Category: Sports Written by Courier Newsroom
AND THE WINNER IS—Titus O'Neil raises his arms in victory after winning a match on Smackdown. (Photo courtesy of WWE)
by Abdul Al-Nakhli
For New Pittsburgh Courier
This past December, World Wrestling Entertainment held their yearly awards show, the Slammys, on Monday Night RAW.
During the show, they award their superstars with distinct honors such as Match of the Year, Superstar of the Year, and Best catchphrase. That night, the latter category went to WWE Superstar Ryback for his phrase, “Feed Me More!”
This didn’t sit well with Titus O'Neil, a WWE superstar and one half of the tag-team, The Primetyme Players,who felt his catchphrase, “Millions of Dollars, Billions of Dollars,” which wasn’t even nominated, was much more impactful with a stronger message.
“One day me and my partner (Darren Young) were riding in his car on our way to a show, and he was driving pretty fast. Because of that I told him, ‘Hey you gotta slow this down, you know what's sitting beside you right? Millions of Dollars!’”
“With that said, we said hey let’s use it the next time we’re on TV, and its stuck ever since. I feel it’s a powerful phrase and it (the phrase) can be used by anyone. Everyone should feel they are worthy and no matter what they do, should believe they are the best and worth millions,” said O’Neil.
This sentiment symbolizes everything O'Neil strives for. The former University of Florida linebacker desires to become one of WWE's high market draws. He believes in becoming one of the best, and striving for excellence in every area of life.
O’Neil signed with the company to a developmental deal in 2008, and appeared on WWE's NXT in 2010, a show designated for the “rookies” on the roster to seek guidance from a current WWE superstar.
After his time on NXT, O’Neil started teaming with Darren Young, making appearances starting last spring on RAW and Smackdown. Paired with former manager Abraham Washington, they were in contention numerous occasions for the WWE tag team championships, and once were the No. 1 contenders for the titles.
The duo, in O’Neil’s opinion, has helped bring a fresh and unique dynamic to the tag team division.
“I definitely, while we (O’Neil and Darren) can't take full credit for the new life in tag team wrestling in WWE,” he said. “We definitely feel we bring something to the table. We truly believe there isn't a team more qualified for a shot at the tag team titles than us.
“Even as a bad guy team, we still get a great reaction from the crowd, whether they cheer or boo us, most of the time more cheers. To me that means a lot to see the fans appreciate what we do and are excited for us, because they want to see good tag team wrestling in the WWE again.”
During the summer of 2012, the group had a slight setback when Washington, after making controversial remarks regarding Kobe Bryant’s infamous sexual assault case on a live broadcast, was promptly released from his contract from WWE.
Without Washington as part of the pact, O'Neil felt empowered to take his career by the reigns.
“We loved working with him (Washington), and when he was released it did set us back somewhat, but it was also an opportunity for us to prove to ourselves and the world what we could really do,” said O’Neil, “It forced us to take our careers and take charge to ensure we would reach the goals we set out for ourselves.”
This time last year, O’Neil set a goal between himself and Young to be on the card of the company’s four major pay-per-view broadcasts. With Wrestlemania 29, WWE's major show, on the horizon, O’Neil is close to realizing his goal.
“I made a goal between myself and Young that I wanted to compete on what we call the Big 4, and so far we have done that,” O’Neil said. “We competed at Summerslam, was on the card for Survivor Series, and I was in the Royal Rumble match. Now we want to compete on the grandest stage of them all, and we hope to challenge Team Hell No! (WWE superstars Kane and Daniel Bryan) for the tag team title.”
This year's Wrestlemania, taking place April 7 from Metlife Stadium in New York, is set to be electric, as WWE Champion Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson defends the WWE Championship against John Cena, in a rematch tagged as, “Greatness vs. Redemption.”
O'Neil, not ignoring how immense this rematch is, has his own predictions on who will leave Metlife Stadium as champion.
"It's a match most never thought would ever happen again, let alone the first time, which goes to show anything can and will happen in the WWE," he said.
"With that said, I'm not sure if he (Rock) is as prepared for the fight he is getting, and with that said, I think this time Cena is going to redeem the loss from last year and once again become champion."
For O’Neil, having a long legacy in WWE is the ultimate goal, and being remembered as one of the elites.
“I want to be remembered as one of the guys that gave it his all every night, and entertained the fans in the process. I have a long career ahead of me and I'm ready for the ride.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 10:12
Category: Sports Written by Ulish Carter
PLAYER OF THE YEAR—Jasmine Myers, Westinghouse (Photos by William McBride)
The New Pittsburgh Courier 2013 All-City Girls Basketball Team is a mirror of the top teams in the reduced number of league teams this season. Obama, Westinghouse, Carrick and Allderdice were the best teams placing the most players on the team.
There is only one player returning from last season’s First Team, Jasmine Myers from Westinghouse. She not only repeated on the First Team but was almost a unanimous choice as the Player of the Year.
Joining Myers on the first team are two players from last season’s Third Team, Aaquila Youngblood from Obama and Chardonnay Littlejohn from Carrick. Also making the First Team is Brittany Jackson from Westinghouse and Sierra Fordham from Allderdice. Sydnee Abernathy from Allderdice barely missed the First Team. The only other repeats were: Latosha Fortson from Perry who moved from Third Team last season to Second Team this season, and Sierra Fordham from Allderdice who moved from Honorable Mention to First Team, receiving one vote for Player of the Year.
In the past it has been the Westinghouse Bulldogs and the Allderdice Dragons battling for the City League titles, with the ’House appearing in the last 18, but this year Obama moved ahead of both in the regular season with an impressive 8-2 league record. But when it came to the playoffs it was once again the Dragons, 6-4 regular season, looking for a 3-peat, and the Bulldogs, 7-3 regular season, looking to end their three year drought in their 19th straight championship game appearance. The ’House won easily 54-42.
Leading Westinghouse were Myers, Jackson, Tiarra Gordon (Third Team) and Lashay Stinson (Third Team). Their strength once again was defense, holding their opponents to just 389 points which was the lowest in the city, with Obama being a close second at 396. But they were the only winning team who scored under 500 points, with just 464 points compared to Obama 550, Carrick 605 and Allderdice 632.
Even though Allderdice and Carrick were the top offensive teams in the city, their defenses allowed 487 and 546 points which were only topped by the two losing teams, Perry 2-8 and Brashear 0-10.
Carrick was the surprise team in the city moving from last to a tie for second which led to coaches selecting Coach Robert Tennant as Co-Coach of the Year with Phyllis Jones from Westinghouse. The top players from Carrick were: Littlejohn, Keisey Brooks,Third Team, and Sierra Williams, Third Team.
Obama was probably the deepest team in the city with all five starters making the All-City Team. Youngblood on the First, Samone Rainey and Temisha Gibson on the Second; Alex Bowens on the Third and Kennedy Bowens an Honorable Mention.
Perry had two: Lateshia Fortson, Second; and Asia Sims, Third, with Brashear only having one. J. Cunningham an Honorable Mention. Their best player from last year, Samone Rainey transferred to Obama.
Allderdice had a great collection of athletic players last season as they went undefeated in League play, but this year, even though talented, they didn’t have a lot of height. Led by their two stars Fordham, and Abernathy they had a great offense, and solid support in Maria DiDonato and Breanna D. Garcia, but their defense suffered.
Only Westinghouse had a winning record outside of the City, they were 17-10 overall and 10-7 outside the city.
The honor of Coach of the Year was a tie between Coach Robert Tennant who led Carrick from 3-11 last season to an impressive 7-3 this season. He tied with Phyllis Jones who once again led her team to a winning season and second place in the City, and the City Championships in the playoffs. She is without a doubt the greatest coach in Girls City League history, and one of the greatest to step on the court.
Congratulations to all 20 players who made the team this year, and the two coaches.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 09:22
Category: Sports Written by Associated Press
RECLAIMS TOP SPOT--Tiger Woods waves to fans as he walks off the 18th hole after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament, March 25, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The moment was vintage Tiger Woods, and so was his reaction.
Seconds after Rickie Fowler made a 40-foot birdie putt on the 12th hole to pull within two shots of the lead, Woods posed over his 25-foot birdie putt until he swept the putter upward in his left hand and marched toward the cup as it dropped for a birdie.
Fowler, standing on the edge of the green, turned with a slight smile as if to say, "What else can I do?"
Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Monday and returned to No. 1 in the world for the first time since October 2010, the longest spell of his career. After all that time, after so much turmoil with his personal life and his health, Woods looks as good as ever.
"It's a byproduct of hard work, patience and getting back to winning golf tournaments," Woods said.
He essentially wrapped up his eighth title at Bay Hill with an 8-iron out of a fairway bunker on the par-5 16th that easily cleared the water and landed safely on the green for a two-putt birdie. Woods dangled his tongue out of his mouth as the ball was in the air, another sign of his swagger.
Just like his other two wins this year, Woods never let anyone get closer than two shots in the final round. With a conservative bogey he could afford on the final hole, he closed with a 2-under 70 for a two-shot win over Justin Rose.
Woods walked off the 18th green waving his putter over his head — truly a magic wand at Bay Hill — to acknowledge the fans who have seen this act before. His eighth win in the Arnold Palmer Invitational tied a PGA Tour record that had not been touched in 48 years.
This win had extra significance. He's back to No. 1.
"If I get healthy, I know I can play this game at a high level," Woods said. "I know I can be where I'm contending in every event, contending in major championships and being consistent day in and day out — if I got healthy. That was the first step in the process. Once I got there, then my game turned."
A year ago, he came to Bay Hill without having won in more than 2½ years. He left this year having won six times in his last 20 starts on the PGA Tour.
Next up is the Masters, where Woods will try to end his five-year drought in the majors.
"I'm really excited about the rest of this year," Woods said.
Woods fell as low as No. 58 in the world as he coped with the collapse of his marriage, a loss of sponsors and injuries to his left leg. One week after he announced he was dating Olympic ski champion Lindsey Vonn, Woods returned to the top of golf.
"Number 1 !!!!!!!!!!!!!" Vonn tweeted moments after his win.
Asked if there was any correlation to his winning right after going public with his relationship, Woods smiled and said, "You're reading way too much into this."
Like so many other victories, this one was never really close.
Fowler pulled to within two shots with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole, but after he and Woods made bogey on the 15th, Fowler went at the flag on the par-5 16th and came up a few yards short and into the water. Fowler put another ball into the water and made triple bogey.
"I was swinging it well. I made a few putts, and trying to put a little pressure on them, let them know I was there," Fowler said. "Just would like to have that 7-iron back on 16. Just kind of a touch heavy."
Woods played it safe on the 18th, and nearly holed a 75-foot par putt that even drew a big smile from the tournament host.
Woods tied the tour record of eight wins in a single tournament. Sam Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open eight times from 1938 to 1965 at two golf courses. Woods tied his record for most wins at a single golf course, having also won eight times at Torrey Pines, including a U.S. Open.
"I don't really see anybody touching it for a long time," Palmer said while Woods made his way up the 18th fairway. "I had the opportunity to win a tournament five times, and I knew how difficult that was."
Rose, who played the first two rounds with Woods, closed with a 70 to finish alone in second.
He pulled to within two shots of Woods with a birdie on the 16th. Woods was in the group behind him in the fairway bunker on the par 5, and hit 8-iron over the water and onto the middle of the green for a two-putt birdie to restore his margin.
"He plays every shot like he plays them on Sunday," Rose said. "His intensity is the same on Thursday often as it is on Sunday, and that makes Sunday a lot less different for him. He plays in that kind of atmosphere far more regularly than a lot of guys do, and it's an adjustment for most of us. It's a known for him."
Fowler had to settle for a 73 and a tie for third with Mark Wilson (71), Keegan Bradley (71) and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (72).
Rory McIlroy had been No. 1 since he won the PGA Championship last August. He can reclaim the No. 1 ranking by winning the Houston Open this week. Woods heads home to south Florida for two weeks before the Masters.
Asked the last time he felt this good going to Augusta National, Woods replied, "It's been a few years."
This was the fourth time in his career that he already had three PGA Tour wins before the Masters — he didn't win a green jacket in any of the previous years (2000, 2003 and 2008). More telling, perhaps, is that Woods has won back-to-back starts for the first time since the Buick Open and Bridgestone Invitational in August 2009.
"I think it shows that my game is consistent," he said. "It's at a high level."
Woods finished at 13-under 275 and won for the 77th time on the PGA Tour, moving to within five of Snead's record.
Fowler, his first time playing with Woods in the final group, opened with eight pars when he needed to be making up ground. And when he finally had a few openings on the back nine, Woods refused to let him through.
Woods salvaged a two-putt par with a 7-footer on the 11th hole to keep a three-shot lead. On the next hole, Fowler looked to gain some momentum when he made a 40-foot birdie putt only for Woods to match him with that 25-foot birdie.
Woods produced some absurd statistics with the putter this week, making 19 of 28 putts from between 7 feet and 20 feet.
He walked off the green to share a handshake with Palmer, along with a big smile and some words that Woods said were best kept private. He left the course in that familiar blue blazer that goes to the winner.
And he left as the No. 1 player in the world.
It's the 11th time that Woods has gone back to No. 1, tied with Greg Norman since the ranking began in 1986. Still to be determined is how long Woods stays there this time.
Last Updated on Monday, 25 March 2013 21:58
Category: Sports Written by Associated Press
by Tim Reynolds
FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Sherwood Brown only wanted a bagel.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 March 2013 09:16
Category: Sports Written by Associated Press
STATE CHAMPS--Holy Cross' Connor Callejas (13) stumbles as he dribbles against Beaver Falls' Javon Turner in the first half of the PIAA Class AA boys basketball championship game, Saturday, March 23, in Hershey, Pa. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
by Genaro C. Armas
HERSHEY, Pa. (AP) — The Beaver Falls defense came in waves, and it didn't stop whether the team was down 12 or surging ahead in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers' pressure finally wore down Holy Cross late, especially with the Crusaders' 6-foot-6 center Josh Kosin in foul trouble.
The Tigers took advantage of Kosin's absence by attacking the basket, hitting 3-pointers and making clutch foul shots down the stretch to rally for a 69-63 victory Saturday to win the state Class AA title.
"We just ramped up the pressure a little bit to a level perhaps that they hadn't seen," Tigers coach Doug Biega said. "I'm just very proud of how our team closed the game."
Micoy Mason hit two late 3-pointers and finished with 14 points for the WPIAL champions, who lost in the finals last year to Imhotep Charter, this year's Class AAA champ. Four Tigers finished in double figures.
But the Tigers (28-3) pride themselves especially on defense. They limited the Scranton-area Crusaders (27-6) to 36 percent shooting in the second half after Holy Cross hit 60 percent before halftime.
Having Kosin (25 points, 11 rebounds) hampered with four fouls for much of the second half didn't help. Holy Cross led by eight at the half and 48-41 after three quarters thanks in large part to Kosin.
He understandably plays a huge part in stabilizing Holy Cross on the offensive end, and provides a defensive presence down low.
But the Crusaders seemed to lose aggressiveness as Kosin and frontcourt-mate Casey Gaughan (10 points) battled foul trouble. Gaughan also entered the fourth with four fouls and eventually fouled out.
"Anytime guys get in foul trouble, we have a problem. We get short in a hurry," Holy Cross coach Al Callejas said. "We had two guys in foul trouble and that kind of hurt us. It was a physical game."
Beaver Falls got its last seven points at the foul line, including a pair of big shots by Drew Cook with 10 seconds left.
Just seconds earlier Cook missed two foul shots with his team leading by three. The errant free throws breathed new life into Holy Cross' hopes for a miracle comeback. But Cook (15 points, six rebounds) dashed those hopes by sinking both shots.
Beaver Falls finished 8-of-21 shooting from the 3-point arc, including the three 3s in the final five minutes — two by Mason — and a handful of 3s in the first quarter that helped the Tigers hang in the game after Kosin dominated early.
"If we're hitting our 3s and executing our plays, we'll be in pretty good shape, and that's what happened," Mason said.
Beaver Falls' Dan Stratton scored 14 points before fouling out, while Elijah Cottrill added 12.
Holy Cross controlled the pace early, buoyed by a boisterous student section that showed up in white for a makeshift "whiteout" inside the Giant Center.
Kosin gave Holy Cross a 35-27 halftime lead by altering a couple of shot attempts on the defensive end and hitting a pair of foul shots after chasing down a loose ball.
"We threw everything but the kitchen sink at that kid to stop him, and we really didn't," Biega said. "He scored 25 points in 27 minutes."
What did stop limit Kosin was foul trouble.
Kosin picked up his fourth foul with 1:06 left in the third quarter. He and Gaughan were on the bench when the fourth quarter started, but the pair quickly re-entered as Callejas sought to slow down the Tigers' momentum.
It didn't really help. The Crusaders were outscored 28-15 in the final quarter.
"I'm so proud of our effort," Callejas said. "Give Beaver Falls credit ... They hustled all over the place. Eventually that's what cost us."
Callejas' son, Connor, finished with 12 points and six assists for the Crusaders.
Beaver Falls last won a state title in 2005.
Last Updated on Saturday, 23 March 2013 20:08
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