Saturday, June 8, 2013

Westfield, Carmel boys golf qualify for state tournament; Zionsville falls two shots short

Published in Indianapolis Star Saturday, June 8, 2013

By Clyde Hughes
Star Correspondent
BATTLE GROUND, IND. — Trailing four teams at the turn Friday at the Lafayette Regional, Carmel boys golf coach Chad Carr knew his team was in serious trouble.

But the sixth-ranked Greyhounds improved by four strokes on the back nine at the Battle Ground Golf Course to finish in the all-important third spot, nipping Zionsville by two shots to advance to next week’s state tournament.

Valparaiso won the Regional with a 10-over-par 298, followed by Westfield (300) and Carmel (302). Zionsville’s season concluded with a 304.

“It’s a big weight off my shoulders,” Carr said. “Now we can go into state with a clean slate and compete evenly with everyone else.”

Jake Brown, the Greyhounds’ No. 2 golfer, shot a 72 to help Carmel secure third place.
“I didn’t want to go to state as an individual,” Brown said. “I didn’t play well in sectionals but my team picked me up. I hoped that I would be able to pick them up today. State is going to be fun.”

The tournament was a major disappointment for No. 14 Zionsville, which was tied for the lead with Valparaiso after the first nine holes, only to see things fall apart over the back nine. The Eagles shot a 149 on the front nine, but shot 155 down the stretch. Adam Wood’s 2-under 70 captured individual medalist honors, but it wasn’t enough for the team to extend its season.

“We know in a tournament like this, every stroke counts,” Zionsville coach Steve Simmons said. “We knew it would come down to a shot here and shot there. I'm disappointed but with four of five holes to go we were the owners of our destiny and the tournament and we just let it go. That happens.”

Simmons said missed birdie chances on the final holes sealed the Eagles' fate. He said No. 5 was a killer as well.

“We played that hole five-over as a team,” Simmons said. “We had played so well up to that point. It was just a straight forward, easy hole but for some reason with really struggled on it.”

No. 4-ranked Westfield built on its sectional win, falling just two shots short of the regional title. Freshman Thomas Lewis, the Shamrocks’ No. 3 golfer, shot a 72 to lead Westfield.

“I felt a little pressure but it started to feel good once I began hitting the ball better on the back nine,” Lewis said. “It takes everyone playing well to win here. We knew that if we even had one guy not play well, we would be going home.”

Westfield coach Jon Hoover said Lewis, sophomore Keith Ponsler (74) and senior Colton Smith (75) gave the Shamrocks the lift it needed to challenge for the title.

“I’ve played in tournaments before and I don’t think I could be in these kids’ shoes,” Hoover said. “We saw the scores at the turn and there were five teams within four shots of each other so the pressure was just tremendous. If you can handle that kind of pressure, I have tremendous respect for you.”

Valparaiso captured the sectional title behind Kyle Meihofer’s 71.

“The thing about state is that we have to do it all over again, so there’s no vacation,” Valpo coach Wayne Lichtenberger said. “There was some outstanding competition here and we had a state ranked team go home today. The slate will be clean next week.”

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Guest column: About that delayed reaction to Hibbert's comments

Published in Lafayette Journal & Courier, Tuesday, June 4, 2013

By Clyde Hughes, for the Journal & Courier

It was a freelance sports writing assignment late Saturday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and I’m holding an audio recorder in a news conference no more than 10 feet away from Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert. He just played one of his best playoff games in helping beat the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals.

In a room of reporters during an interview that was broadcast live, Hibbert and teammate Paul George were chipper in responding to question after their big win. Then, Hibbert said something that absolutely floored me — something I rarely get in athlete news conferences.

“I really felt I let Paul down (in Game 3) in terms of having his back when LeBron was scoring in the post or getting to the paint, because they stretched me out so much. No homo.”

“No homo,” as in a slur for homosexual. I thought immediately: “Whoa, did he really just say that.”

The comment, then, was followed by chuckles from Hibbert, George and the media corps. In fact, the giggles and smiles from the press corps was so evident that I started to second-guess myself about whether the comment was even made. There were certainly no follow up questions to the comment at the time.

“Maybe I must misheard it,” I told myself. Looking back over the media transcript after the press conference, the comment was deleted. When I reviewed the recording, though, there it was, as plain as day.

By this time, the beat reporter for the organization I was working for talked about the incident and another Hibbert expletive during the press conference. He also wrote about the incident.

By Sunday, Hibbert issued his Pacer media department crafted concession.

“I am apologizing for insensitive remarks made during the postgame press conference after our victory over Miami Saturday night. They were disrespectful and offensive and not a reflection of my personal views. I used a slang term that is not appropriate in any setting, private or public, and the language I used definitely has no place in a public forum, especially over live television.”

There are some things that quickly reach beyond the basketball court or any sports venue. There are countless history lessons on how society has struggled to overcome prejudice and discrimination. Those wins and losses come in small doses, as well as big ones.

One would think after the trouble some athletes have gotten into for using such slurs that Hibbert would have been much smarter. While fellow reporters made sure the star center was held accountable after the press conference, I am surprised a question about the comment wasn’t put to Hibbert at that moment.

Would it have made a difference whether the media responded at the press conference or immediately after the comment was made? I think it could have sent a message that such comments should be stopped in their tracks, instead of going along with the joke. Yes, we were all facing a tight deadline for a late-ending game. With Hibbert opening the door, it was a subject that needed to be addressed, and at the time, it wasn’t.

It left me wondering: Do we in media actually create the climate for such comments, only to show our fangs in an effort jump on bandwagon in the aftermath? Was it the right time to take on the issue? Of course, it was.

After Jason Collins came out in April, with overwhelming support he received from fellow NBA players and society, one would have thought we have moved forward just a little bit regarding LGBT issues. Hibbert is hardly the first athlete to use such terms this year, even, and it shows we are still in the starting blocks.

Maybe this is one of those teachable moments for Hibbert, as suggested by Yahoo Sports Dan Devine.

“We like players who like to joke around, and we like players willing to offer something more than just standard clich├ęs,” Devine said in his “Ball Don’t Lie” column Sunday. “It just kind of sucks that this — the “no homo” thing, particularly — was in Hibbert’s mind in the first place. Here’s hoping that apology comes from a place of earnest recognition and not from a place of fearful, frantic damage control.”

Maybe we as journalists can get athletes to start doing that soul searching just a little faster.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Roy Hibbert , Paul George again carry Pacers, lead team to Game 7

Published on Sunday, June 2, 2013 in Miami Herald.

By Clyde Hughes
Special to The Miami Herald

INDIANAPOLIS - Facing elimination in the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Pacers determined early they would ride center Roy Hibbert and forward Paul George as far and as long as they could.

Indiana's dynamic duo refused to let the Pacers die, getting help from its supporting cast along the way at critical times to stave off elimination with a 91-77 victory.

Hibbert's 24 points and 11 rebounds along with George's 28 points provided firepower Indiana was missing in Game 5. David West, playing reduced minutes because of an illness with a temperature of over 100, grabbed 14 rebounds and scored eight of his 11 points in the final quarter.

"It's all about heart," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said of West's performance, particularly in the fourth quarter. "That guy is all heart, and it's contagious. I don't really have words for it to be honest with you."

George's three-pointer at the 5:28 mark of the fourth quarter gave the Pacers a 75-68 lead. Miami had cut a 13-point deficit to start the period to four points (72-68), ending with consecutive baskets by LeBron James.

George's basket sparked a 9-0 run that included two technical foul free throws, which gave the Pacers enough to across the Game 6 finish line.

"We knew they were going to make a run," George said. "This team, they're deadly offensively. They can really put points up. That's just us staying together, being poised and just rallying. Lance (Stephenson) made some big plays offensively on the boards to get us some extra possessions. We shared the ball. We made huge plays when we needed to."

In Game 5 in Miami, the Heat used a big third quarter to turn that contest in its favor. On Saturday, it was the Pacers' time to use the same period as a springboard. Indiana held the Heat to six points over the first 10 minutes of the period.

With the defensive effort well in hand, Hibbert and George provided the offense, scoring 19 of the Pacers' 29 points in the third quarter.

Hibbert's dunk off the dribble with 5:48 left in the third quarter capped a 14-2 Pacers run to start the third to give Indiana a 53-42 lead. The dunk appeared to double the noise volume in the arena - energy the Pacers needed after an up-and-down first half.

"Roy Hibbert is making extraordinary plays in the pocket," Vogel said. "He's getting the paint catches, and he's just having great poise and great reads. Roy is playing the best basketball of his career right now. He's leading us, and he's a big reason why we are where we are."

George added a three-pointer at the 5:05 mark after Dwyane Wade made a long-range shot to help maintain Indiana's momentum.

"What separated us (in the third quarter) was being able to get into transition and trying to strike early," George said. "Their half-court defense is tough. We really executed."

Hibbert said the aftertaste of Game 5's third quarter still lingered for the Pacers and actually provided incentive for them after halftime.

"We had a couple of bad possessions at the beginning of the third, but we rallied," Hibbert said. "Paul made big shots for us and found me on a pick and roll. We realized the third quarter let us down, so we tried to take advantage of that and come out aggressive."