LEMOORE — With a poor shooting night from both teams, it was Lemoore who found the rhythm down the stretch and came away with a 53-51 home victory over El Diamante on Wednesday.
“Sometimes you fall out of a boat and you still can’t hit water,” Lemoore coach Joel Sligh said. “Today was one of those days.”
And with the shooting struggles on Wednesday, it was all hands on deck for Lemoore. The Tigers kept shooting and had 12 of their 15 players score with Jaden Jones scoring a team-high 14 points. Chris Taylor had eight points and Daniel Wyatt added six points.
“I think [the win] shows that sometimes when everything doesn’t go our way we still have the ability to win games,” Sligh said. “You need that in league, especially when you play teams that are familiar with you.”
The Tigers also extended their season-high win streak to five games, including winning six of their last seven games, and are now 4-0 on their home court.
The West Yosemite League contest started slow. Each team had 21 points at halftime and it was a struggle just to get that many on the board.
The Miners (9-8, 0-2 WYL) led 7-2 before the Tigers (10-4, 2-0 WYL) seemed to get on a roll with an 11-0 run and 13-9 lead after the first quarter. But they wound up scoring only eight points in the second quarter.
“We always start slow on the home court,” Lemoore guard Juelein Fox said. “I think it’s just jitters and we’re nervous to play in front of the home crowd.”
Poor communication, bad passes and blown layups summed up the first 16 minutes. Sligh was satisfied with the looks the Tigers were getting, but they just weren’t falling on Wednesday.
“I loved every single shot we took,” Sligh said. “I didn’t think we took a bad shot. Every single shot in any other game I would’ve told you, ‘Man we’re running out of here by 20-plus,’ but it just so happened today we couldn’t find the bucket.”
The Miners weren’t doing any better, but they managed to build a 29-21 lead when they started the third quarter on an 8-0 run. Sligh called a timeout to get his team refocused.
“It was just a matter of us keeping our composure,” Lemoore forward Damian Goudeau said. “That’s what we’re going to really work on this year … and staying consistent the whole time and that’s what we did tonight.”
After the timeout, Lemoore answered with its own 10-2 run. Daniel Charleston, who had an electrifying block, started it with a layup and Jones and Taylor hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cut into the lead. Wyatt’s shot inside the paint tied the game and capped their run.
The Miners led 38-36 at the end of the third quarter.
With a close game, it was Jones answering the call in the fourth quarter. He scored nine of his 14 points over the final 5:30 and hit two 3-pointers. His second 3-pointer from the left corner gave the Tigers a 50-43.
“We were missing a couple in the first, second, third and my coach said, ‘We need to get into it,’” Jones said. “They passed it to me and I know that they trust me to shoot the three, so I just shot my shot.”
Lemoore guard Jayden Bray’s putback gave the Tigers a nine-point lead — their largest of the game — and was the finishing touch on a clutch 12-2 run when they needed it the most.
Despite the struggles, the Tigers moved to 2-0 in the WYL and are the only other team without a loss. Mt. Whitney is also 2-0.
It’s the first time Lemoore has started league 2-0 since they went 11-1 and were crowned the league champions during the 2015-16 season. They finished that season 26-4 overall and won the CIF Central Section Division II championship.
Lemoore has its first road league game against Golden West (7-12, 0-2 WYL) today at 7:30 p.m.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Eric Ebron has seen the forecast for Saturday's divisional playoff game between the Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs, where even the most optimistic of meteorologists are pegging the chances of rain or snow at about 50 percent.
It doesn't bother him. The Colts tight end played in plenty of cold games in the NFC North.
"You get past it once you get out there," said Ebron, who started his career with the Detroit Lions and remembers frigid games in Green Bay and Chicago. "The worst is the TV timeouts. Once that's over, you will warm back up, but other than that it should be fun. Snow, whatever — I love snow games."
Even if the cold, wet weather puts a damper on two star-studded offenses.
Most of the attention this week has been on the quarterback showdown between the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes and the Colts' Andrew Luck, and rightfully so. Mahomes shattered records by the dozen this season, throwing for more than 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns, while Luck tossed 39 touchdown passes while taking the Colts from a 1-5 start to the second weekend of the playoffs.
But neither quarterback would have posted such gaudy numbers had he not had a plethora of weapons at his disposal along with creative offensive minds to design plays to get him the ball.
Chiefs speedster Tyreek Hill set a franchise record with 1,479 yards receiving, pulled in 12 touchdown passes and had a league-leading 22 catches of at least 25 yards this season. He had plays of at least 50 yards five times, including a 91-yard punt return touchdown against the Chargers in Week 1.
Hill should have his top running mate back, too. Sammy Watkins practiced this week after missing a handful of games with a foot injury, potentially giving Kansas City its No. 2 wide receiver again.
Then there's Travis Kelce, the All-Pro tight end whose value comes both as a blocker and a dangerous downfield target. Kelce had 103 catches for 1,336 yards this season, briefly setting the NFL record for a tight end, and has caught at least one pass in 79 consecutive games.
"I have a big advantage here that I have a lot of great teammates that can make a lot of plays. I don't have to try to do too much," Mahomes said. "Just get the ball out of my hands. Get it to Tyreek, get it to Kelce, get it to all these guys who can make plays and let them do what they have been doing all season long. That's the biggest thing — not trying to do too much."
Especially considering what they've done all season has been good enough.
"I mean, just their weapons — they've got several All-Pro players. They have a lot of good players that didn't get that recognition," Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus said. "There's a lot of skill on that side of the ball. The scheme is a little bit unique, too, in terms of what they do and how they do it. It's going to be a big challenge."
It's not unlike the challenge the Indianapolis offense presents to the Chiefs, who have been ferocious at rushing the passer but have struggled in just about every other aspect.
T.Y. Hilton shredded the Chiefs defense with 13 catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns during their 2014 playoff game, when the Colts rallied from a 38-10 second-half deficit. He had 76 catches for 1,270 yards and six touchdowns in another Pro Bowl-caliber season.
His running mate, Dontrelle Inman, has scored in three consecutive games.
And much like the Chiefs, the Colts have one of the league's most versatile and dangerous tight ends in Ebron. He had 13 touchdown catches during the regular season, trailing only the Steelers' Antonio Brown for the league lead, and added another in the Colts' playoff win in Houston.
Making it all work? An offensive line that allowed just 18 sacks this season.
"Based on the numbers, it's going to be very challenging," Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. "It's like anything, we will have our chances. We have to take advantage of it."
It was a terrific moment for tennis, drawing tons of attention to an otherwise meaningless exhibition event in a sport just starting its new season: Serena Williams and Roger Federer sharing a court for the first — only? — time.
There they were, trying to return each other's sublime serves during a mixed doubles match, then kidding around and showering mutual admiration on each other during a joint interview, before posing for a selfie seen 'round the world.
A fan's dream. A promoter's, too. Also, potentially, a scary moment for tennis.
Williams, owner of a professional-era-record 23 Grand Slam singles titles, and Federer, owner of a men's-record 20, are both 37 years old, both parents and both far closer to the ends of their careers than anyone with a stake in the sport would care to think about. And so the whole scene on New Year's Day at the Hopman Cup raised a key question, one that will be a backdrop at the Australian Open when play begins in Melbourne on Monday: What will happen to tennis when these two GOATS ("Greatest of All Time") are gone?
"I'm a little worried about it. When they're done, it's going to be a real loss. When Federer goes, it's a loss, not only for individual tournaments but the tour itself. He drives so much support and fan revenue. It's similar with Serena. They're so well known outside of tennis. At the end of the day, I'm happy I can say I played against one of them and kind of alongside the other one," said Sam Querrey, a former member of the top 20 who reached Wimbledon's semifinals in 2017. "Hopefully someone can step up and take their place in terms of popularity."
That's not all that likely.
Not anytime soon, anyway.
It's become a popular parlor game to try to point to which players in their 20s now will fill the gap whenever it is that these two superstars move on.
Among the names bandied about these days are Naomi Osaka, Sloane Stephens and Jelena Ostapenko among the women, and Alexander Zverev, Sefanos Tsitsipas and Denis Shapovalov among the men. That group of a half-dozen owns a total of three Grand Slam titles so far (one each for the trio of women).
There are those, such as ATP Executive Chairman Chris Kermode and WTA CEO Steve Simon, who acknowledge that Federer and Williams are, as Simon put it, "very special," but also believe tennis can survive their eventual and inevitable departures.
"Whenever we see them on the court these days, it's something everybody should embrace and celebrate. They ... raised the profile and quality of tennis," Simon said. "If there are conversations about them retiring, I'd say that we'll certainly miss them, but it's also something that happens in sports: Icons retire and great new icons come up behind them. No one thought anyone would ever replace Michael Jordan, and I don't think LeBron James has done too bad a job of following him up."
Added Simon: "I hope they play for another 10 years, but if they don't, the sport will, of course, move on while also remembering their greatness forever."
Federer and Williams have built up reservoirs of success on the court and good will off it over nearly two decades: Williams' first Grand Slam title came in 1999; Federer's first arrived in 2003.
Her take on Federer: "Both on the court and off the court, he has such charisma."
His take on Williams: "You see how focused and determined she is, and I love that about her."
While Federer has managed to avoid any sort of real controversy at all — "His contributions have been immense both in terms of captivating audiences worldwide on the court, as well as leading by example away from the court," Kermode said — Williams most recently faced backlash after a mid-match flare-up during a loss to Osaka in the U.S. Open final last September.
The Australian Open will be Williams' first real tournament since that outburst, which led to her being docked a game by the chair umpire and fined $17,000 by the U.S. Tennis Association, so it will be fascinating to see how things play out in Melbourne, where she has won seven titles.
What everyone seems to be able to agree on is that whenever Williams and Federer — a six-time champion at the Australian Open, including in 2017 and 2018 — do decide to walk away, their imprints will be lasting ones.
"They are both legends. They are champions. To see both of them still competing on a real high level was quite fun and exciting," said three-time major champion Angelique Kerber, who was at the Hopman Cup. "I hope they will still play a few more years, as long as they can, because they are really important for tennis."
HANFORD — Hanford had seven players finish in double figures, hit 12 3-pointers and secured its largest win in more than a decade with a 116-10 home victory over West Yosemite League opponent Mt. Whitney on Wednesday.
Corin Camara led the Bullpups (12-4, 2-0 WYL) with a game-high 20 points, Tinisha Edwards scored 17 points and Kylie Maya scored 17 points. Sapphire Jones, Alyssa Chapman, Nymoi Solis, Michaela Young all finished in double figures as well.
The Bullpups’ 106-point margin of victory is the largest in the last 15 seasons and was their first time eclipsing the 100-point mark this season and first since Jan. 17 of last season against Mt. Whitney when they beat them 102-27. The blowout was also only the third time Hanford has hit triple digits since the 2010-11 season. They beat Kingsburg 103-3 that season.
Gwen Gardner led the Bullpups with seven rebounds, Sapphire Jones also had five assists and 14 steals, while Michalea Young had five assists, five rebounds and four steals.
Hanford led 37-0 after the first quarter and 63-2 at halftime. They allowed six points in the third quarter, but still led 87-8 entering the fourth quarter.
Hanford will go on the road on today for a league contest against Redwood (14-4, 2-0 WYL) beginning at 7:30 p.m.
HANFORD — Sierra Pacific moved to 4-0 in the East Sequoia League with a 63-27 victory over Granite Hills on Wednesday.
The Golden Bears (13-4, 4-0 ESL) were led by Celeste Lewis’ 17 points and eight steals and Alana Roberts’ double-double. Roberts had 16 points and 19 rebounds. Cristina Avila added 15 points, four rebounds and five steals.
The Golden Bears started fast with a 25-3 lead after the first quarter, but slowed down to only score nine points in the second quarter. They still led 34-8 at halftime and ended with their seventh win of 30 or more points.
Sierra Pacific is currently on a four-game winning streak and will face McFarland (17-1, 5-0 SSL) in a non-league contest today at 6:30 p.m.
VISALIA — The Tigers couldn’t keep up with the Miners on Wednesday and lost 63-53 on the road.
Lemoore (7-8, 0-2 WYL) has lost its last two games after winning its previous two games before that. The Tigers led 28-26 at halftime, but were outscored 37-25 in the second half.
They’ll have a chance to break their skid against Golden West (9-7, 1-1 WYL) today at 7:30 p.m.
VISALIA — The Bullpups lost their first league game of the season with a 61-50 final against Mt. Whitney on Wednesday.
Hanford (10-5, 1-1 WYL) trailed 46-44 heading into the fourth quarter, but were outscored 15-6 over the final eight minutes.
Juaron Watts-brown led the Bullpups with 14 points in the loss and was the only scorer in double figures. Carson Verhoeven scored nine points and Cesar Mota had eight points.
Hanford will face Redwood (8-12, 1-1 WYL) today at 7:30 p.m. It’s a game between last season’s two co-league champions. They split last year’s series.
PORTERVILLE — Sierra Pacific suffered its first ESL loss of the season with a 62-39 contest against Granite Hills on Wednesday.
The Golden Bears (10-8, 3-1 ESL) will face McFarland (5-9, 1-4 SSL) in a non-league road game today at 6:30 p.m.
HANFORD — Hanford lost its fourth game in a row with a 5-4 loss to Mt. Whitney on Wednesday.
The Bullpups (2-12-1, 0-2 WYL) led 3-0 in the first half before blowing their big lead in the second half and being outscored 5-1. It was the fourth time this season the Bullpups have allowed five or more goals. They’re 0-4 in those contests.
Hanford will face Redwood (8-8-1, 0-1 WYL) tonight at 6 p.m. in a West Yosemite League road game.
VISALIA — The Bullpups earned their second-largest shutout victory of the season with a 5-0 blowout over Mt. Whitney on Wednesday.
Sheyenne Hodge scored two goals and leads Hanford (12-2-1, 2-0 WYL) with 16 goals on the year. Samantha Bustamante, Isabella Schroder and Darienne Dunn scored the other three goals.
It was Bustamante’s first goal in six games, Dunn’s second of the season and Schroder’s seventh of the year putting her in second on the team.
Hanna Murrieta and Melody Martinez combined to make three saves and earn the shutout.
Hanford led the WYL contest 3-0 at halftime. They’ll face defending league champion Redwood (11-5-2, 2-0 WYL) in a home game today at 6:30 p.m. The Rangers went 11-0-1 in league last season with the only tie coming to the Bullpups.
LEMOORE — The Lemoore soccer game against El Diamante was cancelled on Wednesday due to the rain.
A makeup date has not been announced yet. Their next scheduled game is a road match against Golden West (9-3-2, 1-1 WYL) today at 6 p.m.