Sports Briefs

Bethany baseball team splits twinbill

The 2008 season got under way Wednesday for the Bethany College baseball team as it opened a twinbill with visiting LaRoche by claiming a 4-2 victory behind a strong starting effort from junior Josh Eckelberger (Beaver, Pa.) and solid work in the late innings from the bullpen.

The Bison (1-1) were forced to settle for a split of the doubleheader, as the Redhawks (6-3) rolled to a 28-0 triumph in the nightcap.

In the first game,,the Bison bats totaled eight hits, led by a perfect 3-for-3 effort from Milton Joyner, who also collected a double, one RBI and scored a run. Eric Fudala also recorded one hit, one RBI and scored one run.

Eckelberger allowed just one hit through the first four innings.

Game 2 got away from the Bison in a hurry, as LaRoche tallied at least one run in every inning, scoring one in the first and six more in the second to break open the game. Overall, all six of Bethany’s hurlers in the nightcap were freshmen seeing their first collegiate action, and they issued 10 walks and hit four batters.

The Bison will head down south for their annual spring break trip to Ft. Pierce, Fla. Bethany will play six games on the journey, beginning with a single, nine-inning tilt against Marywood (Pa.) University at 3 p.m. Saturday. Bethany recorded a 13-1 triumph against Marywood last season during its Ft. Pierce trip.

Steelers sign LB Fox as free agent

PITTSBURGH — Free agent linebacker Keyaron Fox signed a one-year contract Wednesday with the Pittsburgh Steelers that will pay him the minimum salary of $605,000 for a four-year veteran.

Fox, a third-round pick by Kansas City in 2004, is expected to play mostly on special teams and as a backup linebacker, as he did with the Chiefs.

Fox and former Minnesota Vikings running back Mewelde Moore are the Steelers’ only free agent signings this month. Moore is expected to be used mostly as a kick returner.

Libbey star Buford is Mr. Basketball

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ask Toledo Libbey coach Leroy Bates what makes William Buford so special and his answer couldn’t be simpler.

”He makes the players around him better,” Bates said.

That’s an obvious reason why Buford is the 2008 Associated Press Mr. Basketball award winner.

The 6-foot-5 Buford is a blend of muscle and flash. He can drive the lane and dunk, shoot from the perimeter or contest a rebound among the trees inside.

Asked what basketball player he looked up to as a young kid, the Libbey senior said, ”Oh, it was Michael Jordan. He could do everything. He could pass, play defense, shoot, rebound — he was an all-around player.”

Such is the case with the Cowboys’ shooting star. He averaged 22.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists a game during the regular season while collecting his third consecutive Toledo City League Player of the Year award.

Marshall bounced at C-USA Tourney

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Kevin Sims scored 14 points, including the winning free throws with 6.4 seconds left, and Tulane rallied from a 10-point deficit to defeat Marshall 48-47 in Wednesday’s opening round of the Conference USA tournament.

Marshall (16-14) had little chance to get off a shot in the final seconds because Tulane (17-14) had two fouls to give, preventing Marshall from advancing the ball into the front court.

Markel Humphrey’s shot from the top of the key at the end was blocked by Donnavan Stith.

Colorado St. pulls off a shocker

LAS VEGAS — Emily Neal scored 17 points and Colorado State shocked 12th-ranked and top-seeded Utah 60-52 in the Mountain West Conference women’s quarterfinals Wednesday night.

The ninth-seeded Rams (4-28) outmuscled and outhustled the heavily-favored Utes (28-4), who went 16-0 in league play and had 22 consecutive wins.

Colorado State was winless in conference play (0-16) and entered the tourney on a 20-game losing streak before beating Wyoming in the play-in game Tuesday night, a prelude to one of the biggest upsets in college basketball this season.

Sports Briefs

Staff and wire reports

WL’s Banal earns regional honor

PRINCETON — West Liberty senior Chris Banal joined Chris Gilliam of Pitt Johnstown, Edinboro’s Ryan McLemore, West Liberty State’s Chris Banal, Mount Olive’s Brandon Streeter, and Millersville guard Charlie Parker on the 2007-08 edition of the Daktronics NCAA Division II All-East Region men’s basketball squad.

All five advance to the national Daktronics NCAA Division II All-America ballot.

Banal stands third nationally in scoring by pouring in 21.5 points per game. The Wheeling native also ranks among the national top 50 in field goal percentage at 56 percent. The 6-foot-4 senior forward also added 6.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game for the 23-6 Hilltoppers.

He leaves West Liberty as part of a senior class that won 20 or more contests in each season. The Toppers posted 90 victories during his career after finishing at 4-23 the season prior to Banal’s arrival.

WVU’s Alexander named All-Big East

CHARLESTON– West Virginia’s Joe Alexander has been named to the All-Big East First Team.

The junior from Mt. Airy, Md., is this week’s Big East player of the week. He’s averaging 16.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game this season.

Alexander and his Mountaineer teammates take on Providence Wednesday in the first-round of the Big East tournament at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Conference USA, which also announced its all-conference selections Monday, named Marshall’s Markel Humphrey to its third team for the second year in a row.

Humphrey, a junior from Atlanta, averaged 13.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in the regular season this year.

Clark, Green among Toughman winners

Morristown’s Travis Clark emerged as the champion of the men’s heavyweight division of the 28th Annual Budweiser Toughman Contest, held last weekend at Wheeling’s WesBanco Arena. Follansbee’s Nathan Loughran was the runnerup in the class.

Meanwhile, Cameron’s Roger Kupfer topped Wheeling’s Austin Coyle in the light heavyweight class, and Wheeling’s Ronnell Green edged his brother, Ronnie, for the men’s middleweight class championship.

In the women’s divisions, it was Wheeling’s Eddie Tullius defeating Cameron’s Jessie Riggle in the lightweight class and Bridgeport Ohio’s Kayla Varney topping Neffs’ Crystal Ware in the women’s heavyweight division.

Flushing’s Jessica Brick was named Miss Ring Girl.

A total of 82 fighters participated in 67 bouts at the popular two-day event.

The men’s light heavyweight and heavyweight champions are qualified to advance on to the World Championships and compete for prize money up to $50,000.

Aaronhalt named First Team All-Ohio

Zanesville’s Logan Aaronhalt was named First Team All-Ohio in Division I by the Associated Press Monday.

Aaronhalt, a 6-foot-5 senior, averaged 23.8 points per game for the Blue Devils this season.

Meanwhile, in Division II, Meadowbrook’s Phillip Biggs was named to the second team and Indian Creek’s Jim Wood was named to the third team.

Earning Special Mention recognition from the Ohio Valley was Steubenville’s DeTroy Smith, while state honorable mention honors went to Indian Creek’s Michael Smith, Edison’s Bryson Anderson, and Harrison Central’s Ty Kenny.