CHRIS KELLY Shealyn Taggert, 13, of the Middletown Youth Athletic Association, tries to shoot past a Howell defender during the Mid Monmouth Basketball League’s finals at Brookdale on Sunday. With the Feb. 8 deadline for qualifying for the state tournament rapidly approaching, local high school basketball teams are scrambling to assure themselves of a .500 record at the cutoff. On the boys’ side, there are only three local teams that have assured themselves of postseason berths — second-ranked Raritan, third-ranked CBA and Mater Dei. The Rockets are 10-3 and are the surprise of the Shore Conference this season. Raritan is getting solid play from everyone in its rotation, and is poised to make a run at both a Shore Conference Tournament and state sectional title. Mater Dei was 11-2 heading into Monday’s game against Henry Hudson, and has played well all year. CBA is picking up steam, as was evident during an impressive win over Freehold Township last week. The Colts are beginning to round into postseason form, and will be a tough out come playoff time. The Colts hosted a Middletown North team on Monday that has a playoff berth within its grasps, and needed to win just two of its next five games to lock up a postseason spot. The Lions face a good Manalapan team tomorrow, and will host Red Bank Regional on Saturday. Next week, they travel to Howell and Ocean. The Holmdel Hornets are another team that has the playoffs in sight, entering the week at 7-6. They faced St. John Vianney on Monday and will take on Red Bank Regional tomorrow. From there, they have only Raritan (Monday) left before the cutoff, meaning they had to win just one of their next three entering this week’s action. Holmdel is better than its record indicates, and has played well in the Shore’s toughest division, Class B North, which features four of the Shore’s top 10 teams. Middletown South entered this week’s play needing to win its next five games to earn a spot. The Eagles faced Raritan on Monday, and have games with No. 4 Monmouth, Howell, RBR and Ocean before the deadline. Matawan (4-8 following Saturday’s win over SJV), Keyport (3-9) and Vianney appear to be out of the playoff picture, though the Lancers could sneak in with an unlikely series of wins over Holmdel, Raritan (tomorrow), Colts Neck (Saturday), Monmouth (Monday) and Cathedral Prep (Feb. 8). On the girls’ side, St. John Vianney (9-1), Middletown North (9-4) and Holmdel (9-4) appear to be locks, while four local teams are still fighting for berths. Raritan was thought to be one of the Shore’s top teams heading into the season, but has struggled mightily to a 7-6 mark heading into the week. However, the Rockets are still capable of making some noise before the season comes to a close. On Monday, Raritan faced a Middletown South girls’ team that entered the game at 5-6 and was in need of four wins in its next six games to get to .500 at the cutoff. The Eagles have games with Monmouth (tomorrow), Howell (Saturday), Manalapan (Monday), Red Bank Regional (next Thursday) and Ocean (Feb. 8). The Keyport Red Raiders are also on the bubble at 6-7, as are the Mater Dei Seraphs at 5-7. Both teams need at least three wins over the next five games to qualify for the state tournament. — Doug McKenzie
After losing their first game in the double elimination portion of the District 19 9- and 10-year-old Tournament, the Middletown All-Stars reeled off six consecutive victories in seven days, defeating Colts Neck Little League twice to, capture the District 19 9- and 10-year-old Little League Championship. On July 17, Middletown lost to Marlboro North, 9-0, in the first round of the tournament. However, the kids and coaching staff didn’t hang their heads. Instead, they pulled it together and defeated their next three opponents (Eatontown, Sandy Hook and Freehold American), to allow them to reach the semifinal round and another shot at Marlboro North. Middletown’s squad came ready to play and avenged their earlier loss by beating Marlboro North, 10-0, in four innings, behind a solid pitching performance from Gavin Koegel (3-0 in tournament play). The hard-throwing righty shut down Marlboro North, allowing only three hits while striking out eight batters. The offense was powered by Jake Fay’s three hits and five RBIs, Jason Huelbig’s two hits (including a two-run double), and Andrew Suarez, who collected two hits and two RBIs. With the win, Middletown moved on to the championship round against undefeated Colts Neck. The task would not be easy, as they would need two wins against Colts Neck, in as many consecutive days, to capture the crown. Once again, the Middletown team pulled together. In the first game, the score was knotted at 3-3, with Middletown coming to bat in the bottom of the sixth inning. With a runner on second base (Sean Wollman), Andrew Suarez stepped to the plate and crushed a 2-2 pitch to the left center-field wall that knocked in Wollman for the game-winning run, giving Middletown a 4-3 victory. Wollman (4-0 in tournament play) was tremendous on the mound, allowing only three hits while striking out seven batters. In the final contest, Middletown opened the scoring with two runs in their first at bat. Jason Huelbig (three hits) singled to lead the game off, and scored on Sean Wollman’s RBI single. Wollman scored the second run of the inning when Jake Fay lined a base hit to center. The score remained 2-0 until the fifth, when Colts Neck battled back and tallied two runs of their own to tie the game at 2-2. In the top of the sixth, Huelbig singled to center, and Joe Kissenger followed with a sacrifice bunt, moving Huelbig to second. On the next pitch, Huelbig went to third on a passed ball. Wollman then hit a 2-2 pitch for a single to right that brought home Huelbig for the winning run and gave Middletown the District 19 Championship. Once again, Gavin Koegel was the king of the hill as he picked up the victory, his third of the tournament. Faye (two hits), Wollman (two hits), Adam Gocinski, Sean McKee and D.J. Begley provided the offense for Middletown. The coaching staff, which is comprised of manager Steve Wollman, and coaches Jay Huelbig, Jim Fay, Pete Koegel and Mike Gocinski, would like to thank and congratulate the All-Stars on a tremendous tournament. The players are Rob Barnack, Will Barnack, D.J. Begley, Jason Huelbig, Joe Kissenger, Sean Wollman, Andrew Suarez, Sean McKee, Gavin Koegel, Adam Gocinski and Jake Fay.
The New York Metropolitan region’s premier cycling event, the fourth annual Campagnolo Gran Fondo New York (GFNY), is slated for May 18.It will cap an exciting weekend of events and racing taking place in New York and New Jersey. GFNY is also hosting the popular fourth annual NYC Bike Expo.Thousands of cyclists from more than 70 countries, including the United States, Italy, United Kingdom, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Russia, Jamaica, Israel and Poland, will gear up for the GFNY, a competitive cycling event based on the popular Italian racing style and the only one of its kind in the New York/New Jersey region.This year, Stephen Roche, winner of the triple crown of cycling (Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia and the World Championship in one year) and Nelson Vails (a New York City native and 1984 Olympic Silver Medalist in the Cycling Sprint) will ride in the GFNY.The challenging and scenic 100-mile race takes place the morning of May 18. Riders will begin on the New York City side of the iconic George Washington Bridge and wind through the course in New York and New Jersey that extends up to Bear Mountain State Park, with a new finish line at Ross Dock Picnic Area, the riverfront area in the Palisades Interstate Park in Fort Lee. Cyclists also have the option of partaking in the 50-mile GFNY BEAR on the same day, a non-competitive ride starting at the George Washington Bridge through Bear Mountain to celebrate the park’s 100th anniversary. The 2014 race course can be viewed at www.granfondony.com/course.The course highlight is the scenic and rigorous Bear Mountain, or Montagna dell’Orso. Riders will get a boost from cheering spectators in the Rockland County towns that the course travels through. At the GFNY Finish Area at Ross Dock, Roche will be available for photos and autographs, and he will also go on stage to award prizes during the race’s awards ceremony.The top three men and women will take home prizes, as well as top riders in specific categories, including male and female age groups and teams.In addition to the race, the fourth annual NYC Bike Expo will take place at the 69th Regiment Armory in Manhattan on 26th Street on May 16-17 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Race sponsors, including Campagnolo, Lexus, PowerBar, Vespa, and Elite — along with other vendors in the food, wine and automotive sectors (among others) — will be on hand to showcase their latest products. The expo is a standalone event organized by GFNY that is open to the public and draws thousands of visitors.
Middletown High School South’s Cole Rogers (27) sprints by Phillipsburg High School defenders during the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section II, Group IV final at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. Rogers scored a pair of touchdowns in the 35-7 victory on Dec. 5 that completed a perfect 12-0 season for the Eagles. RICH GRAESSLE Middletown High School South’s football team silenced any skeptics of its consensus No. 1 state ranking.The Eagles roared to a four-touchdown lead after three quarters and went on to a 35- 7 victory in the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section II, Group IV final over Phillipsburg High School at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford Dec. 5 to cap a 12-0 season.Phillipsburg, which won this title the past two years, ended 9-3.Add to that the team outscored its 12 opponents by a combined 492-89, and there is little room for argument to Middletown South’s No. 1 ranking in New Jersey.It was Rogers and Rogers on both sides of the ball, as Cole Rogers rushed for 155 yards on 27 carries and scored three touchdowns, while twin brother Dylan Rogers sealed off Phillipsburg’s run game at linebacker, along with a smothering defensive rush up front, and also harassed Phillipsburg’s quarterbacks. Middletown South outrushed Phillipsburg, 175 yards to 109.It was Middletown South’s first state championship since 2006 and 10th overall. It fell short in last year’s title game to Jackson Memorial High School, 21-18.Middletown South struck quickly within the first minute of the championship game on Cole Rogers’ 6-yard touchdown run, set up by Jeff Lewandowski’s 79-yard kickoff return. Jeremy Joyce made a leaping grab of a 28-yard touchdown pass on fourth down from quarterback Matt Mosquera for his only catch of the game and his second touchdown reception of the season in the second quarter, giving Middletown South a 14-0 lead at halftime.Mosquera passed for 109 yards.James McCarthy ended a Phillipsburg threat at Middletown South’s 26-yard line early in the third quarter with an interception that led to a 9-yard touchdown run by Cole Rogers. Mosquera ran 4 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter and Tom Marron capped the scoring with a 7-yard run to the end zone in the fourth to securely tuck away coach Steve Antonucci’s most resounding victory in his tenure as Middletown South coach.It also established a legacy that may never be matched, left behind by the senior class that included Dylan and Cole Rogers and Mosquera, who kicked all five extra points to finish at 59 of 61 PATs on the season. Mosquera also threw 18 touchdown passes and 1,485 yards on the season.Cole Rogers finished the season with 1,586 yards and 25 rushing touchdowns despite missing a game with a shoulder injury. His efforts were helped by the blocking of an offensive line that included tackles Tom Lopez and Bob Burke, guards Mike Wilson and Adam Markmann and center Joe Rutkowski, who is the only senior of the group. It was also the final game for Marron and two-way standouts Spencer Pereless and Tom Coffey.Phillipsburg’s Manny Romero spoiled Middletown South’s shutout bid in the championship game when he ran 14 yards for a touchdown.McCarthy, who had two interceptions in the championship game, anchors a nucleus of returnees with his play at running back, where he rushed for 15 touchdowns and just under 600 yards, and at linebacker, where he is joined next season by fellow junior Kevin Higgins. Also returning are defensive back Maxx Imsho and wideouts Samson Dube and JoyceAlong with the state crown, Middletown South won its first Shore Conference A North Division title since 2009 (17th overall) with a 39-0 victory on Thanksgiving over Middletown High School North. By WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent
Order of play on the main show courts at the Wimbledon Championships on WednesdayCentre Court:1-Novak Djokovic (Serbia) v Jarkko Nieminen (Finland)Santiago Giraldo (Colombia) v 5-Kei Nishikori (Japan)1-Serena Williams (U.S.) v Timea Babos (Hungary) Court One:Tommy Haas (Germany) v 7-Milos Raonic (Canada)Daniela Hantuchova (Slovakia) v Heather Watson (Britain)4-Stan Wawrinka (Switzerland) v Victor Estrella Burgos (Dominican Republic) Court Two: 11-Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria) v Steve Johnson (U.S.)4-Maria Sharapova (Russia) v Richel Hogenkamp (Netherlands)Marsel Ilhan (Turkey) v 14-Kevin Anderson (South Africa)Yulia Putintseva (Kazakhstan) v 16-Venus Williams (U.S.) Court Three:Liam Broady (Britain) v 16-David Goffin (Belgium)9-Marin Cilic (Croatia) v Ricardas Berankis (Lithuania)Bethanie Mattek-Sands (U.S.) v 7-Ana Ivanovic (Serbia)
By Steve GinsburgFORMER tennis star James Blake was slammed to the ground, handcuffed and detained for about 15 minutes in New York City on Wednesday before police realized they had the wrong man in an identity theft ring, New York’s Daily News reported.The incident occurred as Blake, formerly the world’s fourth-ranked player, was waiting for a car outside a Midtown Manhattan hotel to take him to the US Open, he told the newspaper.Blake said that after being shoved to the sidewalk, he was detained by five white plainclothes city police officers. But the New York native, who is black, stopped short of calling it racial profiling.“I don’t know if it’s as simple as that,” the 35-year-old Blake told the News. “To me it’s as simple as unnecessary police force, no matter what my race is.“In my mind there’s probably a race factor involved, but no matter what there’s no reason for anybody to do that to anybody.”Police said Blake had been mistakenly identified by “a cooperating witness” as being involved in a ring dealing in fraudulently purchased cellphones. They added that allegations of excessive force would be investigated by internal affairs.“Once Blake was properly identified and found to have no connection to the investigation, he was released from police custody immediately,” police said in a statement.Police commissioner Bill Bratton, speaking on the NY1 cable television news station, said Blake “has a right to be upset”, and vowed to aggressively address the allegations.“It’s very disturbing,” Bratton said. “The nature of what he described is not what we do. It’s not what we’re supposed to do.”Officers arrested a suspect in the mobile phone scam at the Grand Hyatt New York hotel in Manhattan during a controlled buy earlier, police said. A delivery man with the mobile phone company later pointed out Blake and another man in the hotel lobby as having purchased phones the day before, officers said.The second man, who Mr Bratton said was standing next to Blake, was taken into custody. A hotel security guard, a former member of the NYPD, recognised Blake, prompting the arresting officers to confirm his identity.Blake, who had been scheduled to make a corporate appearance for Time-Warner Cable at the US Open tournament in the borough of Queens, suffered a cut to his left elbow and bruises to his left leg.Blake said he was telling the story to highlight the issue of excessive police force.“I have resources to get to the bottom of this,” he said. “I have a voice. But what about someone who doesn’t have those resources and doesn’t have a voice?”
For more articles and the latest soccer news, check out 90min.comsrc=”http://static.90min.com/assets/production/embed/v1.js”> These superstars lit up the English game with their magic.
Paris St Germain striker Edinson Cavani scored with a clinical finish four minutes after coming on late in the second half to secure a 2-1 home win over Chelsea in their Champions League last-16 first leg on Tuesday.The Uruguay forward, who has frequently been criticised by French media, fired a low angled shot past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in the 78th minute after John Obi Mikel had cancelled out Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s opener at the end of the first half.PSG, who did not appear shaken by the scandal surrounding defender Serge Aurier after he was suspended by the club for insulting coach Laurent Blanc and several team mates, knocked Chelsea out on away goals at the same stage last year after the Blues prevailed the previous season in the quarter-finals.It was Chelsea’s first defeat in 13 games since Dutchman Guus Hiddink took over from the sacked Jose Mourinho but the London club were a tough nut to crack and they will fancy their chances in the return leg at Stamford Bridgeon March 9.
Hugh Dallas has been appointed by the Cyprus Football Association to train and oversee local football referees.The Scotsman, a former international referee himself, officiated the 1998 and 2002 World Cup finals.In August 2014, Dallas was appointed Chief Refereeing Officer in Greece’s Super League. But in November, he criticised the arbitration of Ilias Spathas (one of many refs involved in the 2015 Greek football scandal) after a match involving Olympiakos, as the ‘worst he has ever seen’ saying that the mistakes were not normal. A few days later he quit from being responsible for the appointments of refereeing officials for Super League and Football League matches.
By Zoran Milosavljevic A superbly executed strategy by coach Antonio Conte gave Italy a richly deserved 2-0 win over Belgium in their Euro 2016 Group E match after Emanuele Giaccherini and Graziano Pelle delivered outstanding goals on Monday.At their vintage best defensively, and threatening time and again on the counter-attack, Italy extended their unbeaten competitive run against the Belgians to 44 years having last lost to them at the 1972 European Championship.Monday’s win put the Azzurri top of the section, with Sweden and Ireland having earlier shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw, while Belgium, despite having a multi-talented generation of players, have plenty of work to do to reach the last 16.Conte’s bold 3-5-2 formation worked to perfection in the first half, with wing-backs Matteo Darmian and Antonio Candreva proving a handful when on the attack and solid defensively.Usually deployed on the right behind Candreva, Darmian was pushed further upfield on the left and the switch, plus the duo’s tireless running, gave Italy’s midfield room to operate.Seemingly on the back foot as a toothless Belgium had more possession, Italy always looked more likely to score and they took the lead against the run of play after a sublime move.Centre back Leonardo Bonucci delivered an inch-perfect pass down the middle from the halfway line and livewire Giaccherini side-footed past Courtois after taking the ball in his stride.STINGING SHOTClearly rattled, the Belgians were lucky not to fall further behind a few minutes later when Pelle headed just wide after a fine save by Courtois who palmed away a stinging Candreva shot.Both sides raised the tempo after the break and spiced up a cracking atmosphere in Lyon’s glittering new stadium with some fast-paced football.Belgium came out with more purpose and striker Romelu Lukaku missed a gilt-edged chance in the 53rd minute, curling his shot narrowly over the bar past advancing Italy keeper Gianluigi Buffon after good work by Kevin De Bruyne.Pelle forced a fine one-handed save from Courtois at full stretch barely 30 seconds later at the other end after yet another darting run and cross by Candreva.With Belgium throwing men forward in the closing stages, Courtois again prevented a second Italian goal when he kept out a rasping shot by substitute Ciro Immobile.But he was powerless in stoppage time when another sweeping move saw Candreva cross to Pelle who volleyed home emphatically. (Editing by Ken Ferris and Ian Chadband)