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August 30, 2006

 

Defense saves day for USA crew

basketball

Associated Press/Itsuo Inouye
USA’s Carmelo Anthony (15) drives to the basket against Germany’s Dirk Nowitzki (14) and Ademola Okulaja (top left) during the quarterfinals of the World Basketball Championships today. Anthony sparked 85-65 USA victory.

By BRIAN MAHONEY
AP Basketball Writer

SAITAMA, Japan — Once they realized they couldn’t shoot, the Americans knew they had to make sure Dirk Nowitzki couldn’t, either.
Carmelo Anthony scored 10 of his 19 points in the third quarter, when the United States finally took control with its pressure defense, and the Americans went on to beat Germany 85-65 today in the quarterfinals of the world championships.
The U.S. overcame its worst offensive performance of the tournament with one of its best defensive efforts, limiting Germany to 26 points in the second half and forcing Nowitzki to miss nine of his 12 shots.
“Dirk is unstoppable, so we tried to send in as many defenders as possible,” LeBron James said. “You’ve just got to contain a guy like that and hope he misses some shots. He only had 12 attempts so we know we did a good job.”
James added 13 points for the U.S., which broke away from a one-point halftime lead by using a flurry of steals and blocks to outscore Germany 16-2 over a nearly 6-minute span in the third period.
The Americans (7-0) remained one of the four unbeaten teams and advanced to face European champion Greece (7-0) Friday night in the semifinals. Greece beat France 73-56 earlier today.
But this was unlike the other American victories in Japan.
Instead of looking like the team that came in averaging 109.3 points, the Americans looked like the ones that have come up short in recent years because of a lack of perimeter shooting. They shot 37.6 percent (32-of-85) and were 10-of-40 from 3-point range.
But they kept it from being costly by pressuring Germany’s guards and preventing them from getting the ball to Nowitzki, who finished with 15 points and five turnovers.
“It wasn’t a great shooting night tonight, but I thought it was OK,” American guard Joe Johnson said. “We started making shots late, but I thought our defense was great. We made it tough on Dirk and his teammates and that’s what it’s about. We’ve got to play great defense to win a championship.”
The offense needs to get better against Greece and then either Spain or Argentina — whose players watched the game from behind the basket.
“I’m happy with the way we executed in the halfcourt against the zone, but wasn’t pleased with the way we finished,” U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We’ll shoot better on Friday and hopefully on Sunday, if we get the looks we had today.”
Ademola Okulaja added 15 points for Germany, the bronze medalist in the 2002 world championships. The Germans (5-2) will face France in a classification-round game on Thursday night and can still finish fifth.
Leading 40-39 at the break, the U.S. came out with a new lineup — Anthony, James, Johnson, Kirk Hinrich and Dwight Howard — and forced three turnovers in the first 1:01 of the third quarter.
The Germans were still within a point before Anthony followed a 3-pointer with a steal a dunk. Elton Brand’s follow shot made it 51-43 with 6:41 remaining in the period.
Okulaja made a jumper, but Anthony drilled another 3, Dwyane Wade made a free throw, Johnson had a basket and Chris Bosh converted a three-point play on an alley-oop that extended the Americans’ lead to 60-45 with 1:53 left in the quarter.
“In the beginning of the second half, they turned up the heat defensively and they caused us to be a little more hectic,” Germany’s Johannes Herber said. “We turned the ball over a couple of times and they get easy (baskets) and they hit two or three 3s. And all of a sudden it’s 10 points and it’s hard to get back in the game against them.”
The U.S. had five blocked shots and seven steals in the quarter, taking a 67-52 lead on Chris Paul’s jumper as the buzzer sounded.
Sitting back in a zone that featured Nowitzki, fellow 7-footer Patrick Femerling and 6-8 Okulaja along the back line, Germany forced the U.S. to shoot from the outside. And unlike Sunday’s rout of Australia, when the Americans were 14-of-27 from 3-point range, they were woeful behind the arc today.
“I think we had enough chances to play a good first half,” Nowitzki said. “We started turning the ball over there in the third quarter a little bit. Then they ran away with it. They’re good when they have the lead.”
Anthony missed his first eight shots and was 2-of-12 in the first half. Wade — who came in combining with Anthony for nearly 40 points per game — was 1-for-7 in the half and finished 1-of-11 for three points.
The Americans were 5-of-20 in the first half, including one miss when Wade appeared to try to bank one in and it missed the rim entirely — and that was while he could still see straight.
Wade went to the bench a few minutes later after taking a shot near the eye from Pascal Roller while going for a loose ball. He sat the remainder of the half and returned 4 1/2 minutes into the third quarter — and promptly threw up an airball on his first shot attempt.
But Germany could never take much of a lead because of foul trouble. Both Nowitzki and Okulaja were on the bench in the final minute with three apiece, and the U.S. took a 40-39 lead when Anthony made a 3-pointer with 47 seconds to go.

 

 

Cortland looks to replace seven starters in line-up

By TANEY BEAUMONT
Staff Writer

While Cortland High girls’ tennis coach Bob Walrath welcomes 17 players back from last year’s squad (10-4 in the OHSL Freedom Division, 12-5 overall after a second-round Section 3 Class A loss to Oneida), a gaping hole, impossible to fill, remains.
Beside the fact that she’s the coach’s daughter, Tirzah Walrath, who graduated in June and is continuing her tennis career at LeMoyne College this fall, will be impossible to replace for the Purple Tigers, who open the season by visiting Fulton Thursday.
A two-time Section 3 Division II champion and overall section 3 runner-up, Tirzah Walrath was also a four-time all-league first-team selection at first singles (60-0 in league play from ninth through 12th grades) and was named Most Valuable Player of the squad in each of her five varsity seasons (she went 9-3 in first singles as an eighth-grader). All told, she compiled a record of 89-16 (.848) in first singles for her career, including 23-3 last fall, and was 92-17 (.844) overall, including four doubles matches.
Also included in those gone from last year are the all-league honorable-mention first doubles team of Jen Stark and Costina Bacuta (8-3; shared the team’s ’05 Coaches’ Award), Costina’s sister Florina (the family moved), who was part of the honorable-mention second doubles squad (8-2) with returning junior Eva Rosenthal; Emmalon Davis; Brooke Marshall and Ashley Jenkins (13-6 with various doubles partners, including 10-5 with current freshman Courtney Tennant). All but Florina Bacuta, a junior last year, graduated.

 

 

 

Homer also rebuilds around bunch of talented youngsters

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

In 2005, Homer Central girls enjoyed their best tennis season in many years. With a 10-4 record, the Trojans challenged for top OHSL Freedom Division team honors and the senior-laden squad was definitely one force to be reckoned with.
Fast forwarding to this fall, seven seniors — including a top singles and four of six doubles player — are gone via graduation. This is why head coach Nancy Cavellier begins her 18th season with a rebuilding plan using some talented younger players,
“We have lost a lot of talent and depth so it will be a rebuilding season,” Cavellier said. “We do lack experience, but I have a great group of girls this season. They all want to be here and there is a lot of enthusiasm. The girls have really come together and there is great camaraderie.
“These girls are working hard and they are very coachable. These girls are lots of fun to be around.”
There are three seniors back for their final season and they are the team captains. Kelly Noble is the top returning singles players after posting a 12-6 record in 2005. Molly Warren will move into singles competition for 2006 after teaming with graduated Lizzie Siegel last fall for a stellar 15-2 record in doubles competition. Lindsay Richards is the third senior and she saw limited action in doubles play in 2005 and she will compete in first or second doubles in 2006.