UK basketball recruiting
Johnson's team wins national title; he promises another at UK
Dakari Johnson won a national championship for Montverde Academy on Saturday. Then he promised to do the same next season for Kentucky.
The UK commitment had 18 points, eight rebounds and helped Montverde erase a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter for a 67-65 victory over St. Benedict's Prep (N.J.) in the championship game of the National High School Invitational in Bethesda, Md.
Johnson made his promise in a post-game interview with ESPN.
"I'm going to win a national championship at Kentucky next year," he said.
The 7-foot center was held back by early foul trouble and scored only five points in the first half. But he erupted for eight points in the third quarter as the Eagles rallied to cut the St. Benedict's advantage to single digits.
St. Ben's went on another run to open the fourth quarter, but Montverde chipped away at the lead as the period moved on. Johnson delivered with a crucial three-point play to put Montverde ahead 64-62 with 24.1 seconds left, but Syracuse signee Tyler Ennis answered with a three-pointer to put St. Ben's back on top by one point.
With the final seconds ticking away, Montverde point guard Kasey Hill raced down the court and found an open Jalyn Patterson in the corner. Patterson, a junior guard who doesn't start for the Eagles, drained a three-pointer just before the buzzer to give Montverde the win.
Johnson will next play in the Jordan Brand Classic on April 13 in his hometown of Brooklyn. The game will be televised live at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.
Wall scores 37 in Wizards' win at home
On a night when the Washington Wizards celebrated the 35th anniversary of the franchise's only championship, John Wall played like someone who might someday carry on that legacy, scoring 37 points in a display of speed and flair Saturday to lead the Washington Wizards to a 104-85 victory over the Indiana Pacers.
Wall made 16 of 25 shots, throwing his palms up after making an improbable 14-foot sideways runner and flexing his muscles to the fans on the first row after banking in a fast-break layup. He even blocked a layup attempt by Roy Hibbert, the 6-foot-4 point guard rising to swat the ball away from the 7-foot-2 Pacers center.
Wall also had five assists, four rebounds and two blocks for the lottery-bound Wizards, who have won nine straight at home and are 18-4 at the Verizon Center this season when he's on the floor.
■ Brandon Knight had 25 points in the Detroit Pistons' 107-101 loss at Minnesota. He was 3-for-4 from three-point range and also had six assists and two steals.
■ Shelvin Mack scored 12 points and had eight assists in the Atlanta Hawks' 99-97 loss at San Antonio.
Horschel holds on for Texas Open lead
Billy Horschel was confident about his chances of staying on top at the Texas Open after taking the second-round lead. The relatively unknown up-and-comer lived up to his words on Saturday, holding off an experienced leader board to shoot a 2-under 70 and take a two-shot lead entering the final round at San Antonio.
Horschel finished second at last week's Houston Open, and he extended his PGA Tour-best streak of consecutive cuts made to 21 this week. Still, the Florida native faces the daunting task of fending off a trailing pack that includes former major winners Jim Furyk, Rory McIlroy and Padraig Harrington if he's to earn his first PGA Tour win on Sunday.
"I've never been star-struck out here," Horschel said. "... I respect all the veterans out here. I respect everyone that's put their time (in) out here. But at the same time, I'm as confident as I've ever been, and I feel just as good as anyone else in the world right now."
■ Inbee Park opened a three-stroke lead in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, twice hitting to 2½ feet to set up back-nine birdies in a bogey-free round at Racho Mirage, Calif. She is in position to win her second major title.
Gymnastics fourth at NCAA regional
The Kentucky gymnastics team posted the program's highest-ever NCAA Regional team score with a 195.575 on Saturday at West Virginia. But the Cats finished fourth overall and failed to qualify for the NCAA championships. Michigan won the meet with a 196.725 and Illinois claimed the second nationals berth with a 196.025. Nebraska was third with a 195.875.
Audrey Harrison finished in a tie for third for the individual all-around title with a 39.2. She tied for the highest all-around score among competitors not on a team advancing to regionals. But she missed out on nationals by virtue of the NCAA's tiebreaking procedure. Nebraska's Jessie Deziel's best single event was a 9.95 on vault, while Harrison's top score was a 9.825 on balance beam.
■ Freshman Kelsey Nunley pitched seven innings, allowing four runs but retiring 15 of the last 16 batters she faced, and junior Ginny Carroll hit a three-run, pinch-hit home run in the seventh inning to lead the 20th-ranked Kentucky softball team to a 9-4 victory over South Carolina on Saturday at Columbia, S.C.
66-1 shot wins Grand National at Aintree
Auroras Encore, a 66-1 shot, won the Grand National Steeplechase by 9 lengths Saturday at Aintree, England, in a race shadowed by a recent history of horse deaths.
All 40 horses in the world's most famous jumping race returned unscathed and only two fell over the 4½ miles. Only 17 horses finished but there was no repeat of the carnage that led to renewed calls from animal-rights groups for the race to be banned.
Four horses died in the previous two editions of the grueling event, forcing organizers to modify the course — softening high fences and improving landing areas and course irrigation.
Auroras Encore, ridden Ryan Mania, burst clear after jumping the last of 30 fences to finish ahead of Cappa Bleu, a 12-1 shot. Teaforthree led approaching the last fence but came in third.
U.S. trails Serbia after Bryans' loss
The United States trailed Serbia 2-1 in a Davis Cup quarterfinal after the top-ranked doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan lost to Serbia's Nenad Zimonjic and Ilija Bozoljac 7-6 (5), 7-6 (1), 5-7, 4-6, 15-13 at Boise, Idaho. Zimonjic, who closed out the match with an ace on the second match point of the 28th game of the fifth set, is a former world No. 1 doubles player, multiple Grand Slam doubles champion, and part of Serbia's only Davis Cup victory in 2010.
■ The Lexington Legends dropped both games of a doubleheader by 4-1 scores to the Augusta GreenJackets in Georgia. Augusta's Chris Stratton held Lexington to one run on six hits in five innings in the opener, and Joan Gregorio gave up one run on three hits in five innings in Game 2.
The last word
Kentucky's eighth-ranked men's tennis team lost 4-2 at No. 14 Vanderbilt. The Cats won the doubles point but struggled in singles. UK Coach Cedric Kauffmann wasn't pleased with the outcome:
"Congrats to Vanderbilt. To come back and win this match was not easy. On my part, I am not doing a good enough job as a coach. Our boys by now should know the importance of each point and the toughness we have to have to be champions. We are far from that. We are giving points away like it's candy on Halloween night, and we are OK with it and they think it's OK. It is unacceptable at Kentucky."