Peaking Wildcats making a run at a National Championship……

 

It’s not that we didn’t think they could do it, but to expect it was totally unfair.

The Chico State men’s basketball is in Sioux Falls, South Dakota getting ready to take on Lincoln Memorial at the Elite Eight for Division II basketball. The Wildcats magic carpet ride was punctuated last weekend with three splendid performances against the three respective regular season champions in the West Region.

First, Chico knocked off high-scoring Western Washington 96-83. Despite giving up 83 points the Wildcats were more than happy getting in a shootout with the Vikings. For the first time in a long time the Wildcats found room to move on the floor. Passing lanes that were clogged and impediments that were common place during CCAA play all of sudden turned into wide gulfs of space with which they could run their offense unimpeded against a Western team that gave up nearly 80 points a game. It must have felt like a jail-break for Chico State.

The free-flowing offense where movement and motion was rewarded. It had been a while since Chico had been that wide open for drives and shots. The game was truly a testament to how good the CCAA is. To win the CCAA you MUST play defense, if not you will get carved to pieces.

On day two the Wildcats encountered a frisky bulldog-tough type of team in Hawaii-Pacific. If the Sharks were a baseball team I would affectionately call them a bunch of “dirt-bags.” Fluidity of play and dogged aggressiveness characterized the Pacific West Conference Champions. We saw them systematically take care of the best defensive team in the country, CCAA-rival Sonoma State. I was thoroughly impressed with their defensive doggedness and anticipated Chico State would have their hands full.

Chico’s 15-point lead with 9:30 to go eventually turned into a one-point deficit with 1:55 to go. A furious 25-9 rally by the Sharks had the Wildcats on their heels, before Chico State righted the ship. The Wildcats ability to rescue the game after coughing up a 15 lead showed Chico State had come a long way in a year. After Isaiah Ellis took a charge with the Cats down and with 4 fouls, Robert Duncan made a driving lay-up. After Corey Silverstrom registered a steal and driving bucket the Cats had the whip-hand and outlasted HPU 77-74. The win showed many of us Chico State lifers a toughness that at times had been missing over the last few years. It’s hard to be critical of a team that has had as much success as the Wildcats for the last several years. But, sometimes and on rare occasions, when things went south, the Cats had a hard time pulling themselves out of the abyss, especially in the middle of a game. Not this time, though.

This Chico State team made winning plays to beat Hawaii-Pacific. Sealed the game with defense and disciplined offense and moved on to the regional championship game against UC San Diego.

The championship tilt against the rival Tritons will simply go down as one of the great basketball games in Chico State Wildcats history. 10 days before this title match-up UCSD had come out in the CCAA semi-final game and as All-American guard Robert Duncan said, “punched Chico in the mouth.” With 4 minutes left in the 1st half UCSD had jumped out to a 27-11 lead. The Wildcat offense was stagnant. There was not movement, no aggressiveness, a passivity to their flow that was not conducive to winning basketball. When the final horn sounded it was San Diego 65-53 over Chico State. The final score only told a portion of the story. The Tritons had taken the fight to Chico State, and for this team to accomplish the things they wanted to accomplish, that had to change.

Right from the out-set you could tell the Wildcats wouldn’t lose this game for a lack of fight. On their first possession they would grab two offensive rebounds. They would attack on the offensive end. The ball moved, the players moved, there was cutting and motion, it was a thing of beauty. It was nothing like the three games the Wildcats had played against UCSD this year. There was a precision and rhythm to the Cats’ offensively that showed this team at their peak. To quote Norman Dale in the movie Hoosiers, “all pistons firing operating as one.”

Ellis was simply other-worldly. The Wildcat junior scored 19 of his game high 34 in the first half. The Tritons having watched Chico hit 25-of-50 from three-point range in the first two games of the regional were reluctant to double Ellis, out of fear of leaving the triumvirate of Wildcat shooters open, they paid the price.

Even after an 11-0 run by the Tritons sent their faithful into a frenzy, giving UCSD a 57-51 lead, Chico would counter with a 14-7 run of their own and this time it was more than Ellis. Corey Silverstrom would get hot taking top of the key and wing three’s to set it off. All the other pieces for the Cats played well including the other duo on the “core-fore” Jalen McFerren and Duncan. The beauty of Duncan’s play is he facilitated much of the Wildcat success. In past year’s Chico had to have Duncan score, but this year Duncan and Wildcats thrive when he facilitates ball movement and action. His talents necessitates constant attention. That attention opens things up for his mates and in the regional Duncan has never been better. McFerren took the slings and arrows from all teams to run the offense with continuity and flow. His 37-minute 1 turnover performance may be one of the more over-looked great games of the season for the Cats, but not by those of us that saw him play.

Everyone in uniform for Chico State played well against San Diego. In retrospect there just wasn’t a player who didn’t play well, that how championship teams are crowned.

With as well as the Wildcats played they still had to withstand an incredible shooting display by the Tritons. UCSD shot 14-of-26 from three-point range, making Chico State pay for their double-teams against sophomore post Chris Hansen. The complimentary pieces were tremendous for San Diego, but as CCAA-MVP Adam Klie said after the game, “we just couldn’t get stops. They (Chico) just played really well.”

Knocking off three conference champions in four days is not an easy task. When you do it, deep down you have to think all things are possible and that is the attitude the Chico State Wildcats bring to Sioux Falls. The Cats finished in a tie for third in the CCAA, got knocked out in the semis of the CCAA Conference Tournament but their championship pedigree is undeniable.

This Chico State core pushed themselves to heightened levels of exhaustion just to win a CCAA regular season title in 2016. They would never win another game the night after they clinched. They expended so much energy to win that regular season title, they had nothing left.

There was a conscious effort as many Wildcats professed to me in October to perform and win in the NCAA Tournament. The conference accolades and rewards were nice, but the NCAA Tournament riches are better. This team knew this, and their experience in losing in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back years lit a flame that, at times dimmed slightly, but never extinguished.

They are peaking. They are hungry. And, they don’t feel like they are anywhere near finished.

BYU Slams Kennesaw State In Game 2

By Chandler Guadagnin

After falling 5-3 to Georgia Tech yesterday, it was clear that the Cougars had their minds set on evening their record.

The first inning went by without incident. In the second, however, it was a different story as Brigham Young struck for four runs on 4 hits. The Cougars never loooked back as they went on to score runs in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and ninth. The run in the sixth came off the bat of the one and only Keaton Kringlen as he homered to left center as the Cougars cruised to a 13-4 victory.

BYU pitching was dominant as they combined to allow four runs on 9 hits, while stranding seven.

The Cougars will wrap up the first trio of games against the Panthers of Georgia State. Game time is scheduled for Monday Febuary 20th at 1:00PM PT from the GSU Baseball Complex.

Keaton Kringlen: 2-4; HR, 2 RBI

Daniel Schneeman: 1-5; RBI

Statistics courtesy of www.byucougars.com

 

Chico State shut down at tourney opener in Houston

 

*Photo courtesy of Skip Reager and Chico State Athletics*

The Chico State Wildcats were shut down in their first game at the Houston Invitational at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

Wildcat starter Hunter Haworth pitched a gem through six but ran into trouble in the 7th surrendering 4 earned runs. Haworth was dominant at times striking out 10 and holding the Texas A&M Kingsville Javelinas to two hits through six. The Javelinas would load the bases against Haworth in the 7th and after throwing 5-straight balls he grooved a 1-0 pitch to Travis Geiser who hammered a three-run triple into the right-center field gap. The Javelinas would score Geiser from third capping their four-run outburst.

Chico would get on the board in the 9th when Wildcat pinch-hitter Brian Pozos tripled to deep left-center and scored on an RBI ground out by Cameron Santos.

Chico State will play St. Mary’s from Texas today with the start time between 3:30 and 4pm. St. Mary’s lost on Friday 9-6 to Tarleton State.

Chico Sweeps Simpson; Dubs done in by three ball

The Chico State Wildcats baseball team finished off a four-game sweep of the Simpson University Red Hawks on Monday with convincing wins of 7-1 and 11-0.

Chico’s pitching was stellar all weekend, but particularly good on Monday with Casey Costello tossing five innings of 1-hit shut-out baseball in the first game of the double-dip. Cam Greenough dominated the Red Hawks in the night-cap tossing five innings and striking out 12.

The Wildcats (6-2) outscored Simpson 32-2 in the series and now get ready for The Houston Winter Invitational at Minute Maid Park in Houston. The Wildcats will play Texas A&M-Kingsville on Friday afternoon at 12 noon PST with our pre-game coming your way at 11:40am. Saturday the Cats take on St. Mary’s from Texas with first pitch slated for 4pm. Both of these games can be exclusively heard on the KpaySports app, right here on KpaySports.com and ChicoWildcats.com.

The series finale against the host institution, Central Missouri State will be on Sunday morning at 7:40am and can be heard on the app, website and AM-1290 KPAY.

(AP) — Nikola Jokic got his second career triple-double and the Denver Nuggets tied an NBA record with 24 3-pointers while shocking the Golden State Warriors 132-110 on Monday night.

The Nuggets tied the 3-point mark set by the Rockets in December against New Orleans. They missed two 3-pointers in the final minute, and Jamal Murray passed up an uncontested 3 to dribble out the clock. They finished 24 of 40 from beyond the arc.

The Warriors were just 8 of 32 from long range, including 1 of 11 by Stephen Curry.

Jokic set career highs in rebounds (21) and assists (12) to go with 17 points, and rookie Juancho Hernangomez scored a season-high 27 points, including six 3s. Will Barton added 24 points and Jameer Nelson had 23.

(AP) — A person briefed on the discussions tells The Associated Press that Madison Square Garden has lifted its ban of Charles Oakley.

The person who spoke to the AP on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the discussions were to remain private says the former Knicks star who was arrested at a game last week is welcome back at the arena.

Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan banned Oakley on Friday, two days after the former power forward had an altercation with security guards while attending a game.

But the sides reconciled quickly, helped by a meeting Monday at NBA headquarters with Commissioner Adam Silver and Hall of Famer Michael Jordan. Jordan and Oakley were teammates in Chicago before Oakley was traded to New York, where he became a fan favorite with the Knicks from 1988-98.

(AP) — Cavaliers All-Star forward Kevin Love will be out at least six weeks following knee surgery.

Love had the operation on his left knee Tuesday in New York. The Cavs said he will be sidelined approximately six weeks, which would have him returning by April 1. The playoffs start later that month.

The 28-year-old had complained of soreness and had swelling in his knee following Saturday’s win over Denver. Love is averaging 20 points and 11.1 rebounds for the defending NBA champions, who are in Minnesota to play their second-to-last game before the All-Star break.

Love, who recently missed some games with back spasms, has been having his best season with Cleveland. Following two seasons of drama and trade rumors, he has blended in with stars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.

Love’s absence will put further stress on Cleveland’s depth and could force general manager David Griffin to make a major move before the Feb. 23 trading deadline.

(AP) — San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has added three new members of his coaching staff.

Shanahan announced Monday that Mike McDaniel will be the team’s new run game specialist, Mike LaFleur will be wide receivers coach and Taylor Embree will be offensive quality control coach.

McDaniel and LaFleur both worked in Atlanta with Shanahan when he was offensive coordinator for the Falcons.

Embree is the son of 49ers assistant head coach and tight ends coach Jon Embree.

 

Keeping Up With Kringlen

By Chandler Guadagnin

Many would agree that they did not get enough of former Chico Heat and Brigham Young University Cougar right fielder, Keaton Kringlen, this past summer. Not to worry. You can log onto www.kpaysports.com to read updates about the blossoming college career of Keaton Kringlen.

In 51 games played this past summer, Keaton Kringlen compiled 59 hits, 19 walks, 17 strikeouts and 28 RBIs on his way to a .303 batting average. Of those 59 hits, 8 were doubles, 1 was a triple, and 3 were homers. In his Freshman year with the Cougars, Keaton played in 42 games accruing 12 doubles, no triples and 5 home runs. Kringlen had a .369 batting average, a .560 slugging percentage and a .442 on base percentage. On defense, Kringlen was almost perfect as he fielded to a percentage of .979. For his outstanding Freshman performance, Kringlen was dubbed the WCC Freshman of the Year.

In a 12-1 preseason thumping of the Curaçao National Team, Kringlen contributed to the win with a 2 run single in the eighth. Fellow Cougar and former Chico Heat infielder, Daniel Schneeman, smashed an inside-the-park grand slam in the seventh inning.

The Cougars are set to next hit the field on February 17th at 1:00PM PT against Georgia Tech in Georgia.

Statistics courtesy of www.byucougars.com and www.chicoheat.com

BYU Legend Lavell Edwards Dies At 86

By Chandler Guadagnin

I am a huge Brigham Young University fan. As such, I was saddened to hear that former BYU Football Head Coach, Lavell Edwards, passed away today at the age of 86.

Over 29 seasons at the helm, Edwards led the Cougars to a record of 257-101-3 overall, making him the sixth winningest coach in FBS history. Coach Edwards guided Brigham Young to 22 bowl games and 19 conference championships.

On Christmas Eve, Edwards suffered a fall, breaking his hip; which allegedly, contributed to his death. The Hall of Fame coach, received national coach of the year awards in 1979 and 1984.

As a tribute to the great coach, the home of BYU Football, was renamed Lavell Edwards Stadium, prior to the final home game of the 2000 season.

Sources: www.byucougars.com and www.espn.com

Mark Cooley’s vision fulfilled with State Championship for Pleasant Valley

 

Whether you were there in person or watching from a Periscope account, the Pleasant Valley Viking football team provided one of the great sports thrills the North State has ever seen.

Trailing by ten late in the 3rd quarter and then seemingly down for the count with just over two minutes to go and trailing by eight, the Vikings rallied with the guts and guile their head coach has been telling them they had to have since they stepped on Pleasant Valley High campus four years ago.

When Mark Cooley took the helm of Viking Football his resume was already impressive. Numerous stand-out seasons at Hamilton High and a reputation as a no non-sense leader of young men. It didn’t take long to see the change in the program. Cooley emphasized togetherness, bond, community and brotherhood. The change didn’t come without some challenges, but the long-term plan was in place and as many in the North State Football community could see, the Vikings were coming.

So as Enterprise High grabbed the headlines and won a couple of North Section titles, there was a belief that the youthful Vikings were on their way. This was the year it was all supposed to come together

It did.

As Viking faithful saw St. Anthony’s take an interception to the house for a 42-34 lead with just over two minutes to go, many thought this was the beginning of the end, but not the Vikings.

A 4th and 10 conversion and then a tremendous strike with quarterback Kyle Lindquist hitting Trevor Owens cutting the deficit to two. More heroics were to come when Lindquist being flushed out of the pocket on the two-point try had to throw off his back foot and hit ole’ reliable Peyton Williams in the back of the end zone as Williams dove to convert the tying two-point try.

As the two teams headed to overtime, one thing was clear for Head Coach Cooley, “if they scored and kicked the extra point we were going to go for two, no doubt.” After the Saints of St. Anthony scored that TD on a 10-yard run and predictably kicked the extra point, the stage had been set.

Pleasant Valley’s Lindquist would find Owens again for the touchdown in overtime and that is when PV went for two. The play was designed to hit Quaine Rhoades but he was covered. Lindquist then checked down to his second and third options and he had them both open. “I really had my choice. They were both so wide open. I was nervous but I just stuck with it and hit Siebert,” said Lindquist.

Siebert would say that as the ball sailed toward him, “I knew I better catch it.” Cooley said the throw hung in the air for what seemed like, “forever.” Even UNLV-verbal commit and star offensive lineman Ashton Morgan would say, “that ball was in the air forever.” Siebert would grab it, sending Viking faithful in Long Beach and 500 miles north into a frenzy.

I would interrupt a tight Sonoma State and Chico State rivalry basketball game on AM-1290 KPAY to calmly exclaim, “the Pleasant Valley Vikings are State Champions.” Fans could be seen throughout Acker Gym high-fiving and slapping hands in celebratory fashion.

This amazing group that would finish off one of the more improbable four year runs in North State high school football history. From their freshman year to Saturday’s incredible win the Vikings lost ONE GAME against North Section opponents. That one game came earlier this year against Paradise High. Ironically it came on the final play of the game on a two-point conversion. This senior group lost one game against their North Section peers in four years. We may never see the likes of this again.

Under the tutelage of Mark Cooley the Pleasant Valley Football program has become much more than Aaron Rodgers alma mater. He has created an atmosphere where players are absolutely committed to their school and their bond. To find someone who can take a bunch of young men and mold them into a group that plays passionately for one another is special. It doesn’t happen every day. Many programs will give it lip service, but with the Vikings and their constant mantra of togetherness, you truly believe it.

Not everyone can be as talented as the Vikings, but when you create an atmosphere that embraces positivity, caring and brotherhood, don’t be surprised when a group of young men do something special. A lot of things can be achieved when you believe and play for the guy on your left and to your right.

 

Report: Giants Sign Mark Melancon

By Chandler Guadagnin

From the outset of the 2017 offseason, San Francisco began their search for a closer to anchor the back end of their bullpen. In the 2016 regular season, with Santiago Casilla as their closer, the Giants blew a Major League high 30 saves. All things considered, the toughest blown save to swallow came in NLDS Game 4 when, with a 3 run lead in the ninth, the Giants bullpen surrendered four runs to the Cubs, ending their season abruptly. The Orange and Black have now filled this major need in their bullpen.

According to reports, the Giants have agreed to terms with right-handed closer, Mark Melancon, on a 4-year, $62 million deal. The deal includes a $20 million signing bous with the possibility of an opt-out after 2 years. Melancon spent 2016 with both the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals, posting these numbers:

mark-melancon-2016-stats

Over his eight year stint in the Major Leagues, Mark Melancon has compiled these numbers:

mark-melancon-career-stats

The 31 year old, has spent eight years in the Major Leagues. The three time All-Star (including a selection in 2016), was considered the third best closer on the open market this offseason. The right-hander, has eclipsed, or met, the 30 saves mark three times in his career.

Due to splitting the season between two different organizations, Melancon was not attached to a qualifying offer. San Francisco reportedly beat out the Washington Nationals in the Mark Melancon sweepstakes.

Statistics courtesy of www.mlb.com and www.baseball-reference.com

CBA Finished, WS Format Altered

By Chandler Guadagnin

The Cubs won 103 games in 2016; however, they did not host last year’s World Series due to the National League falling to the American League in this past All-Star Game. The Collective Bargaining Agreement, agreed to on November 30, 2016, has solved that issue.

The way in which to determine what team hosts the World Series has been a topic of debate for 13 years. The system, in which the team from the League that won the All-Star Game would host the World Series, has been in place beginning in 2003. The previous format was implemented the year after the 2002 Mid-Summer Classic ended in a tie. Many have suggested that the World Series be played on a neutral site.  However, for at least the next five years, Games 1 and 7 of the Fall Classic will be hosted by the team with the best regular season record.

Several argue that the disparity between the competiveness in each League will compromise the integrity of this format. Take for instance, the schedule strength of this year’s World Series teams. The Cleveland Indians, who finished the season 94 and 68, played 57 games against sub-500 teams. Conversely, Chicago played 76 of its 162 games against teams below the “equator”. In inter-league play, the Indians posted a 13-7 mark, while the Cubs went 15 and 5 against the AL.

The tentative agreement is set to expire in 2021.

Statistics courtesy of www.mlb.com and www.espn.com

Biggs Captures Division V Title in thrilling fashion over Fall River

What a game.

The Biggs Wolverines were ready to celebrate. With 6:04 remaining they had just completed a 9-minute drive to grab a 21-7 lead over the defending Division V champion Fall River Bulldogs.

But the heart of a champion should never be underestimated. The Bulldogs would drive 60 yards in 2:55 seconds to cut the deficit to 21-14. Then, after recovering an on-side kick the Bulldogs were trying to pull off one of the great comebacks in North Section Championship history. With no timeouts the Bulldogs had a 1st and goal from the Biggs 7 yard line. After a couple of runs nudged the ball to the 3, Fall River’s chances looked to be dim after a fumbled snap. What would follow would be some of the most dramatic North Section Championship football in years.

Check out the video below as we provide the play-by-play as heard right here on KpaySports.com and the KpaySports app……