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A feed of articles for Sports

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    Kerry Klecic, Times Correspondent
    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    LUTZ — Vito Bavaro acknowledged his team's size and strength advantage against a smaller, quicker Steinbrenner squad.

    So naturally, continuing in the pleasant surprises for the Bradenton Lakewood Ranch coach this postseason, he got the season's biggest goal from the smallest player on the field. And it was a header.

    Five-foot-1 junior midfielder Jacob Severson's header in the 54th minute lifted the Mustangs (20-4-3) to a 1-0 victory Tuesday at Steinbrenner (14-4-3) in the Class 4A, Region 3 semifinals, putting the school one win from its first Final Four appearance.

    "The smallest guy on the field scores the header. How do you like that?" Bavaro said. "Today he's 6 foot 10."

    Lakewood Ranch has eliminated two Hillsborough County teams in the playoffs. Last week, the Mustangs pulled off a massive upset of tournament favorite Jesuit. As in that game, senior goalkeeper Daniel Murray was solid. He saved seven shots, including Steinbrenner forward Oliver Ortiz's left-footed potential tying goal in the 77th minute. That was the best chance for the Warriors, who did not have the type of response after the goal that coach Chad Ebright wanted.

    "You're always hoping to get a better response," he said. "It's one of those things where you can practice every skill and every set piece and every aspect of the game except for that. You can't replicate it."

    Severson said his goal was his first off of a header.

    "It feels great," he said. "Most of the time, it was one of our bigger kids."


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    Bryan Burns, Times Staff Writer
    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    DADE CITY — Sunlake's Jordan Landry entered Tuesday's region semifinal against Pasco with 50 goals on the season.

    None, however, was more important than No. 51.

    Landry received a pass in the box on a quick free kick taken by Calvin Restrepo and slotted a shot past Pasco goalkeeper Angel Garcia in the 53rd minute to score the winning goal in a 2-1 victory over Pasco.

    With the win, Sunlake — which had never made the playoffs until this season — advances to the region final.

    "We set a goal: go all the way to the state finals," Landry said. "That's where we're trying to get at right now. My team, my boys, they're really doing a heck of a job out there. Couldn't ask for any better."

    Landry's goal was set up after teammate Colin Armstrong was fouled near the edge of Pasco's box. Sensing the Pirates weren't paying attention, Restrepo took the free kick early and played a ball off on the right edge of the box to a waiting Landry.

    "Me and Calvin, we've been playing a few years together. … We were on the same page," Landry said. "I just looked at him in the eyes, and he knew what I was thinking, 'Pass me the ball.' "

    Sunlake (20-8-1) came out attacking at the beginning of both halves and was rewarded with goals each time. In the fourth minute, Conner Gilboy lobbed a pass from the right edge of the box toward goal, where Armstrong was waiting. Unmarked, Armstrong jumped high into the air and sent a looping header over Garcia for the game's first goal and his first goal in more than two months.

    "They definitely caught us asleep on the second goal, that was a sure thing," Pasco coach Barry Grayling said. "The first goal, we just weren't marking up. We paid the price."

    After falling behind, Pasco (21-3) started playing more like the team that knocked off Land O'Lakes on Thursday. The Pirates controlled possession, utilizing quick combination passes to keep the ball away from Sunlake.

    The Seahawks defense held tight though and nearly escaped the first half without surrendering a goal until Jose Flores sent a well-placed pass in the 36th minute from the right edge of the box across the field to the far post, where sophomore forward Carlos Riojas was waiting to one-time a shot past Sunlake goalkeeper David Danahy.

    "I thought the last 20 minutes of the first half they put it to us," Sunlake coach Sam Koleduk said. "I thought they were playing really well. I thought the second half was pretty good. I thought it was a pretty good half for both teams."

    Tied 1-1 at halftime, Sunlake came out of the break with renewed purpose. Once Landry made it 2-1, the Seahawks packed it in defensively, keeping at least nine people back in defense at all times to prevent Pasco from creating any solid scoring opportunities.

    And it worked. Pasco kept possession, but couldn't move the ball through the defense to set up any threatening scoring chances.

    "If you look at the possession total, we had more possession first and second half," Grayling said. "But if you don't put it in the back of the net, you don't win soccer games."


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    Basil Spyridakos, Times Correspondent
    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    EAST LAKE — East Lake coach Sergei Stopek wasn't looking for atonement.

    "It wasn't about redemption," Stopek said of last season's Class 5A region loss to Seminole. "It was more about staying focused and taking one step at a time."

    With the past behind, East Lake (16-4-1) defeated rival Seminole 5-1 on Tuesday to advance to the 5A region final.

    Anthony Giordano set the tone in the 37th minute when he blasted a goal off of a deflection from Warhawk goalkeeper Kenneth Matthews.

    The Eagles continued their barrage two minutes later when Ryan Wankat scored off of a similar deflection to end the half at 2-0.

    "Once we get the first (goal) we just seem to put them in," Giordano said. "We all play hard and when someone scores it feels good."

    The scoring continued with a header from Brett Hummel in the 45th minute as well as another from Giordano in the 50th minute.

    "We have a brand new attitude," Hummel said. "We came in a lot more humble, not as cocky as we were last year."

    During the 55th minute, Seminole's Daniel Welland received a yellow card for shoving an East Lake player after a scrum. Hummel lined up and bent a free kick from 20 yards to the back of the net for the Eagles' final goal.

    Tyler Zulewski scored Seminole's (10-11-0) lone goal in the final minute.

    "We peaked a little too early last year and this year we're peaking right where we need to be," Stopek said. "This team wants to play in a state final."


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    Times wires
    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue center JaJuan Johnson choreographed the perfect birthday bash Tuesday night.

    All he really wanted was to beat Indiana a fourth straight time. Turns out, he got a chance to thank teammate E'Twaun Moore in front of 14,000 fans, walk off the Mackey Arena court carrying a sign with a birthday message and even was serenaded by a smattering of fans while signing autographs.

    What a night.

    Moore had 25 points, Johnson added 15 and each grabbed eight rebounds in a 67-53 victory, No. 100 in the careers of the two seniors who helped Purdue re-establish itself as a national power.

    "I can't really do too much," Johnson said when asked about his postgame party plans. "It's kind of like this every year. I'm sure I'll probably relax tonight and probably do something at the end of the week."

    Indiana mixed and matched post defenders, contesting Johnson's shots and, at times, frustrating the 6-foot-10 center who was expected to dominate. Johnson wound up just 4-of-10 from the field, but he had four blocks, one steal and one assist and, most importantly, helped open up things for his teammates.

    Moore responded by going 7-of-15 from the field with three 3-pointers and sparked almost every key run Purdue made.

    The Boilermakers (19-5, 8-3 Big Ten) have a four-game winning streak against their biggest rival for the first time since 1996-97.

    "I thought E'Twaun answered the bell in a couple of those stretches and really helped stopped their runs," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "Obviously, you want your three points, you want your basket, but it's more important to stop the opposition's momentum."

    NO. 18 KENTUCKY 73, TENNESSEE 61: DeAndre Liggins tied a career high with 19 points, and the host Wildcats (17-6, 5-4 SEC) ruined Volunteers coach Bruce Pearl's return to the bench. Pearl was suspended for Tennessee's first eight conference games by SEC commissioner Mike Slive for lying to NCAA investigators during a probe into the school's recruiting practices. Tennessee (15-9, 5-4) is tied with Kentucky for second in the SEC East, two games behind Florida.

    GA. TECH: Sophomore forward Brian Oliver, the team's third-leading scorer, will have surgery for a broken left thumb and is expected to miss three weeks.

    WAKE FOREST: Freshman Melvin Tabb was dismissed for the rest of the season for what coach Jeff Bzdelik called conduct detrimental to the team.

    CARRIER GAME: Michigan State and North Carolina are moving forward with plans to play a game aboard an aircraft carrier on Veterans' Day. Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said the game will take place this year in San Diego's harbor.

    Women: USF routed

    WASHINGTON — Sugar Rodgers had 12 of Georgetown's first 15 points, all on 3-pointers, and finished with 25 as the 16th-ranked Hoyas beat USF 67-38, handing the Bulls their 10th loss in 11 games.

    USF (10-14, 1-9 Big East) trailed by double digits less than six minutes into the game and never seriously challenged Georgetown (20-5, 8-3), which won its sixth straight game.

    NO. 2 UCONN 57, NO. 17 W. VA. 51: Maya Moore had 27 points as the visiting Huskies (23-1, 11-0 Big East) overcame their second halftime deficit of the season and 17 turnovers to beat the Mountaineers (20-5, 6-5) for the 23rd straight time.

    NO. 8 NOTRE DAME 89, SETON HALL 38: Skylar Diggins had 14 points for the host Fighting Irish (21-4, 10-1 Big East), who made their first nine field-goal attempts and cruised.

    NO. 10 DEPAUL 77, SYRACUSE 61: Deirdre Naughton hit five 3-pointers, matching her total for the season, and finished with a season-high 19 points for the visiting Blue Demons (22-3, 9-1 Big East).

    Football

    BULLS HONORED: The USF football team put 16 players on the Big East All-Academic team, the conference announced Tuesday. That sets a program record, topping the previous mark of 13, set after the 2009 season. All 135 members of the All-Academic team achieved at least a 3.0 GPA. and completed at least two semesters of academic work.

    USF's list includes four-time academic all-conference honoree OT Jacob Sims, as well as senior WR Tyler Stowell (Northside Christian), who made it the second straight year. Former Hillsborough High standout, WR/KR Lindsey Lamar made it for the first time.

    GEORGIA: Coach Mark Richt suspended tailback Washaun Ealey for failing to follow "the Georgia way." Ealey, the team's leading rusher last season, can't participate in team activities and is barred from team facilities during the suspension.

    SO. MISS: Illinois linebackers coach Dan Disch was hired as defensive coordinator.

    VIRGINIA: Coach Mike London suspended three players indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team: junior linebacker Ausar Walcott, who started in 11 of 12 games; junior cornerback Devin Wallace, who started seven games; and junior center Mike Price, who appeared in two games.

    Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.


    Associated PressAssociated Press

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    By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    TAMPA — Weird.

    Lightning coach Guy Boucher must have used the word a half-dozen times to describe a 7-4 loss to the Sabres on Tuesday night at the St. Pete Times Forum.

    Painful might have been more appropriate. Buffalo scored six unanswered goals — five in the third period, including three in 102 seconds and four in 3:13 — to erase a two-goal second-period deficit.

    "A tough one to swallow," center Steven Stamkos said. "We lost our composure."

    The result: Tampa Bay (33-17-5) missed a chance to increase its three-point lead over the Capitals, losers to the Sharks, in the Southeast Division.

    It also lost two players for perhaps a significant amount of time: defenseman Matt Smaby, who was inadvertently kneed in the groin area by Buffalo's Tyler Ennis, and wing Ryan Malone, who strained a stomach muscle when he slid into the net.

    Then there was Buffalo tying the score 3-3 on Jordan Leopold's controversial goal 4:26 into the third period with Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson on his back, and no penalty forthcoming, after being tripped by Buffalo's Drew Stafford.

    Stafford, though, had just been tripped by Lightning defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron, who was minus-4 in the game and was being called for a delayed penalty that apparently negated the contact with Roloson.

    "Whether it's the right call or the wrong call, it's part of the game," Roloson said. "Players make mistakes. Refs make mistakes. To err is human."

    "What break did we get?" Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "There was no break; Bergeron pitch-forked (Stafford). It was a good goal from the get-go."

    Tim Connolly made it 4-3 with 9:46 left after a turnover by the Lightning's Mattias Ohlund. Thomas Vanek scored. Stafford, who had a hat trick, scored twice to make it 7-3 with 6:33 left.

    "We tried to get our goals back too much," Boucher said. "That's not us. When we try to do that and we try to run-and-gun, we lose what has given us our success, and that's defense first."

    The shame of it for Tampa Bay was how well it had played. Sean Bergenheim had two goals, and Vinny Lecavalier had two goals and three points. They combined to put the Lightning ahead 3-1 with 8:36 left in the second.

    But a defensive-zone giveaway by Brett Clark led to Vanek's goal with 1:50 left that made the score 3-2. "If the period ends 3-1, it's a very different story," Boucher said.

    And if Leopold's goal is disallowed? "We deserved a penalty on that guy falling into Roloson," Boucher said. "But it's a weird goal. It falls into all the weirdness that was happening."

    Sabres 1 1 5 7
    Lightning 1 2 1 4

    First Period1, TB, Bergenheim 9 (Lecavalier, Clark), 6:36. 2, Buffalo, Stafford 18 (Leopold), 16:43. PenaltiesStamkos, TB (tripping), 1:46; Malone, TB (tripping), 14:54; Myers, Buf (hooking), 15:05.

    Second Period3, TB, Lecavalier 10 (Hedman), 4:58. 4, TB, Bergenheim 10 (Malone), 11:24. 5, Buffalo, Vanek 20 (Weber), 18:10. PenaltiesMoore, TB (hooking), :45; Gerbe, Buf (roughing), 5:41; Hecht, Buf (elbowing), 12:01.

    Third Period6, Buffalo, Leopold 11 (Ennis), 4:26. 7, Buffalo, T.Connolly 8 (Ennis), 10:14. 8, Buffalo, Vanek 21 (McCormick), 11:01. 9, Buffalo, Stafford 19 (Morrisonn, Weber), 11:56. 10, Buffalo, Stafford 20 (Leopold, Vanek), 13:27 (pp). 11, TB, Lecavalier 11 (St. Louis, Stamkos), 16:19 (pp). PenaltiesT.Connolly, Buf (roughing), 4:26; Downie, TB, minor-misconduct (roughing), 4:26; Stafford, Buf (roughing), 4:43; Hedman, TB (slashing, roughing), 4:43; Leopold, Buf (tripping), 5:56; Bergenheim, TB (high-sticking), 12:32; McCormick, Buf (roughing), 14:23; Bergeron, TB (slashing), 14:23; Stafford, Buf (hooking), 15:17. Shots on GoalBuffalo 11-5-12—28. TB 13-11-10—34. Power-play opportunitiesBuffalo 1 of 6; TB 1 of 5. GoaliesBuffalo, Miller 23-15-4 (34 shots-30 saves). TB, Roloson 14-18-1 (28-21). A14,444 (19,758). Referees—Ghislain Hebert, Brad Watson. LinesmenPierre Champoux, Scott Driscoll.


    DIRK SHADD   |   TimesDIRK SHADD | Times

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    Joey Knight, Times Staff Writer
    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    TAMPA — Forget the marshy Muley Stadium field, air-tight officiating or frigid February weather. For the Wharton Wildcats, those pitfalls were navigable Tuesday night.

    Their tallest order, 6-foot-5 Countryside keeper Hunter Maricle, was not.

    In a physical duel featuring eight yellow cards, Maricle collected a dozen saves — including a handful from point-blank range — to lift the Cougars (23-1-1) to a 3-0 triumph against the resurgent Wildcats (11-11-1) in the Class 6A region semifinals.

    Countryside, which hasn't allowed a goal in the playoffs, travels to Winter Garden West Orange for Friday's region final. As the No. 9 team in the latest ESPN Rise Powerade Fab 50 national rankings, the Cougars again will be the hunted.

    Which matters little as long as they have their Hunter.

    "He came up big," said 'Cats coach Scott Ware, whose team entered Tuesday's match on a three-game win streak. "He came up with at least three good saves on us that kept them in the ball game. If we had gotten one (goal) early maybe different things would've happened, but they're a quality side, you could see it."

    Sophomore Dalton Martinez would give Maricle all the cushion he'd need in the seventh minute, when he took a through ball and drilled a shot from the right corner of the box.

    Senior Nikolai Hammer's header off a corner kick in the 36th minute made it 2-0. Amid those goals, Maricle — who's headed to Virginia Tech — stood on his head.

    He blocked Ryan Brown's straight-on shot in the box in the 19th minute, deflected Felipe Desousa's shot from roughly 10 yards in front of the net, and blocked Konner Dozark's shot off a mini-breakaway.

    "Hunter played outstanding," Cougars coach Dave Sica said. "I mean, he made probably three or four point-blank saves that could've changed the momentum of the game."


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    By Bob Putnam, Times Staff Writer
    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    TAMPA — Clearwater Central Catholic and Berkeley Prep played to near collapse, through 100 minutes of soccer, 80 minutes of regulation extending into 20 minutes of overtime on a chilly night.

    Still no one was able to put the winning goal into the net in this Class 3A region semifinal game until the second round of penalty kicks.

    Jarod Brazel curled a right-footed kick inside the right post to give Berkeley Prep a 4-3 win on penalty kicks, then sprinted toward the sideline as teammates and fans erupted in celebration. The Buccaneers (18-3-2) beat their fiercest rival for the third time this season and moved on to Friday's region finals.

    "I was nervous, but it wasn't too bad," Brazel said. "I've taken penalty kicks in state finals before. I wanted to take that sixth kick, and I told everyone on our team I was going to the right. Their keeper guessed right but I had enough on it to go through."

    Both teams scored twice in regulation. The Marauders' Tommy Going had one in the first half and teammate Ryan Seidl scored the other in the second half.

    Tyler Sacone scored both of Berkeley Prep's goals in regulation, the last coming with 10 minutes left to force overtime. No one scored in two sudden death periods.

    Both teams made three kicks in the first round of penalty kicks. The Marauders (19-7) advanced after goalkeeper Ray Fox made a diving deflection to stop the Buccaneers' fifth and final attempt.

    After Clearwater Central Catholic missed its first penalty kick in the second round, Brazel nailed his to end the game.


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    By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    Just to follow up on what happened in the Tampa Bay Lightning's 7-4 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night, it appears that, according to the rule book, the referees made the correct call in not penalizing Buffalo's Drew Stafford for goaltender interference or waiving off the goal that tied the score 3-3 in the third period.

    The goal was the first in a five-goal third for the Sabres, who overcame a 3-1 second-period deficit. On the play, Buffalo's Drew Stafford fell and tripped Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson just as Jordan Leopold took a shot from the blue line. The puck went in while Roloson was on his back. But the referees allowed the goal to stand because Tampa Bay defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron, who was minus-4 in the game, was going to be called, on a delayed penalty, for tripping Stafford.

    Lightning coach Guy Boucher declined to criticize the play and admitted Bergeron deserved a penalty. And according to Rule 69, which has to do with goaltender interference, "If an attacking player has been pushed, shoved or fouled by a defending player so as to cause him to come into contact with the goalkeeper, such contact will not be deemed contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact."

    And while that goal was a focal point in the game, Boucher pointed out that the goals that cut Tampa Bay's deficit to 3-2 with 1:50 left in the second period (all defenseman Brett Clark had to do was chip the puck out of the zone, but his turnover instead led to the tally) and the goal that gave Buffalo a 4-3 lead in the third (defenseman Mattias Ohlund was slow getting to a puck behind the Lightning goal line and then turned it over) were more critical.

    Whatever your take, the Lightning has to keep lose focus and composure in stressful situations, something the players readily admitted did not happen.


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    By Antonya English, Times Staff Writer
    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    The Florida Gators will be without two of their swimmers when the SEC Swimming Championships begins next week.

    Junior swimmers Lily Ramirez and Daniela Victoria have been suspended indefinitely following their arrest for shoplifting at an Orlando Mall this past weekend.

    Ramirez, of Gainesville, and Victoria, who is from Plantation, both face misdemeanor petit theft charges for stealing two jackets from Nordstrom, valued at $130.

    "We are extremely disappointed in the actions of two of our student-athletes this past weekend,'' UF swimming coach Gregg Troy said in a statement. "Both individuals have been suspended indefinitely, and will miss the 2011 SEC Swimming Championships. University of Florida student-athletes are held to a high standard of character. This was unquestionably a massive error in judgment, and our program simply cannot nor will not tolerate this type of behavior."

    Ramirez is a graduate of Gainesville High who was a member of the 2010 SEC Academic Honor Roll last season. Victoria, is a graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas.

    According to police reports, the two were stopped after store employees reported that the women had walked out of the store with two jackets without having paid for them.

    Florida will host the SEC Swimming Championships Feb. 16-19.


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    By Stephen F. Holder, Times Staff Writer
    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    Before hiring Keith Millard as one of two co-defensive coordinators, Millard received an enthusiastic endorsement from someone the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a little bit of history with.

    Former Tampa Bay great Warren Sapp, now an analyst on the NFL Network and Showtime, said he gave a strong recommendation to general manager Mark Dominik and coach Raheem Morris, having played for Millard.

    "They put me on the phone with Dominik and I told him to hire this man," Sapp told my colleague Rick Stroud. "You'll never have a problem with him. He's not looking to become a head coach. He's nothing but a workaholic. You think he doesn't know the Cover 2 (defense) or the three technique? He is the original. It's always been him, John Randle and me. I was with the man. I know a hard worker. I worked for (Rod) Marinelli."

    Sapp played under Millard at the end of his career when Millard was an assistant with the Raiders. Sapp credits the coach for much of his late-career success.

    "I told Raheem, I don't know what you're thinking, but if you've got a defensive line position open and want somebody to work with a young guy like Gerald McCoy, Millard is the guy," Sapp said. "I've done everything I can, but I don't have the time to really teach the kid. This man I played under, and he gave me 10 sacks with the Raiders as a 32-year-old. This is the man you got to hire."

    Anyone whose had at least a 30-second conversation with Sapp knows he can be, um, persuasive. Seeing as how he's so passionate about Millard, we can only imagine how compelling a case he made to Dominik.


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    By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    Not much more to say about this. Tampa Bay Lightning forward Mattias Ritola cleared waivers on Thursday and is expected to be sent to AHL Norfolk.

    A season-long battle with Meneiere's disease, which causes headaches, dizziness and ringing in his right ear, has kept Ritola off the ice for much of the season since he was picked up off waivers from the Red Wings in September. The condition sometimes strikes without warning, which makes it difficult to get him in the lineup. Before the Jan. 25 game with the Maple Leafs, Ritola told coach Guy Boucher right before warm-ups that he could not play.

    Ritola has two goals and six points in 24 games. As Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said on Tuesday, "We just need him to play games."


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    By Rodney Page, Times Staff Writer
    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    Whenever I'm asked if I get to play a lot of golf since, ya know, I write about golf, I always have the same answer: "No, I don't have any time. And it costs too much anyway.'' But is that really true?

    If I'm willing to play nine holes on a shorter course, does it really take that much time and cost that much money?

    It's time to put that claim to the Golfact Test (idea unashamedly stolen from Politifact.com).

    I played four nine hole courses in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando Counties in one day. The experiment took place on Tuesday, when the weather was partly cloudy and about 65 degrees. We'll see how long it takes, how much it costs and how the claim stands up to our Truth-o-Meter (idea unashamedly stolen from Politifact.com).

    Cypress Links

    City: St. Petersburg (Pinellas)

    Tee off time: 8:55 a.m.

    Time to play: One hour, 18 minutes.

    Cost to walk: $10.70.

    Summary: Rain from the previous night made the course soggy, and winds make the temperature feel colder than 62 degrees. But that didn't keep groups away from this traditional executive course.

    It has nine holes and all of them are par 3s. Aside from a few water hazards and sand traps, Cypress Links has little trouble. It is generally flat and short, with no hole over 170 yards.

    I manage to tee off by myself, but by the third hole play gets backed up and I join a twosome that includes 82-year-old Bob White of St. Petersburg. He plays twice a week at Cypress Links, usually 18 holes.

    "I like it because I can play nine holes in an hour, hour and a half at most,'' White said. "I tee off at 7:30, get in 18 holes and then go have breakfast with my wife.''

    The first two holes take about five minutes each to play (par, bogey). But for the rest of the round we have to wait for the foursome ahead of us to clear the green. That slow down, coupled with a howling wind, act as my excuse for the bogey-fest that follows. I couldn't use the greens as an excuse because they were in top-notch shape.

    After another chunky chip and two-putt bogey on No. 9, the round was complete. I say goodbye to Bob, walk maybe 10 yards to my car and head to Temple Terrace for round two.

    Final score: A very mediocre 7-over, 34.

    Terrace Hill Golf Club

    City: Temple Terrace (Hillsborough)

    Tee off time: 11:10 a.m.

    Time to play: One hour, 15 minutes.

    Cost to walk: $13.91

    Summary: At this particular time, Terrace Hill is wide open. I'm not the only one on the course, but close to it. Unlike Cypress Links, this course mixes in three par 4s. The first hole is an uphill par 4, which means I can break out the driver for the first time. There's nobody around, the wind has died down and the fairway is huge. Time to let out some shaft.

    And yank it left into the eighth fairway.

    The beauty of playing alone is that you can mutter to yourself while walking to the next shot. By the end of my bogey 5 on the first hole, I had called myself every name in the book.

    One of the negatives of playing alone happened on the par 3 third hole. My perfectly struck 8-iron lands 2 feet from the hole and checks back a couple of inches. Tap-in birdie. But there's nobody to high-five. At least my swing flaw is figured out.

    Until the next hole, where my five-wood slices over the trees, lands on the road and bounces into someone's back yard. The 8-iron was clearly a fluke. By the sixth hole I felt like walking off, but two easy pars on the last two holes save the round.

    Playing from the back tees, Terrace Hill is 1,854 yards. That's over 500 yards longer than Cypress Links and probably why it took about as long to play. It's now around 12:30 p.m. Off to New Port Richey for another nine holes.

    Final score: 6-over, 36 (including a mulligan or two).

    Summertree Golf Club

    City: New Port Richey (Pasco)

    Tee off time: 2:05 p.m.

    Time to play: Two hours, five minutes.

    Cost to walk: $8.

    Summary: Here comes the first glitch in the plan. The course is packed and there is a foursome waiting to tee off on the first hole. There is also a foursome in the middle of the first fairway. If this round takes over two hours, there's no way to make my last stop in Brooksville.

    I hook up with Barry Gooderham, Mike Shepherd and Bill Cline, who just finished playing nine holes in two hours. The threesome is from Niagara Falls, Ontario and they are trying to get in as many rounds as possible before going back home on Friday.

    Summertree only offers nine holes, but it is close to regulation. It is a par 35 with two par 5s and measures 2,836 yards from the tips. It should take about 90 minutes to play, but with the course backed up it's going to take a solid two hours.

    "A course like this is perfect for us,'' said Shepherd, 62. "It's not too long and it's in decent shape. It doesn't take all day to play.''

    Once we tee off the play is not that slow. We hack our way down the fairways and manage to stay between the foursome in front of us and the foursome behind us.

    "I'm playing Army golf,'' Cline, 70, said. "Left, right, left.''

    By the time we finish zig-zagging our way down the course, the round takes just over two hours. If I hit a good shot, I'm not aware of it. It's 4:10 p.m. and there is one more stop to make.

    Final score: 6-over, 41.

    World Woods Golf Club

    City: Brooksville (Hernando)

    Tee off time: 4:50 p.m.

    Time to play: One hour, 18 minutes.

    Cost: $6

    Summary: Glitch No. 2: I make it to World Woods with plenty of sun still left. But the par 3 Short Course has been rented out to a Japanese Golf Academy. They offer to let me play the three practice holes (yes, they have practice holes) for $6. I can play them as much as I want.

    So Plan B becomes playing the practices holes three times. If I had played the Short Course, it would've cost $10, but that will have to wait until next time.

    It should be noted that World Woods practice holes are tougher than most course's real holes. The first is a par 5 that winds down a hill with trees on either side, fairway and greenside bunkers and a green that is slicker than a hockey rink.

    As I'm set to tee off, all I can think about is Allen Iverson, who famously said "Practice? We talking about practice? Practice, man.'' There is absolutely nobody around. Just squirrels and birds and lots of trees. And behind one of those trees is where my first shot lands.

    I have to hit a low slice around the tree to get it back in the fairway. If I don't execute the shot, it's going to bounce off the tree, hit my forehead and kill me instantly. It would take until the morning before somebody found me. Just in case, I whip out my cell phone and call the wife to tell her I love her.

    After that close call, the par 4 second hole is a little better. It's an uphill dogleg right with a green protected by a large bunker. I manage to hit the fairway and green in regulation. But the lightning fast green and my inability to adjust results in a three-putt bogey.

    The last practice hole is a short par 3. After playing it three times I was 1-under par. I own that hole.

    By the time I finish playing the practice holes it is 6:08 p.m. The sun is below the tree line. My car is one of the only ones left in the parking lot. The mission was accomplished: 36 holes in four counties in one day.

    Golf doesn't have to take a lot of time or money. We rate the claim that it does: Khaki Pants on Fire.

    Final score: 24-over, 152 (including a 5-over, 41 at World Woods).

    Total cost: $38.61.

    Total time played: 5 hours, 56 minutes (one hour, 29 minutes per nine holes).


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    By Brandon Wright, Times Correspondent
    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    GIBSONTON — The National Football League's championship game may have come and gone, but the biggest event of the East Bay Raceway season is culminating this weekend.

    "In a way, this is like our Super Bowl," track owner Al Varnadore said. "It's the biggest drawing event of the year."

    The East Bay Raceway schedule is in full swing and continues this weekend with the second round of the season-opening 35th annual 2011 Winter Nationals.

    "We're looking at drawing anywhere from 500 to 1,000 extra fans (during the Winter Nationals) per night," track worker and former East Bay Raceway photographer Russ Calabrese said. "We've got drivers coming from all over the country."

    The Winter Nationals kicked off Feb. 2 with the Open Wheel Modifieds and wraps up Feb. 26 with the NeSmith Late Models and World Street Stock class. But this weekend draws the biggest crowds as six straight days of racing in the Lucas Oil Late Models caps off on Saturday night.

    "(The Late Models) are the most exciting class and certainly the most popular," Varnadore said. "Most tracks can only handle three or four days in a row of racing. We're one of only two (dirt) tracks in the country that has six straight days of racing."

    Part of the Winter Nationals allure for Northern drivers is the climate. Racers who would normally be shoveling out their driveway this time of year can compete at the nationally recognized track, although rain has pushed back a few events since the track opened last week.

    "We get a lot of drivers who come down from Canada and the Indiana-Ohio area because they're usually snowed in right now," Varnadore said. "It becomes like a work vacation."

    The Winter Nationals also gives a boost to the local economy. While there are campgrounds available at the track, the sheer influx of racers means local hotels and restaurants see an uptick in business.

    "All these people have to eat and stay somewhere," Calabrese said.

    In addition to the Winter Nationals, the East Bay Raceway begins its regular season March 5 and that extends through Dec. 17. There is also a Go Kart Track and the newly built Motocross Track, which Varnadore hopes will be ready by March.

    "This is a very family-oriented business which is why we have the Go Karts for the kids to get involved as well," Varnadore said. "It's a very close-knit bunch out here."

    For more information and a full race calendar, please visit eastbayracewaypark.com.

    Brandon Wright can be reached at hillsnews@sptimes.com.


    DANIEL WALLACE   |   TimesDANIEL WALLACE | Times

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    By Krystel Knowles, Times correspondent
    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    VALRICO — Dancing, tumbling and jumping to a combination of sped up songs from Katy Perry and Rihanna, the Bloomingdale cheerleaders outbattled 24 other teams to earn a state cheerleading title last weekend in Kissimmee.

    The Bulls won back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009, but their winning streak ended last season.

    This year, the Bloomingdale squad's determination to reclaim their title helped them win back the Florida High School Activities Association's competitive cheerleading championship in the Class 2A Large Varsity division.

    Sporting their red and black uniforms, the Bulls showcased their most difficult routine yet. Coach Candice Teague said the routine displayed endurance, complex stunts, astounding tumbling and careful attention to technique.

    Teague also said the day of the competition couldn't have been more perfect because of what the squad saw as a good sign. Before entering the arena, the excited squad met outside by a bull statue at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, symbolizing their lucky day.

    "The excitement in their faces couldn't be contained, they were feeding off each other's positive energy," Teague said.

    As Teague watched nervously, the Bulls cheerleaders performed their routine. Teague said they stood out because of their togetherness.

    "All I asked them to do was give it their all, and to watch that happen was amazing," adds Teague. "It was very emotional to see their hard work paid off."

    Bloomingdale had the highest score of 88.28 in the 2A Large Varsity division, while the state runner up, Winter Park scored 84.2 and Durant placed third with a score of 83.

    Second-year school Strawberry Crest also did well, earning the state runner-up title in the Class 1A Large Varsity division.

    Krystel Knowles can be reached at hillsnews@sptimes.com.


    Special to the TimesSpecial to the Times

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    Eduardo A. Encina, Times Staff Writer
    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    TAMPA — With exactly two months before the scheduled start of FC Tampa's Bay's 2011 season, the North American Soccer League relayed its confidence Wednesday that it will receive U.S. Soccer Federation Division 2 sanctioning at this week's USSF annual general meeting in Las Vegas.

    The NASL received provisional D-2 sanctioning in November, but three weeks ago the USSF pulled the league's sanctioning because the league has not yet met some of the federation's financial requirements.

    "We've delivered on the standards, so we have no reason to believe we won't be sanctioned and playing for the 2011 season," NASL CEO Aaron Davidson said on a conference call Wednesday. "Given the submissions we've made and our belief that we comply with the second division standards, we believe we'll be sanctioned Friday by the board and ratified on Saturday."

    The NASL and USSF's goals are the same — to flourish in their markets long term. But the USSF's standards are tough. Among them, each team has to have a 35 percent controlling shareholder with a net worth of at least $20 million.

    Each team must also have a $750,000 letter of credit — in comparison, two years ago the D-2 standards required only $100,000 — which must be joint and several, allowing the credit to be interchangeable among the league's teams to pay debts if needed.

    "That's a very big deal," Davidson said. "For us, it was a surprise. That was one of the things we didn't get done by the time they rescinded our provisional sanctioning. But now our letters of credit are in across the board and are joint and several. That's a big deal, not only for us internally, but as expansion teams seriously look at our league to join. It gives them the peace of mind that our league will not have issues during the year and it a stable league for the long haul."

    FC Tampa Bay's 2011 season not only is at stake, but it is potentially another blow to the growth of pro soccer in North America. While MLS has flourished, the second division level has always lacked stability.

    And the NASL league brass made it clear Wednesday it will not consider playing at the D-3 level alongside a newly realigned USL pro league it believes pales in comparison standards-wise.

    "We believe that soccer in North America had matured to the point where we need a stable second division," Davidson said. "We need the second division to fill the gaps in this country in a stable fashion. Second division to date has never ended and started a year with the same teams, and that's something we're out there to change."

    FC Tampa Bay owner/president Andrew Nestor, a member of the NASL's three-man executive committee that will meet with the USSF in Las Vegas, is also optimistic.

    "I think you will see the NASL team owner's commitment to this process to this process of developing the sport of soccer in North America," he said. "I think you'll see that rewarded and I hope that translates into a good product for our fans and our sponsors. Hopefully, we'll have good news to report at the end of this week."


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    By Brandon Wright, Times Correspondent
    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    LITHIA — What started out as something of a joke has become as crucial to Newsome's girls soccer team as the cleats they wear and the jerseys they sport.

    It's a silly novelty hat that looks like a Wolf, and assistant coach Autumn Dunn has worn it throughout the Wolves undefeated run.

    "I think they'd kill me if I didn't wear it," Dunn said of the hat that has almost taken on a life of its own. "Seriously, they would."

    While superstition runs deep with this group, so does talent. The nationally ranked Wolves will try to inch one step closer to the school's first team sport state championship today at 12:45 when they face Seminole in the 5A state semifinals at the University of Tampa's Pepin-Rood Stadium.

    "We're not doing anything to mess this up," said defender Sammi Duval, who has to have her hair done up in pigtails before each match because of her personal superstition.

    In the big picture, luck hasn't been much of a factor for Newsome, ranked No. 2 in the latest ESPN RISE national soccer poll. The 24-0-0 Wolves are ranked first in the state, won the Sarasota and Wharton tournaments, captured district and regional titles, and have thumped their opposition by a whopping 120-6 margin.

    "Their goal since the first day of practice has been to win states," coach Kelly Townsend said. "Now there's just two more (matches) to go, but it won't be easy."

    The Wolves got by a major hurdle last Friday, defeating George Jenkins 2-1 in the region final before an estimated crowd of 2,500. Newsome had been knocked out of the playoffs the past three years by the Eagles, a team ranked No. 3 in the country before last week's match.

    "It was great to finally get past them," midfielder Karina Gutsche said. "We wanted that game so bad, but now it's time to move on."

    With all the emotion surrounding the George Jenkins win, one of the toughest tasks ahead of the Wolves today will be coming down to an even keel.

    "For sure, that's something I'm very concerned about," Townsend said. "Everything had been building and building for that (George) Jenkins game. They can't let up now."

    First up for the Wolves will be a tough Seminole team. The Wolves and Warhawks haven't played this year, but they do share some common opponents. Seminole and Newsome both defeated Gaither 3-0 late in the season. But the Warhawks lost to Clearwater Central Catholic and Steinbrenner. The Wolves beat both those teams.

    "(Seminole) is a good team," Townsend said. "And I think they've gotten better as the year's gone on."

    If the Wolves get past today, they'll face the St. Thomas Aquinas/Fleming Island winner Saturday at 1:30 p.m. for the state title. As for today, spotting Dunn in the wolf cap or Duval's pigtails won't be a problem, but the superstitions don't end there. Every Newsome player will have a small red heart drawn in marker on their wrists.

    "One heart," Duval said. "Many goals."


    WILLIE J. ALLEN JR.   |   TimesWILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

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    By Brandon Wright, Times Correspondent
    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    LITHIA

    Newsome defender Lindsay LeSavage couldn't care less whether her name ever appears in the newspaper.

    The senior isn't interested in accolades or recognition. LeSavage is only concerned with one number.

    "Six," she said. "That's how many goals we've given up this year."

    No, that's not a misprint. In 24 matches this year, Newsome's (24-0-0) lock-down defense has given up an average of a goal every four matches.

    "We take it personal when we get scored on," defender Sammi Duval said. "We're not used to it."

    Emily Jones and Jackie Simpson — along with LeSavage and Duval — have formed a stout backline that will get tested today when Newsome, ranked No. 2 in the country according to the latest ESPN RISE poll, faces Seminole at 12:45 in the state semifinals at the University of Tampa.

    In fact, there have been matches where goalkeeper Teena Fehling has barely touched the ball.

    "There have been so many games like that," Fehling, who has surrendered just three of those six goals, said. "Sometimes when we 8-0 teams, I'll just run and chase down balls so the ball girls don't have to."

    With limited media coverage — and Newsome racking up an inflated 120 goals this year — it's rare when the defense gets the credit it deserves.

    "I've never had more confidence in anything than I do of the defense in front of me," Fehling said. "And I know if I do make a mistake, they'll be right there on my line to have my back."

    • • •

    Newsome, known for its stingy defensive philosophy, has had some excellent units in the past, but coach Kelly Townsend said one thing that separates this group is the cohesion.

    "They are all unselfish players," she said. "Defense has always been our strong suit here, but these girls work so well together, it's impressive."

    Although they might not get as much ink as the goal scorers, Newsome's defense has played an integral part in making sure the offense is sharp during practices. Even in training sessions, the defense doesn't appreciate being scored upon.

    "It eats you up inside when it happens," Duval said.

    That level of intensity during training has helped make the offense better.

    "They push us so hard in practice," midfielder Karina Gutsche said. "And we push them right back, so it's good for both."

    As for the press clippings — or lack thereof — LeSavage said they're inconsequential.

    "The only statistic that matters is that number six."

    Brandon Wright can be reached at hillsnews@sptimes.com.


    WILLIE J. ALLEN JR.   |   TimesWILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

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  • 02/09/11--14:12: NHL refocuses on concussions
  • By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    In a perfect world, Lightning left wing Simon Gagne would play in a league that did not allow hits to the head.

    No exceptions.

    If a player hit another in the head, accidentally or on purpose, it would be a penalty. It is the perspective of a player who has dealt with multiple concussions.

    "You want to go out there and play the game," Gagne said, "and be safe about your life."

    Concussions are again a hot topic in the NHL.

    They are not substantially up. The New York Times reported that as of Jan. 20, 43 concussions has been reported since the preseason's start, a pace slightly ahead of last season's 75. The increase, commissioner Gary Bettman said during last month's All-Star weekend, is because of "accidental and inadvertent" collisions and fighting.

    But with the league's biggest star, Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, not expected back until March because of a concussion diagnosed after he sustained two hits to the head in five days last month, pressure has increased for the league to at least talk about how to better protect its players.

    That discussion will happen at next month's general managers meeting in Boca Raton.

    Suggestions range from strengthening Rule 48, which penalizes blindside and lateral hits to the head, to banning all head shots, to further softening elbow and shoulder pads.

    But some, such as Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke, worry about rules changes diminishing the game's trademark physicality.

    "And some," Penguins GM Ray Shero said, "have come out and said it wouldn't be that much of a big deal if it wasn't Sidney. Well, take advantage of it. We always say, until something happens to a star player, the league won't look seriously at it. Well, something happened to a star player. If that's the excuse we have to use, I'm all for it."

    "The good thing is they're talking about it," Gagne said. "They're going to find something. What's it going to be? I don't know."

    • • •

    Any discussion about concussions in the NHL starts here: "Guys are bigger, faster," Lightning defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron said. "Maybe we need a bigger rink. It's almost like racing F1 (cars) on a go-cart track."

    "Unless you play the game, it's hard to understand how fast it is," Blues scout and former Lightning player Rob DiMaio said. "It's easy to watch from (the press box) and say, 'Why didn't that guy stop?' But it happens so fast, guys can't stop sometimes."

    That is why DiMaio, whose career ended because of a concussion sustained in a September 2006 preseason game from an elbow thrown by Guillaume Latendresse, would not ban all hits to the head: "Guys shouldn't be penalized for an accident."

    Lightning GM Steve Yzerman agreed: "Deliberate blows to the head are different than body checks. I don't think you can penalize every time a guy gets hit in the head. Sometimes, a guy isn't targeting the head. This isn't easy. We're not going to be able to prevent every concussion."

    That is why much of the discussion next month likely will be about strengthening Rule 48, enacted last season after Florida's David Booth and Boston's Marc Savard were concussed by blindside hits to the head from Philadelphia's Mike Richards and Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke, respectively.

    Neither Richards nor Cooke was suspended because the hits were legal at the time. Cooke was not even penalized. Under Rule 48, he would have been.

    Bettman said at All-Star weekend that since the rule was enacted in March, "we've seen a decrease in concussions and man-games lost resulting from blindside hits to the head."

    Jason Pominville said that is no reason not to add harsher penalties. The Sabres right wing missed about a month this season because of a concussion from a hit to the head by Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, who was suspended for two games.

    "Players don't want to get suspended. They don't want to get fined," Pominville said. "You fine someone or suspend someone, it catches everybody's attention."

    • • •

    Any rules change must be approved by the players association, and not all see eye to eye.

    Shero, the Penguins' GM, said he polled his players last season about Richards' hit on Booth: "I said, 'Who thinks that was a good hit?' Half the guys said it was a good hit; (Booth) should keep his head up. The other guys were saying, 'Are you kidding me? (Richards) should be suspended.' "

    Gagne, who said he was concussed twice in the 2007-08 season by hits to the head, understands the push-back.

    "You still want hockey to be a physical sport, and I agree," he said. "But guys are so big and so fast, and with the rule change of no holding, guys are coming at full speed. If you get hit with a shoulder to the head, good luck for your health. Until you get this injury and struggle with it, you definitely won't understand."

    "Gags makes a good point," teammate Steven Stamkos said. "You respect them for going through that."

    Still, count Stamkos among those who believe the onus is not on the league but on the players to "be more responsible," especially by avoiding vulnerable positions in which they can be hit.

    And he agreed with Versus television analyst and former NHL defenseman Brian Eng­blom, who said, "What we need to eliminate is that hunting mentality. Hitting is one thing, but hunting means you're looking for victims. You're looking to go after someone and punish them."

    Can it be left to the players?

    "I think that's gone from the game now," DiMaio said. "You have players whose job it is to be physical, and whenever they have an opportunity to finish a guy and finish a guy hard, they're going to. If a guy doesn't finish his hit and he gets to the bench, he's going to hear about it."

    "It's like when you ask the people in society to act with respect," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "You're going to get some who do and some who don't. So if you leave it up to players, it will be like leaving it up to society without policemen and jails."


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    By Derek J. LaRiviere, Times Correspondent
    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    The city of Brooksville is hosting its second Golf Glow Scramble at the Quarry Golf Course in Brooksville on Feb. 25.

    In the first scramble, on Jan. 28, Gary Boggs and Don Williams (31) took first place. Ken Yeaton and Carl Moody (32) were close behind, and Doug Chorvat and Bill Hogarth (35) came in third. Moody also won a prize for closest to the pin.

    The cost for the scramble is $25 per player, with two-player groupings; men and women are welcome. The shotgun start is at 6:30 p.m. Nine holes of golf, range balls and glow balls are included in the cost.

    First place is $250, with prizes for second place, closest to the pin and raffles to be announced. Hole sponsorships are available for $25.

    For information, call Christi Adams at (352) 540-3807.

    WINTER SOFTBALL: The Brooksville Recreation Department wrapped up its Winter Adult Softball League last month with champions in three divisions.

    The Co-Ed Division title was won by Beef O'Brady's as it fended off Coney Island 11-7 in the championship game. In the Men's Division, Coney Island won the crown with a 10-5 victory over Bright House in the final game. The Women's Division was won by Florida State Pawn with a 17-5 win over Brooks Oil in the title game.

    TENNIS SOCIAL: The Nature Coast Tennis Foundation will have a Tennis Social on Feb. 19 at Delta Woods Park in Spring Hill.

    The social is set to begin at 7 p.m., but participants may arrive early for warm-ups. All players are welcome. The organization encourages participants to bring their own partners, but can help with finding one. The cost is $5 per entry for a 50/50 raffle to be drawn at the event. Half the proceeds will benefit the tennis foundation.

    For information, call Phil Zee at (352) 263-9546.

    VALENTINE'S BOWLING: Spring Hill Lanes will have its 14th annual Valentine's Scotch Doubles Tournament at 1 p.m. Sunday.

    The cost for entry is $18 per couple. Under the format, two bowlers alternate shots for four games. It is a handicap tournament based on sanctioned averages.

    While it is not required for entrants to be U.S. Bowling Congress members, non-members will be required to bowl with a 220 average.

    For information, call (352) 683-7272.

    HUMANE SOCIETY GOLF: Silverthorn Country Club in Spring Hill is hosting the second annual Cause Fore Paws golf tournament on March 8 to benefit the Humane Society of the Nature Coast.

    The entry fee is $60 per golfer or $240 per team. The shotgun start is set for 1 p.m., with check-in starting at noon.

    Sponsorship opportunities are available. Current sponsors include Rick Matthews Buick/GMC in Brooksville and Century 21 Alliance Realty/Gail Spada. There are also individual hole sponsors.

    For information, call Beth Bilodeau at (352) 797-0962.

    DAV BROOKSVILLE GOLF: Southern Hills Plantation Club in Brooksville is hosting the second annual DAV Brooksville Golf Tournament on March 19.

    The entry fee is $100 per golfer. The shotgun start is set for 1:30 p.m., with check-in starting at 11 a.m. Included in the entry fee are 18 holes of golf, range balls and the awards dinner. The tournament is limited to 30 four-person teams; first come, first served. Registration deadline is March 14.

    Cash prizes, door prizes, closest-to-the-pin, hole-in-one and longest drive prizes will be awarded. Sponsors include Rick Matthews Buick/GMC of Brooksville, Harley-Davidson of Crystal River and AutoWay Ford Lincoln-Mercury of Brooksville.

    For information, call (352) 796-1679 or send e-mail to treasurer@davchapter67.com.

    SAVE OUR SONS GOLF: Brooksville Golf and Country Club is hosting the Save Our Sons Golf Tournament on May 14 to benefit the Shiloh Problem Solvers Street Outreach Program.

    The entry fee is $75 per adult, with youths participating for free. Tee-off is set for 1 p.m., with registration starting at noon. Included in the entry fee are 18 holes of golf, cart and lunch. The deadline for entry is May 9.

    Cash prizes, door prizes, closest-to-the-pin, hole-in-one and longest drive prizes will be awarded. Sponsorship opportunities are available.

    For information, call (352) 345-9596.

    500 CLUB BOWLING: The Hernando County Women's 500 Club is having a 3-6-9 Tournament at Mariner Lanes in Spring Hill at 1 p.m. Feb. 20.

    Entrants must be members of the Hernando County U.S. Bowling Congress, Women's Bowling Congress and the Women's 500 Club.

    The entry fee is $16 per bowler. There will be two divisions in the handicap event. The A Division will include bowlers with averages of 151 and above, and the B Division will include bowlers with averages of 150 and below.

    The registration deadline is Monday. Entry forms can be picked up at either Spring Hill Lanes or Mariner Lanes.

    For information, call Sheila Wehrenberg at (352) 688-1575.

    HBA SPORTING CLAYS: The Hernando Builders Association is sponsoring its fifth annual "Bang Bang" Sporting Clays Tournament on Feb. 19 at Tampa Bay Sporting Clays in Land O'Lakes.

    Team entries and sponsorships are available at the HBA office at 7391 Sunshine Grove Road, west of Brooksville. The entry fee is $99 per shooter, including coffee and doughnuts before the competition and a catered lunch and awards afterward.

    A portion of the proceeds will go the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranch. There will also be raffles, including one for a new shotgun.

    Call HBA at (352) 596-1114 or visit hernandobuilders.com.

    To notify us of community sports achievements or coming events, contact Derek J. LaRiviere at derekjlariviere@gmail.com or (352) 584-6337.


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    By Stephen F. Holder, Times Staff Writer
    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    The Sporting News got around to announcing the results of its executive of the year award today, and the panel of voters selected Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, whose team posted the best record in the NFC.

    Some saw Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik as a leading contender for this honor, but he finished third with seven votes. Dominik's Bucs became the first team since the 1970 NFL merger to start at least 10 rookies but finish witih a winning record. The Bucs also were the youngest team in the NFL this season.

    Second place went to the Chiefs' Scott Pioli (eight votes), whose team won the AFC West after going 4-12 in 2009.

    Here's how the vote is conducted. The Sporting News surveyed 47 general managers, assistant general managers, owners, personnel executives and head coaches for the award.

    Dimitroff got 13 votes.

    Because neither the NFL nor Associated Press name an executive of the year, The Sporting News honor is recognized as official.


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