High school basketball
Low scoring ignites debate over shot clock in West Virginia
Record-low scoring at two of West Virginia's three boys' basketball championship games is prompting calls for the state's governing body for high school sports to adopt a shot-clock system. Newspapers, talk radio and Internet message boards this week buzzed about the slower pace of some games at last week's state tournament in the Charleston Civic Center. Hedgesville beat George Washington 33-32 in Class AAA on Saturday in the lowest-scoring boys' championship game under the three-class format that began in 1959. It broke the previous combined low-scoring Class AAA title game by 25 points.
"I knew the state tournament championship game was going to cause a stir," said Mark Hatcher, the coach at Class AAA Logan.
To get a shot-clock system implemented, many issues would need to be addressed, including the costs of installing them at every high school venue. Fan interest in scoring might play a part, too. The attendance for the Class AAA championship game on Saturday was 3,500, far below what the tournament has seen in previous years for its marquee event. A set of shot clocks was installed at Logan Fieldhouse in an effort to attract colleges and even some developmental league games. But Hatcher said that system cost as much as $7,000. He said smaller high schools likely can't afford a scaled-down system costing at least $5,000.
Dave Archer, president of the National High School Basketball Coaches Association, said he didn't know how many states have shot clocks for high school basketball, but quite a few interested states have cited costs as the reason not to do it. One state that doesn't have the shot clock is Oregon, where in the recent girls' tournament, Willamette High held the ball for six straight minutes in the first quarter and for all but six seconds of the second quarter. But Springfield High overcame that to win the Class 5A girls title 16-7.
Archer also is director of the Basketball Coaches Association of New York, which has used the shot clock — 45 seconds for boys, 30 seconds for girls — for at least a decade. He said coaches in New York say the shot clock is paramount for the development of potential college players, and yet it hasn't made the game a track meet, either.
"It's kind of like the college clock," Archer said. "It doesn't affect the scores. You can still get low scores."
Lee leads Rockets in rally over Lakers
Goran Dragic hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 28 seconds left and finished with 16 points and 13 assists in the Rockets' 107-104 comeback victory over the Lakers on Wednesday night. Down by nine with five minutes left, the Rockets had a 12-0 run to take the lead. Former Western Kentucky star Courtney Lee and Luis Scola scored 23 points apiece for the Rockets.
■ Chris Bosh scored 29 points, LeBron James survived a scary fall, and the Heat used a 17-0 fourth-quarter run to erase a 10-point deficit and beat the Suns 99-95 on Tuesday for their 14th straight home victory. James finished with 20 points and recovered from a frightening collision with Grant Hill in the final minute. James was chasing a long pass and never saw Hill, crashing into him. James went down, failing on his first attempt to get up and stayed down holding his head for about a minute. He stayed in the game after a timeout.
■ Amar'e Stoudemire had 22 points and 12 rebounds, Jeremy Lin added 18 points and 10 assists, and the Knicks made it four straight easy victories under Mike Woodson by beating the Raptors 106-87 on Tuesday night. Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler each scored 17 points for the Knicks, who bring a week's worth of momentum to Philadelphia on Wednesday night for a matchup with the Atlantic Division-leading 76ers.
■ The Grizzlies have signed Gilbert Arenas for the remainder of the season, filling a need for a backup point guard, Memphis officials confirmed Tuesday. Contract details were not immediately available. The oft-injured free agent had not played since finishing last season with the Magic. Arenas, 30, has averaged 21.2 points and 5.4 assists in nine years but is no longer an elite player because of knee injuries.
■ Jazz forward Josh Howard is expected to miss the rest of the season because of an injured left knee. An MRI revealed a chip in cartilage in Howard's knee, an injury that will require surgery.
Reds' Francis foiled by one pitch
Carlos Peguero homered and singled, driving in four runs Tuesday and leading Seattle to an 8-1 win over the Reds in Goodyear, Ariz. He hit his fourth homer of the spring off Jeff Francis, who is trying to win a spot at the back of Cincinnati's rotation. Francis gave up seven hits and three runs in five innings. He pitched for Kansas City last season after six years with Colorado and is one of the veterans the Reds signed to add to their pitching depth.
"Peguero hit a changeup down over the middle of the plate," Francis said. "I came in here to throw the ball the way I know how to throw it. I've gotten ahead in the count and stayed away from walking guys. All the stuff that's out of my control, I leave up to the powers that be."
Francis gave up a bloop single ahead of Peguero's homer. He allowed seven hits but didn't walk a batter.
"He just had that one pitch, and it wasn't a bad pitch," Manager Dusty Baker said. "Peguero went down and got it."
Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips had two hits and scored on Zack Cozart's double, his fourth extra-base hit in four games.
Cabrera hopes to return for opening day
Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera has a broken bone below his right eye after being struck by a bad-hop grounder, sidelining the star slugger for at least a week with opening day on deck. The AL Central champions start April 5 at home against Boston, giving Cabrera less than 2½ weeks to recover. Cabrera had little chance Monday on a hard shot by Philadelphia's Hunter Pence that caused a bloody gash and required eight stitches. Said Cabrera: "I am confident I can play on opening day."
■ Derek Holland wanted to ensure his long-term future with the Rangers, so he agreed to a $28.5 million, five-year contract rather than wait to become a free agent. The deal, announced Tuesday, calls for salaries of $1 million this year, $3.2 million next year, $5.4 million in 2014, $7.4 million in 2015 and $10 million in 2016. He would have been eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.
■ Dontrelle Willis and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract, the team announced Tuesday. The 30-year-old lefty, who won 22 games in 2005, was released by the Phillies on March 16. A two-time All-Star with the Florida Marlins, Willis has pitched for four teams in nine seasons and was 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 13 starts with Cincinnati last year. He will report to the Orioles on Wednesday.
■ Andy Pettitte said Tuesday that his arm feels great after throwing his first bullpen session with the Yankees since ending his brief retirement. The 39-year-old lefty threw 50 pitches to catcher Russell Martin and joked that he might be ready to pitch in the big leagues in three weeks. Pettitte said his target date is May 1.
Canseco says he can still belt 30 homers
Jose Canseco refuses to go down looking. The 47-year-old former major-league slugger still wants to play professional baseball in 2012. Canseco, once a feared Bash Brother for the Oakland A's, is willing to return to the independent league to keep his career alive. He'd still like to sign with a team in the Mexican league, even though it suspended him earlier this month after he allegedly refused a doping test. And Canseco says if there's a Major League Baseball team willing to take a risk on him, he can still hit 30 to 40 home runs this season. "I've got plenty of power," he said Tuesday by phone from Las Vegas.
The last word
John Daly tied for 51st at the Transitions Championship in Palm Harbor, Fla., notable because it ended a streak of 11 consecutive tournaments played outside of the United States. Daly played for the first time since he withdrew from the Avantha Masters in India with a tendon injury in his elbow. He said his long irons are what's suffering. As for that trip to India, the Arkansas native was impressed.
"I felt at home in India because there's a lot of pigs in the street. The only thing I don't like is, you can't get a steak, can't get a burger because of religious reason. But I did get a Diet Coke."