BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer BY WARREN RAPPLEYEAStaff Writer With six games remaining before the cutoff for the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II playoffs, the Holmdel High School boys basketball team needs to win at least three of them to qualify. Holmdel, 6-5 overall and 3-3 in the Shore Conference’s B Central division, is coming off a tough 51-44 loss to RBC on Friday. The Hornets battled the Caseys for three periods to a 36-36 tie. RBC pulled away in the final stanza, however, as Holmdel was unable to sink a field goal until just eight seconds remained in the game. “We could have really helped ourselves with a win against RBC,” Holmdel coach Tom Stead said. “Our team has been a little inconsistent all year, particularly in the fourth quarter. So, we’re at a crossroads right now; we need to get on a little bit of a run.” The Hornets will look for continued strong play from guard Dave Caraggio, who averages 16 points and leads the team in scoring. Mike Fenimore has also been a key offensive cog, averaging 13 points. Hard-nosed Jared Wright is a strong fundamental player up front, and 6-foot-5 sophomore center Matt Kelly has shown much promise, while Brendan Dunne has been steady at the point. Stead noted that he’s also received solid play off the bench from, Chris Graziano, Dan Davidson and Andrew Stein (who is averaging three points and three assists, and has proven to be a valuable reserve at point guard), and Stead has gradually increased Stein’s minutes. “Our bench has been a real strength for us so far,” Stead said. “All three of those guys have stepped up and done the job. I’m also pleased with the way the guys have played defensively.” The coach noted that his team has played well overall (the Hornets took third place at the KBA Disney Tournament in Orlando during the holidays) but Holmdel has not been able to put together a run. “We need to put together a couple of strong games in a row,” Stead added. “That would help us to peak for the tournaments and I think this team can do very well in the postseason.”
BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer BCC hosting tournament Region 19 men’s basketball teams know what they are up against this week. Defending champion Brookdale Community College (27-1) is even better than it was last winter when the Jersey Blues captured the championship. They are hosting the tournament this week in Lincroft.Brookdale is first-ranked among Division III junior college teams in the country and did not lose a region game the entire season (20-0).The Jersey Blues’ bid for an undefeated season and their three-year winning streak at home in the Collins Arena (27) was spoiled by Division II County College of Morris on Feb. 21, but that doesn’t make their opposition’s task any easier. If anything, with the burden of a long winning streak (28) lifted, the Jersey Blues won’t be playing with that pressure this week.As the No. 1 seed, Brookdale hosted a first-round game on Feb. 25 against Lehigh Carbon Community College (15-12).The semifinals are on Feb. 28, and the finals are on March 2 at 7:30 p.m.Brookdale head coach Paul Cisek isn’t concerned about his team being too tight. “This team is very loose and fun to be around,” he said. “They’re not feeling any pressure. They surprise me every day.“They’re excited and loose and ready to play,” he continued.Being ready to play has been Brookdale’s mantra all year. It starts on the defense end, where other teams better be prepared to be hassled for 40 minutes.“They go right at you,” said Cisek, who is in his 21st year at Brookdale. “We come at you 40 minutes with intensity. After 40 minutes, teams can’t deal with it.“This team plays great defense,” he added. “We play manto man defense hard and aggressive. We make other teams work.”Monmouth Regional High School graduate Neil Thompson has been the man in charge of this club from the start of the season. The point guard gets everyone to follow his example of effort and commitment.“He demands that they play hard,” said Cisek. “He’s the boss, he runs the show.“Neil is a leader,” Cisek continued. “The young man takes it on his shoulder.”Thompson spearheads Brookdale’s defense by being a “great on-ball defender,” according to his coach. The sophomore is averaging 3.5 steals a game.In addition to allowing only 61.6 points a game, it is Brookdale’s defense that makes the offense so lethal. Brookdale has more speed than it ever has under Cisek.When the Jersey Blues get out and run in transition off a defensive rebound, a steal or a turnover, they run teams out of the gym.The team is averaging 85.9 points per game.“We look for runs,”Cisek said.With Thompson in control(6.6 assists a game), the JerseyBlues can function smoothly in the half court. With five players in double figures, teams can’t focus on just one or two players.Thompson and Joe Nickerson (Newark) share the scoring leadership at 14.2 points per game. David Rosado (Saddle River) is scoring at a 13.5 clip, followed by Paul Little (Long Branch) and Damian Williams (Bayonne), who are averaging 13.3 and 13.1 points per game, respectively. Sammy Singletary (9.7 points per game) is just under double figures in scoring.“We share the ball,” said Cisek.Being able to share the ball was a concern for Cisek, as he wanted more than one dominant scorer. With five players in double figures, that is no longer an issue.Brookdale has been getting productive play off the bench from Cory Soanes (Matawan), Bryan Adams (Manalapan) and Anthony Seward (Neptune).Rebounding has been a collective effort, as well, led by Nickerson (6.5). Brookdale’s women start on the road Brookdale’s women, coached by Bob Dubina, finished the regular season at 22-9 and played in Schnecksville, Pa., against Lehigh- Carbon (12-5) on Feb. 26 in their first-round game. If they win, they return home for the semifinals (Feb. 28). The women’s final is at 2:30 p.m. on March 2.Freshmen guards Marina Lukianov (Howell) and Jazmine Davis (Monmouth Regional) have been leading the women in scoring, at 13.2 and 12.0 points per game, respectively.Eden Obou (Newark) is averaging 9.7 points per game and Lauren Bowler (Red Bank) is averaging nine points a game, as well as a team-high seven assists a game. Davis (8.6) and Lukianov (7.3) are the top rebounders.Brookdale was 14-4 in region games.
The Central Jersey Baseball Academy is hosting an Offensive Skills Camp for advanced instructions.The four-week camp provides advanced instruction for players eager to progress to the next level of play.The camp will take place every Saturday beginning on Nov. 21, and registration is online only at http://www.centraljerseybaseball.com/Player-Development-Programs.html.Over 1,000 spectators, amateur competitors and professional racquetball players will return to The Racquet Club at Warren, 149 Mt. Bethel Road, Warren, for the ROLLOUT New Jersey Open IRT ProAm on Dec. 11-14.Amateurs from New England to Maryland are expected to enter a wide variety of age and skill divisions in this United States Association of Racquetball sanctioned event.
By Alison Wildey and Toby DavisWith a squad that was derided for being short on quality by frustrated fans in pre-season, Arsenal, who host Norwich City on Saturday, have surprised many by surging to the top of the Premier League table.The foundation on which their strong start has been built is their burgeoning midfield ranks, recently boosted by the arrival of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid and Mathieu Flamini, who rejoined the club after leaving AC Milan at the end of his contract.These two have joined Aaron Ramsey, who is fulfilling the promise he showed before breaking his leg in 2010, classy playmaker Santi Cazorla, England’s Jack Wilshere and Czech Tomas Rosicky in battling for limited starting places.“When you look at teams like Barcelona, their midfield has always been the most important part of their game so hopefully Arsenal will be very similar,” former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour, who won three Premier League titles with them, told the club website (www.arsenal.com)“It’s looking very strong, no matter who starts. There is so much depth in the midfield with Mikel Arteta, Mathieu – who has been a great signing – Ozil, Jack Wilshere, (Alex) Oxlade-Chamberlain and Cazorla – so it’s a real headache for the manager.“Aaron Ramsey’s been the player of the season so far, he’s been superb with the goals he’s scored but the whole midfield are very adaptive now.”After losing their opening league match 3-1 at home to Aston Villa, Arsenal were revitalised by the signing of Ozil on deadline day, and are unbeaten in the 11 matches they have played since.The German, who joined from Real Madrid for a club record 42 million pounds in a rare show of financial muscle from their naturally cautious manager Arsene Wenger, has handed the north Londoners a huge psychological boost.“Assists lead to success and I’m the sort of player that likes to create goals,” Ozil said.“I think a lot of my team mates know me as a player who is not selfish. It makes me very happy when I create goals or score goals myself. But the most important thing is that the team reaches its goal and plays positive football.”Arsenal are top on goals scored from Liverpool, who travel to Newcastle United on Saturday, a fixture they won 6-0 last season.The Merseysiders are starting to see a fruitful partnership developing between strikers Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez after the latter returned from a 10-game suspension.They have scored five goals between them in the last two matches and club record scorer Ian Rush feels Suarez’s game will bring out the best in his forward partner.“I think Sturridge may get a few more goals because of the way Suarez plays; he’ll help Sturridge a bit more with his experience,” Rush said.“They are both great players, world-class players and world-class players can play with anyone. I like the way Suarez does it – he looks at Sturridge and plays off him and around him.“You can see them trying to bring each other into the game now, the partnership is working really well and they are full of confidence. They have both got so much ability.”Manchester United are six points adrift of the leaders having lost three of their opening seven matches but a win over Sunderland before the international break handed manager David Moyes breathing space.They now have the perfect opportunity to build momentum with four successive home games in different competitions, starting at home to Southampton on Saturday.While strikers Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie will hope to continue the goalscoring form they showed on the international break for England and the Netherlands, it is at the back where United have looked vulnerable this season.After conceding nine goals in the league, they face a tricky task in shutting out Southampton who have stunned many by rising to fourth, two points off the lead, after three victories in a row.Chelsea, in third, host Cardiff City, Everton entertain Hull City and Manchester City travel to West Ham United on Saturday.Stoke City host West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City play bottom side Sunderland.Tottenham Hotspur in sixth will try to rebound from their disappointing 3-0 defeat by West Ham, away at Aston Villa on Sunday. Crystal Palace host Fulham on Monday.
By Michael HannManchester City’s Premier League title hopes were dealt a crushing blow as they were held to a 2-2 draw by bottom club Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.Everton suffered a surprise 3-2 home defeat by Crystal Palace at Goodison Park to hit their chances of a top-four finish.Fernandinho got City off to the perfect start with a goal after two minutes, but Connor Wickham’s double put struggling Sunderland ahead before Samir Nasri snatched a late equaliser.Manuel Pellegrini’s City stayed third in the table on 71 points from 33 matches, six behind leaders Liverpool with only one game in hand.Everton’s defeat, their first in eight games, left them on 66 points from 34 matches, a point adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal with four games remaining.
By Andreas VouCostas Philippou got back to winning ways in the Ultimate Fight Championship (UFC) after landing the first knockout of his career against American Lorenz Larkin, and it did not take him long.The Cypriot went into the bout in Cincinnati under pressure following two straight defeats to Francis Carmont and Luke Rockhold, knowing that only a win would do.With both fighters going at each other from the off, you knew it was not going to last long. Philippou caught Larkin with a right hook-left hook-right hook combination after just three minutes and 47 seconds of the first round, from which Larkin could not get back up.The 34-year-old managed to trap Larkin into the corner against the fence and unleash the knockout blow, rocking Larkin with two quick hits before handing out the right hook which left his opponent out cold on the mat. Referee Keith Peterson felt it was enough to end the bout and rushed in to confirm Larkin’s second straight defeat, his third in four match-ups.After suffering two consecutive losses of his own, Philippou admitted that he had begun to doubt his fighting career. The Limassol-born fighter attributes his refound strength to his new gym at Bellmore Kickboxing and head coach Keith Trimble as he rediscovered his confidence.“Two fights ago, I spent 12 out of 15 minutes lying on my back. It was an awful experience for myself and the fans. I was embarrassed,” he said after Saturday night’s success.“I came back and my last fight was even worse, I got knocked out for the first time in my life. So I started doubting the fact that I can even keep doing what I was doing. I didn’t know ifI still had it in me. My coaches stuck by my side. They basically told me to put my big boy pants on and go fight.”Philippou confessed that he had almost given up prior to the build-up to his recent fight, losing his appetite to train.“I finally found what I was missing the past year. I lost the will to fight, I didn’t want to diet, I didn’t want to go to the gym. My new gym, my new training partners, my new coaches. Everything came together this time and I feel like I’m reborn again.”
By Alan BaldwinLewis Hamilton won the inaugural Russian Formula One Grand Prix and extended his championship lead to 17 points on Sunday in a Mercedes one-two that clinched the team’s first constructors’ title.The Briton, who started on pole position, chalked up his fourth win in a row and ninth of the season after German team mate Nico Rosberg locked up at the first corner and damaged his tyres in a costly error.With 100 points still to be won from the final three races, thanks to double points in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton has 291 points to Rosberg’s 274 with everything still to play for.Hamilton, the 2008 world champion, also became only the fourth driver in F1 history to win nine races in a single season and equalled Nigel Mansell’s British record of 31 career victories.On a warm and sunny afternoon in the Black Sea resort, Rosberg kept himself firmly in contention with a fine recovery drive from 20th place after his second lap pitstop.“Nico did a great job to return from his mistake,” said Hamilton. “To get the first championship for Mercedes Benz is amazing, a beautiful day.“It’s very cool to have won the first race here.”PUTIN PRESENTFinland’s Valtteri Bottas finished third for Williams, and set the fastest lap, in a race watched by Russian President Vladimir Putin at a circuit snaking around some of the landmark venues from this year’s Winter Olympics.Putin also presented the trophies, in what Hamilton described as a ‘kind of surreal’ moment, with the drivers making sure he had left the podium before spraying the champagne that had lain virtually untouched last weekend following Jules Bianchi’s horrific accident in Japan.The one-two was the ninth of the season for Mercedes, one shy of McLaren’s 1988 record, and formally ended Red Bull’s run of four titles in a row.“It will be going just up the road to Brackley and congratulations to Mercedes on what they have achieved this season, they have been phenomenal,” said Red Bull principal Christian Horner. “We will be working hard to take the trophy back the 12 miles to us in 12 months’ time.”Mercedes returned to Formula One with a works team only in 2010, after pulling out in 1955, while the constructors’ championship did not exist before 1958.Before the start, the 21 drivers had stood silently in a circle on the starting grid in a tribute to Bianchi, who remains critically injured, while the Russian national anthem sounded.The 25-year-old Marussia driver was in all their thoughts following his crash into a recovery tractor at Suzuka and the sport breathed a collective sigh of relief that the race in Russia was uneventful.While Hamilton had an easy afternoon on the track, others remained haunted by Suzuka.Marussia entered only one car for the race, keeping Bianchi’s in the garage, with Britain’s Max Chilton lasting just 10 laps before returning to the pit lane and retiring.Rosberg, who started alongside Hamilton on the front row, got ahead of his team mate at the start but then locked up and went wide, ‘flat spotting’ his front tyres in the process.“It was just a mistake on my side…after that the tyres were just square, vibrating so much. I thought that was it,” the German told reporters.Told to give the place back, the German informed the team he would have to pit.After a change from the soft to medium tyres, he rejoined with only Brazilian Felipe Massa behind him in the second Williams, asking over the radio ‘what’s the strategy now?’.“We think we need to go to the end on these,” came the reply and Rosberg did just that, making the tyres last for the remaining 52 laps.McLaren’s Jenson Button finished fourth with Danish team mate Kevin Magnussen fifth.Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was sixth, after a chaotic pitstop, while Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel were seventh and eighth.Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen took ninth place, with Force India’s Sergio Perez 10th.
NORWICH City fought back to draw 1-1 with Everton after Romelu Lukaku scored on Saturday for the sixth successive Premier League match to give the visitors an early lead.Lukaku headed in Gerard Deulofeu’s cross at the far post after 15 minutes but struggling Norwich equalised two minutes into the second half, Wes Hoolahan scrambling the ball over the line following a corner at Carrow Road.Everton climbed to sixth in the table, three points behind fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, and Norwich stayed 16th.Manchester City can return to the top of the table with victory over Swansea City later on Saturday. Bournemouth host Manchester United in the day’s final match.
Brazilian sailors delivered the Olympic torch to Rio de Janeiro’s mayor on Wednesday, two days before South America’s first Olympic Games open.After a 20,000-km (12,400-mile) journey through the vast nation, the torch crossed Guanabara Bay in a sailboat piloted by former medallists, in a nod to one of the competitions where the host country has claimed Olympic glory.The flame landed on terra firma at 9:15am, while just kilometres away 450 heavily armed police battled drug traffickers in the Alemao slum, a major operation and reminder of Rio’s security struggles.In addition to security concerns, the Olympics come to Brazil amid the country’s worst recession in at least a quarter century and an ongoing impeachment trial of a suspended president.Mayor Eduardo Paes took the torch on its first laps through the streets of downtown Rio, known locally as “the marvelous city.” The flame also took a ride on the recently inaugurated light rail and passed in front of the city’s century-old Municipal Theatre.From the centre of Rio, the symbol of the world’s largest sporting event will pass through surrounding towns and return to the city centre on Thursday ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony in the famed Maracanã stadium, site of the World Cup final in 2014.The torch, which arrived in Brazil on May 3, spurred some minor demonstrations in smaller cities in Rio de Janeiro state, though residents of Rio said they were eager to show the world their city is ready for the international spotlight.“The expectations are huge… I think everything will go right, in terms of the Games as well as public safety,” said Reginaldo Santos da Silva, 40, as he watched the torch pass.While the torch’s tour through 300 cities has generally been smooth, it did spur an international outcry when authorities had to shoot a jaguar after the animal escaped from its handlers at a ceremony in the Amazon city of Manaus.The name of the final torch bearer is a closely guarded secret, but fooball legend Pele said on Tuesday he been invited to light the Olympic pyre on Friday and was checking availability with his sponsors.
Panthers were the first to score through Leilani Latu 15 minutes into the game and conveted by Jamie Soward 6-0.The excited crowd cheered the home team on to score five minutes to half time through Adex Wera and followed by an unsuccessful conversion leavung the score 6-4. A last minute try by Josh Hall and conversion from Soward extended the Panthers lead 12-4 at half time. More to come…..