High school basketball
Michigan school wins 1st game after star player dies
A west Michigan high school basketball team mourning the death of a star player returned to the court Monday, winning a state tournament game that turned into a tribute for the 16-year-old who collapsed after scoring a winning basket last week.
Fennville High was playing its first game just four days after star guard Wes Leonard died from a heart ailment. Unbeaten Fennville, one of the state's highest-rated Class C teams, beat Lawrence 65-54 in a district opener Monday in Holland, Mich. The Blackhawks move to the second round with a 21-0 record.
Fennville's decision to play came after school officials talked to Leonard's family. The game was supposed to be played at Lawrence but was moved to Hope College to handle a larger crowd — a sellout of roughly 3,500. The game turned into a tribute to the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Leonard even before it started. Players from Lawrence and Fennville wore black T-shirts honoring Leonard during pre-game warm-ups. Leonard's name and number 35 were on the back. The phrase "Never Forgotten" was on the front. Teams also wore black wristbands with Leonard's initials on them.
The first standing ovation came as Fennville players stoically walked onto the court for pregame warm-ups, joined by Leonard's younger brother, Mitchell. The crowd again came to its feet and clapped as more members of the Leonard family, including his parents, entered DeVos Fieldhouse and settled into seats high above the Fennville bench. A moment of silence was held for Leonard, who also was the quarterback on the school's football team, before tipoff.
Fennville schools superintendent Dirk Weeldreyer told the crowd that the community had gone from the "highest of highs to the lowest of lows" in the span of a few minutes last Thursday.
"Since that time our community has been on a journey through shock, grief and sorrow," he said. "But this gathering tonight, we hope, is one more step in the healing process. Tonight, we seek to honor Wes' memory by participating in a game he loved. ... We're glad that we can be here as one extended family to experience it together, and we know that Wes is here with us, too."
Fennville's last game was Thursday, when Leonard made the game-winning basket in overtime on his home court against Bridgman to cap an undefeated regular season at 20-0. Teams shook hands after the game and Leonard was lifted off the floor in celebration, a wide grin on his face. Seconds later, he fell to the court, stunning a crowd estimated at more than 1,400. Leonard was rushed to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy by the Ottawa County medical examiner showed Leonard died of cardiac arrest due to an enlarged heart.
Players on both teams were visited by former NBA player Bo Kimble, whose teammate at Loyola Marymount, Hank Gathers, collapsed during a game 21 years ago and died. Kimble, who is involved with a foundation aimed at increasing awareness about heart ailments, said he hoped to give athletes advice to help them cope with the tragedy. Michigan State basketball Coach Tom Izzo also visited the teams before Monday's game.
Rachel Alexandra pregnant, due in 2012
Rachel Alexandra is going to be a mom. The 2009 Horse of the Year is in foal with an expected due date of Feb. 1, 2012.
Stonestreet Farm announced the pregnancy Monday, two weeks after the 2009 Preakness winner was bred to two-time Horse of the Year winner and stablemate Curlin. The two horses mated in a breeding shed at Lane's End Farm, near Versailles, on Feb. 21. The gestation period takes almost a year, with the earliest chance to find out the sex coming at around the two-month mark.
Owner Jess Jackson was not available for comment.
Portland downs Howard-less Magic
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 24 points, Andre Miller added 15 and the Portland Trail Blazers held on to beat the Orlando Magic, who were without the suspended Dwight Howard, 89-85 on Monday night in Orlando, Fla. Portland won its third straight, and 10th in 13 games. The Blazers also swept the two-game season series with Orlando.
Orlando lost its second consecutive game and dropped to 1-2 this season without Howard, who sat out while serving a one-game suspension after picking up his 16th technical foul Friday.
■ Carmelo Anthony scored 34 points, Amare Stoudemire added 31, and the New York Knicks showed how dangerous they can be when their superstars are rolling, beating the Utah Jazz 131-109. Anthony and Stoudemire combined to make 24 of 31 shots,
■ New Orleans star Chris Paul sat out Monday's game against Chicago and is day to day while he recovers from a concussion.
■ The Phoenix Suns are expected to be without forward Channing Frye for two to three weeks because of a dislocated right shoulder. The sharpshooting 7-footer was injured with 6½ minutes to play in the fourth quarter of Sunday night's 122-118 overtime loss at Oklahoma City. Frye had a career-high 15 rebounds in the contest.
Wimbledon finals to be shown in 3-D
Wimbledon is going 3-D. The men's semifinals and men's and women's finals at this summer's tournament will be shown live by 3-D-capable movie theaters around the world. Wimbledon becomes the latest major sporting event to be available in 3-D.
■ Kentucky's men's golf team is in 17th place after the first 36 holes of the Cleveland Golf Palmetto Intercollegiate at Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken, S.C. The Wildcats opened the 18-team tournament with a 34-over-par 314 on the first 18 holes. They turned it around the second time through, shooting a 10-over 290. Alabama leads the tournament at 5-over 565, followed by Liberty at 9 over.
The last word
Orlando Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy said he thinks Dwight Howard has shown restraint on the court this season despite picking up the league's first suspension for excessive technical fouls. Asked if the Magic had a case to the league office about whether they feel Howard has been excessively fouled himself, Van Gundy said he thinks outside input doesn't carry much weight at the league office:
"This is the system. David Stern and his minions like it. So that's the system you have. ... I certainly can't have an opinion because David Stern, like a lot of leaders we've seen in this world lately, don't really tolerate other people's opinion or free speech or anything. So I'm not really allowed to have an opinion. So it's up to him. He decides and he likes the system he has."