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Denny Hamlin edges Joey Logano to win Martinsville race

compiled by megasportsnews.com staff

NASCAR's Denny Hamlin (Getty Images for nascarmedia.com)

There were eight laps to go on the “Paper Clip” track at Martinsville Motor Speedway when Denny Hamlin and his crew chief Mike Ford had a huge decision to make to try and win the race. There was a caution out on the track at the time. The thinking was to stop at pit road while the other cars stayed out on the track with old tires.  Or if they kept on racing, the rest would stop and pit, get fresh tires and would run them down.

They decided to pit and Hamlin made all of that complicated thinking work as he worked his way to a fantastic and exciting finish at Martinsville Speedway, advancing from ninth place by basically playing “bogart”, bull-rushing and steamrolling his way through the field on the shortest, oldest track in NASCAR.

Hamlin passed Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth and race leader Jeff Gordon following the final restart to earn his third career victory at the southwest Virginia track.

Hamlin dangerous moved through the first turn, forcing a three-wide racing which is tough on the 0.526-mile race track moving into fourth place before his teammate Kyle Busch spun out, causing a key and timely caution.

Then a two-lap sprint was going to win the race. Hamlin on the re-start when right past Newman then went past Kenseth and Gordon who were both on older tires and he slid underneath for the win.

Joey Logano, Hamlin’s teammate with Joe Gibbs Racing, finished second, followed by Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Martin Truex, Jr.  Jimmie Johnson was nowhere to be found and finished ninth.

Will Power wins second straight IRL race

compiled from Indy Racing League and wire reports

Will Power is showing that he is going to be a force in 2010 in the Indy Racing League.

Seven months ago after breaking his back in a horrifying crash, Power continued his comeback Monday by winning the rain-delayed Honda Grand Prix in St. Petersburg, Florida.  It was his second victory in as many IndyCar events this season.

Power went to the front of the pack after a restart on the 78th of 100 laps, and was entrenched in that position the rest of the race and held off Justin Wilson who finished second.

Will Power on a hot streak (creative commons/wfe photo)

Power, who is  Australian, is the first driver to start an IndyCar season 2-for-2 since Sam Hornish accomplished the feat on his way to the series title in 2001, and he already has a 44-point lead in the standings over series champion Dario Franchitti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Wilson.

Power led a huge day Penske Racing. Ryan Briscoe was third and Helio Castroneves finished fourth.

Runner-up Justin Wilson had a fantastic race at St. Petersburg for the third straight year, but never could make a serious run at Power in the final laps.

Dario Franchitti was fifth, Alex Tangliani sixth and Danica Patrick rose from her starting position of 21st, advanced all the way up the ladder to finish a respectable 7th.

Turner selected First Team Associated Press All-American

compiled from staff, wire reports and Ohio State Athletics

The 2009-2010 Associated Press All-American basketball was announced on Monday and it includes two freshman.

Kentucky’s John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins join Ohio State junior Evan Turner, Syracuse junior Wes Johnson and Villanova senior Scottie Reynolds.

With the 2008-2009 season passing and no freshman being selected, Wall and Cousins are the ninth set of teammates to be selected and the first since Duke’s J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams in 2006.

The 6’4 Wall averaged 16.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.4 assists.

The 6″11 Cousins became one of the nation’s top big men and was the only player selected to the team who averaged a  double-double with 15.3 points and 10.1 rebounds. Wall and Cousins helped the Wildcats reach number 1 for one week.

Ohio State's Evan Turner (osu)

As a 6’7 point guard, Turner is considered to be one of the best all-around players in recent seasons, received all but one first-team vote from the 65-member national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25.  Turner missed six games after breaking bones in his back when he fell after a dunk in December.  The Buckeyes went .500 without him and then went on to the Big Ten title when he returned. Says Turner, “I’m definitely honored to be a part of a team like that and to be recognized. It’s really cool.”

Wall received 62 votes, while Johnson had 45, Reynolds 32 and Cousins 26 in voting conducted before the NCAA tournament.

Johnson, a transfer from Iowa State became an instant star with Syracuse this season.  The 6’7 forward averaged 16.0 points and 8.4 rebounds in leading the Orange to its number 1 ranking since 1990.

The 6’2 Reynolds averaged 18.5 points and shot 40 percent from 3-point range in becoming Villanova’s go-to-player with several spectacular second-half efforts.

James Anderson of Oklahoma State was sixth in the balloting with 27 votes and was joined on the second team by Sherron Collins of Kansas, Greivis Vasquez of Maryland, Jon Scheyer of Duke and Da’Sean Butler of West Virginia.

The third team was Greg Monroe of Georgetown, Cole Aldrich of Kansas, Damion James from Texas, Luke Harangody from Notre Dame and Darington Hobson of New Mexico.

Lima Central Catholic wins elusive state title; Coach Seggerson retires on top

Austin Stolly (L), Coach Bob Seggerson (M), Desi Kirkman (R) of Lima Central Catholic (megasportsnews.com)

Lima Central Catholic celebrates State title win (megasportsnews.com)

Columbus, Ohio–The Lima Central Catholic Thunderbirds basketball team finally gave long-time head coach Bob Seggerson a state championship over the weekend.

The Thunderbirds hung on for a 60-57 win over Orrville in the boys Division III Championship game at the Jerome Schottenstein Center before a crowd of 14,008.

Just as everybody was about to leave the press conference, Coach Seggerson said, “I just have one more thing to say. I’m walking out on top, guys.” This was the Thunderbirds fifth attempt at a State title and it made all of those past disappointments worthwhile for Seggerson and his program.

Bob Seggerson closes out a stellar career with a 517 wins, 209 losses in 32 seasons at Lima Central Catholic.

At the beginning of the game, it appeared that Lima Central Catholic was going to have to wait another year for a state title as they started out slow. Early in the first quarter, they were down 7-2 as Orrville started running and gunning and were able to get the shots they wanted while Lima Catholic couldn’t get a shot off without it being contested.

After the TV timeout at the 3:57 mark of the first quarter, the Thunderbirds seemed to be a different team as they made the necessary adjustments and got the ball to Austin Stolly who took control and scored on two free throws and a fast break layup to forge a 12-12 tie at the end of the first quarter.

The Lima Catholic momentum carried over into the second quarter as they began to take control of the game. Orrville tried a fullcourt press, but LCC guards Desi Kirkman and Austin Stolly were about to beat it at will and able to score. Kirkman had 6 points in the second quarter and their defense was able to get Orrville to commit several turnovers, 7 to be exact and Lima Catholic took a 26-20 advantage into the locker room.

Lima Catholic was led at halftime by Austin Stolly scored 8 points followed by Desi Kirkman had 6 and Jon Steiger hauled down 6 rebounds. The Thunderbirds won the rebounding battle, 21-15 and they had 7 turnovers. The one glaring stat was Lima Catholic was 0-9 from 3-point land.

Orrville’s halftime stat sheet wasn’t any better. The only player scoring was First All-Ohioan Jacob Bolyard who led the way with 7 points. They committed 9 turnovers and were 2-of-8 from the 3-point line.

Desi Kirkman's play all season aided Lima Central Catholic in winning the state title (megasportsnews.com)

Orrville head coach Sly Slaughter led the school to the state title game in his first season. (megasportsnews.com)

The third quarter would belong to Lima Central Catholic as well as Desi Kirkman would take over and lead the way with  4 points.  Orrville at one point went on an 8-2 run to cut the deficit to 30-28 but the Thunderbirds closed the quarter with a 13-6 run to lead 43-34.

The fourth quarter had the most excitement as Lima Central Catholic connecting on open shots, fast break layups and solid free throw shooting pushed their lead out to 14 at 48-34 with 6:37 to go in the game.

But little-by-little Orrville started to chip away at the lead. Zach Wasson, Joey Bescanson and Jacob Bolyard started making their shots and the 14-point deficit was cut to one at 56-55 with 59.4 seconds remaining.

After Orrville called the timeout at 59.4 seconds remaining, there was a key call in the game. It was on the north baseline as Lima Catholic inbounded the ball, Samuel Miller of Orrville knocked the ball off the leg of  Ty O’Connor’s leg and out of bounds. It was right in front this reporter’s media table and clearly went off of O’Connor and every media member in the vicinity agreed it was a bad call, but the referee said it was Lima Catholic’s ball.

Orrville has to foul and Ty O’Connor sinks two free throws at 55.4 seconds and the score was 58-55 Lima Catholic. Orrville on their possession, gets fouled and Zach Wasson makes both free throws and the deficit was one again at 58-57 with 42.4 to go. The Thunderbirds called a timeout with 39.8 seconds remaining.

After the timeout, Orrville waits to foul but the ball stays in the hands of Desi Kirkman and they have no choice but to foul with 30.1 on the clock. Kirkman makes both free throws and again, it a 3-point game at 60-57.  Orrville misses a 3-point shot and then Jacob Bolyard is called for his 5th foul at 20.7 . That would be a key as the game winds down because Bolyard is the best 3-point shooter on the Orrville team.

Jon Steiger shoots 2 free throws with 20.7 seconds left and misses both. Orrville grabs the rebound and calls a timeout with 15.3 left in regulation. With their best 3-point shooter Jacob Bolyard fouling out of the game just 5 seconds beforehand, Orrville coach Sly Slaughter had very limited options late in the game for 3-point shooters. The only option was Zach Wasson who out of the timeout found a double-team from Austin Stolly and Desi Kirkman and all wasson could do was hoist up a prayer and it barely grazed the rim and Lima Central Catholic found a way to finally win a State title for their popular coach.

“I think it was a fitting ending because we did it making a great defensive play, and that’s what this team was all about and what we’ve been known for all these years,” Coach Seggerson said.

The Thunderbirds ended the season at 23-4 and with a 20 -game winning streak. Their top performers include: Austin Stolly with 16 points, Desi Kirkman with 15 points and 6 assists and Ty O’Connor with 12.  Jon Steiger had 7 rebounds. Lima Central Catholic won the game at the free throw line at 18 of 26.

Orrville finished a fine season under first-year head coach Sly Slaughter with a 21-6 record which turned a struggling program into a winner. Leading the way was Jacob Bolyard with 14 points as well as Joey Bescanson with 14 and Zach Wasson with 12. Samuel Miller took care of the backboards, hauling down 12 rebounds. Orrville simply couldn’t make free throws going 10-19.

Coach Seggerson said, ” I never dreamed that my best game would be the last one of my life. I made this decision to retire as coach and guidance counselor about a month ago. I did all the rituals, like patting the back of the bus last night, knowing that it was my last time. What a way to end a wonderful career”.

SOUNDS FROM THE POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE (to listen to an audio file, click on the number)

44 708 Sly Slaughter Orrville coach Overall comments on the state title game

44 710 Sly Slaughter Orrville coach Offensive rebounds and free throw shooting hurt

44 711 Sly Slaughter Orrville coach Not having Jacob Bolyard on the floor to shoot at the end Everybody knew Zach Wasson was the next option

44 712 Sly Slaughter Orrville coach His team showed character in coming back but never got into a rhythm

44 718 Sly Slaughter Orrville coach Down 14 points in 4th qtr what said to team

44 719 Sly Slaughter Orrville coach only 1 coach ever won a title in first year He almost did it

44 723A Zach Wasson Orrville Forward On playing for first year coach Sly Slaughter

44 723B Jacob Bolyard Orrville Guard Playing for Sly Slaughter was fantastic

44 726 B Bob Seggerson Lima Catholic Coach Close games in Columbus follows this team

44 727 Bob Seggerson Lima Catholic On Lima Ohio winning a state title in basketball

44 731 Bob Seggerson Lima Catholic coach On Austin Stolly’s game and future of program

44 732A Austin Stolly Lima Catholic Playing for Bob Seggerson a legend

44 732B Desi Kirkman Lima Catholic Playing for longtime coach Bob Seggerson

44 733 Bob Seggerson Lima Catholic coach How Lima CC won the state beating some tough teams

44 734 Bob Seggerson Lima Catholic coach On soph Ty O’Connor playing vs physical teams

44 736 Bob Seggerson Lima Catholic coach On Austin Stolly and Desi Kirkman as leaders

44 737 Bob Seggerson Lima coach Future is Bright at Lima Central Catholic

44 744A Desi Kirkman Lima Catholic Defense is their staple at Lima Central Catholic

44 744B Austin Stolly Lima Catholic On being a defense first team

44 744C Bob Seggerson Lima Catholic On selling defense to his players first

44 745 Bob Seggerson Lima Catholic coach This was his last game he’s retiring

GAME NOTES

* Orrville is the home of former Ohio State basketball star Bobby Knight.

* Orrville is the home of Smucker’s Jelly.

* Orrville is located between Wooster and Massillon.

* Orrville won Division III state championships in 1992, 1995, and 1996 and with a win in this championship game.

* The Red Riders has won 10 Districts titles, five Regional Tournaments and have been a Regional runner-up once.

* The Red Riders senior, Jacob Bolyard was selected first team all-Ohio by the Associated Press.

* Neither Lima Central Catholic or Orrville were ranked in the final AP poll.  Orrville did appear at #20 in the first week of voting and at #17 in week two.  Lima Central Catholic never was mentioned in the polls.

* Lima Central Catholic has won 13 District championships, six Regional titles and has been Regional runner-up three times.

* Of the six final four appearances, Lima Central Catholic has been state runner-up twice, in 1989 and 1994.  Of the five losses Lima Central Catholic has had at the State Championship tournament, every one has been by one or two points.

Orrville Red Riders taking a timeout (megasportsnews.com)

Orrville fans having a good time (megasportsnews.com)


Seton Hall hires Kevin Willard to be head men’s basketball coach

compiled from staff and news reports

Kevin Williard has left Iona College to head the men’s basketball program at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey. The 34-year-old Williard replaces the controversial Bobby Gonzalez, who was fired on March 17 after a 19-win season that was beset by problems off the court.

Kevin Williard Seton Hall (SHU)

Gonzalez was fired a day after Seton Hall lost in the opening round of the NIT, a game in which Pirates forward Herb Pope was ejected for hitting a Texas Tech player below the belt. Gonzalez also picked up his seventh technical foul of the season.

Forward Robert Mitchell, who was kicked off the team days before the NIT game, was charged the same week with robbing eight people at gunpoint in South Orange. He pleaded not guilty.

A week before the season started, guard Keon Lawrence, a transfer,  was involved in a traffic in a traffic accident on the Garden State Parkway in which he was driving in the wrong direction, seriously injuring the driver of the other vehicle. Lawrence was charged with assault by an auto and driving with a suspended license, and was suspended for the first eight games of the season.

Rumors had been swirling for months that Patrick Hobbs, the law school dean who is overseeing the Seton Hall Pirates athletic department, wanted to get rid of Gonzalez because he had lost control of the program and that the school’s reputation was taking serious hits from the fans, media and alumni.

Kevin Willard took over the Iona Gaels program that was in the bottom 10 among Division I teams in the RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) three years ago and led the it to a 21-10 record this year, earning  the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) coach of the year award.  A former Pittsburgh guard, Williard is a disciple of Rick Pitino. He spent four years as a Boston Celtics assistant and followed Pitino to Louisville for another six years before arriving at Iona.

During his first year, the Gaels finished with 10 victories or more than the previous year, one of the top turnarounds in NCAA Division I in 2007-2008. They won two games during the 2006-2007 season.

Just like Bobby Gonzalez, Willard favors an uptempo, pressure defense and aggressive game.

Willard comes from a basketball pedigree.  His father, Ralph, was a head coach at Western Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Holy Cross, and currently is the associate head coach under Rick Pitino.

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