Sports briefs: Oct. 3

October 3, 2012 

High school girls' golf

Sacred Heart ahead by eight after 1st round of state tourney

Defending state champion Sacred Heart jumped out to an eight-shot lead on Calloway County after the first round of the girls' Leachman/KHSAA State Golf Tournament on Tuesday at Bowling green Country Club on Tuesday.

Henry Clay is 18 shots back in third place.

Weather conditions kept some players competing as individuals from completing their rounds. Calloway County's Anna Hack held the clubhouse lead with a 4-under 68. She was followed by Marshall County's Cayce Hendrickson (72), Sacred Heart's Maddie Hamilton (73) and Mercy's Chau Tran (73).

North Hardin's Lydia Gumm, competing in the state tournament for the 10th time, was also at 1-over par but she didn't finish.

Gumm, who has earned Miss Golf honors four times, hasn't won an individual state title. But she did have runner-up finishes in 2011, 2008 and 2006, a third place in 2010, and a fourth in 2009.

The final round will begin Wednesday morning after the first round is completed.


NBA

Pistons counting on Knight stepping up

Survey the NBA landscape and it's clear how the game has changed. Teams with dominant, low-post centers as the focal point are on the wane, while pick-and-roll offenses with lightning-quick point guards — such as the Thunder's Russell Westbrook, the Celtics' Rajon Rondo — creating havoc in the paint are the norm.

If the Pistons are to return to NBA relevance, they'll need second-year pro Brandon Knight to make the jump from promising prospect to standout point guard.

"He's the key to the team because he's the point guard, the general," Pistons newcomer Corey Maggette said Monday. "He's gotten better, he's gained more weight, and he has the eye of the tiger, so we will see what happens."

Talk about pressure. Knight, two months shy of 21, is coming off a promising rookie season where he averaged 12.8 points and 3.8 assists per game. He set a Pistons rookie record by making 105 three-pointers despite the lockout-shortened season of 66 games. He made the NBA's all-rookie second team.

He attacked the off-season workouts with a passion that hasn't been seen around the Palace in some time, impressing the coaching staff, the front office and teammates, who followed his lead.

"I think the great thing about Brandon, as a young player, he was one of hardest workers, and day in and day out, he was the same guy, which is a hard trait for anyone — let alone (a young player)," Pistons Coach Lawrence Frank said. "He's made a lot of strides. No one is going to outwork Brandon. He's relentless in his quest to become as good or as great as he possibly can be."

Knight added 15 pounds of muscle on his 6-foot-3 frame.

The Pistons are banking on a more comfortable Knight this season since he actually had an off-season — unlike his first year where he had to hit the ground running right after the lockout ended.

"You just get to spend more time with your players, your coaching staff," Knight said of the difference. "It just helps the chemistry, it helps a lot of things instead of just being thrown right into the fire and not really knowing anybody.

"I think having that time gives you a lot more confidence, a better comfort level, and it just prepares you for the season."


Horse racing

Post times set for Breeders' Cup

The Breeders' Cup Classic, the $5 million showcase race of Thoroughbred racing's two-day world championships, will be run at 5:30 p.m. PST on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.

It will highlight the program on the second day of the 29th annual event. Nine Breeders' Cup races will be run on Saturday, with three others completing the 12-race card. Six Breeders' Cup races will be run on Nov. 2, with four others on the card. The big race on Friday's program will be the $2 million Ladies' Classic, which will be run at 4:30 p.m. PST. The official order of races on both days will be finalized on Oct. 23.

Saturday's races will be: $1 million Juvenile Turf; $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint; $1.5 Sprint; $1 million Turf Sprint; $1 million Dirt Mile; $3 million Turf; $2 million Juvenile; $2 million Mile; and the Classic.

Friday's races will be: $500,000 Juvenile Sprint; $500,000 Marathon; $1 million Fillies Turf; $2 million Juvenile Fillies; $2 million Filly & Mare Turf; and the Ladies' Classic.


NASCAR

Newman gets sponsorship commitment

Stewart-Haas Racing announced some much-needed sponsorship Tuesday when Quicken Loans said it will double its commitment to Ryan Newman. Quicken Loans, a new sponsor in NASCAR this year and the primary backer for nine races with Newman, will return for 18 next year.

Team owner Tony Stewart admitted Tuesday that he's "definitely" been worried about finding sponsorship for his three-car team.

"We've got a couple of big holes on the sponsorship side, so (Quicken Loans) definitely fills a big part of that and definitely helps us," Stewart said. "Takes a lot of the pressure off of ensuring whether or not we will have this car on the track full time next year. It will be on the track full time."

SHR is apparently close to announcing a sponsorship agreement with Bass Pro Shops, maybe as soon as this weekend at Talladega. The sponsor is expecting to partner with Stewart, the three-time NASCAR champion.

Stewart thinks he'll be in good shape with Newman's No. 39 car, which could fill the remaining open 18 races with existing sponsors. SHR has partnerships with Nabisco, Outback Steakhouse, Tornados, Wix, and co-owner Gene Haas' company, Haas Automation.

Brad Keselowski goes into Sunday's race at Talladega, where he won in May, with a five-point lead over five-time champion Jimmie Johnson in the standings. He has won two of the first three Chase races, but knows he must be at the top of his game to claim his first Sprint Cup title. He said Tuesday that he has dropped the Nationwide Series race at Kansas from his schedule and Ryan Blaney will drive for Penske Racing in his place. Further reductions to his schedule could be coming.

"I've made the decision this week to drastically limit the Nationwide races I'm going to run through the Chase," Keselowski said during an appearance to promote the Oct. 13 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "We're going to play it by ear based on those weeks go."


College cross country

UK, EKU sweep conference awards

Kentucky's Cally Macumber and Luis Orta were named Southeastern Conference cross country athletes of the week after both produced high finishes in the Greater Louisville Cross Country Classic this past weekend.

Macumber was second for the women, running 5,000 meters in 16:55.14. It's the best 5K time in the SEC so far this season.

Orta shared co-honors for the men with Texas A&M's Henry Lelei after his 12th-place finish of 24:06.96 over 8,000 meters.

■ Eastern Kentucky cross country runners Soufiane Bouchikhi and Ann Eason won the Ohio Valley Conference's weekly awards.


The last word

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten after his team's 34-18 loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday night:

"This has to be a wakeup call for us. I don't say that nonchalantly. It has to be. You can't bounce back and forth like this and try to compete come December-time. You can't do it. We have been in that situation before. You cannot do it. And we know that, and we'll get better."

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