The NBA Finals has been anything but predictable so far through five games. Very few, if any, predicted the San Antonio Spurs would be ahead (or even alive) at this point and have to chances to close out the vaunted Miami Heat. The Spurs are in this situation for a variety of reasons: coaching, Danny Green being bonkers from 3-point range, a great team-first system and the Heat just not playing hard in losses. The coaching aspect is working on both sides, actually. Other than Green's shooting, nothing has been the same from game-to-game for either team. The Spurs win, so Miami makes adjustments and wins and vice-versa. It's been an incredible display of coaching by both Gregg Popovich and Erik Spoelstra. Again the correct word for Green's shooting display is bonkers. Everyone knows his story by now (released by Cleveland and cut by the Spurs before begging for another chance) and as of right now, he's the Finals MVP. He is 53-103 in 19 postseason games and unbelievable 25-38 (66 percent!) in the Finals. The Heat has to slow him down somehow or hope that the law of averages hold and he goes cold. So far there have been 20 quarters played in the Finals and the Spurs have either won or played even in 13 of those quarters. It's no fluke they're in this position. But it's also nearly impossible to predict they're going to win one of the next two games.
Editor's note: This is the third and final installment in a series of columns about brothers Craig and Tevin Foster and the assistance they've received from DeAnthony Bowden. The first and second columns ran Sunday, June 16 and Monday, June 17, respectively. Finally, it's time to see all the hard work pay off. The hours upon hours of running the steps, hoisting the weights and shooting thousands of shots are culminating in this athletic year for DeAnthony Bowden, Craig Foster and Tevin Foster. For Bowden, this athletic year means another return to Canada and a chance at another championship while also trying to get his camp NCAA sanctioned and working with some other local talent. For Craig, this year is all about a repeat performance with a few other happy endings, all the while trying to break in a new coach and work in a new offense. It also means the end of his college career. For Tevin, this year is the start of his own college career and the question of if he has seen the basketball gym for the final time. The Aggie Craig enters his final season in black and gold as the defending Lone Star Conference Player of the Year. He returns to a team that finally reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever. However, he also returns to the court with a new head coach, as Nate Gamut takes over for the departed Wade Alexander. Gamut took over the program before the conference tournament last year after being the assistant coach under Alexander. The transition then was not that much, but it was still difficult. "It was more of a tough transition for those new guys who were here for their first year," Craig said. "But now, coach Gamut is the one that has recruited everyone on the team really, and so it wasn't really a tough transition it was just listening to a new voice. We just have to adjust to that. I am ready to bring in the excitement and get ready for this new season."
Lawton's 580 RollerGirls upped their season record to 4-1 with a dominating victory over a Tulsa team Saturday night. The local team came out of the box on fire as they leaped out to an 81-8 lead midway through the first half over the Roughneck Roller Derby. With five minutes left in the half, the score leaped to 113-24, said Erin "Dublin D'Pain" Cooper, team spokesperson. The 580 added another 15 points by half. "The whoopin' continued into the second half and ended with a final score of 198-67," Cooper said. With stalwarts Elly Gone Gonzo, Elle-Beau Macaroni and Crrystal Pistol on the injured reserve, the RollerGirls filled in ranks and controlled the concrete track. Trigger Trixie, Molly Meet Your Maker and Scarlet Johatchet led the jamming. Newcomer Wrecking Ball V joined a stalwart pack that owned the course, including player/coach Copper Penny, Okie Choke, B. Baggins, Cocoa Thunder, Hillbilly Havoc, Lapacca Punch and Sweet Destruction Despite the disparity in the score, Cooper said the visiting squad showed some promise and called the Roughneck Rollerderby "an up and coming new team in the Tulsa area."
On Friday, Cameron University head baseball coach Todd Holland announced Brady Huston, as the next assistant coach for the Aggies. "It's really exciting and we are making steps in the right direction," Holland said. "Brady had one of the top pitching staffs in the nation at Seminole State, and he can step in and make a tremendous impact to our program. It will be great to have another person on staff who can work with the players and help in recruiting. "He's a local guy from Burkburnett, so it will be good to have someone local who knows the area." Huston for the past three seasons was the assistant coach at Seminole State where he served as the team's pitching coach and recruiting coordinator. Last season with the Trojans, Huston's pitching staff finished the NJCAA regular season No. 1 in the country in strikeouts (476) and strikeouts per nine innings (10.5). He also had four players selected in the 2013 MLB Draft including second round (45th overall) pick, Teddy Stankiewicz, who was selected by the Boston Red Sox.
Editor's note: This is the second in a series of columns about brothers Craig and Tevin Foster and the assistance they've received from DeAnthony Bowden. The first column ran Sunday. Now that you know the players a little better, it's time to tell the story of the year that was. After the 2011-2012 seasons, you could tell that the work that DeAnthony Bowden had done on Craig and Tevin Foster's basketball games had made a difference. Craig was starting to get significant minutes at Cameron in his junior year and was starting to really come into his own while Tevin had a successful return to the gridiron and a good junior year on the basketball floor. Tevin had even started to get scholarship looks for football. As the summer began in June of 2012, the hard work began again, and with it people started to take notice of the changes in their games. As one Cameron assistant told me before the basketball season, "Craig and Tevin both are looking amazing, and Craig is really going to be something special this year." The brothers also saw that developement in themselves, especially in their performance. "I have seen a lot of change in my game," Tevin said. "Before I started working with DeAnthony I was running a 4.6 in my 40 time, now I have ran my 40 before the season started and I ran a 4.4. This year after doing all the hills and stuff and working just 3-4 weeks I am already dunking the ball. I haven't ran my 40 yet, so we still have to see what that's going to be like."
It wasn't as explosive as the 9-1 win over Cache on Monday, but the result was the same as Lawton High took down Eisenhower, 8-0, at Paul Wilson Park Thursday.
Whereas the bats led the Wolverines to victory on Monday, pitching, specifically Dallas Sealey's pitching, was the main factor for LHS on Thursday.
"That's exactly what we're looking for out of Dallas," LHS head coach Brad Passmore said. "He pounded the zone for the most part. His fastball had some jump on it today and his curve was sharp. He kept them off-balance. He had good command today."
Sealey got to work early striking out the first three Eagles he faced looking on 14 pitches in the first inning. He began the second the same way striking out a fourth straight Eagle looking, before giving up a first-pitch single to right to Donald Alexander.
That hit was all Ike could muster in the five inning run-rule.
Sealey earned the win throwing all five innings giving up the one hit while walking three and striking out seven.
"I was just getting ahead and then once I had two strikes I was hitting them with the curveball," Sealey said. "A couple times my mechanics were a little off, but I feel pretty good right now. I think that's the first (time he'd ever struck out the side looking).
While Sealey was dominating on the mound, the Wolverine's bats knocked out eight hits, but only one was of the extra-base variety. LHS had 11 hits on Monday with seven extra-base hits. The singles were enough as Ike supplemented LHS' offense with some defensive miscues.
"We don't have much patience at the plate and I told them that," Passmore said. "We took advantage of some of their mistakes, but we didn't hit it very well because we were way out in front. We don't hit well against kids that don't have average velocity and throw a lot of off-speed pitches. We have to make adjustments and we didn't do that very well during the spring, but we did better tonight.
Carrie Harvey Dilks didn't mince words when she was asked what the new McMahon Field would do for Cameron University's softball program saying simply, "it will take this program to a whole new level, especially in recruiting."
Standing just a couple hundred yards away from the old CU softball field where she set a host of school pitching records, Dilks said that it was a proud day for the program and as an alumni it was a sign that the school was "committed to doing everything it can to raise the level of the women's athletic programs."
Dilks said that during her time at Cameron she saw the lack of a quality softball facility cost the Aggies several times.
"I know for a fact that when I was here we lost five or six players to Midwestern because they had just built that new complex and they were the showcase facility in the league," the Burkburnett native said. "Now Cameron is the showpiece of the conference and this has to help with recruiting in a major way. Now we're going to see Cameron getting those borderline recruits."
And she gave credit to CU Athletic Director Jim Jackson for also hiring one of the bright young coaching minds to take over the program, Cache coach Rodney DeLong.
"Coach DeLong is really going to make a dramatic improvement in the hitting," she said. "He teaches a very sound hitting technique, stressing weight transfer and things that are really progressive. In there (indoor practice facility) he has a new pitching machine that will allow him to throw the various pitches and work with hitters individually at hitting those different pitches.
"That will keep the pitchers from having to throw as much live batting practice as we did when I was playing. That will be a great tool for the program. I am really impressed with the entire setup, the weights, the batting cages. This is just amazing; I'm a little jealous we didn't have this when I was here."
Despite the heat, a huge crowd showed up for the festivities and one of the highlight was a chance to see Dilks throw the ball again. Mixing her vaunted fastball with her deadly change-up, she was able to slow down the Police/Fire batters and help her "Alumni and Friends" team take a 3-1 victory in a three-inning grand-opening game.
Fans crammed into every inch of shade on the hot afternoon and they dined on free hot dogs, hot soft pretzels, Cracker Jack, popcorn, sunflower seeds and guzzled water and root beer.
For the record Lawton Fire Chief Dewayne Burk collected the first "unofficial" hit on the field when he got his bat on a Dilks fastball and blooped it into left-center field. The "unofficial" first home run at the park was a two-run blow by CU women's basketball coach Tom Webb in the bottom of the first inning. Ryan Flood also homered for the Alumni team, but on this day nobody really cared about the score, it was all about launching a new era in CU athletics.
Retiring CU President Cindy Ross started the festivities by welcoming the crowd and introducing three members of the McMahon Foundation board of trustees that provided a grant of $1 million to help build the facility. On hand were McMahon Foundation Chairman Kenneth Bridges, Vice-Chairman Kenneth Easton and secretary-treasurer Mike Mayhall.
Bridges was given the honor of throwing out the first pitch, but there was one problem, nobody had a ball.
Similar to numerous preceding situations, Chris Bradford readied himself to put into practice the pool-playing skills he has honed over the years at various local watering holes like Club Whatever, The Horseshoe, and Creekside. There was one minor difference this past April, the 26-year-old Lawton native was now at Las Vegas' Riviera Hotel and Casino, more than a thousand miles from home, about to kick off his run through the American Poolplayers Association's National Singles 9-ball Championship. His present company was a lot like his local APA chapter Lawton has 65 teams under its name except on steroids. The international APA has a roll of more than 250,000 members. At the national tournament, Bradford battled with 110 other competitors in his skill level from all across the country, who like him, had qualified for nationals through a city and regional tournament. Bradford won Lawton's APA city title, then relatively easily with the exception of a tough match from a seasoned veteran swept his way through a regional qualifier in Oklahoma City. But Vegas, even for a pool shark like Bradford, was uncharted waters.
Summer baseball is a time for younger players to get some field time and for teams to work on fundamentals without the pressure of chasing state titles. So far, Lawton High has played extraordinarily well without that pressure and has started the summer XX-X. "It's not going too badly right now, you can't ask for a better start," LHS head coach coach Brad Passmore said. "We just keep preaching to them to not get satisfied and to keep getting better. We've been fortunate so far. We've hit it really well." The winning streak continued Monday at home against Cache as the Wolverines took two from the visitors. Tristan Gooden stole the headlines in the first game, a 9-1 run-rule, and LHS turned around a won again, XX-XX. In addition to getting the win on the mound, Gooden was 4 for 4 with two home runs, a triple and five RBIs at the plate. Cache got on the board first in the opening game when Gooden hit Matt Serrate with a pitch. He moved to third after a wild pitch and an Austin Turner single and scored on another wild pitch.
Now the high school sports year is officially over, and it couldn't have happened in a much stranger fashion. Usually at this time of year, this space is reserved for professional sports or summer baseball, but due to the whole Wright City debacle (don't worry, we're not going to rehash it again), the Class A baseball state tournament finally ended on Saturday. Without doing any research, we're going to declare June 8 to be the latest that a state tournament has ever been played. Whether that is correct or not, isn't the point. The point is that the whole thing was a fiasco and as predicted, Sterling ended up being the team that was hurt the most. The Tigers ran into a freshman buzz saw Saturday in their 4-1 loss to Roff. Dalton Reed tossed a complete game gem allowing just five base runners. If the tournament had been played on time, Sterling would not have had to face Reed as he threw in the first round against Glencoe more than a month prior. Roff also knocked out Sterling in 2012. Obviously the time off allowed Reed to pitch in the semifinals as well which spelled doom for Sterling. It was still a successful season for Sterling making the semifinals again and achieving the No. 1 ranking. The Tigers are losing several key seniors to graduation, but still have many good young players. We're sure coach John Morgan isn't going to make excuses and that he'll keep his program rolling.