Phoenix Sporting News
Phoenix Sporting News

Second Half Surge Propels Mercury to First Win  

By Ray Maloney

(posted May 29, 2016)

PHOENIX – After losing its first four games of the season Phoenix was out in search of its identity.

The Mercury found it and in a big way as a huge second half performance on both ends of the floor allowed Phoenix to overtake visiting Washington on the way to a 93-77 win over the Mystics on Sunday afternoon at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

Phoenix is now 1-4 on the season and managed to avoid the first five-game losing to start a season in franchise history. Washington, which lost its first two games of the season, saw its three-game winning streak come to an end and is now 3-3 on the year.

Basically, (Diana) Taurasi said 'enough is enough,'” Washington coach Mike Thibault said, following the game. “She put her head down and went to the basket and did some major damage. We did a good job on the other players, but … ”

Washington, which led 45-42 at the start of the second half, managed to extend its lead thanks to an 11-4 run in the first three minutes of the second half.. A field goal from Emma Messeman put the Mystics in front 56-46 with 7:20 left in the third quarter and provided Washington with its largest lead of the contest.

From there it was all Phoenix.

Taurasi ended a Phoenix scoring drought of over three minutes when she drove the lane with 5:48 to go in the period and made it 56-48. It also sparked an 11-0 run by Phoenix that allowed the Mercury to regain the lead at 57-56 when Taurasi drove the lane with 3:49 remaining in the quarter.

Messeman put the Mystics back in front a short time later when she scored from underneath for a 58-57 advantage with 3:21 to play. It would be the last lead of the game for the visitors.

The next two plays would signal the beginning of the end for Washington. The Mystics would be outscored 36-19 the rest of way.

Taursai put the Mercury back in front when she drove the lane and scored with 2:50 remaining to give Phoenix a 59-58 lead that the Mercury would not relinquish. Less 20 seconds later, Brittney Griner blocked Messeman on the defensive end and rifled a pass downcout that teammate DeWanna Bonner corralled and laid in to extend Phoenix's advantage to 61-58.

That was kind of the spark on the gas,” Griner said of her block, “ … I know it ignited me.”

Washington seemed out of sync after losing its lead and twice in the final period was whistled for shot clock violations.

We had some good open shots,” Thibault said, “we just seemed to be waiting too long to attack the basket.”

The built up angst is off our shoulders,” Taurasi said of the skid to open the season. “We need to take this (win) and keep getting better.”

Taurasi, who was held to eight points in the first half, finished with a game-high 28 points.

She's the best player in the world and she showed why,” Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said of her star.

Taurasi finished 10 of 17 from the floor, including five of nine from behind the arc, three of those coming in the pivotal second half as she tallied 20 of her team's 51 second-half points. She was one of four Phoenix players to reach double figures. Candic Dupree (16), Bonner (13) and Griner (13) also finished in double figures for the victors.Bonner led the way for the Mercury with 12 rebounds.

Washington also placed four players in double figures. The Mystics were paced by Stefanie Dolson and Messeman, who scored 14 and 12 points, respectively, while Tayler Hill scored 11 and Bria Hartley added 10 points of her own.

Phoenix returns to action on Tuesday when the Mercury plays host to Connecticut. Washington, meanwhile, is idle until Wednesday when the Mystics return home to play Chicago.

Solarte Homers Twice to Power Padres Past Diamondbacks

Yangervis Solarte

By Ray Maloney

(posted May 27, 2016)

PHOENIX – Yangervis Solarte homered twice, while Matt Kemp and Derek Norris also homered as visiting San Diego crushed Arizona 10-3 on Friday at Chase Field.

The pair of homers from Solarte gives him three on the season, while Kemp now has 11 and Norris five.

Arizona got home runs from Brandon Drury, his eighth of the season, in the eighth inning and a solo homer to the pool in right-center from Jake Lamb in the bottom of the ninth. It was Lamb's seventh round-tripper of the season, but it was not enough as the Diamondbacks fell to 21-29 on the season and 7-18 at home this season. San Diego, meanwhile, improved to 20-29 on the year.

Neither team lost any ground in the standings as division-leading San Francisco was defeated by Colorado 5-2 in Denver earlier in the night, while second-place Los Angeles was edged by the New York Mets 6-5 in New York.

Kemp got the onslaught started in a big way. He drilled a 1-1 pitch from Robbie Ray over the fence in center field to give San Diego a 3-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning. Solarte followed with a homer run of his own to increase the lead to 4-0 with just one out in the innng and the Padres never looked back. They added two more runs later in the inning when Norris belted a 2-run homer to drive in Brett Wallace as San Diego extended its lead to 6-0.

Solarte notched his second home run of the game in the sixth inning as San Diego moved in front 9-0. Norris later doubled in Melvin Upton Jr. for its final run of the game and a 10-0 lead in the sixth.

San Diego got on the board in the opening inning when Jon Jay doubled to lead off the game and Wil Myers drew a walk off Ray.

The Padres pounded out 18 hits in the win, one hit shy of their season-high, and left 11 runners on base. Arizona managed just sux hits on the night.

San Diego starter Christian Friedrich (1-1) picked up his first win of the season. He went seven innings and allowed just three hits and one walk. Ray, meanwhile, fell to 2-4 on the year with the loss after going 4 2/3 and allowing five runs on nine hits.

Former Illini Swimming Great Ray Essick Dies at 82

Ray Essick, a former standout swimmer at Illinois and former executive director of USA Swimming, died May 25 at the age of 82

Staff Report

(posted May 25, 2016)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill.. – University of Illinois 1955 varsity swimming letterwinner Ray Essick III died May 25 surrounded by family. He was 82.

Essick, who competed for legendary coach Allen B. Klingel while attending Illinois, was named to the “30 Most Influential People in Swimming over the Past 30 Years” list in 2015, and was also a 2015 inductee into the American Swim Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He was awarded the 1998 USA Swimming Award and the American Red Cross presented him in 1997 with the Good Neighbor Award, one of the highest national awards given to an outstanding volunteer.

In 1960, Essick started Lake Forest Swim Club as head coach before leaving in 1966 to become head swim coach at Southern Illinois University. After a successful seven-year stint there, he was hired as head swim coach at Harvard University, where he guided the Crimson from 1973-76.

Following his time in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Essick led the swimming committee for the AAU until 1980. Beginning in 1980, Essick joined USA Swimming in Colorado Springs upon its formation as its first executive director. Essick guided the organization from its formation in 1980 until his retirement in 1997, when current executive director Chuck Wielgus took over.

“Ray Essick led our sport through a period of enormous growth and prosperity,” Wielgus said. “He brought his passion as a coach and his drive for success to his role as USA Swimming’s first executive director. He was a mentor and a dear friend.”


Track and Field Legend Mamie Rallins Killed in Ohio Traffic Accident

Mamie Rallins, a two-time Olympic hurdler and former coach at The Ohio State University, was killed May 16 in a multivehicle crash near Port Clinton, Ohio. She was 74. (Photo courtesy OSU Athletic Media Communications)


(posted May 17, 2016)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Track and field lost a legend on May 16 when Mami Rallins was killed in a multivehicle accident near Port Clinton, Ohio. She was 74.

The Ohio State track and field family is deeply saddened by the sudden loss of our dear friend,” current OSU coach and director of track and field and cross country Karen Dennis said. “As a former Olympian and the first African-American woman to coach at The Ohio State University, (Rallins) was a trailblazer and a champion for all things Ohio State.

She was our biggest supporter, a cheerleader, coach, statistician and team grandma,” Dennis added. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her friends, family and former student-athletes. She will be greatly missed.”

A two-time Olympic hurdler, Rallins helped start the women's track and field and cross country programs at Ohio State when she was appointed head coach in 1976. Rallins coached 60 athletes to Big Ten indoor/outdoor titles, 24 all-Americans, as well as nine Olympic trial qualifiers and one Olympian during her 18-year coaching career. She also served as an assistant athletics director at the school for three years.

Rallins also coached elite athletes during her storied career, serving as the head coach of the U.S. indoor world championship team in 1987 and assistant coach of the U.S. Olympic team in 1996 and was the head manager for the U.S. women's track and field team at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

A native of Chicago, Rallins starred at Tennessee State during her collegiate career and participated as a hurdler in the 1968 and 1972 Olympics.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol investigators said Rallins' car crossed the center line and struck two tractor-trailers before colliding with another car. No else involved the accident was seriously injured.

Coaching Legend Siddens Credits Lads for Making Him Look Good While Developing Champions On and Off The Mat

By Ray Maloney

MASON CITY, Iowa – The job coaches have performed throughout the history of high school sports in the United States can probably never be fully measured in the impact they have made on the lives of individuals both as athletes and as productive members of American society.

Whatever formula used to gauge that impact is certain to begin with the influence Bob Siddens had in his 40 years at Waterloo (Iowa) West High School and the lessons he imparted continues even since retiring from the school nearly three decades ago.

The soft-spoken Siddens will always deflect that impact and credits the countless number of lads that he was in charge of during his brilliant and illustrious coaching career. But, the fact remains that Siddens is not in a position to make the decision concerning any recognition that deservedly finds its way to him.



Culp Stands Alone as Wrestling, Football Great


HOUSTON, Texas – Growing up in the searing heat of the desert surrounding Yuma, Ariz., a young asthmatic boy spent plenty of time helping out around the family home before finding an escape into a world that eventually led him to immortality.

That “escape” proved to be athletics and when all was said and done Curly Culp stands alone. An NCAA wrestling champion while at Arizona State, Culp was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013 following a standout career with the Kansas City Chiefs, who he helped lead to a win in Super Bowl IV, and two other teams before his retirement after the 1977 season.

Culp is believed to be the only person ever to attain those three lofty triumphs.

Life is a journey … and I've had a great journey,” said Culp, who recently turned 70.



Peninger Established Michigan State Wrestling as Dynasty During Hall of Fame Career


OKEMOS, Mich. – While most opposing coaches make friendly small talk prior to their wrestling teams battling on the mat, it was quite likely that Grady Peninger was making a sales pitch.

It's unknown just how many foes came away with a bill for some cowboy boots after visiting with the former Michigan State coach. A bill awaiting them when they got home was the least of their worries. More often than not those same coaches had to look back and wonder what they could have done differently in their attempts to defeat Peninger and the Spartans.

Loses were few and far between for Peninger, who dominated the sport as an athlete and as a coach for more than four decades. So dominating was Peninger that his exploits have earned him enshrinement into no fewer than six halls of fame, including the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, an honor he achieved in 1987.




Mills' Olympic Moment Truly Golden

(Posted Oct. 3, 2011)

FORT TOTTEN, N.D. — Standing atop the podium at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo Billy Mills’ mind was filled with emotions as he listened to the playing of the national anthem.He had just conquered the competition and became the first American to win the 10,000 meters at the Olympics — something that no American has been able to duplicate since that memorable day in the Land of the Rising Sun more than 40 years ago.He overcame a stumble and a box created late in the race by some of the others dreaming of Olympic gold and glory and with long strides charged through the final 100 meters to win in a blaze of glory.



Ray Maloney
Rita Murphy
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