Sports News-April 30, 2013

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Washington Wizards center and twelve-year NBA veteran Jason Collins is receiving accolades after becoming the first active player from one of the four United States major pro sports leagues to acknowledge he's gay.  President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton spoke of Collins' courage, tennis great Martina Navratilova called him a pioneer, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers compared him to Jackie Robinson and Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash simply tweeted, "The time has come."

Tim Tebow is no longer a member of the New York Jets, waived by the team yesterday after one season.  The drafting of West Virginia's Gino Smith last week opened the door for the departure of the former Denver signal-caller.

Brook Lopez and Deron Williams each had double-doubles as the Brooklyn Nets downed Chicago 110-91 to force a sixth game in the NBA first-round series.  Lopez finished with 28 points and ten rebounds, while Williams delivered 23 points and ten assists to help the Nets win for the first time since the series opener.  Andray Blatche provided ten of his 13 points while the Nets outscored the Bulls 33-18 in the final period, one game after Brooklyn blew a 14-point lead over the last four minutes of regulation and lost in triple-overtime.
Josh Smith scored 29 points and grabbed eleven rebounds as the Atlanta Hawks beat Indiana 102-91.  The Pacers cut a 17-point halftime deficit to 84-79 with less than five minutes left before Smith swished a rare three-pointer.  Kyle Korver finished with 19 points on 7-11 shooting, and Al Horford added 18 points for the winners.
Chandler Parsons scored 27 points and Houston avoided a four-game sweep by defeating Oklahoma City 105-103.  The Thunder had two chances to tie it in the final seconds, but Serge Ibaka grabbed a rebound off a Reggie Jackson jumper and missed a layup at the buzzer.  Oklahoma City failed to close out the series despite Kevin Durant, who shot 12-16 and finished with 38 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

The seven-year-old cancer patient who became an Internet sensation for his touchdown run in Nebraska's spring football game has yet another fan in President Barack Obama.  Jack Hoffman, his family and former Cornhuskers running back Rex Burkhead visited Obama for 15 minutes in the Oval Office yesterday.  Jack's father, Andy Hoffman, said Obama presented his son with a new football and told him he was proud of him.  Burkhead befriended Jack shortly after the boy was diagnosed with brain cancer.  Their friendship grew into the "Team Jack" campaign that has raised awareness and funds for research.  Jack's 69-yard TD run has been viewed almost eight million times on YouTube.  Senator Deb Fischer, helped arrange the Washington visit for the Hoffmans, of Atkinson, and Burkhead.

The Nebraska volleyball program has lost another player.  Coach John Cook announced last night that rising sophomore Alexa Strange is returning to her home state of California and will focus on playing beach volleyball.  Cook says he wishes her the best.  She was the only setter on the Cornhuskers' roster this spring.  Strange played in 25 matches last season as a right-side hitter.  Last week Cook announced Hayley Thramer would miss her senior season because of a knee injury.  Thramer, from Ewing, is the fifth starter from last season who will be missing.  Three seniors graduated, and libero Lara Dykstra transferred.

Creighton assistant men’s basketball coach Steve Merfeld has been named director of player development and Patrick Sellers has been hired from Hofstra to take Merfeld's former job.  Coach Greg McDermott, who announced the moves yesterday, said he created the player development position to strengthen the staff as the Bluejays move from the Missouri Valley Conference to the Big East.  Merfeld was a head coach at Evansville and Hampton for a combined ten years before moving to Creighton three years ago.  He has worked mostly with the post players and has been heavily involved in scouting, recruiting and scheduling.  McDermott said Merfeld would have a say in every decision.  Sellers gives the Bluejays an assistant with East Coast ties.  He has worked at Connecticut, Massachusetts and Central Connecticut State in addition to Hofstra.

Former Wichita State forward Jake White will transfer into the Nebraska-Omaha men's basketball program in 2013-14, head coach Derrin Hansen announced yesterday.  White is a 6’8, 230-pound forward who played two seasons at Wichita State.  In compliance with NCAA transfer rules, he will sit out the 2013-14 season at UNO and will be eligible to play again in 2014-15.  White was part of the Wichita State squad that went to the 2013 NCAA Final Four playing limited minutes.

Creighton sophomore Jake Peter was one of 24 players named to the 2013 Olerud Award Watch List for the Two-Way Player of the Year Award presented by the National College Baseball Hall of Fame.  The Olerud Award, presented on June 29 in Lubbock, Texas, as part of the College Baseball Hall of Fame's annual Night of Champions, recognizes baseball players who excel both on the mound and in the field.  Peter leads Creighton at the plate with a .381 average and also has a team-best 1.54 ERA in twelve appearances this season.  He also leads the Bluejays in hits, total bases, saves, and opposing batting average.

Nebraska-Omaha junior infielder Tyler Splichal has been named Summit League Baseball Player of the Week for his performance April 22-28.  The honor is the first weekly league award of his career.  Splichal helped the Mavericks to a four-game series split with North Dakota State over the weekend, hitting .625 with eight RBI, six runs, two walks, two doubles and a triple.  He had a .667 on-base percentage and a .875 slugging percentage and had three multi-hit games for the weekend.

Nebraska junior right-hander Tatum Edwards was named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week.  The weekly honor was the first of the season for Edwards and the third of her career.  She was honored after posting a 2-1 record against ninth ranked Michigan last weekend.  In addition to her outstanding work in the circle, Edwards also produced big hits at the plate.  She went 5-6 in the series with a double, a home run and three RBIs.  Her two-run homer on Sunday ignited Nebraska’s rally from a four-run deficit.

The Wayne State athletic department honored its top student athletes for the 2012-13 school year last night during the annual athletic honors banquet.  Seven major awards were handed out at the banquet along with Most Valuable Players announced for each sport.  Senior football player Richard Daniel was named Male Athlete of the Year while junior track and field All-American Carly Fehringer collected Female Athlete of the Year honors.  Freshman athlete of the year honors went to baseball player Eric Browning and volleyball player Leisa McClintock while junior women’s basketball player Kara Powell received the ninth annual Wildcat Inspiration Award.  In addition, junior baseball player CJ Nolen and senior volleyball player Melanie Placke received the Bob Cunningham Scholar-Athlete Awards.

The Norfolk Catholic/Lutheran High Northeast boys soccer team’s season has reached the end of the road.  The team lost to South Sioux City 8-2 in the opening round of the B-4 District Tournament at Wilderness Park last night.  Ethan Hale & Alex Kraenow scored the two goals for the team.  Norfolk Catholic/Lutheran High Northeast finishes 4-8.

The Lutheran High Northeast/Norfolk Catholic girls soccer team’s season has came to a close.  The team dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to Columbus in the opening round of the B-4 District Tournament at Wilderness Park last night.  The Discoverers’ Brandee Graham had the game-winner at the 95:25 mark.  Lutheran High Northeast/Norfolk Catholic’s goals came courtesy of Morgan Molacek & Kristin Maguire.  Morgan Uhlir had 19 saves.  They finish their season with a 3-8 record.

The Norfolk High girls tennis team participated at yesterday’s Capital City Invite in Lincoln.  Lincoln East was the champion with 43 points, Lincoln Pius X was second with 38 points, and Norfolk & Lincoln High tied for third with 37.  Emily Kortje placed third in #1 Singles with a 3-1 record.  Kayla Fowler was fourth in #2 Singles with a 2-2 mark.  Emma Kwapnioski & Whitney Schutt were the champions in #1 Doubles with a 4-0 record.  McKenzie Essley & Logan Maggart went 1-3 in #2 Doubles.

The Norfolk Catholic boys golf team competed in yesterday’s Boone Central/Newman Grove Invitational at the Albion Country Club.  Wayne was the team champion with a score of 341.  They won by five strokes.  The Knights took fourth with a score of 356.  Sam Morse of Columbus Lakeview was the medalist with a score of 71.  He won by nine strokes.  Norfolk Catholic’s Derek Holmquist placed ninth with an 84 and teammate Brandon Clausen was 14th with an 88.

The Lutheran High Northeast boys golf team won a triangular yesterday with Heartland Lutheran & Lincoln Lutheran at Crooked Creek Golf Club in Lincoln.  The Eagles shot a 369 while Heartland Lutheran carded a 374 and Lincoln Lutheran shot 417.  Lutheran High Northeast's Payton Baker was the medalist with an 80.  He won by nine strokes.

Local Schedule:  Nfk High Vs. Lincoln Pius X at Aldrich Field, Lincoln (A-7 B Socc. Dist. Tourn.-5:45); Nfk High Vs. Omaha Burke at Seacrest Field, Lincoln (A-7 G Socc. Dist. Tourn.-7:00); Nfk High at Fremont Archbishop Bergan (Bsbl DH-5:00); Nfk High at Lincoln Pius X Inv. At Arbor Links GC (BG-9:00 AM); Grand Island at Nfk High (G Tenn. Dual-4:00); Kansas St. At Creighton (Bsbl-6:30); Omaha Storm Chasers at New Orleans (Bsbl-7:00).

Local Scores:  Nfk High 152 Columbus 162 (BG Dual); New Orleans 6 Omaha Storm Chasers 3 (Bsbl).

NBA Playoffs:  Brooklyn 110 Chicago 91 (2-3); Atlanta 102 Indiana 91 (2-2); Houston 105 Oklahoma City 103 (1-3).

      Final    Houston          9    N-Y  Yankees      1
      Final    Detroit          4    Minnesota          3
      Final    Cleveland      9    Kansas  City      0
      Final    Seattle          6    Baltimore          2
      Final    L.A.  Angels      10    Oakland      8, 19 Innings
      Final            Miami                      4    N-Y  Mets              3,  15  Innings
      Final            Atlanta                  3    Washington          2
      Final            Chi  Cubs                5    San  Diego            3
      Final            Milwaukee            10    Pittsburgh          4
      Final            Cincinnati            2    St.  Louis            1
      Final            San  Francisco      6    Arizona                4
      Final            Colorado              12    L.A.  Dodgers      2
      Final    Brooklyn    110    Chicago                  91
      Final    Atlanta      102    Indiana                  91
      Final    Houston      105    Oklahoma  City    103

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