HOWARD COUNTY BOYS HOOPS OFF AND RUNNING

Tayson Parker dunks for the 3-0 Northwestern Tigers. (SJ photo/Randy Messner)

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. – With the fall sports season now complete and the girls hoops season in full swing, it is time to focus on the start of the boys basketball season – and fireworks started on opening night in Russiaville. In the traditional season opener, Kokomo and Western squared off at the Richard R. Rea Gymnasium, and for only the eighth time in the 69-game series, the Panthers knocked off the Wildkats 53-47.

With a near full-house at Western – and two rocking student sections – the Panthers led 8-5 after one quarter and 21-18 at the break. After an even third stanza, Western secured the win with free throws. Kyle Sanders led Western with 17 points while Deonta Chamberlain had a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds for Kokomo.

Unfortunately, the Panthers could not turn the win into a steak as it lost its next three contests in a busy first 11 days – dropping games to Lebanon (52-46), Northwestern (54-40) and Logansport (52-34).

Kokomo also dropped its next game 75-33 to Westfield – it marked the third-worst loss in the history of the Wildkats basketball program. They did rebound in game three with a 47-35 win at Peru. Kokomo will make its Memorial Gymnasium debut on Friday against North Central Conference foe McCutcheon.

Northwestern has started the season strong with three wins – Western, Madison-Grant (69-66) and Mississinewa (51-46). With a seasoned squad returning from last year’s 15-8 team – including junior all-state contender Tayson Parker and senior starters Logan Bowser and Ben Harris – coach Jim Gish and the Tigers should compete for a sectional title by season’s end.

Under second-year coach Jake Leicht, Taylor dropped its first two games (Frankton and Lewis Cass) before rebounding with a conference win at Tri-Central (54-47) and a home win against the Golden Eagles of Oak Hill (52-44). With single-digit wins the last two campaigns, Taylor is sitting in prime position to get back to a winning season.

After two consecutive eight-win seasons, Eastern is off to a strong start with a pair of road wins at Clinton Central (61-48) and Eastbrook (53-52). It was three short years ago that the Comets celebrated a sectional title – could one be on the horizon this year?

See the December 4 edition of the Sports Journal for complete boys basketball schedules and conference standings for Howard County teams.

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NORTHWOODS LEAGUE ANNOUNCES 2019 SCHEDULE, KOKOMO JACKRABBITS TO PLAY IN GREAT LAKES EAST DIVISION DURING INAUGURAL CAMPAIGN

ROCHESTER, Minn. –  The Northwoods League released its complete schedule today for the 2019 season. The schedule now features 22 teams with the additions of the Kokomo Jackrabbits and Traverse City Baseball. Each team will continue to play 72 regular season games, along with a continuation of scheduled doubleheaders.

As part of the 2019 expansion and realignment, the League is adopting new divisional names: Great Plains and Great Lakes.  The names serve as an homage to the growth the League has experienced over its 25-year history, as well as its vast geographic presence, stretching from the Great Plains at its western-most edge, throughout the Great Lakes region to the East. 

The Division and Sub-Division breakout is as follows:

Great Plains West: Bismarck, Mankato, Rochester, St. Cloud, Willmar

Great Plains East: Duluth, Eau Claire, La Crosse, Thunder Bay, Waterloo

Great Lakes West: Fond du Lac, Green Bay, Lakeshore, Madison, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Rapids

Great Lakes East: Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Kenosha, Kokomo, Rockford, Traverse City

“The Northwoods League 2019 schedule is of particular note as it reflects not only the continuing expansion of the Northwoods League to 22 teams, but also the resulting Divisional realignment,” said President Gary Hoover. “In creating this new structure, we believe the fans, players, and our Affiliates will have an enhanced overall experience, and we look forward to making more refinements in the near future that are aimed at raising the bar even higher.”

The Northwoods League, the largest organized baseball league in the world with 22 teams, will begin summer collegiate baseball’s most extensive schedule on Tuesday, May 28. The entire league will be in action including the defending Northwoods League Summer Collegiate World Series Champion Fond du Lac Dock Spiders.

“It seems like it was just yesterday that our players were holding up the championship trophy capping off the 2018 season,” said Fond du Lac GM Ryan Moede. “I know our coaching staff, front office personnel, returning players, and the Fond du Lac community are looking forward to trying to defend our title in 2019!”

The League, which plays two halves to determine playoff participants, will end the first half of play on July 3 with the second half beginning the following day. The 2019 Northwoods League All-Star game will take place in Waterloo, IA on July 16. The 2019 All-Star game will be the 25th All-Star game in the League’s history.

“We’re honored to have the opportunity to show off Cost Cutters Field at Riverfront Stadium, Waterloo, and the entire Cedar Valley area to a regional audience as the host of the 2019 Northwoods League All-Star Game,” said Bucks GM Dan Corbin. “This is a perfect chance for Bucks fans to see the best of the best which will include some future Major Leaguers right here in our community.”

The innovative Major League Dreams Showcase will take place at Warner Park, in Madison, for its seventh year on August 6, 2019. Participating players are hand-selected by a panel of major league scouts, distinguishing this event from the more traditional All-Star Game format that features representatives from every team. Much like the All-Star Game, however, the Showcase is a “can’t-miss” for baseball fans looking to catch a glimpse of the country’s elite collegiate baseball talent. Proceeds from this marquee event support the NWL Foundation.

“The Mallards are excited to welcome back the top 100 Northwoods League prospects to Madison for another year of the Major League Dreams Showcase,” said Mallards GM Tyler Isham. “We love giving these young student athletes a shot to perform in front of Major League scouts, to better their chance at a career in Major League Baseball. Partnering with the Northwoods League on this event, to benefit the Northwoods League Foundation is one of the highlights of the summer for baseball across the Midwest and we are proud to host a great event at the Duck Pond.”

Full league schedules can be found by clicking view all dates at www.northwoodsleague.com/schedule/ or by going to www.northwoodsleague.com/2019-printable-schedule/ and downloading PDF versions of the Great Plains and Great Lakes Division schedules.

The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. The 25-year old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 22 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, over 200 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC), Brandon Crawford (SFG) and Chris Sale (BOS). As well as MLB All-Stars Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (MIL). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com or download the Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.

Courtesy of the Northwoods League

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LIGHTS AT THE BRICKYARD: MANY NEW SIGHTS, FEATURES THIS SEASON; OPEN NOW THROUGH DEC. 30

INDIANAPOLIS – A variety of new sights, attractions and promotions are available for fans this holiday season during Lights at the Brickyard, which is open now through Dec. 30 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The popular, drive-through holiday display returns for a third season. Lights at the Brickyard features dozens of colorful displays totaling more than 3 million bright lights on a 2-mile course through the IMS infield and historic oval, including the front stretch and world-famous “Yard of Bricks” start-finish line.

Among the new features this season:

  • Enhanced displays: More than 500,000 new lights have been added overall, with more than three dozen new displays and a stunning new illumination of the front stretch of the oval. The new light displays include nine units showing the evolution of the Indy car, a 200-foot-long rolling tunnel, a 118-foot-long Christmas feast, a 20-foot-tall peeking Santa, an 18-foot-tall Iwo Jima Memorial, a 45-foot tall Borg-Warner Trophy and a tribute to late IMS Chairman of the Board Emeritus Mari Hulman George.
  • Santa Nights at the Museum: Santa Claus will take time from his holiday work to visit the IMS Museum from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2 and Sunday, Dec. 9. Fun family activities, including photos with Santa, are planned.
  • Fan photo opportunity: Fans can pose for pictures next to a large IMS-themed light display that will go live Thanksgiving week in front of the IMS Museum. A perfect shot for holiday social posts!
  • Fan social media contests: Fans can vote on IMS social channels for new displays to be added to the course. The famed turbine-powered car already was a winner and will be unveiled in December, with one more fan vote to come.
  • Cookies and cocoa: The holidays will be a bit warmer and brighter for Lights at the Brickyard guests when River West and Brickyard Smokehouse offer coffee, cocoa and cookies as concessions on selected nights. Stay tuned to IMS social channels for the exact schedule.
  • Fundraisers: Non-profit and school groups will have the opportunity to pass on a special offer for fans to “save 10 percent and give 10 percent” to their groups from Lights at the Brickyard passes purchased from a special link. Groups interested in participating in this program should contact Lauren Guidotti at lguidotti@brickyard.com.
  • Downtown décor: Fans should keep an eye out for Lights at the Brickyard displays in downtown Indianapolis, including at the Circle of Lights event Nov. 23, and at Circle Centre Mall, the IMS Pavilion at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and at the Festival of Trees at the Indiana Historical Society throughout the holiday season.

Tickets for Lights at the Brickyard can be purchased at IMS.com. Admission prices are unchanged from last year.

Standard Lane admission will be $25 per car on Mondays through Wednesdays and $30 per car Thursdays through Sundays at the gate. Vehicles with 15 or more passengers will be charged $50 at the gate, with Standard Lane access. Standard Lane admission can be purchased only at the gate, with each admission valid for one drive through the displays per vehicle.

The popular Speedy Pass also returns, allowing participants who want the quickest access to the course to skip the longer lines and arrive through a special entry near the IMS golf course. This pass can be purchased now at IMS.com for $50 per car through Dec. 30. Speedy Passes are $60 when purchased at the gate, with special midweek pricing to be announced.

Operating hours for Lights at the Brickyard are 6-9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 6-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Visit IMS.com for more information on Lights at the Brickyard.

Courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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