March 2, 1962, Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in one game.

I am convinced that record will stand for my lifetime.

The Lakers' Kobe Bryant scored 81 points in a game a few years back. It was a huge deal, but Bryant was still 20 points off breaking the mark set by "Wilt The Stilt." Think about that. There are only 19 NBA players this season averaging at least 20 points a game.

Some teams struggle to score 100 points a game. Only 12 of 30 NBA teams are averaging at least 100 points per game this season.

On his 100-point night, Chamberlain shot 36 of 63 from the field and 28 of 32 from the free-throw line. That's 95 combined shots in one game. That, my friends, won't be happening any time soon in an NBA game coming to your town.

According to reports, when Wilt scored his 100th point with 46 seconds left against the Knicks in Hershey, Pa., fans stormed the court and play was halted. In the locker room, PR man Harvey Pollack wrote "100" on a piece of paper, which Chamberlain held up for photographers.

Chamberlain died in 1999, but his 100-point night will never be forgotten, unless, of course, a player comes along and scores 101. Sorry, but that's not happening. Not in my lifetime.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

District hoops meeting is not taken lightly

The Northeast Lakes All-District girls and boys basketball meeting was held today at The News-Herald.
Representatives from area newspapers along with Bill Tilton and myself worked together to pick teams in Divisions I through IV.
It was not easy.
There are many deserving area kids.
We go by coaches recommendations, strength of schedule, and more when choosing what player deserves to go on first team, second team, third team or honorable mention.
The teams are carefully chosen and talked about which makes the meeting long.
But it is totally worth it.
It's a process I've come to enjoy over the years.
I'm tweaking the list now and soon it will be sent to the Associated Press.
The teams will be announced in The News-Herald soon.
Good luck to all area basketball players.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Wrestling officials deserve to get their hands raised

There were countless people who deserve credit for juggling their schedules last weekend when a winter storm postponed the district wrestling tournaments in the northeast district.

Wrestlers diligently kept their weight down and came to their respective tournaments prepared to wrestle a front-loaded Saturday-Sunday schedule rather than a balanced Friday-Saturday slate. Tournament directors and workers adjusted their weekends that all of a sudden did not include a Sunday off.

Perhaps lost in the shuffle - at least at the two district tournaments I attended - were proper kudos to a group of people who might have had the most difficult weekend of anyone.

The mat officials.

Saturday's schedule was understandably brutal. Most of the districts in the Northeastern District ran extended Saturday schedules that included all rounds being wrestled except for placement rounds. That meant schedules that started at 10 a.m. and did not wrap up until 9 p.m. or later.

There is a bylaw - understandably - that prohibits wrestlers from wrestling more than five matches in a day. That's why tournaments were stopped prior to placement rounds. It made for a busy day on Saturday, but it had to be done that way because the normal Saturday schedule under a Friday-Saturday format could not be followed. It would have been unreasonable and unfair (especially to the church-going groups) to bring wrestlers back at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning, take a mid-afternoon Sunday break and the return for finals at 5:30 p.m., which is the schedule most had set for Saturday in the Friday-Saturday schedule.

That meant overtime - serious overtime - on Saturday.

Especially for the guys in black and white shirts with whistles dangling from around their necks.

For more than 12 hours on Saturday - remember, weigh-ins at tournaments started well before the 10 a.m. starting time - the officials worked diligently. Once action started at 10 a.m., there were few - if any - breaks. Whereas wrestlers were limited to no more than five matches on Saturday, area officials worked dozens, all at peak performance and without flaw.

There were no 15-minute breaks. There were no lunch breaks. It was constant action. Lunch happened when/if someone brought an official a bite to eat from the hospitality room.

These guys worked above and beyond the call of duty - and not once did they complain. And not once did their performance level falter, despite difficult, tiring conditions.

For that, they deserve more credit than they received.