Local sports roundup: Hospice tourney raises more than $210,000

The 18th annual Hockey for Hospice tournament raised more than $210,000 during the three-day tournament in Windsor and Essex County.

The LaSalle White Lightning atom team collected $6,000 of pledges. The Belle River pee wee team were second by raising $4,477.

“Every year, we get more and more teams and every year the response is excellent,” tournament co-chair Paul Pietraszko said. “The fundraiser has never gone backwards.”

Aaron Rice of the LaSalle State Farm Insurance was the top individual fundraiser, collecting $3,100. Rice won two gold tickets to the Air Canada Centre Feb. 1 to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Ottawa Senators.

The top prize also includes transportation to Toronto by Via Rail and a one night stay at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel.

Riverside semis
Three local teams advanced to today’s semifinal games at the 54th annual Riverside Bantam-Midget Tournament at the WFCU Centre.

In the bantam major division, the Windsor Jr. Spitfires will face the Erie North Shores Storm and Chatham-Kent will take on the Toronto East End Ticats. Both games are at 9 a.m.

In the midget minor semifinals, the host Riverside Rangers will face the Sarnia Sting and the LaSalle Sabres take on Kentucky Norse. Both games begin at 11 a.m.

The Windsor Jr. Spitfires and LaSalle Sabres will play in the bantam minor championship game at 1:30 p.m.

In the midget major final, the Jr. Spitfires blanked the Riverside Rangers 5-0 Sunday night.

Ekblad scores
Belle River’s Aaron Ekblad scored a goal in Canada’s 5-4 shootout loss to the Czech Republic at the world junior hockey championships in Sweden Saturday.

Two Czech goals by Vojtech Tomecek and Jakub Vrana were the direct result of missed coverages off defensive zone faceoffs.

“We have to be more passionate about doing the little things to win,” Ekblad said.

Tecumseh’s Kerby Rychel was scoreless for Team Canada, which will face Slovakia today (11:30 a.m., TSN).
Canada will play the United States Tuesday (11:30 a.m., TSN).

Sports Illustrated
Maple Leafs fan Mark Micelli of Lakeshore was featured in this week’s Sports Illustrated with Sportsman of the Year Peyton Manning on the cover.

The four-page story centred on Micelli’s YouTube video from Game 7 of the Boston-Toronto playoff series.

“Modern fandom isn’t just about dealing with heartbreak (Maple Leafs diehards have that part nailed),” the story said. “It’s about sharing that pain with hundreds of thousands of your closest YouTube friends.”

The story also updated viewers about the next generation of Leafs fans.

“They’ve even bought clothes for the baby girl (Ryan) Boutette is having with his girlfriend, Nickie Ribest, one of the women who was in the video, thus introducing another generation to the futility of rooting for Toronto.”

Canada vs. U.S.
Ruthven’s Meghan Agosta-Marciano scored a goal in Canada’s 3-2 shootout loss against the United States in an exhibition women’s hockey game Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

Agosta-Marciano took a pass from Hayley Wickenheiser and beat goaltender Jessie Vetter in the third period.

In the shootout, Vetter stopped Agosta-Marciano. The two teams will meet again tonight in Toronto (7 p.m., TSN).

OHL roundup
Tecumseh’s Sam Studnicka of the Ottawa 67′s had his third two-point game of the season Saturday.

Studnicka had a goal and an assist in a 5-0 win in Belleville and he added an assist in Sunday’s 6-3 loss in Oshawa. He has five goals and eight assists for 13 points in 35 games.

Also, ex-Spit Brandon Devlin scored two goals in Peterborough’s 4-2 win at home against Oshawa Saturday.

Devlin is tied for third in goals among OHL defencemen with nine goals, one less than Belle River’s Aaron Ekblad who is playing at the world junior championships in Sweden.

Junior B
Dylan Denomme of the LaSalle Vipers scored a goal in Team Ludzik’s 10-4 loss against Team Vaive at the junior B hockey all-star game in Port Colborne Sunday.

LaSalle’s Brett Langlois and goalie Cameron Zanussi also played for Team Ludzik. Zanussi allowed five goals on 21 shots.

In the Top Prospects Game, LaSalle’s Andrew Burns had two goals and one assist in Team White’s 5-4 shootout loss against Team Blue.

Austin Hall, Mark Manchurek and Devon Paliani of the Vipers and Daniel Robertson of the Leamington Flyers were scoreless for Team White.

Junior C
The Essex 73’s improved to 4-0 against the Belle River Canadiens in junior C hockey Sunday.

Amherstburg native Corey Beaulieu scored two goals for the 73’s in a 7-1 victory over the Canadiens.

Matthew Hebert, Philip Janikowski, Scott Bromley, Colin DeLaet and Daniel McIntyre added goals and Darien Ekblad made 22 saves for Essex. Sebastian Kanally scored Belle River’s only goal and Mitch Topliffe made 24 saves.

Also Sunday, Jordan Luciw scored with :59 left in the third period and Mark Sobocan added the winner in overtime to give the Amherstburg Admirals a 3-2 victory over the Wallaceburg Lakers.

Kyle Morand had the other goal and Arren Romeril posted the win in goal.

In Blenheim, the Wheatley Sharks lost 3-2 to the Blades. Mike Reid and Shawn Hope scored goals and Conner MacKinnon faced 51 shots.

Lancers hoops
The women’s basketball team at the University of Windsor is 2-0 heading into today’s final game at the Lancers Holiday Classic at the St. Denis Centre.

The three-time CIS champions beat Fraser Valley 66-39 Saturday and they defeated UQAM 76-49 Sunday. Jessica Clemencon had 19 points.

Novak Djokovic to skip lead-up tournaments ahead of Australian Open

NOVAK Djokovic has confirmed he’ll attempt to win his fifth Australian Open title without an official match under his belt in eight weeks.

World No.2 Djokovic has returned to play this week’s six-man exhibition event in Abu Dhabi – his first competition since winning both of his singles matches in Serbia’s Davis Cup final loss to Czech Republic in mid-November.


But that will be it before he attempts to win the Australian Open for a fourth straight year from January 13.

“My first tournament is going to be (Abu Dhabi) and the first official one is going to be in Melbourne,” said Djokovic, who also won the Open in 2008.

“I’m not going to play in the opening weeks of the season because I feel like I didn’t have enough time to get myself in the right shape for competition mode.

“It’s why I’ve selected to play only in these few matches here and then move on to Melbourne (to prepare for the Open).”

The Australian Open will also be Djokovic’s first grand slam since adding Boris Becker to his coaching staff.

The 26-year-old feels the six-time major winner can help both technically on court as well mentally in his preparation for events, but says there will be no radical overhaul.

“We’re not going to make any major changes. I already feel like I’m a complete player,” he said.

“He had a great serve and he can help me in different parts of my game on court as well, including the mental aspect.

“So, at the end of the day, the combination of Boris and (head coach) Marian (Vajda), who is still on board and still part of our team, will hopefully be the winning combination for me and (will mean) that I will manage to get better and improve my game.”

Becker has been hired after Djokovic had a disappointing 2013 by his own high standards.

He won the Australian Open but lost to Rafael Nadal in the French Open semi-finals and again in the US Open final, as well as losing to Andy Murray in the Wimbledon final.

However he still managed to end the ATP Tour season with victories in his final four events, including a pair of head-to-head finals wins over world No.1 Nadal.

FCC looking to eliminate sports blackout rule

You might not ever have to go another NFL game again because you’ll be able to watch them all on TV. The Federal Communications Commission took the first step on Wednesday towards repealing its highly unpopular sports blackout rule. The rule has been in place since 1975 and prevents sporting events from being televised live if the event isn’t sold out.

The FCC’s five-member commission voted unanimously in favor of repealing the rule, however, that’s just the first step in the process. The FCC will now invite public comment on the issue and then a ruling should be handed down sometime in the first half of 2014.

Why change the sports blackout rule after 38 years? In voting to repeal the blackout rule, the FCC basically acknowledged that it’s an outdated rule.

“The sports blackout rules were originally adopted nearly 40 years ago when game ticket sales were the main source of revenue for sports leagues,” the FCC wrote in its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. “Changes in the sports industry in the last four decades have called into question whether the sports blackout rules remain necessary to ensure the overall availability of sports programming to the general public.”

As you might have imagined, the NFL is against eliminating the sports blackout policy. In a statement, the league said that it will “strongly oppose any change in the rule. We are on pace for a historic low number of blackouts since the policy was implemented 40 years ago. While affecting very few games the past decade, the blackout rule is very important in supporting NFL stadiums and the ability of NFL clubs to sell tickets and keeping our games attractive as television programming with large crowds.”

The NFL has only had one game blacked out this season. That happened in Week 13 in San Diego when the Chargers hosted the Bengals. The NFL will have its second blackout of the year on Sunday in Buffalo, when the Bills host the Dolphins.

Even if the sports blackout rule is eliminated, that doesn’t mean blackouts will go away for good. Any sports league would still have the right to negotiate blackouts into its television contract. So the NFL could tell CBS, NBC, ESPN or Fox that if they want to keep their television rights, they have to agree to some sort of blackout policy. The FCC even acknowledged that repealing the sports blackout rule might not eliminate blackouts.

“We recognize that elimination of our sports blackout rules alone might not end sports blackouts, but it would leave sports carriage issues to private solutions negotiated by the interested parties in light of current market conditions and eliminate unnecessary regulation,” the FCC wrote.

So basically, even if sports blackouts end, they might not end.

Federer can play until he is 60, says Nastase

Roger Federer should play until he is 60 if he wants to, according to Romanian former world number one Ilie Nastase.

The Swiss 17-times Grand Slam champion has slipped down to sixth in the world rankings and won only one title this year, prompting many to suggest he is a spent force at 32.

Nastase the former bad boy of tennis, believes Federer should not listen to the naysayers, however.

“I wish people wouldn’t say that Roger Federer has to retire,” the 67-year-old former French Open and US Open champion was quoted as saying in the Romanian media.

“I think he should play for as long as he wants.

“I don’t agree with those people who say that you should retire when you’re past your absolute best or prime.

“No, Federer doesn’t have to prove anything, he can play to 60 if he wants to.”

Federer, who has spent a record 302 weeks as world number one during his illustrious career, is still one of the biggest draws in tennis, according to Nastase, even if he has fallen behind players such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

“If Federer wants to carry on playing, no-one is going to say: ‘No, we don’t want Federer to play’.

“He is going to retire when he feels like it. I don’t think that he has to retire just because he is no longer the world number one. That happens to everybody, as you can’t stay as the world number one forever. He retires whenever.”

Nastase himself retired from the Tour at the age of 39 but continued playing invitational seniors events into his 60s.

Jerry Jones standing by coach

ARLINGTON, Texas — Owner and general manager Jerry Jones bristled when asked about Jason Garrett’s job security after the Dallas Cowboys blew a 23-point lead in the second half of Sunday’s loss to the Green Bay Packers, saying it was “not appropriate” to discuss the issue after one of the “hardest losses that I’ve experienced.”

Jones added that it’d be a “bad mistake” to leap to any conclusions based on his unwillingness to directly address the subject on Sunday, when the Cowboys blew a chance to reclaim possession of first place in the NFC East.

Jones gave Garrett a vote of confidence during the Cowboys’ bye week last month, guaranteeing his head coach’s return in 2014. He expressed displeasure when asked if that commitment had wavered in the wake of two straight losses that dropped Dallas to 7-7.

“Let me just say this: I’m clear and I don’t choose to talk about that or talk about several things about the franchise right now,” Jones said. “This is not appropriate to talk about it right now. We’ve just had a loss.

“Are you going to be back? Are you going to be back? Are you going to be back? Each one of you guys going to be back?” Jones added, pointing to individual reporters. “I’m going to be back. So will everybody else be back that’s in [the Cowboys’ locker room]? Everybody that’s eligible and has got a contract.”

The Cowboys are 28-26 during Garrett’s tenure as coach, which began when Wade Phillips was fired midway through the 2010 season. Dallas went 8-8 the last two seasons and is in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year, which would be the franchise’s longest postseason drought since 1986-90.

Jones, who has hired seven head coaches since buying the Cowboys in 1989, has changed his mind on a coach’s job security in the recent past. He was adamant that he wouldn’t fire Phillips in midseason but reversed course after the Cowboys were blown out by the Packers to fall to 1-7.

Yet, Jones indicated Sunday that he didn’t feel a need to state that his long-term commitment to Garrett remained firm.

“I was firm for one night at that time and that doesn’t call for me having to be firm every morning I get up,” Jones said. “So I was real firm then, so take that to the bank. Just take that to the bank. I’m not going to sit here and every time I see you guys ask whether I’m firm or not. We can all play that game.”

Jones acknowledged that the Cowboys’ 37-36 loss to the Packers on Sunday, when Green Bay scored 20 points in the fourth quarter and Dallas quarterback Tony Romo was intercepted twice in the final three minutes, was one of the “hardest losses that I’ve experienced.” This came on the heels of a 45-28 blowout loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday night, when the Dallas defense didn’t force one punt.

“It is at those particular times that you ask that,” Jones said, referring to questions about Garrett’s job security. “Don’t in any way interpret in any way my refusal to get involved in that kind of discussion here tonight with anything different about me and Jason’s future. That’d be a bad mistake to think anything is different.”

Told that he was being given a chance to slam the door on speculation, Jones said that wasn’t necessary.

William Morris Likely Top Bidder for Sports Agency

As the auction for the global sports powerhouse IMG draws to a close, the Los

Angeles-based talent agency William Morris Endeavor appears poised to submit

the highest bid.

Offers for the company were due Friday from three bidders, and a decision could

come as early as Saturday.

Backed by Silver Lake Partners, its private equity investor of less than two

years, William Morris Endeavor plans to offer more than $2 billion for the

sports agency, according to people briefed on the matter who spoke on the

condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.

Peter Chernin, a former News Corporation executive who now runs a media

investment firm, has joined the European fund CVC Capital and other investors

in a bid for less than $2 billion, according to people briefed on the matter

who spoke on the condition of anonymity because details of the auction were


ICM Partners, another Los Angeles-based talent agency working with the private

equity firm Carlyle Group, will most likely also bid less than $2 billion.

Representatives for IMG and its parent company, Forstmann Little, declined to

comment. Representatives for Mr. Chernin, Carlyle and Silver Lake also declined

to comment.

Mr. Chernin, as a former top executive at News Corporation, has experience in

the sports industry, having overseen Fox Sports. A deal with IMG could create

savings for the two Los Angeles-based talent agencies, which each have ties to

film, television and other media.

For Silver Lake, IMG could also be an attractive way to diversify William

Morris Endeavor’s business should it ever wish to take the agency public.

The private equity firm Forstmann Little acquired IMG for $750 million in 2004,

and the company has transformed it from a talent agency to a diversified

international operation that includes sports event production, licensing,

fashion and other businesses. IMG handles retailing and licensing for the All

England Lawn Tennis Club, which organizes the Wimbledon tennis tournament.

Although IMG handles top-tier athletes and entertainers, including Peyton

Manning and Justin Timberlake, its representation activities now account for

less than 10 percent of its cash flow, according to people close to the


The company had been projecting earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation

and amortization, or Ebitda, of $200 million for 2013, but IMG and Forstmann

Little have more recently brought that figure down closer to $180 million.

The company has a robust college sports business, which sells merchandise for

200 sports properties across the country and represents the multimedia rights

for nearly 100 colleges and universities. But its sale of national sponsorships

has lagged somewhat in recent months, according to a person close to the

agency’s activities.

Mark McCormack and the golf legend Arnold Palmer started IMG through a

handshake deal in 1960.

IMG has for years been the subject of sale speculation, ignited by Mr.

McCormack’s death in 2003 and fueled by the death of Theodore J. Forstmann,

Forstmann Little’s founder, in 2011.

IMG began preparing for a sale at the end of 2012, hiring Morgan Stanley and

Evercore earlier this year to market the company. The two banks reached out to

an unusually large pool of potential buyers, which at one point included the

talent agency Creative Artists Agency and the real estate investment firm

Colony Capital.

Why Boxing Has a Problem If Adrien Broner Is the Sport’s Future

That, in itself, is nothing unusual in the world of sport. The NFL has cheerleaders, scantily clad even in winter months, giving us T’s, E’s, A’s and M’s. The NBA has dance teams and cheerleaders—often in the same building.

MMA does them both one better. Dana White has athletes on his roster who could double as pin-up models. That’s progressive thinking.

Boxing hasn’t quite gotten there, despite the best efforts of the Laila Ali’s and Holly Holm’s of the world. But in boxing, almost every press conference, and certainly every fight, features a bevy of beautiful and buxom women, either standing aimlessly on the stage with frozen smiles carefully in place or walking around the ring to inform people what round it is.

Adrien Broner, as is his way, has taken the paradigm and, more than shifted it, smacked it in the face and made it his own. The talented welterweight’s latest viral video, all of 54 seconds in length, featured two beautiful girls—described as “bi-racial” dancers—having sex with him. As Drake sang softly in the background, Broner, with a smirk on his face but no condom on his stuff, went about his business in a slow and steady fashion.

It was as awkward as it sounds.

“I’m young and I’m having fun,” Broner said, by way of explanation. “I want to apologize to everyone out there. I didn’t leak it.”

Disclaimer aside—and everyone who leaks a sex tape has the same sneering denial—Broner seems willing to do just about anything to fast track his ticket to the top of the entertainment world. He’s seen how being outrageous has rewarded mentor Floyd Mayweather. Now nearing his prime, Broner appears to think it’s his turn to bask in the limelight.

In his last fight, Broner and Paulie Malignaggi engaged in a bitter feud that bordered on filthy. That drew headlines but not the lasting attention that Broner apparently craves. The sex tape takes it to another level. If sports fans hadn’t heard of Broner before, they have now. There’s nothing like an old-fashioned sex scandal to bring someone on the fringes of celebrity into the public eye.

But questions remain about what will follow. While Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton have both ridden a sex tape to long-term infamy, others, like Rob Lowe and Pamela Anderson, have moved on with their lives.

Which camp will Broner fall in? As his fame grows, will his appetite for transgressive antics increase in equal measure? That potential escalation concerns Boxing News

Big Jerk, Bigger Hero

he same book, his own mother called him greedy.

In Barry’s second NBA season, the one in which he scored 40.8 points per game in a losing effort in the finals, observers sniffed dismissively and called him a ball hog. Despite his consistently high assist totals, fans derided Barry, wrote Ron Reid in Sports Illustrated in 1974, as someone who “would sooner give blood than give the ball to a teammate.” An unflattering 1983 Sports Illustrated profile by Tony Kornheiser cemented his poor reputation, featuring a string of stinging quotes from old teammates and associates:

“He had a bad attitude. He was always looking down at you.”—Robert Parish
“[H]e lacks diplomacy. If they sent him to the U.N. he’d end up starting World War III.”—Mike Dunleavy
“You’ll never find a bunch of players sitting around talking about the good old days with Rick. His teammates and opponents generally and thoroughly detested him.”—former Warriors executive Ken Macker

And then there’s the Bill Russell “watermelon grin” incident, which is discussed at length in Bill Simmons’ sublime The Book of Basketball. During the second half of Game 5 of the 1981 NBA Finals, CBS play-by-play man Gary Bender drew attention to a 1956 Olympic team photograph, one in which Russell, the African-American basketball legend, was smiling ear to ear. Barry, working alongside Russell as an on-air analyst, commented jokingly, “It looks like some fool over there with that, um, that big watermelon grin.” Amazingly, CBS chose to put the camera on the announcing table after the exchange, focusing in as Russell physically turned his back to Barry. I defy you to find a more awkward sequence in television history. (Though unfortunately all evidence of this amazing scene seems to have vanished from YouTube.) How can Barry ever explain that away?

The only thing you can say in Barry’s defense is that he’s an equal-opportunity offender. Unhappy with the prospect of being forced to play for the ABA’s Virginia Squires, Barry strategically offended everyone south of the Mason-Dixon line, telling Sports Illustrated, “My son Scooter is supposed to go to nursery school this year. I hate to think of the complications that’ll cause in Virginia. I don’t want him to go down there to school and learn to speak with a Southern accent. He’ll come home from school saying, ‘Hi y’all, Daad.’ I sure don’t want that.”

“Rick’s a superstar,” says his former coach Al Attles. “Superstars aren’t like the rest of us.” Maybe so. Yet not even a professional sports league desperate for a great white hope in the 1970s would bestow marquee promotional status on Rick Barry.

OK, enough with the Barry bashing—it’s time to set the record straight. Like his championship-winning 1975 Golden State Warriors, Rick Barry was a man way, way ahead of his time. What credit does Barry deserve? The credit that Curt Flood gets for his fight that led to the elimination of the reserve clause in baseball, and the birth of free agency. That credit should go to Barry, especially in professional basketball. Barry challenged the reserve clause in court in 1967, two years before Flood. He was the first modern professional athlete to do so.

The only time I’ve seen Barry credited properly in a piece of popular writing is in a footnote in Simmons’ The Book of Basketball: “Baseball player Curt Flood gets credit for standing up to The Man and paving the way for a new era of sports contracts, only Barry did the same two years earlier. So why doesn’t he get the credit? Because Rick Barry was a dick.” (Terry Pluto’s brilliant, definitive ABA oral history Loose Balls mentions Barry’s role well, but does not equate the basketball star with Flood.)

When Barry challenged the reserve clause by trying to leap from the NBA to the fledgling ABA, everyone called him greedy. Who the hell does a professional basketball player—someone who plays a kids’ game and gets paid for it—think he is to ask for more? As Ron Reid put it in his 1974 Sports Illustrated story, “Other basketball players—and athletes in other sports—have since jumped teams after breakfast and before dinner on some days, but Barry, who led the way, remains in contempt, not a pioneer but a Hessian, marching only to the sound of the fullest cash register.”

The truth is that it wasn’t about the money for Barry—the contract offers he weighed from the NBA and ABA were both for $75,000. He recalled his basic thinking in Terry Pluto’s Loose Balls:

FFA dreams of an all-Sydney A-League final

Football Federation Australia is preparing for a possible all Sydney A-League grand final, booking out ANZ Stadium to host the potential blockbuster on May

The FFA has pencilled in ANZ Stadium to host the grand final if the Western Sydney Wanderers (second) meet Sydney FC (fourth) in the decider, but also haven’t ruled out a switch to the Olympic venue if the Wanderers were to host a team from outside Sydney.

An ANZ Stadium spokesperson told Fairfax Media that the FFA has also sounded out the possibility of playing a semi-final if the two teams were to clash in either of the two weeks of the playoffs.

The success of the local derby, which attracted a sell out crowd of 40,388 at Allianz Stadium in round three this season, has prompted the FFA to seek a larger venue in case the two teams meet in the finals.

A move to ANZ Stadium would likely draw a crowd of 80,000, which would surpass the record of 55,436 for the largest domestic football crowd in Australia set at Etihad Stadium for the Melbourne Victory-Adelaide United grand final in 2007.

Last season’s A-League grand final between the Wanderers and Central Coast Mariners attracted a sell-out crowd of 42,102 – a figure that would almost be doubled if the cross-town rivals were to go toe-to-toe at ANZ Stadium for the right to be crowned champions.

The next Sydney derby will be played at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday, January 11, but the FFA is unable to switch the fixture down the road to ANZ Stadium given a drop-in pitch has been laid for the Big Bash League, which will host Sydney Thunder from December 27 until as late as February 5.

The Wanderers have 16,500 ticketed members, with the remaining 2500 tickets available for the derby at Pirtek Stadium expected to be snapped up in the Wanderers members presale on December 19 and Sydney FC members sale the following day.

It is understood next month’s game between the fierce rivals could be the last derby played at Pirtek Stadium, with the FFA eyeing a permanent switch to maximise crowds in the future.

The A-League grand final is scheduled on the same weekend of the NRL’s representative round and will go head to head with the City-Country Origin match in Dubbo.

The NRL has scheduled a Test match between Australia and New Zealand on Friday, May 2 but hasn’t confirmed the venue.

The only clash between the two codes could occur if the FFA decides to move a semi-final to ANZ Stadium.

The A-League schedule consists of a Friday night and Sunday afternoon game for both semi-final weekends.

The NRL has locked in a Rabbitohs-Bulldogs game at Sydney Olympic Park for their its Good Friday afternoon game on April 18, leaving Sunday free for the A-League to play a semi-final.

The following week the NRL has scheduled a Bulldogs-Knights game at the venue on Saturday, April 26 – which allows the A-League to host a semi-final on either Friday night or Sunday afternoon of that weekend.

On Tuesday, ANZ Stadium will release its event calendar for next year, which includes a Bledisloe Cup game on Saturday, August 16, and the second State of Origin game on Wednesday, June 18.

St Mirren basketball round-up

The match was a closely contested affair with both teams playing positive exciting basketball.

In the first quarter it was St Mirren who opened the scoring with a Claire McAulay lay up, within the first offence.

Paula Schweikert hit back for the visitors and drew the game level in the next play and so started the sea-saw nature of the match.

Not for Photosales
Natalie Chaloner hit six points for the home team, as did Paula Schweikert for the visitors in the opening period.

St Mirren were up four points at the end of the first, 16–12.

In the second quarter both teams hit 19 points, although the Saints did go 10 points clear early in the period.

That said, the Muskies did fight back to ensure a close contest at the half, with the score at 35–31.

The third period proved to be the crucial period in the tie as the home team came out of the break ready to play and caught the Muskies off guard.

Head coach, Barry Lang, said: “We increased our defensive intensity at the start of the third quarter and we held Tayside to just six points in the period.”

Chaloner and McAulay added another six points each to the home score, putting the pressure on the Muskies in the final period as St Mirren extended their lead to 14 points, going in to the last phase of the game, at 51–37.

The Musketeers finished the game strong and won the final period, 12-16, but it was all too late for the visitors.

Lang added: “I had asked for effort and a team performance and the girls responded.

“We kept control of the game throughout the match and the Muskies forced us to dig deep at the end, but the girls stepped up and we got the performance and the result we deserved.

“A special mention goes to Lauren McKinlay, she competed at both ends of the floor and her effort was first class.”

Top scorers were Natalie Chaloner on 15 points, Claire McAulay on 14 points, and Lauren McKinlay with 13 points.

St Mirren 99

Boroughmuir Blaze 36

ST Mirren cadet men doused the flames of Boroughmuir Blaze with an impressive team performance at the Saints Arena on Sunday.

It was the young Buddies who started on fire, taking a 26-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Blaze team, based in Edinburgh, reacted to the initial onslaught and stiffened up defensively in the second phase of the match.

Combined with missed chances for the home side, the second quarter was much closer with a difference of 14-10.

At the half-time break, the Saints coach, Chris Cleary, employed an unconventional tactic of sending his team to the changing rooms to talk amongst themselves for a few minutes.

When the teams resumed play, there was no doubt who were hungrier, as Saints ran up a score of 30-8 in the third quarter alone.

Throughout the match, St Mirren’s coach took the opportunity to give the younger players valuable match practice.

This resulted in the impressive statistic that all 12 squad members netted baskets.

Furthermore, the final period of the match was played almost entirely with Saints under-14 players.

Among this group, there were notable performances from Jack Thomson (eight points) and Callan Low (six points).

A differential of 29-8 in quarter four proved that the Saints Academy is producing a fine array of talent.

A final score of 99-36 enables St Mirren cadets to maintain their unbeaten run in all competitions.

Saints top scorers were Colin Jackson on 33 points, Alastair Mathieson with 17 points, and Michael Storey with 10 points.

St Mirren 79

Boroughmuir Blaze 77

BOROGHMUIR Blaze visited the Saints at the weekend, fresh from their surprise early season win at Edinburgh Kings, and would be Saints stiffest test in recent fixtures.

Saints seemed to have swapped their customary slow third period for the first as they once again failed to light up the Lagoon arena from the tip.

The visitors took an early lead and in spite of being allowed time to play their way back in, Saints were struggling at 20-11 down after six minutes.

Then the visitors coaching staff took a time out, which allowed the home team to make a couple of adjustments before returning to the court.

Fraser Glass leading the comeback charge with 11 of Saints next 14 points as the visitors after must have thought it was all over, as they virtually stopped playing.

They failed to score in the remaining time in the period, letting Saints go in at the break 25-20 ahead.

The second period ignited the Nick Collins show as he went to work for the Saints scoring 12 points in a row.

Saints picked up their defence and held the visitors to 11 points for the quarter.

A 42-31 half time lead was a good reflection on Saints efforts to take control of the game after their poor start.

Another 10 points from Nick Collins in the third period could not stop the visitors getting back into contention as they hit 24 points to Saints 17.

The home crowd were certainly more interested when it became obvious that Saints were not going to blow this one out.

The final period, with Saints only four points ahead, was a rather nervy affair as both teams attempted to gain the upper hand.

However, Saints always seemed to do just enough to keep in front.

Nick Collins and Colin Railley with big three pointers and Kieran Lynch and Fraser Glass with free throws when the pressure was on were the difference that allowed Saints to do just enough for the victory.

The win at a very close 79-77 was enough to keep Saints in contention for the league as Christmas approaches.

Nick Collins once again led the Saints scorers with 34 points with Fraser Glass having 19 and Colin Railley seven, which included two three pointers.

St Mirren 78

Tayside Musketeers 44

ST Mirren junior women defeated Tayside Musketeers at the weekend.

The Paisley girls stepped up to play some of their best basketball of the season in a big victory over the visitors from Arbroath.

From the tip the Buddies, led by Erin Campbell, put the pressure on their opponents.

And as his side led 20-7 at the end of the first, head coach, Barry Lang, said: “We have been trying to focus on effort goals and today the girls really committed to this concept.”

Extending their advantage, the second quarter also witnessed an injury to Tayside guard Cara Black, as the hosts led 38-22 at the break.

Lang added: “Unfortunately Cara rolled her ankle and the Muskies lost their main scoring threat.

“That said we continued to run our bench and some of our under-16 players really began to shine.”

In the third period Anna Mitchell once again stamped her authority on the league with some great rebounding and dribble penetration and the Saints led 56-34.

Lang said: “Anna has really benefited from training with our senior programme, she has gained in confidence and it’s great to see her flourish at her own age group.”

And in the final quarter St Mirren increased the tempo of the game and the intensity of the game began to take its toll on the visitors, which led to the Saints winning 78-44.

Lang said: “The girls put in strong individual and team performances today, they focussed on the small details and this won us the match.”

Saints top scorers were Kayleigh Sellar with 17 points, and Anna Mitchell on 12 points.

St Mirren 78

Boroughmuir Blaze 111

ST Mirren junior men came up against a strong Boroughmuir team that blew them away with their three point shooting.

Both teams traded baskets early on but strong drives into the key and a couple of outside shots gave Blaze a comfortable 10 point lead.

St Mirren continued their good form to come back into the game and was only 23-16 down at the end of the first quarter.

Saints continued to play hard against Boroughmuir, but some fine shooting from the Blaze number nine outside the arc allowed the opposition to build up a big lead.

The junior men were also finding their way to the basket and usually 19 points in the quarter would be high scoring, but 33 points against St Mirren killed off any challenge as Boroughmuir took a 56-35 lead into half time.

Saints were able to harness the opposition from outside the three point line during the third quarter, but Blaze were playing at a fast pace throughout the game.

The junior men left too much space under the basket, resulting in too many rebounds and second chance points.

A 28-18 loss gave Boroughmuir a commanding lead.

St Mirren had too many injury problems during the match to be a serious threat to the league leaders, but this gave coach Grimsley the opportunity to run the bench and give the younger players some valuable game time.

This quarter was Saints best from an attacking point of view, although a 27-25 loss gave Blaze a strong 111-78 win.

Saints’ top scorers were Colin Jackson with 24 points and Alastair Mathieson who netted 14 points.

St Mirren 61

Tayside Musketeers 41

ST Mirren under-16 women consolidated their top of the table position in the National League with an excellent 20 point victory against east coast challengers, Tayside Musketeers at the Lagoon Sports Centre.

And it was Saints international captain, Nicole Davidson, who caught the eye, with a fine performance both in defence and offence to inspire her team over the Arbroath based outfit.

The Paisley Grammar pupil had been struggling with injuries since the start of the season, but is now enjoying being back in the action again and making a considerable impact on the team’s performance.

Head coach, Lindsay Lang, was full of praise for her performance against the Muskies and said: “Nicole is an outstanding athlete and captain both on and off court and there is no doubt that the team functions best when she is leading the line.

“Her speed, skill and determination is infectious, it’s great to have her back.

“As for the result, it was a very workmanlike performance and we did exceptionally well in closing down the Musketeers main threats.

“We must continue to build from this success.”

The match started slowly with neither team taking the initiative, but great defence from Davidson and Clare Dewar settled the home side as they pushed into a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter, with Emilie Johnstone, Nina Gilbert and Clare Dewar the main scorers.

As the visitors stepped up going basket for basket with Saints, Fiona Harris worked the defence well with two power moves from close range to extend the home side’s lead.

Nicole Davidson’s surging runs consistently worried the Musketeers defence as she led her team to a 10 point advantage at the half.

The third period saw an explosive start for Saints as they pressured the Tayside team in the front court to steal the ball and score in numerous occasions, with smart play from both Niamh Macleod and Nina Gilbert, who once again was top scoring for her team.

Leading by 16 points going into the final quarter, Saints continued to dominate play with Zoe McKinlay rebounding well on the defensive end.

As Lang ran his bench in the closing stages, Saints pushed further ahead to win comfortably 61-41

Top Saints scorers were Nina Gilbert on 13 points, Emile Johnstone with 10 points, Nicole Davidson with nine points, Fiona Harris with eight points and Clare Dewar on seven points.