Sports News-April 18, 2013

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The NBA playoffs will open Saturday with New York hosting Boston, and Chicago visiting Brooklyn.  Defending champion and top-seeded Miami hosts Milwaukee on Sunday, and the Hawks visit the Indiana Pacers.  In the West, the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder play the Houston Rockets, San Antonio hosts the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver is home against Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers have the home-court edge against Memphis.
The Los Angeles Lakers moved up to the seventh seed in the West by outlasting Houston 99-95 in overtime behind Steve Blake's 24 points.  Pau Gasol had 17 points, 20 rebounds and eleven assists.  The Lakers were assured before their game of making the playoffs when the Utah Jazz lost to Memphis 86-70.

Emerging from a moment of silence with a deafening cheer, fans at the Bruins/Sabres NHL game paid tribute to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing with a stirring national anthem and a thunderous chant of "U.S.A.!"  The sold-out crowd at the first major sporting event in Boston since Monday's attack lined up for metal-detecting wands and random car inspections to get into the TD Garden.  The Boston Fire Department Honor Guard brought out the United States flag to honor the first responders who rushed to the aid of the three killed and more than 170 injured by the twin bombs at the marathon finish line.  Longtime Boston Garden troubadour Rene Rancourt took his place for the "Star-Spangled Banner."  But he sang only the first few lines, allowing the crowd to carry the tune while he pumped his fist to keep time.  The Buffalo Sabres edged the Bruins 3-2 in a shootout.

Devin Brooks of Iowa Western Community College has signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Creighton.  The 6’2 guard from New York City started all 35 games for Iowa Western last season, leading the team with 15.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists.  He is Iowa Western's all-time leader in assists.  Creighton coach Greg McDermott said Brooks is a player his coaching staff targeted for the Bluejays' transition from the Missouri Valley Conference to the Big East next season.  Brooks joins Zach Hanson of South Dakota, Darian Harris of Arkansas, and Toby Hegner of Wisconsin, as scholarship newcomers for next fall.  McDermott also announced guard Nevin Johnson plans to transfer.  Johnson averaged 2.2 points in 24 games last season.

The Nebraska men's basketball team has signed a 6’8, 250-pound forward to a letter of intent.  Leslee Smith played last season at Seward County Community College in Kansas after spending his first two years of college at Southern Methodist.  The native of the British Virgin Islands, bolsters the inside game for a Nebraska team that loses big men Brandon Ubel and Andre Almeida.  Coach Tim Miles said yesterday that Smith has the athleticism and skill to flourish in Nebraska's system.  Smith averaged 8.3 points and a team-leading 6.6 rebounds a game for Seward County CC last season.  Smith redshirted his first season at SMU.  He tore the ACL in his right knee in March 2011 and played 25 games the following season, averaging 3.8 points and 3.4 rebounds for the Mustangs.

Destin McCauley signed his letter of intent to join the Nebraska wrestling team for the 2013-14 season.  McCauley, who is projected to wrestle at 149 pounds, captured six state titles at Apple Valley High School in Minnesota and spent the last two years at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.  He was a Junior World Team member in addition to winning the Junior National Freestyle title.  At the 2012 FILA Junior Nationals, McCauley defeated five opponents including two-time All-American Hunter Stieber of Ohio State in the championship match at 66 kg.  McCauley joins Anthony Abidin, Colton McCrystal and Pat Downey, all of whom signed in the fall, as part of the 2013-14 Nebraska wrestling recruiting class.

Nebraska junior Chad Wright was honored by the Big Ten Conference as he was named the Big Ten Male Field Athlete of the Week.  He finished first in the discus at the Nebraska Quad last Saturday, notching a season best throw of 199-6.  Wright’s mark ranks first in the Big Ten and third in the nation this season.

Wayne State will conclude spring football practice Saturday with the team’s annual spring scrimmage beginning at 11:00 at Cunningham Field in Wayne.  Admission to the game is free and will last until around 12:15.  Head Coach Dan McLaughlin will be in the press box on public address describing plays during the scrimmage.  Wayne State has 17 starters returning from the 2012 team that was 6-5 overall.  It was the sixth straight winning season for Wildcat football, marking the first time in the 97-year history of the program that Wayne State has recorded six straight winning seasons.

Wayne State head volleyball coach Scott Kneifl announced today that Alex Opperman of Omaha Gross High School and Alexis Steffen from Hartington Cedar Catholic High School have signed letters of intent to play volleyball for the Wildcats in the 2013-14 academic year.  The two players join Alyssa Frauendorfer of Humphrey, Katie Kurtz of Papillion, Michaela Mestl of Kearney and Sydney Rose of Wakefield as members of the 2013 recruiting class.  Steffen is a 5’11 middle hitter/blocker where she was a three sport star in volleyball, basketball and track.  As a senior in volleyball she led the Trojans to the Class C-2 state title with a 31-5 record, recording 307 kills and 128 blocks which led her to be named honorary captain of the Omaha World Herald and Lincoln Journal Star Class C-2 All-State Teams.  Steffen also helped Hartington CC to a C-2 state runner-up finish as a sophomore and another state appearance as a junior in 2011.  Wayne State finished 22-10 overall last season and went 14-6 in conference play while qualifying for their eighth straight NCAA Central Regional Tournament.  They finished the 2012 season ranked 18th in the final AVCA Division II Top 25 Coaches’ Poll.

Wayne State Head Softball Coach Krista Wood announced that three players have signed a letter of intent to play softball for the Wildcats in 2013-2014 academic year.  Twin sisters Melanie and Monique Alyea (pronounced al-e-uh) of California and Katherine Curtis of Kansas will be included in the newest recruiting class along with Alyssa Schropp of Hastings, who signed during the NCAA early signing period in November.  Wayne State College is currently 23-7 on the season and leads the NSIC standings with a 14-2 league mark.

KJ Bluford of the Northeast Hawks men’s basketball team has signed a national letter of intent to play for Iowa State for next season.  Bluford is a 6’2 shooting guard leading the Hawks in scoring at 17.2 points.  He shot 37% from three-point range by making 110-295.  Bluford was also recruited by Creighton, Bradley, Drake, Evansville, Illinois State, Indiana State, and others.  He was named Second Team All Conference this year by the National Junior College Athletic Association Region 11.

The Omaha World Herald & Lincoln Journal Star have updated their high school soccer rankings.  In the boys rankings, in the Omaha World Herald, Omaha South remains first in the “Nebraska Top 10” & Class “A”.  In Class “B”, Omaha Skutt is once again first, Schuyler stays at number two, Columbus remains seventh, and Columbus Scotus jumps from ninth to eighth.  In the Lincoln Journal Star boys rankings, Omaha South stays at number one in Class “A”.  In Class “B”, Omaha Skutt remains first, Schuyler is once again third, Columbus moves up from seventh to sixth, and Columbus Scotus remains tenth.  In the Omaha World Herald girls rankings, Omaha Marian stays at number one in the “Nebraska Top 10” & Class “A”.  In Class “B”, Omaha Skutt is once again first and Columbus Scotus jumps from fourth to third.  In the Lincoln Journal Star rankings, Omaha Marian remains first in Class “A”.  In Class “B”, Omaha Skutt stays at number one and Columbus Scotus jumps from fifth to fourth.

Local Schedule:  Nfk High at Elkhorn (B Socc.-7:30); Elkhorn at Nfk High (G Socc.-7:30); Nfk High at Wayne (Bsbl-7:00); Albuquerque at Omaha Storm Chasers (Bsbl-6:35); Nfk Cath at Pierce Inv. (T&F-Ppd. To Sat. At 8:30 AM); Nfk Cath at Columbus Scotus Inv. (BG-Ppd. To Fri. At 12:00); LHNE Boys Golf Inv. (Ppd. to May 1st at 9:00 AM at Nfk CC).

Local Scores:  Albuquerque at Omaha Storm Chasers (Bsbl-Ppd.).

      Final    Kansas  City      1    Atlanta      0
      Final    N-Y  Yankees      4    Arizona      3
        Texas    at    Chi  Cubs    (8:05  p.m.,    postponed,  Rain)
      Final            Oakland                  7    Houston          5
      Final            Boston                    6    Cleveland      3
      Final            Tampa  Bay              6    Baltimore      2
      Final            Chi  White  Sox      7    Toronto          0
      Final            Detroit                  2    Seattle          1,  14  Innings
        L.A.  Angels    at    Minnesota    (8:10  p.m.,    postponed,  Rain)
      Final    Pittsburgh      5    St.  Louis              0
      Final    Cincinnati    11    Philadelphia        2
      Final    Washington      6    Miami                      1
      Final    Milwaukee        4    San  Francisco      3
      Final    San  Diego        7    L.A.  Dodgers        2
        N-Y  Mets    at    Colorado    (8:40  p.m.,    postponed,  Rain)
      Final          New  York              98    Atlanta                  92
      Final          Toronto              114    Boston                    90
      Final          Charlotte          105    Cleveland              98
      Final          Brooklyn            103    Detroit                  99
      Final          Milwaukee            95    Oklahoma  City      89
      Final          Minnesota          108    San  Antonio          95
      Final          Dallas                  99    New  Orleans          87
      Final          Miami                  105    Orlando                  93
      Final          Philadelphia    105    Indiana                  95
      Final          Denver                118    Phoenix                  98
      Final          Memphis                86    Utah                        70
      Final          Chicago                95    Washington            92
      Final          Golden  State      99    Portland                88
      Final  OT    L-A  Lakers          99    Houston                  95
      Final          L-A  Clippers    112    Sacramento          108
      Final            Pittsburgh      6    Montreal      4
      Final  2OT    Buffalo            3    Boston          2  (SO  Buffalo  1-0)
      Final            Calgary            3    Detroit        2
      Final  OT      Columbus          3    Anaheim        2

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